Sunday, September 18, 2005

An Early Writing Lesson

Readers who share my passion for teaching creative writing to kids -- not to mention anyone with kids of their own -- may want to scrounge up a copy of the Harold and the Purple Crayon Board Game. This extraordinary little game by BRIARPATCH Games is simplicity itself: You draw a card with an object on it. Then, just as Harold does in the Crockett Johnson books, you draw the object onto the erasable gameboard, then you add that object to a story you're making up on the spot. If you're playing with winners and losers, the object is to remember the story and tell it reasonably consistently with all the objects in the correct order. If you're like the writers in my house, you skip the victory conditions and just tell the wildest story you can.

If mine are typical in any way, kids can start participating in this round-robin storytelling event as soon as they can handle a marker without getting a purple tongue. Most of the objects can be drawn well enough without much of an eye, and interesting visual interpretations can contribute to the story (this weekend we wound up with "a dragon the size of Massachusetts" because of the shape my daughter gave him).

There are a dozen ways this can be adapted to other writing exercises with young kids. But whether you teach kids, have kids, play with kids, or are a kid, this is something you should have on your shelf. I don't think BRIARPATCH is making it anymore (and there's not one on eBay that I can find right now), so if you spot one, grab it. You wont be sorry.

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