Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Last week I visited Country Parkway Elementary School in Williamsville, NY. Mrs. Gayle Kerman made me feel very welcome by sharing my books with her students a head of time. We started the morning dancing the Snow Dance with the Kindergarteners and First Graders. Then we talked about how many people it takes to create a book. Third and Fourth Grade classes were in to nonfiction, so we discussed research, and brainstormed more than a dozen different ways we could write about a boring subject like sneakers. But since this is Halloween, I thought I would share with you the Halloween story the Second Graders wrote with me after we read Joshua the Giant Frog.

One of my favorite activities is to help the children create a new tall tale using their ideas while I write on a large pad of paper. We use their school and hometown as the setting and Joshua as the main character. We have to have a great descriptive lead (not “Once upon a time” or “It was Halloween night…”), a conflict, characters, and dialogue. Because it is a tall tale we also have to stretch the truth – use analogies that are larger than life. In less than 20 minutes, this is what we came up with --

Joshua’s Trick or Treat

The Queen of Hearts ran up to the giant Ipod and said, "That's a great costume." The jack-o-lanterns glowed on the porch as the kids rang the doorbell. "Trick or treat."

From behind them they heard, "AAHHHHHH! Help me!" Sofia, dressed as a giant butterfly, raced down the street.

Then the earth shook. "Thump... THUMP.... THUMP!" Joshua the Giant Frog hopped into view. His tongue flicked as fast as a bullet at Sofia's wings.

"Oh no. Joshua thinks Sofia is a real butterfly."

Jacob, dressed as Darth Vader brandished his light saber, and a Bumblebee waved her stinger. But Joshua kept chasing Sofia.

"Quick, get all of your candy in a pile," said Ipod.

All the kids dumped their candy in the middle of the street. The pile grew taller than a sky scraper. "Joshua!" they called.

Joshua turned to see the mountain of chocolate and sugar, and his tongue lapped it up.

Poor Sofia dragged her broken wings back to town.

Joshua handed her a Hershey candy bar to say he was sorry.

"Thank you," she said. "Happy Halloween everybody!"

The End

With this 'sloppy copy', the children and their teachers can smooth out problems, like who said, “Oh, no. Joshua thinks Sofia is a real butterfly,” and add more detail. But the basics are there, and hopefully the seed -- that writing is fun and doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around -- has been planted.

Happy Halloween!

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