2002-2003 School Visits

My visit to Exton Elementary!

As I pulled up into the parking lot early in the morning, the sun was just rising above the steeple of an amazing school building. I've never seen anything quite like it. The word for it is "unique." And that's what I'd say about the kids, too.

Inside, the halls are lined with incredible examples of the kids' creativity. Drawings of cats caught my eye. Then self-portraits. Then life-size paper penquins. With art like that, I knew I was in for a day of working with creative kids. And I wasn't disappointed.

The morning assemblies were great fun, producing wonderful doodles like this one:
And the two stories were suitably wacky, one about a flying pig, and one introducing to the world Sludge Guy, who lives in the muck of a swamp. (Not to be confused with his cousin, Slime Dude.) On the right you can see the Sludgester with a few of his pals.

They put the brain into brainstorming!

The workshops really brought out the ideas in the Exton kids! And they brough out the personal stories from me. I don't think I've ever told so many of my real-life stories at a school. Many of the stories were about creative romantic things I have done while courting my wife, Alison. Those stories have never made it into workshops before, but came up in response to story ideas the kids had.

It was only when I got home I realized that today was the 22nd anniversary of when I proposed to Alison! No wonder those stories rose to the surface! Or maybe it was the funny romantic music I had on while drawing. What do you think, kids?

To the kids in the one workshop where I told the story of the remote-controlled robot that brought flowers and a Valentine's card to my girlfriend in college, only to scare the daylights out of her -- here is proof of my story. Not that you doubted me, of course. I just thought you'd like to see the picture out of our old scrapbook. And yes, I married the girl. Or should I say, she married me?

Let me add this: personal stories are a great way to get started writing. We work so much in workshops on wacky, off-the-wall ideas, I often don't get a chance to mention how important it is to put your own experiences down on paper, too. It doesn't have to be a big story, just something interesting that has happened to you. When you write, focus on how you felt, what you saw, smelled, heard. Let your story become real to someone else, too.

Thanks for a great day!

Here's what teachers at Exton wrote about my time at their school:
"I really enjoyed the program. It was well-paced and suited the audience.. teaching the children to use their imagination in a positive way." "An excellent program to help children realize that they ALL can be creative and write well!"

Stories from the minds of Exton students!

Poor guy. All he wanted was to have a part in the school play, Romeo and Juliet, or some other romantic costume thing. Instead, he has to be in charge of the scenery. Ooops! Guess he's not good at that, either. Did he do it on purpose to wreck the play?
This princess has a very strange nose. (The doodle we started on decided that.) She doesn't feel princess-like with such a nose, so she sets out to cook up a magic potion to give herself the perfect button-nose. One of the dangerous places she has to go is across the top of a waterfall to capture a magic slug on a mushroom! Watch your step, princess! (It was fun showing perspective in this drawing... does it seem like we're above her looking down?)
What about this story?
A night-sneaking raccoon sets out to find his brother, lost somewhere in the dumpsters in town. Little did he expect to have to come up against a monstrous chef! Will they escape?
My thanks to Brian Z. and Melissa P. for these cool drawings they gave me. I can tell their imaginations are strong and healthy!

Read all reviews of Bruce Van Patter's presentations
The Story Kitchen
Hey kids! Keep the creative fun going! Check out my Story Kitchen, where you choose the story ingredients and finish a story I've started! If you finish one, email me your ending and I'll post it on my site!
What else do you want to know about:
Read about other recent school visits:
Wasson Ave. Elem.
L.B. Morris Elem.
Round Hills Elem.
Renn, Lairdsville
Create your own character using one of eight funny, interesting faces on my page of MUGSHOTS. Click through to a question sheet that will help you make a face into your own hero... or villain.