Magical Encounters at Bluebonnet Elementary

Random, nonsensical poetic madness was the theme of our workshop at Bluebonnet Elementary this summer. And what else could inspire such craziness—other than the famous, mumble-jumble, topsy-turvy works of Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, and Dr. Seuss? This group of third-graders participated in a repetition and rhyme brainstorming exercise on the board (made-up words were always welcome!) before sitting down to create their own poetry that rivals any of the greats. There is something very liberating about being told, “Write whatever comes to your mind.” And write they did!

In one workshop, we used only visual prompts—brightly illustrated galley sheets that contained only pictures, no words—to imagine what was happening in the story. A purple bird, a piece of chalk (or was it a magic wand?), a red carpet, and a mysterious ship in the sky made the students’ fertile minds go wild. They were so excited to share with others the words that flowed onto their paper. This is a delightful group of young writers who made sure my summer started with a bang.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


To My Grandma

Roses are red
and bonnets are blue.
Know that I love you.
You are true.


Pickle and Nickel

There once was a boy named Pickle
who was turning into a nickel.
Then the nickel turned into a pickle.
He drank a nasty potion and went back to normal.


Dog and Pig

The dog on the log went to dig.
He found a blue pig—
dancing and prancing.



Puppie Guppy Is My Puppy

My puppy’s name is Puppie Guppy, and he is cuter than any random little dog except a Yorkie.
Puppie Guppy has a friend named Lula (a Yorkie!) and she’s about ten months old and ten inches long.
Puppie Guppy itches in his stitches. Oh, no! His stitches broke and he has to go to the vet.
But on the way, he was bitten by another dog he found in the fog, hiding in a log.
Puppie Guppy finally made it to the vet. Yay! Puppie Guppy got his stitches at last.


Bob Story

Bob Frog sees a scary, hairy dog and runs to Bob Log.
Bob Dog wants to get Bob Frog and runs to him.
Bob Clog went to the scary store, and Bob Pig got some ice cream.


The Pig

There was a pig.
He was dancing a jig.
He went to a fig to dig.
The dog and the frog
had fun in the fog.


Nod to Pod

A frog eats a dog.
The dog eats the nod.
A log found the pod.
The pod was called Mod.
A dog finds the nod.
A wig eats a shod.
They all eat the pod.
And the frog eats a cod.




Firecracker, cracker.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Look at my firecracker.
Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!
Green, red, blue, and yellow.
What a colorful fellow!


Jack and Jill

You will never guess what happened!
There was a boy named Jack
with a very close bird friend named Jill.
Jack was locked up in a cage,
but Jill got him free.
Jack and Jill are both free.


When I Went to the Park

When I went to the park
I saw a dog and a frog sitting on a log.
When I went to dig with my dad,
I found a chick.



Sour Power

My mom gave me a dime.
She said, “Go buy a lime.”
Lemon limes sour all the time.
Lemon limes in my mouth—look inside!


Pig and the Wigs

There was a pig who loved wigs.
He dropped his wigs on a bunch of twigs.
The twigs crunched the wigs.
The pig was so big—
like his wig—so he liked it.
But he was sad,
so he got a hat.


The Toad

There is a toad that needs to cross the road
to get to his hole on the other side.
When the toad tries to cross,
a truck hit him and he died.
And that was the end of him.



There Once Was a Girl

Once there was a girl inside her house. She went into her room and saw some chalk. She used the chalk to create a door, which led to a lake. The girl created a boat, and soon she saw a big castle where she met a purple bird.

As they went into the castle, the bird was captured, but the girl helped the bird escape. She threw the chalk away and someone put her in a cage. The bird got the chalk and a magic carpet—then it helped the girl escape the cage. They flew through the air and arrived at the front of her house. The girl and the purple bird with the purple chalk lived happily ever after.


The Dog and the Blog

Dog wrote a blog
about a singing dog.
The dog was sleeping
and his heart was beeping.
The dog was scared and he went to the door
to see what was going on.


The Dog and the Frog

The dog met the frog at the pond.
The dog ate the frog
because the frog tasted like dog food—
It was good!


A Girl on a Flying Carpet

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Skyler. She had a red carpet that could fly. Eventually, she landed on the ground and discovered something in her hand. It was a magic wand. She saw a door and went through it. She ended up on a ship.

Somebody started pulling her and put her in a cage. They took away the wand and threw it. A bird grabbed the wand and gave it to Skyler who used the wand to escape.



The Rich Eclecticism of Hernandez Middle School

The writers at Hernandez Middle School have a gift for entertaining each other. Their work started out with seriousness, as they authored pieces inspired by Sandra Cisneros’s “Hair.” Then the class came alive as they turned strange assortments of prompts (a 40-year-old potato, shoplifting, mops, and immortality?) into stories. I want to thank these students for being so open to sharing their work, and for making us all crack up! Sharing your writing can be intimidating, but these students did an excellent job encouraging each other every week.

Allison Foster
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



Hi my name is Mary Ellen Frick. I’m ninety-six years old. People call me Chocolate Dropmop because I’m obsessed with cleaning. I have a weave, which I use as my mop to collect dirt. I also have brown eyes. My job is to clean people’s houses, and my hobbies are to wash my mop in the washing machine or dishwasher. I’m only good at cleaning dishes, toilets, and bathtubs, but I’m afraid of being thrown away. I got this job only because no one else would allow me to be around them because I have a horrible smell even after I wash my mop. My mom didn’t even want to give birth to me because of the smell. I became old from my years of cleaning. I get a package of mops for my head every month, and sometimes I get coupons to buy my mops.

