It’s never too early to encourage creativity.  Young students at St. John Catholic School can experience the process of creative writing in a writing workshop conducted by first-grade language arts teacher Gini Shoulberg.

The most important part is that the students feel comfortable with the writing process. Once students are done writing, their work is “edited”  and students recopy their corrected work. Their writing is then typed, and students are able to add illustrations. 

If first-grade creative writing were a language, it would be an obscure one. And Gini Shoulberg would be fluent.

The nekes stashun.

My fimliy luv miu.

The wepuns.

Under Shoulberg’s direction, hand-penciled passages like these are carefully translated into comprehensible nuggets and, eventually, strung together into stories.

The next station.

My family loves me.

The weapons…

For more than a decade, the first-grade language arts teacher at St. John Catholic School has led weekly writing workshops for all the school’s first-graders. While spelling and punctuation are important, she says, children don’t need to wait to master those skills before they start writing.

“I feel that it is really important for young children to feel free to write … that they feel comfortable putting their thoughts on paper,” Shoulberg says.

After all, sometimes — even for the pros — the hardest part about writing is the process: What do I write about? How do I start? How do I wrestle what’s in my head onto the page? How do I make sure it makes sense to someone else?

On top of all that, feeling “bombarded” by spelling and grammar rules can make writing a first-draft intimidating, Shoulberg says.

In her Monday afternoon workshops, kids can write about whatever they want. Shoulberg, her fellow first-grade teacher Jennie Setili and longtime volunteer Tom Mach — plus any parents who are free Monday afternoons and want to stop in — huddle down next to students at pint-sized tables for the translation (aka “editing”) process.

Continue reading about creative writing class for first graders.

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