Creative writing tip #1

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 11:32 PM Comments comments (2)
I get parents asking me regularly on how to get their children to start writing down their imaginative ideas. I also had the pleasure of working with a group of year 1/2 students two weeks ago on creative writing exercise as part of their writing class at school.  We started with a blank piece of paper each and by the end of one hour, I had the entire class of 27 students eagerly sharing their stories with me. We had a great time and I have decided to share a few exercises on creative writing with you too! 

This first creative writing exercise emphasises on Personification. Personification simply allows the writer to create character/s for their stories. Characters are the ones that makes a story interesting. So it would be really good to get children to start thinking about the characters in their stories. 

These are the things you would need: 
*A plate of three fruits. They could be the same kind of fruits or they could be different fruits. For a small group, three fruits should be enough. Increase
* Writing papers
* Coloured pencils
* Pencils

Note to Parents/Guardians/Teachers - 
Please do this activity with your child/Children as kids love working with their parents/guardians...

Task 1:
Ask your little gem/s to take a fruit from the plate and look at it carefully for two minutes. 
You take a fruit too and look at it really carefully for two minutes.

Things to note: Colour, texture and anything different about the fruit you have in your hand. For example, if the fruit is an orange - Make a note of any spots, discolouration and if it is rough or smooth or has green shades to the skin etc.

Task 2:
Now get your little gem to give a name to the fruit. A human name. You do that too. 
Tell each other who your fruits are and introduce the fruits to each other. 

Task 3: 
Put the fruit back on the plate.
Ask your little gem/s to imagine that the fruit is part of a story. You and your little gem/s have five minutes to create in your minds the story about this new character - the fruit named (_____) Don't share yet. 
Write down: who this fruit is.
Age, place of birth, family members or friends if any
work if any, school if any
what clothes the fruit is wearing and why
These questions will help you and your little gem to create the character as a real life character.

*OPTIONAL: Task 4 is optional but it will make the exercise interesting.
Task 4:
Draw an image of this fruit, now with a name and a story as you see it on paper.  
So if you named your fruit - Spotty. Draw Spotty on a piece of paper. Preferably on the top of the paper and write Spotty at the bottom of your drawing. 
This could take between 10 to 15 minutes as children usually love to draw and colour and make additional bits to their characters. 
Tell them they can add spectacles, dresses or pants, hats and all sorts of clothing bits and friends and family members to their characters. The fruit can be old or young according to image they have of their character in their story. 
Same applies to you. Put in some effort to bring out the best of your character on paper. 
For those adults like me who can't draw, stick figures will also be fine. As long as you can draw an image on the paper to show how you visualise your character.  

Task 5 or Task 4 if you skipped the task on drawing:
Share the story surrounding your new character with each other and.or show each other your visual picture of your character on paper. 

Note to Parents/Guardians/Teachers: 

This is a simple exercise that gives the child an idea of how to create a character. Your role would be to guide them once they have shared their story by
1) Liking their character and praising them for their creativity
2) Telling them how you saw a story come alive because of their chosen character
3) Make sure you tell an interesting story as well as they look up to you for encouragement
4) Giving them suggestions on how the story can sound interesting if the story needs enhancement or changing. NEVER put their story down. 

When it comes to the first writing exercise, never criticise. Always encourage the effort no matter how outrageous the story may sound or the character may be. 
Children also sometimes tell you they can't draw and shun the activity. Help them out with the drawing if you can to make sure they see the character they created on paper. This teaches them to visualise their creations. 

Make the first experience of writing, creating and sharing positive. Kids thrive on encouragement and when they see their work being appreciated, it will motivate them to be better writers!

To take this exercise a little further, you can merge all your fruit characters and make another story or continue from each other's story. This exercise is a fun and great way to create one or two stories within an hour!

Try the exercise and do send me your feedback via [email protected] and/or send me a story sample to publish on the Gemz Creative Arts website. 

Enjoy your new stories and I will post more Creative Writing tips soon!

Remember, I am conducting Creative Writing Exercises through my Arts and Craft School Holiday Programthis September! Get more details via to register your child/children on the program! 

Dr Puva Arumugam

Opinions - young and old - they matter!

