And then...

October 17, 2012

I finished a workshop series at the Lake Oswego Library today. A fun writing activity I like to do is to read an "And then..." story, then let every child in the group write the next one sentence, pass their papers to the left, read the sentence on that paper, then write the next sentence, pass the paper, write the third sentence, etc.

Today I read "Voices in My Rootbeer," in which a girl at a pizza parlor hears voices in the foam of her rootbeer. Here is one of the stories from our group. Keep in mind a different child wrote each sentence (almost - some did run-ons and I separated them.).

She heard this: "Captain, we're sinking. Women and children first. Drop the life boats." Then a tiny boat came out of the drink. Rachel realized the bubbles were drowning. She tried to help them, but every time she touched the bubbles, they popped. Then she drank all her rootbeer and asked for another one. This time it was Sprite instead of rootbeer. She felt a strange gurgling in her stomach that seemed to be rising up into her throat She coughed up a glob of rootbeer and saw millimeter tall octopi. The octopus squirmed and wiggled and grew, making all the customers in the pizza parlor tremble with fear. Then the customers ran out of the pizza shop and screamed for their lives. Once order was restored, she started eating the octopus raw. Then it was all over. The end.

January 18, 2012

I got a batch of stories from 5th grade students in the mail. A substitute teacher I know used my book and read the story "Free! Inside!" It's so much fun to see the directions kids take the stories. But besides their imaginations, I see the issues on children's minds at this age. Justice, right and wrong and relationships are front and center - after a little fun.

In this story, Ravi finds a ring in a cereal box that gives him superpowers. Here are a few endings (with some editing for clarity):

(From Marcos)
Ravi started lifting cars and jumping over buildings. He thought, "if I'm going to be a hero I have to get a stupid suit." Ravi put some underwear over his pants and a shower curtain on his back. Ravi said, "I am the amazing male person man guy dude!" That was so lame, but I have to stick with it.

"I should probably go stop some crime." Ravi saw a old lady with a purse. He smacked her with a stop sign and said, "I will take that. Sorry, I thought you stole that." Ravi saw muggers beating up a old man. He helped the muggers beat up the old man because he thought the old man was causing them trouble.

Soon there was police after Ravi. Ravi screamed "You'll never catch me alive coppers." Ravi was actually caught alive.

(From Hannah)
A police box appeared [a Dr. Who fan?], "I wonder if I could pick it up? I can! So I got four more boxes of coconut cream and got all four prizes." He got a anklet, a bracelet, a necklace and another ring. But it was different. "I'm different, he thought. I am!"

He knew he would not show his friends. They may want powers too! He could not risk anyone knowing his new powers. They might use them for bad. "Who knows, they might have to fight me!"

His first power, the "girl" ring, was super strength. It was great for fighting bullies at school. Also it was awesome! No one messed with him! He was nice though.

The anklet gave him super speed. He got the school record. He was faster than speedy Sharon! She was fast. Until now.

His bracelet gave him the power of a gun in his hand. He didn't use it. It was too risky. He didn't want to hurt anyone. That would be bad.

The necklace gave him super stretchy powers. "I can stretch all the way around the world! It's amazing. I can do anything. I'll stretch to help."

The other ring gave me invisibility. I can go anywhere. No one will see me. I'll be unknown. No one will know I'm there.

I tried out my power when... (to be continued)

September 28, 2011

At the "Creative Writing Experience" today, I read the And then... story "Flower Power." The children each had a piece of paper, and took turns going around their groups adding one sentence at a time to the pages as they passed them. The following story is a classic example of the boy/girl differences I see with these stories. Can you guess which sentences were written by girls, and which by boys?

(Two children see a flower with a light glowing inside of it. The petals open up, and then...)

And then they turned into ants and looked inside and there's a party going on! So they climb up the stem and enter the party. They had pizza and root beer at the party. The root beer turned to acid and began to dissolve their stomachs. The ants did not die. But they did so that sentence was not true.

