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14 October 2023

Posted by Robyn O'Mahony

Autumn inspiration

Autumn inspiration

As if knowing our theme for the week, Southampton delivered a crisp blue-sky day on Saturday 14 October, channelling the autumn vibes we were calling for. To really immerse our writing community in the season, we setup an autumn display filled with leaves, chestnuts, candles and the fallen branch of a monkey puzzle tree.

Before taking a trip into the park to draw inspiration from the sights, sounds and smells, we asked our Junior and Young Writers to search their vocabularies to fill in every letter of the alphabet with autumn-related words. Working together and independently, we heard harvest, birch, spooky, pumpkin, equinox and Halloween among many more great word choices. The activity gave both groups a word bank for using in their writing later in the session, providing a foundation for our creativity.

With our Young Writers, we asked them to take the alphabet exercise a step further by writing

stories using the words they came up with. The group were really keen to get started and seemed to be immersed in the theme. We heard of looming castles, crisp mornings, and ominous strangers. It was great to see the different directions the community took with their stories. 

We then ventured into the park! We asked both groups to be as present as possible, take notice, and note down every thing they saw. It was an exercise in observation that lit the spark for creative writing. We heard, ‘crunch, the leaf growled’, ‘lichen hoods’, ‘quarrelling flies’ and a ‘mushroom-studded tree stump’, plus many more creative explorations.

The groups felt the grass and trees, embraced their senses, and became inquisitive about the nature of what they were seeing. They embraced a sense of delight and surprise at aspects of the outdoors they see often but don’t usually stop to think about.

When we returned from the park, we used our findings to write haikus. We discussed the 5, 7, 5 structure and then got to writing as many as possible in ten minutes. We had conversations to find solutions to our creative challenges and embraced the form with gusto.

With our Young Writers, we ended the session with a series of prompts and asked them to dive into writing thoughtfully and in detail. It was rapid writing that drew on our visit to the park, the alphabet activity, and our general theme of autumnal observation.

Some highlights from the morning included: ‘dappled sunlight peeks through the trees’; ‘skylights are all around me’; and ‘unfamiliar faces with a familiar smile’.


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