Family Advent Calendar, Day 4: Write a Holiday Story inspired by a Work of Art

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We’re writing holiday stories today!
After school, we’re heading to the Art Gallery of Ontario with some ruled notebooks. The kids will choose a favourite work of art and write a Christmas or Holiday Story inspired by that piece of art.  I’ll encourage them to be open about their choice. No need to find a winter scene or a bearded man who looks like Santa!  Also, I won’t be too concerned about the length of their tale.  If they want to write a story of several pages, good for them!  However, if they simply want to write an outline of the story’s plot or a shorter narrative poem, I’ll be just as pleased!  [I’ll try to type up their results later tonight!]

Kids too little to write their own pieces?
Have them tell you a story out loud and type it out for them! [We do this all the time!]

Don’t have time to run out to the gallery?
No worries, just google your fave work of art or check out the website of your favourite museum. Art postcards also work well!

Still stuck?
Here are details from four great pieces currently on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario:

Write a Holiday Story Inspired by a fab work of art

Top Left: Kenojuak Ashevak, Bird Humans, 1960.
Top Right: Clarence Gagnon, Midnight Mass.
Bottom Left: Valentine Hugo, Cadavre Exquis, c.1931.
Bottom Right: Robert Delauney, Red Eiffel Tower, 1911-12.

The Results
We ended up doing the “I Talk, You Type” method of story-writing. The kids chose their pieces and then spent about 15 minutes sketching some basic story elements on sheets of blank paper. I asked them to be sure to have a “beginning, middle, and end.” Then, at home, they improvised their tales and I typed them up!

Toby told me a story about Horace Vernet’s “Pirates Fighting at Sunrise”
[Click on the image to be transported to the AGO’s Collection page featuring Vernet’s Painting]
Toby's Choice
Santa Versus War Ship, by Toby [and Bea]

Once up a time, Santa got captured by Romans. He was on summer vacation in the Himalayas when a pack of rodents came and attacked him. Then, the Romans came and said,” Yeah, good catch rodents! Let’s take this old fat man to our warship!” So they took him to their warship and they put him in the jail cell at the bottom of the boat.
The elves are magical and know when Santa is in trouble. They heard his fat-man-yawl-pig noise all the way up in the North Pole and they decided to take action. They send out one brave elf with a giant lego sword to go and rescue Santa.
Meanwhile, on the boat, the Romans have figured out that the man they have is Santa. And they are getting ready to send the elves a ransom note so that they can have all of Santa’s toys and goodies and party in Roman style.  So they start dancing because they feel lucky.
The elf made his treacherous journey through the Himalayas trying to find the Roman camp, but he discovered they’ve gone away on a Roman ship.  Luckily, there’s an extra ship in the harbour where he’s traced them, so he calls up his elf friends and tells them to get ready to teleport to their positions on the ship. And they sail towards the Roman ship, ready to fire cannonballs if necessary.
The Romans are getting ready to take all of Santa’s stuff by having him make a list of all of the toys he knows are in his shop.
Then, an elf comes up on deck and wraps all of the Romans up in wrapping paper, ribbon and liquorice and he throws them overboard, where they float away in the stormy seas.
Then, Santa magically sinks the Roman ship as he and his elves sail north towards their workshop and the Polar Bears.

The End.

Bea told me a story about Tom Thomson’s “After the Sleet Storm”
[Click on the image to be transported to the AGO’s Collection page featuring Thomson’s Painting]

Bea's Choice
THE CHRISTMAS STORM, By Bea

On Christmas Eve, Zoe left her house. She was just going to get firewood for her father. Zoe ventured into the woods, but after a couple of minutes of turning in circles, she realized that she was lost. Zoe said, “I’ll just try to find my way home!” But then, it started snowing, really hard. Snowflakes touched Zoe’s face. Her skin burned.  The flashlight in her pocket was frozen and wouldn’t work. She thought, “I want to be home.”  Zoe saw the VERY dim light of a cottage in the distance. She sprinted to the cottage and knocked on the door. An old man answered. He said, “Come in, you poor thing. You must be freezing.” Zoe went in, grateful for the dim but warm fire.

After a time, she  couldn’t remember how long she’d been at the cottage. To her it seemed only hours.But in actuality, it was several days. The old man’s name was Marc, as she found out. Marc was very kind, he gave her lots to eat and drink, and told her he would take her home after the blizzard passed. But there was a door to a room in the cottage he would not let her open or peek into.  Zoe really wanted to see what was behind that door. She thought it led into the attic but she wasn’t sure.  When the old man fell asleep in his rocking chair, Zoe pulled a hairpin out of her hair and twisted it into the lock of the door. It gave way easily.  She peered in. To her astonishment, she saw a tiny model of her city sitting on a table. There was a tiny little Zoe inside of it.  There was also a bag of fake snow the ceiling that had been ripped open.  The fake snow was still fluttering down on the model city.

Suddenly, she heard growling.  Marc was behind her. He said, “so you’ve found out my little plan, huh?”  Actually, Zoe didn’t understand what was going on, but Marc filled her in. “My plan is to eat you! Why do you think I created this storm? Why do you think I’ve been feeding you all of my geese?” Little did Marc know, Zoe had her flashlight in her hand. She was so freaked out by what he said, she turned it on and whirled around. The light shone on Marc. Marc screamed, “AGGGHHH.” Marc transformed into a ball of snow and then melted on the floor. “That’s why he keeps it so dark in this cottage,” Zoe said!

Zoe ran out of the house and as far from the cottage as she could. The snow was on the ground, but none more was coming down. As she walked further, she saw a head of read hair swishing in the distance. She saw that there were actually two kids. She went up to them [they were short] and they introduced themselves as Nathan and Riley. They wanted to get to the town. They had just escaped from a witch in a gingerbread house! Zoe told them her story and said she was looking for the town herself.   So they decided to look for the town together.

To find out what happens to Riley, Zoe, and Nathan, look for the second book, “The Mysterious Man in the Woods” on New Year’s.
Hint: It’s about a lost king who they have to save from an evil witch who is torturing him.

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