46, 47, 54 | Creative Prompts for Language Arts

64 Arts

This post is part of our ongoing exploration of The 64 Arts.

Knowledge is the acquisition of facts and wisdom is knowing what to do with them.

Or something like that…

Point being, it’s great to educate ourselves about something but until we put it into practice, we’re missing the best part! So here are some prompts for a bit of creative play about our foreign language, slang, and jargon topics:


Explaining how our cups, pints, tablespoons, and teaspoons all interact to a room much more familiar with metric!

1. If you’re anything like me, you find helping other people incredibly rewarding. Volunteer at your local library or literacy center. They might be in need of storytime readers for the kids section or ESOL volunteer tutors like my friend Lyssa does! Even if your schedule is too busy to commit long-term, you can offer to be a guest like I was two weeks ago for a cooking segment. Put your particular skills to work in a fun way!

Melissa & Jennifer

Lyssa and I

2. Learn a new language. Again, I’m a fan of DuoLingo (though I’ve let my Italian lessons slip–gotta get back to that!) but there are plenty of other ways to go about it. To make it more interesting, create a skit in your head and use Google Translate or Babel Fish to translate it back and forth a couple of times to see how garbled it can get. Just for fun, of course.

3. Go on a word search! Not the puzzle in the activity books type, but on a hunt for word origins. One of my favorite things from Latin class back in high school was learning derivatives. Sometimes they’re obvious, but look up some innocuous words in the dictionary and see where they come from, tracking a few levels back when necessary, and it gives you a whole new perspective on what that word really means. You can do the same with phrases, too! There are books like Common Phrases and Where They Come From that will make it easy on you without resorting to too many dusty tomes. (Looks like that particular book might be out of print, but that’s what used book stores are for, right?)

4. Brave a new frontier. This next one’s not for the faint of heart (or the innocent, for that matter!) but if you’re feeling brave, go hang out on Urban Dictionary for a few hours and see what’s going on with slang today. It’s both interesting and frightening to see how words take on new meanings in common usage.


5. Watch Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russel. Fabulous movie in general, but I specifically remember at the beginning when Patrick comes to live with Mame and he starts asking “what does ____ mean?” Mame hands him a pad of paper and a pencil and tells him to write down all the things he’s unfamiliar with so they can go over them later. Have you ever made a list like that? One of my favorite things about reading books on a Kindle (aside from the lack of strain on my thumbs) is the ability to highlight a word and instantly look it up thanks to the preloaded dictionary on the device.

41 Arboriculture | Putting Down Roots

64 Arts

Let’s chat, shall we?

One of my goals when working through the 64 Arts, beyond exploring some new skill-sets, was to encourage (in myself as well as others) little bits of daily creativity that feed our souls. I truly believe that doing something creative–and that covers a whole host of possibilities–can improve our outlook and our emotional health, with can only help our physical health as well. (That’s what the whole “better living through creativity” tagline is all about, after all.)

While I think my project tutorials do that to an extent, the Arboriculture art got me thinking beyond the basics. Not everyone has a yard they can tend a tree in or even a porch or balcony that gets enough sun, so what other ways can tree inspire us creatively.

Exploring our Roots

Have you ever done a family tree? Maybe as a school assignment long ago or maybe you got bitten by the genealogy bug and spent some time on a site like Ancestry.com or trolling city archives. If you’ve never explored your family’s history, maybe this would be a good time to look into it, find out some stories from the generations that we still have around and then dig a little deeper. Maybe you have someone famous (or infamous!) in your lineage, or maybe you come from salt-of-the-earth hard-workers. Either way, knowing where you come from may help explain some of who you are, today.

Putting Down New Roots

A song I found for one of my old podcasts (man, I really want to get back to making those!) was called “Twisted Family Ties” and boy, oh boy, do I know all about those! Sometimes the people we’re born to make it hard to love them. Sometimes it’s just plain implausible and you might have to–for your own safety or sanity–distance yourself or completed cut ties. In this instance, why not create an imaginary family tree of the family you were “supposed” to be born into. Remember that a person’s flaws are just as important part of their character as the good things. Draw pictures or make collages of your new family portraits and give them interesting backstories.

Reach Out to the Forest

With us living in a very global society, it’s not uncommon to feel closer to someone 3,000 miles away than you do your own kin. Ages ago sociologists started to refer to these created family groups as tribes (urban or otherwise). They may not be part of your family tree (real or imagined), but they are part of your forest. Reach out a branch and write a letter (yes, a real, honest to goodness, paper and pen(cil), put a stamp on it letter) to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Or maybe to your best friend who you talk to every day–I don’t think they’d be any less thrilled to find something other than junk mails and bills in their mailbox, do you? And if you’re feeling a bit more of a lone cactus in the dessert vibe, why not reach out and make a new friend by joining a penpal group. (International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club comes highly recommended, by the way. I’m thinking of signing up for the next round, myself).

So, there you have it. Your creative mission, should you choose to accept it, is to use one of the prompts above and act on it. Add a little creativity into your life and enrich it in some way. Then, come back and share what you did–you never know what might spark an idea in another person.