Tag Archives: writing ideas for kids

It’s National Poetry Month!

7 Apr

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I’m, a little behind, finally getting around to talking about National Poetry Month here on the 6th. Better late than never, right?

I came across a gem this week. Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poetry by Bob  Raczka.

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If you have ever tried to write concrete poetry, you know how hard it is to do really well. Bob Raczka is a master, and this book proves it. This book has 21 poems that play with the form and well as the title.

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With topics as diverse as mazes, dominoes, pencil erasers, and the subway, each of the poems makes the reader smile and think. No matter how old the reader, there is something here for everyone.

Peril and Perseverance

22 Jul

As most of you know, I will be moving to a new school in the Fall, teaching 6th grade in a program for the highly gifted. This is quite a shift from teaching 4th grade at a Title I school, but I am excited about the challenge and adventure this new job presents.

In two weeks, I will go to the first of 3 workshops I need to attend before school begins. Although this will be my first official foray back into middle school  I have been thinking about it. As with any grade change, it is important to know what to expect in terms of curriculum, but also in terms of what kids should be able to do.

A friend of mine has a daughter who was in 6th grade last year at Jackson Middle School.. She told me throughout the year about the longterm Biomes project her daughter was doing in class. It was complex and multifaceted, culminating in fiction and non-fiction writing. Her teacher was so impressed with the student’s results, he got in touch with a local publisher and had his students’ work published. Alive and Well. Mostly. is a collection of the fiction that these 6th graders wrote.

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From the Publisher: Alive and Well. Mostly. Animal Tales of Peril and Perseverance for Young Readers by Young Writers, illustrated by Colin Adams and edited by David A. Wierth is a collection of imaginative short stories about animals in their native biomes. Migrate through the ocean with an adventurous narwhal, defeat a badger army with the king of the owls, befriend a firefly with a vengeful howler monkey, or navigate complex social dynamics with an arctic wolf. Each story is sure to draw you in: friendship, family, predators, betrayal–this book has it all.

As I read the first story, I laughed, because I could picture the writer. And this feeling continued throughout the book. These are excellent stories, written by 11 and 12 year olds. Their stories reflect their age, but they also reflect a lot of research and editing. The result is an excellent volume that I will add to my classroom library once I get around to setting it up.

You can find out a little more about it on the publisher’s website. If you have a young person who loves to write, they might enjoy reading this delightful collection, and it might inspire them to write their own stories.

The Death of the Hat

22 Jun

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The Death of the Hat  is the 4th collaborative anthology by Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka. The book’s title comes from the Billy Collins poem within, which is one of the poems in the final chapter “Contemporary”. For this is a collection of poetry spanning 2000 years. In fact, the full title of the book is The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50  Objects.

All of the poems focus on objects, earthly and celestial. Chris Raschka’s light watercolors give each of them life and help us see what lies beneath the surface of the poets’ words.  The poems come from Rumi, Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Pablo Neruda, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and others less well-known in the West like Cui Tu, Bai Juyi and Basho. Although these poems were not written for children, they are a great way to expose children to the “canon” of poetry.

The book would be useful in any classroom. Kids could write about an object, or create a history of themselves through objects, whether in poetry or in prose.

However you decide to use it, this is an excellent tool for the classroom.

From A to Z

12 Jun

Today is the last day of school for kids. Teachers have to go back on Monday, but, this is really the last day.

Today the building will be full of noise and excitement. Tomorrow, and for the next two and a half months, it will be mostly quiet and empty.

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We have an assembly at 9, where awards will be given out. Before we go, I will give my ids my gift to them. It is a tradition I had when I last taught fourth grade and I revived it this year. I have written an alphabet book for the class entitled , F is for Fourth Grade.  The kids always think it will be their names in alphabetical order, but it isn’t. Each letter describes a personal quality, then I say which kid best described that quality. Having only 23 kids this year, I had a few letters left over, so I gave them some advice. Here are the first and last pages of my A to Z book.

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is for Articulate 

Articulate means “using language easily and fluidly”.

Vincent is an articulate student. He thinks before he speaks and uses interesting words in his sentences. Vincent has a good vocabulary.

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is for

Zealous

 A zealous person is eager and passionate about something.

Endeavour to be a zealous student and friend. Give 100% to all you do. Be eager about your learning and faithful in your friendships.

 

Fun with Magical Creatures

3 May

Friday Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce came to William Walker as part of their promotional tour of their middle grade novel Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures.

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My class has really been into magical creatures this year. One boy draws and writes stories about dragons and many other students have created comics with characters who have special powers, like Fry Guy, a french fry who  encounters, then,  solves problems. Although they haven’t read this book yet (it will be our next read aloud) I knew they’d be interested once they got to the assembly, so we brainstormed good questions to ask before we went to the assembly.

Once we were there, Maggie and Jackson did not disappoint. They presented a lovely contrast, one dark, one fair; one looking at the bright side, one looking at the dark side.They had clearly practiced their presentation, which was fast-paced and engaging.

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Although they mentioned their book, they spent much of the hour-long presentation talking to the kids about how to create a magical beast.

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Jackson posed questions to the audience while Maggie drew the creature they designed, the Snowplace Pole Deer.

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Their goal was to inspire kids to develop their interests because you never know where they will lead. Jackson and Maggie nth told kids that, through writing, they are able to pursue interests they’ve had since childhood, just not in the way they imagined they would when they were 10 or 11 years old. And I think that is a powerful message.

Finding Inspiration

29 Apr

I am always on the lookout for picture books that connect, however tenuously, to what we are doing in class. Today’s two books are all about imagination, inspiration and creativity, which connects to the Invention Convention we are working on.

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Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking is written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim. It encourages young readers to observe nature and think about how animals face their problems and use their imagination to solve the problems. The diorama like artwork here is spectacular, with each two page spread offering a source of inspiration in nature.

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My Pen, written and illustrated by Christopher Myers, is an illustrated work of pure poetry. The text plants the seed of an idea as to what the narrator can do with his pen, but the shaded and detailed drawings in black ink on white background give wings to the text.

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This is a deep, contemplative book full of rich ideas and creativity.

 

I’m a winner!

16 Apr

The March Slice of Life Challenge, sponsored by Two Writing Teachers, has prizes. Everyone who blogs everyday for 30 days and comments on at least 3 other bloggers’ posts each day is entered into a random drawing for fabulous prizes. I won this book

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Any Questions by Mary-Louise Gay. I don’t have it yet, but here is the publisher’s description.

Many children want to know where stories come from and how a book is made. Marie-Louise Gay’s new picture book provides them with some delightfully inspiring answers in a fictional encounter between an author and some very curious children, who collaborate on writing and illustrating a story.

Marie-Louise has scribbled, sketched, scrawled, doodled, penciled, collaged and painted the words and pictures of a story-within-a-story that show how brilliant ideas creep up on you when you least expect it and how words sometimes float out of nowhere asking to be written.

Any Questions? presents a world inhabited by lost polar bears, soaring pterodactyls, talking trees and spotted snails, with cameo appearances by some of Marie-Louise’s favorite characters — a world where kids can become part of the story and let their imaginations run wild… and just maybe they will be inspired to create stories of their own.

At the end of the book, Marie-Louise provides answers to many of the questions children have asked her over the years, such as “Are you Stella?” “How did you learn to draw?” “Can your cat fly?” “How many books do you make in one day?”

Here’s the video:

I can hardly wait for it to arrive!

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