September 9, 2011

Today I visited the 7th and 8th graders at Veritas School in Newberg. After getting revved up adding on to "Take a Deep Breath," and "Gone Camping" with friends, they settled down to write their endings to "Going Up." You should know these story endings are first drafts. They were written in less than ten minutes.

Here is my story:

Daniel wasn't really thrilled about the new apartment building his family had moved into. The only cool thing about it was the elevator. His old building didn't have one, but now they lived on the fourth floor, so he got to ride it every day.

Today he was going home and was about to turn right to his hall elevator when he decided to mix things up and turn left instead. there was an elevator for this hall, too, so why not give it a try? He pushed the up arrow and stepped in. Good! No one else going up. He reached for button number four but was suddenly confused by the panel. There were lots more than four numbers. In fact, the numbers went all the way to 36! How can there be thirty-six numbers? There aren't thirty-six floors. Maybe it's a spare-parts elevator, and only the first four buttons work. But since he was in a mix-it-up mood, he decided to push a spare-part number. Let's try number 29. The number lit up, the doors closed, and the elevator started to rise. The display panel above the door read "2," then "3," then "4," and kept going. Daniel's heart started to pound. 15, 16, 17. His hands started to sweat. How do I get out of here? 22, 23, 24. The elevator slowed, then stopped when the panel read "29." The doors dinged and slid open.

"Hello, Daniel. Welcome to floor number 29."

And then...

(Here is an ending from D., a seventh grader who wants her dreams to come true.)

There was a kids-mania complete with video games and candy! There were kids everywhere. "Where did all these kids come from?" he thought. The best thing of all was there were no adults!

One kids named Casey came up to Daniel and said, "Ya want to race me on the video games?"

Daniel of course said yes. When he got there it was all 3D gaming! There were a million video games! But he still had a question nagging at him, so he asked Casey, "Will my parents know where I am?"

Casey answered "Time freezes when you're here."

So when Daniel went back to the apartment, his parents were still eating breakfast like they were when he left.

(This 8th grader, S., wins the prize for the most random thoughts packed into a single story.)

And then he realized the man was a French shoe so he ate it. Then he rode a rainbow from the cloud world of floor 29 to his couch where he was sucked through the cushions to Russia where he found Mario. Then he took Mario's yoshi and ate it. Then he became a yoshi, ate the other yoshi and decided to play pac-man instead. But he was a pink ghost so he threw the pink blanket off, and had an egg baby, which hatched into French shoe who asked "Why'd you eat me? Why don't you love me?" And he realized he was an Italian shoe and that his father never really loved him. Which made him become Buddhist and destroy Pluto because he hated dogs. Then he woke up, realized he was a 47 year old creeper who had done drugs and was wearing a Canadian Mounty's clothes though he was in Japan.

So remember kids, do not do drugs.

(Last we have C., a 7th grader who can't quite decide if the story should be happy or sad, so we get a little of both.)

The lady that said hi turned out to be a magical fairie. She explained to Daniel that floor 29 was Pixie Land. Daniel stepped out of the elevator and everything went black. Suddenly, a big portal opened. He thought about stepping in, but he knew his parents would probably start looking for him. "I'll only be here for a little while," Daniel said. And with that, Daniel jumped in. He went through a worm hole, and then was shot out into a world of bright colors. Then the magical fairie lady appeared and said, "Welcome to Pixie Land. I'm Chelsea Spring, and I will be your guide today." They went from the Coconut Meadows to the Soda Seas. When they got back, he said thanks and went to he portal. But there was a gate there. And then Tinker Bell appeared and said in a deep voice, "You can never go back. Ha, ha, ha." So he sword battled with her, and then the portal opened because a nice little talking chihuahua named Pacho opened it. They soon became best friends and both traveled back and Evil Tinker Bell followed him. And then she tood over the world. But as for the boy and his dog, they lived happily ever after.

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