It's well known that many school children fear the ‘blank sheet of paper’ when asked to write about a particular topic. How to start, what tone to use, who is the audience, what purpose does this writing serve. The result is trepidation about writing, particularly by reluctant writers and often by boys.
How do we help children to feel more positively about writing and how can we provide interesting and inspiring stimulus for writing? One effective way is to create an authentic ‘event’ which the whole school is involved in. Perhaps an alien has landed in the school grounds, or the World Cup has been found hidden behind a tree in the playing fields. Use a few props to make the find look authentic and involve the whole school by asking all pupils to spend the day investigating the discovery and writing about it. Asking the children to write newspaper articles is a good way of providing an instant audience for their writing and having made the discovery in school makes the piece of writing incredibly relevant.
Another successful way of igniting pupils’ imaginations is to provide an audience for their writing. From tiny insects to mythical beasts, a real audience can encourage and inspire children to write creatively. Setting the scene before hand will help to prepare the children. Write a message from the beasts in the grounds of the school and ask the children to respond or ask pupils to write postcards to the ladybirds and then get teachers and parents to write letters back to the children.
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Curriculum pressures mean that the fun, creative element of writing is often overlooked. Collapsing the curriculum on occasions and allowing pupils the time and space to explore writing creatively will inspire a love of writing amongst many pupils and provide spectacular results.