NaNoWriMo, Junior Edition

Profiteroles. Mmmm…

I just finished my French Pastries class last week and I am le tired. Teaching afterschool program classes can be tough—kids are wired after a day of sitting in classrooms, you don’t have the threat of bad grades to hold over their heads, and there’s not a lot of time to get through the material you want to cover. (I mean, there are other reasons why it is way, way easier than regular instruction, but still.) French Pastries was especially hard this time around because the students were significantly younger than the ones I’ve taught in the past (so I really had to bring down those expectations) and because one of my students was dangerously gluten intolerant and I really, really, really didn’t want to kill her.

Soooo… I guess now is the time for me to immediately say, “Yes, I would love to teach another session!” But this next session, I’ll be teaching… Young Writers Program, the scrappy little sibling of NaNoWriMo! Wahoo!

Last time I did this, I tried to run it like a more traditional NaNo with the kids. We had word-count tracking charts, profiles on YWP, prizes for winning word wars, etc. Buuut it was also a little janky because there were students working on a picture book and a graphic novel and so while the word counting thing worked great for me and my project, it wasn’t the best yardstick for them.

I’m thinking I’ll take a different approach this year. Depending on the number of students and the types of projects they want to do, we might still do the chart and the YWP profiles, but I’m not going to force it. Instead, I’m going to shift the focus more toward supporting the students in coming up with their stories as we progress. Some of the students might come with premade ideas (like last time), but I want to really be prepared for the pantsters in our midst, should any arise. To that end, I’ve gotten my hot little hands on the following resources for the kids to play around with:

Writer Emergency Pack This fun pack of cards is great for when you’ve gotten stuck. Simply draw a random illustrated idea card and then follow it to a second card with further instructions. Granted, most of the ideas are just terrible, but they do get you thinking about alternative routes to take your story.

The Amazing Story Generator I’ve highlighted this bad boy before, but here it is again. Last time I used this in one of my writing classes, the kids loved it. (Sometimes maybe a little too much. Seriously, quit playing with the book and get writing, kids.)

Tell Tale This is actually a storytelling card game that my husband’s sister sent for our boys. Our five-year-old loves playing it. (Although, since we lost the instructions card eons ago, there’s a pretty-slim-to-none chance that we’re actually playing it right.) It’s a lot of fun to flip through the cards until one of the ideas sticks.

The class won’t start until the first week of November, so I still have time to scrape together a few more resources. Any of you fine folks have ideas about how to get the creative juices flowing with kids? Just let me know in the comments below!

Thanks, and until next week, happy writing!