Splashing in Creative Waters

This six-week class with Ms. Vega’s students at Widen Elementary School got churning right after the STAAR test storm passed, and I saw these students’ writing as a sigh of relief, a dive back into the creative waters to frolic and play. Many of the students selected the final piece they wrote—poems inspired by Nicanor Parra’s “Mummies” to be published here. It was a culminating activity that blended together the three craft elements we focused on—utilizing vivid verbs, selecting specific and significant details, and arranging writing in some sort of energetic order. All of the work here represents the true spirit of these kiddos—a playful pulse breathing life into their readers and back into themselves. It has been a true joy working with them!

P.S. I want to give a special thanks to the wonderful poets / educators Katelin Kelly and Katie Pryor for their help with this class.

Tyler Gobble
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


A Tiger’s Life

One tiger wades in the
lake of water.

Another goes west through
the dark forest.

Three tigers climb a big tree.

One tiger gets a fever
because it’s allergic to beavers.

All tigers hunt for food
but one tiger’s not in the

One tiger runs through the
forest because he’s won the

The tiger who won the race
gets hunted by the mean hunter
with a big mace.

At the end of the day, all
tigers go back to their dens.

Rodolfo S.



One Shopkin is lighter than
the other.

Another Shopkin sings until
he drops the word.

The other one is really crazy until
he gets out of the box.

One Shopkin named Chiqui
Chocolate is sweet like
a donut.

Another one just wants
to be the queen.

All the Shopkins have
a lot of actions.

America G.


Look at a Unicorn

  1. You can see a unicorn farting rainbows.
  2. You can see them falling.
  3. You can see the power.
  4. You can see them white.
  5. You can see them in a story.
  6. You can see their rainbow horns.
  7. You can see them eating.
  8. You can see them running away.
  9. You can see them chasing people.
  10. You can see they’re just rough stuff.
  11. You can see them stepping at people.
  12. You can see them drinking gas.
  13. You can see them at school.
  14. You can see them at your house!

Marco C.


The Crazy Shopkins

One Shopkin jumps with a jumping
rope to the big and colorful store.

Another Shopkin throws a small
pink ball into the store and
gets in trouble.

Some of the Shopkins run all
over the store and start screaming,
jumping, rolling, and doing handshakes.

All of the Shopkins go to the
store and have a big party in
the store without permission.

Until a few of the Shopkins
start leaving and the other
Shopkins keep partying in the

Until all the Shopkins leave
and the big store is messy and dirty.

Natalie Z.



One puppy is biting
the fat pillow. Another one
is sleeping in the woods with
the spooky noise. Some were
eating and others were full and
fat. All celebrated their second birthday
with a big pool and fun.

Graciela P.


I Remember

I remember when I wanted to be the only child, so I stabbed a fork in my sister’s head. It was hard.
I remember I was trying to flush my sister down the toilet but her head was too fat, so it didn’t fit.
I remember when my friend tried to kidnap me. Her name was Arelis.




Two puppies are pulling
the rope until it breaks.

One of them is eating
all the food while all the
other puppies are starving.

One of the puppies is
playing in the park until
it rains.

Ariadna V.



Minions’ Worst Day

One Minion eats a banana.
The other Minions are crying.
All the Minions are filled with sadness.
A big package is delivered to the Minions.
The Minions stop crying. They stand up.
All of Minions go to the package.
They all open the package and there are
2,000 bananas. They all get five
Bananas each. They are happy
And they make a celebration of

Omar R.



One McDonald’s has a park.
Another has a Ronald
McDonald’s Society and chants
Big Macs, Big Macs! 

Two have a big McDonald’s

And the last one has Ronald
McDonald yelling CHICKEN

Christian B.


How I Lost My Puppy

I remember when I had a little dog.

I liked to play with him until my parents
told me that they were going to sell him
because he ate something gross.

Then it was Friday and some people came
and they sold him. I was really sad and I was crying.

Kayla R.


Un Unicornio

  1. Yo estaba en la casa de mi abuela y vi unas flores que eran bonitas y olían bien.
  2. Yo fuí a un palo que tenía muchas manzanas y estábamos comiendo y estaban ricas.
  3. Yo fuí con mi mamá y pasear donde había mucha llueve y esta ve jugando.
  4. Mi familia y yo fuimos a pasear al parque y está vimos jugando mucho.
  5. Yo había visto muchos árboles y montes y había un unicornio.



The Puppies

One puppy is talking on the phone
Another one is running
and another one is
playing. The other one
is eating. And the last one
is sleeping. And the very last one
falls from the stairs and cries.



How I Scare

I remember when we
saw a movie and we got
in the closet because it was
about a girl in a closet.
My friend heard something because
She was by the closet and
we jumped on her. She
did not talk to me
for three weeks.

Dayana T.


The Owls

One owl flies in the air.
Another owl is hunting the mice.
Some owls are sleeping and
others are playing.

All the owls go to sleep.

Another owl flies to
the ocean and catches
a fish.

One owl is dancing
in the air with another

Fabian F.


Widen Writers Hop from Character to Character

Ms. Garner’s 10:30 class loved working together, trading story ideas, helpful tips, and questions about each other’s writing. We even had some students turn into characters and hop from story to story, going on wild genre-bending adventures that hopped from poetry to adventure stories to journalistic interviews, and right back again.

Emily Beyda
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


The Dog

The dog loves to go to the restaurant on a log
But the dog can’t see because of the fog
The dog isn’t cool
So it was a fool every day
All the other dogs rule
All the other dogs like to go to the pool
With a stool



Bouncy Shoes

White tight springs with things
Walking with those and talking along
Having to think what to say when people ask—what are those?
When they do that to you, say that they are shoes
with springs on the bottom
I have them
How are those there? How do you walk normally?




Swag is all about being cool and leather jackets and cool hair like Christopher. Swag is when you walk very cool down the hallway and then you fall. Swag is when you talk like a diva and when you post things on YouTube. That’s swag, too!



