with Bruce Van Patter 2008-2009 School Visits

My visit to Laurel Plains Elementary!

My first trip this year to a school in New York turned out to be great fun! Take a look at the original stories we invented:

The assembly drawings

In assemblies, I almost always draw horizontally. But when I saw the cool upright board to put my big sheets of paper on, I jumped at the chance to do vertical drawings. I do love challenges!

The four ingredients: a rock star in the ruins of an ancient temple looking for a golden banana with a bad guy of a first-grade boy

The story: A teenage or college-age guy wants to get known as an amazing guitar player. But he can't find any place that will let him give a concert. Worse than that, he can't get a band together. So when he hears of a contest in an ancient ruin, he decides it's his last chance. He goes, hoping to win the prize: a golden banana.

One thing he's missing: a band. So he takes his kid brother with him, who is a pretty good drummer. At least, he's good at drumming on things around the house. His parents are always telling him to stop banging on things.

At the concert, who do you think gets the most attention? The kid, of course. Maybe now that he's famous, he'll let his big brother be in his band!


The four ingredients: a bat in a volcano looking for food up against a dog

The story: Our hero bat is hungry. He's always hungry. Insects just never quite fill him up. He is always in the hunt for more.

Now, let's talk about the dog. He's also hungry. He is tired of chomping on cold dog bones, so he climbs up a volcano to grill his dog bone over the heat of the lava.

But the smell from the grill brings flies, like it usually does on picnics. That makes the dog mad. When he looks up and sees a bat swooping down, he gets even madder. He thinks the bat wants his bone, too!

No, he doesn't want the Bone-Burger. He wants the side of flies!

I loved Neil, who gave me the idea of the bat. He gave me clues to the kind of animal before telling me what it was! How fun!

The workshop stories

A turtle lives in the forest with a group of turtles. Every day, he goes to class and the teacher tries to get him to like boring things like all the other turtles. But our hero likes looking for weird things!

For show-and-tell, all the other turtles bring in rocks. But since our turtle hero likes to explore, he discovered a farm beyond the edge of the woods. He goes off and brings a most interesting "stone" to share with his class.

I think he's brought back more than just the egg!

After I wrote "Run for your lives!" I wish I had written a more turtle-like "Walk for your lives!"


This may be my favorite drawing of the day. The story it illustrates started with this doodle of a super-hero bunny on the right. We imagined this girl bunny had a magic cape that made her fly.

But she's always trying to help people who don't need help. So, one day, a cow takes her cape by using a stick to snag it and pull it off. Can you see the stick coming down in the doodle?

The cow tries on the cape and starts to fly, but doesn't know how to control it. So she ends up in a tree and the bunny has to save her without using the cape! Good thing the bunny can bounce!

I had given the story a title, but changed it. The original title is now the lowest branch! Ah, the marker tricks I know!


Our last story was a very funny tale about a surfer guy who keeps taking ice cream from people on the beach. When his dog goes over to the side of the ice-cream guy, he surfs into action!

I like how we turned what started out as a very strange nose into an ice cream scoop splatting ont the face of the guy in the doodle.


We made up so many creative stories today, kids! I told you that you had great ideas! Now, don't let the fun stop. Put those stories down on paper. I was really happy to have kids coming up to me and telling me how they were going to work on stories at home. Some kids are going to work together! I love that! That's a great way to come up with original, interesting stories.

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!

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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