The End

the endSpoiler-heavy free write anyone? All you need are old photos, pen, paper, and a moment to ponder how to tell a story – by only writing its ending! This exercise premiered at Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12.

At the program, we scattered a bunch of old newspaper and magazine photos on the tables (thanks library recycling program!) and instructed the kids to select an image, Then, they wrote the final paragraph of a story, with the selected image serving as the very last scene.

I also ask them to think about a few things before they got started: Who are your characters? What happened in the story? What’s the resolution of the story? How can you conclude the story without summarizing it? How does everything come down to this image?

It was a challenging prompt, but check out some of these seriously cool endings…


whale photo

Kate and Tristan turned around when they heard the huge SPLASH! Winston dove out of the water, splashing happily. Kate smiled “He looks happy here.” Tristan nodded and called out to Winston.

“Goodbye Winston! We’ll miss you!”

Winston dove down and disappeared into a patch of soft sea foam, creating another splash. Katie turned to Tristan “Well, he’s finally safe from Envetson and his henchmen now, all thanks to us.”

 


man and elephant photo

As I turned, Hannibal tooted as if to say I’ve been with you these last 50 years. I’ve been with you when you were at death’s door. I’m not going anywhere. “I’m going to miss you old friend.” I choked out. The great beast threw this head back and trumpeted so loudly, so deafeningly, I almost thought he was laughing. He then lifted me up on his back. I laughed. “Well then, one last ride.”

 


panda bear photoThe very last thing I could remember seeing was… a panda eating bamboo. And then my eyes refused to cooperate any longer. Blackness. I can only remember the crunch and the green. That’s it. Memories are weird like that, you can always remember the most bizarre parts. Even with my eyes closed, I can taste the dew on the nearby grass. I still feel the presence of a fluffy being right beside me, chomping away. Crackle. Snap. That’s all…

 

 


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The Squirrels Have It

the squirrels have it

The race for the perfect acorn is on…but will these squirrels in snazzy running shoes be able to catch the elusive offering of the Quercus borealis maxima? We made oatmeal container squirrels and designed the perfect acorn. Then, kids chased down their grown ups to “catch” said acorn. Chaotic? Yup. Did we get photos? Oh yeah!

We read Aw, Nuts! by Rob McClurkan (Harper, 2014). Acorn-loving Squirrel has been stashing nuts all season, but when the most perfect nut of them all drops from a tree, he HAS to have it. But fitting the nut into his already overcrowded home? Problem. In fact, Squirrel’s house pretty much implodes with the new addition, sending him on a cross-country chase after the runaway acorn. He finally succeeds, but wait…is that a NEW delicious acorn Squirrel sees out the window?

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • Poster board
  • 1 packing tape core
  • 1 paper bowl
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

squirrel with sneakers

The squirrel is very simple. Wrap a small oatmeal container with brown construction paper. Add arms and ears. Use markers to draw on eyes, a nose, and a mouth (or use wiggle eyes and a bit of self-adhesive foam like we did). Hot glue a dark brown poster board (or construction paper) tail to the back. The squirrel’s sneakers are white poster board, which are decorated and hot glued to the bottom of the oatmeal container. Check out these killer sneaks:

awesome squirrel sneakersNext, the acorn! This is a packing tape core. Our cores were 3.5″ tall, which is slightly taller then your average core (we get them through our recycling program). But a regular core works too. Or a small box, really. The cap of the acorn is a paper bowl that has been cut down, flattened around the tape core edges, and hot glued in place. And don’t forget the pipe cleaner stem!

enticing acornYou might have noticed the acorn looks a little…unusual. That’s because kids were instructed to make the acorn as enticing as possible. Which means going crazy with , patterned tape, and markers!

When everyone was finished, we headed outdoors to the library’s plaza to chase down some acorns. Katie was behind everyone with her camera to capture the race, I was in front snapping the blog photo, and the story time grown ups brought out their cameras to create what Katie calls “the ultimate story time paparazzi shot.”

story time paparazziWe asked the kids to line up. The grown ups, acorns in hand, got a little head start. Then on the shout of “Go!” the kids chased after their respective acorns!

acorn race 1 acorn race 2 acorn race 3

Hooray! It’s Haiku!

hooray haikuWe get a lot of weird things through our library recycling program, but these little babies take the cake. They’re stiff felt pieces – I assume from a vintage felt board set?

Yes, they’re funny because they’re so obviously retro. But what’s also funny is that only these pieces of the set remain. When you group them outside the context of the larger set, the effect is rather…weird. Honestly, I think it’s the basket of fish that puts it over the edge.

Never one to pass on an opportunity to share the weirdness, I decided to turn these pieces into a writing prompt for Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12. I told the kids they had to take these objects and create a story or describe a situation. But to make the prompt extra challenging, I told them they could only do it…in haiku. Here are a few of the resulting poems:

Three naughty children
Trying to catch a big bird
Oh no, that is bad

The bird eats the fish.
Can the bird eat the weird fish?
Suddenly it dies.

Yellow, pink, red, green
Let the fish swim in the stream
In a crate they scream

The bird flurries by,
A calm wind trails behind her,
Whee! This is so fun.

Flowers so dandy
Too bad birds eat the flowers
Sad so really sad

The boy ate dyed fish
Have fun in the stomach fish
Good bye Good bye fish!

The bird sips nectar
It’s so sweet, so delicious
Yummy yummy, yum!

Why so surprised fish?
Knee socks are really hip now
Too bad you’re knee-less

It’s gonna die soon!
It’s going on a flower!
It doesn’t matter.

The exercise, of course, was primarily meant for a bit of fun. And as you can see, there were silly poems, crazy poems, and goofy poems (did you spot mine?). But then, this little piece of perfection floated off a pen…

My nose is tired
Of the many smells of spring
When will winter come?