Monday, May 15, 2017


Guest Post by Peter McCleery

Getting lost is one of those universal experiences that everyone can relate to. We all have a “getting lost” story. School visits for Bob and Joss Get Lost, my debut book, have led to some very enthusiastic discussions about this topic with students. Not only are they eager to share their stories about getting lost but they LOVE to brainstorm ideas about where Bob and Joss should get lost on their next adventure.

One of my favorite classroom writing activities is to get students brainstorming. For some students (and authors) deciding on what to write about can be very challenging. It’s a skill that often gets overlooked in writing assignments. It’s important that children have the space, time and freedom to answer the all-important “what if” question when coming up with ideas. And with Bob and Joss as a prompt, students can have a lot of fun getting lost in their ideas.

As a brainstorming writing exercise ask students to come up with a list of at least ten different ways or places that Bob and Joss can get lost on their next adventure. The more the better. Make it clear that there aren’t any limits to what they can imagine for these characters. I’ve had students suggest things from “in school” or “at the mall” to “in space,” and “in their brains.” (whatever that means!) It’s important to let them know that there are no wrong answers when brainstorming!

Have the students share some of their favorite ideas and list them on the board. Giggles are guaranteed! You could also use Bob and Joss as a starting point for a discussion about getting lost. Have students share real-life stories about a time when they got lost. Perhaps on a hike, or in a store, etc… Discuss what it felt like. Was it scary? Was it exciting? How did you feel when you got home? Relieved? Disappointed? This can also lead to a discussion about safety and what to do if they get lost.

Another aspect of Bob and Joss that proves useful in the classroom is an introduction to the geographic coordinates of latitude and longitude. Sharp eyed readers will notice that on each spread of the book there is the current location of the characters in coordinates. In fact, you can track their journey by putting the numbers into a digital map, like Google Maps. No spoilers here, but the numbers are real places on the earth! It’s a fun way to discuss mapping, coordinates and geography. You can even figure out exactly where your classroom is and write those coordinates on the board!

BIO: Peter McCleery is the author of the hilarious Bob and Joss series of children's books, Bob and Joss Get Lost! (February 2017) and Bob and Joss Take a Hike! (coming in 2018). He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he occasionally gets lost. His favorite things include kids (and adults) who laugh. He’s also written for Highlights magazine and for grown-ups on the McSweeney’s humor website. 

You can find him at, on Twitter: @pmccleery and on Facebook: @petermccleeryauthor

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