with Bruce Van Patter 2006-2007 School Visits

My second visit to Rush Elementary!

It's always a treat to come back to a school, especially a school as enthusiastic about writing like Rush Elementary. And since it is the week of Dr. Seuss's birthday, I decided to try something really different with the one workshop. You can read about it below. So, do you like odd stories? Well, I have a few for you. They're odd -- but in the best way: surprising and very, very creative.

The assembly drawings

Check out these stories:

The four ingredients: a long-neck dinosaur on a mountain, looking for grass up against a phoenix!

The story: That's quite an interesting combination! So I decided our dino hero was searching on this mysterious mountain for a beautiful field of grass he could see from a distance. What he didn't know what that the grass was just a way for the Phoenix, who lives in the burning inside of the mountain, to lure dinosaurs to their doom!

I hope this dino won't get fried! He seems like a nice sort of long-neck.


The four ingredients: a girl at an arcade looking for friends with a genius, scientific ferret as a sidekick, looking for a golden spoon

The story: This girl wants friends. So she and her ferret invent a new game for the arcade: Grab-A-Spoon. In this game, you have to balance on floating marshmellows in a giant mug of hot chocolate while trying to pull down the golden spoon. Pull the wrong one, and down you go, into the drink. It's a risky thing, but she wants to impress kids so much she'll try it.

But when the other kids see how crazy and dangerous this game is, they try to talk her out of it. I think in the end, they'll appreciate how hard she was trying and then they'll include her in some other kind of safer fun.

Pssst.... kids... don't try this game of giant cocoa at home!

The workshop stories

A giant ham sandwich? Yup. We wrote on the board eight possible characters and eight objects and eight possible things the character could sit on. Then I had two 5th graders throw a sponge at the blackboard to choose which combination. We ended up with a mechanic sitting on a giant ham sandwich.

The story was a bit complicated. It had something to do with cows and a nerdy assistant. But it's fun to let random connections take us to new places!


I'm just batty about this story! Our bat character likes to search all over the jungle for rare fruit. But when he finds a new kind, a monkey steals it!

How did we come up with the name, chewakafruit? A students made it up, and she did a fabulous job. I love it. Actually -- and I'm sure the kids from this workshop would tell you -- the actual name is SPICY chewakafruit. But I couldn't get that all in the title.

I know the picture here is small, but can you see the bat hiding?


Sometimes, the drawing and story just really come together. In this tale, I had great fun drawing these two plants attacking each other as neighbors try to keep each other off their property

After the class, the one teacher mentioned that it reminded him of the classic science-fiction story, The Day of the Triffids. It took me a second -- I actually listened to it on tape once -- but I remembered that it also had giant walking plants.

Well, it just goes to show that no story is ever completely unique. We always borrow from what has been done before. But when we put our own spin on it, it really does become our own.

Great story, kids! I hope my drawing did it justice.

Remember, this day wasn't just about my drawing. It was about your ideas!

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the day such a fun return visit.

Keep being creative, and check out the fun stuff on my site!

back to main page programs Fun stuff for families schools reviews bio
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