with Bruce Van Patter 2007-2008 School Visits

My visit to Fairhill Elementary

I made some fine friends at Fairhill -- creative students, welcoming teachers, and enthusiastic parents. What a great visit! Here are some of the fantastic stories we made up over a day and a half.

The assembly drawings

Check out these stories:

The four ingredients: a mouse in a basketball hoop looking for a friend up against a black cat

The story: Our mouse lives in the roof in a garage. He's lonely. He hears a sound outside and wonders what it is, so he finds a hole, crawls out and discovers a bird! She's made a nest in the basketball hoop. The mouse thinks he's found a new friend.

But there's a nasty cat that's been eyeing the bird for a quick meal. He's taken a while to figure out how to get up there, but now that he's got his one shot, he's happy to find that he's getting a two-for-one deal!

I enjoyed drawing this "looking down" perspective.


The four ingredients: a cowboy in a ship, looking for candy with a superhero kid as a silly sidekick

The story: A cowboy has traveled a long way to see if the legend of gold in a high mountain lake is true. He and his sidekick, Board Boy (he always carries a board with him), go out on the lake, where they see the treasure on what looks like a rock.

But when Board Boy tries to surf his way to the rock, they find that it isn't a rock, but a giant native American statue that can come to life!

I think they escape with the treasure only to find that it's actually chocolate coins!

The workshop stories

A great starting doodle can make a story easy to develop. Here, we started with an elephant with his trunk in a basket he's carrying. We had fun thinking of what might be in the basket.

We decided he is a wizard's assistant, and when the wizard gave him his laundry to do, he meant to just clean it and not put anything on, but his trunk strayed into trouble. Before he knew it, he was wearing the wizard's cape and hat.

Worse things happened! He magically zapped his master with his trunk and shrunk him!


A boy sets out on the island to find an old man who makes invisibility potion from a special kind of coconut. Finding the old guy is only half the trouble. The boy gets to drink the potion -- he wants to be invisible to become a great detective -- only when he promises to climb the dangerous coconut tree to get more ingredients.

The coconut tree is guarded by a vicious monkey!

I tried to make the old man look like an ancient Gilligan. The kids all said, "Who's Gilligan?" Maybe that's a good thing. That was a really silly show.


Here's a little flying guy who wants to save the last pixie from being caught by an evil woman. It seems that all the other pixies were caught by her so that she could use their magic dust for her own evil purposes. The last pixie has hidden herself in an abandoned mansion

This little guy has a small supply of pixie dust, given to him by this last pixie. He wants to rescue her, so he's using the dust to try to lead the woman on a wild pixie chase. But he's also clumsy, so he's knocking over a jar, which might just wreck his whole plan! The woman is using a pixie dust finder to track him.


What I like about this story is that it has magic and castles, but isn't stuck in the same European fairy tale mode. Here, we have a young man, in love with a princess, but transformed magically into an old man by his rival. The bad guy left him out on the open grasslands of Mongolia with just a big bag of stuff , thinking that the old guy will assume he's some kind of peddler.

But the old guy remembers who he is. How will he convince the princess he is who he really is so that she can turn him back? He has in the bag of stuff and old pot that was thrown in there by the bad guy. Our hero knows how to make a special meal that the princess loves.

So here you can see him cooking, the villain trying to get him to leave, and the princess recognizing the wonderful aroma of the food!


In this tale, a boy can't remember where he's hidden his journal. He put it in a secret compartment in his tree house, but he can't remember that. So in the first part of the story, he's trying to find clues to what he himself has done! He's the good guy AND the problem!

But when he finally does figure it out, he finds that the book is gone! All that is there is a mocking note. Who wrote the note? That's the second part to the mystery.

In fact, his younger brother took it to keep from the older boy secrets about the young lad that he wants his older brother to forget. We talked about what a fun surprise it would be for the reader to find that solution to the first mystery is just the middle of the story.


Finally, here is a first-grade story all about a lion who spots a cloud that he thinks looks like a living Cloud Lion. So he puts a huge ladder up against his house to climb up to touch the Cloud Lion.

A wind comes along and he topples off his ladder. Oh, no! Will he fall to his doom? No, the Cloud Lion catches him and gently lowers him to the ground.

I was very impressed with the answers when I asked, "The cloud lion's paws were as soft as...what?" Answers were: a feather, a bed, and a pillow.

Wonderful story, wonderful ideas!

We had fun, didn't we Fairhill kids? (Or can I call you Fairhillians? Fairhillers?) Making up stories is something that's really easy for you, I can tell. You have so many good ideas. Put them down on paper. They deserve to be enjoyed by other people!

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

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
Cartoons!
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!

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