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    Programs Writing Wednesdays

    Writing Program Wednesday: Haiku Open Mic

    Poetry can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

    One of my favorite programs was a haiku only open mic.  I briefly went over what a haiku is and shared some examples.

    This is a great place to promote books from your collection, especially if you have some teen friendly ones like Zombie Haiku and Vampire Haiku by Ryan Mecum. My teens also liked some of the younger haiku titles like Prelutsky’s If Not for the Cat.   These simple examples worked well since I was trying to “sell” haiku as poetry that anyone can write.

    vamp zombie cat


    I gave the teens time to write and then we opened up the floor for anyone who wanted to share. I didn’t do an actual slam, though you could.  I did offer prizes for the overall best, the best nature haiku, and the funniest.

    It’s nice to see personality and attitude come out in a constructive way. It turns out “Get over yourself”, “I’m done with your games”, and “I hope he texts me” all fit nicely into the syllable pattern.

    Programs Writing Wednesdays

    Writing Wednesday: Rory’s Story Cubes (Analog and Digital!)



    I love fun tools that help us spread literacy! Here is a relatively fun and easy program for any age that can write independently, although I don’t recommend mixing age groups too widely. Rory’s Story Cubes are cubes with pictures on each side that represent things that can be included in a story. You roll the dice and write a story including all or some of the pictures that come up.




    Rory’s Story Cubes come in several sets. The original is pictured above, but there is also a “Voyages” and “Actions”  set that has more options. The Story Cube Blog also mentions that fantasy, pre-historic, and mystery themed “mix-ins” are on the way and this is super exciting. I own the originals but if I was going to buy them today I would buy the Max set as the cubes are much bigger and would be easier for group use.

    All you need to do to start is roll the cubes and have the kids write stories using the symbols on the dice. They can do this individually or as a group. The symbols are somewhat open to interpretation which makes the whole thing more fun.

    You can also use cubes for a verbal storytelling game. Let one participant start the story and tell a cube or two’s worth then move around the circle continuing the story using the remaining cubes and storytellers. You could also put the cubes in a bag and have each child or teen pick a cube at random and use whichever side they like as the basis for a story.

    The Story Cubes website has some videos and instructions on ways the cubes can be used, but for some more ideas check out this GeekDad column at Wired, some classroom inspired ideas, and even more ideas from another teacher. Once patrons become familiar with how to play you could even make them available for group or individual use outside of programs.

    But that’s not all!  Rory’s Story Cubes is also available as an iOS App!  So, if you have a group set of iPads or even one iPad to use with a projector you can use the app in much the same way as the cubes. The app is only 1.99 and additional sets of cubes are available as in app purchases for 1.99 as well. Shake the iPad or press the icon at the bottom of the screen to shake the cubes and then write away! You can take a picture of your roll if you get a particularly interesting one.




    So, whether you’re digital or old-school let the storytelling games begin! I’ll be talking about storytelling card games in a future post.

    Writing Wednesdays

    Writing Wednesday: Robot Rock


    This is a fun and creative project for elementary age kids, and it’s so simple and cheap.

    1. First is the fun part: Give the kids a large sheet of paper and make a lot of craft supply odds and ends available with some fun metallic papers.

    2. Let the kids design any kind of robot they can imagine.

    3. When they have designed their robot hand out the lined paper and pencils and have them write a story about their robot.

    4. Glue the robot story to the back of the original robot creation and you’re all set!


    Writing Wednesdays

    Writing Wednesday: First Lines



    Welcome to my new weekly feature: Writing Program Wednesdays. Every week I’ll be sharing a different idea to encourage writing. Some weeks will feature teen ideas, some weeks school-age, and some preschool.

    Great First Lines

    This week’s idea works great as a meeting for a regularly meeting writing club, but is fun for a standalone program too. This can work for middle grade readers and up.

    1. Gather a collection of great first lines from books appropriate for your audience.

    2. Share the first lines with the group and talk about what makes them great. Do they build suspense? Introduce a character? Set a mood? Establish a setting?

    3. Have the group go and look for books they love with great first lines. Give them five or ten minutes and then share and discuss these with the group.

    4. Give the group a set amount of time to come up with as many first lines for original stories as possible.

    5. Share and discuss the results and have group members identify first lines they would like to turn into longer stories.