Skip to main content

A galaxy far, far away...


Turn your most wayward apprentices from scruffy-lookin’ nerf herders into Jedi Masters with this creative writing and illustration workshop.
Creative writing workshop -- six sessions -- fiction

A few weeks ago, in a primary school not far away, six young boys strapped on their lightsabers, set the coordinates for the jump to light-speed and began a journey that they would never forget. Now stop making a lightsaber noise and concentrate...

This, of course, was a Star Wars creative writing and art workshop. Using graphic novels and the original movies as the starting point, the six Padawan writers were guided through the process of turning an idea (and enthusiasm) into rich, controlled story telling whilst also experimenting with simple illustrations. And worthy of Master Yoda, the results were.

Over the next week, I will post a series of short articles explaining how Star Wars in the classroom can turn your most wayward apprentices from scruffy-lookin’ nerf herders into Jedi Masters in the blink of a Gungan’s eye.

EPISODE I - Enter our reluctant heroes...The boys chosen for this workshop could be described as ‘reluctant’; it’s an easy word to use in Teacher Land to describe children who find our literacy lessons boring. Indeed, one boy readily announced: “I hate literacy” within five minutes of our first meeting, a sentiment that drew nods of support from the rest.

When it comes to Star Wars however, they were anything but. Rather than reluctant writers, this rebel crew could more accurately be described as ‘fervent’, ‘avid’, ‘keen as mustard’ and anything else the thesaurus can suggest. 

How did this workshop bridge that gap? It is Star Wars! It is hard to find decent Science Fiction texts to use with children. Many of the good, geeky, technical books can be too hard for primary school and the readable ones such as The Way Back Home don't have much science in them. The graphic novels I chose - Skywalker Strikes and Vader - were (mostly) readable AND full of action, even if some of it was a bit bloodthirsty. They were a tough and gritty read for Year 5 but that is, it seems, exactly what this group has been waiting for.  

By following their interest and neatly riding the crest of the wave following the release of the Force Awakens rather than struggling to encourage them to put pen to paper, the challenge was getting them to stop writing which is, I’m sure you’ll agree, a much nicer problem.

Next time... Developing sci-fi vocabulary and not worrying about the children being the experts! 

Popular posts from this blog

Creative writing based on Hokusai's The Great Wave

The Great Wave - Creative writing workshop, Year 6

Week 1: Vocabulary development








Inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai's masterpiece The Great Wave, Year 6 are starting on a creative voyage to bring the iconic print to literary life! We spent some time poring over the features of painting: the spray, the wave, the boats and, well hidden, Mount Fuji.

After reading an account of Ellen MacArthur's sailing voyages, we began to generate some cutting edge vocabulary to give our writing some sparkle.

This was the process:
Children labelled the features of the picture, including parts of the wave (crest, barrel, swell, lip)We chose personified verbs for the different features. 'Grabbing', 'scratching' and 'grasping' for the finger-like lip of the wave; 'screaming', 'slapping' and 'whistling' for the wind.The group selected similes for each of the features. The wind became 'a bellowing dragon', the boats were 'a floating feather&…

Filthy wretch or poor thing? Rethinking the Island, KS2, Week 1

A treat for the final half term - a new workshop at a delightful school in Leeds! This half term I am working with two Year 5 teachers to develop a cross-year group, cross-curricular writing project based on my favourite picture book, Armin Greder's The Island. I've done this book many times and every time the response is different!
This week, we got to grips with the facts, possibilities and mysteries of the story. What do we know about the story so far? (we only ever read up to page 6 to leave it on a knife edge...) What doesn't this story tell us and what could we infer or predict?    
We looked at the crowd of islanders who 'welcome' the stranger's arrival. As in every class, country or community, no group ever sees the world the same way and we discussed how the islanders might react differently to the man. Is he a poor thing who needs to be rescued? Is he a curiosity? Is he a threat?
We each adopted an islander and took on their perspective for a great dra…

Blood thirsty Macbeth posters

Macbeth
Creative writing workshop, KS2
Macbeth is a blood-drenched, gory and spooky tale. Too gruesome for little ones? Apparently not! The Year 4 and 5 children I have been working with this half term have become completely immersed in the Scottish play.  As well as getting the children to write short playscripts, developing the climactic showdown between Macbeth and Macduff (more on this at a later date), my groups have designed some concept posters for the play. The children chose a colour and symbol that represented some aspect of the play (bloody red, royal purple, a black cat for the witches, a chess piece for the king) and overlayed it with words that help tell the story. We used emulsion paint and big worn-out brushes (the ones at the back of the cupboard that nobody uses...) to achieve a battle-worn, scratchy effect. Gory blood splatters went down a treat too! Here are some fine examples!