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Teaching Tools for Creative Writing Classes

Updated: Feb 2


Gearing up for this year’s creative writing classes…

What do you need to teach creative writing classes? The biggest asset is an innovative mind and a healthy dose of storytelling practice. But here is a list of things I always keep on hand that help me when I’m teaching creative writing classes.

1. Creative Writing Books/curriculum

2. Notebook

3. Poem Books (Poems by Emily Dickinson)

4. Portfolio paraphernalia

5. Alphabet Dice

6. Timer

7. Random Word Box

8. Sticky Notes

9. Thesaurus

10. Rhyming Dictionary

I use the creative writing books as lesson material in the classes I teach. Generally, my classes are a half hour long. I want the actual lesson to take about half of that time. A good class will always have some warm up time and introduction. And that’s where my notebook comes in. I use my notebook to make full lesson plans. Notebooks are my ally! I use them constantly.

To get students to like poetry, I think one must saturate them. 😉 It takes mere minutes to read a poem, so often I’ll read some poems as a way of opening the class. Read the poems well so the students get the idea that poetry is about creating a feeling, not just rhyming words. My favorite poem books are I am Nobody! Who are You? Poems by Emily Dickinson and The Random House Book of Poetry for Children. The lessons in the creative writing books that focus on poetry will be more interesting to the student if you’ve been reading poetry to them already.

My portfolio is a collection of my favorite photos, examples, prompts, and sayings that can help spark an idea. If a student gets stuck, show him another example. I often pull out my paper that says, “Show, Don’t Tell” on it to remind the students.


An alphabet dice is a fun way to start a class. Roll it. Say it lands on a “D”. Tell the students they have one minute to write all the animals they can think of that start with “D”. Whoever has the longest list, wins. Writing a sentence with alliteration using the letter “D” is another thing you can do. It’s an energizing way to start class.


I use the timer constantly. A timer helps so much to keep things timely or to create some competition. When we’re doing free writing, it is helpful because I can walk around the room helping students, instead of watching the clock.


random word list 1
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I use the random word box a lot of the time as a class opening by dumping five words in front of each student and asking them to make a sentence out of those words. Some of the creative writing lessons in the book ask for these words. You can download the paper and print them out for your own classes or create your own collection. I use these words regularly.


Sticky notes are also something I use a lot. Maybe I’ll write paragraph ideas on them and then randomly pass them out, or I’ll give the students empty sticky notes and ask them to write different things down. Sometimes they’ll have to write a compliment to the person beside them if we’re having a low, down-in-the-mouth sort of day. They are a very handy tool.

The last two, the thesaurus and rhyming dictionaries, are simple tools that are easily overlooked. A thesaurus is for expanding ideas. I like to use rhyming dictionaries to help make fresh rhymes. Show your students how many better ways there are to say something by writing a generic sentence or rhyme on the board and have them find new ways to say it.


So, there you are. Go gather up your supplies, pack your bag, tune your mind, and jump into creative writing classes!

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