BIG STONE GAP — This summer marked the fourth year for incoming third and fourth graders to participate in the LEGO Writer’s Camp at Union Elementary School.

LEGO Writer’s Camp allows students to write a book and build scenes using LEGO blocks. By the end of the weeklong camp, the students have written and edited their own book and will become published authors.

The students in Sonia Gilley and Ninkey McCarty’s class were divided into groups and each group developed its own story. “They came up with a plot and built their scenes around the story,” explained McCarty.

“Building the scene helps add detail. The LEGOs get the imagination going,” said Gilley.

The students learned about genre and creating dialogue. They took the time to make sure that every character got the chance to speak. The students were also involved in the editing process. Proofing the stories, font, scene placement and the cover were all decisions the students were able to make.

Down the hall, teachers Beverly Hurley and Vicky Thomas were also helping edit books. This was the first year that the program has been extended to incoming first and second graders.

They learned the difference between fiction and non-fiction and were able to develop mystery and adventure stories. “They didn’t need writing prompts and developed their own characters and named them,” said Thomas.

“It was written as they said it. They did great with dialogue. I was pleasantly surprised,” said Hurley.

At Union Middle School, editing was well under way. Dina Barton and Amy Slagle were doing final edits and getting the stories submitted. This is the second year they have instructed the LEGO Writer’s Camp for incoming fifth and sixth graders.

The middle school students were more hands-on with the editing process. Instead of expressing their edits, they were able to use Chromebooks to type their stories and fix most errors.

The LEGO Writer’s Camp is part of the Appalachian Writing Project, which was founded at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise almost 20 years ago. The Slemp Foundation helps provide funding for the camp, which is also held at Wise Primary School.

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