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Read It Here First - Wagner Ranch Young Writers Take Flight!

At Orinda's Wagner Ranch Elementary this spring, our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders used writing to explore the many aspects of flight, including the flight of bees, of Amelia Earhart and her plane, of Cupid’s arrow, and more.

Students were given the prompt "My Name Is..."

My name is the sound of running.
My name is made from the roar of a lion.
My name can be on the cover of a book.
If I lost my name I would name myself again.


My happiness is my name.
My name is made from the joy of other people.
My name can bring me joy.
My name means special.


Students used personification to think from the perspective of a bumblebee

The Map!

O.k. now let’s see, which path I should choose: the right one or the left one. Oh no! I forgot my annoying older brother must’ve taken my map while I was searching for nectar. Just in case, I am going to look in my backpack to make sure it is not hiding anywhere. OMG, I think I found it. Oh, wait, that’s not a map, that is just an old leaf. Boo. 


The Big Day

I woke up on the big day! I was so scared, I was going to compete against the fastest bee in the hive, plus I was in the biggest event in the year. “Bellabee!” Mom called. “It’s time to get ready!”


“Little does Speedbee know, he’s being lured into a trap! He starts panting and we take a break on a tree. The, wooooshh, my whole family is cheering me on and the end comes. At the end of the race, I win! Two months later, my waiter is Speedbee and all is well.”


Students wrote a list of things that take flight, then chose one to write as a poem or story.

Poem (About Pegasus)

All of the bright colors
Are mixed into one
The beautiful thing flies
Magically with grace


Students read the Cupid and Psyche myth & then wrote variations of their own and what happens when temptation & curiosity gets the better of one!

Cupid with a Twist
Instead of wings, he has a jet pack…also he has a Harry Potter wand.


What happened?

What happened to me was I was told not to look at my present. I did and it was the thing I really wanted but I got caught and didn’t get it. I learned to follow orders. So I ended up with a different but awesome day. But I still learned to never stop obeying your parents. I also learned that vanilla cake is yummy!


Our young writers at work- click on an image to see a larger version!



Read It Here First! Waxing Poetic at Commodore Sloat

The lucky students at Commodore Sloat are finishing up their fifth year of a TMWFI poetry residency. We have seen these young poets learn, grow and create some powerful works of poetry. This week they had a poetry reading at school lead by our Teachers Emily and Celeste. Thanks to our Sloat 3rd graders and parents for being such a respectful audience.

Scroll down to find your child's poem and ask them to perform it for you. If you have time read all the pieces, they are profound, wise, silly and great windows into these kids' minds.


Commodore Sloat 4th grade Poets.

Poems from Mr Kenney's Students:

Poems from Ms. Kabash's Students:


Read It Here First! Haiku with Oakland Charter


Read It Here First! Haiku with Oakland Charter

This session, our Instructor Lisa Gray has been working with Oakland Charter Academy 6th and 7th grade students. They explored the history and forms of haiku and then created their own:

To admire is
Express myself playing it

No stress or anger.

by Citlali
(From....: Write a Haiku about something important to you)


No Stopping
I will not give up
I will not stop no matter what
I will get better.

by Daniela
(From....: Write a Haiku about something important to you)


Fire burning across land
People fleeing homes flaming
World dying people,

by Tlaloc
(From....: Write a Haiku about something important to you)


Eating food, good pizza
His mom made with delicious
sauce and good meat.

by Oscar
(From....: Write a Haiku about something important to you)


She smells like roses, and her voice sounds like rain on a hot day – lovely and refreshing.

by Jennifer
(Using simile
 to create a portrait of someone in your family or that you admire)



Read It Here First! Hillcrest Creative Miners!


Read It Here First! Hillcrest Creative Miners!

This winter our 3rd - 5th grade students at Hillcrest Elementary used Minecraft as a springboard for imagining other worlds. We used elements of the game to inspire stories based on Biomes, write about clashes with Creepers, create memorable characters out of Mobs that spawn in the dark and tell original tales of survival.

Below are a few of the students' creative Biome descriptions:

The Jungle
by Maia

Tall trees and tiny bushes
Flowers all shapes and sizes
different colors, textures
bright green grass
ahead is a cave, a large one
walk inside and it smells like fish
spiderwebs on all of the walls.
It is dark like the night sky.
deeper into the black hole there is a light
gold, and many minerals on the ceiling
sparks of colors all shapes and sizes
loud growls are heard and running begins
outside the smell is fresh and pleasant
Behind there are no more growls
The sun is bright and burning
All of a sudden, everything turns black.

Snowy Biome
by Diego

The snowy biome is
as white as a cloud.  All around you
you see white.  You can almost
taste the bitter cold. You can
feel the teasing wind, whipping
across your face. Wanting you
to give up.  You can hear the
snow crunching under your
feet. That is my snow biome.

Noah wrote this letter from the viewpoint of an anthropologist about the Biome he was in.

