Halloween Howlers: Poems From Brockton Grade 5 Students!

If you’re in the mood to have shivers run up and down your spine, then read on.

Halloween Screamers! Alliteration poems by grade 5 students at Brockton! I have just begun a full school residency at Brockton Preparatory School in North Vancouver. It is delightful to see how enthusiastic everyone is about writing, creating, taking risks and exploring their inner artists! Here is some Halloween themed work by grade 5’s in Ms. MacRae’s class.
Alliteration Poem: Screaming skeletons scare surrounding spectators!
See it Be it Poem: Deranged zombies.
Chasing Humans for flesh.
In a cemetery that had just been struck by lightning.
At 1:21 AM on Friday the 13th.
Because they were energized.
One of the visiting international Thai students was so excited he asked if he could do an illustration. It is featured below. Happy Halloween everyone and my inspiration spread like a zombie apocalypse!

Run for your life!

How to:  Alliteration Poems:

These short twister poems encourage similar beginning sounds (alliteration) and/or a repetition of vowel sounds (assonance.)


    • Choose a consonant and two vowels
    • Brainstorm words that have these combinations.
    • Using these words ask students to make a sentence. Then using these same words, create another sentence which follows the same theme.
    • Hold a twist-off.
  • Invite students to come to the front
  • Start a rhythm with the presenter
  • Ask the student to repeat their twister 3x
  • Vote to decide who best represented their work (e.g. no flubs, great pacing and meter, expression, and so forth.


Be It See It Poem:  This poem is based on an embodied scene. It uses diction to evoke an image or sensory experience.

Line 1: Who

Line 2: What

Line 3: Where

Line 4: When

Line 5: Why


  • Divide into groups.
  • Invite each group to create a tableaux (a pose or still picture) of a scene.
  • Ask the audience to read the tableaux. What do they see?
  • Create a list of strong sensory words,
  • Ask the students to translate an image into language.

Happy haunting everyone!


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The Brighouse Story Fence: Part 2: The Big Paint!


Joe in our woodshop prepping the wood.

What happens when you lay some groundsheets, pour some paint, purchase brushes and schedule 400 students to create in an outdoor studio? A “Paint fest!”

We were lucky that the weather held for us and we had beautiful, sunny days to paint the final versions of our community fence artwork.

A splash here, a dash there and smiles all around. Primary colours were mixed and painting shirts donned. This was the busiest, most tangible and most exciting part of the Story Fence Project thus far. For weeks, students had been asking, “When can we paint?” Now students lined the tables in a flurry of creativity, all fully engaged in the joy of artmaking! From their blank canvases of wood emerged the story of their community. EVERYONE was an artist. We had themes such as Musqueam, Who We Are, Old School/New School, Habitat, Transformation and Farming/Agriculture. We learned facts and familiarized ourselves with the unique features of life along the river. I was personally inspired by the poems written collaboratively in the voices of the children that explained each segment and by moments where students, accompanied by their E.As, incorporated their handprints into the design, reinforcing the school motto, “Samuel Brighouse Elementary: Where Everyone Counts”.

Personally covered in paint from head to toe, I was as joyful and proud as each of the student artists through the weeklong painting process. Teachers, principal, vice principal and parent volunteers joined in. We kept the area pretty much spotless so the ‘mess factor’ did not impact the school grounds or building in a negative way. When the painting was complete and the artwork dry, it was sent to SD38 to be varnished and drilled. We now await its return before we move on to Stage 3: Hanging Our Outdoor Gallery! Stay posted! Thanks again to ArtStarts Artists in the Classroom grants and to the staff and PAC at Samuel Brighouse Elementary for making this happen!


Young artists at work!


Works in progress! Yes, we do have beavers, owls and snow geese in our neighbourhood!

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Canada Culture Days 2016!

This year, across Canada there were over 8000 events across the country.

Every year, I create an event for Canada Culture Days to celebrate the art of writing!  This year, hosted by the Richmond Public Library, Brighouse Branch, we had an exceptional time!  Check out the photos below of some of the poets that found their voices with a little text, a little glue, some magnets, scissors and crayons!


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The Story Fence at Brighouse Elementary: Phase One

The Story Fence is nearing its completion.  This is the story behind the story fence.  A huge shout out goes to ArtStarts Artists in the Classroom and to the staff at Brighouse Elementary, especially Mr. A who helped to make this fully engaging and artistic project a reality.

