Saturday, June 18, 2016

Writing Prompt: School Assignments

I write school stories. Over the years some of my best story seeds have been provided by the most creative idea-generators in the world: elementary and middle school teachers themselves. Even in this age of teach-to-the-test pressures on educators, teachers constantly generate new fun - and hilariously funny - ways to make learning come alive for students - and, I've found, to make stories come alive for readers.

My boys both participated in their elementary school's fifth grade "biography tea," where they had to research some famous person and then impersonate him/her at a fancy tea-party. From that assignment I created my chapter book Being Teddy Roosevelt.
For another assignment they had to keep diaries in the persona of pioneers heading west on the Oregon Trail. That became a central plot line in The Trouble with Babies, where Nora is appalled when she draws a "fate card" for her Oregon Trail adventures that has her "married" to class bully Dunk. 
On school visits I haunt the hallways to peek at student work. I was thrilled to see a bulletin board full of ideas for how each kid would change the world. I scribbled down some of the kids' actual answers in my trusty notebook; they made their way into How Oliver Olson Changed the World - which also featured the "third grade space sleepover" my boys attended.
Next time you're stuck about something to write about, wander over to an elementary school - or wander vicariously via Pinterest - and see what fascinating activities inspirational teachers have invented. Each one contains terrific material for a story. In case children's authors needed yet another reason to be grateful for teachers, this is it. 


  1. HawrHawr But seriously, folks, as I stand-up here on this finite stage of our mortal, predestined existence, lemme share the extraordinary fantasy of Seventh-Heaven...

    I realize the following is quite literally above any other superfluous objective mosta U.S. mortals can conceive; however, while I didn't descend into Hell for my sins, I ascended till I saw the Celestial City far away. Wanna heer bout it??

    Lemme fill-you-up withe efficacious epiphany, the avant-gardness and necessary wisdom to achieve Heaven, dear, if ya desire Heaven (many dont, preferring to stay 'laissez-faire' [i dont care] till death).

    If 'freedom lies in being bold' (Robert Frost), doesn't pushing-the-envelope also result in the Elysian Fields of Utopia? And if I'm the sower, we plant the Seed; if I'm an artist, we RITE the symphonies heard Upstairs ☆IF☆ we accept His lead withe orchestra...

    Wanna find-out the fax, Jak, in a wurld fulla the 'power of cowards'? Wanna wiseabove to help a poor 'Plethora Of Wurdz' [POW!] which are look'n for a new home in thy novelty?? Yay!

    Q: But [gulp] can anyone tell me the difference between K2/IQ? A: Nthn. In Heaven, we gitt'm both HA! Need a few more thots, ideers, wild wurdz (whoa, Nelly! easy, girl!) or ironclad iconoclasms?

    VERBUM SAT SAPIENTI (Latin: words to [the] wise): As an ex-writer of the sassy, savvy, schizophenia we all go thro in this lifelong demise, I wanna help U.S. git past the ping-pong, pop-cult-politixx, the whorizontal more!ass! we're in and wiseabove to 'in fin sine fin' (Latin: in [the] End without End -Saint Augustine).

    "This finite existence is only a test, son," God Almighty told me in my coma. "Far beyond thy earthly tempest you'll find tangible, corpulent eloquence". Lemme tella youse without d'New Joisey accent...

    I actually saw Seventh-Heaven when we died: you couldn't GET!! any moe curly, party-hardy-endorphins, low-hanging-fruit of the Celestial Paradise, extravagantly-surplus-lush Upstairs (awww! baby kitties, too!!) when my beautifull, brilliant, bombastic girly passed-away due to those wry, sardonic satires...

    "Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the Heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightousness as bright as stars for all eternity" -Daniel 12:3, NJB

    Here's also what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you' -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

    Go gitt'm, girly. You're incredible. You're indelible. Cya soon. I won't be joining'm in the nasty Abyss where Isis prowls
    PS Need summore unique, uncivilized, useless names?? Lemme gonna gitcha started, brudda:

    Oak Woods, Franky Sparks, Athena Noble, Autumn Rose, Faith Bishop, Dolly Martin, Willow Rhodes, Cocoa Major, Roman Stone, Bullwark Burnhart, Magnus Wilde, Kardiak Arrest, Will Wright, Goldy Silvers, Penelope Summers, Sophie Sharp, Violet Snow, Lizzy Roach, BoxxaRoxx, Aunty Dotey, Romero Stark, Zacharia Neptoon, Mercurio Morrissey, Fritz & Felix Franz, Victor Payne, Isabella Silverstein, Mercedes Kennedy, Redd Rust, Phoenix Martini, Ivy Squire, Sauer Wolfe, Yankee Cooky, blessed b9... (or mixNmatch)

    God blessa youse
    -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL
    the war AGAINST women,