Welcome to our Authors and Artists blog! This is a web site for my "Budding Authors and Artists" (grades 1-2) and "Awesome Authors and Artists" (grades 3-6) to have a chance to showcase their work. Please feel free to leave any comments for these outstanding authors or their teacher!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Election Day

One of my Writers' Workshops fell on Election Day.  On the drive to school, I started brainstorming an assignment that I am really glad we ended up doing!  The students were either to write letters describing why they were running for governor, or suggesting a proposition that would make life better.  I love these two students' emphasis on school-- enjoy!!

Dear President Obama,

I would like to become the new governor of California.  I am in fifth grade and was chosen by the principal of my school.  I will change the laws in a better way so that everyone will like them.  First, because every child is important and should go to school, I will make a law that every school should start at 9:30 and end at 4:00 with each child in this state spread out in a school.  I would also have only healthy food for hot lunch.  Also, I would create a law that teachers should only give students homework if they need it or want it.  Teachers can only give homework to the children who are behind, which will urge them to work harder.

Put me on the ballot and I will improve America by improving California!

Rebecca (5th grade)

Proposition 29

Hello, I'm a 4th grader at __________.  The President told me to make a proposition, so vote for Prop. 29.  Prop 29 would make schools give more vacations.  If we have more vacations, the children would be happier.  They would get Monday through Saturday off.  So, that means they only have school on Sundays.  But on Sunday, you have school from 8:45 AM to 6:00 PM.  Plus, you only get homework if you miss school a lot or you have bad grades.  On Sunday, you get to skip class if it is a holiday.  This is why you should vote for Prop 29.

By Cody (4th grade)

Haiku Poetry

Haikus are such a beautiful form of poetry.  The students and I talked about the importance of visual imagery and of course, the famous 5-7-5 syllable count!  Here are some of my favorites:

Beautiful horses
Running in the great hot plains
Finally away

By Krithika (4th grade)

All through the season
Leaves begin to change colors
And start to fall down

By Jade (5th grade)

Rain falls all the time
In winter snow, ice, or frost
You want to be warm

By Reign (5th grade)

Watch the yellow light
In the beautiful night sky
Watch for shooting stars

By Jack (4th grade)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Research Papers

We spent a few weeks in October working on our research papers.  The subject?  The backwards animals we wrote fabulous paragraphs about earlier!  We had a lesson on how to outline, and we created outlines with main ideas, points, and sub points about everything we could imagine (and imagine we had to, since we were the creators of our own animals!)  The students outlined topics such as diet, habitat, appearance, and living style/habits.  After the outline was complete, the students were to follow their outline and create a research paper complete with an introduction, body, and conclusion.  The children worked very hard!

Here is Melissa's (5th grade).  I chose it for the blog because her creativity is just unbelievable, from this bird's diet to its funny personality.  Notice how she quotes "studies" that she researched!  And I love her picture.  Enjoy her research paper on the Xert (T-rex backwards of course!)

      You won't find any animal that is quite like the xert.  It looks like an orange owl, but from its homework diet to its magical and mischievous habits, it couldn't really be considered a cousin.

     The xert's vivid colors make it stand out in the crowd; definitely a change from an owl.  It has a bright orange beak with matching feet.  It grooms the orange feathers all over its head and body daily, using its beige wings with orange speckles.  No one really knows why it does this.  Maybe it's to seem innocent when it steals homework!

     When it comes to homework, the xert suddenly becomes very devious.  That's because homework is its primary staple of food.  Studies show that the xert not only steals when its owner is not around, it also prefers "important" documents.  Sometimes owners take on a devious side themselves, when they make fake homework for their xert to eat instead of the real thing!  Don't worry, you don't always have to be on guard- if you happen to have carrots or corn cobs around.  The xert will eat these too.  With a diet of only these three foods, it definitely qualifies as a picky eater!

     You may be thinking that the xert is not exactly your ideal bird, but there is something I haven't told you.  This furry little bird has the psychic ability to influence other animals.  In one study, an xert convinced a dog to dig up some carrots for it to eat, just with mental messages.  It is definitely strange.  Officials think that the xert could be a help to the community, as they have an effect on people.  Someday, you might see an xert patrolling a local park, silently reminding people not to feed the squirrels!

