Let the Kid Out
Posted on September 28, 2011 by Vicky Cheung
The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store's main purpose is to benefit the inspiring writing and tutoring programs that 826NYC offers the students in the community. It's influence, however, reaches beyond that of simple monetary funding. Some customers come in knowing everything about 826NYC. Others just drop in curious as to what exactly we sell. But everyone who enters, kids and adults alike, is fascinated by the store's ability to transport them to a different world, where superheroes and villains battle it out every day to protect the good people of the city. The store, like 826NYC itself, engages the creative, curious, imaginative, and inventive personalities within us, and reminds adults that it's okay to let the kid out sometimes.
In Which Kids Get Excited About Cabbage
Posted on February 15, 2011 by Diana Clarke
I've never been known for my artistic ability-even my doodles are just letters-so when Chris asked if I could illustrate the story during the field trip, I answered "Kinda?" because I didn’t want to be the nay-saying intern. And that's how within ten minutes of my first day at 826 I found myself seated, marker in hand, facing a blank page that looked intimidatingly professional (thanks, Indesign), awaiting the arrival of the fourth graders whose story I'd be illustrating, dreading doing something wrong.
And then the kids started talking. Chris asked what went into a story, and then solicited character suggestions, and when the class settled on a protagonist named Jack the Great Cabbage I knew I'd be okay; artist I may not be, but as an Eastern European I felt a great kinship with Jack. I didn't have time to worry about the quality of my drawings because the story being typed up on the screen was moving so fast, flowing on to the second page, and I knew I had to keep up, doing one illustration for every page of text. I found myself drawing old-fashioned telephones, a volcano, and Jack sitting in his easy chair poring over a history book.
By the book's cliffhanger ending, which each of the kids finished themselves, Jack was standing at the edge of a volcano, trying to stop it from erupting and destroying his cabbage-y parents, battling an evil scientist. The scene was far more pressing than my own predicament, and I just wanted to know what would happen. With the other volunteers, I circulated among the tables, watching 25 fourth-graders writing and drawing, reaching over each other for crayons or pencils or just from excitement. I asked a few how their stories ended, brought a few others over to Chris to get their books bound, watched them jump and shout when Mrs. Mildew got on the loudspeaker to announce that she had reluctantly approved the books.
Just as they were leaving, one kid asked me if I had done the pictures. "They're really good!" he said. I wanted to hang his smile on my refrigerator.
My artistic abilities may not have improved hugely since then, but my confidence definitely has, culminating in the construction of a police robot for the Wednesday evening stop-motion animation workshop. And while it's true that I made him a really cool hat out of foam and hot glue, what I'm most excited to see is the film the kids make with him. Helping them make up stories helps me play, pretend, stop worrying. That robot has lots of adventures coming his way.
Drop-in Tutoring: Just How Many Apples Are There On This Tree?
Posted on November 17, 2010 by Geoff Bendeck
The most important thing I’ve learned about tutoring is the need to be aware of how you are teaching. Patience. Oh the scourge of my life, patience is a pre-requisite, especially after those late nights and early mornings. This is a recent back and forth with a student at the Williamsburg Library Drop-in-tutoring center.
“Hmm, I don’t know what we are supposed to do with this assignment. What are you guys learning in class right now?”
“I don’t know. I’m only seven.”
“Well, you did go to class right? What are you guys studying in math?”
So I tried to teach a seven-year-old division:
“See so if we are trying to find out how many apples Ms. Granny has, we can see that she has five trees and each tree has the same amount of apples and we know that in all there are 20 apples. So how many apples can we imagine each tree has?”
A shrug. “I dunno, I’m seven.”
He was right; I couldn’t put myself in his shoes. I saw the easy answer. My mind could do this in a nano-second, but his hadn’t reached that progression we take for granted, that speed we as adults expect everyone to have. Sometimes we forget what it’s like to be seven. I sat there and took a deep breath, the coffee wasn’t working and I was exhausted, tired of random guesses and “I don’t knows”, but he was right, it was my responsibility to find the solution to how to teach him this. He just didn’t know. He was seven.
So I sat and thought if multiplication and division were no longer options how could I teach this. And then it hit me.
We needed to draw it with dots. We needed to be able to see how many there were, and then to count them. And so we did:
“So now how many apples does each tree have?”
“You don’t have to guess, see we can just count them by breaking them into five different groups.”
“Oh, 4 apples!”
I don’t know who felt better, him or I. We celebrated with a high-five and then did spelling.
“I got this one,” he said.
Fieldtrips: Talking Platypi and Dolphins Named Chris
Posted on October 18, 2009 by Emily McDonald
A slow, persistent creaking noise radiates from the front of the room when the secret door is opened. When the door is fully opened, the creaking has ceased, and the writing lab is fully visible to those in the store I hear twenty-two second graders ooooh and gasp in unadulterated, honest awe. One by one Chris sends the children to get their author photograph taken (complete with the black "make me look smarter" glasses), put their coat on the couch (a vital step), and get a nametag (an even more vital step). Once these tasks have been completed each child comes and sits on the rug, in front the projector that is displaying a blank page and a blinking cursor. I am sitting behind the projector with a computer in my lap, gearing up to type an original story that these second graders, with the help of Chris, are about to create. This is the first time that I have ever typed for a field trip and I'm feeling a bit nervous about how it is all going to work and the program that I am typing in doesn't have spell check, a vital feature to understanding anything that I type.