The Mysterious Stranger

It looks like the mysterious stranger is camping. Or like he’s helping someone, like those helicopter dudes when people call out for help. Like he’s talking to someone. Maybe he’s helping an animal. It looks like he’s rock climbing. There may be another person holding the rope on the other side. The rocks are skinny enough to hurt you if you fall, sharp and skinny. You can see a waterfall behind him. It looks like it’s about to rain. Some liquid is already running down the hill.




Candyland smells really sweet. It tastes sweet, looks sweet, and feels smooth. It looks tasty and sounds crunchy. It’s the best place in the world. You can eat as much candy as you want. The clouds are made of cotton candy. The grass is made of dum-dum pops. But then the lake starts moving and then godzilla comes out of the ground, and a kracken comes out of the sea. They bring out their gum guns and shoot gum everywhere to make it sticky. They try to take over candy world!



Alien Welcome Letter

Hello, Aliens!

My town is really awesome because there’s a lot of cool stuff, and I wish y’all could come because if y’all came, I’d play videogames with y’all and we would do awesome stuff.




A long time ago, there were tornados. And dinosaurs. It all started with a tornado that got bigger and bigger with dinosaurs. We called it a dinonado. Then it came near a village. The people who lived there gathered weapons, arrows, and armor, and they started to attack the dinonado. They didn’t know how to stop it, so then they went back in time to get help. They managed to stop dinonado by throwing a bomb in it, and the world was safe… for now.



The Worst Violent Place

It smells like someone or something died and started to rot. It tastes like rats because you eat them, and you also eat people who accidentally died. Ew! You can feel a bunch of rats and grubs everywhere, and it feels like you are going to die. You can see dead people everywhere, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can see someone getting murdered. You can hear screams in almost every direction and a guy who murders people is on the loose. There are murderers and dead people and cobras everywhere, and dead fish, dead mice, dead hamsters. Basically, everyone and everything is either a zombie or dead, and nothing and no one is pure. Nothing can survive there. It is the one and only place; the place where people die.



The Alien’s Story

I am an alien, but when I was just three years old, I got lost right after we saw the first human. When I was five, I learned that every time I died I would come back to life. I became immortal. After that, I lived until I was thirty-six (it was my fifty-fifth life), when something called World War One came along. I was in the war, and yes, after World War One came along, I was sick of the earth. Can you come pick me up? When you get here, please get rid of Donald Trump. Also, please bring a time travel machine so I can fix the earth.




The water falls
In between the walls
A body or rock
Where people walk
People walk and talk and mock the rock



Interview with Eli

Eli is a gamer. He likes playing “Grand Theft Auto” and “Call of Duty,” like me. He is interested in doing everything. We both don’t like Donald Trump. If Trump becomes our president, we will be trapped.



The Bad Haircut

Someone went to get a haircut, but the barber didn’t do what she wanted. She got mad. She was running in the woods, and she had flowers in her hair, and her hair looked like grass.



The Chihuahua

A crazy chihuahua wants a shadow so bad, but a girl steals a shadow and now she has the shadow! The crazy chihuahua kills the girl, and then the girl and the shadow die, so the chihuahua starts crying because she still doesn’t have a shadow.



Dancing Bear

Dancing bear wants to be a dinosaur, but the other dancing bears are judging him and laughing at him, so he makes a potion to turn himself into a dinosaur, but instead he turns into a… demon dancing bear! Now, every time someone has a party, he goes and breaks everything in their house.



Frack Master

Frack Master is a man on TV
He looks like he has money
He likes to be on TV
Just like me



The Gamer

There was a gaming competition, and the gamers were going to stay there a while, so they bought pepsis and Pringles. Every gamer brought his keyboard and was trying to win. There were two teams, the green team and the orange team. Then it was time for the finals—one green guy versus one orange guy. But it was a tie! Once more they played, and the green guy got one more point. The green team won the game!


Widen Elemendary Early Morning Writers


Ms. Garner’s eight o’ clock class at Widen Elementary wrote themselves right back into the dreams they had just woken up from, creating imaginary worlds full of princesses, treehouses, and crazy plot twists. This class loved using the senses to transport their readers to unknowable places, adding silly details to make each other laugh. Every sharing session on the carpet at the end of class finished with giggles!

Emily Beyda
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



I smell the city air.
I taste the good restaurants.
I tough the beautiful things.
I hear people talking.
I see the light, sparkling through the night.



The Park

Today is a sunny day. There are three people I’m thinking of—a turtle in the water and a girl with a mustache and a dog barking at the birds. They all see something in common, the beautiful sun.



The Dragon

Once upon a time, there was a girl, and she saw a dragon by itself, so she wanted it. But her dog was looking at them both, and he was jealous. So in the end, she didn’t get the dragon.



Cookies-and-Cream World

I smell vanilla cookies and cream. I taste the delicious cookies and ice cream. I touch my fluffy pink cookies-and-cream kitten. I hear my cookies-and-cream song. I see my best friends in my cookies-and-cream world, eating cookies-and-cream ice cream. After that, I eat all the candy. It’s too much sugar, and I go crazy and destroy the world!



The Treehouse

The treehouse made out of steel
Hope the treehouse might not fall
Or else you have to repair it at the mall
Make it stronger, so much fun
Let your child play with water guns
It was so fun, let’s play again
Go ahead
But don’t let the snake shed!



The End of the World

If I found out it was the end of the world in ten minutes, I would buy or steal a space suit. Then I would get in my space suit and my space shuttle and go to space. But before I took off, I would get space food. Then I would go to space. I would go to Titan and take my space suit off, and I would make the aliens build me and my family and my dogs a giant house.



Friday Fun

Friday, Friday, Friday fun.
Every Friday something new,
Like swimming in your own milk, too!
It feels like Friday again.
Starting on the game,
Playing online.
Mom and Dad say, “Go outside!”



The Chicken Princess

There once lived a princess, and she had a dog. One day, they were hungry, so they went to a restaurant. But when they got there, the princess started pooping out chickens! Every time she pooped out a chicken, it exploded, and they exploded the whole earth. They went to Mars, but that exploded, too! They had to go to Jupiter to escape, but then they exploded it, and no one was ever seen or heard from again.



Jesse Writes a Book

A girl named Jesse was outside. She noticed it was a perfect day to write a story about her day. When it was night time, she went to bed and fell asleep. She would continue on the next day. She ate breakfast and continued writing.



