We recently held an event in school to stimulate the children’s writing. It consisted of some green slime, a heavy dose of role play and a carefully conceived and cunning plan.
The idea came about when one of our teachers met with our local library service to put together a project about a mysterious alien landing on earth. The actors involved were all given loosely scripted parts and a green slimy jelly was strategically smeared around school. In classes, on the playground, down the corridors. When the children arrived in school they were immediately puzzled and excited. An emergency assembly was called to talk about what this might be. I was given my role by staff and I would like to think, I convinced the assembled mass of some extraordinary happening on our school field. I would like to think many of those watching staff believed my method approach-but maybe they just stayed to laugh. The children though were suitably filled with wonder and when our ‘new crossing patrol lady’ ran in full of panic and vivid description of a swooping bird like creature covered in green feathers and slime, many were already thinking they might have seen something similar on the way to school!
Next, the school secretary ran in with some police photographs to confirm our suspicions. They showed cordoned off areas and locations of sightings. All of this served to build the children to a level of near frenzy about what could possibly be happening. Was it an alien? What did it want? What was ‘IT’?
The staff took the children back to class and seized the moment, encouraging the children to get their thoughts and ideas down. At break and lunchtime the children, still engrossed, stalked the playground with clipboards and binoculars looking for clues.
Other schools in the area were also involved which only served to further the mystery. The use of a few simple props, some willing actors and a great gem of an idea gave us a level of engagement we strive for everyday. The children have a memory that will last a long time and that stimulated some of their best writing. It didn’t cost the earth and required only a small amount of people’s time but it’s impact will be lasting.