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  • Caron Levis & Student Storytellers

Zombie Zebras & Hockey Hawks: Kids Create Collaborative Stories

During the first school visits with May I Have A Word? I've gotten to explore the joys and challenges of spelling and sharing with elementary students. We've also identified the basic elements of a story structure by creating collaborative stories. We start by asking the same question the letter-magnets in May I Have A Word? do, "WHOM, should our story be about?" You can do this fast and fun activity with groups of kids and/or use it as an individual storytelling activity. During my visits the goal is simply to let kids absorb story structure into their bodies/minds through an enjoyable, shared experience. I let the kids have as much creative freedom of content as possible while I guide them in the experience of basic story structure. Free lesson plan, guiding tips, and activity sheets will soon be available on the MIHW page. For now, find please enjoy and be inspired, as I was, by these stories created by two different kindergarten classes.

Letter selection, "A, B, C..!"

After an interactive reading of May I Have A Word? during which students have discussed letters, sounds, and the challenges and joys of sharing and cooperation, the class and I get started on our story. We randomly pick a letter from the endpapers, brainstorm words with that begin with that letter, and choose a character with a dream (this part drives our story.) Then we get on our feet! (After all, writers have bodies that need to move sometimes!) We keep creating by acting out our character and working together to imagine external and internal challenges, solutions, and discovering our ending. This activity can go as short or long as you want to guide it and there are so many options to expand it. In these cases the whole process was done in a wonderfully wild 10-15 minutes by creative collaborators!

Collaborative "H" Story from kindergarteners at the Winthrop school in Melrose, MA.

Letter selected: H.

Letter-Storm words: Hawk, House, Hockey stick, Hot, Huge.

Character created: Hawk with a Hockey stick.

Character's Big Dream: To score a goal. Once upon a time there was a HAWK with a HOCKEY STICK who dreamed of “scoring a goal”—but there was a big problem. Hawk was “not very good at hockey!” And “there was another player on another team, the Penguin, who was much, much better” than Hawk. To solve this problem, Hawk knew he needed to “practice” and decided to “ask Penguin to help” him practice—but Hawk “felt scared to ask Penguin” for help. To feel braver, Hawk “jumped up and down” one time and “just tried it.” He asked Penguin, “will you help me?” Penguin said yes, and they practiced and practiced until it was time for the big game. Hawk held his hockey stick, ready to score a goal—but, there was another problem! “A HUGE rhinoceros was guarding the goal!” To solve this problem, Hawk “passed back and forth with his team-mates,” and then “deeking*” his way to the goal, he scored! Everybody cheered and Hawk felt very “happy.” Hawk and the team celebrated with “HOT dogs!”

The End.

*special thanks to Mrs. Churchill and her students for introducing me to hockey lingo!

A Collaborative Z story by by K-226 at PS 116

Letter Selected: Z

Brainstormed words: Zebra, Zipper, Zip-line, Zombie, Zucchini, Zero.

Main Character: Zombie Zebra in a zippered sweatshirt.

Desire: To see friends far away in the forest.

Problem 1: Mud. Problem 2: Quicksand. Problem 3. Feeling Sad.

Once upon a time in a forest lived ZOMBIE ZEBRA who always wore a sweatshirt with a ZIPPER and made sounds like, "mwaaaaaah, mwaaaaaaah!"

More than anything in the world, Zombie Zebra dreamed of seeing his friends who lived in a far away part of the forest. So, one day, Zombie Zebra zipped up his sweatshirt and decided to go find his friends, but there were a few challenges and obstacles along the way. First, Zombie Zebra saw "a very big mud puddle" was in his way. Zombie Zebra solved this problem by "jumping very high and very far" until he landed on the other side. He continued on his way until he came across "a giant swamp of quicksand!" The quicksand made a very quiet "slurping sound" and "sucked anything that touched it down, down, down!" Zombie Zebra knew he needed "a boat!" He needed "a flying boat!" So, Zombie Zebra raised the sails and vroooooooom, flew over the quicksand and landed on the other side. Phew! Now Zombie Zebra could hear his friends. They were so close. All he had to do was go around the last part of the forest— but Zombie Zebra stopped. He "felt sad because it had been a long time since he’d seen his friends." Maybe "they wouldn’t want to play with him anymore." Zombie Zebra did some "singing" and "drawing" to make himself feel better. Then he jumped up and grabbed onto the ZIP-LINE zipped over the trees “wheeeeeeeeeee!” When he landed he saw his friends. “Welcome!” They said, all making a “W” in the air with their paws. Now there were ZERO problems. Zombie Zebra "felt happy" and he and his friends celebrated with "zucchini cake and zucchini bread and zucchini pancakes!"

The end.


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