with Bruce Van Patter 2006-2007 School Visits

My visit to Neff Elementary

I love Lancaster schools. I've been to many of them, and I just can't get enough. (But I did get a Neff!) And like the others, Neff turned out to be a fantastic place -- just overflowing with creative kids and teachers. Never have I visited a school that has been more prepared. Walls of the halls were covered with imaginative art and writing projects that were inspired by activities on my site. Wow -- I was so impressed!

The assembly stories

Check out these wild ideas!

The four ingredients: a kitten in a castle after a ball of yarn up against a dragon

The story: This poor kitten is bored living in the castle. Nobody will play with her. So when she finds a long string of yard leading up into a forbidden tower, she ignores the rules and goes off to find the yarn's source. She discovers that high in the tower is another bored animal -- a dragon who has taken to knitting in her loneliness.

I named it the Knitting Kitten because I liked the sound of it, but it doesn't really make sense with the picture. Maybe the dragon teaches her to knit!

The four ingredients: a librarian in Egypt looking for a banana with girl as a silly sidekick

The story: our hero, a librarian explorer, is searching for written evidence of the fabled Golden Banana of Ancient Egypt. Discovering a new tomb, he's thrilled to find a parchment that proves that one existed. But his daughter has opened up something herself -- and there's trouble on the way!

I let kids suggest names for the monkey mummy. This name was the very best, though I had a hard time thinking how to spell it!

The workshop stories

This very odd, but fun, story started with the drawing on the right. Noticing that the one side of this king's mustache is cut short, we imagined that he had a magic mustache which gave him power over people. His kids decide to cut it off piece by piece so that they can get to do more of what they want.

In this interesting story, a man explores caves he can get to beneath his house. He's looking for a magic jewel which can grant wishes. His wish is that he can find out what happened to his girlfriend who disappeared. But just as he's reaching for the jewel, who should show up, but his girlfriend! She's after the jewel, too!

The other hand in the drawing is a hand of mystery. I put it in just to add another element to the story. Many kids thought it should be his mom, but I'm not sure why she's down in the cave, too. Maybe he's late for dinner!

This story gave me a chance to talk about my spelunking experiences in college. Cave exploring -- that's something I'd rather not do again!

We started with a doodle of a penguin who looked to be in some kind of sleeping bag, so we invented a story about a penguin who finds a sleeping bag left behind by some Antarctic scientist. Well, it turns out that the scientist had actually been stealing jewels -- I'm not quite sure where the jewels came from... maybe they were ice jewels -- and sewing them into the bag. He wants it back in a bad way. So he kidnapped the penguins mom and hid out in a frozen, wrecked ship in the ice! That's a great setting!

The penguin is going to lure out the evil guy and the other penguins are going to help him save his mom.


A Kindergarten story

Right before I drove to Neff this morning, I sat down with a dog book and sketched out a different kind of dog to draw. I'm tired of always drawing the same dog. So when kindergarten kids said they'd like a story with a dog, I pulled out my little drawing and used it to help me make this story about a dog who races a cat. I tried to think of things that kids would race to do in school. It was fun drawing this dog! Next time, I think I'll try a different kind of dog again!

We really had a good time, didn't we, Neff students? It is such great fun making up stories and using our imaginations. Don't let the fun stop. Keep putting your ideas on paper and sharing them with others. Remember, you are creative!

Feel free to wander around and find 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!
Strange news is happening! Let my Headline Maker give you a really weird headline. Then write a story!

click on the images to go to the writing activities