Activity 3 Topic 1

Title

Playing with words and images

Duration

Approximately 30min for each step – duration may vary depending on the student’s linguistic competences.

Expected learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, the students will be able to: 

  • Use new words, write them appropriately and associate them to concrete objects/ideas 

  • Select the most appropriate sentences for a specific context / situation

  • Apply creativity and collaboration competences

Methodology

Creative Writing; Storytelling

Required resources

Materials:

  • Sheets of paper

  • Pens

Annexes

  • Annex I. Story cards

  • Annex II. Mesostics

  • Annex III. Suitcase drawing 

  • Annex IV. List of topics and related images

Description

Creative writing can provide a unique stimulus for strengthening language learning and facilitate collaboration between students. 


PLEASE NOTE: The following steps are not meant to follow a chronological order. We suggest you to use the different exercises during the school year in different contexts and with several contents, in line with teachers’ and students’ interests. A big advantage of these exercises is that they adapt themselves to the language level of the students.

Step 1 - Associative images

  • In order to facilitate this activity you can start from the use of the story cards provided in the annexes (Annex I).

  • You can also create some “story cards” with an image related to a specific topic (you can start with the ones proposed at the end of this lesson plan). Example: 

Topic: supermarket
Images: Money, Milk, Fruits, Person

  • Each student receives three (or four) cards. They will create a story with them. Give them the cards with the back side up; turn them up one after the other. 

  • They will now receive between four and five cards on a second topic and they will have to draw the final part of the story.

  • Similar to the previous steps, they receive additional images and tell their story by placing all the images on the sheet of paper. They will add words/sentences to explain the image. There is no correct order as you are working on the fluidity of language. 

  • Thus, they make a story with 4 images, then with 6 and guided by the mentor, they will write the story. 

 

PLEASE NOTE: In the annexes you will find two sets of story cards: they are simple and allow to make basic stories, without any pressure on content. If your students are familiar with how creative writing and storytelling work and there are no hesitations anymore, you can replace these cards with more complex ones. Afterwards you can change these cards to more personal or more conflictual themes. Then, you may use images of newspapers, digital media or photobooks. 

 

You can use different combinations of images; the important is: to stimulate creativity!

Step 2 – Getting inspired by Mesostics

A mesostic is a text arranged so that a vertical phrase intersects lines of horizontal text. Some examples of mesostics are offered in Annex II. 

 

  • What is a mesostics? Write a word on a vertical line. In turn, the pair of students make a sentence for each letter, starting from it or intersecting it somehow.

  • Now get inspired by this method: the two students create a story. One of the students may start from the first half of the sheet of paper and the other continues. Or, in turn, they may add a sentence to each word.

  • Now, students will choose 5 words and create a story based on them. 

If you want to increase the level of difficulty of the exercise, you may ask your students to explain the meaning of a term using these methods – e.g., culture. Or you may ask your students to write a story about racism and discrimination by repeating these terms 3, 4 times.

Step 3 – Collaborative writing

1st option:

  • Draw a vertical line in the middle of an A4 sheet of paper. 

  • Students choose a title and discuss the topic of the story they will create.

  • One student starts writing up to the line. Once started they may not speak to each other anymore.

  • The other one will write from the line to the end of the sheet. 

  • They write a story together. 

  • They make a story of 10-12 lines.

 

2nd option:

  • Each pair of students identify a problem (or the teacher gives one). 

  • They create two “characters” by drawing it and placing them on a skewer. 

  • They write a dialogue.

  • The beginning is:

    • X: Good morning.

    • Y: Good morning

    • X: What happened to you?

    • Y: …

  • They create at least 8 additional sentences. 

 

3rd option:

  • Each pair gets eight cards, each with one written word. 

  • Each student turns over one card and make a sentence with the written word. [Students with stronger linguistic competences can make different sentences per card].

  • They write the sentence down. 

  • They do the same with the next card and make a story. 

  • They will use at least 6 cards. You can adapt the number of the cards to the language level of the students, or let them choose the number by themselves.

 

4th option:

  • Each pair of students chooses a theme (they write it on a blue card)

  • Each pair makes up five more words related to topic chosen and writes them on yellow cards.

  • They turn over the blue card and think up a sentence.

  • They write down this sentence.

  • Then they turn over a yellow card, think of a sentence and write it down.

  • In this way, they do at least four cards. You can adapt the number of the cards to the language level of the students, or let them choose the number by themselves.

  • The pupils who want to continue can make more cards.

[After trying the activity, each member of the pair will do the activity individually]

Step 4 – Linking images and words

  • Students will receive the story cards (4-6 story cards) used in the first exercise. 

  • They will place each image one under the other. 

  • They create a story and use each image as a word within a sentence.

Step 5 – Phantasy Stories

1st option:

  • Students receive the drawing of a suitcase (Annex III). On top of the sheet of paper they write where they want to travel with this object. 

  • In the suitcase, one student will write three elements to bring with them. Then, it’s the turn of the other student. They continue like this for four times. Finally, the student who started will choose three elements with which they will create a story.

 

2nd option:

  • Students discuss the images related to a specific topic. For each image they invent something that is impossible. They choose three images and create a story with things that are not possible. 

  • Annex IV. List of topics and Images. 

 

Example:

Carpet 🡪 Yesterday I went to school driving a flying carpet. 

Potato peels 🡪 The woman was wearing a beautiful dress made of potato peels.

Relevant topics for discussion

  • What did you learn?

  • Which activity did you like the most / least? Why?

  • Which linguistic competences would you like to improve?

  • Which other exercises can you create based on these examples?

Original source

Moons, K. Veerman: https://www.veerman.be/index.php?lang=en

Moons, K. (2002) By-the-book. Didactic Reading Advacment Kit. Canon Cultural Unit of the Department of Education, Ministry of the Flemish Community


The exercises for creative writing took inspiration from the musician John Cage (1912-1992). He used mesostics in his music pieces, for example in his book: https://www.johncage.org/library_entry.cfm?id=21

Annex I - Story cards

Annex II - Mesostics

Annex III - Suitcase drawing

Annex IV - List of topics and related images 

Share stories, photos and videos from your class while using this Activity!