Slice of Life Story - Now You See Me!

Today I was discussing with students the need for writers to make strong connections to the wonders of the world that surround them.  I mentioned how writers of all ages need to be observers and eavesdroppers, when a young writer (Grade 5) offered the following remark. ‘Well, we have been living in the same house for six years now and I’ve only just noticed that we have a hole in our laundry wall. I can't believe I haven't noticed it before!' 

While we all appreciated the humour of the moment, it illustrated how something can be right in front of us and we just don’t see it. This student was unwittingly informing me that she was now beginning to ‘tune in’ to her immediate surroundings. Hopefully, she will begin to make more significant discoveries as a result of her new sense of vision. Encouraging our young writers to look closely at their immediate environment and see things is part of the teaching role. Searching for and seeking out the wonder in small things, and small moments provides a life source of ideas for all writers.

Just last week as I was walking near a school in the city's west, during my lunch break, I spotted a large tree on the verge between the front of a house and the roadway. In Australia we call this area, the nature strip, because this thin strip of land is separated from the main area of the house owner's property by a pavement or footpath. On this narrow strip you frequently find trees, shrubs and other greenery at regularly spaced intervals. The tree in question was a rather majestic palm tree. Now, I have seen large palm trees in the past. My Nana, I recall, had two large palm trees in her backyard. However, what made this tree so noticeable was its position beside the road. It dominated the street scene, being as it was, so large. I immediately stopped and snapped a photo. Returning to the school, I eagerly shared my discovery with  teachers and students alike. They looked puzzled. They were not immediately able to recall this roadside monster. It had somehow melted into the surroundings- become a piece outdoor furniture in their local environment!


  1. Eavesdropping makes for good writing, doesn't it? I once had a parent complain about the fact that I was encouraging her daughter to spy on members of the family. That frustrated me a bit, but I still gave the advice to future students. :)

  2. I have lists of things in my life that I have walked/driven past every day for years and never noticed!

  3. Observation is such an important lesson to teach young writers.

  4. Tuning in isn't hard... just hard to make a habit. This is also my topic today. I'm woefully out of practice! I hope you post some of your student writing after getting them to look closely. Great photo!

  5. This is great, Alan. I have those "hole in the laundry room wall" moments all the time. It always amazes me to discover the things that have been right in front of me all the time ... although it's hard to imagine not noticing that magnificent tree!


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