Posted on July 23, 2013 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (1)
In my last blog, I highlighted how parents play a role in planting the seed of creativity in their children by being inevitable role models. In this blog, I am highlighting how parents can help to mould and also respect opinions expressed by children.
Opinions matter in anything we say, write or do. Without an opinion, any creative piece, be it a drawing; a poem; a play; an article or even a speech will be deemed to be lacking expression.
A school in Singapore last week organised a father and son weekend camp. A father who went for this camp told me how useful this was for him. Just to have quality father-son time was indeed a rare treat especially when fathers are usually very busy at work.
He said: "I learnt so much about parenting - I wish I had this activity with my older son!"
One particular activity that he mentioned was clearing an obstacle course with his son. Apparently, the dads and sons were put in groups of four and five and they had to clear a particular obstacle course with given parameters and time frame. All the fathers got together and they worked out a strategy on how best they can clear this obstacle. They then instructed how this strategy would be carried out and what roles they would play and how the sons can chip in and help them clear the obstacle. And most groups cleared the obstacles quite quickly and effectively.
When they had the debrief, the coach asked the groups how the exercise was and the response from the fathers were happy how they worked with their sons to clear the obstacle course. The coach then asked the fathers how many of them consulted their sons in coming up with the strategy. "None of the groups consulted their sons" was the popular answer. The coach then asked the fathers why none of them chose to ask their sons on how to clear this obstacle. And that got all fathers thinking..yes, they should have asked how the sons would clear this obstacle.
You see, the point of the exercise was not to clear the was to engage with the sons to learn about how the sons would clear the obstacle and to listen to their ideas and opinions on matters.
And this applies to school or creative work too. Think about: How often have you asked your child what his or her opinion on a matter has been? How often have you asked your child how he or she would do a particular piece of work? How often have you suggested how the work should be done? It is not wrong to offer our suggestion...but it would work better if you have an idea on how they feel about an issue or a matter.
Asking the child for their opinion actually lifts their self esteem. They realise that their opinions matter. They realise that their ideas are worth talking about. And that they are not shut down or shut off for expressing an opinion. Believe me, the damage you do by expressing for your child is long term. The goodness of getting your child to have an opinion is also long term.
As parents and adults, we can always guide them to express appropriate opinions to suit the purpose of the exercise. Sometimes, kids say the darnest things. This can be owing to a variety of reasons: attention seeking, lack of exposure, just for fun or because they are very linear in their train of thoughts. To most kids, things are Black or White. They only learn about the colour Grey from us- Adults.
So it is good to encourage them to express their Black and White opinions from young and to slowly mould them to think about how best they can express their thoughts out loud, on paper, through colour, with words and actions.
I hope these tips come in useful. Do feel free to send me your comments as there is never a right or wrong is just an opinion.
Dr Puva Arumugam

Planting the seed of creativity in young talents

Posted on June 16, 2013 at 8:24 AM Comments comments (2)
This would come as a surprise to a few but kids do take their parents really seriously. Whether we like it or not, kids do take their parents and carers to be role models either directly or indirectly.

Being a single mom, I have always tried to be a good parent by being the person who provides, nurtures and being there for my two children 24/7. Since I am both a mum and a dad at all times, my typical day is often very busy where I am running around getting things organised and done from dawn till the end of the day.  

It is a blessing that both my children are currently my ambassadors for Gemz Creative Arts. As such, we tend to work together quite regularly. Apart from the books that they are writing, I also work with them to bring out their creativity in arts and crafts, songs, dance among other things. When I work with them, I  always seen myself as a Creative Director working with young talents.  

It came as a surprise lately when both my children started taking a keen interest in poetry. Both of them submitted their creative poems eagerly for review and asked if they could be posted on the website. And I was impressed with their style of writing and enthusiasm. They were also pointing out good poems written by their friends and urged me to have the poems posted on our website and I actually approached their friends for samples.  

As part of creative writing exercise, I have always worked on prose and creative short stories and narratives. We have never worked on poems. Hence, I was taken aback and even asked out aloud why and when they became so interested in poems. Their answer was they wanted to be like their mummy as I had just recently published my book which was a collection of my poems. That touched me greatly and also got me thinking. 

I have never promoted myself as a poet as my strength lies in writing short stories and plays. But I have written poems since young as it is something that comes to me as a reflex action more than writing for passion or as a creative expression. It just seemed logical that I publish my poems first as they were easy to compile and it required very little editing. During the process of publishing the book, my children played a vital role in proof reading, choosing the design colour, the photos and just being my audience. I did not realise that engaging them from the inception of the book actually acted as a catalyst to instil their interest in writing poems themselves. In fact, my eldest daughter has memorised a couple of my poems and from time to time, she narrates a couple of lines to test if I remember if the lines were from my poems. This is a joy both as a parent and as a poet that I can't explain in words to anyone. 

So my note to all parents: Remember that your children are watching and learning from you at all times, Whether you are a homemaker, hairdresser, a bank manager, an accountant or a doctor, you will leave impressions in them and these impressions can be used positively to bring out the best in them. You can also plant the seed of creativity in them by spending just a few minutes each week reading or talking to them about a story, an art work, a few lines that rhyme or a jingle or a rap that they would like to write, sing, draw or just listen to. The seed has to be planted by you! And believe me it will be worth the investment of your time!


Puva Arumugam



End of March update!

Posted on March 31, 2013 at 8:08 AM Comments comments (0)
It is the end of March and the team at Gemz Creative Arts would like to thank you, friends of Gemz Creative Arts, for your continuous support rendered over the past month! 
Over the last 30 days, we have had 58 Likes on our Facebook page and our website has attracted over 367 visitors who clocked in over 674 page views!! 
The team has been busy working with the Community and local schools, writing and editing, designing arts and craft classes and working with junior writers to get more books published by end of this year!
We are very sure that the Month of April is going to be just as great as we are currently taking bookings for Arts and Craft classes for little gems, editing and designing our second series of books and have officially signed off the publication of our next book: Tears and Fears - A collection of Poems which will be published within the next few weeks! 
Look out for all these details on both our website and Facebook via our regular updates! Till our next update, enjoy the week ahead!