with Bruce Van Patter 2010-2011 School Visits

My visit to Westwood Terrace

Another day in Texas, another great school. The kids here were so eager to create stories, and the teachers were so enthusiastic. Just look at the stories we invented:

The assembly drawings

The four ingredients: a bear in a tower looking for meat up against a hippo

The story: I decided that this bear lives in a hollow tree that goes way, way up in the air. It's like a tower. So when one day, someone takes his baloney sandwich, he climbs his tower to look over the forest.

What does he see? A hippo has taken his sandwich! But that hippo is in big trouble because an eagle wants the sandwich too!

Our bear saves the day because he rescued the hippo even though it meant he lost his sandwich. The bear said, "I can always make a new sandwich. A new friend is much more important!"


The four ingredients: a chef named Peter in a fancy mansion who wants to impress his boss, but the boss's son is causing trouble

The story: Every time something goes wrong with a meal, the rich man who lives in a mansion blames the chef. The chef knows he didn't do anything wrong. It's the son of the rich man who makes all the trouble.

So one day, Peter decides to make a really great meal to impress his boss. To make sure the boy doesn't wreck it, Peter lets the pet cat out of the door and sends the boy out to find it. That should give the chef enough time to make the meal without any "mistakes."

But it seems that the boy DID find a way to mess up the meal, after all!

The workshop stories

In this story, we had an elephant spy. He goes around solving mysteries. But his brother thinks it's funny to make our hero spray water. Usually that happens when he surprises his big brother.

So the little brother goes to his grandmother's house and locks her in a closet, then sends his big brother to find her. Just when our hero finds his grandmother, the troublemaking little brother shoves him.

It was a real challenge for me to draw a grandmother elephant! I don't think I ever had to do that before. How does she look to you?


We started this story with this great doodle of a girl on the right. After the student started it, I made it look like her!

We imagined that she was a girl who got superpowers from a crystal globe she found in a box in an old mansion where she gave tours to people. The globe gave her the power to make force fields.

What she didn't realize was the globe belonged to strange little creatures

who live in the house. So in order to get it back, they capture her brother. Here, I've shown her rescuing the boy.

One student said afterward that he thought the little brother should have been the mastermind of the whole thing.


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I love random connections! Here's a page that will create random What If Questions to help you start stories!



Wow -- crystal globes with superpowers, spraying elephant detectives, bears with missing sandwiches -- what great ideas! You kids are Westwood Wonders! You should be proud of your imaginations! You have great stories in you just waiting to come out.

I know it can be hard work to write stories, but don't forget how much fun it is to bring your ideas to life. If you need help getting started, use some of the story starters I have right here on my site. Start with the page fun stuff .

Keep being creative!

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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