Monster Wars!

Sarah DeBacher | October 29, 2015

2015-10-06 10.04.35In the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share this SUPER FUN writing activity called “Monster Wars.”* Writing! Coloring! Monsters! Reflection! This assignment is scarily good. While my writers are college freshmen, you could easily do Monster Wars with writers at all grade levels.

The Monster Wars activity is designed to show students just how important context and specificity are in writing. Here’s how it works:

First, ask your writers to imagine a monster of their own creation (no Frankensteins allowed). Then, ask them to write a physical description of the creature. Collect the descriptions and redistribute them. You’ll want to give the descriptions to classmates sitting far away from the monster-writers.

Now, direct students to draw the monsters based on the descriptions they’ve been given. (You’ll need colored pencils, crayons, or markers for this part. Whee!) When everyone’s done drawing, give the monsters and the paragraphs back to the monster-writers. But before you do, direct the monster-writers to again call to mind the monsters they’d imagined.

Now, have them look at the monsters their peers drew, comparing the monster in the head with the 2015-10-06 10.03.55drawings they’ve gotten. Ask your writers to write for a few minutes, reflecting on what accounts for the differences between the monsters in their heads and the ones on the page. No artist-blaming allowed!

My students loved this activity. They saw how they failed to describe size, texture, color, shape, doodly-boppers, antennae, and the lot. The energy in the room was high (coloring! Yay!) and they were able to learn a lesson about specificity through actively engaging with a writing task. Plus: MONSTERS!

Happy Halloween to you and all your monsters!

*Credit for the assignment goes to The Council of Basic Writing Resource Share, which offers activities for developing writers in college composition classes.

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