Inspirations: Writing and Making Activities

Writing Project colleagues and friends have put together inspirational resources—videos and related handouts—to support place-based writing and making activities. Feel free to use as-is or remix as needed. Share your creations and stories on social media using #writeout.

Urban Cadences in Idaho’s Freak Alley

Join Cecilia Pattee, a teacher-consultant for the Boise State University Writing Project, and her family—Sofia is an optimistic 8th-grader and David is a pensive 1st-grader—as they share a view of a sliver of an urban, artistic outdoor space in Idaho along with how this translates to cadence and poetry. They invite you to consider cadence, two-voice poetry (in Spanish and in English) and your very own outdoor space.

Here is a related handout. This activity and video is intended for all ages.

Share your response with Cecilia and her family using the hashtag #writeout and tag her @CeciliaPattee.

Using Nature to Spark Creativity

Join Elizabeth Farris, a teacher-consultant with the Ohio Writing Project and a second-grade teacher in the Lakota Local School District, as she, alongside her own children, share ideas to inspire art and creativity using found natural treasures. 

Here is a related handout. This video and activities are intended for young writers/creators (and young-at-heart!).

Share your own nature creations with Elizabeth using #writeout and tagging her @createplayteach.

Telling Stories About Place

Join Charlotte Kupsh, a writer, teacher, and PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as she explores how the stories we tell about places reflect and inform our perceptions of the world. Starting in a public park in Lincoln, Nebraska, this Inspiration will support you in composing a narrative as you explore a public outdoor space in your own community.

Here is a related handout. The video is intended for use with high-school writers and up.

Share your response with Charlotte using the hashtag #writeout and tag her using @CharlotteKupsh.

4-Leaf Palette Poem

Join Kim Ruffin, Associate Professor of English at Roosevelt University and an Outdoor Afro leader, as she creates a 4-leaf palette to inspire and create poetry. Her inspiration came from a visit to the George Washington Carver National Monument in Missouri, and this activity is meant to inspire writing in much the way Dr. Carver used the outdoors to inspire his work.

Here is a related handout. This video and activity is intended to be used by all writers.

Share your response with Kim using the hashtag #writeout and tag @outdoorafro.

Found Poetry

Join Kelly Hedberg and Jessica Early, as they create found poems from public and park signs in Tempe Arizona. Kelly Hedberg is an Outdoor Education Consultant at Rover Elementary School. Jessica Early is a Professor and Director of English Education at Arizona State University and the Director of the Central Arizona Writing Project.

Here is a related handout. The activities are great for a range of ages while the examples shown here are by young writers.

Share your response with Kelly and Jessica using the hashtag #writeout and tag them at @KellyHedberg10, @Jessie_Early.

Poetry Painted from Our Connection to Nature

Jean Kanzinger is a member of the Teacher-Consultant Council at the NWP site at Kent State University and teaches high-school English and communications. Join Jean as she demonstrates techniques used in art education and in writing about art that can enhance the description in your nature poetry. 

Here is a related handout. The activities can support a range of ages while the video is oriented towards teachers and older writers.

Share your response with Jean using the hashtag #writeout and tag her @Writers_Locker.

Go Outside and Make a Zine!

Join educators Margaret Simon and Sharon Bunyan as they share the zines they made after going outside. The video includes guidance for creating your own. 

Here is a related handout created by Maker Jawn of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Intended for use by all writers.

Share your response with Margaret and Sharon using the hashtag #writeout.

Acting Out in Nature

Join Caity Church, a 6th-grade English Language Arts teacher in Northwest Arkansas and a theatre enthusiast, and her daughter as they listen to the sounds of the outdoors and get silly by acting out! The video guide explains and demonstrates three improvisational acting exercises. 

Here is a related handout. This is intended for use by all ages.

Share your response with Caity using the hashtag #writeout.

Urban Parks

Join Angela Crawford, an educator in the School District of Philadelphia and a member of the Philadelphia Writing Project, as she falls in love with nature in urban spaces. Spend some time doing the same in your own urban park and find inspiration for your writing. 

Here is a related handout. This is intended for use by all writers.

Share your response with Angela using the hashtag #writeout and tag her @revolutionary_Dr.Angie.

Knowing Your History

Join Dawn Martin-Young, a teacher-consultant with the Oklahoma State University Writing Project and a doctoral candidate, as she explores how local histories shape who you are and how you see the world. This inspiration is based on her experience learning about the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre in her hometown and encourages the use of re-photography to connect you to your place and community’s history.

Here is a a related online resource/handout. While the activities could be used with a range of ages, this video is intended for mature audiences as some of the materials in this inspiration present primary source documents with graphic depictions of the Tulsa Massacre.

Share your response with Dawn using the hashtag #writeout.

Contrasting Worlds

Join Amy Hirzel, a high-school English teacher and poet from Northeast Ohio, as she explores the intersection between the human and natural world through poetry. Amy will guide you through how to produce vivid writing inspired by the worlds around you!

Here is a set of related handouts along with an extended resource guide. This activity can be used with all ages while the video and resources are oriented towards middle- and high-school writers:

Share your response with Amy using the hashtag #writeout and tag her @thewordyteacher.

“Blood Memory” Family Story

Join Marlys Cervantes, a teacher of creative writing and literature at Cowley College and an OSU Writing Project teacher-consultant, as she explores family narratives inspired by N. Scott Momaday’s idea of “Blood Memory”. In this illustrated video, Marlys introduces us to Momady’s work and ideas and then shares her own Blood Memory story to inspire you to write your own. Illustrations by Kate Hill Cantrill.

Here is a related handout. Activities are great for a range of ages while the video orients towards middle- and high-school writers.

Share your response with Marlys using the hashtag #writeout.