Minecraft World

One day, I was chillin’ outside. I was chillin’ until it was time to go in. I was texting my friend, but then I fell asleep. I woke up and saw that I was a Minecraft boy! It was awesome. Instead of chillin’, I made a three-story house. I was walking to the house and then I fell in a hole! I saw I was in blocky town. I smelled pumpkin pie and saw a creeper. I heard the pigs oinking and then I went to dinner. I tasted golden apples and touched my pig’s and sheep’s heads.



Rascal and Brandon

Brandon lived in the forest. He had a wolf named Rascal, and they were often trying to find teammates so they could battle other people. One day, he was roaming the jungle when he saw another person following him. It was a great and powerful giant tiger. He was determined to battle with him.



The End of the World

Dear Journal,

The world will end in ten minutes. I’m running from room to room gathering supplies, like my family, food, a first-aid kit, and water. A lot of it! Then I will run outside, go to the store, and get some toys to stay amused. Next, I will get everything out. I will not pay! I will get a gun and an axe. I’ll get a radio and a flashlight. Sorry, I need to stop. There are only two minutes left, and I forgot I have to go to the metal shelter. Well, byeee!



Emma’s World

Once, there was a girl named Emma who lived on a farm. She found a cow in her neighbor’s house, then she went to her friend’s house and started making up songs, but one of her friends started dancing, and everyone stopped and started looking at him and laughing at him.



No Fruit!

I like fruit.
I don’t like fruit
It tastes like avocados and poop.



Two Silly Poems


You sing like birds
Birds sing like you
Everything sings
Beautiful like you


I see water
I see rivers
I see waterfalls
Man, now I need to potty!




I will be invisible because nobody can see me. My mom and dad can’t see me either, and I will go, “Ha ha, Mom and Dad!” I will hug my little brother and sister and I will go, “Ha ha ha! You will get me something to drink!” And I will go to their room and scare them, but I will get hurt and no one will help me.



The Leprechaun

Once, there was a little girl who saw something green. When she got close, she saw it was a leprechaun.

The leprechaun said, “I’ll give you three wishes.”

The girl’s first wish was to get into Candy Land. Poof! She was in a world that smelled like nothing but sweets. She took a big bite of cotton candy hearts. She touched the twirly licorice chains on the swings. She heard gingerbread kids playing, she fell in love, and forgot about the other two wishes.

She left the leprechaun waiting forever, but that’s a different story.



The Turtle’s Adventure

Once upon a time, a killer gingerbread man was killed by a banana, but his little brother survived and turned into a turtle.

One day, a shark came and knocked on the door and said, “Can I use your bathroom?”

The turtle said yes, but he was afraid of the shark, so he left the house and walked to Walgreen’s and got some medicine. Next he went to McDonald’s to see his best friend Josh.

Josh had three jobs. He worked at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Walgreen’s. They ate their favorite burger together—a Big Mac.


You Have to Read This!

Every Friday morning for six weeks, The Writing Penguins, a group of fourth-grade students at Widen Elementary, took me on an adventure. What started as a collaborative story, starring a mischievous penguin, turned into a collection of tales full of danger, imagination, and wacky characters. I loved working with these writers because they constantly surprised me–their stories often had twists, a mysterious object, or a new character in an unexpected setting. I found myself racing home to find out what the princess discovered in the glowing notebook or how the penguin escaped from the mall. Their creativity extended beyond the work itself, though.  These writers never lost their sense of playfulness and Ms. Garner’s classroom was the place where the writing process itself became an adventure. Their energy made the act of storytelling come to life, and I loved the moments when an eager writer waved me over to read a new line of dialogue or to tell me about a new writing technique they wanted to try. This introduction is my hand, shooting into the air, waving you over, saying, You have to read this.

Cory Mac Pherson
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Penguin and Eagle Adventures

Chapter 1

The penguin went to Schlitterbahn and got in trouble because he moved the arcade. Major, a security guard, went after Penguin Jr. who found a coin. He threw the twenty-five cent coin and the police got distracted, but they got back on Junior, only Junior left Schlitterbahn. He was thinking, Run for your life!

He found his hot tub car had run out of gas, so he went to the snowy forest. He got lost there, but five days later, Eagle found him. While he was thinking, he was rich.

Chapter 2

Eagle and Penguin built a home, and then they saw somebody. It was a winter bunny. At Christmas, they were still in the forest, and the bunny helped, but Junior said to Eagle, “I don’t know if we should trust him.” But they trusted him, so Junior talked with Eagle and Bunny and said, “Guys, let’s build an animal city.” And Eagle is a bald eagle. Everybody was thinking, Welcome, Hi!

Brandon Guerrero


Toothless and His Hat

Once upon a time, there was a dragon. It shot fire from his mouth. The dragon’s name was Toothless. He had no teeth, but he was a very dangerous dragon. And he loved his hat. It was gray. It was a Nike hat. It’s what gave him get fire-breath. If he did not have his hat, he would die!!

Toothless found his hat inside a magical door. He was from a very dangerous place named Dragonville. Dragonville is a place full of dragons just like him. One day, he went back to Dragonville, and he was really surprised. “Where’s my hat?” The whole thing looked like it had been torn apart. He now went back home slowly and his gray Nike hat was gone!!


Savage Cabin


There was a very lonely kid who lived in an old wooden cabin in the woods. His name was Mike, and Mike had a magical cord set that randomly helped him depending on what number he got when he pulled one out. Plus, it never ran out of cards.

There was also lots of magic in the forest, like dragons, evil wizards, witches, poisonous bats, elemental bats, and earthworms. There was also special pollen from trees that was used with water to make poisonous water, shrinking potions, enlarging potions, and invisibility potions.

Mike lived in the woods because he got lost and could never get out. Mike had an unbreakable set of armor with a sword that caught flames. One day, he found a magical electric wolf cub that had been injured and was hiding in a tree. Mike took care of it, and they became friends.