Blessing Ekwuribe

Dear Ely

You are smart you are beautiful you are talented you are wonderful you are.
I love you so much you have always been the best and only.
You make me smile.
You make me frown you make me laugh.
You make me cry but I love you all the time.
Don’t leave don’t go stay
Here with me forever and laugh, cry, smile, frown, and love whichever you choose
but please at least do it with me.

Dahlia Cantu


Zach is my best friend his eyes are as bright as the sun soft like a blanket and as warm as a desert.

Dahlia Cantu


Her smile is my award-winning smile. Anusha’s smile fits her personality. Not perfect, but so amazing. It’s the way she smiles. It can be crooked, but she can go along with it. It shows mischief but can still brighten your day. Oh, how she only has one deep, small dimple that sneaks up on you. My best friend and sister’s award winning smile.

Joy Nwatu


The deepest one you can ever see. It reminds me of myself, how almost no one other than me in my family has a dimple on their left cheek. My mom and I show the same dimple. It shows caring and I’m there for you. That’s the kind of dimple she has, and I love every bit of it.

Joy Nwatu



My name is Joy Mya Kayla. I am an immortal slave. I am a handsome black boy with yellow-bluish eyes and brown hair. I often pick my nose. It’s the only food I have, and I sell my boogers. I’m a runaway slave. Before I ran away, the grass had high waters. I cried, “Why, Emma?” The hair dripped down then I saw a mop. It was Blessing.

Malachi McVade


My bunny has such beautiful bunny eyes. They are large and shiny when she looks at you. You can’t support her eyes. They look like marbles, so shiny and big. Her eyes are like sunshine. When I am sad, her eyes cheer me up.



How to Pretend You’re Sick and Not Go To School

1) Stay up all night: Stay up all night, so when your parents come in your room you have huge bags under your eyes and they will think you’re tired.
2) Rub your forehead: Try rubbing your forehead or do something to make it hot, so if your parents feel your forehead it will be hot.
3) Hands: Hold ice for a long time, so when you parents feel your hands they’re cold.
4) Voice: Try to make it sound like you have a stuffy nose.
5) Eyes: When your parents come in, barely open your eyes so it looks like your’re about to fall asleep because you’re so tired.
6) Bonus: Making your hair all messed up might make it look like you have been trying to fall asleep but couldn’t.

Hannah Sweezy

Family Hair

Every person in my family has a cool thing about them. My first brother has shaggy red hair, my second brother has brown comb hair, my third brother has brown stick hair, my little sister has dark brown hair, my mom has thick blond ocean wave hair!

Alyssa Crim

Mom’s Brilliant Hair

My mom’s hair is colored and thin, so thin she can’t even pull it into a ponytail. Her hair is so colored that you couldn’t tell that she had thin hair from a distance because the way her hair is colored makes her hair brilliant.

Abigail Holmes

My Family

Let me start out with my mom’s smile; it is a red apple. My dad’s hands are as big as the moon.

My brother’s feet are the smelliest thing in the world. They smells like dirty old cheese. My little sister’s eyes are very tiny. Sometimes I wonder if she needs glasses.

Jasmine Lemuel

Expanded Worlds from C.D. Fulkes Middle School

Writers write. It can be a daunting task, but the young writers at C.D. Fulkes Middle School bravely put pencil to paper and engaged a world of words and new possibilities. These students tried difficult forms, such as contrapuntal poems, and imagined new worlds alongside the rich details of their daily lives while exploring elements of fantasy and creative nonfiction. I am proud of the work these students accomplished during our short time together, and I’m excited to share their work with the world on Unbound.

Amanda Johnston
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



I was in a field of flowers.
There were a trillion flowers –
blue, green, red, yellow, and some
were even see-through.


Over Winter Break

I ate my grandmother’s tamales
with my family. First time
without beans because
beans don’t go with tamales.


Love and Hate

Forever          Never
Stay                Goodbye


Three red colored pencils


I sat at my desk trying to finish homework. It was hard to concentrate since I kept drifting off. I finally decided that I should do my homework later. As I could not think, I pulled a pencil and a piece of paper from my desk drawer and started to doodle. At first, it was stable, but soon enough, my creations came alive. They got off the paper and moved around. I enjoyed watching them interact with each other. Before I realized it, my brother was calling me downstairs. I quickly put the doodles back on the paper and left. When I came back, my doodles had escaped. They had scattered my homework and were running rampant. I erased them and soon put everything back in order.



I was in the mountains when I was eleven. I was going into a really light wall when a twelve-hundred pound rock fell on top of me. I had huge muscles to pick it up and throw it down the cliff. Tan, tan…


Creative Poems

I have written poems.
I have written
100,000 poems.




Music is what has kept me here.
The sweet melodies – a pop against my ears,
each lyric a notion of sounds
put together to make me calm down.

Like relieving pressure off my shoulders,
it carries all my troubles away, into
a darkness where they can drown. While
it may seem sort of depressing, it shouldn’t
worry you that much. If it weren’t for
these words of wisdom, my brain would
falter against these words of wisdom. It’s
a form of reading.

Understanding and deciphering each line
keeps me busy, so as not to think about
my troubles. As far as it goes, it’s helped
guide me along my path in more ways
than one. A wise old woman – music really
is like that. A party in an earbud or speaker,
it makes me feel better.


These Hands

These hands have been through a lot.
These hands have so many battle scars.
You wouldn’t believe it.
These hands have wiped tears away and
sometimes even made them.
These hands will hold your future.
These hands can do just about anything.
These hands or your hands can do
good or evil. The choice is yours.



Oh, my brother,
banging and bruising his head.

Me and my mother worry, worry, worry together
about him, and whether one day his head won’t be strong.

We worry if it will explode.
Maybe he won’t survive.

