Dear families and teachers,

For two weeks, Story Lab students – truly of all ages – dove into activities of purely playful invention.

Last week, elementary, middle, and high school sessions came up with written text, sounds, and movement to tell the stories of wordless picture books. Together we read Oops by Arthur Geisert to practice storytelling to a book without words. Students split into groups to invent stories for their own books. Tessa and Lena acted out their version of Barbara Lehman’s The Red Book, which included setting up a stage with chairs and using my white sweater as a prop for snow! It worked so well that I took the wordless picture books to the kindergarten and first grade students at the Arts Fair at Baranof Elementary.

Untranslatable words are words that exist in other languages but not in English. For instance, we lack an equivalent for the German word “Backpfeifengesicht,” which means “a face in badly need of a fist.” This week, middle and high school students attempted to fill the gaps in English by brainstorming experiences, emotions, and phenomena they’ve observed that need to be named. Here are a handful of things middle school students thought there should be words for:

Rowan: “the feeling that someone there is watching you but you can’t see”

Reagan: “the act of looking out the window at night”

Tava: “the act of crying for a book that you have read over and over”

Darren: “technology that seems to have a mind of its own”

Last but not least, Story Lab hosted its first session for adults! We did a variety of activities drawn from elementary, middle, and high school after school sessions. We blindfolded ourselves and crawled on the carpet, pretending we were astro-archaeologists on a faraway planet. Then we fused words into “Frankenwords” and made up definitions for those words. For instance,  one adult defined “smunshine” (smoke + sunshine) as “when the sun is shining through thick air; milky light; air smelling of smoke; light shining through foggy space.” Another adult defined “scatwich” (scatter + sandwich) as “when a friend replaces a critical condiment in your sandwich with cat poop.” Finally, we used a surrealist poem as a diving board into the subconscious and wrote for seven minutes straight on a powerful emotion of each person’s choice. Topics ranged from anxiety to reckoning to joy.

Story Lab hosts free, after-school creative writing and storytelling classes to students ages 7-19. Elementary school sessions meet every other Tuesday 3:00-4:30, middle school every Wednesday 3:30-5:00, and high school every Thursday 4:15-5:30. For questions, contact the number above or