Rodolfo Sanchez

Princess Margaret Rose (as bridesmaid on the occasion of Princess Elizabeth's wedding to Philip of Greece, Duke of Edinburgh) by Dorothy Wilding - November, 1947

Bad Princess

There was a princess who was mean and selfish. She was selfish because she never had friends when she was little. She had a lot of things, but one day she had found a notebook her dad had hidden in the dungeon. The dungeon was black and leaky and wet. She was looking for her doll, and she found it and saw there was a glow around it. When she was about to open the journal, her dad saw her and ran to close it. Her dad told her, “Do not come down here ever again!”

The princess was trying to be nice, but the next night when nobody was awake, she went down to the dungeon and got the notebook and opened it. It was magical. It didn’t have notes, and it didn’t have pictures. Instead, it had videos inside of it, but the videos were of her and her mom who passed away. She saw that her mother was being kind and unselfish and the princess said to herself, “Why am I being selfish and mean?”

She married a handsome prince and lived happily ever after.

Jaleen Malagon

Police Motorbike

Bad Penguin

There was once a penguin that lived in the mall, and he made a big mess. An officer saw him and went to go catch him. He was chasing him and he got in a slap and snap. But the penguin ran. The officer got close and the penguin was scared, but the officer got back up. All of the officers looked around until he ran, and they almost got his taser but he was fine. Penguin lived in the mall because someone took him.

Josue Bazaldua

Gingerbread house

The Penguin in the Gingerbread Castle

A penguin didn’t like Antarctica. She kept trying and trying, but she couldn’t get out. She tried to fly, but she was too cold. She tried to swim, but the water was too cold. She tried to walk across the water, but the ice kept breaking. She even tried to make a boat. It exploded, so she started crying, but then she got an idea. She was so cold, but she had to give it a try. So, she made a slingshot. Then she flew quickly all the way to Fantasyland, and KC lived in a sweet gingerbread house and got married to Hershey’s candy.



Timmy Died

Timmy had 12,000 dollars. He wanted to buy a blue mini-iPad but his dad said, “I’m sleeping all day,” so he stole his dad’s key and drove his blue car. He crashed, and the blue car exploded and his dad made him a blue funeral.



Penguins Live in Malls!

One day, a penguin named John and his girlfriend named Kimberly were having dinner. Out of nowhere, the light went off and they got scared so they went to Target. They stole some candles and went back to their house, which was in the mall in a store Forever 21. They lit up the candles. Now they were safe, but they saw a black thing running and they got really scared. They said at the same time, “Hey, who are you in a black suit?” and he did not respond, so they said it again, “Hey, who are you in a black suit?” and he did not respond, so they were about to leave their house because it was haunted by a ghost.

Lidzy Zaragoza Santos

Cae a tarde no río Furelos

A Big Brother in the Giant Creek

About twenty-five years ago, there was a giant creek near Big Brother’s house. One day, he snuck through the fence. He got lost quickly. He found a cone that was like a cylinder. He found a lighter. With the top of the cone, he made a torch. He found a rusty, beat-up machete and used it to hunt animals so he could survive.

Thirty years later, he found his brother. The brother was named Noah, and the older brother was named Elias. One of them got shot accidentally. “Hi Noah,” said Elias.



A Family Penguin Who Moved in a Swimming Pool

One day, a big family of penguins moved into a pool, but it was not cold enough and they grew worried. One week later, the father penguin found ice, lots of ice, so he called his family to help him put the ice in the water so it would be cold.

Two days later, the water was cold and they were happy, until two kids showed up to go swimming. The kids saw penguins, but the penguin attacked the two kids when they got scared. Then the penguins had an idea to fight back for their home. They built block-walls, a roof, a door, and a few fences. They were ready for war.

The war went on for eight years. Many people were hurt, but the penguins were not hurt. Then, when two weeks passed by, the people surrendered. They did not want more people to get hurt, so the penguins won The War of The Pool.

Joe Angel


The Penguin Who Ran Away from the Cops

A penguin in the mall started to make a big mess. First, the penguin found a hair brush he could use to break glass.

When he got to the highway, he found a movie theater my cousin used to work at. But, unfortunately, it was abandoned because another movie theater was getting more money. So, Penguin Jr. opened the door and saw bats and worms. Little Penguin Jr. Loved to eat worms in the abandoned theater. He took some home to eat and he lost the cops by blowing them up.

Penguin Jr. said, “Ahh, what a stress relief by making a mess at the mall.” But the big explosion to kill the cops made all of the cops all over the world come after all of the penguins in Antarctica! So, Penguin Jr. set off on a big journey to kill all of the cops. Again!

Gianna Lorenza Gonzales


H-E-B Penguin

The young penguin is in H-E-B running and walking, so the other penguin comes from the Antarctic to save him, but he gets lost. The young penguin got into a lot of stuff, like hot chips, which burned his mouth. The penguin tried to find a drink. Then he found water and tried to open the bottle. He couldn’t, so he ran around until it went away. And when he ran around, he knocked every shelf over. When the penguin knocked over the shelf, the shelf went, crash, cooos, crash!


An Adelie Royal penguin, Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-14 / photographer Harold Hamilton

Penguin Who Gets in Trouble All the Time

A penguin lived in a castle. He was cooking a meal for his family, and the other penguin found a lime. He squirted it and it got in everybody’s eyes. Then he asked everybody if they were okay, but he didn’t get it in everybody’s eyes. . . He squirted himself!

Then, when he was taking the meal to the family, there was a toy in the way, so the cook tripped over it and flew across the table and got all over the king’s face. The old king got angry, and he gave the cake cook a warning. But when the king gave the cook a warning, the king heard a big noise. When the king went to go look, he saw the cook covered in paint.


Tallahassee Mall Santa Claus with Vincent Nelson: Tallahassee, Florida

Penguin Trouble

The penguin lives in Santa’s house. The problem is both penguins found Santa and Santa was the dad and both penguins were Santa’s kids. Santa got mad when they got lost, so Santa grounded them.

Both the penguins found a machine, and the machine could teleport them. Charlie and Sam, the penguins, pressed a button to teleport to New York. They both made a mess in New York, and the machine could take them back in time (the machine could take them back four days ago). They pressed a button that took them to the past. Both penguins were surprised they made a mess and went back home, but something happened when they went home.

