We at Ignite are big fans of all books by author-illustrator and creativity evangelist Peter H. Reynolds, who has become a friend.
The books themselves speak to creative strengths of all varieties:
invention strengths (Going Places),
artistic strengths (Ish),
imagination strengths (The Dot),
independence strengths (The North Star),
musical strengths (Playing From the Heart),
and now my personal favorite,
language strengths (Word Collector).
I’m also a big fan of using picture books as catalysts for learning, exploration, and creativity.
So let me share an activity that I’ve been using for a decade to help adult and kid learners become more detailed observers and creative writers. Originally inspired by Poem Crazy by Susan Wooldridge, Word Collector now gives us a visual jumping off point.
This is an easy activity to do at home to supplement your children’s language arts learning and creative thinking.
Here’s how to play the word collector game:
- Read Word Collector for inspiration.
- Grab your pencil and Post-it notes or tiny slips of card stock or cut-up index cards.
- Take a walk around your house, out in nature, or in a town or city. Don’t forget unassuming spaces like warehouses or basements or bathrooms. Words can be found anywhere!
- Collect words as you go, writing each one on an individual card or note. Get lots of nouns and verbs, and descriptive words, too.
- When you’re done with your walk, do what Jerome does in Word Collector and start “stringing your words together.” Don’t think too much, and let random and surprising combinations happen.
- Write the word combinations down. Do they sound like poems? Lovely poems? Silly poems? Serious poems?
- Now pull out words place them together deliberately. What stories emerge? What poems?
- Find a fun container to keep your collection. I have mine in a small paint can. Susan Wooldridge uses a fish bowl.
- Keep extra blank cards around so you can continually add to your word collection when new ones come to you.
Here are some ways to use your word collection:
- As a spark when you’re stuck. Grab a handful of words and string them together. What ideas do these combinations bring to mind to help you solve your problem?
- As poetry starters.
- Collect words around certain topics.
- As a parent perhaps you are working on a marketing piece for a new business service, or for a concert you are promoting. Collect words connected with your topic and use them to develop fresh messaging.
- Maybe you are a teacher creating a lesson plan on World War II. Start a word collection about the topic to help you think about the topic differently.
- You might be a kid trying to get started on an essay for school. Pull words from your collection to spark ideas, or start a new collection with words you find as you research your topic.
- Enlist others to start a word collection with you. Read Word Collector at a team meeting. Have your team collect words that describe your company mission in a central place. Use these to develop your vision statement.
- With your kids, collect words around a topic of study or around a character trait you are trying to encourage, like kindness.
- To build vocabulary, collect the most obscure words that you see and don’t know.
These are just some ideas on how to use your word collection. What word collection ideas do you and your kids have? Try them out as you learn and work at home!
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