My daughter loves making up creative stories. What are some elementary level after school activities where she can keep exploring this passion?

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Calvin Olsen, Poet, Translator, Professor, Editor

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Looks like Emily answered your question well, so I’ll just add a couple of DIY options if you want to add some variety to your daughter’s creative endeavors.

If you’re looking for new ideas about what to write, the Internet is replete with “writing prompts” for any age group. For elementary-aged writers, I’d point you to the Story Starter (a prompt generator) offered on the Scholastic website (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/). Just choose a genre and then an age group, and you’ll arrive at the Story Starter. After a click on each of the buttons, you’ll have a fun prompt to use as a jumping point. For example, I just requested an Adventure prompt for grades 4–6, and this is what came up: “Describe three risks taken by a confident detective who finds a strange package by the door.” Not half bad.

Another quick idea is to get involved however you see fit. You might want to type and compile the stories after they’re written. If you printed them out like a picture book, your daughter could illustrate them later and have her own book to read to others. Or, if you’re on the creative side, you can illustrate them yourself, which will breed even more creativity as she stretches to entertain the both of you. An example of this type of thing can be found if you search for the Spaghetti Toes blog, in which a dad illustrates the hilarious things his daughter says.

Writing prompts and interaction should be helpful without needing to even leave the house. And before you know it, you’ll be coming up with your own prompts off the top of your head in no time.

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Lisa Hiton, poet, filmmaker, professor, writer

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Just to add to the already great advice by Calvin and Emily, here are some other resources that might be of use:

  1. Cricket Magazine Group: I find that some great inspiration for writing is, of course, reading. Cricket Magazine Group publishes literature for children of various ages in each of their magazines. Not only is it great reading fodder, but each magazine often hosts writing written by children and sometimes offers prompts/contests. http://shop.cricketmedia.com/

    1. I just want to reiterate how wonderful 826 is of all the writing non-profits I've encountered. Many towns and cities also have smaller writing communities, which I'd be happy to point you to regionally.
  2. Poetry as Practice. Two grassroots organizations that are outstanding for poetry are Poetry Out Loud http://www.poetryoutloud.org/, which encourages young people to recite poems from all of history. This is a good practice for any budding writer. I recommend this book for young children toward that endeavor: http://www.amazon.com/Random-House-Book-Poetry-Children/dp/0394850106 . I also recommend Louder Than a Bomb which is the largest grassroots movement of slam poetry in the country. This is a great way for young people to begin expressing their inner life through language: http://youngchicagoauthors.org/blog/

  3. If you're looking for inspiration to create prompts and journal ideas for your child, you might like the site Teachers Pay Teachers. If you do a simple search of "writing prompts" you will see all kinds of elementary school ideas for writing and writing workshops. And the best part is you'll be supporting the work of a teacher! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

Emily Beyda, Writer, student, and educator

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If you're in an urban area, chances are that there's a great non profit offering low cost writing classes for children where your daughter can explore her creativity with the guidance of professional teaching artists. Here are some of my favorites operating on a national level:

http://www.writopialab.org/ offers creative writing classes for students aged 7-17. If your daughter has a particular area of interest she wants to explore (like screenwriting, poetry, or even non fiction!) chances are there will be a class she can take to study it, either as an in home workshop or in a classroom setting.

http://826national.org/ is a fantastic nationwide non profit that offers after school tutoring, workshops, and field trips, all free of charge. There classes are more generally focused, with a volunteer staff.

If you live in a town where neither of these programs have branches, and a little googling fails to turn up a local alternative, your neighborhood children's book librarian is a fantastic resource. Many libraries offer weekend creative writing workshops for children and teens, and if yours doesn't, having parents from the community express interest is a great way to get the ball rolling! I commend you for nurturing your child's creativity, and hope you find a program that's a great fit for you both. Happy writing!

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