Once again Milbridge helped IRW to launch an exciting point in IRW history as we brought on author Megan Frazer Blakemore for the first time to our talented author roster. Pictured above, Principal Maria White stands with Megan and her book, The Water Castle, which Maria will add to the trophy case in the school’s lobby, where it will join other signed books from IRW programs.
To start the day, Megan gave a presentation and engaged the whole school by getting even the youngest of readers involved in using their imagination to ask “What If?” She shared the important components of a rich story: characters, what they want, and what gets in their way. Some lively and creative brainstorming ensued when students came up with ideas in each category. By piecing together their random ideas within those categories, Megan led them on a story making exercise that was contagiously funny.
Third and fourth graders expanded upon the What If? theme and wrote or drew their stories after some warm up together. The 5th and 6th graders used a gallery of historical props that Megan had brought to think about who used the item, how, and what was their adventure?
The next day at Beals Elementary, in addition to workshops, the 5th – 8th graders had a host of projects to share with Megan all related to The Water Castle themes. They shared their projects proudly, first with artwork created to emulate the castle image from the book – some scary, some dramatic, and some evoking the grandeur of a historical structure such as the castle of Poland Springs upon which the story is based.
They also shared their creative packets that contained the writing and artwork each students had prepared about the book, each one crafted with a different book cover depicting whatever the story evoked in them. Some reflected the personalities that students imagined from the book and some were reminiscent of journal entries.
They created posters with their own mottos in homage to Peary’s quote, “ Find a way or make one.” Sayings such as “If your day is not going good, all you have to do is smile” and “Take every challenge one step at a time and Never give up till you reach your destination” decorated the hallways.
“A writer paints a picture with words,” “ A writer tells a story,” and “Uses their imagination” is how some 8th graders answered Megan’s question to the students as to what a writer does.
In honor of adventurers and inventors referred to in The Water Castle, each student did research and an informational poster about an explorer such as Leif Erikson, Amelia Earhart, and others.
Historical artifacts and family memorabilia were brought in by teachers and displayed to inspire the students. Together with Megan’s treasures, the gallery of props inspired this creative bunch and many of the stories they shared at the end of the session were lively and imaginative.
They could hardly contain their curiosity at the end of the day when Megan opened the conversation up to questions. In addition to the more typical questions about favorite book, length of time to write, etc., they were curious about any sequels, and what changes Megan would make if she were ever going to rewrite The Water Castle. But most of all they wanted to know what happened to Price, Will Mallory, and Dr. Appledore??? Megan encouraged them to imagine and write an ending of their own! You could hear the wheels spinning and the wonder aroused as the workshops progressed.
Megan’s final suggestions to the energetic writers were to go places that are new to you, places that make you uncomfortable to experience new things, notice what sparks the “What if?” in you, and finally, READ. “Reading,” Megan says, “stretches your imagination and helps you to be familiar with words and with your own creativity.”
IRW wholeheartedly agrees!