In these exercises the student is asked to vizualize a situation and then write what might happen next. I include a sample from one of my novels that speaks to the same situation. For reluctant writers, it’s possible to read my sample first and ask the student to continue the adventure or to come up with an alternative outcome. In any case, the point is to get imagination juices flowing and to jump start storytelling skills even if they’re verbal rather than written.


The scene:

A girl has saved a newborn foal (baby horse) that was born in the snow. But now it has to be cared for inside her home, if it is to survive. The question is, what does she have to do to keep a horse in a kitchen. Think of all the things you would have to arrange to keep the room clean and the horse safe while it recovers.


Here’s what Luz and Zan did in, A Horse in My Kitchen:


Later that morning, Zan slouched against the snack bar in Luz’s kitchen. She leaned on the stove. The space between them no bigger than a double bed.

“Not much room,” Luz observed.

Zan nodded.

“What do we need to do to get ready?”

Zan shrugged, sliding his sneaker in a small puddle of melting snow dripping from his shoes.  “This floor is slippery. When that sweet little thing takes a whiz, I don’t plan to flip and land in it.”

“She could slip too,” Luz added, “and we need to be able to clean it up.”

“We could try diapers,” Zan suggested. “Do you think they make diapers for horses? Maybe call them Pony Pampers?”

“C’mon, Zan, get serious. Holly’s going to be here in a couple of hours.”

“Okay. Serious,” Zan said. “Once at a Fourth of July parade I saw a bag they hung under a horse’s tail to catch the road apples. Maybe we could get one for Holly. Or,” Zan grinned, spying Luz’s school bag, “maybe we could rig up your ratty backpack—”

“Zan!” Luz stamped her foot. “What can we put on the floor to keep it clean and not be slippery?”

“I saw a blue tarp on your woodpile out back. We can put that down so the floor doesn’t get soaked and stained.”

“Good. That’s good,” Luz said. “And then we have some indoor-outdoor carpet rolled up in the shed. You know, the kind that looks like grass? That should work too.”

 Half an hour later, Zan and Luz finished cutting the carpet and tucking it under the counter. From their knees, they could see the kitchen from a foal’s point of view: the snack bar, a phone cord, a jar filled with pencils and pens, a bag of chips, salt shaker, a coffee maker.

Zan reached his arm across the counter. “When she’s standing, her neck can probably reach this far. So we have to clear everything off the counters that she could mess with.”

Luz nodded. “And the towel hanging from the refrigerator door and the magnets and pictures on the refrigerator.”

“What about the stove?” Zan asked. “What if she bumps the buttons or messes with knobs? We should probably put some tape over them.”

“Okay,” Luz said. Looking at circle the kitchen made, she eyed the space between the snack bar and the dining room. “How are going to keep her in here?” she asked.

“We could stack some bales of straw in the gap. You know, make a wall?”

Luz rolled her eyes.

“What? What’s wrong with that?” Zan asked, slightly offended. “You ask for ideas then you shoot me down. Besides, then the straw would be right there for the bedding.”

“What about a board—like a piece of plywood or something?” Luz asked.

“How would you hold it up from both sides?” Zan asked.

Luz, sighed. Then her eyes widened. “I know.  Our neighbor down the road—I babysat for her once. She had one of those fences you put in doorways to keep kids in a room.”

“That would work. Now we need to get her a bottle.”