Monday, 5 May 2014

Once Upon An EnchantInk Time

Isaac is enchanted by the Monsters Under the Bed
Over the recent March holidays this year, Isaac was invited for a creative writing camp called EnchantInk conducted by a company called Monsters Under The Bed. I must admit I liked the sound of the company the moment I heard it's name. Yes, I'm macabre that way. Anyway, EnchantInk, a three half days creative writing workshop for primary school kids, themed on fairy tales and folklore, seems pretty interesting in itself, and so I readily agreed to send Isaac, and obtained their permission to tag along.

You see that picture of Isaac above? That's how he looks for most of the camp. I only managed to get one decent shot, as the rest were blur coz he was moving so much, quaking with laughter most of the time. And do you know why? It's coz of these guys below! They're the guys from Monsters Under The Bed - the trainers at the camp! They are hilarious! The trainers gamely dressed up for all three days of the camp, and were vivacious, sporting, and on the whole very entertaining. Thus, they did very well to engage the children and hold their attention, even during the short segment where they went through a powerpoint slideshow going through how the original fairy tales weren't as sanitised and saccharine sweet as the current day Disney versions.
Introducing... The Wicked Witch (in black), The Leprechaun (green), Snow White & Rose Red (in their respective colours), The Genie (purple), Red Riding Hood, Little Mermaid, and the dunno what Donkey. Wait, or was it Unicorn?
The kids learnt about protagonists and antagonists and were basically schooled on how having a bad guy in the story spices things up and makes a story more engaging and interesting. The kids are broken up into small groups for discussions which are led by a trainer in each group. The trainer also guides them on their writing.

They were also taught how plan their story by writing out mind-mappish sort of thing like what Isaac did below. I thought this was a good thing to teach, as it can serve as a brainstorming exercise cum outline of the story that the kids would write. This was a useful tool to have - to learn how to sketch out a brief outline of the story.
Isaac's plan of his story that features Robotic Crows?!
Isaac was so inspired by his plan (above) and all that happened on Day 1, that after he reached home, he actually wrote out his entire story, on one A4 page, crammed tightly with words, with arrows going here and there. Sadly, I didn't take a proper picture of it then, and Isaac has somehow misplaced it towards the end of the camp, but you can see him referring to his essay in the picture below. 

The "Battle of the Royal Birds" below is an excerpt of his whole story, as the kids were instructed to extract a portion of their work to showcase on their "scroll" (paper stained with coffee, I'm told! ;p How innovative!)

Isaac has always been a voracious reader, and through conversations with him, we know he has a lively imagination. He is also amazingly very proficient in his spelling. However,  he doesn't seem to show an interest in writing. Perhaps because at school, his journal topics given to them are mostly factual and needed him to write about himself (favourite hobby, favourrite sandwich etc), rather than write fiction.

This workshop, however, seemed to have fueled him with an interest to write. I would never have thought he could write what he did below. It was an eye opener for me as well, to see what Isaac could be capable of.
An excerpt of Isaac's long essay. I estimate this to be only a quarter of what he wrote, at most!
 And Isaac wasn't the only one who could write either. The rest of the kids were equally enthusiastic in writing, and when I peeped around, quite a few had long essays like Isaac's. It is highly possible that the kids that were attending this creative writing camp all had a pre-existing interest in writing.However, having an interest is one thing, but to be able to motivate and get them to write WILLINGLY... is another thing!

On Day 2, the trainers even managed to get the kids to get up and put on an impromptu skit. It was based on known fairy tales. But it was Isaac's first time doing something like that so he was having a grand time indeed. I was so busy laughing and taking photos of his group's skit, that I don't think I paid any attention to the story line at all. 
Isaac's group skit of The Little Red Riding Hoods & The Two Wolves
 Thus, halfway through writing this post, I suddenly realised I couldn't remember what the skit was about. So I asked Isaac... and did a "I write, you write" below with him. Words in black written by me. Anything else is written by him :)

I Write, You Write ~ Mummy & Isaac
The kids were told to dress up as a fairy tale character on the third (final) day of the camp. It was quite a sight. Isaac was dressed up as a Wizard. He wore a wizard cape and used his silver lightsaber as his magic wand.

After the class, I did a written interview with him. I typed out some questions and he filled in the answers. I thought it would be a good way to obtain his opinions, verbatim. Yes, that's the chronicler in me speaking! :p
What an EnchantInk time we had with the Monsters Under The Bed!
Read what Isaac has to say about Monster's Under The Bed's EnchantInk creative writing camp!
As you can see from Isaac's responses, he had a smashing good time at EnchantInk in March. So much so, that when the Monster Under The Bed offered us a preferential rate for Isaac to attend their regular creative writing course called StoryCraft, and I asked Isaac if he wanted to attend - he immediately said "Yes!" For a split moment, I actually regretted it. Now, I would have to bring him down to National Design Centre (opposite the Central National Library) at 10am every Saturday morning. I could see that my Saturday mornings would no longer be "slow" and "relaxing". But since StoryCraft is recognised under the National Arts Council's Arts Elective Programme, and Monsters Under The Bed actually teach StoryCraft in some primary and secondary schools... It should be a pretty good programme and worth our time, right? Well I certainly hope so!

Well in any case, dear Monsters Under The Bed, Isaac thanks you for inviting and having him at EnchantInk and is hoping you'd invite him back for MonsterHuntInk in June this year, because he says your workshops "interest me and also because it is FUN FUN FUN!" :)
MonsterHunkInk poster from Monsters Under The Bed


  1. So cool! I love his handwriting too!

    1. Really?! Er, thanks on his behalf! hahaha... I often nag him that his handwriting doesn't keep to the proportions though, you know, like if they write on exercise books which have three lines per line to guide the kids on their writing.

  2. You made him work for this! But it really looks like he had fun. Show us some of his stories in future! :)

    1. Yes! It's one of my evil plans! hahahaha... It helps that he didn't do all that writing in one sitting. He does enjoy writing so I'm going to work with that and see where it takes him! :)

  3. thanks for sharing! the ability to write well is so important.


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