The storms persist, and I decided to abandon my writers’ group tonight in favor of staying home and dry, and not trekking down over-crowded freeways with lightening and thunder sparking overhead.

Likewise, Tuesday’s second class at Juvenile Hall was canceled due to weather, but I thought I would take some of my free time tonight to share a little of the class plans Melodye and I made.

Our first objective was to introduce the concept of creative journaling, but we knew it had to be quick and lecture-free. Besides having a sharply limited schedule and kids who we knew would be more interested in doing than talking, I don’t know if you can really tell someone what a creative journal is. You have to see them to have a even a glimmer of understanding of what it’s all about, and you have to do it to really, really know.

We started with a quick succession of sample pages we had made. Who here has kept a diary? Did it look like this? How about like this? Or this? With each page, we could see that the girls’ eyes widening with the possibilities. We had them hooked.

Then came the handouts. First, a one-page summary of what Creative Journaling is, along with some quick steps to get started:

Creative Journaling is...

We also included a one-page cut-sheet with ideas and inspirational quotes on the theme of the evening, Change:
Change, Grow, Transformaiton...

To be honest, I don’t know if any of the girls paid much attention to either handout. They were more interested in the art supplies being handed out right then. Though they were invited to incorporate either or both handout on the pages they were making, I only saw one girl actually cut into hers, and that was only to extract the letter “D” from the word ENDURE. That’s all right: creativity shouldn’t be obligated to use anything it doesn’t want to.*

We asked the girls to write “Change” on their pages (12″x12″ sheets of scrapbook paper in pastel shades) anywhere they wanted, as big or as small, as simple or as elaborate as they imagined it should be. After that came magazines, and a pile of strips that I’d cut out from scrapbook papers to use as borders if they wanted (I was very gratified to see at least one person choose a strip of pirate-themed paper with skulls and swords…I’ve had that paper for ages and never found a use for it).

That was about the extent of our lesson plan. We spent the remainder of the class moving around the girls, making sure they had what they needed and encouraging there efforts.Some of the girls spent the whole time tearing pages from the magazines, while others quickly settled on a few and started gluing. Unfortunately, we did not have nearly enough time for them to complete their pages. When time was up, we collected their papers and all the assorted elements they were planning on using (they could not, due to an oversight of supplying contraband stickers, take the pages with them). The plan was to bring them back to be finished this week, and the girls asked if they could have colored pencils the next time, for shading and coloring.

Unfortunately, next time didn’t happen, and it’s uncertain when we’ll be able to go back. When and if we do, it’s likely we’ll have an entirely different set of girls, and we’ll have to start from the top once again.

The handouts won’t go to entirely to waste, though. I used one on my own journal page, as a tribute to the experience:
Change

*Though, to be sure, being forced to use a certain set of supplies can drive creativity into unexpected places!

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