I’m sure not eating isn’t helping.
He’s sure to become as skinny as a stick.

But together,
our family,

we will find a solution to this mess
and come out better.



My Mommy

My mother is happy. Like always.
My mother is sad when she is hurt.
My mother is sappy when she loves me.
So that’s, like, all the time.
My mother is mad when I argue.
My mother is crazy when she is happy.
Also, all the time.
My mother is lazy when she is tired.
My mother is the best.


These Hands

These hands are made for dancing.
These hands are made to write.
These hands were made for moving.
These hands were made to fight.

These hands were made to push.
These hands were made to pull.
These hands were made to lift.
These hands were made to rule.

These hands were made to hold.
These hands were made to hug.
These hands were made like gold.
These hands were made to love.

These hands were made to build.
These hands were meant to be.
These hands were made for change.
These hands were made for me.



My mom is cool.
My mom is bad.
My mom can cook.
My mom is sleepy.
My mom works.
My mom is cool.



These Hands

These hands have stories.
These hands have been through a lot.
These hands are in a battle.
These hands are too young to go.
These hands are under pressure.
The hands are done.


My Mother

My mother cooks the best.
My mother cares the best.
My mother helps the best.
My mother understands the best.
My mother cleans the best.
My mother is the best.




Sleep in my bed,
where the cold
cannot get me,
in the place
where I feel safe.



I see the bright screen
shine as I hear demons
screech while it slowly
gets darker in my own



Happy and Sad

Happy Halloween                Sad about getting toothaches
Joyful Christmas                  Depressed, no party or family
Delighted Hanukkah           Lonely, no family
Good Birthday                      Bad presents


Today, I

Today, I sang my favorite song.
Today, I wrote a poem.
Today, I learned a new unit in math.
Today, I watched The Lion King.
Today, I lost my best friend.
Today was a slightly good day.


Winter Break

On Christmas break
I stayed with my dad
and step-mama.
I watched TV all day
and got a new phone.



Oblivion / Existence

Crumbling towers                              In the reflection of shining eyes
Howling winds                                    Where daisies dance
People full with whimper                 Nestled into a sea of green
Humanity is brought                         They soak in the beauty
To its knees                                         Of the place they know


Sempiternal / Ending

Will we see the end                    Will we ever stop
Hold your breath                        Breathe in deep
Close your eyes                           We’re going nowhere



Winter Break

Over winter break, I was
driving with my two older cousins
all around the block
and on the street.



I slept
at my mom’s house.
I dreamt about losing my mom someday.
I ate with my mom
at my mom’s house.
Tasting the delicious food
with my mom in the house.


Vibrant Expressions at Wells Branch Elementary

Texas writer Sandra Cisneros provided much inspiration for these students to imagine what would happen if their hair came alive and acted like a human—or could even make sounds. Based on her book House on Mango Street, Cisneros’s short chapter, “Hairs,” motivated the Wells Branch gang to start writing. I loved how they went into joyful or very dark expressions about the colors of emotions. What fun fiction or personal creations came from our free writing day!

I want to say special thanks to the handful of very brave writers who stood up before an audience to share their work on our final day. It takes imagination and willingness to write—it calls for amazing courage to share one’s work with others.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist    


My Yellow Poem

Walking down the street—not feeling blue.
I’m super happy. Why aren’t you?
Going through the flower field,
in my eye vision all I see is yellow.

I’m not feeling blue or green.
In my mind, all I see is yellow.


How to Make Bacon, Egg and Cheese

First, you need a frying pan. Then you turn on the stove. You need to put oil in the pan before you do anything.

Add an egg, if just for one. It is better to put three eggs in for more. Then, immediately add cheese, and once it bubbles, add in the bacon and keep stirring it until you think it’s just right.

Scrape your breakfast out of the pan, put it in a bowl, and dig in. It tastes so good!

That’s how you make bacon, egg, and cheese.


Frizzy Family

My hair is like a pogo stick,
bouncing up, down, and all around.
My brother’s hair is like brownies.
It is a tasty shade of brown.

My uncle’s hair is like a blanket,
soft and long.
My cousin’s hair is like a jump rope,
straight and long.

My mom’s hair is like snakeskin,
long and silky.
My friend’s hair is like Jack Frost’s.
It’s dry and sticks out.

Jazlynn Cyphers


How to Make a Bracelet

If you want to make a single bracelet or a fishtail bracelet, you might think it’s hard. But it’s actually easy. This is how you make it.

You put one rubber band bracelet on and then you put on another one. This might be hard, like cooking a five-course meal, but you should try it because you will get better with practice.


Family Hair

Everyone in our family has different hair.
My dog Rocky has hair like a smooth blanket.
My dog Minnie’s hair is like brownies—brown.

My mom’s hair smells like tacos.
My brother’s hair is like the waves—dark brown.
I love my family’s hair.


Sun Chips

Sun Chips are the best things in the world. When I first tried them, I wanted three dozen until I was full. That’s how much I like Sun Chips!

Every time I go to the store, I want to get them. There are all kinds of Sun Chips, and my favorites are the cheddar-flavored ones.



My Dark Thought

When I’m black,
I am like a goldfish alone
at the bottom of the sea.
When I’m black,
I am a horrid hole filled with
nothing but darkness and hatred.

When I’m black,
I am like a billion crows
covering the blazing sun.
When I’m black,
I am a giant crack in the Earth
that has spikes at the bottom of it.

So when I’m black,
You better stay back!



Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Puppies are cute
and I think you are, too.

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Puppies are sweet,
and so are you.



Takis are sometimes hot.
They are red like burning fire.
Takis will be the center of our party.
Takis are good with anything—even bacon!

