Thursday, November 1, 2007

Behold the Power of Chocolate

Yesterday of course was Halloween, and so I took the opportunity to hold a "special" freewriting. Usually the rules of freewriting are that there are no rules. As long as things are basically, tolerably school appropriate (I suggest to my kids that the Freedom Writer's Diary is a good guide), the topic is wide open. Yesterday, though, I met my kids with Reese Pieces Butter Cup and the Five Senses--sight, sound, touch, smell and TASTE. The idea was that we went through each sense, to build vivid description in our writing. Even in this quick exercise, I was delighted by some of the results. One ESL student, who is always game to try but struggles with standard ESL issues, wrote that the sound of chocolate "makes your ears perk up like a dog who hears his master". Another wrote that "When you first eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, it is like your away on a vacation all by yourself sitting in a hot tub tastes like the world has stopped for you." One of my girls, a naturally gifted writer, said the sound of chocolate was the "sounds of screaming children craving more".

I loved it and will work to find more devices like this to bring out the fun and creativity they naturally have. When encouraged to think in terms beyond just description in terms of sight, the images began to shine.

And hey, maybe if I write Reese's, they'll sponsor us! Bring on the laptops for EACH KID!


4Rkids said...

Yes, God is listening... U R doing amazing work with these kids.. keep going! I got your back!

Cheryl Duckworth said...

You sure do have my back! :) I can't thank you enough!

Rebecca said...

What a great idea, Cheryl. In some types of therapy work we encourage clients to learn how to become more aware/mindful of their experiences through the five senses, since it is so easy to get dominated by negative feeling, thinking, and behavior (the latter defined broadly as a behavior that suits some short-term purpose, like decreasing negative emotion, but yields a worse outcome in the long run). Everyday activities are attended to as rich sensory experiences.

Take washing the dishes: what does the water feel like? what is its temperature? how does the wetness feel on your skin? how does the soap feel? Slippery, bubbly, sticky? how does a fork feel when you wash it? Smooth? Cool? Rougher on the prongs? Notice how the metal warms as it comes into contact with the warm water. Notice how the light reflects off the metal. What is the weight of it? etc. etc.

Another valuable activity for those struggling with emotional experiences is helping clients to become mindful of emotional pain. Clients are asked to evaluate the pain as if they are a "curious scientist." What does the pain look like? What shape does it take? Does it have a color? A speed? A pulse or vibration? Is it smooth, fuzzy, rough? How heavy is it? Does it change? What makes it change? Does it have a temperature? Is it warmer or colder than its surroundings? etc. etc.

It is amazing how experiencing the world in this manner can increase tolerance for the distress that once seemed unbearable.

Cheryl Duckworth said...

This is outstanding! I love the progression to help students/clients deal with whatever might be going on for them. It seems to create a safe space than diving in all at once. I'd also told my kids that if they wish, they can fictionalize something in our class books if that makes it easier to deal with. So many published authors have done this.