     The xert is definitely one-of-a-kind.  I think it's the most personified animal I've ever heard of.  From its colorful feathers to it strange diet, it's a very hard bird to miss!

Here is Daphne's (5th grade).  Her research paper is well-organized with clear paragraphs on appearance and diet-- both very creatively thought out!  I now present to you "The Gorf" (Frog backwards of course!)

The gorf is very weird, but unique.  It makes funny actions.  The one thing that separates it from all other animals is that it eats burgers!  It can't miss a day without burgers!

The gorf is in the same family as the kangaroo, but it is much faster and can jump higher.  The gorf is brown and tall.  It has long legs, a long neck, but short hands.

The gorf has a weird diet.  Its number one thing to eat is a hamburger.  It needs to eat at least one hamburger a day.  If it can't find any humans to share a hamburger with it, it will simply go to the burger garden.  After eating a burger, the gorf will eat some healthy things like fruits or vegetables.  The gorf can get fruits from the ground or trees because it has a long neck.

In conclusion, I think the gorf is unusual.  Even though it has a funny appearance and a weird diet, I think it would be a cool pet to have.  If I did, I would like it to be a lookout!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Riddle Poems!

The month of November we will focus on poetry.  We started off with an introduction to rhyme scheme and end line rhyme with a lesson on "Riddle Poems."  My favorite part of this lesson was how the students and I helped each other out and brainstormed together to get rhyming words that made sense in the context of their poems.  We all sure shared some laughs this week!  Here are just a few for now.  To keep tickling your funny bone, I will add more to the blog as they get turned in.  Enjoy!

This thing tastes very swell.
Its flavor is sweet, and so is its smell.
They say it keeps the doctor away!
It makes me very healthy to this day.

What is it?
(Answer: an apple)
By Reeya (3rd grade)

On your teeth these things sit tight.
They do their work with all their might!
They make your teeth very straight.
To get them off you'll have to wait!

What are these?
(Answer: braces)
By Nicole (3rd grade)

These things cluck around in their pen.
The boy is a rooster and the girl is a hen.
They walk around in a disorderly way.
If you're a farmer, you see them all day.

What are these?
(Answer: chickens)
By Savannah (4th grade) with some wonderful assistance from Caley (5th grade)

I can't come in your sleep
Until you rest real deep.
Sometimes I can be quite frightful,
Other times I'm quite delightful!

What am I?
(Answer: a dream)
By Julia (5th grade)

She teaches writing every week
And she never takes a seat.
When we're good she gives us candy.
When I need help, she comes in handy.

Who is this?
(Answer: Mrs. Huff!)
By Nick (4th grade)  Thanks for thinking I come in handy, Nick!  And you're right... I don't do any sitting while I teach!!

Many of them in the air,
They fall down in your hair.
They are very cold and white,
And make a sight on a winter night.

What are they?
(Answer: Snowflakes)
By Sarah (5th grade)

In this sport you need a ball and bat
You can wear a glove and a hat.
You run around from base to base
At an extremely fast pace!

What is this?
(Answer: baseball)
By Cody (4th grade)

He is very jolly and fun.
He quickly melts in the sun.
He loves to be in the snow,
And I am sure you know....

What is this?
(Answer: a snowman)
 By Krithika (4th grade)

This electronic is a cool thing.
I'm going to buy it with my savings.
Into the Apple Store I'll stride,
But first I'll need to catch a ride.

What is this thing?
(Answer: an iPad)
By Revan (3rd grade)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween Monsters

Adjectives, adjectives, adjectives!! They paint such important pictures in our minds. Colors, numbers, shapes, and sizes.... we can't clearly envision an object without adjectives.

My Writers' Workshop students celebrated Halloween last week with the Monster Draw Game.  Here is how you play:

1. Draw a monster and have fun with the art work.
2. Write a description that is incredibly detailed. Describe every aspect of your picture with size, shape, color, and number adjectives.
3. Exchange your descriptions with a partner.
4. Attempt to draw their monster, while they draw yours.
5. The winners' pictures will look almost identical, because the description will be so vivid and easy to follow.

When the game was over, the classes (and a few parents, too!) voted on the best matches.   I promised the winners they would be published on the blog, so here they are!