It began with a conversation, a winter garden and a vision.  I approached Mr. A with the thought that I could be their Artist in Residence and what this would involve.  He wanted something that the entire school could participate in and that would capture the voices and cultures that made up his community.  We were both staring at the community garden at the time.  It occurred to me that the fence was laid out like the pages of a picture book.  “Why don’t we make a story fence?” I suggested.  “It could tell the story of the community and beautify your grounds.”

Several meetings with staff and PAC later, we submitted our application with fingers crossed.

The Story Fence is a full school infusion project that involves many modes of learning and creativity, collaboration and engagement. Samuel Brighouse Elementary students and staff have built and planted a community garden on the grounds of their school. The Story Fence is a legacy project that will beautify the school grounds and tell the story and history of the community for the current generation and generations to come by adorning the chain link fence surrounding the garden with the ‘story’ of how Brighouse has evolved as a community since the mid 19th century. Thematically and visually it represents the past, present and future intertwined with community building. Students and teachers will all contribute on some level to the development, design, creation and mounting of the painted and weather resistant wood motifs on the fence. They will also help to write the story that will be depicted on the fence in words and images. There is opportunity for some to act it out or create a song or dance piece/flash mob that recounts the story on the fence. All will have a hand in designing and painting the images that will be cut from wood and then mounted. When complete, the fence will read like a picture book and will stand for many generations to tell the story of how Brighouse came to be and what its hopes and vision for the future hold.”

When we had finished our happy dances after receiving the grant, the real work began.  I had to collaborate with 15 teachers and include the work of 400 students, come up with themes and stories, cut the wood, have the students paint it and then display it on the fence.

Each class chose a theme and in my class visits, we wrote poetry (to tell the story of their theme) did research and designed panels with images for the fence.  We then measured and laid out on pieces of paper, our proposed design.  Step one was complete.



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Interviews With Young Authors

It has been my pleasure to mentor some young authors this past year, honing their creative writing skills and bringing their work to publication.  Ivan Sun and Andrew Li are both in grade three and Aaron Lu is a grade six student.  Today, we launch their anthologies, chapter books and novels!

Ivan wrote, “Ivanworks:  An Anthology of Great Literature”, Andrew wrote, “The Great Space Race” and Aaron, “The Rookie”.

What better way to celebrate than with an interview.  Below, Andrew and Ivan interview one another on being young authors.

Interview With Andrew

Ivan:  Andrew, what inspired you to write, “The Great Space Race”?

Andrew:  Lori encouraged me to write my best and I chose space as my theme because space is very interesting and there are a lot of unknown things about it.  I could imagine my own planets and create them.

Ivan:  Why did you choose one obstacle to be a labyrinth?

Andrew:  A labyrinth is a very scary place.  You could be trapped in there forever.  It is a very dangerous setting and it keeps my readers interested because the characters are in danger.

Ivan:  Was it hard to write your book?

Andrew:  It was hard because I had to write thousands of words and edit it myself.  I had to write about a lot of characters.  I learned how to write longer stories and keep them interesting.


Interview with Ivan

Andrew:  Ivan, what was your favourite part of the book “Space Camp”?

Ivan:  My favourite part was when Adrian met Bloop De Blah Blah the president of all of the aliens.

Andrew:  Why did you write the book?

Ivan:  I wrote it to encourage readers to like adventures and to let their imaginations go loose.

Andrew:  Describe the main characters in the story “The Lost Necklace of Cleo Patra”.  Why did you choose them?

Ivan:  The two main characters are Grandpa and I.  We were royal mice.  Grandpa was the main character because he had magical hieroglyphic powers.  I was also a main character because I discovered the lost tomb of Cleo Patra in the story.


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In the ‘Zone’ at the Surrey International Children’s Festival

People got in touch with their inner poets in the Poet Zone, a concept I initiated this year at the Surrey International Children’s Festival.  We cut, pasted, collaged and created many brilliant works of found poetry, Todd Parr Style Portrait poetry and blackout poetry.  I got to work with Surrey’s Poet Laureate Renée Sarojini Saklikar, a very inspiring woman.  In fact, there was inspiration all around…so much so that they are thinking of expanding the activity into a larger space for next year!  Thanks to everyone who made this happen!


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Newest Video From the Rainforest

It has been a month since I was in St. Lucia and was so moved by the work of OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation, the local people and Canadian volunteers whose goal it is to improve and inspire the world, one word and one book at at time.  This video, made by Jason Lupish captures the energy, the transformation, the joy, the wonder, the beauty, the collaboration and the connection that is created every time we open a book, every time the Rainforest of Reading is celebrated.  I am proud.  I am moved. I am humbled.  Enjoy.


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