Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spot Cat and the Real Business of Writing

We’ve been reading all sorts of wonderful books during this snowed-in sort of winter we’ve been having.  We read two of Janell Cannon’s books that were new to us.  We have loved her book Verdi for a long time, and were excited to meet more of her books.  Janell’s Fuzzhead tales, Trupp, and Little Yau, are imagination adventures of the utmost.  In these two books Jane tells the adventurous tales of the adorable creatures she created.  The back page of the book is an encylopedic type report on the details and characteristics of the fuzzhead creature.  While these two stories aren’t my favorites of Janell’s, the kidlings loved them, and we all loved the idea of creating a new creature of one’s own to tell tales about. 

(You can check out these books in my sidebar…have fun!)


Can you guess where this is going? 

Over lunch on a particularly snowed in day Rebecca began creating her own fictional creature.  After a handful of characteristics I grabbed a pad and a pencil and started writing down everything she came up with.  She did great!  She covered family groups, defense, habitat, predators, food, locations, etc. 

We moved our project to our big paper, and with a sharpie she brought the “Spot Cat” to life.  There is something about working with a permanent marker, on a larger than life surface that truly makes something “real”.  Well…real in this household at least.  There have been Spot Cat adventures of all kinds happening around here.  Some of them are even making their own literary debut in “Curious Spot Cat” which was begun this afternoon.  IMG_8093

In case you were wondering this is all that we know about Spot Cats …so far…!  (In her own words.)

Spot Cat

-Also called “Colored Cat”

-A cat with different colored spots and oatmeal colored hair.

-Spot cats are the size of Spencer when he is crawling.

-Each cat has yellow eyes – so they can see in the dark.  The grasshoppers think they are sleeping but they are not, so they get them.

-They have pink noses.

-They can walk on their hind legs or on four legs.

-Spot Cats live in Madagascar.

-Spot Cats are omnivores.

-Spot Cats are mammals.

-Spot Cats plant foods the grasshopper eats then gets the grasshoppers when they come.

-Spot Cats do not hibernate. 

-Spot Cats live like people in one little family.

-They eat grasshoppers and tree leaves.

-Lions and Tigers are predators of Spot Cats.

-Spot Cats use their claws to protect themselves.

-They also use their claws to cut down trees that don’t have spikes and then tie the tops together like a teepee, then sew leaves together to be the walls. 

IMG_8094 - Copy


The map was drawn without help and completely from her head.  We’ve been working with maps and globes a lot lately….I think it’s safe to say she’s getting it!  The circles within Africa are countries.

Projects such as these make up a large part of our schooling together.  They involve so much of her little brain and build skills in so many different areas.  Creative thinking, imagination, geography, science, writing, drawing, etc.  Of all the things I want for my children I want them to be confident, sure of themselves, sure that they have something to say and sure of themselves to be able to say it.  (Now I know that those of you who have met my children know that Becca has oh-so-much to say!!)  Projects such as these build writing and creative thinking skills in a low-key way.  At this age Becca’s ability, and desire, to create stories, and share what she knows does not match her ability to write.  Her brain is working so much faster than those cute little fingers can form all the letters in all the right order…and as A.A.Milne wrote…sometimes the letters shift themselves about all on their own and the spelling gets wobbly!  We do a lot of writing activities…but when it comes to writing stories or big bouts of information she dictates and I write.  And let me tell you…she leaves me in the dust so many times also.  She has got a lot to say…!  And that’s the point isn’t it?!?!  Knowing you have something to share…and sharing it.  The mechanics of writing will come along on their own with steady practice, but there’s no need to hold off on the real business of writing until then!