Using music, sounds and even acting, Tanis drew students into his dramatic story telling ways then showed Page students how they could make the same kind of magic in their own writing.
"You have to use words to show your reader - not tell," said Tanis, a retired elementary teacher spending time now writing a series of children's fictional historical books.
Tanis shared excerpts from his Marvelous Michigan series of books to Page Elementary fourth and fifth graders as part of a writing experience. His book "Marvelous Michigan: The Unexpected Logging Camp Adventure" is the first in what he's planning to be a series of historical fiction books for young readers.
He said stories can come from many different places - imagination, ideas from other stories, and even a writers' own life experiences. He also told students it's OK to turn a little bit of life experience into a fictional story.
Writers, he said, need to use words to attract, entice and excite the reader. Adding sound words like "Pop," "Bang," and "Thump" help bring life and vision to the story.
He also encouraged students to exchange words he called 50 cent words like "walked" for "dollar" words showing more action like "skipped" or "sprinted."
By creating action in their choice of words, he told students their stories will come alive to readers. Young writers then had a chance to look at their writings and make improvements.
Tanis also talked about different types of punctuation to use in writing to break up paragraphs, ideas, and lists.
Most importantly, he told the young writers, is to have fun and use their imaginations to create and share their stories.