with Bruce Van Patter 2008-2009 School Visits

My third visit to Stony Brook School!

It's so much fun to return to this wonderful school to work with each year's fourth grade. Each year, I'm impressed with the creative energy the new batch of fourth-graders has. Wonderful!

The assembly drawing

The four ingredients: a robot cowboy who can shoot lasers out of his eyes in a sewer looking for a lollipop up against an evil genius who can make nightmares come true

The story: There's trouble in a big city. Everyone is having terrible nightmares that come true. What can they do? Turn to Robocowboy, a sherrif who isn't afraid to go into the darkest places to find the evil genius. That includes the sewer.

But right as he's about to arrest the boy, who's lollipop is his source of power (why a lollipop? Ask the boy who chose that for our story!), the evil kid unleashes the robot's worst nightmare -- rushing water!

The Workshop Stories

After brainstorming for a while, we decided that this doodle girl on the right was a mermaid who could change into a human by the help of a crystal she found in her underwater cave home.

When she thinks her human friend has been kidnapped by an old fisherman, she turns herself into a human to rescue her. What she doesn't know is that the old fisherman -- who has been trying to catch her since he caught a glimpse of her as a child -- is actually her friend's grandfather. It's a trap!

I tried to make her dress look like fish-scales.

In this tale, a boy is trying to win a contest to be the first person to take a photograph of the elusive jungle dragon. But just as he's about to take the picture, his rival makes the dragon slip off of its branch and slam into the ground! I don't think the dragon is interested in smiling right now.

What was fun in this story was having the kids dream up what a jungle dragon would look like. They thought it ought to be furry; I decided it should also have a prehensile tail like a monkey.

That's what I like about imaginative stories -- you can dream up all kinds of strange creatures. Why should mountain caves be the only place with mythical dragons?

Finally, we have this interesting doodle on the right. We decided it was a boy who was afraid of things hitting him in the head. Why? Because one boy in gym class always singled him out in dodgeball. Our hero is the first to get hit.

But then, one day he finds a strange floating orb. When he throws it in dodge ball, it will go exactly wherever he wants. The bully is now the first one out. So the bully steals the mysterious orb, only to find out it's actually an alien robot ball! In comes our fearful boy to save the bully!

Another visit to Stony Brook, another great day of original stories!

You fourth graders are truly creative. Use your ideas. Get them down on paper. Have fun turning the tales we invented into written stories. I know you'll add all kinds of interesting details. Remember, it helps to have a little picture for the beginning, middle and end of your story. If you do that, you'll find it easier to remember what's going to happen.

Good luck!

Remember... you have great ideas. Share them!

In addition to all the free material on this site, I have downloadable books that are perfect for keeping kids writing in school or at home!

(click on books to see)

The Adventures of Pirate Dog
Picture prompts are a great way to inspire kids to write! Here are 26 of my best drawings with fun, pre-writing worksheets

Write Your Own
Kids can add the
dialogue and their special touches to my funny comic strips filled with wacky characters!

Sparks: Year One
Here’s a fantastic resource for teachers: a whole year of weekly creative writing lessons built around wacky holidays!

More to come!

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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