Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Creative Writing Activities: African Violets

I went to the grocery store for some hot chocolate. I walked through the front doors and looked to my left. There it was – a MUSE – just sitting there innocently on a shelf in the floral department.
I walked over and grabbed it. I gazed at its dainty purple flowers and velvety leaves. It was the most beautiful African Violet I had ever seen.
Forgetting all about my hot cocoa, I purchased the potted gem and went home to my writer’s studio. I wanted to use this muse for a new story, but first, I needed to learn all about it.
Here is what I discovered:
Over 20 million African Violets are sold in the United States of America. This makes them one of the most popular houseplants in the world.
The African Violet is native to Tanzania, a small East African country. The wild variety was found by a German colonialist is the late 19th century. He sent some seeds home to Europe where they were propagated.
African Violets were introduced to American households in the 1920’s, and we have been in love with them ever since. There are even societies and clubs dedicated to these charming plants.
But the most interesting fact is how they are propagated today. Most other plants are grown by seeds, roots, or bulbs. The African Violet is started from a “mother leaf”.
You simply cut a leaf (diagonally) from the “mother plant” and stick it into some soil. If you keep it watered, you should have a baby African violet plant within six weeks. From there, you should do some more research on how to grow successful plants, especially if you want yours to bloom.
So, with that new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these “what if’s” will help you get started.
What if you found a new plant species that held magical powers?
What if you planted a “mother leaf” but something else grew instead – a monster that eats only African Violets?
What if people could plant their toenails (Eww) to grow a clone of themselves?
The possibilities are endless! And please leave your own “what if” questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.
Grab a cup of hot cocoa (I forgot mine at the grocery store), a piece of paper and a pencil, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere! I look forward to seeing where you take us!
With Imagination,
Prof. Watermelon
P.S. The word of the week is “propagate”. Here is the definition: To cause (an organism) to multiply by any process of natural reproduction from the parent stock.

Monday, April 18, 2011

You made it! Grab a cup of hot cocoa and sit down.

Welcome to my blog!

This is a place for all those trying to find the MUSE - especially teachers looking for ways to motivate their students to find JOY in writing.

My philosophy is this: The muse hides within knowledge and wonderment. Take this knowledge and wonderment and create something new with it – something that it has never been. I suggest a story!

Before E.B White, an ordinary grey spider had never been best friends with a pig. Before L. Frank Baum we had never heard of the Wicked Witch of the West, let alone her troop of winged monkeys.

Monkeys, spiders, witches and pigs – Oh my! The muse was found in each one of these topics. The knowledge and wonderment behind these topics fueled the imagination for the story. And we are still reading them today.

We can and will do the same thing!

Each week, I will provide what I call an “Imagination Chronicle”. Here I will uncover strange and extraordinary facts about people, places, things, and ideas. Maybe you will find the muse for yourself in some of these Imagination Chronicles. But I really hope you share this knowledge with a child.

Encourage children to express themselves through the written word. Tell them to imagine words like a box of crayons. The possibilities are limitless. Yes, LIMITLESS!

And remember to let them wear their writer’s hats. They can wear their editor’s hats later – preferably on a different day. Writing and editing are two completely different ballgames. And we do not want to confuse a child, or they may not want to write.

Well, I’m off to the moon for now. I’ll be back shortly. Until then, look for the muse, and let me know what you find.

With Imagination,
Prof. Watermelon