The Amazing Day Dreams of Dee Ann Daniels is a collection of short stories for teachers,  counselors, librarians and parents to use as introductions to various topics.  If you would like to listen to any of the stories as you read them, click the link below.

Say Hello to Ricky T. Rex

The Door of the Cougar

Ooday Ouyay Eakspay Igpay Atinlay?

Freddie the Jalapeno-Breathing Dragon

“Say Hello to Ricky T. Rex"

It was a Monday morning in Ms. Weaver’s class at Lighthouse Elementary School. As usual Dee Ann was having a difficult time focusing. She’s a smart girl with a wildly creative imagination, but focusing is not her specialty.

“Okay class, today we’re going to talk about dinosaurs! Has anyone ever heard of a Tyrannosaurus Rex?” Ms. Weaver began.

Jimmy “The Brain” Franklin, who seems to think he’s an expert in dinosaurs (and every other subject), was about to explode with knowledge. He couldn’t raise his hand any higher or grunt any louder to try and get Ms. Weaver’s attention. Meanwhile, Dee Ann was once again staring out the window and drifting into that day dream state of mind where she seems to be half awake and half asleep. The window in her second floor classroom overlooks an area with lush, green trees. For some reason looking at the woods is like looking into a portal to another world.

As her mind began to drift further away from Lighthouse Elementary School, she found herself walking through the forest. Growls, roars, squeaks and squawks were coming from the distance.

From behind her, she heard someone say, “Hey, wait for us!” It was Milly Jones. Everyone calls her Mopy Milly because she can be a little bit of a downer. She likes to over exaggerate the negative.

Harold Williams was with her. The kids all call him Happy Harold because he always seems to have a smile on his face. Harold finds everything interesting. Milly and Harold are complete opposites, and they are Dee Ann’s two best friends.

“This is awesome!” Harold said. “Let’s go check it out.”

“Awesome? This is terrible! What are we doing here? We’re probably going to die.” Milly replied.

Just as Dee Ann was about to add her opinion, and she always has an opinion, they heard what sounded like someone, or something, running toward them. AND it sounded like a lot of things were chasing it. The ground was shaking. Tree branches were breaking. And something was making a lot of noise. When they finally got a look at what is was, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They were looking at an actual dinosaur. It looked like a small tyrannosaurus rex, and it was being chased by a group of bigger dinosaurs.

“Let’s get out of here.” Milly screamed. “They’re going to eat us!”

They started running as fast as they could. As they curved around a group of large trees, Dee Ann noticed what looked like a small opening. It was a cave that was partially hidden by the trees.

“Quick, let’s hide in here.” Dee Ann said, almost out of breath.

“Everyone be quiet. We’ll be okay.” Harold whispered, trying to convince Milly.

As they sat down in the cave, trying to be as still and quiet as possible, they could hear the terrible noises getting louder and louder and louder.

This is it. Milly thought to herself as she put her head down. This is the end. I’m just a kid, and this is it.

At that very moment, she looked up and noticed Dee Ann and Harold were frozen with fear. As she turned around she realized they were looking eye to eye with a real live dinosaur. Nobody said a word. From outside the cave they could hear voices.

“Where did he go?

“I think he went this way.”

“When we find him, we’re going to teach him a lesson!”

Dee Ann was in disbelief. She looked at the others.

Are those dinosaurs out there TALKING? She thought.

The voices and the rumbling started to get quieter. After a few minutes, they didn’t hear anything outside the cave. They could never have guessed what would happen next.

“Please don’t hurt me.” The dinosaur said in a very quiet voice.

“Don’t hurt YOU?” Milly asked, fully expecting the dinosaur to take a bite out of one of them.

“We’re not going to hurt you.” Harold said, looking confused but trying to reassure the dinosaur.

“You can TALK?” the dinosaur asked, looking very surprised.

“WE can talk?” said Dee Ann. “You’re not supposed to even EXIST anymore!”

“My name is Ricky.” said the dinosaur. “Ricky T. Rex.”

Dee Ann, Millie and Harold were having a difficult time figuring out what was going on. They had to catch their breath and try to understand all of this.

Did this dinosaur just tell us his name is Ricky T. Rex? Are we actually having a conversation with a Tyrannosaurus Rex? They were all thinking.

“Why were those other dinosaurs chasing you?” Harold wanted to know.