They found the time machine in the mall. They found the time machine because they needed to go back home. The penguins are Santa’s kids because Santa found the two penguins, and Santa wanted to take care of them.


Image from page 22 of "Annual report of the Police Commissioner for the City of Boston" (1906)

Penguin Getaway

The penguin got hit by a truck but survived and took the truck. But the cops came after him. He threw cloth in the cops’ faces so they could not see. Those first cops crashed, but more came to get them. The penguin got a fast car and got away.

A penguin went to a store. The cops tried to kill him, so he found a time machine and went back in time and got weapons. He went back in time and killed the guys, but they did not die so he kept hitting them. It didn’t work, but he made everybody freeze, so he went to unfreeze them. It did not work, so he talked to Santa. That helped.


The Bigfoot Storytellers

On my first day of workshop with The Bigfoot Storytellers, these fourth-grade students were lined up in the hallway, waiting to go into the classroom. I could hear them whispering to each other: “That’s Badgerdog,” as though I was some sort of celebrity. After I introduced myself and explained the main elements of narrative, I asked if they had any questions. They had many, including what I liked to write, how long Badgerdog has been around, and when I knew I wanted to be Badgerdog. It became clear to me that they thought I was Badgerdog–some sort of mythic wordsmith creature–as though a person could embody the entire program (and a badger and a dog somehow). It seems impossible, but this group of students had such a talent for storytelling and a reverence for the writing process that when I picture each of them now, I see the stories living in their bodies, flickering in their eyes. Their energy and belief in the power of narrative showed me how a person can be a mythic wordsmith creature; Ms. Garner’s classroom was full of them. Each one of the following writers is Badgerdog.

Cory Mac Pherson
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Oude kaart van Egypte (17e eeuw)/ Old map of Egypt (17th century)


The kids got lost and they found a map and they went back home and gave their mom and dad a hug. They started crying. The mom and dad said, “I love you,” and the kids said, “I love you too.” And they fell asleep.

Fortunately, they went on a trip. The kids loved it, and the mom and dad did too. The mom and dad hugged each other and they said, “Love you more.” And then the mom said, “I love you more, honey.” The kids were running.


Project 366 #296: 221012 I Hold The Key

Big Foot’s House

One day Big Foot was in a house. No one knew he was in the house. Then one day, a little boy named Alex was playing with a light bulb, and no one knew why. He did not have a house or a mom or dad. He was lost. Then a day later, he found a strange-looking house. Alex looked in there, but unfortunately, the door was locked. So he went to the back door. Unfortunately, it was locked too. He was lucky because he felt something. It was a key. Then he got the key and went to go show his friends. His friends were like, “Ooohhh, let me see it.”


Project 365 #129: 090511 Beautiful Rain

Bigfoot’s Kids

The Bigfoot kids were bored and found a Rubik’s cube and started playing with it. Unfortunately, it broke because the Bigfoot kids played rough with it. So, after that, they told Bigfoot and he found some glue and glued it and let it dry and then the little fur balls played with it outside. It began to rain, and they were all wet and went inside and dried off.


A Nice Cup Of Coffee And A Cake?


Unfortunately, the baby ate donuts and got fatter and fatter and he exploded donuts. The nice mom said excitedly, “What happened? What did you do?” The baby did not know how to talk, so he said, “Donuts,” and the baby went to buy more donuts with milk. Then the baby turned into a donut with sprinkles.


Crying Baby

The Baby That Never Stopped Crying

Unfortunately, the baby got electrocuted and started to cry the whole time, all day, all week, every day. The parents were on vacation and the came back, and the baby cried even louder to get their attention. The parents were worried, and they ran and tried to find the baby. Then they went to get groceries and the baby started to cry again. Then the parents went back home with their kids and the baby started to cry again and the baby started crying even louder. Then the parents went to the party and they got a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and they became millionaires. They bought a new house and they bought all of the Jordans and they got a lot more money and became richer and bought a Mustang and got hats and they got in a wreck but they bought a new Mustang.


Snow Monkey [4280051]

Crazy Monkey

It helps because they took a shower when the parents were at dinner. Mostly, Bob sunk his whole face in the water and looked crazy. Good thing their parents were rich.



Mr. Sun’s Son Has a Bad Day

Mr. Sun wanted to cook, so he did. He had four children, two girls and two boys. Then he was cooking. Then one of his children went outside on the balcony and then one of Mr. Sun’s sons fell off the balcony! Then Mr. Sun didn’t know what to do so he got one of his cooking utensils and started to save his son before he fell in the ocean. Then he held his huge giant big spoon out. Then his son landed on the big spoon and then soon the dinner was ready. So they sat down and ate chicken and rice and then one of them never fell off the balcony again.

He wanted to cook because he was hungry and he wanted something to eat. He fell off the balcony because he was looking at the beautiful ocean. Then that was why he wanted to cook and that is why the boy fell off the balcony.

Veronica Horton

People's tower and Captain's palace (before 1282); Minerva's temple (about 50-25 BC) - Assisi

Mike the King

Mike the King left his tower and forgot his keys in the house. His house was locked up, and he found a way to get in and he found a dog in his house and the dog tore his money and his studio. The dog tore up his money because he found something in his money.


Project 366 #280: 061012 Lemons Are Not The Only Fruit

Gum Blue Turned Green!

Gum Blue always has to eat gum, but one time he ate something green, a lime. So he turned green. And he was green forever, so he has to eat limes for now and forever. He would never turn another color. He will forget his friends from his school because his friends won’t know him if he is green and his friends are blue. Gum Blue really had so much fun.


Eurodal - tuin Holvoet Brasschaat

Pool Party

The kids went back to the house and they found a burger yo-yo and they tried to eat it, but it was too hard to bite, so they decided to break the burger and the dad was mad at them.


Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, Castle, Bavaria, Ludwig II, King

Party Night

Ashlee lived in a beautiful castle with glass windows and a garden with a swing and butterflies. And one day she thought, I should have a trivia night. But when she told her friends, they made up excuses because they didn’t like the idea. Then she got a message. It said, “Come to my party. Emma, Lisa, Avry, and Alexa will be there.” Ashlee got mad and texted back, “No, thanks. I have plans.” Then she thought and had burgers and pizza while they played gold horse. Then she asked them why they went to the party instead of going to her house and they explained. And Ashlee said, “Next time, just say and let’s stay friends.”



