This past week, I was inspired by Kim Bearden after reading another chapter of her book Crash Course where she writes about how it "rained" in her classroom. In an attempt to inspire my students' writing, we set off on an adventure.
Since we're in mid January and we have a lot of snow right now, I figured I'd play on that. I told the kids that after lunch, we were going on a pretend skiing trip. They were puzzled, some were surprised, all were excited. During lunch recess, I opened the windows in our classroom so it would be cold. It would help set the mood. I moved all the tables and set up the chairs in rows to mimic the inside of a school bus. When the kids came in from recess, I instructed them to only take their boots and snow pants off but to keep everything else on. I also reminded them that they would need their luggage (i.e. their backpacks and lunch bags) and would have to use the washroom before we left on our "trip".
I took attendance and we boarded the "bus". It was so much fun to play pretend. During our bus trip, we talked about all the things we brought along on our trip. We had fun going over fake bumps and taking fake turns.
All of a sudden, it started to snow hard. The road got icy. I used my best acting skills to pretend I was nervous. Our bus crashed and we were stuck. Together, we tried to come up with a solution.
About 20 minutes before dismissal bell, we came back to reality. Students helped clean up the classroom and we discussed the plot summary for our adventure.
It was an afternoon of wild, imaginative events and tons of giggles. I received lots of very positive feedback from students, colleagues and parents. But best of all, we had a blast. As soon as students came in the next day, they started asking when they could write their stories. I have never seen them so excited about writing before. I am giving them as much freedom as they want with their stories. Some kids will stick strictly to what we pretended to do, others will change some things around and add different details. I expect that some of my boys will add that they caught a deer with their bare hands (since shotguns weren't allowed on our trip) and some will say that we cooked squirrel over the fire for supper. Some will change our destination or the characters, and that's great too. The whole point of this activity was to get them excited about writing an adventure story and that mission was definitely accomplished.
Kim, thank you for your inspiration. This is a moment in my career that I will never forget.