Sara Pennypacker is the author of beloved children’s books, including the very popular Clementine and Flat Stanley series, Sparrow Girl, and more.
Our elementary school English teachers used Ms. Pennypacker’s visit as the jumping-off point for making this Thursday INTL’s* first ever Creative Writing Day, a day celebrating creative writing and self-expression.
Upper Elementary School English Curriculum Coordinator Jacqueline Cody explains, “The idea was to bring in someone who could inspire our students to embrace their own creative writing capabilities, and to see how a successful author comes up with her ideas and translates them into written work. We really embraced the idea of creative writing and studying literature, and we also wanted to give our students the opportunity to write their own stories.”
Elementary school students were excited to listen to Ms. Pennypacker speak about the life of a writer, the importance of storytelling, and the inspirations behind the books she has written. She also encouraged students to consider being writers themselves when they grow up.
1st and 2nd graders were treated to Ms. Pennypacker’s first ever reading of her new picture book, Meet the Dullards, which had only been published two days previously. Students were able to ask Ms. Pennypacker any questions they had about being an author, and to get their books personally signed.
Just as teachers had hoped, students were quite inspired by the visit.
3rd grader Caroline L. said, “I learned that you don’t have to be sitting at a desk with a paper and a pencil or a pen to write a book, but that you can think up ideas for your book while swimming in a swimming pool or lying on your couch in pajamas. It also inspired me to write a book.”
3rd grader Vladimir K. added, “I really want to make a book now because I learned that it was not that hard because you don’t need to sit for days at your desk.”
Sophie L. learned that Ms. Pennypacker “put characters from the real world into her books to make it more realistic.”
In addition to visiting with Ms. Pennypacker, throughout the day students practiced their own storytelling and writing skills. In the afternoon, 1st and 2nd grade English teachers designed a circuit of four creative writing activities for their students. Students traveled from class to class, writing their own postcards, thinking up alternate endings to fairy tales, and writing collaborative stories.
Outside on the playground, students studied the concept of onomatopoeia, or words that imitate the sounds, such as “buzz”, “boom,” or “splash.” Using chalk, students illustrated different sounds with words and pictures.
Sara Pennypacker summed up one of the day’s themes, that in the world today, “there is so much need for stories!”
*In 2020, the International School of the Peninsula (ISTP) formally changed its name to Silicon Valley International School (INTL) to better reflect its bilingual programs, location, and international values.