Ricky explained how the other dinosaurs had been picking on him. Today was report card day at school. After report cards were given, the other tyrannosaurs started laughing at him. When he ran away, they chased him. He pulled out his report card and showed it to Dee Ann, Harold and Milly. Dee Ann read his grades out loud.

Ricky T. Rex - Big Bites Elementary School

Growling – D

Scary Faces - F

Chasing Smaller Dinosaurs - F

Overall Tyrannosaurus Attitude – Unsatisfactory

“I’m not any good at growling. I’ve been practicing my scary faces, but they always look funny instead of scary.” Ricky said with a sad look on his face. “Do you guys ever feel like you don’t fit in? Sometimes I wish I was a pterodactyl so I could just fly away.”

Dee Ann was about to say something when she felt someone pushing on her back.

“Hey, pay attention.” Milly whispered. “You’re going to get in trouble.”

Dee Ann looked around. She was back in Ms. Weaver’s classroom at Lighthouse Elementary School. She realized her mind had been drifting off once again. At that moment there was a knock on the door.

“Oh, that must be our new student.” Ms. Weaver said as she opened the door.

A big boy walked through the door, looking a little nervous. His hands were pulled up into his green and brown jacket, making his arms look small for his body.

“Everyone, this is our new student.” Ms. Weaver said. “Say hello to Ricky.”


Questions for “Say Hello to Ricky T. Rex”

Why do you think the other dinosaurs were picking on Ricky T. Rex?

What do you think Ricky should do about it?

What do you think you should do if you know someone is being picked on?

Has anyone ever picked on you?

Have you ever picked on anyone?


“The Door of the Cougar”

“Class, today we’re going to start a geography project.” Ms. Weaver said. “We’re going to have a short lesson on mysterious places around the world, and then everyone will choose a place to research. You’re going to write a paper, and then you’ll have to do a presentation about the mysterious place you picked.”

Ms. Weaver started giving examples of potential places the students might be interested in. She listed pyramids in Egypt, Mexico, and various parts of Asia, as well as other pyramids around the world, and she listed other places like Easter Island, Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Puma Punku, The Nazca Lines, The Bermuda Triangle and The Lost City of Atlantis.

Students began raising their hands, and Ms. Weaver called on them to ask which place they wanted.

“Can I have The Bermuda Triangle?” asked Milly. “Nothing escapes from that place. On second thought, I think I’ll pick something else. Even reading about The Bermuda Triangle might expose me to some kind of curse.”

Harold said, “I want The Lost City of Atlantis. I watched a show about it on The Discovery Channel. They might have had advanced technology that was lost.”

Hmm. Which one do I want to do? I’ve heard of the Nazca Lines in Peru. Those are the giant desert drawings and lines that look like landing strips. That would be a good one to do. Dee Ann thought. BUT, I’ve never heard of Puma Punku. I wonder what it’s about. Maybe I’ll do my paper on Puma Punku.

“Ms. Weaver, Ms. Weaver, Ms. Weaver, I want to do my paper on Puma Punku!” Jimmy Franklin said before he was even called on.

“Hey, you didn’t even raise your hand. I want Puma Punku!” Dee Ann quickly responded.

“I’ll tell you what.” said Ms. Weaver. “Since you’re both excited about it, I’ll let you both do a paper on Puma Punku. We’ll see who has the best paper and presentation.”

Dee Ann is very competitive, and she wasn’t about to let Jimmy “The Brain” Franklin beat her. Her paper would be the best one, definitely better than Jimmy’s.

The class went to the library to check out books and do research on the computers. As Dee Ann started finding websites about Puma Punku, she was fascinated. As she read more and more, her mind started drifting away again.

“Professor Daniels, can you come over here and look at this?” someone asked.

It was Milly. She was with Harold, and they were dressed in khaki pants and wearing funny looking hats. Dee Ann looked around and realized they were standing in the middle of some ancient ruins. They were in Tiwanaku, Bolivia with a group of scientists. In the background, Dee Ann could hear someone saying how great it was to have the famous archeologist Professor Dee Ann Daniels leading the excavation in Puma Punku.

“Professor Daniels, what do we know about this place?” Harold asked enthusiastically.

“We’re looking at the remains of a building or structure of some kind. Most scientists believe it was built a little over two thousand years ago, but some people believe these remains might be 17,000 years old. Some of the blocks that remain weigh more than one hundred tons, and the people who lived here would have had to transport them from about ten miles away.”

“How is that possible? There is no way they could have moved these blocks ten miles!” asked Milly, sounding very skeptical.

