If you have not read the book The Creativity Project, you are missing out! This book was edited by Colby Sharp and published in March 2018. The idea started as an experiment that turned into what most educators would consider magical.
It is simple! Popular authors and illustrators created prompts to begin a story. The prompts then were sent to another author and illustrator to create a response in the form of a story, illustration, photograph, or poem. In addition, each contributor created a prompt as a story starter for you, the reader, to try.
As I was reading the story prompts and responses from some of my favorite authors and illustrators, I kept thinking how amazing it was to have such a talented collection of work all in one book. It shows children that everything holds a story if you try.
As I continued reading, my mind shifted to how I could use this with students. There would be ways to incorporate the prompts and responses for every level of reader or writer. Since I work with preschool to second graders my focus falls there, but the possibilities are really endless. Below are four activities I am inspired to try.
Author or illustrator studies are not a new idea, but using the story starter prompts and responses from the various contributors in this book would add another element to a unit. Students could even respond to the contributor’s prompt and share their work with them.
I cannot wait to share this idea with one of the kindergarten teachers that I collaborate with regularly. She always starts the year with books by Laurie Keller. She will love including the prompt Laurie Keller wrote on page 175 into her unit.
Share One a Week
Our school uses the Responsive Classroom Model; this model has a morning meeting each day. One way I could see using this book would be sharing a prompt on Monday. Throughout the week students would have time to respond to the prompt in a journal for morning work or otherwise. Then on Friday, the responses would be shared.
One prompt that second graders might try would be on page 141 by Mariko Tamaki, “The guy next door.” This would be a prompt to help students with character development. In addition, Dan Santat’s response written as a comic would show that there are many ways to tell a story.
Using Art to Respond
There was such a variety of types of prompts and responses provided. Many of the contributors shared their responses using illustrations and photographs. Children can share a story through pictures at a very young age. The art teacher often seeks inspiration from a variety of sources just like the ones found in the book. I plan to share Peter Brown’s prompt and Lauren Castillo’s response on page 31 with her. I am sure our students will be putting trees in all sorts of creative places in no time.
Try It as a School
Here is what I really want to try! As a school, we are always working to create a community of readers and writers. I would love to conduct this experiment with my colleagues. The idea of this book was so simple that it could easily be replicated. It would be a powerful way to motivate students and show that we are all readers and writers. The results could be truly amazing!
As a librarian, collaboration with teachers is how my instruction is blended into the curriculum. This book has given me many ideas that I can share with my colleagues and I am excited to see all the possibilities it holds!
To learn more visit www.mrcolbysharp.com.
Sharp, Colby. The Creativity Project: No Rules, Anything Goes, Awesometastic Storybuilding. Little, Brown and Company, 2018.
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).