Sunday, June 8, 2014

Small Moments

A couple of weeks ago, I visited three first grade classrooms to talk about how I wrote and illustrated my Three Ghost Friends books. I found out that two of the classrooms were piloting a new writing program that encourages students to write about the "small moments" in their life.

Many students were brave enough to share with me a "small moment" that inspired their writing.  I heard stories about wiggly teeth while getting ready for school, flips off the swings and falling down, long car rides in the car, caring for animals on their farm, and more.

I encouraged the students to keep writing about their "small moments" because their experiences are important and other children would love to read their stories.

I love the idea of "small moments"! I shared with the students that there were "small moments" that inspired each of my Three Ghost Friends books too!

I was writing other stories at the time my youngest son became obsessed with Halloween. He loved walking the neighborhood looking for pumpkins and decorations.  Ghosts became one of his favorite Halloween characters with thanks to the book Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler (a ghost helps the skeleton get rid of his hiccups).  My son would ask me to draw ghosts for him -- even many months after Halloween was over. The picture above is from my writing journal with ghosts and pumpkins he asked me to draw.  I would usually ask, "Do you want me to draw a happy ghost or a MEAN ghost?"  He would almost always want me to draw a happy ghost.
One day after returning from my oldest son's preschool I was carrying my supplies from the lesson I taught and my youngest son.  I dropped the supplies (luckily I didn't drop my son!). After seeing the markers and paper my son asked me to draw him a ghost.  I picked up a blue marker and drew a blue ghost and proceeded to draw other colored ghosts.  This "small moment" was the beginning of Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Colors. (The picture above is a recreation of the "small moment".)
The "small moment" for Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Opposites happened while I was designing how the Three Ghost Friends would look for Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Colors.  While making the faces I thought about HAPPY and SAD ghosts. I thought that an opposites book would be fun to make.
One day, my youngest son and I were drawing with window markers. I was drawing shapes and he asked me to draw ghosts. I drew ghost faces on the shapes that I drew. This was the "small moment" that lead to Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Shapes.  I remember drawing a ghost traveling through a playground tunnel to become a circle. This initial idea changed into have the Three Ghost Friends play hide-and-seek to change into shapes.  (The picture above is a recreation of the "small moment".)
My best friend from grade school called me one day and told me that he had an idea for the next Three Ghost Friends book. He said, "You need to write a Halloween book and have the Three Ghost Friends dress up as ghosts for Halloween."  This "small moment" inspired me to write Three Ghost Friends: Learn About the ABCs - Halloween Edition.

To all the students I met:  THANK YOU for your questions, comments, and enthusiasm! I had a great time reading my books to you!  KEEP WRITING about your small moments!  You all have great ideas! Enjoy your summer!

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