Slice of Life: Ridiculousness

I’m running a couple of writing clubs right now, one for each of the schools that I teach at. This go-around, I’m working with 4th and 5th graders. This coming winter, I’ll work with 2nd and 3rd graders.

In my description of the class, I mentioned that we would have a mix of writing, creative games, and oral work on stories. And yes, there would be fun. Because otherwise, what’s even the point?

I’ve now met once with each group, and it was a blast! We started with a game of story ball, tossing the ball to learn one another’s names as we also worked to create a story. There I was, thinking that our activity would be just a mixer, a fun little thing that paved the way for what was to come next.

Lo and behold, it was a learning experience for me. At both schools, here’s what I noticed:
1. When kids are called on (by me or a classmate), they have a habit of addressing only me, looking at only me as they give an answer. We’re going to chip away at that one.
2. Some kids have stuff they like to put in every story they tell, whether or not it might make sense in the one that’s going on in front of them.
3. We have a lot to learn when it comes to expanding possibilities, and moving stories past disconnected events. Oh…so the duck dad and son were playing basketball? Let’s dig into what that game looks like. Hey…they were on a road trip to Dubai? That might go in a few directions.

Speaking of expanding possibilities, that was the focus for our first session. Many of them mentioned that they loved writing because it let them be creative in whatever direction they chose. I wanted my students to take that creativity and run with it. I wanted them to experiment with a story completely unbound from the constraints of reality.

So each class had an assignment: work together in partners or groups to develop the MOST ridiculous story possible. One class worked on why they didn’t eat breakfast, the other developed excuses for missing homework. After having time to work on stories orally together, groups told their stories to the whole class and voted on the one that was the most entertaining and utterly ridiculous.

What good came out of our first session? Well, the kids were able to see that we as creators can put together any set of circumstances and let it fly. I wanted students to realize that no matter HOW ridiculous and far-fetched their stories might be, a reader or listener will be right with them, as long as the events make sense together and the story is well-told.

And even more importantly? Judging by the smiles and giggles, they had FUN. I can’t wait to see where we go next!

As for who won each of the contests and will receive the much-anticipated dollar store prizes, well…I’m keeping my lips sealed til the group meets next time!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Ridiculousness

  1. Oh, my younger son as a child would have LOVED the ridiculous homework excuse one. He’s now 39 and I STILL don’t know how “Mommy, l meant to finish my homework but the pencil point broke and…” somehow ended with “and that’s how I helped the rainbow demagogue from the planet I can’t pronounce to get the sewer rat back to Shanghai and then magic me back to my room, just before -you- [because this was always somehow in part MY fault] made me put my stuff away to go take a bath ’cause it was almost bedtime so it didn’t get a chance to sharpen my pencil and finish.”

    It’s a great ice-breaker and I have total faith they will be engaging more each other and less wondering about you before the half-semester.

    1. I love this! I’d still like to get them to follow that imaginative train of thought even further, but that will take time and comfort. As for your younger son, I would LOVE to have had him in my classroom! Oh, the fun we could have had!

  2. What a great way to show students that writing doesn’t always have to be dry and serious. If a story makes sense to the writer, the reader will take that journey with the writer.

    1. Thanks! And you’re exactly right – the story has to make sense to us as writers, has to MATTER to us as writers, if we have any hope of getting somewhere with our readers…

  3. I love this lesson! I need to think of a reading counterpart to it; I have several older students coming to my library who say they can’t/ won’t read (which always breaks my librarian heart). Maybe if I suggest something totally ridiculous…..

    1. It’s always worth a shot!

      As for me, as a reader/writer mama, it always broke my heart a little when my own children turned away from reading. One of them has come back to the fold, the other notsomuch. Who knows? Maybe *I* can suggest something ridiculous to them!

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