“That’s one of the questions I hope we can answer with this excavation.” Dee Ann said. “The people who lived in Tiwanaku at this time either died or left sometime around one thousand years ago, and they didn’t leave any written records.”

Harold was inspecting the blocks a little more closely, looking at the lines that were carved into them.

How could these carvings be so perfect? Harold thought.

“I know what you’re thinking, Harold.” Dee Ann said. “We don’t know of any tools or technology the people living at the time would have had to carve lines so perfect. To make lines that perfect and straight even today, we would have to use a laser.”

As Dee Ann was explaining some of the mysteries of Puma Punku, a group of strangers suddenly appeared.

“Who is your leader?” one of them asked.

“I am the leader of this excavation.” Dee Ann replied.

“You must take great care at The Door of the Cougar, and you will find the answers you seek.” the stranger said in an almost ghost-like voice.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” Dee Ann asked.

“You must take great care at The Door of the Cougar, and you will find the answers you seek.” the stranger repeated.

“What is The Door of the Cougar?” asked Harold. “What is he talking about?”

“Puma Punku means, ‘The Door of the Cougar’ in the South American language of Quechua.” Dee Ann said with everyone listening. “In the past, some people have destroyed or even stolen a lot of what was here.”

As Dee Ann finished talking, Jimmy Franklin walked up behind them. They turned around, startled to see him.

“What are you doing here, Jimmy?” Milly asked, surprised and annoyed. “You’re not supposed to be here!”

Jimmy replied, “That’s Professor Brain to you. I’m doing my own excavation of Puma Punku. I’ll be writing about it in my new book. I hear you’re writing a book too, Professor Daniels. I guess we’ll see which one is best.”

When everyone turned back around, the strangers were gone. They just seemed to disappear.

“Did you see them? Where did they go?” Dee Ann blurted out. She suddenly realized she was back in the library, and all of her classmates were standing around her. Her mind had wondered off again.

“Uh, Dee Ann, Who are you talking to?” asked Ms. Weaver, looking very confused.

As Dee Ann looked up, she saw a poster on the wall. It was a picture of some ancient ruins, and there was a caption that read, “Find the answers you seek.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Weaver.” Dee Ann said looking embarrassed. “BUT I know what I want to call my paper and presentation. I’m going to call it, ‘Puma Punku: The Door of the Cougar.’”


Questions for “The Door of the Cougar”

How do you think the ancient people at Puma Punku moved the heavy blocks so far?

How do you think they created the lines and carvings in the blocks that are so perfect?

Have you ever read about any of the other mysterious places mentioned in this story?

If you could visit any mysterious place, where would it be?

Why would you go there?


“Freddie the Jalapeno-Breathing Dragon”

“Class, this morning we’re going to do a creative writing assignment.” Ms. Weaver said. “I’m going to give you a few minutes, and I want you to think of twelve words. Think of people, places, foods, colors and anything else that pops into your mind. Write down the first twelve words or things you think of. Is everybody ready? Go!”

Dee Ann started thinking of words as if she were in a race. The first words that popped into her brain were foods.

Enchiladas with jalapenos. Yum. Dinner was good last night.

The next thing she thought about was color.

Blue. No, I need something more specific. Indigo!

Dee Ann looked out the window, and there was a beautiful pink butterfly.

That’s perfect. She thought as she wrote down the words pink and butterfly.

Dee Ann scanned the room to get ideas, and the first thing she noticed was the clock on the wall.

Clock. I can use that in my story.

She noticed the letter “M” and “M” words started coming to mind.

Monster. Okay. Magic. That’s good. I can use those words. She thought as she wrote them down.

Then Dee Ann’s favorite thing popped into her head.

Unicorn! Yes! I love unicorns.

Dee Ann was getting excited as she thought of each word and wrote it down on her list.

I need some people for my list. Dee Ann thought to herself as she looked around the room. Well, of course I should put Milly and Harold in the story. Who else should I put in my story?

At that moment Mr. Smith walked in.

“Ms. Weaver,” he said with his big booming voice. “I’d like to see Milly Jones and Harold Williams in my office.”

What could Mr. Smith possibly want with Milly and Harold. They haven’t done anything wrong. Dee Ann thought to herself as she started to worry.

Fred Smith was the new assistant principal at Lighthouse Elementary. He was a big man, and some of the kids were scared of him. The kids who had been in trouble had reported that he was mean and his breath smelled. The truth was most of the kids didn’t really know him yet.

