I visit the fourth-graders at Gilchrist Elementary School every year. I load my props (shoes, assorted knickknacks and photos) on a squeaky media cart and travel from room to room encouraging students to create characters and plots, and giving them a taste of what it is like to be an author.
We do a lot more than imagine and talk. I have kids not just describe how a character walks, but have them demonstrate that walk (I had a great gangsta walk from a girl whose character was named J.D. Jordan).
I show the students my own fourth grade diary. You can start writing at any time–even in the fourth grade. And then I always say, “And if you opened this diary I would have to kill you.”
Why would I want them to know how boring I was, or what a rotten speller I used to be?
You may be wondering about that crane photo at the top of this post. What is it? An art project?
See the green in the background? That’s grass. And every spot of color is a Gilchrist student or teacher wearing clothing in carefully-chosen colors.
Yup. You’re looking at a thousand-kid-and-teacher crane. Wow!