SWAMP RAT!

Luka in Swamp Pond (2)

SWAMP RAT! What do I do when not writing? One occupation that takes up a lot of my time is the exercising and training of Luka. He is the normally glossy individual you see on the Andrew Pender-Smith Facebook page. Luka runs free in the local park and is well known for diving into the swampy pond for a quick swim. This has earned him the nickname of ‘Swamp Rat’. To say he doesn’t smell good is an understatement. Thank you to Robin Regnard for the photo. Talking of writing, I am busy working on three short stories which should be out within the next few weeks. They are a children’s story called ‘Singing and Clapping’ and two in the mystery/horror/suspense genres. These works have the titles ‘An Absolute Killing’ and ‘Will You Come Back?’ Luka spends a great deal of time at my feet while I work on the stories.

To those of you who spend at least part of your time engaging in creative activities, be they writing, painting, taking photos, dancing, acting or anything else creative, HAPPY CREATING. 

Andrew Pender-Smith

 

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Floating into Happiness

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The title comes from the short story for children that grew out of the creative writing exercise discussed below.

Creating Characters from Objects.

A highly effective way to help children develop their creative writing skills is to turn objects into characters and then to use the characters in a story. People who wish to write for children will also find this exercise very useful. The completed stories could also be used to encourage children to read aloud. Reading out a story one has written usually provides much enjoyment for the writer and the listener. If you are a teacher working with a class, this exercise could further be extended by encouraging students to draw the characters they have created.

To start off with, find objects you would enjoy turning into a character. A stone? A potato? A carrot? An ice block? Some cheese? A USB? A CD? A chair? The list is almost endless.

To illustrate this discussion I have chosen a carrot, a potato and a large balloon.

This is what I have decided about the carrot, potato and balloon after looking at them and thinking about names, clothes, movement and temperament and asking questions such as:

What do you look like?

How do you dress?

How do you speak?

Are you brave, timid, outspoken, happy, sad, lonely, friendly…?

Where are you when the story starts off?

What are you doing?

What happens to you?

The questions help to build a whole lot of knowledge about the characters and their situations. They help develop the story from opening through to a conclusion. Here are a few things I came up with when it came to the actual characters.

Carrot has long purple hair, purple shoes with bright yellow laces and he has big, purple hands. Carrot is excitable and loves exercising and dancing. His name is Sylvester. His mother called him Sylvester because she liked the name.

Potato’s name is Linda. She wears a soft, pink dress, has curly blonde hair, large blue eyes and wears huge glasses because she cannot see too well. Her shoes are pink pumps that match the colour of her dress. The ribbons in her hair also pink.  Linda loves to sing and dance. She and Sylvester a good friends.

Balloon is huge and round. Balloon is a deep blue in colour and has big, big eyes and a wide, rubbery mouth. Balloon has a long yellow string attached to him. He has been all over the world because his string often comes loose and he floats and floats high in the sky from place to place. Balloon’s name is Big Bruce.

The story begins:

‘’Oh no, oh no,’’ Linda said between sobs. ‘’I heard her say it. I honestly did. We are going to be eaten this evening, and I did so, so want a long life and to do and see lots of lovely things. I wanted to be a famous singer. I wanted thousands and thousands of people to come and hear me at concerts. Now I’m going to be put into a stew.’’

      ‘’It’s the worst thing for both of us,‘’ Sylvester said in a deep, sad voice. ‘’And in the two days we have known each other, I have loved dancing in the kitchen while you sang to me. I always wanted to be on stage as the world’s first dancing carrot. I also wanted to be famous, and now I never will be.’’ … … …

How does the toucan, the bird with the colourful beak, feature in all of this. You will need to ask the characters the story to find out that. ‘Floating into Happiness’ – the little story with a big heart – is available for the princely amount of 99 American cents on Amazon. Here is the link:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B074KCSSZ2

 

Building Readership Starts Here (Part Two)

boy with big glasses

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison

The first part of this discussion was published on the 26th of June 2017.

How you can help: Donate books to schools, libraries, families and individuals. CD’s, DVD’S and even computers, laptops and iPads are also welcome donations when institutions cannot afford them.  I know of individuals and service clubs who pay for internet connection in instances when schools and children’s homes cannot afford it.

Read and tell stories to young children with whom you are in contact. Sing to them and teach them songs. Include actions when possible. Volunteers at children’s homes, hospitals and under-privileged schools are most often greatly welcomed. Readership, which mean a love of stories and learning through them, starts from the youngest of ages and it includes YOU.

When doing all of these, make sure the material is appropriate to age and ability.

As this is a blog posting and full discussion is limited by constraints of space, only an outline of benefits and how to help have been included. There is a great deal available online or through discussion with teachers (especially teachers of Speech and Drama and those involved in early learning phase education), with whom you can discuss further. Hopefully you can all come up with ideas on how to develop literacy in your community or one which desperately needs it. Some of your future readers might come from the very children you have helped. You might even be tempted to write stories for these young audiences and, in so doing, find a whole new market for your writing. Older children can be encouraged to write and illustrate stories and poems of their own. You might even make copies and place them in other classrooms and school libraries. Children often love reading stories and poems written by other children. 

Have fun inculcating and building a culture of reading and writing in the young. It will benefit others, and you.

 Andrew Pender-Smith

https://www.amazon.com/author/andrewpendersmith

Never Too Old

 

 

 

Building Readership Starts Here. (Part One)

 

laughing boy

If we want readers, we need to grow the base from the beginning. This beginning starts with very early childhood, and includes infants.

When you read to a child, when you put a book in a child’s hands, you are bringing that child news of the infinitely varied nature of life. You are an awakener. Paula Fox

Aim: To encouraging listening, thinking, observation, participation, imagination, empathy and speaking through reading and storytelling.

I read many blogs and books designed to help writers improve their craft and help market their work. We also need to be proactive about developing readers and, more particularly, developing them from a very young age. This comes through reading to children, sharing and discussing pictures with them, and encouraging them to observe, interact with, and question their environment and all within it. I regularly meet children who live in towns and cities with access to a library or resource centre who are never encouraged to visit it. I also encounter children whose parents do not read to them. In terms of cognitive and emotional development this is really setting a child up for failure.

In areas where books are scant or non-existent, parents should be encouraged to tell stories to their children. These could be imaginative tales or of a biographical or autobiographical nature. When it comes to the latter two examples, this helps keep family history alive while children’s listening and language skills are improved. Once children are able to draw and paint, they can create illustrations of the stories they have heard. Singing songs together is also a great way of enhancing confidence and communication. It is even better if some action is included.  If parents and children do have access to books, it is still important to tell stories and sing songs. In other words, the more activities you include, the better.

Andrew Pender-Smith

Part two follows in a day or two.