During the September School Holidays, my brother and I went to a writing class.
We wanted to find out who the murderer was.
We wrote our own newspaper.
It was fun.
I enjoyed it a lot.
I hope to go again.
If I had asked Ash to write about the writing workshop that he had attended with his brother, he would most probably had come up with the above chunk of sentences. Uninspiring at best, and evoking a sense of excitement similar to watching grass grow.
Truth is, how does one teach essay writing??? Other than reading extensively, having an imaginative mind definitely helps when it comes to spinning stories. And it is precisely what Monsters Under The Bed advocates.
Monsters Under the Bed is a writing school that was started by writers, for writers. But no, they are not about model compositions or perfect grammar or punctuation. Instead, they seek to inspire students to exercise their creativity, and write good stories.
In 2013, I had the chance to collaborate with them as an Event Partner for a creative writing workshop for kids and I was impressed with some of the unconventional teaching methods that the trainers had imparted. So when the chance came along for the boys to attend one of their signature writing workshops during the September School Holidays, I was all game for it.
Yes, only I was game. The 2 boys on the other hand, were understandably reluctant to sacrifice three mornings of their precious week-long school holidays for more lessons. But you know who gets the final say around in the house.
And you also know what they say - Parents do know best. Because at the end of the first of three half-day lessons, both Ash and Ayd were sharing their experiences excitedly with the wifey and me. Not only that, they were looking forward to the next lesson and I guess a huge part of that had to do with the nature and theme of the writing workshop.
InvestigateINK - INK for Imagination N Knowledge - is an expository writing (creative non-fiction) workshop for schildren aged 6 to 12 and combines role playing with social interaction, analytical thinking, and writing skills.
For the workshop, the kids assumed the roles of journalists and were tasked to identify the culprit in the 'Case of the Missing Necklace'. Crime scenes were simulated in different rooms, along with physical clues and suspects. At the end of the workshop, the kids must analyze everything and come up with their own newspaper stories.
Sounds fun? It is a whole lot of fun, as my boys will tell you! After being briefed on the main points of the case, the kids were divided into 2 groups where they had to discuss the suspicious clues and brainstorm on writing the articles.
As you can probably see, everyone was thoroughly engrossed in the mystery!
Don't mind Ayd' stressed look. Truth was, he was so bent on finding the real culprit behind the stolen necklace that he took everything very seriously!
I loved how the clues were planted around the venue for the kids to spot, as it certainly maintained the level of enthusiasm among them. They were even brought to various 'crime scenes' for them to discover hidden clues to the case.
As if the clues were not enough, real-life suspects in connection to the case were also on-site for the kids to question. And when it comes to grilling, nobody does it best like children do.
Just when the kids thought that they had everything to solve the mystery, a spanner was thrown into the works as one key character got himself murdered!
Nothing like a twist to throw the kids off-guard, no? But at the end of it all, I have to say there was never a dull minute throughout the workshop. The kids learnt the process of presenting the facts of a case in a logical and sequential manner, which is an important aspect of expository writing - something the boys will come face to face with in Upper Primary.
Expository writing often strikes young writers as being a dry and technical subject, but the workshop clearly showed that expository writing can be fun too, improving their analytical thinking skills at the same time too.
In fact the boys enjoyed it so much that they clamoured to return for the next 2 workshops during the year-end school holidays. Well, at least it sure made writing more fun for them!
17 – 19 November 2014 | 10 am – 1pm
The Arts House
Workshop Fee: $280
A horror-themed writing workshop that is anything but scary. Think Scooby-Doo meets Tim Burton. Designed specifically for the 6-to-12 age group, HauntINK features an immersive storyline with haunted mansions, century-long family secrets, and typewriters that go clack-clackety-clack at night. You will be able to interact with a host of characters, ranging from mysterious heiresses to shady psychics. Who knows – you might even get to confront a vengeful spirit or two!
HauntINK also features a strong element of exploration, in addition to roleplaying, skits, and other interactive activities. The workshop will take place in a haunted house environment that participants ivestigate for clues. By creating a sense of total immersion and control over the storyline, we encourage participants to pay active attention to their surroundings and be emotionally engaged at all times.
These activities are a fun, efficient way for us to introduce the following writing skills:
Describing setting with all posible senses. Our haunted house will incorporate spooky sounds, scents, and textures, encouraging participants to move past the tendency to rely solely on visual descriptions
Creating suspense and atmosphere. We will emphasize the importance of the unknown in creating suspense and tension, an important skill to have regardless of what genre you are writing in.
How to conclude a story. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that the ghost of the mansion needs your help to find peace and closure…
INK To The Woods
8 – 10 Decemeber 2014 | 10 am – 1pm
National Design Centre
Workshop Fee: $280
INK to the Woods is a fairytale-themed workshop about a magical wood and all the stories that lead to its heart. There will be princesses and kings, fairy godmothers and witches, and of course, you, the candidates attending the ball!
Participants will learn how to write a strong, memorable character, and how to use character personality and motivation to generate stories organically. During the workshop, participants will develop their characters further through games, writing exercises, and roleplaying. Students will craft an accessory for their character as part of the workshop, and are strongly encouraged to come in costume! They will also create a fairytale starring their very own original character.
At the end of the workshop, we will throw a grand ball where everybody will get to present their story to the princess on an ancient magical scroll. The princess will also choose, with the help of the participants, the person who will be her new partner. You will have your heart’s desire granted if you are chosen, and even perhaps something more…
Will you gild yourself in gold and dance at the ball of the fairies? Will you find what you seek there? Will you be able to catch the attention of the princess, and determine the course of the kingdom’s future? Find out by joining us this December!
To register for either workshop (or both!), visit www.mutb.com.sg/programmes-1/writing-workshop/