Makayla Hawthorne


My Hair

My hair smells like gel.
When I ride my bike, it flows without any care.
My hair is as smooth as silk.
It is a blanket with no guilt.
If I ever tasted my hair,
it would never compare…
to strawberries.



Green is my color for happy.
Sky blue stands for sad.
Yellow is my color for bravery
because I will be shining bright.

Red is my mad color.
White is my perfect color.
Black is my worst color.
Pink is a so-so color.

Rainbow is a mix of every feeling.
So that’s mine. What is yours?

Secilia Jaimes



When I feel orange
I feel delighted, like a fat kid in a candy store.
Orange makes me glad, like a feasting kitten.

Red makes me mad like a guard dog.
Blue makes me serious, like a lion catching prey.
When I feel navy, I am delirious out of my mind!

When I am yellow, I feel curious like a newborn baby.


My Family’s Hairy Heads

My hair is like a monkey,
flipping and flopping tree to tree.
It’s always going to be red like an apple
and brown like dirt.

My mom’s hair is like a small bouncing ball.
It’s brown and red, just like mine.

Autumn Matula

My Thick Hair

My hair is thick like wool.
When I pass a dog, it barks: Rough, rough!
It smells like Febreeze house spray.
I think it’s blacker than the night sky
and very legit!

My hair acts like a car on a race track—
it is so happy!
I just love my hair the way it is.



Fish Dancing

Once upon a time, there was a fish—but no ordinary fish.
Other fish were scared of him.
This fish could dance.
He could do the worm and also free dance.



Everybody in our family has unique hair. My papa’s hair is like a mop, all up in the air. And me—my hair is crazy. It never listens to rubber bands.

Makayla’s hair is thick and curly. She definitely needs it combed. Shayla’s hair is slippery and slides right out of your hand. My dog Sassy has hair like a person—all straight!

But my mother’s hair, my mother’s hair is like roses, like little peppermints, and curly and pretty like stars in the sky.

Steoun Sadler

The Adventure of Milo and Freddy

Once upon a time, there were two cats named Milo and Freddy. They snuck outside one night and were soon lost in the woods. Milo started to whimper.

Freddy said, “Don’t cry, Milo.”

“But I’m scared.”

“Come on, let’s see if we can get back,” Freddy said confidently (even though he was not).

They crept along the path for a while and then heard a dog bark. Milo jumped back in fear. “What was that?” she meowed.

“It’s just a dog, Milo.”

“What’s a dog?”

“A dog is one of our worst enemies. But if we stay away from it, we will be safe,” said Freddy.

Two hours later, they made it home. Milo and Freddy lived happily ever after, and they never went into the woods at night again.

Kaleigh Simpson

My Hair

My hair is really dark brown.
It is curly and thick.
My whole family has different types of hair—
colors, designs, and lengths.
The girls’ hair often gets tangled.

When my hair was long,
I washed it and it became wet and very curly.
My mom’s hair is long and straight.
My sister’s is just like mine.

I love my hair and so should you.


My Mom’s Hair

My mom’s hair is like a hula-hoop.
I use her hair to spin around my waist.
Then it turns into a vacuum cleaner
and picks up the dirt—so she washes it.

But her hair is electric, so it zaps her.
Her hair becomes a big, old black-and-white monster,
like Frankenstein’s wife!
I tell her a knock-knock joke and
she gets mad.
My brother and I just laugh.



My Red Hot Lava Hair

My hair color is like red hot lava.
It acts like seaweed, growing one foot a day.
In the morning, it’s like a jungle—
you can’t find your way out!

My brother’s hair looks like an afro, except shorter.
My mom’s hair is just straight.


My Dream Boy

My dream boy
My dream boy
My dream boy
is going to have swag.
He is going to be fresh, cute, and fly.

My dream boy is going to have a dessert body.
He will have big muscles.



Secilia was born on July 4, 2004. She began walking when she was only nine months old and started talking when she was one.

Secilia began school at Wells Branch at the age of three. When she was five, she met her friend Makayla. Later, she met me when she turned seven. But we ended up not being in the same class, so she did not talk to me anymore.

Secilia did not remember me.


Anderson Mill Elementary’s Guide to Surviving a Colorful Life

I loved watching the ah-ha moments when the young writers Anderson Mill Elementary realized they did have the creativity and words to express themselves on paper. Whether it was a prompt asking, “What is the color of your emotion today?” or “If you could create your own rules for life—to survive something—what would they be?” or “Describe the actions and tastes of your hair,” their wonderful, unexpected ideas came once they had the confidence and encouragement to let them flow.

I also enjoyed these writers’ eagerness to share their work, and how they supported their friends when they also stood up to read. The atmosphere of our cozy room at Anderson Mill provided the trust and energy necessary for writers to do their best work. Please enjoy the poetry and prose of this ambitious clan of writers

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Ten Rules for a Zombie Attack

  1. Be prepared.
  2. Get with people who are alive.
  3. Gather your weapons.
  4. Find a shelter or house where no zombies can hide.
  5. Make sure you have backup supplies.
  6. Have lots of food.
  7. Have plenty of running water on hand.
  8. Always watch your back.
  9. Never, ever go into the woods alone.
  10. Make sure to always follow these rules!

Amaya Beaumont

Ten Rules to Fit In

Want to fit in at school and other places? Follow these rules:

  1. Put all your important stuff where no one can find it.
  2. You have to know what’s going on everywhere.
  3. Never give—always trade.
  4. Always bring a jacket everywhere you go.
  5. Check the weather.
  6. Don’t have a lot of secrets.
  7. Talk to your friends about everything.
  8. Always be prepared.
  9. Have enemies.
  10. Never look happy!

