This week’s COW Writing Challenge is based upon this visual prompt and the written prompt, “I knew this camping trip would be a disaster when…”
Ah, yes. It’s that time of year when civilized people abandon their civilized ways and head out into the Great Outdoors to battle the elements.
Camping adventures are a great source of material for writing. Think of the potential for disaster– sudden storms, bugs, wild animal encounters, bugs, cooking disasters, bugs, forgotten supplies, bugs and the list goes on.
This writing challenge can be fact or fiction– students can write a camping story in which everything goes horribly wrong. If they’ve done some camping, draw upon some of their own experiences, then use their imaginations to stretch and reshape them. Of course, they may want to find a silver lining in amongst those dark clouds of misfortune!
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!
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!
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.
April 14th, 2016 is Look Up in the Sky Day. We thought everyone should join in the celebration!
This week’s COW Writing Challenge is all about imagining what incredible things could emerge out of the clouds and appear in the sky. The possibilities are, of course, endless.
1. Could it be something extraterrestrial?
2. Could it be something that doesn’t normally get airborne?
3. Could it be something dangerous? Something good? A dream come true?
4. Maybe, as you look up in the sky, you see a whole series of things, one after the other?
The sky’s the limit for possibilities with this writing challenge!
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!
This week’s COW Writing Challenge is a this visual prompt, plus the written prompt, “There it is! My archenemy, the . . .”
We are asking students to imagine they are the cat . . . or are they the toy? They are to tell what happens from one of these points of view. Possibly, they could write two stories– one from each point of view.
This writing challenge provides students with an opportunity to explore an important element of writing in the first person. Choosing to have one of their characters narrate the story leads to the following questions regarding Point of View:
Which character is best able to tell the story?
How would the story be different if it was told by a different character?
How reliable is the narrator of your story? Does she or he see things objectively, or do they see things subjectively, with their strong opinions influencing the telling of the story?
A great activity is to have students write the same story twice– each told from a different character’s point of view. This can be particularly powerful when the two characters are archenemies. Great examples of literature that use point of view effectively include:
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
Origami Yoda Series by Tom Angleberger
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
From my point of view, this can be a really interesting writing activity!
For this week’s COW Writing Challenge, students are presented with this image, plus the prompt, “There’s a long story behind how this car ended up in the middle of a forest. It all began . . .”
For this writing challenge, students are asked to imagine the events leading up to an ending. This forces the writer to think very differently about their story as they write toward a fixed ending. Aspects of the final outcome are woven into the plot of the story. In preparation for this writing challenge, have students think about the following aspects of the final outcome to this story:
How did the car end up in the middle of a forest? Was this the result of a car chase? A failed invention? A horribly wrong turn?
Why is it upside down?
How long has it been here?
Who was the owner of the car? Was this person also the driver?
Is there a secret behind this car that you can reveal to your reader?
A follow-up activity is to have students share their versions of “How Did It Get Here?” Everyone will be amazed at the many different stories behind this mysterious car.
This week’s COW Writing Challenge is a visual prompt coupled with the written prompt: “Your family returns to the parking lot to discover your car has been . . .”
At the centre of this writing challenge is the “monster” pictured at the foot of the parking spot where your car was parked. This writing challenge offers a great opportunity for your students to explore “the unexpected” in terms of character and plot development.
When examining this picture, the first thought is that this “monster” ate your car. If it did, consider this:
Maybe it had a good reason. If so, what would that reason be?
Maybe it actually helped you and your family by swallowing your car. If so, how could this be?
Maybe the monster didn’t actually eat your car. Was he a witness to something else that may have happened?
Based on the answers to these questions, how will the story unfold? Will you get the car back? Will there be some other surprising outcome?
Great writers surprise their readers. Challenge your students to come up with twists and turns for this writing challenge that will be give their readers an unexpected fictional journey.
Here is the visual prompt for this week’s COW Writing Challenge, “Down the Drain.”
Our character is about to lower himself through a drain. Or is it a drain? Maybe it’s actually a portal to some strange land.
Portals are a common literary device to take characters from one time and place to another. Authors have used wardrobes, tree houses, and rabbit holes to name just a few. This writing challenge is an opportunity for your students to explore other portal possibilities. What potential portals could exist in their classroom? The school? The school yard? Their homes?
After completing this writing challenge, your students may wish to do other free writing sessions in which they use their own invented portals which lead their characters to adventure.