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Collage Cubies for Creative Writing
Maria Chatzi : Collage Cubies for Creative Writing

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Collage Cubies for Creative Writing

By Maria Chatzi

Chris Dunmire’s Collage Cubies have inspired me to create a similar project for creative writing with kids. If you are homeschooling your kids or you are an educator teaching creative writing classes to children (age: 6-11), you will be interested in this project. To start with, please read Chris Dunmire’s instructions on how to make the cubie. Then come back to see what I’ve done differently and read the rest of the details concerning the creative writing activity. My cubie was made by recycling an old catalogue from one of the main publishing houses in my country, who publish books for children.

fig 1Materials for my cubie:

  • Chris Dunmire’s collage cubie template
    (size: 8.5 x 11 inches)
  • Newspaper or craft paper (to work on while
    making your collage cubies)
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Back cover of a publisher’s catalogue
    (who publishes books for kids)
  • Glue
  • Transparent tape

Optional Materials:

  • Piece of cotton thread (I used jewelry making string), about 20 inches long
  • Needle with a big eye
  • Strips of thick craft paper, about 2.5 inches long, preferably various light colors
  • 12 small beads (any colors)

What I did differently

1. I didn’t use a craft knife and blades.

fig 1

2. Also, I downloaded and printed the template and cut it out. After cutting it out, I placed it onto the cover and transferred the template’s design onto it, to cut with my scissors (see fig 1).

3. The catalogue’s cover was already laminated, so I only had to apply one coat of glue over it after I had finished with the collage (for the “decoupage” seal that was needed).

4. The cover had already some pictures on it, so I glued pictures randomly on an already existing design.

fig 2

5. The pictures I used to make the collage cubie were cut out from the same catalogue. I didn’t use any words, letters or numbers (see fig 2).

Ideas for the Creative Writing Activity

The cute little cube gets children excited about writing a story and sets their imagination free. This activity could be done with a group (of three) or in pairs. The collage works as a handful of prompts for the “weaving” of their story.

A. Tell kids each side of the cubie is a different story. Have them look at all sides and pick the story they would like to write. Or, throw the cubie, as with dice, and let “Lady Luck” decide who is to write which story. If you’re working with one child only, he/she could write one or two stories a week.

Give the kids a helping hand with a list of questions to guide them, like the following:

  • Who is the main hero of your story? What’s his name?
  • Where and when does the story take place?
  • What started your story? Why is all this happening?
  • What’s the role of the other creatures, objects, animals shown in the collage?
  • What are the main events in your story? (Note two or three problems your hero faced and tell us how he overcame them?)
  • How does your story end?
  • What will you call this story you’ve made up?

B. The children could either keep notes of their stories and take turns in story-telling, or write the whole story down. Remember, this is an exercise for their imagination, which cultivates creative thinking and boosts their self-confidence. So, don’t criticize their stories — let them be as silly as they like.

When they’ve finished with story-telling or story-writing, take your pen and write the titles of the stories they’ve made, one on each strip — try to keep the titles as short as possible.

fig 3

Make a hole in each strip of paper and hang the strips with string that keeps them tied together in a bunch, looking like a kite’s tail. Make knots in between the strips and use the small beads to secure the paper strips from moving too much around and falling over each other (see fig 3).

fig 4

Now, go back to Chris Dunmire’s Bonus Ideas on what else to do with your collage cubie and read the instructions on how to poke permanent holes to the corners of two adjacent sides of your cubie (see fig 4).

fig 5

After you’ve gone through the instructions, poke holes in your cubie and pull a string through from one side to the other. Onto this same string tie the other string with the six paper strips. Now you can hang your collage cubie, with all the story titles hanging on its side (see fig 5).

C. You could also use such cubes write story starters and for a poetry-writing activity.

D. Another idea is to hand kids a large piece of craft paper (light color) and ask them to make some drawings on it. Don’t give them a theme. Let everyone draw whatever they like. Tell them they could also draw numbers and letters, or even write words. They could also make their drawing as big or as tiny as they wish. Then you take the kids’ art and make a large cube with it for story-writing. •

© 2013 Maria Chatzi. All rights reserved.

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Updated 1/21/14