Madalynn Benitez


Top 10 Rules on the Dangerous Bus

When I was on the bus, I learned these rules I am about to share with you:

  1. Never sit next to a boy. They are very noisy and annoying—like a monkeys!
  2. Never sit anywhere near a bully. They might be mean to you.
  3. Never eat on the bus. The bus driver might smell something and you will get into trouble.
  4. Never wear a ponytail. People might laugh at you and pull it.
  5. Never sing your favorite song. Others could make you stop and you’ll feel awful.
  6. Never wear a dress when it’s windy. The bottom of the dress might go up.
  7. Don’t talk to the bus driver. She might tell you to be quiet.
  8. Never make eye contact. Someone might ask, “What are you looking at?”
  9. Never talk to bullies. They might say something mean about you.
  10. Never get a haircut. People might call you “short hair.”

Sherlyn Cardoso

My Sad Hair

My hair acts sad.
It smells like ham.
My hair sounds silent
and swings.
It feels like paper and
it is not wavy.



Five Rules if You Want to Survive an Alien Invasion

I’ll tell you how to survive because I was once in an invasion:

  1. Put paper foil on your head to protect your mind.
  2. Have “The Rock” with you.
  3. Get lots and lots of weapons.
  4. Find a good hiding place (not under the bed).
  5. Act weird to confuse the alien.

Follow these rules or die!

Juan Diaz

My Rules to Being the Youngest in the House

Ever since I was seven, and my brother was twelve and my sister was nine, I was bullied by them. If you’re in this situation, this what you can do:

  1. Run when they chase you.
  2. Never ask to hang out with them.
  3. Hide when they call you.
  4. Do what they tell you.
  5. Find yourself a hideout.
  6. When I say, “Never go to their room,” I mean, “Never go inside.”
  7. Be by yourself—no matter what.
  8. Be careful with every single step you take.
  9. Sleep with your mom if you are scared.
  10. Have a loud voice to call your parents.
  11. Follow these rules and you will be safe!

Itzel Fiscal

My Wonderful Hair

May hair acts like it’s the best bow around.
It feels like silk and smells like coconut.
It sounds like an earthquake.
I brush it very easily and
it feels like silk.

Hope Gonzales


My Blue Poem

I am as blue as your favorite color,
as happy as a beautiful sky
that will never rain or thunder.

Blue never makes people mad.
I am the color blue.
I will always be a good and perfect sky.

I am the thing that makes the sky
bright and
the thing that makes it night,
not just the moon.

Oh, no, it’s going to be night soon!

Dezirae Hunter

Fifteen Rules to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Whoa! I barely escaped the zombies. Remember these rules so you can make it out of here:

  1. Find a shelter (basement or closet).
  2. Do not ever go into the woods!
  3. Turn to your friends for backup.
  4. Stay together.
  5. Do not go into the alley.
  6. Find a gorilla for bait.
  7. Be the last survivor.
  8. Do not go into the village.
  9. Grab your weapons.
  10. Call your mom.
  11. Repeat rules 1 through 10.
  12. Sit in a corner.
  13. Kill the zombies.
  14. Repeat #10.
  15. Win it all!

John T. Johns

The Turquoise Sea

When I feel as hurt as the dark sea,
I crash against the grainy sand, whole.
It washes away with my pounding wave.

My juicy heart falls with the water of the sea,
turning into a soft, squishy blueberry
as I drink the salty, sour water of the sea.

I feel as if a hurt soul is biting
a piece of my happiness—
when I feel like the unhappy turquoise sea.

Maya Kharel


My Spiky, Calm Hair

My hair is like ocean waves when the wind blows.
My hair smells like rose petals in the spring sunlight.
Also, it spikes up like a porcupine!

My hair is silent as a shadow when it moves.
But, most of all, it makes me feel
bright and shiny like the sun.

Rayne M.

My Favorite Color

The color that makes me happy is green.
It makes me smile.
When I am green, I am as happy
as the grass while the wind goes through me.

When I am green, I am as happy
as when I bite into my delicious green apple.
When I am green, I am as happy
as the leaves that start to grow
on the branches of my green tree.

That’s the color that brings me joy, a smile,
and makes me happy.

Brianna Martin


My Green Emotion

I am as green as fresh blades of grass.
Like new leaves and a little plant.
I am green like emeralds in a king’s crown.


My Spiky Hair

My hair is as sharp as a nail.
It smells like gel—nasty, nasty gel.
My hair stands up like a Christmas tree.

My hair is as silent as if
you were in the middle of nowhere
with tumbleweeds passing by.

My hair feels like a shark’s teeth,
like a witch’s nails, long and sharp.

Jovani Reyes

Rules to Stand Out in Fashion

Here’s how to have a fun time at a fashion party:

  • Wear a tiara with every short dress, skirt, or shorts.
  • Never wear a short skirt with a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Never wear a bikini with tennis shoes.
  • Never cry if you wear mascara.
  • Never write poetry on a motorcycle.
  • Never listen to what a boy says about fashion.
  • Always wear lipstick.
  • Ride a motorcycle into the pool.
  • Never wear tennis shoes with a dress.
  • Love parties and fashion!

Nevaeh Ross


The Yellow Me

I am as happy as the sun, a big ball of fire.
Let it shine.
I am as shiny as the stars.
Watch me glow.

I am a twinkly diamond, as sparkly as can be.
I am a pretty daisy.
Look at me.

There is my happiness—
watch me go!

Sinaiyaah A. Shields-Jones

Ten Rules to Survive Your Brothers

Here is how I survived living with a younger and older brother in my house:

Rule 1: Don’t talk to them.
Rule 2: Never listen to them.
Rule 3: Stay far away from them.
Rule 4: Don’t talk about them.
Rule 5: Never mess with them.
Rule 6: Never mess with their stuff.
Rule 7: Never tell on them.
Rule 8: Never annoy them.
Rule 9: Never get upset at them.
Rule 10: Pretend you care about them.

