Today I was working with a group of parents as part of a school and community writing project in Buckinghamshire. We're exploring what difference it makes if teachers and parents keep writing journals - as well as the children keeping writing journals. So there's a monthly writing workshop on Friday mornings for any parents who want to come. It's 'me' time for them - and so far they've enjoyed it and are pleased that their children are having the chance to find and lose themselves in writing - without being levelled!
We also sketched diagrams of places we knew well, labelled them, talked about them - and then wrote about them. (See number 1 floor-plan exercise)
Here's one such riff of free-writing:
... anthracite, anthracite - yeah I can remember my dad who would lug in the coal scuttle from the coal house - anthracite, anthracite - it shooshed into the stove like shingle on the beach at Angmering that cold summer when the channel was grey - battleship grey I think they call it - with only the gulls screaming and that continual shush shush of the waves combing the shingle like an insistent librarian - useless, repetitive - and me there trying to hold the sea back from my sandcastle, scooping the wet sand in lumps where the water had broken through again and again so my sandcastle looked like a slester of sand, shell and pebble - useless, repetitive - and even my dad, my big strong capable dad who'd bring in the coal, who'd stoke the stove to make the kitchen all nice and warm, who'd make a paper bird that could lay a sugared egg, my dad who'd brought his garden spade to the beach so he could show me how to divert the streams than ran down the beach and how to build a sandcastle of stones and sand that could withstand the insistent shooshing librarian of the sea - even he, my six foot tall black-haired dad with a garden spade - even he couldn't stop the sea. When we went back to the beach the next day there was barely a mound - just a small hump like a grave in the sand and the pebbles where his sandcastle had stood ...
During the rest of the morning, I worked with year 3 children and their teachers - introducing journals, observing the children and interviewing/recording them, and following their writing journeys. We considered objects in and out of storyboxes; we fired our imagination with Quentin Blake's 'The Green Ship' and we transformed the world with our imaginations: we had sludge and mini-Daleks and the collar of a monster-dog!
And it was wonderful.