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daveinclassWhy do children struggle with the word prompt questions on the CSAPS? Why do some of them get discouraged and deflated when they encounter those questions? How can we change that experience for them? It all has to do with the imagination...or lack thereof.

Much has been written about the negative effect of TV, computers, and computer games on the current generation of kids. I believe it to be true and I find that teachers agree. Everything in those venues is fed to the child visually, there is nothing to imagine. Challenged with exercising their imagination, too often there is nothing for the child to go to. That can change.

I have developed a simple process, using my stories, to awaken imagination in kids. As I said, everyone loves a story! A story automatically engages the imagination. Time after time, I have seen kids engage with what I am telling them; including kids that the teachers say have attention problems. Their posture may be misleading (for example, if the teacher allows them to lie down) and their eyes may look elsewhere, but they do not miss anything. I know this because at the end I ask them what they liked about the story and almost every one has something to contribute.

The exercises flow right off the stories. I will tell them a story all the way through, then go back and change the circumstances of the story near the end. Their task is to write the new ending, based on the changes. After becoming comfortable with that exercise, the kids are challenged at a higher level: I tell a story and stop it in the middle and they write the ending. Finally, they progress to being given just a “starter,” and they write the whole story. Practicing each exercise a couple of times, this curriculum can be spread throughout the school year with great success.

Development of the imagination is not limited to benefiting only writing. Imagination is needed for solving math or science problems, it is needed in athletics, and in the arts...it is needed to fix a car! Imagination can impact our entire lives. We need to counter those visual influences that rob the children of this vital force.

These Exercises are designed to be used in progression. Number 1 leads to Number 2, Number 2 to Number 3. In fact, the progression is so important that we have designed the shopping cart so that the Exercises have to be bought in sequence.