VCOP, an educational system employed by many primary and secondary school teachers, promotes creative thinking and writing strategies. The system's name is an acronym for expansive Vocabulary, joining Connectives, engaging Openers and proper Punctuation. In the classroom environment, teachers use a variety of games to promote this system of learning. In the spirit of VCOP, these games can be creatively expanded based on the teacher's preferences.
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Sentence Openers is a popular VCOP game meant to increase creative thinking and expand vocabulary among students. Teacher will need about 50 flash cards to play this game. On each card, write a simple one-to-three word sentence opener. When shown the opener, students must construct a sensible---but creative---sentence starting with the opener. Warm up with openers that subtly "lead" students to sentences, such as "as time went," "although I had," "an important thing," "even though" or "before very long." Segue into broader, more open-ended openers such as "often," "never," "sometimes," "eventually," "because" or "afterward" and then use wide-open beginnings such as "I," "my," "next," "so," "the" or "but." Try variations on the game, or have students thematically tie their sentences together or take turns building one cohesive story based on sentence opener flash cards.
The Connectives VCOP game comes from writer and poet Pie Corbett, a proponent of creative writing education. In this game, students create a cohesive story by taking turns saying lines out loud. Each line must progress the story and end with a connective word. The next student in line carries on the story starting after the connective word, ending their part of the story with a connective as well. For example, one student might say "Long ago there was a wizard who," while the next student says "had a great love for animals, however" and so forth. The story continues until the instructor spontaneously asks one student to end the story. Connectives to use include "meanwhile," "nonetheless," "whereas," "since," "henceforth," "until," "because," "yet," "besides" and more.
Other Word Games
Poetry games serve as an effective way to expand students' vocabulary and creative writing capacity via the VCOP system. Have students try their hands at writing an underwater poem, in which they describe undersea goings on using expansive, creative vocabulary. Ode poems---or poems that pay tribute to certain objects---help students find new words to describe familiar objects. For a quick VCOP game, have students look at photographs of people in magazines and answer questions such as "Who are they?", "Where are they from?" and "What are they doing?" by creating theoretical situations with rich vocabulary. For another descriptive vocab game, have students make lists of words that they associate with their favourite foods. Expand this game by naming foods or other objects and letting students quickly write down as many associative words as they can think of.
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