I’m going to put Mr. Smith in my story. Dee Ann thought. But I can’t use his real name. I’ll write down Freddie so nobody knows who I’m talking about.

Dee Ann looked at her list and thought, Twelve words. What a great and strange collection of things. Enchiladas, jalapenos, indigo, pink, butterfly, Milly, Harold, Freddie, Monster, Magic, Unicorn, and Clock.

“Okay class,” said Ms. Weaver. “What I want you to do now is write a story using all twelve words. Make the story as creative as possible. You have until lunch to write your first draft. You may begin.”

Dee Ann couldn’t stop thinking about Milly and Harold and why they might be with Mr. Smith, but this gave her an idea for a story so she started writing and her imagination began to take over.

A great and ferocious monster, a fire-breathing dragon, lived deep in the Indigo Forest. One day this monster captured two children from a neighboring village, a girl named Milly and a boy named Harold. As the Warrior Princess Dee Ann entered the forest riding on her unicorn, all the animals of the forest began telling her stories about the terrible dragon. They explained to her that when the clock strikes twelve, the dragon will have the children for lunch. Dee Ann knew that only she could save these two children, so she grabbed her magic bow and arrow and prepared for battle with the beast.

Dee Ann was startled when she felt a tap on her shoulder and heard Ms. Weaver say, “Dee Ann, it’s time for lunch.”

“Oh, uh, Ms. Weaver, I haven’t finished my story yet.” she said.

“I’ll give you some time after lunch to finish it.”

“Okay, thank you Ms. Weaver.” Dee Ann said, wondering how her story would end.

As Dee Ann walked out to the cafeteria, Milly and Harold were walking back from Mr. Smith’s office. They had smiles on their faces, and they were laughing. She rushed up to them to find out why they were in his office.

“Hey, were you guys in trouble? What did you do? Was Mr. Smith mean to you? Why were you in the office?” Dee Ann asked without taking a breath.

“No, we weren’t in trouble. Mr. Smith is pulling a few kids at a time to talk to them and find out how they like school. He asked us a bunch of questions about what he could do to help us. He was really nice.” Harold said.

“So all those rumors about him being mean and having smelly breath aren’t true?” Dee Ann asked.

“No. It turns out he is very nice. I like him.” said Milly. “But I do have to say his office kind of smelled like spicy food.”

I guess I should have known better than to believe what those kids were saying about Mr. Smith before I got to know him. Dee Ann thought. Mom always tells me that whether it sounds good or sounds bad, I can’t always believe everything I hear.”

When Dee Ann got back to class from lunch, she knew exactly how she wanted to finish her story. She started writing.

As Princess Dee Ann was about to enter the lair of the great dragon, a beautiful pink butterfly flew up to her and said, “You can’t always believe everything you hear.” Dee Ann entered the dragon’s lair slowly and couldn’t believe what she saw. The neighborhood children were having lunch with the dragon, laughing and enjoying a meal of enchiladas with jalapenos. The dragon, whose name was Freddie invited Princess Dee Ann to join them for lunch. He wasn’t the mean fire-breathing dragon everyone said he was. He was just a big friendly dragon who happen to like spicy foods.

Dee Ann finished her story just as Ms. Weaver was telling everyone to turn in their first draft. She decided to title her story, “Freddie the Jalapeno-Breathing Dragon.”



Questions for “Freddie the Jalapeno-Breathing Dragon”

What did Dee Ann learn about Mr. Smith and Freddie?

Have you ever believed something about a person that was not true?

Have you ever said something about a person that was not true?

Has someone ever said something about you that wasn’t true?

Can you make up a story using the first twelve words that come to mind?


“Ooday Ouyay Eakspay Igpay Atinlay?”

It was a Friday afternoon at Lighthouse Elementary School. Ms. Weaver was explaining to the class that they would be getting a new student.

“Class, next week we will have a new girl in our class. She doesn’t speak much English, and she isn’t very familiar with American customs. I want to make sure we will all do our best to welcome her and help her as much as possible. I thought I would tell you a story about the year I was a foreign exchange student. When I was in high school, I spent one year living in Budapest, Hungary. It turned out to be a great experience, but it was very scary at first. I didn’t know anything about their culture, and I couldn’t speak their language. It was like being in another world.”

Dee Ann’s mind started conjuring a scenario as soon as she heard Ms. Weaver say, “It was like being in another world.”

