In college, I was taught that workbooks, worksheets and coloring pages were not good teaching tools because they stifle creativity. I agree, to a point. But sometimes, workbook pages can lead to creative writing. I have seen this over and over again.
Garrett was working on a page of his workbook (I got First Grade Scholar workbooks for him and Fiona) that asked him to write an outline for a story. He was supposed to write the names of two animals, a large one and a small one. Then he was supposed to write about where they met. Then he had to think of a problem that needed to be solved.
He immediately started coming up with a whole story. I slowed him down enough to answer those first questions so that we could refer back to them. It’s a good thing I did, because we waited a couple of days to actually write the story, and I had forgotten his ideas. He hadn’t forgotten, though. This is his story:
Bear and Mouse A bear and a mouse met in the jungle. The bear was hungry. The mouse said, “I know where a river is that has big salmon jumping in it. The bear didn’t believe him and tried to eat the mouse. The bear was so hungry he couldn’t stand it. The mouse ran as fast as he could to get to the river. When they got to the river, they saw hundreds of salmon jumping high out of the water. The bear ran with glee into the river and snatched a salmon right out of the air. The mouse said, “See, I told you there was a river. Aren’t you glad you’re eating salmon instead of mouse?” He says to himself, “I sure am!”
Well, Fiona heard this story, and her wheels started turning, and she thought of a sequel to Garrett’s story. So she wrote an outline in her workbook, and we wrote her story a couple of days later. Here’s Fiona’s story:
Bear and Mouse 2 While Bear was eating salmon, Mouse got hungry and decided to go get some cheese. He went to a house where he knew there were some cheese crumbs. On the way, he met another mouse running out of the house, saying, “Look out for the cat!” He went to the house to check out the cat. He made a big BARK sound to scare the cat. The cat woke up, and its fur stuck up and it ran away. The Bear was worried and went to look for him. He found a tree with golden apples and decided to rest. The apples looked so delicious he sat right down and ate one. It was so tasty he decided to eat another one… and another one… until he had eaten TEN apples! It started raining. Bear looked for a place to get out of the rain. He saw little tails sticking out from a hole at the base of the tree. The tails belonged to Mouse’s family. The Baby Mouse who was held by his mama peeked out and saw the bear. The Baby Mouse said, “Hi, Mr. Bear”. The rest of the mice poked their heads out. They felt bad for him and asked him to come inside. He said yes. They asked him if he wanted to eat dinner. He said he was full, but then he said, “What is for dinner?” They said “Turkey and grilled cheese sandwiches- with salmon”. He couldn’t resist, so he said, “Maybe just one.” They sat down to eat. Just then Mouse ran in carrying an umbrella and said, “Am I late for dinner, Mama?” Bear said, “Mouse, I was looking for you. Where have you been?” Mouse said, “I was looking for some cheese.” Just then the cat showed up and tried to pounce the Mouse. Bear stood up and growled. The cat yowled and whirled around and ran into a tree, and an apple fell on its head. The cat ran out of the forest and was never seen again. Mouse thanked Bear, and the whole family gave him a big BEAR HUG.
They narrated the stories to me, and I wrote for them on writing paper. Garrett has illustrated the first page. I want to have him illustrate some more of his story. Fiona loves to draw. I’m surprised she hasn’t already been drawing tons of pictures for her story. That sounds like a good project for today!
UPDATE: I did get them to draw some pictures to go with their stories today. They wanted to use pastels, so I told them they could after they drew some illustrations for their stories. I rewarded their artwork with more artwork. It worked!