Follow all these rules and you will survive your brothers.

Adriana Telesforo


My 12 Rules for Fashion

Here are some tips for looking better than your enemy or friend:

Rule 1: Don’t wear tiny shoes with skirts.
Rule 2: Don’t wear bunny dresses.
Rule 3: Never wear mascara to a funeral.
Rule 4: Don’t wear high heels to the pool.
Rule 5: Don’t wear your hair down in the rain.
Rule 6: Never wear a one-piece bathing suit to the mall.
Rule 7: Don’t ever wear a hat on a windy day.
Rule 8: Try not to wear red nail polish with flip-flops to a police station.
Rule 9: Don’t cut your hair bald.
Rule 10: Never use a blow dryer when watching Twilight.
Rule 11: Don’t follow these rules.
Rule 12: Be yourself.

Trinity Woods


I feel as yellow as the sun.
I feel as yellow as a happy face.
I feel so happy, so happy
that I want to go home.

Trevor Woods

Ten Rules to Protect my Stuff

  1. Don’t let your friends touch your games.
  2. Protect your brother from dogs.
  3. Protect your dog from fighting with another dog.
  4. Protect your bike—someone might steal it.
  5. Protect your car.
  6. Protect your soccer ball.
  7. Protect your toys.
  8. Protect your friend by not getting bullied or getting pranked.
  9. Protect your family.
  10. Listen to these rules. I am spying on you.


Exploring the Unknown at Callison Elementary

The students in our six-week workshop at Callison Elementary were always eager to share at the end of each class, often asking to “reserve” sharing spots when they showed me their completed pieces. It was great to see such enthusiasm! Outside of our more “formal” sharing time, students loved to brainstorm together and share their ideas with peers. I adored their eagerness to bring their written words out of their notebooks and into the ears of their friends. The community they created allowed them all to become more comfortable and confident reading their own words aloud. Today, we’re proud to share one of their creations with (hopefully) readers far and wide.

Allison Foster
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

A great storm

Ghost Girly

It was a dark and stormy night… I woke up and turned to the other side, and I saw a ghost girly. I thought it was a dream, so I closed my eyes and opened them again. It was not a dream, so I yelled for my mom, and she came in.

I told her I saw a ghost in my bedroom, and she said, “You are just dreaming about a ghost. Just go back to bed and you will be just fine.”

“But, Mom, I saw it. Please believe me,” I pleaded.

“No, I know that you are just trying not to have to go back to bed so go back to bed.”

Mackenzie McCollister

The Beautiful Familiar at Robertson Elementary

We started our six-week Badgerdog workshop at Robertson Elementary with a few silly activities to loosen us up: writing Shel Silverstein-inspired poems and advertisements for crazy inventions. As we got to know each other a little better, we shifted to more introspective writing and then began to imagine our own fictional characters and scenes. At every turn, students reminded me how creative young people can be, especially because they’re still free of the responsibility and limitations that take over as we age. Here, we present two students who authored touching and lovely pieces about their family members.

Allison Foster
Badgerdog Teaching Artist 


My Mother’s Eyes

My mom has brown eyes as clear as hazelnut under water.
My mom’s eyes protect me when I look in her eyes, her beautiful eyes.
When I look in her eyes, I can look in her soul.
My mom’s eyes are as pretty as flowers.

My dad has brown eyes like chocolate chips, and I love chocolate chips.
My dad keeps me safe when I hug him because when I hug him, he is like my very own teddy bear.

Joele Hernandez

My Family’s Eyes

Everybody in my family has different kinds of eyes. My Grandma has really dark brown eyes, which remind me of branches from a tree. Also, my grandma’s eyes remind me of dark chocolate. Another thing my grandma’s eyes remind me of is mud, which I don’t really like. My brother’s eyes remind me of grass and the stem of a flower.

 Kristen Graffam 

Fertile Imaginations at Berkman Elementary

Full of energy at the end of a school day, the writers at Berkman Elementary School in Round Rock still managed to tap into their fertile imaginations to create poetry and fiction. They were encouraged to think about their new house rules if they were a parent for the day. And just what are the colors and emotions of Thanksgiving? And, yes, in this writing workshop, a snake can love gymnastics! We hope you enjoy the original work of these fourth-grade students. 

Terri Schexnayder
Teaching Artist



Thanksgiving is brown and light red.
It’s peaceful, like spending time at your family home.
Thanksgiving is both a turkey color and happy family color.
Thanksgiving is a peaceful color that people love.
Thanksgiving is a color that people like—a color for a celebration.
Thanksgiving is when families get together and there is no school.
Thanksgiving is like freedom—
free time with our family.


Being a Parent for a Day

I became my mom because I drank magic poison. I then made some changes around here. “No more school, no more teachers. More stores and more cake and cupcakes. Yum!”

Don’t forget: More ice cream for breakfast, more houses and cars, and Jell-o in the pool.  More music, more fun, more chocolate! Those are my new rules.

Trinity Adame

Thanksgiving Is

Thanksgiving is brown like the turkeys.
Thanksgiving is orange like pumpkins.
Thanksgiving is the red and yellow on the trees.

Makiah Cash

Mom Story

Once I was my mom, and she was me because I made a wish that night. I allowed the kids to have fun and they yelled, “You’re the best, Mom!”

I rocked the house. My one rule was to do everything you want to do, but don’t mess up your room. Plus, the kids can learn from home and not go to school.

