Week 3 started off . . . energetically: several rounds of Red Light-Green Light, followed by a crazy costume relay race. As we all know from today’s book, Pilfer Academy, by Lauren Magaziner, a good thief has to know how to disguise herself! Icebreaker Bingo helped us get to know each other in a slightly less frenetic way. And the mini book club, where we spent 8 – 10 minutes discussing each of the the five books, got us really thinking about the week ahead.
Back in the camp room expectations, guidelines and schedules were reviewed. A tricky quiz (from the 1950s!) based on a picture sharpened our skills of observation and analysis. And then we were ready for lunch in the park. Even though the weather report said it would be beastly out, it really wasn’t that bad.
This afternoon, Lauren Magaziner, author of Pilfer Academy came to talk with us. Pilfer Academy–one of the five books we read for this week–is about a school that trains young kids to be thieves. The school’s curriculum includes Disguise Class, Make-Your-Own-Gadget lessons, and Escape-Route obstacle courses. The morning’s incognito relay races, led by our teaching artist Matt were most helpful. So when we came back to the classroom after our lunch-break and met Lauren, the mood was already set and we were ready to get crackin’ (or maybe safe-crackin’?).
After settling into our seats, Matt dimmed the lights and Lauren began her slideshow. “Today I’m going to talk about inspiration,” she told us. Lauren discussed how she’s been inspired by her physical surroundings. She showed us pictures from when she lived in Edinborough, Scotland and she told us how the settings around her have shaped her writing. With her animated slideshow, Lauren showed us The Vaults of Edinborough. She explained that these are a network of secret tunnels that extend throughout Edinborough…underground. She told us how these tunnels used to be home to thieves and beggars. When she said this, a boy sitting on the other side of the room raised his hand and asked why bankers would live in tunnels. We giggled – though that might make a great book, too! – and, with a clarification, Lauren continued with her presentation.
In addition to setting and location, Lauren said that inspiration can come from questions. She suggested that questions such as “What if?” can prompt all kinds of curiosity and imagination. In her “What If” game, we considered questions like “what if you had superpowers”, “what if you found a time machine and you were stuck in the past/future”, “what if your dog/cat could talk”, and “what if you found a secret passage that led to another world”. Before we moved on, we had some time to create our own What Ifs.
For the last portion of her presentation Lauren set up twelve cardboard cubes on the table in the center of the room. The cubes were a little smaller than boxes of baking-soda and on each of the cubes’ faces was a different prompt pertaining to character, situation, or setting. Individually, we rolled these cubes and then created short stories based on whatever information surfaced on our cube. We ended the afternoon by sharing our stories with each other, taking a group photo and getting our books signed by Lauren. Tomorrow we’re looking forward to meeting Claire LeGrand.