Our story illustrations.

Here's part of the illustrations. The story is one I tell often, and I wrote the beginning on butcher paper so the kids could illustrate it.

Ever since my son has been old enough to ask for stories, I have told a series of stories called “Prince Nicholas stories.” Shockingly, they are all about a prince (Nicholas) and his adventures in the forest, ocean, lake, stream, pond (and so forth) that are in the area behind his castle in a land far, far away. When his sister was born, the stories included a “Princess Abby” character so the prince and princess are doing things together in the stories.

Every story starts off the same way: Once in a land far, far away there lived a prince and his name was Prince Nicholas. He had a sister named Princess Abby. They lived in a big gray castle made of stone with King Daddy and Queen Mommy. One day……. and there the stories start to differ.

So for today’s creative lesson, I thought we would start a new Prince Nicholas/Princess Abby story and have them illustrate it. I got out some butcher paper and wrote our traditional introduction down in 4 sections. One section ws the intro (in a land far, far, away). One section was about Prince Nicholas. One section about Princess Abby. The last section about the castle and mommy and daddy. Then I gave them crayons and they went to work.

Nicholas is illustrating a story I wrote. He drew a picture of the prince in the story to make it look like him since the prince's name is "Prince Nicholas."

Abby just scribbled. Nichols told her she could color the first part – and amazingly she followed his directions pretty well. But Nicholas got to draw all the faces, crowns, and castles. He made a brown castle (because he didn’t want to use the gray marker), and put brown bushes outside the castle (because he didn’t want someone to have to water them). He also drew a tall red barn so that the horses and cows could be really tall and have a place to live.

Why would we do something like this?

First, it is a way to use their imagination. Young children have great imaginations. Getting used to putting the ideas they see in their heads when they hear a story onto paper is a great thing for them to learn. It is all about being able to communicate their mental images. This is a story I tell them; it has no books and no preconceived images. So this is a good story to start from.

Second, it is a way for Nicholas to see how words work to make a story. He can talk and carry on great conversations. He can recite whole movie plots, statistics about space, and more. But to actually see how words tell a story is something he is still working at. We read books, but those stories are already put together. This is a spur of the moment, made-up story that he gets to participate in developing.

Third, it is about reading comprehension. He helps me read the words in order to draw the pictures. This means he has to understand what the words are combining to say. If he tells me that he wants to make the castle brown instead of gray because he wants to use the brown marker, he is still showing he understands that the story says the castle is gray. Just the fact that he felt the need to speak up and justify his choice of color for the castle (I did not ask him, he volunteered the information) means he understands he’s doing something different from the story.

He’s not a great artist, but I put this up on our wall with pride. We will work on the next part of the story tomorrow, and continue until we finish it. I can’t wait to see the whole thing.

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