Class 1 students have been listening to my voice recordings of The Adventures of Strong Vanya by Otfried Puessler. It is such a beloved story, one student has been inspired to read other stories by the same author.

Each week I record a new portion of the story to be heard by my students. The following day it is recalled/reviewed with prompting comprehension questions before students do a drawing in their main lesson book from that portion of the story. Only then are students
asked to write about the story. A well told story engages the full being of the child in their head: in the capacity of thinking (listening and remembering) in their heart: in the capacity for feeling (imagery, rich language and drawing) and in their hands: in the capacity for willing (drawing and writing). Drawing helps them live into the imagery of the story in a deeper way and at the same time aids in recall. When we begin to draw we also remember more. The arts and creativity in our curriculum are not merely niceties of education, they are vehicles for learning and understanding.

The students in Class 1 have enjoyed creating rhyming sentences to tell the story of Vanya. Here are some examples: “Lazy Vanya liked to nap under his cap, with the bees in the trees. “Lazy Vanya slept with the bees, then he met a pilgrim in the trees.”, “While Vanya slept, the robbers crept.”, “Grisha made the room cold but Vanya stayed on the stove like he was told”., “The house would burn without the pilgrim’s return”., “Vanya pulled the boat. The boat stayed afloat”. I am so impressed by the creative writing of my students that I am writing a poem for us all to learn. This is the first part. I don’t want to give away the next part of the story before the class has heard it!


Good heavens! What a dreadful sight,
The wicked Ok was here last night.
Houses and barns blown here and there,
Trees uprooted everywhere!

Bloated, grass-green, newt-fish monster,
One night grows wings and brings disaster.
Villagers sad they’ve lost their homes,
Vanya will face the Ok alone.

To the clearing he came at last,
Way up high and holding fast.
The Ok hung in the ancient tree,
Arms and legs skinny as can be.

Vanya had a resolute heart,
Toward the Ok he made a start.

Students’ work