Friday, February 4, 2011

Surrealism Writing Prompt

Last week I made a worksheet. Yes, I know. It's an unforgiveable sin. But you might forgive me if you realized how challenging the 4th grade classes have been in terms of discipline and staying on task. I couldn't get them to stay on task at all. Normally I just let everyone visit and talk while they are working, because I like that loose atmosphere. But these classes just weren't getting work done that way. So as a state change, I made a worksheet with questions about slides from the Surrealism movement. They answered the questions and at the bottom, just for fun, I included a little writing prompt. I put up a slide of Dali's The Elephants.

The kids went to town writing stories. Yes their spelling and grammar were a little off, but I've enjoyed reading these verbal depictions of their imaginations. Here was the writing prompt:

1. Write a surreal story about this picture, imaging that it is your illustration. Make sure it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. One of your characters must be a rabbit, and you must include the word, “marshmallow.”

I was so inspired by their enthusiasm, that I began writing my own story from the same prompt. Today I read it to my class, and they were interested to find out what will happen next. Here's the beginning of my story:

The Elephants Writing Prompt

Salvador woke from his dream with a start. He turned over and scratched the head of his faithful rabbit, Sam, and the gesture brought him back into reality. Sam did not even stir from his rabbit sleep, but Salvador was truly disturbed. He had seen in his dream a small house, in the middle of a remote desert plain, guarded by the last of the Stiltephants. The two creatures loomed over the diminutive hut with their long, spindly legs. He knew then that this was the sign he’d been waiting for. And he knew that the adventure of his lifetime was about to begin. He took one deep breath, and then Salvador threw off his blanket and leapt from his bed, stumbling over a few things in the messy floor of his room. What was that he’d just tripped over? Cauliflower? Nevermind. He had to get going or he would miss his only chance to save the Stiltephants from extinction. As he gathered the necessary items for his journey, he remembered all the important moments in his education. He thought of his schoolmasters scolding him for doodling what they called “magic marshmallows” in the margins of his algebra assignments. He thought of the time he was punished for chiseling symbols he thought were imaginary into the walls of his parents’ garage. This was it. Suddenly he knew he was the one weird kid who could actually pull this whole thing off. Salvador scooped up little Sam and hurried out the door.

Hopping on his bicycle, Salvador fumbled with the straps of his helmet. He pedaled furiously as the sun began to peek over the horizon, turning the sky a cheerful pink. But Salvador didn’t feel cheerful at all. In fact, he found himself feeling many things at once; excitement that he had finally been given psychological proof that the Stiltephants and the Marshmallow Seed were real, but also panic over his lack of preparation for this journey. Had he packed enough vegetables for Sam to eat? The rabbit stirred in the basket of Salvador’s bike. He was waking up. Salvador hoped they would reach the subway platform before Sam was too frightened.

As Salvador slid down the railing of the subway entrance, he zipped up his pack two thirds of the way to give Sam a little air. They wouldn’t have to be undercover for long. He checked around for witnesses. There weren’t any yet. It was still barely dawn outside. Salvador ducked quietly into the men’s restroom. It was empty, but still a very unpleasant place to be. He didn’t care. He knew it was the only way. Salvador checked his watch. It was 5:28 am. The first train would be arriving very soon. Sam sniffled inside the backpack, and Salvador opening it, pulling out his companion. “You ready for this, little guy?” In the distance, outside the bathroom, Salvador heard the rumble of the train nearing the platform. He slid the metal trash can away from the wall, revealing a hole just big enough to crawl inside of. Salvador felt the tickle of fear in his belly. This was it. He heard the train’s brakes screech as it came to a stop, and the low murmur of voices as commuters entered the station. He watched the edges of the hole. For just an instant, he saw a shine appear, like a thin layer of oil covering the entrance. It was happening. A portal formed over the hole, with a rainbow of colors flickering like the outside of a soap bubble. Salvador carefully put Sam back into the pack, and crawled into the hole. There was a small rattle in the men’s restroom, and then Salvador disappeared.

to be continued.


  1. I love , Love... your Blog. So inspiring!

    Greetz from Germany

  2. This story was so interesting I didn't want it to end! I love the idea of creating a story from a painting very fun.