Teaching Creative Writing in the Elementary School. Personally, my observations with primary students is that despite their big imaginations, creative writing is beyond most of them. This paper does not agree with me.
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Most children enter school with a natural interest in writing, an inherent need to express themselves in words (Graves, 1983). Couple this with the child's love of stories and nursery rhymes (Who has not seen a goggle-eyed group of kindergartners lost in the world of imagination as their teacher reads them a favorite story or nursery rhyme?) and you have the basis for building an emotionally involving and intellectually stimulating creative writing program for your students. This "Digest' should help teachers with that task.
THE NECESSITY OF CREATIVE WRITING
Tompkins (1982) suggests 7 reasons why children should write stories (these reasons, of course, also apply to writing poetry): 1) to entertain; 2) to foster artistic expression; 3) to explore the functions and values of writing; 4) to stimulate imagination; 5) to clarify thinking; 6) to search for identity; and 7) to learn to read and write.
With these compelling reasons in mind, it is hard to justify not making creative writing an important part of the elementary school classroom day. It is important that the reasons for writing be made clear to administrators and parents, who may automatically categorize creative writing as merely frivolous play, something akin to recess. While writing certainly should be enjoyable, and children should have opportunities to choose their own subjects and methods of writing, the importance of creative writing in developing children's cognitive and communication skills cannot be underestimated (Tompkins, 1982).
By being actively involved with, and actively interrogating their involvement with the elements that make up our written and oral communication, these young writers of fiction will gain an intuitive and intellectual understanding of its operations. This kind of understanding will elude those who merely observe it in its final, polished, professionally produced presentation. Simply put, one can best understand how something is constructed by attempting to put it together yourself.