Danger Baby

The baby found a tape measure and he poked out his dad’s eyes, and they had to go to the hospital. Then they had to go all the way home and clean the huge humongous house.
Hi, I’m Aaliyah. This is about me. I’m a vampire. It’s a club for vampires and I just started going to the club.

D’Yara Williams


The Story About Cry Thunder

One day Cry Thunder went to Mexico, where her parents died, and she dug up the skeletons. It was alive!! She tried to smile. She smiled for two seconds and her mom was alive. She asked if her dad was, but sadly he wasn’t. She cried ten hours in a row. It was so cool.


“Sorry, Sweety” FYI I’m the mom of Cry Thunder. So, um, where were we? Oh, um, after she stopped crying, she made a castle just for me! So we lived there.
“Mom, where are you?” Oh no, I have to go. Bye

Okay, I’m back. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to you, and I think you are wondering how I’m alive or shouldn’t I be dead by now. Well, I am a superhero.

O.M.G. Cry Thunder is now more powerful. And she married Batman! Well, actually I forced her, but she did it! The new powers that she has are zapping people and making the whole world freeze. Oh, and making the clouds black and making fire and lava. And now we live in Pennsylvania. She dyed her hair red because red is the color of blood. She loved it.

Okay, one day, one of Batman’s friends invited her to a party (and Batman, too, of course). The party was a costume party, so she dressed as a kitty cat. Superman, the cutest boy, was there. Batman was like, “Oh, no. Superman is here. Cry Thunder better not dump me for him.” But Cry Thunder fell in love with Superman, and so she walked up to him and said, “You’re like a thousand bright stars in my charming eyes.” They kept talking. Batman got so jealous he almost killed Superman! Cry Thunder stopped him, and she said, “I can’t believe you would kill him!” She started crying and running away.


Alone in the sea

The Party

When they dropped the remote into the sea, the water turned into electric water. When they put the goggles on, they did not get electricity, but they did not have air to make it up to get air. But there was only one pair, so if they wanted to go to the movie, only one could go. But then the smart one came up and made a diluter. Now they could go anywhere, but every two hours they would be gone. But if you were them, then you would be gone too. So the smart one came up with another good idea. But when rain hits it then the bridge will turn into electric eel. They got a party for the smart one, but the little baby fell in and died. Then the smart one made him come back to life. After the little one came back to life, Godzilla and King Adora started fighting. When the smart one tried to take them out, he turned into Godzilla, and the baby turned into King Adora. But at that time, Godzilla came up and tried to fight them. When they were done fighting, they changed back to normal. They turned the world into zombies but then. . .



Why Big Foot is Always Mad

Big Foot’s children found a candle and lit it and then they dropped it and lit the castle on fire. Lucky for them, their dad woke up and got the fire extinguisher and blew the fire out. The kids got in trouble, and since then, they do not have candles in the castle. But then Bigfoot did not tell the mom that they could not buy candles anymore. So the mom bought candles. They had to hide them from the children, and they have not found them yet. But finally the kids found the candles and set the dad on fire. He got angry. They were grounded. Of course they are teenagers, so they are troublemakers. Their names are Julia, Destiny, and Anthony.

Ice feathers

A Country Life

This is a story about Krastenia Heart. It was a cold winter day on the ranch. It was also raining. And the roads had iced, so no one could go anywhere. Krastenia decided to watch TV while she was waiting to go outside, but she really didn’t want to go outside because it was cold. Yawn. “Can someone get me the remote? I’m too tired.” Krastenia stayed on the couch and watched TV. After a while, her mom came inside and said, “Why aren’t you outside?!” “Because I’m so tired!”



The Day the Cubs Got Eaten

The three little cubs got bored in the castle, so they decided to play dress-up. There were three cubs and one judge and one little cub put on a polka-dot dress and got five points. And the other little cub put on a DJ costume and got seven points, and they competed until whichever cub got the most points. Then they started to argue because one cub got the most points and got a trophy, and the other cub got mad because he didn’t win anything. They started to fight, and they fell out the window and said, “Ahhh!” Donkey Kong ate them for dessert with sprinkles and Skittles. Inside Donkey Kong’s stomach, the three little cubs decided how they were going to get out. Yeah, that’s right, the three little cubs were still alive, and they found a busted chainsaw and they cut out Donkey Kong’s stomach and Donkey Kong said, “No, I’ve been defeated!” And the three little cubs said, “Hooray!” because they defeated Donkey Kong and they made a pact to never argue again.


St Andrew Street in the 1923 Floods

The Worst Day in Life

Once they got home, they put their headbands on and then started running and running. Once they got back, they called that number and told them they needed more headband. And when they got more headbands, they all ran together everyday. Now that they are old, they can’t run together every day. Now that they are old, they can’t run together. Now they run alone fast by themselves. They wouldn’t stop running around in the world. Once they were done running, they met up and went to parties. They had the time of their lives. They even moved to Los Angeles, Austin, Mexico, Canada, even New York. They had the time of their lives going to different countries and cities. They went to go buy some Jordans to wear to a party. And stayed there a while. They never want to go running. Once they got out, there was rain, thunder, floods, and tornados. It was crazy over there. They had a burglar get in the building, and the people had a lockdown. They were having a bad day but it was just a prank. Her brother set it up. “What happened?” said the sister. “You just got pranked,” said the brother. “Why?” said the sister. “You haven’t been running with me.” Then Super Flash asked if Cry Thunder could come to my party. Then they arrived at the party and Cat Woman came too.



How She Became a Hero

One rainy day, a little girl and her family went to China. Later, a plane crashed in a house. The little girl and her family ended up in a hospital. The little girl got hit by lightning. The little girl had surgery. When she got out of the hospital, her parents took her to the edge of a cliff. When the little girl was dancing, she fell off the cliff. She started crying. When she was crying, it started to rain and lightning. Her parents picked her up like magic and carried her back to the airport to go back to Austin.

