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Kids get creative each Wednesday this summer at YDL-Whittaker with volunteers from Eastern Michigan University’s Office of Campus and Community Writing. Anyone is welcome to drop in and join the fun!


Week 1: Crime Scene Clue Hunt  

Our first session, kids got to use their senses (touch, sight, & hearing) to describe things. They reached into a bag and felt strange objects and then shared ideas of what objects felt like using adjectives such as smooth, rough, hard, squishy, and heavy. We talked about how they might describe people by highlighting details about a piece of clothing or using words that describe facial expressions and emotions (sad, mad happy, angry). Pictures of popular superheroes and villains helped everyone learn to use descriptive adjectives!   

Then kids broken into small groups and explored the youth department, collecting notes about people and settings that could be used to write details into a story they shared aloud. Kids who wanted to continue to hunt for clues went on a scavenger hunt around the library.

Week 2: Nature Soundscapes  

This week kids focused on writing settings and learned about onomatopoeia, words formed from sounds–Boom! Chirp! Sizzle!

First young writers learned how settings can build the mood and affect a story’s plot. Good examples from books include the 100 Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, and the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum. Kids used descriptor words to describe how these settings reflect the mood of the stories. Then everyone broke into groups to brainstorm as many onomatopoeia words as possible.

When groups finished, we took a walk outside to use our new skills to create descriptive settings. After writing, kids made rainsticks with cardboard, rice, and foil and talked about the sound it made (Shhh). With this rainstick they created, kids got to take the outdoor nature sound of the rain indoors!  

Week 3: Rainy Day Blue Balloons

This week we talk about weather and used description and images to capture details and “show” specific weather conditions in writing. Kids shared stories about personal experiences with extreme weather and talked about how it made them feel. We imagined how changes like rain, sun, hail, and clouds can correlate with a change in mood and listened to poems that created feelings using descriptions of a tornado and a blizzard.

Writers created poems that incorporated a scene with one type of weather, then popped balloons to reveal a paper with a surprising shift in conditions. Everyone turned their poems into weather mobiles using watercolors and paper clouds, raindrops, and lightning!

Week 4: Elephant Walk

This week we talked about personification in popular media and children’s poetry. We looked at pictures of animals doing human things and what they might say in those situations. Then we talked about how rhythm can change the mood in poetry. Kids drew an animal picture and an everyday situation out of envelopes and had to create a short story or poem using personification of the animal in that scenario.

Everyone decorated a shaker egg to take home to practice the rhythm of poetry!

Week 5: Superhero Stories

This week was all about metaphor and simile! Kids looked at popular superheroes that were paired with a fill-in-the -blank similes, which they filled out collectively. After learning about metaphors too, they put their knowledge to use spotting the figurative language while listening to a story. In small groups, students completed a superhero madlib activity using similes, then they created their own superheroes and superhero stories they digitized with the iPad app Seedling.

Week 7: If Pictures Could Talk 

Since we were working on emotions, young writers included the emotion they were feeling on their name tags. Then we transitioned to talking about what emotion is and how it can be conveyed through imagery and literature, using pictures and poems as examples. Kids talked about emotions they picked up on and why, and then we wrote! Kids described the degrees of an emotion with a thermometer handout, and analyzed pictures to collectively create the lines of a poem. 

Upcoming Themes

July 24: Make a life-size outline of yourself and fill it with words and pictures that describe you. 

July 31: Use photos, colors, feelings, and lines to make a story or poem collage.

August 7: Tell a family story and take a turn reading your work aloud while you eat s’mores!