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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Memoir by Erin

Brainstorming ideas for future writing projects is an important part of Writing Workshop. Sometimes children, just like real authors, simply get stymied for what to write about. However, it is so important that they come up with their own ideas - only then will they take ownership of what they are writing.

Today, I took the kids through an exercise that I did during an adult writing workshop. I sketched a rough map of my childhood home - house, yard, woods in the back, creek that ran through the wood, trees and railroad track. Then I put an X over parts of the map that conjured up a memory. After just a few minutes, I had quite a few x's on my map - memories of climbing a tree when I was upset about a parental argument, wading in the creek (which resulted in massive bee stings), and simply lying in bed each night, listening to the lonely wails of the train and imagining people on that train. Then the students did the same thing, and were amazed at all the memories that came up. They will keep their maps in the writing folders, and will be encouraged to use it when the ideas just don't want to come.

This would be a fun thing to do at home! What a lovely way to tell stories of YOUR childhood!

And, finally, please enjoy this lovely memory from the mind of Erin. She has done a great job in painting a picture in my mind of her first remembered birthday party:

My 3rd Birthday Party

It all started when my Mom’s side of the family pulled up in cars great and small. I greet everyone with a soft, “I”, as if I was too busy to say hello but everyone else greets me with a very big bear hug (except Nicky, my youngest cousin who is still older than me; already 3 at that time).

My Dad set up our Bounce-Around for everyone to jump on. Before we (me and my younger cousins) inflate the Bounce-Around, I suggest me getting on the Bounce-Around before it’s inflated; while it inflates I’m on in. One of my cousins says no (can't remember who). I realize I am being videotaped while I am jumping on the Bounce-Around. I hear from my oldest cousin Megan, “There’s Erin! Look at her jump!” while I say, “Yay!” I heard my cousins Evan, Mary Ann, Mallory and Nicky singing Happy Birthday into their hands as if they were microphones.

Later, at cake time, when everyone sang Happy Birthday, I remember hearing, “cha, cha, cha!” between lines. After singing, everyone clapped; even me because I liked to clap for myself. (My Mom had taught me, “Everyone sings for you; you don’t have to sing). I heard laughing, which I didn’t like. Since the party was Dora-themed, we had all our Dora stuffed animals set out on the table, including Benny The Bull, my favorite stuffed-animal which I brought everywhere with me. I took him from the middle of the table. But my cousin Mallory said, “No Erin”, and took it from me and put it back in the middle of the table. “That’s mean”, I thought.

For the rest of the party we played a game called “What did Swiper Swipe?” and a scavenger hunt which I don’t remember anything about. We opened presents and after that, everyone went home.

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