with Bruce Van Patter 2006-2007 School Visits

My return visit to Jackson Elementary!

I can't hide my affection for this school. I love Jackson. In my last visit, the workshop in the kindergarten class gave me the idea for my newly published book, Farley Found It! And today was another celebration of the imaginations of these kids. Just take a look at these interesting ideas...

The Assembly Stories

The four ingredients: a hedgehog on a beach looking for a cave to store his winter food up against an alien.

The story: Our hedgehog hero just wants to store his acorn pudding for the winter and has found a nice hole on the beach. But who is this shark-like monster? He's an alien who had come to visit his distant cousins, the sharks, only to crash-land on the beach. Now he's looking for directions.

Maybe, if he doesn't scare the hedgehog too badly, he might get a taste of acorn pudding, too!


An Evening Show!

We had a great time in my hour-long session for parents and kids the night before my visit. We brainstormed characters and stories. In the drawing on the right, you can see a polar who's gone to the South Pole for vacation, but has run into the Abominable Snow Penguin!

The lion was added later as just another fun element.

The workshop tales

We started with this doodle of a mouse looking over his shoulder. We decided he was looking for cheese, but is up against some kind of monster.

The monster we chose was a chef cat. It just wants to make an omelet with this fancy cheese. The mouse has to distract the chef.

So our mouse tosses some eggs. That ought to give him enough time to make off with the cheese!


Sometimes in workshops, we come up with an excellent character, but then run out of time to put him in an interesting plot. This guy on the right, who we named Shy Guy, just moved to town and is too shy to come off his porch.

A girl takes a fancy to him and wants to be his friend, but she can't think of how to get him to talk, or to leave the porch.

So she plans to fake a boating problem in the lake by his house. When it turns out to be a real accident -- thanks to her energetic dog -- the boy does indeed jump into action.


I like this name, The Bayou Beast. I also like the fact that he's a tiny little animal, something like a cross between a leprechaun and an alligator. To tell you the truth, I can't remember why he went into the swamp to catch the thing, but I love the concept of a magical creature that's different than all the other usual mythical beasts.


We had another great kindergarten session, just like the last time. This time, I had a student pull out a hat from a bag, which turned out to be all crumpled and bent out of shape. That started us on a story of an elephant out to find just the right replacement hat.

Will this also be turned into a book? I don't know. I'll just have to try it out and see if it's a good fit.

A couple final thoughts:

Jackson kids, you are creative! I hope my second visit to your school has convinced you that you do have good ideas for stories. Remember, the best way to keep your ideas flowing is to fill you mind with good things and share your ideas with others.

Keep up the great work!

And feel free to check out the fun stuff on my site.

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Pick the ingredients to stories and click through to see how I've started them. Then you finish the story!

Make a character out of some funny people I've drawn for you!
Over a hundred million wacky headlines wait for you to use them to make your own story!

click on the images to go to the writing activities