“Prepare for landing, Captain Daniels and Officer Jones.” Harold said as he piloted their spaceship, the USS Lighthouse. “We just entered the atmosphere of Planet 16-9-7.”

Dee Ann, Harold and Milly were astronauts, and they had each been given the title of “Goodwill Space Ambassador from Planet Earth.” Planet 16-9-7 was the first planet they had visited.

“Officer Jones, do we know anything about this planet?” Dee Ann asked.

Milly responded sounding a little worried, “We do know it is inhabited, but we don’t know anything about their language or culture.”

Milly was always the worrier of the group, but the truth was they were all excited and nervous at the same time.

As they were discussing Planet 16-9-7 and the beings who live there, they suddenly heard on their radio, “Ellohay, ooday ouyay eakspay Igpay Atinlay?”

“Officer Williams,” Dee Ann said to Harold in an excited voice. “Can you translate? What are they saying?”

“What are they saying?” Milly repeated, starting to sound a little scared. “What does that mean?”

Harold responded, “I’m not familiar with this language, Captain Daniels. We have no way of knowing if this is a welcome or a warning. Should we try to communicate with them and see if they speak English?”

Before Dee Ann could say anything, they once again heard on their radio, “Ellohay, ooday ouyay eakspay Igpay Atinlay?”

Dee Ann grabbed the radio and said, “People of Planet 16-9-7, this is Captain Dee Ann Daniels of The USS Lighthouse speaking. We are from the planet Earth. We mean you no harm. We only wish to communicate with you and learn about your ways. We are friendly.”

As Dee Ann was saying these words, she knew the people of Planet 16-9-7 might not understand English any better than she, Milly and Harold understood their language.

What if they consider us a threat and decide to attack the USS Lighthouse? Dee Ann thought. What do we do?

Milly and Harold were thinking the same thing.

“What if they don’t understand us? What if they think we want to attack them? What if they shoot their lasers at us? What are we going to do? Milly asked, starting to panic.

As Harold rushed to the main computer, he said, “Calm down, Officer Jones. I’m going to search the data base for alien languages. I need a few minutes!”

“We may not have a few minutes!” Millie answered. “What if they fire at us?”

Even Harold, who never gets nervous, was starting to get worried.

“Officer Jones and Officer Williams,” Dee Ann said. “We have to put our heads together and decode this message before they attack us. Prepare the ship for evasive maneuvers. We may have to leave this planet in a hurry. We can’t get into a battle with this planet just because we don’t understand what they’re saying.”

They again heard on their radio, “Ellohay, ooday ouyay eakspay Igpay Atinlay?”

This time there was more, “Atwhay ooday ouyay antway? Aray ouyay eacefulpay? Easeplay espondray.”

Dee Ann, Harold and Millie had no idea what the people of Planet 16-9-7 were saying.

Dee Ann responded, “We don’t understand what your language! Do you speak English? We mean you no harm. Do you intend to harm us?”

Dee Ann, Harold and Milly were frantically trying to translate the messages coming from Planet 16-9-7. They knew they were running out of time.

“Captain Daniels, there are some ships flying toward us.” Milly said. “What do you want to do? We have no way of knowing if they are going to attack us. Should we fire a warning laser?”

“Captain Daniels, how do we know what they are thinking? I want to believe the best in all beings, but we don’t know what they are going to do.” Harold said. “We have to get our lasers ready and we have to prepare for evasive action.”

Just as the tension was at its peak and a conflict between Planet 16-9-7 and the USS Lighthouse seemed unavoidable, Dee Ann decoded the messages. The people of Planet 16-9-7 spoke a rare but wonderful language.

“I think I’ve got it! I’ve figured out the messages they’ve been sending!” Dee Ann said, excited and relieved.

The ships from Planet 16-9-7 were approaching the USS Lighthouse as Dee Ann grabbed the radio and said, “Esyay, eway ooday eakspay Igpay Atinlay, anday eway aray eacefulpay!”

As Dee Ann heard some chuckles, she looked around and realized she was back in her classroom at Lighthouse Elementary

“Dee Ann,” Ms. Weaver said. “Is that Pig Latin you were speaking?”



Questions for “Ooday ouyay eakspay Igpay Atinlay?”

Can you translate the language from Planet 16-9-7?

Have you ever gone to a place where you didn’t understand the language or the culture?

Have you ever met someone new to the United States who didn’t understand English

How would you communicate with someone if you didn’t speak the same language?

Is there any other language you would like to learn?

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