If you’ve been following me on this word adventure with your kids, congratulations! So far you’ve gathered a treasure chest of vibrant vocabulary and “painted” pictures with words. Susan Wooldridge’s book Poemcrazy, the original inspiration for the word tickets, includes many wonderful suggestions for using these tickets and having fun with language (especially in the form of poetry), and I encourage you to read the book for ideas. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with just a few of my own activities to help you encourage creativity in your kids:
- Author nicknames. When I have a new group of students sitting in my class for the first time, I almost always begin with word ticket nicknames to loosen things up. Pull out a pile of nouns from your collection, and also make a separate pile of verbs. Have each person choose one noun and one verb from these two piles. Then create nicknames by putting them together into a phrase. For example, if I chose dolphin and dance, I could be “The Dolphin Dancer” or “The Dancing Dolphin” or “She Who Dances with Dolphins.” Giggles are guaranteed. Make name tags that can be worn during future family writing activities.
- Silly sentences. Pull five word tickets out of the word box without looking. See if you can write a sentence using these five words (or phrases). You can make single nouns plural (and vice versa) and change the tenses of verbs if you want. You can also add more words so that your sentence will make sense, even if it sounds very silly (and it will!) But you have to use all five word tickets. For example:
These five tickets could become this silly sentence:
With gleeful growls, the gargoyles leaped off the cathedral roof and surged through the streets of the city that shimmered with morning dew.
- The Dixit story challenge.
Here’s one of my favorite uses for word tickets, and it involves another one of my best teaching tools: a board game called Dixit—specifically, the gorgeous picture cards that go with the game.
When played according to the rules, Dixit is a wonderful way to practice vocabulary, metaphor, and storytelling as a family. I highly recommend it. But I rarely play by the rules! The illustrated cards are so beautifully drawn, so evocative and fantastical and strange, that they are perfect writing prompts in themselves. Each one is a little glimpse into a mysterious story, like a freeze-frame of a movie—only that story could go in a hundred different directions.
So this is my story challenge:
- Choose one Dixit card at random. (If you don’t want to buy the game, you could also use photographs you find online—just choose pictures that include a potential character—human or animal—in an unusual situation or setting.)
- Choose five word tickets at random (you can raise or lower this number to adjust the difficulty).
- Write a story about what’s happening in the picture, using all five words (or phrases) on the tickets. This means you might have to write a story about a lovesick mermaid that also includes an armadillo, a cactus, fuzzy things, something that cackles, and the color chartreuse. Expect silliness. Expect laughter. Expect lots of fun. Especially if you set the timer.
- A quest for words. Finally, a few years ago I shared with Story Warren readers a creative writing activity that provides an ideal opportunity to make a family game out of word tickets: “Metaphors, Double Vision, and the Gruesome Pit of Grossness.” Instead of Post-it notes in this activity, use your tickets instead. Scatter them on objects around your house and go on an expedition to discover the extraordinary landscape such words evoke in their new locations.
I hope these activities make your family giggle and squirm and gallop and chortle and snorkel and glizzle and glow. And if you come up with your own fun ways to use word tickets, let me know! I love new ideas.
Special note: Some of these activities are featured in my online writing class, “Playing with Words,” which begins August 24. Until then, Story Warren readers can use the coupon code RABBITS to get 15% off registration for this or any of my other online classes. For more information, see my website www.sleepinggiantclasses.com.