with Bruce Van Patter 2006-2007 School Visits

My visit to Northern Potter School

This was a fun school to visit! Not only did I get to spend a day making up stories with excited kids, I had a chance to stay a night in the principal's house. I know that sounds like the ultimate detention, but I really enjoyed getting to know Principal Morgan and his wonderful family. My day in the school was just as fun, too. Here are the stories we invented:

The assembly drawings

The four ingredients: a bull-rider in a Guatemala ghost town looking for a magic hat with a crazy-eyed side kick guy.

The story: First , let me say that those are creative ideas for a story! I decided that the tale would be about a bull rider going to Guatemala to find the fabled Magic Bull-Riding Hat to help him win some rodeos. But he's got to brave a mountainous ghost town that's guarded by a raging bull.

When he finds the hat, he tries to ride the bull, but the hat flies off and his silly sidekick tries it on. Only now, he can't get it off!

Later in the day, a students named Michael came up and gave me his version of this story. He had written it down and gave it to me. He decided to call the hat the Hat of Luckiness. Great name!

The four ingredients: a tiger in a house looking for a friend up against a fire-breathing lion.

The story: Our tiger hero goes to visit a lion friend. The tiger wants to be a good friend, but when the lion serves his super-spicy chili, the tiger doesn't like it. He really doesn't like the fiery breath of the lion!

I had a chance to tell a true story about when I was a boy and ate at the house of friends from India. The food was so spicy, I wouldn't eat the ice cream because I was worried it would be spicy, too! That would be an interesting idea: Spice-cream!

The workshop stories

When a worm finds his special gold coin stolen from his hiding hole, he doesn't know who took it. Then he sees a clue: a strange track. Just when he's starting to solve the mystery, he hears his worm friend crying out for help. It seems his jealous friend took the coin, but then rolled down into a pond. Now a fish might eat him!

I had fun writing the word balloons. The worm at the top says, "OH, my coin!"

The thief worm, who sees the fish, says, "OH, my goodness!"

And the fish says, "OH, my lunch!"


What I enjoyed about this story, is that we were able to work in the actual music I was playing while I drew. It's that classic "scary" organ music by Bach. We had already decided that this young woman was going into a "haunted" castle to get back her boyfriend's journal. But when the music started playing, the kids thought I should show the boy's father -- the castle grounds-keeper -- playing the organ as he's trying to scare the woman away.

We gave her quite a temper as we thought about her personality. That's why instead of getting scared, she's just getting angry!

Fun story!


This girl is a princess who has gone to a deserted island (a great, unexpected setting for a princess story) to find a magic crown . When I asked what the crown could be made out of, I quickly found out that the students knew their rocks and minerals! We decided on hardened lava.

Her wish will be that her island kingdom, seen in the back of the drawing, will stop sinking into the sea. But she may not get to make the wish, since the Fire Goat, who guards the Lava Crown, might butt into her thinking!


Finally, here's a story with a big main character! This giant wants to learn how to get along with people. He's found that his skill in "smushing" things really doesn't endear him to the townspeople. So he's hired a former teacher to help him learn manners.

But when the townspeople send him to get rid of an even worse giant, he realizes that his manners don't exactly work against HIS MOTHER!

And speaking of giants, I am a giant fan of the writing 5th grade had on the wall outside their classroom! They had printed off illustrations from my Mugshots page, written stories, and then colored in the artwork! Others had printed off one of my KidTales pictures and written stories to go with that. Wow. That's a lot of work.

But then, I found that all the kids at NOPO are ready and willing to jump into writing stories. Great job, everyone! Keep up the creative fun.

Whoa -- isn't this dragon by Derek amazing?

My thanks to all who gave me drawings and stories during the day, especially to the 3C class who gave me a whole envelope full of them.

And check out some of the fun stuff I have on my site!
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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