One night, she was invited to a costume party. Her mom was dropping her off there but she forgot to put on her costume. Even so, when she knocked on the door, her friend answered and said, “Amazing costume, Nifemi.” The little girl remembered her name. It was Nifemi.


Spy Kids, Silly Stories and The Big Green Cat Monster

From our first workshop together, Ms. Vega’s students approached writing with creative excitement and a willingness to bend the rules of reality. During our six weeks together, we swapped heroes and villains, rewrote beloved books and movies, explored poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writing, sometimes all mashed into one! It was a pleasure watching the students imaginations run wild as they explored our world and created new universes of their own.

Emily Beyda
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Brooklyn’s Mission

There was a girl named Brooklyn who was a spy. She was cool. Her favorite food was tamales. She liked going on missions. Sports made Brooklyn happy. She was afraid of snakes and Dayana. Her best friend was Arelis. Chimpanzees made her angry. Her favorite memory was when she was a spy. Her greatest secret is that she didn’t have a family. A typical day in her life is a night out with the girls.

Her secret mission is explosive. Bam! She has to make sure to deactivate the bomb. She cut the wrong wire. She blew up the world and herself and became a ghost!

But she still looked like an ordinary girl. She had turquoise hair and smelled like Ariana Grande perfume. She sounded happy and angry, and her hair was long and curly. She wore black clothes because she was a spy. She was skinny. She liked to eat tamales and pizza, and she tasted like tamales. Her room looked like trash and a mess, and in her room she had a lot of posters of Justin Bieber. Then she met a girl named Nicky. She was her new BFF. Then one day, they had a discussion because Brooklyn was going to save the president, but Nicky wanted to, so they had a big discussion and Nicky said, “I’m not your friend any more!” and Brooklyn said, “Good. Good thing I did not want to be your friend!” And in the night, they started to cry. The didn’t talk for a year.

Then one day, they got a mission alert. They needed to save the president from Mickey and Minnie because they wanted to take over the world and kidnap the president. Brooklyn and Nicky worked together to save the president, and they killed Mickey and Minnie. The president thought they were bad news, so they got arrested and were rotting in prison. But when they were old, they escaped, and they drank a potion and then they were young again and Brooklyn and Nicky got away.

Arelis Medieta


The Silly Granny

Once, there was a granny who was one hundred years old, and she wanted to get married to a fifteen-year-old boy. The boy was like, “No, I hate you granny!” The granny thought she was fifteen years old, which she wanted to be because she was tired of being old, so she wore fifteen-year-old clothes. But the boy still said, “No, I don’t want you here!” And the granny said, “You don’t have a choice!” So the fifteen-year-old boy went to the store and bought a water gun and squirted the granny. He found out she was actually a fifteen-year-old girl in disguise!

Natalie M. Zamarripa


The Big Green Cat Monster

A big green cat monster destroyed the town. He killed people. He ate food, and had a lazer eye and a jump boost. He destroyed the city. A soldier shot at the big green cat monster with a gun. He got angry, and he destroyed the city. Then he was angry that he destroyed the city, and he got angry and evil and ate people. The big green cat monster loved food, but the wolf wanted to eat all his meat. The big green cat monster tried to fight the wolf, but the wolf won, so the town was saved in the end.

Ezequel Rodriguez



My character is Poppy. She has brown hair, white clothes, and pimples on her face. She wants a doll that costs one hundred dollars, but she doesn’t have enough money to get her. She smells like flowers, and she touches everybody. She tastes like perfume and smells like famous people. She likes to eat like everybody, and her room is clean and organized.

One day, Poppy said hello to the doll. Poppy traveled the world. She said, “Hello world, how great is the sun, so light, so beautiful. I wish it could be like this.” She wanted to explore the world, but the doll stopped her. Because the doll was lifeless. Her friend, Olive, came with her because she was a person; the doll wasn’t a person.

America Jasmin Gonzales


Fionna and Cake

Fionna and Cake live in a tree. Fionna has blonde hair, and Cake is a cat. Their favorite food is pizza. They like saving people. They’re happy when they’re eating pizza, and they’re afraid of fire. They like cute bunnies, but when they see a cute bunny, he is being evil. They’re good at fighting the ice king. When they found the fish people, Fiona had long hair, and Cake smelled like pizza. Cake looks little and fat, and FIona is a little bit fat too. Fionna and Cake want to fight the evil, cute bunny. Fionna says yes. But Prince Fire is training to find an antidote to stop Fionna and Cake from being evil and change them to be nice. And he finds some bracelets for Fionna and Cake. When they put them on they become nice. Fionna and Cake say thank you.

Marian Hernandez


Gladiator & Cat Versus Wolf

The gladiator wanted to fight the wolf because the wolf wanted to cook him, but the cat wanted to save the gladiator. The gladiator did not want help. Then he got trapped in a trap because he was chasing the wolf. The cat saved the gladiator, and they took the wolf away together.

The gladiator said, “Thanks for saving me.”

“You’re welcome,” said the cat, and the wolf said, “It’s not over. I will come back for you!”

Since then the wolf still hasn’t found the cat and gladiator, who have been friends ever since.



Paul the Alien

There’s this alien named Paul, and he likes pistachios and being awesome and telling awesome jokes. He’s afraid of humans. People make him angry. He’s gray and awesome. He has a secret: the humans don’t know he’s coming to earth in his spaceship.

Leonel Fernandez


The Robber and His Dog

The Robber told the dog, “Go attack the police, and when you attack them make sure you get the keys too so you can get me out of the cage of jail.”

And then the dog goes and attacks the police and gets the keys and frees the robber. Then the robber and the dog escape, and there are three police officers after them. Then the cop comes and catches the dog and the robber. Then they go back to the cage and they get punished, but the dog was punished by being lonely in his cage. They are not getting out of jail ever.

Omer Romero


Amelia’s Life

Amelia is a kid with long brown hair. She likes to write and do homework. She is afraid of the mean girls. Amelia loves to draw. When she is mad, it is because the teacher doesn’t give her any homework. She is tiny and a little cute, and her favorite memory is when she found a private journal. Her secrets are in the journal she found when she was hanging out with her friends.



Scorpion and Subzero

Scorpion was doing parkour. He ran into a skeleton and ate it. Subzero got mad and tried to freeze Scorpion, but Scorpion melted Subzero and won.