Dear Family,

Today I discovered a new place in the south part of Asia.  It looks a lot like a jungle.  Even though I haven't seen all of it, it looks like a pretty cool place. The sound is very beautiful, the birds chirping, the animals all running quickly through the leaves. The smell of wetness in the trees and grass.  All the leaves have little droplets of water and fall on the ground with almost no sound at all.


My Name Is
by Aidan

I lost my name
in Notre Dame on a rainy day
I found my name
on a great plain on a sunny day
My name is tank
I live in plank
My name is made
From my sporty brain
My name can
Make a dam


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Read It Here First! Mining for Stories at Chabot Elementary

Inspired by the popular world of Minecraft, our 3rd-5th grade writers at Chabot Elementary in Oakland "mined" for stories earlier this year!

Students worked from prompts to create their own story in a world of their choice, choosing 1 of 3 dimensions
Hanisuhs was an ice dragon. She was born in a place called Orsavya. Suddenly a drought came and all the water and snow evaporated. She decided to find a new home, so she got into a boat at midnight and set sail. The next day was hard. There was a leak in the boat and it kept overflowing with water. When evening came a crash of lightening struck, barely missing the boat. When she looked up she saw a dark figure hovering in the clouds. It was a lightning dragon! Lightning dragons are the enemies of ice, water and snow dragons. A snarl pushed its way onto the lightning dragon's face as he swooped down onto the boat. When he was face to face with Hanisuhs, he hissed, "Goodbye!" Lightning flashed toward her but she dodged it. The lightening hit the boat and smoke bulged into the air, leaving a massive hole. More water flooded into the boat. After a few moments the water was up to her haunches...

Students explored "point of view" in worlds of their own creation using descriptive writing
The Point of View
Once there was a robber sneaking quietly around the city. He came to a bank and climbed onto the roof where he found a trap door. He jumped through the trap door and when he landed inside the bank, he saw stacks of money. "Bonus!" he thought to himself. He looked up and saw a sign that read "All this money is 7.6.97 billion dollars!" It took him five minutes to gather all the money into his bags. He bought famous cars and was never caught.

Here are two stories-in-progress from an exercise on building a story arc through narrative writing
Minecraft Adventure
One day I was walking and saw a village. Every inch of the village was dark blue and was surrounded by crops that were as black as a chalkboard. There were about 50 houses full of MPC's. I was really hungry so I stole some food from the black crops. The food tasted like hamburgers. As I went on exploring, I found a lime green enderman. All I had on me for a weapon was a wooden sword. I hit the enderman with the sword. It flashed purple and then disappeared. Behind where the enderman was standing was a strange red and purple portal. I jumped through it... 

The Bandit
One day a helicopter crashed into an unknown place. It was all forest and far ahead there was a village full of people, The bandit (who was flying the helicopter) decided he wanted to spend his life there. Sadly though, he was kicked out. Nobody trusted him because he set loose 3,000,000,000 zombie pigmen. He lived in a shack about 7,000 feet away from the village and snuck back every night to steal supplies.  

Students built characters using narrative writing techniques
The Story of Zooy Dooy
Madness. Fear. Destruction. Zooy ran from the forsaken battle (Elkite vs. Sanartrol). Senartro was losing hopelessly and her planet was slowly dying. Zooy ran as fast as she could until she ran completely off of her planet and ended up in deep space. Behind her, the planet (with her entire family on it) exploded into bits. Zooy is now the last Murflow-- tiny little Zooy Dooy with her ragged purple fur...

Felix is 17. He is son the of Posiden. He can heal a cut just by touching it to water. His last name is Wood. He decided he wanted to go to training camp, so he took ten days to build a chariot. His best friend is named Jack. He has a scar across his left eye from a mountain lion. He really likes crystals and rocks. His favorite food is pork, and he loves to play hockey. 

Students were given a prompt ("a monster is coming at your character") & wrote stories from a 1st person perspective
The Forest on Mars
I am in an unknown forest on Mars. My name is George. I can see rust colored rocks. There's a huge, legless alien coming right for me! I jump into a nearby lake to escape, and KABOOM! it explodes because its full of bombs and grenades! Now I am left hiding in a big hole in the ground... 

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Read It Here First! A Potpourri of Writing from Benito Juarez Elementary

Over the past few months, our 3rd, 4th & 5th graders at Benito Juarez Elementary in Richmond, California took their inspiration from letter writing (to their future selves), Mad Libs, portraiture and more! Sample some of their work below!

Students wrote from a prompt: "When I woke up this morning..." (work from Alondra, Chris D. & Abdiel)

Students "painted a portrait" - with words AND drawing! (Work from Ximena, Nataly & Rem)

Students wrote letters to themselves - in the future. (Work from Victor, Eli, Diego & Celeste)

Students wrote 10 interesting things about themselves, then chose one to turn into a story (Work from Shanae, Supreet & Itzel - 2 parts)

Students explored "Things I Know to Be True" (Work from Miguel & Christopher C.)