Christmas Writing Challenge
If you think Christmas is just for children...think again! There's a certain magical 'Christmassy' feeling that I'm sure I will never grow out of - the twinkly lights, the Christmas carols, the mince pies, gatherings of friends & family, and of course (for children) the gifts! Whether you celebrate it yourself or not, the brewing feeling of excitement is conjured up perfectly in the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore: Twas the Night before Christmas. Written nearly 200 years ago (in 1822), it is a fitting theme to launch this year’s Christmas writing challenge. Your task is to contribute a few lines on the theme of Christmas, following a similar pattern and rhythm to the original poem. I shall then attempt to weave your lines together into an alternative version of this Christmas classic, which I shall share with you on...the night before Christmas!
The deadline is 10pm on Thursday 23rd December (the night before the night before Christmas)
1) The first step is to actually read the poem. Don’t worry if there are individual words that you don’t understand – being 200 years old, some words have fallen out of use. Additionally, being a poem, the style of some lines may appear slightly odd. This is called ‘poetic licence’ – the rules of grammar, word order and even word meaning can be relaxed slightly in order to fit the rhythm & rhyme scheme of the poem.
As well as the meaning, you should pay attention to the rhythm. You will notice that each line roughly follows this pattern:
dadaDUM dadaDUM dadaDUM dadaDUM (give or take the odd ‘da’)
Each pair of lines rhyme with each other - it is written in rhyming couplets. Example:
Twas the NIGHT before CHRISTmas when ALL through the HOUSE
Not a CREATure was STIRRing not EVen a MOUSE
Read a few more lines until you get the feel of it.
2) Think of some ideas. What does Christmas mean to you? Grab a pen and paper, and brainstorm some thoughts. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, or Google Images. Give it some thought, then click on the following attachment for ideas contributed by my students:
3) Write! It may feel awkward at first, but sometimes the best way to start writing is to just write! Anything at first ...individual words, then build it up into a phrase, add words to the beginning or end so that it makes sense. Then think of a second line that that follows on from the first. In the lesson today, we came up with this:
And playing outside in the snow as it fell
We laughed and we DUM dada DUM dada 'word-rhyming-with-fell' (bell? tell? well?)
Feel free to use this as a starting point. Can you finish off the second line?
The trick is not to overthink it. Once you have something on paper, you can begin to perfect it... rearrange the words to fit the rhythm, add or remove syllables, use alternative words to fit the rhyme etc.
You may want to include a few fancy techniques such as similes, personification or even some alliteration.
As well as Pinterest (for ideas), Word Hippo is an excellent source of synonyms & rhyming words - type a word in the search box and select the relevant mode. Family members can also be called upon for suggestions.
Conditions of entry:
The minimum entry is one pair of rhyming couplets (i.e. 2 lines of 'dadaDUM dadaDUM dadaDUM dadaDUM' that rhyme with each other and make sense together )
You may enter as many pairs as you wish
They don't need to tell a story (although each pair should be a meaningful 'chunk')
Don't worry if the rhythm doesn't exactly fit the pattern - send me your best attempts...I will find a way to make it work!
The reward will be:
...the joy of having contributed to this communal effort! Your words will be immortalised in our alternative rendition of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'. You never know - it might become as famous as the original poem???
Deadline: 10pm on 23rd December.
Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't forget to: tell me (the first letter of ) your name & your age.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, I shall attempt to combine selections of your work. I aim to include at least one pair of lines from each student who contributes, plus a few of my own lines and maybe some from the original poem so that they flow together. All going well, I shall post the finished product later that day, on the NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I hope that's enough information for now....I look forward to receiving your Christmassy creations.