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By Brian Moses,Roger Stevens

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In the following examples, imaginations have certainly been stretched. My Cousin’s Gerbil by Max When my cousin talks about his gerbil, he says that: Its tail is like a huge viper that creeps through the sand and dirt. It is as black as the night, as black as the wet tyres of the HGV from Hell. Its soft and deep fur is often covered with dirt, as it burrows long, deep tunnels to faraway worlds. He says it often goes mountain climbing and pot-holing. It does abseiling and scuba diving, It does llama trekking and bare-back riding.

This idea can also be transferred to the school grounds. Using the same method, encourage the children to turn the familiar sights into something spooky: I looked along the winding footpath – was it leading to danger? I felt the wind suddenly turn icy and the cold pinch my skin. I saw a feather fall from nowhere and stab the ground. I heard a crack – the roots of the trees were snaking towards me. Ask the children to make notes of what is around them. What do they hear, see, smell, taste, feel?

I’ve forgotten something! • Revealing a cache of memories We all have a cache of memories in our heads that we dip into from time to time when we tell anecdotes about places we’ve been and people we’ve encountered. Explain to the children that writers, like them, frequently use these memories as a basis for a story or a poem. And searching back through the years can reveal a half-forgotten memory that might be suitable to use in a story or poem which they might be struggling with. These little snippets about people, times or places can often be all that’s needed to bring the past into the present and bring the writing to life.

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