Eliycia de Pina

lady gaga

A Wacky World

Ms. Johnston, who was wearing a pink-striped shirt, was watching soccer. She got up to feed her pet fish (which was lime) and he bit her. Ms. Johnston patted the fish’s head and realized it was a turtle!

Ms. Johnston later met a sea horse and thought it was her true love. But the sea horse became human and was Lady Gaga. Ms. Johnston and Lady Gaga became friends and they strutted off into the sunset.

Amyrie Evans

A Frog Goes to the Ocean

Once upon a time, Mrs. Griffis had a frog named Bruno Mars. The frog went into the ocean. He met a shark the color of lime and a tiger fish with yellow polka dots.

They grabbed a ball and played basketball, and then volleyball before racing to the shore.

Francisco Flores

ice cream for dinner

When I Became a Dad

I became a parent by wishing for it, and while I slept—bam!—I was a dad. When I discovered I was a parent, I yelled so loud. I checked in the mirror and saw I had a mustache and body hair!

I even had to work (but, the best part was that I got paid!). These are the rules I made in my house:

  • No yelling
  • No hitting
  • Ice cream for dinner
  • Jumping on the bed allowed
  • Let my dog eat my homework
  • Play all day, get in trouble
  • No school
  • Boom box every day!

Danny Giron

Thanksgiving Is

Thanksgiving is scarlet like peaches.
Thanksgiving is red like blood.
Thanksgiving is yellow like the corn you eat.
Thanksgiving is no school, family, and sweaters.

Serenity Lopez

The Singers and the Turtle

One day, people from all over the world came to see the International Music Award concert. I was in the audience with my best friend. There were bands like Future, Drake, Lil Wayne, Bruno Mars, and many more. The host for the concert was a former teacher, but now, she was Beauty Queen Charlotte Young.

“Here she comes… Charlotte Young!” yelled the announcer. But for some reason, the only thing to walk out on  stage was a turtle.

“Maybe someone cast a spell on her,” I joked to my friend.

Anthony Okeke


Everything My Words Do

My words play soccer.
My words sound like a ghost.
I describe my happiness—
happy like a puppy,
soft like a wolf.
My words wear hats.

Brayan Ortega

Thanksgiving Is

Thanksgiving is light brown like the turkey we eat,
like a leaf that falls,
like the clothes we used to wear.
Thanksgiving is dark smoke pouring out of my house.
Thanksgiving is yellow like the sun in the sky,
the sunflowers and the leaves.
Thanksgiving is giving thanks to everyone here in our lives
and to those who take care of us.

Emily Mendoza

Being Mom for a Day

It was Monday morning, and I woke up to go to school. Then—poof!—I was in my mom’s body. I thought, “Stay calm.” But, on the outside, I was screaming like I was dying! I snapped out of it and realized maybe this would be fun. I soon figured out five new rules:

  1. We are hiring a maid.
  2. I don’t deal with little brats.
  3. Never, ever make me mad—or else.
  4. Treat your brothers and sisters with respect.
  5. Have fun and do whatever you want. Unless deep down, you know it’s wrong.

Mariana Najera

fall colors

Thanksgiving Is

Thanksgiving is orange like the sun.
Thanksgiving is brown like turkey.
Thanksgiving is yellow like corn.
Thanksgiving means happiness and family love.
It is also being thankful, no school,
and having free time with friends and family.
Have you ever thought about Thanksgiving as being thankful
and spending time with family? Have a great holiday and be grateful.

Tia Parson

Rules of the House

I wished upon a star to be a parent because I wanted to change all the rules. We needed to have more fun and  more chocolate candy. Also, more sleep. And no screaming.

Dumb rules are like boys putting chocolate in my hair! And having fart days on Wednesday.

John Pinedas

The First Time Ms. Johnson Went to the Ocean

Ms. Johnson went to the ocean to get fish, and while she was there, she released the biggest fart ever in the whole wide world! All the fish and sharks died because it stunk so bad, like a skunk had farted.

Then, she left the ocean and ate all of the fish she had caught with her son. When they finished, they went to the park and ate hamburgers. Ms. Johnson ate three hamburgers and her son ate five of them.

Angel Salgado

Thanksgiving Is

Thanksgiving is orange like a beautiful horse.
Thanksgiving is red like the berries on the bush.
Thanksgiving is no school and is so fun!

Sierra Shippen


Cray, Cray Story about Ms. K.

Her name is Ms. K. and she sings Taylor Swift songs. But a snake bit her and she died. Just like that—boom!

Somehow she got up and became a ghost, haunting people with her pet snake. Not an ordinary snake, but a polka-dot reptile. The snake loved gymnastics and was always biting Ms. K. and other people.

Trinity Smith

The Turtle that Wore a Pink Polka-Dot Shirt

One day, Marvin the turtle went shopping and he came across a pink polka-dot shirt. He was so amazed that he bought it. The next day, he was wearing it as he walked and passed by Señor Sensey Snake. The snake started to giggle at the shirt, and Marvin felt sad.

Then, Sammy the Shark was also giggling at him. Today was not Marvin’s day. He was so sad, he didn’t want to show his face. He went back to the store and got a blue shirt. Everyone stopped giggling and began to compliment Marvin.

Marvin the turtle was very happy today. It was his day!

Sally Tuatagaloa


Thanksgiving is orange, yellow, red, and all the warm colors like the sun.
Thanksgiving is windy like a breezy day in Chicago.
Thanksgiving is loveable like a family around the holiday table.

Miranda Jordan Williams

Countries of Love from Union Hill Elementary

The Union Hill Elementary writers created their own poetry about countries of music, love, and even nightmares, based on inspiration from Alberto Blanco’s “In the Country of Better Knowledge.” Imagining the new rules they would establish (as a mom or dad) resulted in more chaos in the home or a new appreciation for all the things a parent does. These writers discovered that words have color, movement, and feelings. In writing and sharing their work, these students also found a renewed sense of confidence.

