30 May 2015

Little Red Writing

Many of us grew up with the familiar fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood and the cast of characters: Grandma, The Woodsman and the Big Bad Wolf. This story has been told and retold in many differing versions since before the 17th century. But what if Red Riding Hood was a pencil named Little Red who attends Pencilvania School and the new cast of characters are Principal Granny, Mr. Woodcutter, the janitor and the Wolf 3000 (a ferocious electric pencil sharpener)!
This is the premise behind the charming and beautifully illustrated children's picture book Little Red Writing, authored by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

The story starts out with Ms. 2, the teacher, giving all of the different pencils an assignment. They will all write a story. And what happens next is a lovely way to teach children what a story is and how a story develops as Little Red takes her 15 red words in her basket and begins her journey.
Along the way Little Red learns all about what makes a story. She is introduced to action, adjectives, editing, sticking to the story, adverbs, conjunctions, run on sentences, punctuation, sentence structure and being brave when writing.

If you're a fan of anthropomorphic characters you'll find not only pencils but glue, staplers, tape, pencil sharpeners and more ! I loved the colorful and collage inspired illustrations and the abundance of puns. Just one example, one pencil is driving the adverb truck filled with adverbs of course, on the side of the truck, Adverbs "We Deliver Speedily."

I think this is a book that will grow with your young child. They will surely love the fairy tale told with a modern twist and as they get older there are a lot of writing concepts and vocabulary words to learn and explore. This could just be the inspiration your child needs to get excited about writing and telling a story.

Teaching Story to Children

I fell in love with books early on and I was writing stories as soon as I learned how to write. If your children are just starting to learn how to put together a story there are several children's books that will help them understand beginning creative writing concepts and story elements like characters, setting and plot and what makes a story as well as parts of speech. The Plot Chickens illustrates simplistically the process of writing a book, submitting it to publishers and for this chicken rejection. It would be a great starting off place to introduce children to the concept of publishing and what makes a good story.


15 February 2015

View from last summer

With snow on the ground reminders of last summer's garden.

February Sunshine

The February sunshine steeps your boughs And tints the buds and swells the leaves within.
William Cullen Bryant

I turn my calendar from January's snowmen to February flowers.

February is Groundhog Day, Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, George Washington's Birthday, Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. It's also when my seed catalogs start piling up.They start late December, in the middle of snowmen and candy canes I tuck them away. They offer discounts if I order before the end of January but with snow outside and the current economy I push them aside. Until February...after 9 years of gardening I am hooked. The brightly colored slicks tout "flowers of the year," "new and world exclusive" and "favorite of all growers." I have learned not to order seeds until I've planned out my garden on paper but with such descriptive language like this "these gorgeous fully double blooms glisten as they sit above the compact feathery foliage in a bright mix of oranges, pinks and apple blossom shades" how can I resist? This year I made artist trading cards (ATC's) from some of my catalogs, great way to upcycle them.

Last year, I pulled some words and phrases from a seed catalog for a poetry prompt. So I thought I'd do that again.
comes into its own
with just one
falling in love
just enough
possessing a more

Today, using these words write a poem incorporating as many of the words as you can. If you're comfortable with sharing post your poem in the comment section. I would love to read it!
Or take one of your seed catalogs and put together a found poem. Now get back to work!

The Writing Nag

01 January 2015

7 Ways to Create Healthy New Year's Habits

Vintage New Year's postcard

Every man should be born again on the first of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle, if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but, on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take interest in the things that are and are to be, and not in the things that were and are past. ~Henry Ward Beecher, "A Completed Year," 1882 December 31st

I've always loved a new year, the possibilities, the challenges, the chance to better myself. While letting go of the past can be trying I've always loved the idea of moving forward and what better way to do that than with setting achievable goals. And for me there is no way to achieve goals unless I make them a habit. Maybe you have stopped making New Year's Resolutions, you know the ones you make on New Year's Day but then a few weeks later seem so challenging or not fun at all so you drop them?

The all or nothing approach has never worked for me but in 2014 I created several healthy habits that stuck and continuing them helped me reach my goals. In reflecting on 2014, these are the seven ways I created healthy habits. I use the term healthy not only for body health but also for mind, soul and creative spirit. You can also create financial habits such as saving more money or paying off debt. Maybe your goal is to create a clutter-free house so tidying can become a healthy habit. Whatever your desire there are habits you can put in place to achieve your goals, wishes and dreams.  

Habit:an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary:

the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.

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