Eventually I get the hang of it and with the help of numerous adults correcting my sometimes lacking spelling skills the second graders complete an intricate tale of a Dolphin named Chris who is on a quest to find a humongous whale to feed his friends. The special part about this experience was seeing these kids get sucked into a creative vortex, lead by Chris, and emerge with an original tale of their creation. This class was great because the kids got so into the task at hand, which admittedly might be a feature of their age, but it is still awesome to see nonetheless. For example when Mrs. Mildew came on the loudspeaker threatening Chris's job (and the only way to save it was to write a fantastic story, obvi) the kids became concerned and motivated to write an amazing story.
Although I have always enjoyed working with kids, I have never had the opportunity to interact with kids of any age is a field trip or 'classroom' setting. I have done tutoring, which offers a different and awesome experience with the kids, but that is a different story. These fieldtrips are the most special thing, in my opinion, about being an intern at 826NYC because being able to see and be a part of the creative learning process is exciting and enlightening. This is a great place offering unique opportunities for kids that they won't find many other places, I am so happy that I can help with it.
The Birth of Rock Music
Posted on October 18, 2009 by Lindsey Ortega
Being an intern at 826 NYC has been a most rewarding experience. I have only been here for a month, and already know most of the kids at tutoring. They are all so fun to be around, and always have great stories to tell you from school or their weekend that time goes by way too fast! I love knowing that these kids enjoy coming to 826 because it has such a wonderful atmosphere. There never seems to be a dull moment, and even though sometimes kids would rather read comic books than do their homework, they always listen and are easily motivated to get everything done.
So far, I have helped out with two field trips: one was writing a "Choose Your Own Adventure Story," and the other was script writing for a television show. One of my favorite things about the field trips is hearing students' different ideas. All of them get very creative, and I am often surprised at how witty most of them are! I appreciate that the students always have a good sense of humor, and are not shy to voice their opinions. My favorite story idea heard so far was by a student in the "Choose Your Own Adventure Story" workshop, who’s idea was "About a boy named Jack who was a musician and who always listened to Ozzy Osbourne, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, etc. and played guitar. One day when he was playing guitar blood came out of it, and he passed out. When he woke up, he woke up during the birth of rock music." As a student of creative writing, I feel it most inspiring for my own work to see the students write, and be a part of the process.
I highly recommend volunteering here. 826 NYC does wonderful stuff for the kids, and gives them opportunities to participate in things I wish I could have done when I was their age!
T-minus 10 Days...
Posted on August 10, 2008 by Carolyn Maughan
I can't wait to go to the BAM film screening and see all of the student films, music videos, and stop animation movies. I'll be the only person in the theater, however, who has read the script to all three movies. That's right: I can recite the lines in my sleep. I know how they begin. I know how they end. I know which characters: like poetry, have an affinity for glasses, and resist brainwashing. So I might not be entirely surprised come August 20th, but I won't be shocked when....
Behind the Scenes: Children of the Iron Monkey
Posted on August 10, 2008 by Gabriella Miyares & Chris Roberti
Deep in the dark sycamore forests of Figeria, the land that once belonged to the infamous Shadow Tiger, the palace is in ruins -- broken numchucks litter the dirty floor, and all of the ice cream in the freezer is frosted over. No one has tread these paths for years. On a lacquered table in one corner sits a battered journal. Its pages are torn and tattered, covered with drips of sweat, inkblots, and what would appear to be traces of caramel nougat. The entries, in a frantically scrawled hand, end on the fateful day of the Shadow Tiger's defeat by Iron Monkey and his child followers. What follows? The final thoughts of a henchman on the wrong side of kung-fu justice, that's what...
Stop the Madness!
Posted on July 16, 2008 by Rosa Schneider
In this workshop we learned how to do Stop-Motion animation, which is a technique where the animator takes pictures, moving his or her subject slightly and taking lots of frames (it takes 30 pictures to make up a second of video!). The workshop was a ton of fun, as I have never done film-making or animation before. I worked with Wes Price (the workshop leader) on an animation using Chinese Checkers. It ended up looking really great (we had lots of patterns, including one where all the pieces moved across the board), but it was really hard moving the pieces around--we chased an especially slippery blue piece two or three times across the room. I also worked with Christine, the other instructor, who was making an animation with play-doh, which formed a face that morphed into a ton of different expressions and hair styles. Okay, to be honest, the students and Christine made a face, I tried to, but ended up playing with play-doh. It was my first experience with animation of any sort, and I definitely want to do it again!
Posted on February 04, 2008 by Laura Kittrell
Check out the Wikipedia page for parrotfish. It will tell you that the parrotfish gets its name from its "parrot-like" beak. It will also tell you that the parrotfish changes its gender during its lifetime. It will not, however, tell you about the wonderful world of parrotfish poop. Wikipedia isn't exactly known for being the world's best resource on, well, anything, but poop is the most interesting thing the parrotfish has going for it. A more thorough Googling will tell you that a large portion of the world's sand is, in fact, parrotfish poop. Seriously. That castle you just made? Poop. Those buckets of sand you just poured over your friend? Poop. That thing you just swallowed underwater that's making you gag a little? Sand? No, poop.
Saving the Day Pretty Regularly
Posted on November 11, 2007 by Stephen Piccarella
The day I became a superhero was July 11th, 2007, the day I came to my first workshop at 826NYC. Since then, I've been fighting crime and saving the day pretty regularly. I'm sure you've seen me in the papers under headlines like, "CRIME FOUGHT!" or, "DAY SAVED!" I don't have my own series of comic books yet, because I've only been on the scene for a few months, but I've appeared in comics alongside my close friends Daredevil and Dr. Strange several times. Daredevil's a nice guy. He's lived through some rough stuff, so he's not all there all the time, but he's good company. I think he makes appearances here once in a while. If you're reading this, look into it. He's somebody you should meet, no matter who you are. I don't know about Strange, though. Dr. Strange is a really crazy dude. I mean really crazy.