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Kindergartners' story garners grand prize

• Tale tells of Barney Bear's misadventure

Posted: June 12, 2008 1:32 a.m.
Updated: August 13, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Storyteller, James Cogan performs the story, "Where is Barney Bear," with Canyon Springs Elementary students Tuesday morning. The school's kindergarteners wrote and illustrated the Dr. Seuss-themed story.

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When they wrote a Dr. Seuss-style story about their school mascot, a group of kindergartners at Canyon Spring Elementary School never dreamed they would win grand prize in a competition that included students up to the eighth grade level.

The 5- and 6-year-olds in Cathy Kuebler's reading group, most of whom are English language learners, won one of two grand prize awards in Time Warner Cable's ninth annual "Time 2 Write Seuss Style" competition.

"When we found out we had won, I was flabbergasted," Kuebler said. "The kids screamed so loud they heard it in the other classrooms."

Kuebler and her students received a $100 gift card and a visit from a professional storyteller as their grand prize. James Cogan, a member of the National Storytelling Association who travels the country bringing people together through stories, visited the school Tuesday and helped the young authors dramatize their story, "Where is Barney Bear?"

"I love this story. It teaches kids about how important it is to care about each other," Cogan said. "It has rhyme, it has rhythm, it has fancy and it has fun - what better way for kids to play with language than by writing and illustrating and performing a story?"

Cogan made up songs to go along with the kids' story and worked with them throughout the morning in preparation for a performance in the school library for parents and other kindergartners.

"He's acting it out, and he's teaching the kids to act it out, and then they are going to put on a show," Kuebler said.

Karen Gross, community affairs specialist for Time Warner Cable, said the Canyon Springs students' story received perfect scores from the judges. "First off, it has a great lesson, and Dr. Seuss always had a great lesson in each of his books," Gross said. "It also had the rhyming element that Dr. Seuss used, so it just brought it all together."

The story tells about Barney Bear, who, like many 5-year-olds, misses his parents and has trouble following school rules. With the help of his new friends, Barney Bear makes better choices and starts having fun at school.

"Everyone contributed. We used everyone's ideas and drawings, so it was truly a collaboration," Kuebler said. "I'm so proud of these children - they worked so hard. For a kindergarten class to win, that is just so special."

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