One of the programs I inherited when I came into my new position was a youth writer’s group. This was a group of 5th & 6th grade girls who met once a week, shared their stories, and had open writing time. I was excited about taking over this group because I used to love writing and I wanted to really help these girls expand on their writing skills– while still having fun!
First, I changed our meeting time to twice a month (ever other week). I felt like the girls were relying on me too much to lead and I really wanted to give them independence. So, for the “off” weeks, they are still meeting, just at a separate table near my desk. They have only had one day like this so far and instead of writing their stories they wrote me letters, and I did have to ask them to quite down a few times, but I think overall it was a good experience and we will continue.
The off weeks are for sharing their stories, critiquing each others stories (nicely), and to free write. The weeks that I meet with them will have more writing exercises and learning new writing skills.
One of the first writing prompts I made for them was adapted from this Stories Stones idea. Basically, I just went outside and found about 30ish large rocks and washed them. I then wrote down one word or phrase on each rock. I was mostly writing down random words but I did make sure I had a variety of people, places, things, ideas, and actions.
I then had each girl pick one rock out of the pile and then they free wrote for a half an hour making up a story incorporating those words. After free write they shared their stories. I loved hearing how vastly different each kids story was even though they all started from the same place!
I will be writing more posts about my youth writers group in the future! :)