Story Cubes and Summer Camp

I look back on those long ago days of 2014 with nostalgia, but I was also conflicted. Even though I KNEW that I was good at teaching writing and that the kids enjoyed the classes, but I was consumed by doubts: could I make this something that would take off and make me a living? And even more important could I get adults interested as well? It had always been my intention to grow in a couple of different ways. I didn’t only want to focus on kids, I knew from my two writers groups that adults, especially seniors, were an untapped market. Seniors have such stories to tell. They can connect us to our home, our ancestors, and our history. They place historical events in a living, breathing context. All of these things were ruminating in the back of my mind, but with no idea of how to execute the marketing needed for that kind of growth, I let the ideas percolate and continued teaching. It was good that I had the teaching because things were soon to get very dark indeed. But now is not the time for darkness. It is a time to wax happy. Wax on, Danielsan.

Towards the end of that session, I had found a new teaching tool. One of the moms turned me on to Rory’s Story Cubes. The game has nine dice with a different picture, one on each face. You roll the dice and make up a story using the pictures that come up. I wanted to see if the game would work for children under seven years old whose reading skills are not quite where they need to be.

The manager of the community center approached me about teaching a session of Inkreadable to her summer camp attendees. I agreed with alacrity. Since the mom of my student had recommended story cubes, I hadn’t had time to go out and purchase them. I thought that with 15 kids, they might prove useful. So I duly ran out to the best toy store in Washington DC called Child’s Play and got not one, but two. It would be a good thing, too.

I walked into the community center early and found to my trepidation there were not fifteen kids to teach, but twenty-seven. Twenty-seven. Turns out, there was nothing to worry about, the kids were fun and receptive. We did three stories in an hour. They are too random to recount, and also I can’t really remember what the stories were.  The experiment was so successful, that I used it with my trio of brothers as well. No writing was done, but we became impromptu storytellers so that we could include the youngest child of the household.

The youngest brother stole the show. Well, him and the story cubes. On this particular occasion, I was asked to do a marathon class for the kids as their summer was booked for the next three weeks. We had two classes left and so I agreed to do a two-hour session to wrap up. Little brother entered the scene early on in the marathon class, earlier today. He was playing with some stones that he blithely informed us were magic rocks. Magic rocks, you say? Magic rocks. It’s one of those ideas that, once taken hold, refuses to go away. We all decided to write a story about magic rocks. My students wrote complete stories that have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I struggled to write a story that was complete so I actually added magic rocks into my existing novel.

Well, that’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable Installment, stay tuned, as always there is more to come.




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