A few weeks ago I randomly came across a story contest for kids. It was being sponsored by Denette Fretz, a kids' author who had recently published her own story called Pirates on the Farm. Since International Talk Like a Pirate Day was coming up and we'd be between units, I figured that would be a fun way to work on some writing skills before getting down to brass tacks with our Egyptian study.
Life didn't go quite as I planned, though - does it ever? - and the kids took our ice cream study much deeper than I expected - which took quite a bit longer. We didn't end up with an extra week like I thought, but My Big Helper and Little Man really wanted to enter the pirate story contest. They carried their notebooks around for days, along with a huge pile of piratey books, which they used for pirate vocabulary and spelling reference, as they jotted ideas and added new plot twists.
Finally the stories were finished, just as the deadline was looming. We spent a nice afternoon on the deck illustrating the stories, and then the kids trotted off to bed while I frantically scanned and emailed them, just hours before they were due.
We received a nice confirmation of receipt, and then promptly forgot all about it in the midst of Egyptian mummies and Nile research.
That is, until this morning - when I received a very nice email from Denette Fretz herself. It says:
Dear Big Helper,
Congratulations on winning the 8-9 year-old category with "The Pirate Princess & the Treasure." You did a very good job writing a fun story with pirate vocabulary and "voice." As soon as I receive the gift card and pirate patch from Zondervan, I will forward them to you, along with a signed copy of Pirates on the Farm. In the meantime, you can see your entry posted on DenetteFretz.com.
Also, your name was drawn from the three winners to receive the chance to Skype with me. I will email more about this opportunity after the book is shipped. (I would like you to have the copy of my book before we connect.)
Dear Little Man,
Although you did not win your age category, I enjoyed your entry. I especially loved your characters' names: "Captain Cheerio," "Hatchet," "Scissors," and "Wild Tooth." When I send [your sister's] prize, I am going to include an extra eye patch for your hard work.
Thank you both for entering. Keep on writing!
The kids, though still sleeping, are going to be wild with excitement over this. They worked really, really hard on these stories - for hours and hours at a time over a period of only a few days. My Little Man wrote pages and pages creatively - a first for him. My Big Helper wrote and edited and typed and then edited some more. We were able to talk about plot points and vocabulary and grammar on new levels - and it was fun.
They worked hard. It is wonderful to see them given credit for a job well done. On a totally 'nother and selfish level, though, it feels good because we, like so many others, are breaking stereotypes. We're hardworking homeschoolers, and while we may do a lot of learning in our PJs, we don't sit around and play in the mud all day. We're doing real-life, valuable work, and we can see the return from that already, in their character, in their thinking, and yes, in their studies.
So we're celebrating today. We're celebrating hard, honest work; having the recipient of the pirate 'treasure' in our house; a kind author who remembered a hard-working little brother when dispensing that treasure; creative minds; and the possibilities that God has planned for these two pirate-lovin' writers.
For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers. To read My Big Helper's winning pirate story online, The Pirate Princess & the Lost Treasure, click here.