First-graders learn to write

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RUMFORD – A poor rainbow lost its colors. Now, first-graders must figure out how to get them back.

That was just one example children’s author Lynn Plourde gathered from a room full of first-graders at Rumford Elementary School on Friday morning. The Winthrop author was using her skills to help pupils write their own stories.

“You need your brain, not your pencil first when writing a story,” she told about 30 enthusiastic children.

Arms waved everywhere as she asked what would make a good story – a rainbow without colors, a teddy bear without fuzz, a kangaroo that couldn’t jump.

“You need an idea, a problem, and a promise to fix it,” she said,

In between, a pattern of ideas makes up the story that is eventually solved.

“We need a plan to stay on the story road,” she said.

For the rainbow problem, one youngster suggested painting it. Water, though, wiped away the color.

Another child suggested using the juice from bright red strawberries, blueberries and other fruit for the rainbow’s colors. But, alas, birds came by and ate them.

Then, another child came up with the solution: the sun produces the colors when it shines through water mist.

Plourde, author of “Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud” and other stories, spends about 100 days a year conducting workshops for children and teachers. She was a speech therapist for 21 years.

On Thursday and Friday last week, she spoke to every class at Rumford elementary about story writing. With the first-graders, she used the technique of taking away something, then writing a story about how to get it back.

Other grades developed fables, and character or animal stories.

Once Plourde worked with the youngsters, their classroom teachers continued with the lessons.

On Thursday night, children, parents and grandparents got together at the school to read books together as part of Literacy Night.

Principal Anne Chamberlin said Plourde, an artist in residence, was sponsored by a grant from the Big Apple Corp. and by the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.

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