Slice of Life 4: The Creativity of a Young Child

March 4, 2009

Slice of Life Challenge hosted by TwoWritingTeachers

I have been working alongside a fellow literacy coach this week.  She’s a breath of fresh air.  I love being a learner  as a teacher and sharpening my skills as coach.  Today, I learned that the creativity of a young child can sharpen me more.

My friend, Miss Hamman, reintroduced herself to a kindergartner; we’ll call him Tyler.  Tyler is reading at a high level for a kindergartner.  Our goal was to see what strategies he was using when decoding new words and where to take him next.  As my friend introduced herself, she and Tyler had a casual conversation.

The conversation lead to Tyler writing her name.  “I tell my students that you can see two words – ham and man – so it makes it easy to spell.  Can you try that?”  Tyler did and then added, “HAMMAN – super hero.”

“Super hero?  Wow.  I’ve never been called a super hero, ” Miss Hamman replied to Tyler.  I was wondering where super hero came from.  Had he been reading a Superman book?

“You know.  You’re a super hero –  Ham Man – a man who shoots out ham,” Tyler matter-a-factly stated.  He then proceeded to make motions with his hands as an imaginary weapon shooting out hams.

It took me a moment to process what he had just said.  Ham Man.  A man who shoots out ham – who would have thought that?  Only a young child full of creativity and in a supportive learning environment.  An environment that promotes risk-taking and thinking beyond the literal.  An environment that applauds creativity.  A classroom.

A Kid’s Aeronautic Dream

January 17, 2009

I often like to find books that are about kids being creative.  The cover of  Violet the Pilot caught my eye:   a girl in a homemade flying machine. How  cool is that!  She’s blowing a bubble, and her dog is her passenger.

As usual, I check the book jacket to learn more about the author, Steve Breen.  Since I am not an avid comic strip reader (except for Charlie Brown), I had no clue that Steve Breen had won a Pulitzer Prize.  He is on staff at San Diego Union-Tribune, creating the nationally syndicated comic strip “Grand Avenue”.

As a kid, Steve made modeled airplanes.  He added that somehow “they never turned out quite like the pictures on the box.”  From these experiences, he thought of a story.  Remind our students that everyday activities can spark an idea for writing.

Violet was a mechanical genius.”  She worked with different parts, building machines.  the she ventured into flying machines of all sorts.  Her dog, Orville (from the Wright Brothers, I presume), is always by her side.   I love the way Steve creates a character who uses her imagination to create.  the inventors in your crowd will love seeing the contraptions Violet makes.

Violet has dreamed of being a star pilot.  Her opportunity arises with the local flying show.  As Violet heads off, she sees a Boy Scout troop in distress.  Helping them, she misses her chance at the air show and returns home disappointed.  You can feel her disappointment.

Steve Breen doesn’t end the story there.  As good scouts, they bring a crowd to her house and honor Violet for saving the day – a hero!  I’m glad that doing an act of kindness, even in a fictional story, is given honor.  We need to shower our children with stories of bucket-filling.  What a better world we would have.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Violet the Pilot:

  • Suddenly – interrupts the flow of thought
  • Word play – “wing-a-ma-jig”
  • Varying punctuation – parenthesis, hyphen, quotation marks, ellipses
  • Character feeling – “We’ve missed the air show.”  She turned her plane toward home and sighed.  It was a miserable feeling.
  • Predictions – “And not just any old machines…”;   “Violet knew she had to help…fast.”