Terri Schexnayder
Artist Instructor

Being My Mommy

I woke up this morning as my beautiful Mommy. Now that I am in charge, I can do whatever I want—like grab the wallet, drive to the mall and go shopping. But, wait! What about my newborn baby sister? Do I have to take her with me? What about the bills? Aren’t they due today?

“Hi, Mom. How are you? Are the bills due today?” asked my child.

“Yes, young lady!”

Did I do everything there was to do? Yes, I did, and I didn’t even have time for the mall. Being Mom is hard!

Andrea Jaimes Belman


In the Country of Hidden Love

In the Country of Hidden Love, as you hold hands,
butterflies fly.
There are love letters hidden at every step.
There is an ocean full of kind mermaids
and flowers bloom everywhere you walk.
In the Country of Hidden Love
generosity speaks to you.
There are interminable sunsets
and the sky is always dawn.

Juliana Chantal Carter


In the country of superheroes, everybody is saving the day by fighting the bad guys. The X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four are against Dr. Doom. Dr. Doom is a very evil man. He always destroys the town, the city of Superheroes. But, the superheroes smashed him.

Samuel Dixon

My Awesome Five Rules

I woke up and was on the computer, where I played games forever. I wanted to make it more fun at my house and for it to be quiet. Why is it so important to be quiet in the house? Because then you won’t be disturbed.

Playing games is awesome. It’s cool, and you have fun. It’s also fun to watch YouTube because it has amazing videos. Okay, so here are my five rules. Oh, wait, I will tell you tomorrow. It’s nighttime. Now, go to bed or stay up all night. Good night and see you tomorrow.

Thomas Gonzalez

hot dog

My Words

Words are actions, music, donuts, hot dogs with ketchup, and shakes.
My words make me really happy, as happy as a camel on Wednesday.
On Thursday, my words are the color of lava red.
My words are important because they always thank me.
My words are like animals—
a gorilla eating a banana.

Abrien Hernandez

Me, I, Myself in Charge

When I woke up today, I realized I was like my Mom’s mom, in charge of everybody in my house. I told my family my new rules:

  1. I will let you hear loud music.
  2. I will let you go outside when it’s raining.
  3. I will make you go to sleep at 9:00 p.m.
  4. I will not make you clean your room.
  5. I will ask a servant to come and do things I tell them to do.

And, the most important rule: Peace and quiet in the house! These rules I have told you are important to me because they make the house creative. If you don’t like my rules, then you will go out of the house and be suspended.

When I finished listing the rules, I whispered to my sister Cristal, “And, you will have a bunny.” To Cecilia, I shared, “You will have a pony and a butterfly home.” And to my little brother, “You will have an elephant.” For my mom, I told her I would buy her a phone. “Dad, you will have your own tablet.” Everyone liked my new rules.

On my next birthday, I was still my Mom’s mom. It was really interesting and mysterious because I was wondering who made me this way. I wasn’t enjoying my world at this point and wanted to be a ten-year-old kid again. The next year, I turned into me again, but the rules stayed the way they were. I was so happy and said, “Life was crazy in the old days. I miss them now!”

Rosa Hernandez

Rules of My Life

I woke up this morning and was in charge of my house. I was the father and told my kids to turn off the music. My new rules are awesome. For example, you can have 6,000 friends in the house. I would like my family to go to Red Wagon.

I hope my family will be nicer because when I was young, they weren’t nice. Now, you can have a Wii and always make art. You don’t have to go to school and you have to be nice to your parents and take people’s advice.

I had bad rules when I was young. I had a lot—I mean, a lot—of work to do.

Eric S. Kawar


In the Country of the Lightning’s Love Music

In the Country of the Lightning,
you can hear the loud sound: Boom! Boom! Boom!
in your ears.
In the Country of the Music,
you can hear the loud music in your ears.
In the country, you see the love in your heart.

Marisol Lopez

My Rules

I woke up this morning, and I was Pop. Suddenly, I’m was charge of my household. I could have my music up loud and get a $1.6 million car. I sped in my fast car. I ate candy only one time a year, but went to Red Lobster every day.

Being in charge, I also went to school five days a week, rode in a Cadillac, ate seafood all day, and played games all night. I got pie every day at school and had parties with Takis and Ms. Terri’s chocolate chip cookies. I had all A’s, no B’s, and had a really good security system and guard dogs, like German Shepherds and pit bulls. I also had a 200-inch TV and a mansion for a home, plus sporting gear and other stuff.

Those were my new rules as Pop.

Jaydon Love



Words are people.
Words are kind.
My words make me feel happier than I usually am.
My words are the color pink.
My words are important because I love when I talk.
My words help me communicate.

Mykaela Manor

In the Country of Love

Once there was a land and there were all kinds of things there.
Like letters on a leaf and the word “love” in the sky.
That’s how beautiful the land was.
Frogs with the word “happiness.”

Tyanni Muttilib


Thanksgiving Is

Thanksgiving is green like grass.
Thanksgiving is red like a heart.
Thanksgiving is light purple like a jewel.
Thanksgiving is yellow like a banana.

Charlie Routt

In the Country of Never-Ending Nightmares

A place where nightmares grow and fear hurts the people.
It’s like a scream of words that are scary.
There are monsters you imagine you believe in, but they don’t exist.
There are unusual things that lie in the bottom of your head.
There are things that you don’t want to see, but it’s a curse.
There are dreams that are dreadful
in the Country of Never-Ending Nightmares.
It’s like something that stabs you in the back.

Jada Servin