I ran a writing workshop on Tuesday – all day, with the same group of kids, aged 7-12. It was fun and exhausting and unexpected and frustrating and all the things that you get when you are trying to teach something or reach something in people.
My stand-out moment of the day came when we were all working round one big table together. The theme of the day was ‘Narnia’ and since we were in the inspiring Story Museum, we started the day in their Narnia room. You LITERALLY walk through a wardrobe into a snowy land. It’s truly magical. And when we came back to the work room, I encouraged the children to create their own stories where a central character goes through a portal into another world. Who was the character? Were they hiding from people? Or looking for something? How did they discover the magic doorway? What was the world like on the other side?
I like to encourage by joining in myself, so I asked the kids for some ideas for my own story. Give me an animal, said I. ‘Giraffe,’ said one. So I started my story about a giraffe. But how would a giraffe fit into a wardrobe, I wondered?
‘It has a folding neck,’ explained a girl called Lucy.
Of course! But why does it go into the wardrobe in the first place?
‘Because,’ Lucy told me, ‘it’s running away from a merchant who specialises in hinges. And the merchant wants the hinges in the giraffe’s neck.’
That’s exactly what she said, word for word. I could never have thought of that myself. I don’t know many adults who could have either.
But kids – they do it as easily as breathing. And that’s why they’re more fun than adults. ‘Cos you never know what you’re gonna get.