Friday, July 13, 2012

Parenting Tips: Family Word Collage (Writer's Workshop)

by Deborah Pace Rowley

On the first day of Writer’s Workshop, I challenged the students to create a word collage about themselves. They flipped through old magazines and sorted through stacks of junk mail to find the perfect words to describe themselves. Kids are often asked to create picture collages at school but word collages can be so much more interesting and fun. Who knew that one of my students recently had her best friend move to Singapore? Who knew she would find the word Singapore in a magazine just waiting to be cut out? It is always interesting to see what words or phrases students use to describe themselves- Wild Child, Funfetti, Cuddle Up, Cleaning is a Dirty Word, Fashion Queen.  

This parenting tip involves creating a word collage, not about an individual, but about YOUR FAMILY. Set out a piece of poster board, some scissors, some glue sticks, and a stack of old magazines or junk mail. Cut out some big letters to spell your last name and glue them to the top of the board. 

Then let your family add their own words to your family collage. You don’t need to find the words intact. You can spell out the words that you would like to include by cutting out the individual letters that you need. You can also cut out complete sentences, phrases, or slogans. This can be an activity you complete in one evening together or an ongoing activity that the family adds to over several days or weeks. It can be very eye-opening to see what words family members choose--- crazy like a fox(?!), FOOD, spiritual, service, making the grade, BOOKS. What words do your children associate with your family? Did they use the ones that you thought they would? 

Ask your children about the words that they chose. Be careful not to be critical or judgmental. If kids sense any negativity, real honesty flies out the window. (What do you mean you think our family is FRUIT CAKE?!) Keep your voice calm and neutral as you smile and ask, “That is interesting word. How does this word remind you of our family?” You will be amazed at what you learn. This collage can even help you reconsider the things you focus on and what you want to prioritize with your family in the future. 

Note: The Family Word Collage at the top of this post was created at the website: Wordle. If you haven’t already discovered this website, you need to check it out. It makes fun word “clouds” that you can print out and use for gifts, birthday cards, recognition events or any occasion. 

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