Speak it, describe it, write it!

We’ve all experienced it. The blank page seems more foe than friend, whether we’re the ones facing that expanse of white or whether we’re encouraging our children to blast through writer’s block.

Sometimes oral descriptions can pave the way to written descriptions, gently opening kids to their own creativity. Try the following thinking game the next time your young ones protest, ”But I don’t know what to say!”

See how many answers each child can think of for each item below. Keep an informal score for a friendly competition.

1.) Describe one thing you might see in a…

  • refrigerator
  • living room
  • closet
  • car

book shelf

2.) Describe two things you might find…

  • at the library
  • in a craft-supply store
  • on the playground
  • at an amusement park

park bench in autumn glow

3.) Describe something you see…

  • in the autumn
  • in the winter
  • at the beach
  • in a restaurant

Future - what will you bring me?

4.) Describe something you might wear…

  • in a rainstorm
  • to a costume party
  • on a snowy day
  • to play a sport

Now, have your children choose one of their oral responses and elaborate upon it in written words.

“Writer’s block? What writer’s block?” you’ll be mumbling to yourself, as the kids scribble away!

. . . . .

Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

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3 comments ↓

#1 Brian on 09.14.11 at 2:13 am

Thanks, Janet. The idea here is good, but it was your second sentence that most affected me. When I first read it, I thought, “Well, of course a blank page is my foe, not my friend.” But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why that had to be. A blank page is potential. It’s the chance to start over — begin again. A blank page is possibility. Why can’t it be my friend? I think simply considering a blank page my friend rather than my foe will help me overcome writer’s block.

#2 Janet on 09.14.11 at 5:06 am

Indeed! I think too many of us consider those crisp white pages as “the enemy”, and perhaps unknowingly that feeling transfers to the children we teach. But, as you say, blank pages are possibilities. I like to think of them as already filled with wonderful stories; we are simply the vessels who make sure those stories become visible on the pages themselves. I suppose that’s a similar line-of-thinking to singer John Denver. He once said that he felt the songs he wrote always existed. He simply felt it was his job to inwardly listen to those songs and write them down.

#3 Kim on 09.15.11 at 12:35 pm

Ooh, good discussion!

I have always loved a blank page. I’m still attracted to crisp new journals, diaries, Moleskines, and legal pads. What can I say?

Activities like this one, that can reduce the intimidation of writing off the top of one’s head, have great potential to turn the tables. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could come to see the blank page as a “friend”?

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