Scorpion sounds like fire. He looks like fire and iron. He feels like hot potatoes when you touch him and he smells like chicken. He tastes like hot Cheetos.

Subzero looks like ice and smells like popsicles. He sounds like ice cracking. He tastes like ice and feels like cold water.

They always fight because they are enemies. Then Scorpion started doing parkour again. He saw another skeleton, and was about to eat it, but Subzero said, “That’s my skeleton!” Then it was Subzero versus Scorpion. Forty minutes later, Scorpion won with his hook and fair hands, and Scorpion was eating the skeleton. The skeleton was made of candy, and that’s why they wanted to eat it!



The Cat Saves The Day

A cat was saving the day. He wanted to do it, but the problem was that he couldn’t do it without drinking milk, and he didn’t have milk to save the day. He stole some from the people. Then he had a big problem, and the people were mad at the cat because he drank all the milk.



Super Giant Dog and Germ

Super Giant Dog was little, and Mr. Snake was little too, so they met when they were little and they were in daycare. They met when they were supposed to be partners. There was a new kid, and the name of this new animal was Germ. Super Giant Dog became friends with Germ. But Mr. Snake was looking at Germ, and he was looking to Super Giant Dog and he felt jealous that they were friends, so Mr. Snake decided to put a bomb in the store. Ten weeks later, he put in the bomb and cameras and all that stuff. The bomb took a long time to go off because it was the super-duper bomb then… then… then… Oh no! Mr. Snake put the bomb down, and Mr. Giant Dog saw him. The next day, they were ready to go to the store, but they disarmed the bomb. Because Super Giant Dog and Germ had a secret. They were secret agents!



A Story Inspired by Judy Moody

Judy Moody has short hair. Her favorite food is ice cream. She likes to dress up and wants to be famous. She is afraid she won’t get money. She likes to do a lot of things. She doesn’t like the food her mom cooks. She’s sad because she and her brother had a conversation, and they were saying mean words, so her mom got mad. Judy went outside and found a dog named Carlita. Judy grabbed her and took her home, and her mom said, “Take this dog out!” The dog was funny, but if she didn’t get food, she would be sad.



Super Daisy

Daisy has blue eyes and black hair. She eats a lot of pizza every day. She likes going swimming and gets so happy when she goes to the park. One day, when goes to the park, she sees a snake. She screams and goes home, but there she sees some scary movies, so instead she goes shopping. There, a boy kicks her, and she gets really mad and kicks him back.

Every day when Daisy gets home from school, she reads and does her homework. She thinks about her best memory of when she went to the carnival with her grandma and grandfather and met her friends from another world. She wants to visit them, but her mom doesn’t let her, so she says that when she grows up she will visit the other world.

Now that Daisy is grown up, she has a laser eye. Her voice sounds like a squirrel and her hair is long, straight, and black. She has blue eyes, and she smells like perfume. She is talking to her friend from another world and the friend says, “Come to my world! We have marshmallow houses, flying houses, talking dogs.” Daisy says, “My world is the best because we have big houses, big candy, and nice dogs.” But she agrees to go to the other world and visit her friends.

When she gets there, she sees people flying and there are trees and flowers. She tries to find her friends, but they don’t remember her. She wants to see more of the world. She sees planes and birds and flying animals. She feels sad, and she is trying and trying to make her friends remember her, but nothing works since they all got hit in the head. She takes them to the doctor, who gave them a shot, and they remember everything. Daisy is so happy! She wants to have a party, and she decides to stay with her friends for five more weeks. They have a lot of parties, and make a lot of food—hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, and corndogs. Daisy made lemonade for all the people who wanted it.




Mojojojo crossed through the sidewalk. He saw that a dog wanted to play with a cat, but Mr. Shoe stopped the cute puppy and the cute puppy was crying. Then the dog attacked Mr. Shoe, and the cat and the dog were following him and Mojojojo was laughing really hard. Then the cat attacked him!



The Story of Layla

Once, there was a girl named Layla. She liked to sing and dance and surf. One day, she was surfing with her friend and they were talking about their secrets. Layla had a secret crush. A crush on a boy. And she needed to tell her friend because maybe her friend liked him too, and maybe they could go on a date. But maybe not with Layla, maybe just with her friend. Or if they boy went on a date with her friend or if they boy went on a date with Layla, they would be mad at each other. Her friend and the boy were in love a long time ago and they hadn’t separated. So they decided to just hang out.



A Story Inspired by Judy Moody

Judy Moody doesn’t want summer to be over. She doesn’t want to sit with Frank because she said that Frank was dumb, and they fought. One day, Judy Moody saw a cat, and the cat could talk! She loved the cat and they became BFFs and they talked a lot together each day.



The Adventures of Super Baby

Once, there was a normal baby. He climbed a mountain, saw a cave, went in, and saw a dragon. The dragon got the baby and threw him in the water until he came out over the water flying. The water had given him super powers, and the dragon was so mad he slipped and fell in the water. The dragon got powers too, and he tried to catch the baby, but the baby’s dog came and avenged him. The baby and the dog joined together to fight villains.

It was an ordinary day, but like no other. The baby saw a cat, and he gave the cat powers to fight crime with him. A few days later, the baby took the cat to meet the dog. The dog was jealous. He gave everything to the cat that he gave to the dog. The dog had to get used to the cat, and when he did they were best friends.

The baby was talking to his dog. He said, “This job is too easy.” But he didn’t know that a rock monster was destroying the city. The dog told the baby, “Your job isn’t that easy after all.” The baby and the dog were in trouble. There was no one to save them but the cat. The cat grabbed them and said, “Really?” He threw a bomb at the monster and killed it. The dog threw water on the cat, and the cat put his fur up and attacked the dog. The dog was hurt.

That night, Super Baby was sleeping until someone evil kidnapped him. When Super Baby woke up, his cat and his dog were in a cage. They were trapped because the witch didn’t let them use their powers. Super Baby was tied to a tree and they were going to throw him into a volcano with his dog and cat. But nobody knew that he had a pet dinosaur that came and saved them. Then he was so thirsty he drank up all the lava!