with Bruce Van Patter 2005-2006 School Visits

My visit to Kemptown Elementary!

I always play music when kids are coming into the assembly. The music is to get everyone pumped up about the time we're about to have. But with the kids at Kemptown, they came in brimming with ideas and eager to share them!
Markers were ready, too!

Lots of drawing goes on during the day. Doodle drawing by kids -- that's how we start each workshop -- and drawings by me, too.

I love to see how the doodles get transformed into faces and animals. This is the yelling guy who is after the Magic Mole. And behind the drawing is the girl who made it!

Putting kids ideas down on paper is one of my life's great joys. I'm so glad I get the chance to bring these wonderful stories to life!

My trip to the kindergarten class was fun, too! We invented this tale about an alligator who wanted to go on vacation, so he went to see some polar bears. They had him play their favorite game, "Slide and Catch", which he didn't like very much. Then he took them to play his favorite game, "Fly and Fall". I don't think he really meant to make them fall. He just wanted to make them feel as scared as he did!

Whew! That was a lot of drawing! I hope you Kemptown Kids had as much fun as I did! But don't stop now. Keep using your ideas. Put them down on paper and share them. That's the best way to keep being creative!

And don't forget to check out all the fun things on my site. A great place to start is fun stuff!

So many stories!

Spending a day and a half in a school gives me plenty of time to help kids make up stories. Here are the ones that kids brainstormed:

The Hidden Hero. Fifth grade created a very complex story about an ex-football player who goes into hiding without ever cashing his last million-dollar paycheck. There's a mystery about that. His ex-girlfriend, who use to be a cheerleader, has tracked him down and is trying to steal his paycheck to prove to the world that she's found him! Really a great, involved story with lots of good ideas!

In The Magic Mole, a boy is trying to catch a creature that is rumored to live under the ground of a park. Once every hundred years (we didn't quite decide how long) it appears, and he's trying to catch it because if he does, it must grant him his wish. What does he wish? To have courage. Seems to me he's finding he has courage without the magic!

I always ask kids, as we work on characters, to think of some secret for our hero. In Sharky's Adventure, a baby shark doesn't want his older brother to know he actually likes fish! And when one gets kidnapped by his brother, he has to find a way to distract him so Sharky can rescue the little fella. Humor is his plan.

Though this story ended up looking a lot like Shrek, I don't think we meant for it to go that way. We started with a really interesting situation: a man has a recurring nightmare where he's about to meet the girl he's to marry, who's under a spell in a castle, but when he gets close in his dream to seeing her face, something scary comes and he wakes up. We thought the story should then take him to meet his true love, and face his fear!

Here's another story with a great idea at the core. In The Magic Rock, an alligator crosses a rock in the middle of a mysterious pond and gets turned into a human. The only way he can get returned to an alligator shape is if he can find a human who wants to become an alligator and cross the rock at the same time!

At the heart of creative ideas is combining ingredients. Here, we have a colonial girl who is also a spy, trying to find out who is releasing the villages animals. Her friend the Indian boy has been blamed, but she knows it's not true. So she's sneaking out to find out. By the way, she's not trying to hold a sign saying she's a spy. Um, that would pretty much give her away.

Saving Time is a tale about a superhero who can throw time-portals onto the ground and go back in time to stop criminals. In this story, he's up against someone who wants to take the hourglass that controls the time-portals. I really had fun drawing the swirling portal on the ground!


Each assembly also had stories. Each one gave me at least one element that was strange. I love strange! In the one above, I have a Mexican Bigfoot looking for a candy bar in the rainforest. So which is stranger: a candy bar in the rainforest or a Mexican Bigfoot?

And here the wacky part was the video game that's lost in the woods. Well, it was a little weird to have an ant as a bad guy. I wonder how those ants will be able to move the controls for the game?

Thanks to everyone for such a great day!

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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!

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