By Cait Collins
Working with children can be rewarding and frustrating. Sometimes I wonder if I do any good, but then I realize those small ones are wonderful, curious beings. Everything is new and exciting. They make me look at things with different eyes. Sometimes they make me want to be young and innocent again. I want to believe without questions. So I’m going back to my childhood for just a while.
Remember summer days lying on an old quilt spread over the grass watching the clouds. Did you find images in those white puffs? Describe what you saw.
I spy in the sky
A pirate ship
Go sailing by.
I see a galleon with sails billowing in the wind. The ship moves smoothly over the ocean as her crew watches for other ships. The sailor in the crow’s nest calls out, “Ship ahoy.”
“Hoist the colors.” A black flag rises revealing a skull and cross bones. “All hands, man your posts.”
Maybe it’s a cliché, but it is a rough start on a kid’s story about the history of pirates in the United States.
Drive to a quiet spot outside the city limits where there are no artificial lights. When you find a good spot, unroll your sleeping bag in the bed of your pick-up. Settle in with your favorite snack and a beverage. Stare up at the night sky. Are the stars so close you feel as if you can reach out and pluck them out of the heavens? Count the shooting stars and follow their paths. Will you find a meteorite at the end of the flight?
Can you find the North Star? What about the bears Ursa Major and Ursa Minor? Do you see the stars on Orion’s belt? Did you wish on a star?
Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.
What was your wish? No, don’t tell. If you tell your wish it won’t come true.
Next time you go star gazing, take a child and point out the wonders of the heavens. Set up a telescope and explore the moon. Rediscover the glory of the Milky Way. Now write a science fiction short story for a children’s magazine.
Revisiting the simple activities of childhood opens the mind to infinite possibilities for children’s works. By looking up, we get a new perspective on the wonders of the world around us. It’s a world we can open for the young ones in our lives.