Ideas at Play

Andrew, a fellow of the WNY Young Writers' Studio, demonstrates how he uses Rory's Story Cubes

Where do great writing ideas come from? They’re often inspired by our own experiences, the things we read or hear or see, or the thoughts and feelings that are stirred up in response to those we connect with each day. Still, defining an idea worth investing yourself in can be challenging, and that’s why it’s often important to connect the things we love to do beyond writing to our writing. When I’m conferring with young writers who tell me they are blocked or those who confess their “hatred” of writing, a few things seem to help them most:

  • Invite them to fill their cup. Reading books we enjoy, sharing a laugh with friends, shooting hoops, tuning into our favorite television shows, losing time inside of iTunes–these aren’t worthless indulgences or mere time-wasters. These are some of the ways that we practice self-care, alleviate stress, connect with others, and yes….nurture the generation of great writing ideas. When I’m presented with a writer who seems frustrated, bored, burned-out, or otherwise miserable, I often ask what they’ve been doing to take care of themselves beyond their requisite school work, team practices, after-school jobs, or chores. Often, self-proclaimed resistant writers often present a fairly short list. Meeting our daily responsibilities is a taxing and time-consuming endeavor. Our kids are stressed. So are we.

Making time for play is critical to our well-being and essential to our work as writers and teachers. With that in mind, fellows of the WNY Young Writers’ Studio spent the Saturday session of the school year exploring ideas at play! With a little help from our kids, five different play-based centers took shape inĀ  response to the sorts of activities they claim to love. Everyone had choice as to where they would participate. You can follow the links to download very basic instructions for each center:

Several years ago, Ken Robinson reminded us that many people need to move in order think. My friend Matt would agree. He’s nine, and he’ll tell you that he hates to write for school, but that he loves designing games and testing them for quality. He also knows that in doing so, he’s sharpened his observational and sequencing skills and his ability to organize and revise his work. These are important lessons.

So, how do you integrate movement and play in ways that inspire great ideas and improve learning?

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