Easy and timely creative writing!
The table was set for dinner. Plastic dishes, spoons, and cups were attached to the tablecloth that covered a large box. The box was open on the bottom and had holes had cut out of the sides for his face and arms…
When I first began to teach in this elementary school, I was surprised to learn that the children paraded around the local business district on Halloween afternoon. I was more surprised when I realized that some costumes were very elaborate. And then, I was even more surprised, and disheartened, when a few children came with NO costumes at all!
Quickly applying my own cosmetics to make-up two children as clowns, I dressed others as bag ladies, with babushkas and paper shopping bags. I used a yardstick, handkerchief, and paper patches to dress another student as a tramp. Determined that the same situation would not occur again next year, I bought a set of animal masks by mail order. I never realized that this would lead to a very effective method of inspiring some great creative writing experiences, especially for children who seemed to have writer’s block.
The week before Halloween of the following year, I put the masks to a different use. The students chose particular masks to inspire their stories. Originally, I thought that they could write with the masks on, but that proved to be too cumbersome. So, placing the masks on the corner of their desks, they wrote 6-10 sentence stories about their animals. I used a format similar to Fran Stryker’s famous Story Grid to inspire creativity, and did it ever!
We completed the grid together as a class, and then they used the animals they had chosen as their own heroes (Characters). They could use different times and places (Setting) and different villains, (Characters) and different problems and solutions (Plot) from the grid.
After reading their imaginative tales, I understood why Fran Stryker was so prolific in creating film scripts in the 1950’s. The Story Grid is available FREE in the Reading Spotlight TpT Store. It is effective for all ages. Thanks Fran!
Teachers can attach both the mask and the story to a 12 x18 sheet of construction paper and hang around the classroom for an impressive creative writing display.
There are also many TpT Stores with interesting and imaginative masks available for teachers to use.
Be sure to also check out Reading Spotlight’s FREE Instructions for Halloween Candy Wrapper Stories—another creative and enjoyable autumn writing activity.
Here are some other interesting educational posts from fellow teachers.