Tuesdays are Writer’s Club days. Fifty or so third, fourth and fifth graders race to the All Purpose room after school to get started writing. We have a quick introduction, and then the kids decide where they want to go. They can go collaborate, they can write quietly on their own, or they can stay in the All Purpose room for an invitation to write.
Today’s invitation was character work. I brought ink pads, and a roll of white paper. And sharpies.
And yes, after the kids left and I was using hand sanitizer to clean off the sharpie marks that bled through the paper onto the cafeteria tables, I still told myself that it was worth it…Because there is something about a giant piece of paper, rolled out across a table, some ink pads, and a bucket of sharpies.
Three boys sat, 6 feet apart, making characters, collaborating on characters, creating stories, and laughing, There was so much laughing.
They looked up at me, eyes wide.
“Are we in trouble?” One of them said.
“Nope. I like laughing.” I told them.
Another boy said “Yeah, what do you think? Teachers don’t believe in laughing or something?”
And then they all laughed some more, before stopping again to make sure they weren’t in trouble.
An older girl walked in, and I asked her if she wanted to use the roll paper or her notebook. She held up her notebook and said, “I’m going to fill this whole notebook with character development.” She sat down and carefully wrote “Character Development” on the first page of her notebook.
She still started with some big paper, an ink pad and a sharpie though. There’s just something about that big paper!
She and a couple of other girls quietly filled their large papers with pictures and words, thumbprints and stories. The boys continued to laugh.
There was another writer who came over. He had needed some help writing earlier and was a little quieter than the rest. He wanted to sit at his own table, and only wanted to use his notebook and a sharpie.
“So what kind of character are you going to create?” I asked him.
“A famous one.” He said and he showed me his page.
“Oh! Wow!” I said. “That’s a great idea! Maybe you can draw a bunch of people all around trying to take pictures of him! He’s like ‘No pictures, no pictures!'”
I tend to get excited when working with kids as they create cool characters and stories. . .
He shook his head though. “No,” he said, “He’s rich. Not famous. Just rich.”
I laughed and asked him what the character’s problem was going to be, but he interrupted me to ask how to spell rich.
“R-i-c-h,” I told him, and he asked me to repeat it, and then wrote “Rch.”
He sat and quietly worked for a bit, and then showed me his page, where he had a whole story mapped out. I should have been recording as he explained. There was the rich guy, who was dropping his money along a path. There was an arrow to show the path, and another character picking up all the money, and more!
As we cleaned up to go home, the boys with the giant piece of paper were having a hard time deciding who would get to bring the roll paper home. The girls didn’t want to stop. “I’m not finished!” One said to me, with her eyebrows crunched with worry.
I told her she could take it home to work on, or leave it at school for next week. She quickly started nodding her head at the prospect of taking it home.
Lining up, I got to hear more about the rich guy story.
“That is amazing!” I said, “You have a whole graphic novel planned out! You could write each part on a different page of your notebook!”
He looked excited, nodded his head and then said, “Yea, but I might need a little help with it.”
I reminded him that that’s what we are here for, and he nodded again, and walked down the hall and out the door, then back in. He shrugged his shoulders and said “I forgot my backpack.”
The three laughing boys walked by and I asked them if they decided who would have the paper. They hung their heads and told me they couldn’t figure it out, because they all wanted it. I’m thinking their parents are all unknowingly grateful for the decision to leave it at school for next week’s work.
Tuesday is Writers’ Club. Today was our second meeting, and I can’t wait for next week!