Now that we have moved our book club to lunch times we have only half the time. We need to find shorter but still satisfying tasks. I discover that we are not alone –one teacher friend has a speedy twenty minutes for her club!
This week we used what the children call ‘flap books’. Make a basic zigzag or concertina book. Fold a sheet of paper [we used A4 this time] in half lengthways. Fold the doubled strip into four equal zigzag pages. Unfold. Cut along the folds along one side to create four pages with lift up flaps.
We introduced the idea that we may not always be what we seem. We began with a couple of rounds of words. Think of something you would like to be if you were not a school child. We gave some examples –baker, astronaut, trapeze artist (what’s a trapeze artist?) and started the round. At which point we moved directly into the surreal. Rather than the ideas we were anticipating, they moved straight into – monkey, mountain, unicorn (well, of course), pineapple. I love that pineapple! I asked for a second round, hoping, I think, for something more human, but…..of course not.
We introduced the flap books and suggested some ideas. On the upper flap they might write ‘I look like a school boy but really …’ and underneath the flap they could reveal what they really are. Or they could write ‘On the outside I may seem serious .. On the inside….’ Then we suggested it could be the outside and inside of a house or other building. Then I made the silly suggestion of what we are wearing on top and underneath –because Emily and I had been having a silly conversation about a story titled ‘Miss Jeni’s Undies’…….
We had made the books in advance [crucial when time is short] and we handed these out and set out the coloured pens and pencils. Whilst you may wish to offer children one idea, the offering of options gives them space to choose their own way through. Often, as on this occasion, children combine the ideas offered in order to make their own unique stories.
Some children may only draw –one good Year 1 writer has taken to making picture books, though the blurb, including an account of her prowess, remains a crucial element. Another chose to wrote about a cat: “In my book are some nice friends.” Another Year 2 had the very best time drawing my verybig pants under each flap [reminiscent of The Queen’s Knickers by Nicholas Allen]. Some children wrote few words and others wrote extensively and will carry on next week.
Writing club is a place where children may choose their own direction and play with language and ideas: ‘I am a mountain, but inside I am a mutant’; ‘I may be treated like a horse…. But… I am a unicorn.’ ‘I could seem naughty …But .. actually inside I’m nice.’