Schooldays revisited

with 2 Comments

This week has been back to school week, for the kids and for the group I teach at Maggie’s. And for some of the youngest members of our family, it’s been their very first day at school, with all its associated angst and excitement (more of the latter, actually – maybe school is nicer these days).

Seeing all the obligatory first day at school photos on social media gave me the inspiration for our first writing exercise this season. Here it is:

Part one

•Think back to your first day at school – or if you don’t want to go back there – another ‘first’, eg a first day at work.
•What were your impressions as you approached/entered the building?
•What could you see, smell, hear?
•How did you feel? Explore your emotions.
•Who was there? Who did you sit next to? Do you remember the teacher?
•Write a list of words and phrases that spring to mind as you recall your impressions (3 minutes)
•Develop this into a longer piece of writing (15 minutes).
Part two
Print off images associated with schooldays from varying decades, eg a satchel, pencil case, school gym, school buildings and playground scenes.
•Pick an image
•Put yourself or a fictional character in the picture
•Freewrite wherever the image takes you – using all the senses
As inspiration, here’s a short passage from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird:

Jem condescended to take me to school on the first day, a job usually done by one’s parents, but Atticus had said Jem would be delighted to show me where my room was. I think some money changed hands in this transaction, for as we trotted round the corner past the Radley place I heard an unfamiliar jingle in Jem’s pockets. When we slowed to a walk at the edge of the school yard, Jem was careful to explain that during school hours I was not to bother him, I was not to approach him with requests to enact a chapter of Tarzan and the Ant Men, to embarrass him with references to his private life, or tag along behind him at recess and noon. I was to stick to the first grade and he would stick to the fifth.

“You mean we can’t play any more?” I asked.

“We’ll do like we always do at home, but you’ll see – school’s different.’

It certainly was. Before the first morning was over, Miss Caroline Fisher, our teacher, hauled me up to the front of the room and patted the palm of my hand with a ruler, then made me stand in a corner until noon….

I’m going to post the writing exercises we do each fortnight. Happy Friday everyone!




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2 Responses

  1. Joy

    Thanks for this Clare
    I’m gonna keep these to work on x

    • admin

      It’ll be interesting to see where it takes you!