Innovation That Matters

'Monster supplies' store hides creative writing workshop


Regular readers of Springwise will already be familiar with numerous innovations designed to enliven children’s education. Whilst many of these use technology to engage with youths, such as Top Hat Monocle’s classroom voting via laptop and cell phone, UK-based Ministry Of Stories have taken a rather different approach — creating a fully functioning shop of monster supplies to function as a front for their creative writing workshops. The London-based Ministry of Stories, set up by Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne, stocks a range of everyday goods re-purposed and repackaged for use by fairytale and make-believe monsters of all varieties. For example, visitors to the volunteer-run shop can walk away with items presented as “neck-bolt tightening kits” and “edible human preserves”, for later use as wrenches and snacks. The shop, however, conceals a hidden writing workshop, which can be entered via a ‘hidden’ door. Once inside the workshop area, the group or class of children collaboratively create a story, which is illustrated by an artist in residence as they build the narrative. Once the story reaches its conclusion, the children must present the tale to ‘The Chief’ — the despotic editor — who, having approved the story, presents them each with a bound copy of their tale, complete with illustrations. During the creation process, the children are given assistance with their creative writing by the Ministry’s volunteers, who also offer sessions to mentor children and young adults aged 8-18 on a one-to-one basis on Thursdays and Saturdays. The Ministry was inspired by Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia, which has seen the creation of similar establishments across the US, with all the shops selling products based on different themes: pirates in San Fransisco, superheroes in New York, and robots in Michigan. This concept has already show that it has the legs to cross the Atlantic — one to get involved with or emulate near you? (Related: Teachers link libraries & children in rural India.) Spotted by: Chris Kreinczes



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