with Bruce Van Patter 2008-2009 School Visits

My visit to Woodside Elementary!

This was a great, two-day visit with an evening show for parents and kids thrown in. We had a great time all around! Let me show you what we did...

The assembly drawings

The four ingredients: a kitten at a farm looking for a book up against a lizard

The story: How cool it is that my one Story Team member gave us a book for a want! In our story, the kitten is a guard of the Book Farm, where books are grown. One morning, a book is missing, so she sets off to find the thief.

But the lizard who took the book is good at hiding, isn't he? I had fun revealing the lizard at the end of my drawing.


The four ingredients: a robot with a bumbling ice cream guy as a sidekick in a cave looking for an evil candy genius

The story: Almost always, I can make some kind of story come out of the story elements. This is one time when I didn't come up with much. The story has something to do with an evil candy scientist who is using candy cones from a cave to turn kids into robots!

I know -- weird! But it did make a funny drawing.

The workshop stories

I love to draw pigs. But this pig on the right was created by a student artist. Notice the strange tail. We decided it wasn't a tail, but a rope. And our pig likes to make daring rescues.

So when his grandfather -- or just an old pig, I can't remember -- falls into the swamp of the Mud Monster, our pig races to help. His plan is to swing out from a tree and break the branch, letting sunlight dry up the mud beast.

But when he swings out, he's not heavy to break the branch. Good thing the monster was there to catch him and pull. Looks like he will seal his own doom!


Here's another great, crazy drawing. We loved the wavy arms, so we decided she was an alien girl, stranded all alone on earth. When she waves her arms, she can create a force-field.

Then one day, she meets a boy who seems a lot like her. That's because he's an alien, too. But when he disappears in the woods, she goes to find that her friend has been caught by an alien hunter! Force field action unleashed!


Sometimes, all we need is a dot to get inspiration. In this doodle on the right, the dot turned into a fly in our imaginations. We decided that his guy finds a super-smart fly who helps him with all kinds of things.

But one day, the fly flies away. Where did he go? Back to his former owner -- a prisoner in the castle. The prisoner trained the fly to bring someone back to release him. Our strong guy has to pull out the window to get the fly to agree to come back to him.

We had a great time with this story, because time's fun when you're having flies!


We started this story with a penguin holding something. The kids decided it was a snowball and the penguin needs to throw it at a sea monster to pass the test to be a guard of the iceberg castle.

The problem is that he's not a good aim, so he misses the monster.

But he is brave! So he dives into the sea and grabs the snowball. Just when the monster is going to get him, he jams the snowball in the creature's mouth!

What happens next? According to one creative kid in the workshop: brain freeze!

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!

In the workshops for the younger kids -- kindergarten and first grade -- we decided on an animal for our main character, then had a student randomly pull a book off of the wall of the library we were in. In the first story, we got a book on dinosaur cakes. In the second tale, we got a book on horses; I opened it up to a page on circus horses. I try to draw more for the younger kids. It helps to hold their interest.

I really enjoyed my time here and want to thank all the moms and teachers who put this Read Across America day together -- and let's not forget one superb principal! I certainly discovered that Woodside kids are creative. Now, kids, keep putting your stories on paper and share them with others. Your ideas are too good to waste!

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

I love this lunch bag that has a sweet drawing of my character, Farley, sleeping in a dog house. Talk about creative moms!
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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