Imagination sparks creative storybooks for Williamstown Public School students

Provided by the Upper Canada District School Board

June 22, 2022 – The Ghost and the Potato Party, The Secret of the Lost Scrolland Blue Bess and her racing car all have one thing in common – they were created from the imaginations of K-2 students at Williamstown Public School (WPS).

In May, students participated in storytelling workshops with children’s author Timm Holmes. Based in Ottawa, Holmes not only writes books such as The Rainobuzz, Splash, Fin, Toothy Grin!and Peanut butter and dragon, it also encourages children to create their own stories through workshops. The workshops lasted 90 minutes and gave students the opportunity to write/create age-appropriate short stories. The stories have all been reflected on by the students, both orally and visually, and have a consistent beginning, middle, and end.

“When we entered the workshop, one of the important things the students learned was that every idea is a good idea. And even if it doesn’t fit a certain scenario, it can be saved and used for another. The other thing I really liked was that they learned to work together,” says teacher Kathy Ryan. “When the ideas were presented, the students had to work together to refine their ideas. It was really interesting to see children coming up with an idea and others starting from that idea. It started from this little seed and turned into this brilliant idea.

Ryan adds that the process encouraged everyone to share their own ideas. “They’ve been engaged the whole time and have come back very high from that experience.”

After the ideas were put on paper and the books printed, Holmes returned to WPS on June 10 to deliver the books and read each of the stories aloud. At an assembly, students from eight grades – kindergarten through grade 2, heard their book cover to cover and heard the other two books for the very first time.

Smiles, excitement and joy were on every face of the students, who could hear and see their creative work come to life. “What excites me is celebrating children’s creativity, their inspiration, their bravery to share their ideas, and their camaraderie to combine ideas with their friends,” says Holmes.

Grade 1 student Lillian Small’s helped create The Ghost and the Potato Party. She had a lot of fun doing the workshop, collaborating with her classmates to produce a script, and said she looks forward to using her imagination to write as she gets older.

“When I helped make this book, it felt good because I love books and writing stories.”

All students who participated in the workshops received a printed copy of the book they helped write.

Although the story is written, the adventure is not over yet. Apart from the front and back covers, the pages that would contain images are blank. This gives students the opportunity to continue using their imaginations to draw the scenes. “One of the things we do when we make the books is leave the art pages blank because we want the kids’ creativity to continue,” says Holmes. “Creativity is endless. They can use any medium they feel comfortable with and can draw directly in the book, or paint and paste it. I even had a father and son build Lego scenes for each page, take a picture, and put the pictures in.”

Kim Swerdfeger, deputy director of WPS, says the opportunity served as cross-disciplinary learning for the students. She explains that when Robin Patterson, community member and owner of The Crayon Box Studio, asked the school to bring Holmes in for workshops, she and principal Adele Perry sat down to link him to the program and the specific student learning.

“We looked at not only the obvious writing element, but also the pre-writing part of the program, which were the main areas of focus. The teachers were able to have Timm work through the writing process with the students from idea collections, right through to the actual writing of the book,” says Swerdfeger. “It was amazing to see all the students collaborating, contributing and working together to create a phenomenal product. This experience certainly had a positive impact on the students and the skills they developed are skills they will use as they get older.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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