Nothing holds more promise for classroom chaos than Bring Your Pet to School Day, or Pet Day. In this week’s COW Writing Challenge, students are to imagine the most chaotic Pet Day ever in the history of Pet Days.
Have them consider some of the following questions that would make an already chaotic day even more wild:
1. What strange pets could be brought that day? A camel? A penguin? A snake? Did someone borrow an animal from the zoo or a circus for the day?
2. What interactions between the pets lead to further mayhem? Do dogs meet cats?
3. How does the ‘Pet Day’ in this class spill over to the rest of the school? Or is Pet Day a school wide phenomenon? Do some pets escape? Do some of them find their way into the duct work of the school’s air conditioning and heating system? Do some hide in lockers? Do some of them interrupt other classes? Do some of them find their way onto school buses?
4. What heroic deed or brilliant idea could bring all of this catastrophic confusion to an end?
We hope some brilliant writing comes out of this challenge, and will raise some concerns about having a real-life pet day in your class!
All fishing stories are true, right?
Okay, so fishing stories do have a reputation for being prone to exaggeration. With this visual prompt, here is your students’ chance to let their imaginations run wild, creating the most outrageous fishing story ever told. Before they start writing, here are a few things they can think about to get their imaginations going:
- What might be lurking under the water?
- What kind of special bait are these men using?
- What happens when they cast their lines?
- What do they hook?
- What happened when they fought the fish (or whatever it was) on the end of their line?
- What happened when they landed their catch in the boat?
Have fun writing a fishy tale!
In this week’s COW Writing Challenge, we are asking students to look ahead into their future. What will your life be like in twenty years?
One way of approaching this is to have a question-answer format in which the student of today is asking questions of themselves in twenty years.
Me Today: Do you have a car?
Me in Twenty years: Yes. I have a solar-powered self-flying car.
Me Today: Where do you live?
Me in Twenty years: I live on a space station on Mars. I’ve lived there for three years, but in six months, I get beamed back down to Earth for a holiday.
Me Today: What job do you do?
Me in Twenty Years: I am an Alien Ambassador, making sure Earthlings and alien life forms get along with each other.
Before you do this writing challenge with your students, have a brainstorming session in which students come up with a list of questions they’d like to ask themselves in the future. What details of their lives would they like to know?
This is a good opportunity to explore the different kinds of questions they can ask– Close Ended questions (answered with a ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or one word answer.) versus Open Ended questions (in which the person gives more of a lengthy, thoughtful answer).
As the end of the school year approaches, one of the most unenviable tasks is the annual locker clean-out. Cleaning out a locker can lead to all kinds of surprises. Throughout the course of the year, all manner of things can grow, rot, multiply, and mutate.
In this writing challenge, students are to imagine the worst locker of all time. It is their job to clean it out. Unfortunately, the locker clean-out leads to all kinds of surprises. Before the writing session, you may want to have a brainstorming session of the kinds of strange, exotic, and downright bizarre life-forms that may be found in this locker.
Rather than having this writing challenge turn into a list of items found in the locker, students should use the discoveries as a lead-in to a story relating to those items. Does something escape into the school? Does something pull you into the locker? The other possibility is to have the locker as a portal . . . a portal to where?
After completing this writing challenge, hopefully, your students will never look at their locker in the same way! That’s how writing transforms writers.
Here is this week’s COW Writing Challenge visual prompt.
Before the writing session, have your students think about these questions:
1. Who made this mess? Was it you, someone you know, or a fictional character? Did the mess go beyond the kitchen sink area?
2. What wild recipe was being made? What were the ingredients? Were there any strange techniques used to make this recipe?
3. How did the recipe turn out? How did it taste? Was it for a special occasion? Were there any strange results when people ate it?
4. What happened in the next few minutes after this picture was taken?
If the students want to share their literary culinary creations, we wouldn’t recommend doing it just before lunch!
This week’s COW Writing Challenge is a variation on one of more popular writing challenges.
In October, hundreds of students wrote the “Five Word Writing Challenge.” This writing challenge is even better. It’s called the “Six Word Writing Challenge.”
The bonus word list the students will use is only six words long. These words are: throw, castle, slide, glove, glass, and question. (If they use up all of the bonus words on this list, they’ll be fed more bonus words from the COW Bonus Word List.)
An important aspect of this writing challenge is the sharing of stories after the writing session. When the students share their stories either orally or on the class bookshelf, the other students in the class can see the various ways these same five words have been used. The individuality of each writer’s creative direction is brought to light.
Tell your students to have fun making these six words a part of an amazing story!
Here is the visual prompt for this week’s COW Writing Challenge, along with the written prompt: “I took a shortcut through the woods on my way home, and there I saw . . .”
Great writers surprise their readers. With some writers, you expect the unexpected. Assumptions are never a safe bet!
For this visual prompt, challenge your students to come up with wildly original ideas for what this red thing is in the woods. Before the writing session, do some brainstorming and generate as many possibilities for this red thing as the class can muster. Once they have a long list of possibilities, students can either take an idea from the list, or spin out their own original idea.
This week’s COW Writing Challenge features this visual prompt, plus the written prompt, “As soon as I sat down on the bench, I knew I’d made a mistake. The statue . . .”
You may want to leave the identity of the statue in this visual prompt up to the students’ imaginations. However, you could also let them know that this statue is of Glenn Gould, the famous pianist.
Before the writing challenge, you may want to give your students some background on Glenn Gould. Explore his amazing talent, as well as his widely publicized eccentricities. You may even wish to play one of his most famous recordings, Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” while the students write. Challenge your students to incorporate as many facts about Glenn Gould as they can into their story.
By learning about Glenn Gould and combining facts with a good dose of creativity, your students can make this statue come alive in more ways than one!
Everyone loves April Fools’ Day! (Don’t they?) Well, writers certainly do, as there’s nothing funnier than writing about a wild prank. (Isn’t there?) In honour of April Fools’ Day, here’s a COW Writing Challenge to get those creative ideas flowing.
Instead of writing from the point of view of the prankster, students are challenged to write from the point of view of the person who got pranked. (Prankster versus Prankee?)
The written prompt for this writing challenge is: The week leading up to April 1st was the worst week of my life! It began on Monday, when…
Students are then challenged to write about a series of pranks in which they were the victim. Of course, the story could take a twist. Does the prankee turn into the prankster?
To make things even more interesting, along with this prompt, students will be continually inspired by an April Fools’ bonus word list.
We hope our writers will fool their audience with some prankish twists and turns in their writing!
One day, you hear a knock at your door. Before opening the door, you look through the peep hole in the door. This is what you see . . .
For this week’s COW Writing Challenge, the students are asked to tell us what will happen next. There are all kinds of possibilities. Before writing, students can explore the possibilities by thinking over the following questions:
1. What happens if you open the door?
2. If you decide not to open the door, you know this pig will not go away easily. (A role reversal of the Three Little Pigs?)
3. Is it you that is answering the door, or is it another creature or character? Maybe a wolf?
4. Does the creature you see through the peep hole turn out to be something unexpected? Could it actually be a door-knocking puppeteer?
Challenge the students to write a story which has all sorts of unexpected twists and turns in the plot. Even looking through the peep hole in a front door, things are never what they appear at first glance!