On my morning walk with the dog, I met Tracy the funky librarian. Librarians aren’t always known for funkiness, but Tracy definitely fits the description. She’s a dynamo, firing on all cylinders. The fact that she confirmed that I would be facilitating a Halloween-themed writing workshop for children only adds to her funkiness.
Tracy’s always full of ideas, and it was she who suggested a Halloween writing workshop for children last year when I contacted her with a different proposal. The idea went down really well with the local population around Ardkeen Library in Waterford, Ireland, where she works. I was asked to give a second workshop on the same day.
Halloween Writing Fun
Both of the workshops were wonderful experiences. They were for children aged between eight and twelve, though they tend to come in at the younger end of the spectrum. One was to a small, intimate group and one was to a larger group, who bounced ideas off each other with great enthusiasm.
For the workshop, I added a Halloween twist to my usual repertoire of exercises. The children wrote a description of something scary that you’d associate with Halloween and the other children had to guess what it was. This always gets the competitive spirit going!
We played a few games to boost their language skills. We introduced ourselves at the start by saying their name and the name of a scary word that had the same first letter as their name. Then they came up with sentences that described my story hat, which comes to every writing class and looks a bit Halloweenish.
The children then had to come up with words that they felt described Halloween – and write a story without using those words. There were groans at first, but then they found clever ways to work around the ban, and they appeared to enjoy the challenge.
We then moved on to storytelling techniques, with an emphasis on scary stories. The children had to create a character sketch of a spooky Halloween character, and they also created their own haunted house. They wrote a description of the house first, and then drew the house. Black, orange and red were common colours.
Most of the children had pumpkins in their homes, and I asked them to imagine what would happen if that pumpkin came to life. What would it think of the place it found itself in? What would it see? What would it hear? And most importantly, what would it do? Most of the children imagined mayhem and chaos. It was a highly entertaining exercise, and proved my own pet theory that children are better able to handle darkness than adults give them credit for.
To learn about plotting, the children told a Halloween story out loud, with each child adding a line. And they also imagined what they would do in various scary scenarios. For example, what would they do if they were turned into a witch or a warlock?
This Year’s Writing Workshop
What will I do in the workshop this year? Well, the activities I did last year were all winners, but I have a few new spooky tricks up my sleeve. If you live in the Waterford area and you’d like your children to take part in these spooky activities, you can contact Ardkeen Library on 076 110 2755, as they’re handling the bookings. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?
And if you’d like to find out about my writing workshops in general, take a look at the Writing Workshops page on my website.