“You See a Spider, Two Robots, and Five Men in a Pink Hat When You Wake Up”

Local 3rd-Graders Write Stories Inspired by UMMA Artworks

If you’ve ever spent time around elementary school students, then you know they often have wildly active imaginations. 

Combine that fondness for fantastical storytelling with the encouragement and guidance of 826michigan tutors, and you end up with some pretty amusing results. Read on for a sampling of how 75 Ypsilanti Community Schools third-graders recently imagined what it might be like to live inside (and try to escape) some of the pieces on display here at UMMA. 

If you have students who might like to try their hands at a similar how-to-escape story, choose a piece from the UMMA Exchange and get writing! And be sure to sign up for our K-12 Newsletter to get new instructional materials and creative activities delivered each month. 

Artwork: Dark Presence III by Louise Nevelson
Teacher: Ms. Dillon
Writers: Super Robot Cheetahs

First, you feel terrified because it’s so big, and you’re so small! Don’t panic!

Next, try to find the stairs to get to the top of the black mountain. You see something that looks like doors with giant buttons. Be careful–the top one is a trap that drops you into a river! You push a different one and it opens the doors to a broken escalator you use as stairs. 

Next, when you get to the top, jump across the top until you find some stairs to get back down. You don’t want to stay at the top because you might get struck by lightning. 

Then, if you see a cheetah, try to find out if it’s a nice cheetah or an evil cheetah. Evil cheetahs have a mean smile with eyebrows straight to his eyes and teeth coming out the side of his mouth. His eyes will look straight at you. A nice cheetah has a nice smile with normal eyebrows.

Last, use the metal, rocks, and electric blocks to build an electric board to turn back on the electricity. It will be less scary with all the lights back on.

Artwork: Travelers on a Mountain Pass by Wu Wei
Teacher: Ms. Page
Writers: Awesome Cool Team Robot Number 12

You are asleep. You wake up in a cave and you hear loud noises and footsteps. You can’t see very well. But you can hear very well. You see a spider, two robots, and five men in a pink hat when you wake up. You think that they are searching for you, but they’re not. They’re searching for something very rare. A diamond. The rarest diamond ever. The men and the robots stop. You hear bears going grrrr. You smell…(I don’t know what you smell, I haven’t been in a cave before.) Bats are smacking you in the face, and you’re like, “that’s a bat.”

First, you can either run or hide. (I recommend you hide, though.) Find a place to hide and make sure there are no spiders or snakes.

Then, if you fall into a hole, use your pickaxe to chop your way out of the hole.

Next, get a bug catcher. Catch some bugs. You’ll eat the bugs that you catch, but you might get poisoned. Use an echolocator to find food, or animals that could possibly be food.

You need to be ready if someone or something attacks you. Try and get some sort of weapon to fight back. You could use the pickaxe. But if they turn out to be a peaceful, happy, little, cute kitten, if it turned out to be that, like it had yellow eyes, and you’re like “what is that, AAHHH!!!” and you raise the pickaxe above your head and then someone turns on a light and you see that it’s a cute little kitten, lower your pickaxe and say, “oh, sorry.” You can take the kitten with you.

Last, they ( the men and the robot) see you. You should try to fool them into letting you pass. Say, “hey, I need to cut my kitten’s fur, can I go past to get some scissors?” And they’ll be like, “allright, go on.”

Artwork: Pan-African Pulp by Meleko Mokgosi
Teacher: Ms. Flott
Writers: Crafter Cats

First, you could drink the blue water. It looks like they are on the beach, so there may be palm trees with coconuts.

Next, to defend yourself, you could use your dog to bite the people. To wrestle, you turn your opponent around and put them in a headlock and flip them over. To win, you need to pin them. If you have sharp nails, then scratch their back. To protect yourself, you would shrink enough to get into the environment, but you could go back to your normal size and scare them away.

Then, maybe run away. You could be a super-fast runner like Hussain Bolt. Follow the rainbow, get on the statue. You should wear a shirt and shorts. If you were small enough, you could tickle them and they would think you were a bug. You need to rip off one link of the chain and use it as a tool. 

Last, you could hide underwater. It needs to be dirty water, so your enemy doesn’t see you and you are camouflaged. Hopefully this is all just a dream.

Artwork: image from Take Your Pick: Collecting Found Photographs
Teacher: Ms. Page
Writers: Golden State Oreo Panthers

First, you need to find food and water. You might be able to walk to the grocery store or a gas station. You may even be able to go to a party, since the women in front of you look pretty fancy. You can choose healthy food or junk food, whichever you prefer. If you like healthy food, you can eat broccoli, carrots, celery, salad, or apples. If you prefer junk food, at hamburgers, hot dogs, M&M’s, french fries, and taffy. Whatever you do, don’t drink anyone else’s water!! You could share germs but even worse, they could have poisoned you! It’s also rude.

Then, to try to get back home, you should make a map, so you know where you’re going. Include your house, stores close to you, and spots for airports. You can use paper, pencils, and cardboard to make the map. Do not get them wet or the map will be destroyed.

Next, ask the women in the pink dresses to help you, because they work for NASA. They will bring you to the headquarters in their blue car. It’s inside a secret lair. It has 84 rooms, an upstairs, and a downstairs. Every room has computers and potions.

Last, build a machine to transport you into the future. When you try to go back to the present time, it may not work. Instead, it could send you back in time to when dinosaurs live and you’d hear “RRRAAAAA!!!” There, you might meet a liger who speaks to you and becomes your friend. After one day living with the dinosaurs, they may destroy your whole house except the cabinets and the fridge because there are snacks there. If the snacks are healthy, the dinosaurs will probably destroy the cabinets and fridge, too, since they don’t like healthy food. The liger might help you get back to the future, though.


Artwork: The Bullfight by Pablo Picasso

Teacher: Ms. Page
Writers: Super Robotics

First, find shelter. Look, there’s a fort up ahead. Stay together as a group to protect all sides. Crouch down and crawl through the grass. You will find a shieldthat takes all 5 of us to hold. You run under the shield to the fort, but it doesn’t have a roof. You cant stay there. You hear a low trilling noise and thundering footsteps.

Then, watch out for the mutant six-leged elephant with three spears! Run quickly. Slide down the ramp, through the tunnels and around the bend. Take out a juice box and spill it out on the ground to attract the giant fruit flies. They die! Breathe a sigh of relief. You escaped the elephant and the flies! What’s next?

Next, through the onion forest, put on safety goggles so you don’t cry. Stab the onions with a sharp knife. Climb up the ladder. You see a way out far ahead. Ew! What’s that? Sticky spider web. You grab the shield and use it to bounce on the web and bounce right over the poisonous spiders.

Last, find a ladder, go up it to the treehouse. Climb through the window and you are free! Ya, ya, ya!

Virtual K-12 Learning Experiences

UMMA is committed to protecting the safety of students, teachers, and visitors. Many schools are completely remote, and UMMA is not offering in-person guided group tours at this point. We want to be in the building, too! But in the meantime, there are many virtual ways to incorporate UMMA’s collection into your teaching.

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