Kids find amazing creativity

HIGHGATE Primary School kids got a masterclass in creative writing when A Maze of Story popped in for book week.

Gae Oaten founded the not-for-profit group three years ago and says teaching kids how to write creatively improves their confidence and school work.

They often work with children who speak English as a second language or Aboriginal kids, and Ms Oaten says, “we want to tap into their creativity through writing, through storytelling, and it really encourages the children and gives them confidence.”

• Hasti Lotfi, Benyamin Mohseni and Amy Khumendi at A Maze of Story’s workshops this week. Photo by Steve Grant

“Once they can feel okay about their writing their work improves across the board. We’ve had feedback from schools that their work has improved, that they’re more willing to participate in class, and that they want to do more writing.”

They usually run five-week workshops in schools, culminating in a printed book that goes in the library, so kids could see their work published.

But for Book Week they gave the Highgate primary students a crash course, telling them the start of a story and then leaving it up to the students’ imaginations as to where the tale goes from there. “I told them a story about two crows…they made a nest, and then the female, Camilla, started laying her eggs,” Ms Oaten says.

But when the unusually large egg hatched they discovered their baby was a chicken.

The pair of crows went off to find food for their unusual baby, but when they came back the baby had disappeared.

That’s where they invited the children to come up with their own ideas.

“They came up with some very imaginative stories!” Ms Oaten says

Year 5 student Hasti Lotfi’s chick finds a variety of foods but is warned off by well-meaning animals because they’re inappropriate, till she eventually finds her mother and some yummy grubs.

Hasti says the Maze program has been good for helping to develop her English skills. She was born in Australia the raised in Iran, but is happy to be back because of the choking pollution in Tehran.

Helping her along has been volunteer Amy Khumendi, a student at Morley high school who says she chose Highgate because of her own struggles in picking up English.

Ms Oaten says they’re “always looking for volunteers” to help run the workshops. Head to http://www.amazeofstory.org.au to register.

by DAVID BELL

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