The children sit excitedly fidgeting on a colourful, striped classroom rug. In their laps, hands or scattered on the floor beside them are their books stuffed with stories they’re eager to share.
“I wrote about a waterslide park. I wrote that it was fun,” six-year-old Winter Robichaud says.
“I wrote about Remembrance Day,” seven-year-old Kyana Teddar-Suberlak says. “We should remember the people that fought for Canada.”
Then came a flow of shark talk, apparently a hot topic in this Valleycliffe Elementary School split Grade1/2 class.
“I’m not a fan of sharks,” six-year-old Cole Dickau suddenly blurts out. The students fall silent. Some giggles and tussling creeps in among the gaggle as Cole’s friends point out that Cole, and it seems many of his fellow classmates, wrote about the other popular subject — Star Wars.
Behind all the stories lies a bigger lesson. The students not only wrote and illustrated their own books, but they sold them as part of a fundraiser. It started as a school-wide project on compassion, the class’s teacher Valarie Platz says. Each child was asked to write about his or her passion. For some that was Star War. For others, their pets. And for a lot it was the king of the ocean — great white sharks.
Once the tales were completed and author bios were added to the back covers of the books, the students held author talks, in which their parents and friends were invited to discuss the various stories with the young writers.
The most difficult part of the process was picking a charity, Platz says. The choice was made easier by Zoey, Platz’s dog, who comes to the classroom three times a week. The little dog looks bit like Sprocket from Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock TV show. She howls along with the students when they sing and bounces around them when they dance. Zoey is also an SPCA special.
“She gets lively and likes to dance,” Platz says.
The class raised $250 and, in the end, the students decided to hand it to the Squamish SPCA. Back on the rug, the children are still chatting about their chosen topics.
“I wrote a true story,” six-year-old Macy Roberts says. “I lost a tooth and the tooth fairy took it.”