with Bruce Van Patter 2008-2009 School Visits

My visit to Memorial Elementary!

Day One stories:

The four ingredients: a tiger in the mountains looking for a pet up against a dragon

The story: this story came out of a kindergarten assembly. I usually don't do a whole assembly of kindergarten kids, but this group was fantastic! They paid attention and had great ideas.

In this story, a tiger goes looking for his cat who has wandered off into the mountains where a scary dragon lives. The tiger didn't notice that the bridge he was walking on was really a dragon!

In the end, I think the dragon joins the cat and becomes a new pet for our tiger hero!

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
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!


The four ingredients: a pig on a city street looking for a man up against a snake

The story: this pig wants to be a helper for a city plumber. But the pig always makes mistakes. So finally, the plumber sends him off to get something to eat, even though it's still early in the morning.

When the pig gets back, he yells down the manhole to find the man. Piggy doesn't think about who might be still sleeping -- like the snake that lives under the street!

So here's what I want to know: is the snake going to yell at the pig, or eat the sandwich?

And, is it a Subway sandwich?

The four ingredients: a teacher in a volcano, wants a pie and is up against a farmer

The story: When a pie falls down out of the sky in a school playground, the teacher takes the class on a field trip to solve the mystery. She figures out that the pie must have come from the nearby volcano. Up they go.

When they get there, they discover a farmer, who is baking pies on bubbles of lava. When the bubbles get big enough, the pies are done and the bubbles burst, throwing the pies into the air. The farmer doesn't want his secret known, so he's threatening to pop a bubble, sending a hot pie towards the kids.

Now... if only I had named it: Pie in the Sky!

Workshop stories

Sometimes the titles and the stories DO come together nicely. In this story, we started with this fun doodle of an old man we thought was yelling at kids.

As we brainstormed, we invented a story about an old man who yells at kids to try to find someone brave enough to go up the nearby hill.

It seems that if you cross the hill, you get turned into a cyclops and live in another, strange world. Only a child can cross over and not get changed. But only a brave kid would dare to cross over. The old man doesn't know about all this magic. He just knows his darling wife disappeared after climbing the hill. He wants to find out what happened and he's not strong enough to climb the hill.

To the rescue comes his grandson, who recognizes his grandmother as the giant cyclops. He figures if he can lure her back over the hill, she might change back. So he pulls out a warm cookie that he and his grandpa just baked -- from one of her recipes.

Over the Hill. I like that title.

Then we have this odd but fun story about a teenage boy who thinks he's really strong, and works out all the time to impress a girl he likes. But he doesn't think very clearly. Here's an example.

The girl is babysitting the guy's little brother, who is a major pain in the neck to our hero. The girl gets locked out on the roof and doesn't know how to get down.

So, what does our hero do? Push up a trampoline for her to jump on.

Great. Now, how is he going to get her down out of the tree she lands in?

So ends Day One -- a fast-paced, story-filled day. I loved all the energy and the ideas you Memorial kids had. And I hope some of you used your snow day to do something creative, like you promised.

If this is how much fun it is to visit Memorial, I can't wait to come back for Day Two!

Workshop stories, Day 2

What a crazy fun picture of a pig here on the right. We used that to invent a story about a pig who wants to be a part of a play being put on by farm animals. But they never let him join. So he goes to put on a costume that he uses to try to be a hero around the farm.

The animals are one step ahead of him. The cow takes the mask that he thinks gives him superpowers.

Here you can see him trying to stop the cow, who thought she'd use the mask for her character's costume!

I don't often get a moose as a main character, so I was eager to try one. This tale is about a moose who thinks that eating some magic seaweed will bring up a sea creature who will have to be his friend. What he doesn't know is the magic isn't real.

So the sea monster shows up all angry that the moose is eating out of his seaweed garden. The sea monster is quite surprised to find the moose hugging him!

Will they be friends after all? I hope so!

This guy on the right has been using a space rock he found to make pets really smart. It's worked on his guinea pig. A girl he likes was really surprised by his pet and decides to take the rock to use on her cat.

But she doesn't know how to use it properly, so look what's happened -- the cat is huge! And he's angry!

Looks like a job for a genius guinea pig!

I feel bad for this girl. On Saturdays, she gets up to walk the dogs of a mean, old man who lives next door. But she's so tired, she falls asleep while walking the dogs and the mutts run off.

So she gets the help of a boy she likes. But here's the problem: he is clueless about handling dogs!

Not only that, but he's brought home the wrong ones! This is not helping! Let's hope the mistake the girl made won't dog her for the rest of her life!

I think this is the favorite drawing I did all day. The story started with this excellent doodle of an owl. This owl is diurnal -- it stays awake all day and sleeps at night, which means that she has no owl friends at all.

And worse than that, there are two boys who are after her. Why? Because they heard about the treasure that the owls keep in a tree. This diurnal owl is their best way to find it.

So our owl tricks them. She gives them a false treasure map which will lead them not to the treasure tree, but to the roosting tree. Just as it's getting dark, they reach the tree. But she can't see in the dark, so she's hoping that the owls will be there to deal with the boys.

I really enjoyed drawing the owls. What a hoot!

Today was so much fun, whether I was doing the drawing or watching one of my creative helpers come up with their ideas.

I hope this isn't the end of the story. Let's keep those imaginations humming!

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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!
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