Sianna (4th grade) wrote such a vivid description for her monster that it was no wonder her partner Abby (3rd grade) drew it so accurately:

My monster isn't scary, but cute.  She has a giant round orange body.  She has a purple top hat with a little pink ribbon and bow.  her two eyes are light blue.  On top of her eyes she has five dark blue eyelashes.  Just like people, she has two brown eyebrows.  Her nose is a little turquoise circle about one inch under her eyes.  Her mouth is a big red smile (because she is always happy), with one little gray tooth in the middle on the top.

Because he's round, her little arms stick out.  They are about one inch and are yellow with four fingers.  Her pink legs are about the same size as her arms (except a little shorter), with little purple high heels.
And here is how Abby drew it.  Besides the darker shade of orange, they are almost twins!

Katherine (4th grade) wrote a fantastic description, except, as her partner pointed out, when she forgot to include a couple of key color adjectives.  Jay (4th grade) persevered anyway, and followed Katherine's instructions beautifully.  So even though some parts are colorless, we voted they were winners!

My monster isn't tall or scary.  It is friendly and kind.  Her head is a round circle with cat ears on top.  she has a cute little mouth and five eyes looking north, south, east, west, and straight.  Her body is blue and shaped like a raindrop.  On each side, she has three arms.  She also has four legs.  She has wavy legs and arms with four fingers.  On her back, there are two yellow wings.  She has pink slippers and blue shoes.  She also has a bow on the top of her head.
Good writing, Katherine, and Good reading, Jay!

Riya (3rd grade) and Lillian (3rd grade) worked beautifully together.  Riya is a very thorough writer, and Lillian is an excellent reader!

My monster has a big round white head.  She has a red round nose and one eye.  She has three curved pink hairs on her head on each side.  My monster has a black smiley mouth with two purple fangs!  She has two wavy white arms with magenta stripes, with five small orange fingers.  My monster has no body.  She just has four legs.  The two on your right are purple, and the two on your left are green.  They look like golf clubs!
Lillian's version is smaller, but still right on!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to Write a Great Hpargarap!

A few weeks ago, I presented a lesson on paragraph writing.  To make it fun, we created imaginative animals by spelling real animal names backwards.  As we drew and colored our new creatures, they came to life in our imaginations, and we began thinking of topics on which to write: appearance, diet, habitat, and living style.  We focused on varying our sentence patterns and making sure we had a catchy introduction and conclusion to our paragraphs.  We also made sure we didn't stray off the topic.  And of course, we remembered that tiny important detail: INDENTING!  I had so many wonderful paragraphs turned in that it was difficult to choose, but here are three very creative animals and their paragraphs!

The Xineohp, by Jay (4th grade)

(I am posting two of Jay's paragraphs because I simply couldn't pick a favorite.  His "appearance" paragraph goes beautifully with his picture, but the paragraph on "diet" is so creative and unique that I had to include it as well!)

          The xineohp is really a very scary looking bird.  It has lots of vibrant colors on its whole body like its cousin, the phoenix, but they are very different.  It has a very menacing look so people run away in terror.  When people hear its majestic call, they flee the scene.  The odd bird is truly a sign of fear.

          The xineohp has an odd diet.  It eats fire, hot coals, and drinks lava.  When it eats too much, it turns into a fireball and shoots around.  Try to avoid the xineohp in that state.  Its favorite food is fire inside ice.  Its diet is dangerous!

Here is Caley's (5th grade.)  Her little critter is adorably creative, and I enjoyed this paragraph on what the Redips is known for.

          The redips is very special.  It is special because it breathes fire!  When it breathes fire, that means it has just eaten jalapeno nacho cheese.  "Nacho cheese!" is the favorite word of the redips.  Despite its strange appearance, you will think that the redips is very cuddly, except when it breathes fire!

Here is Katherine's (4th grade).  You'll love her conclusion sentence in this paragraph about the niugnep!

          The niugnep is a very unique creature.  It has a snake-like tongue, bear ears, a unicorn horn, wings that grow when it flies, a soft fox tail, and sharp claws that can go in and out.  While hunting, niugneps take out their claws to kill and take their prey to the surface.  Niugneps are the cuddliest things you've ever felt, as long as they keep their claws in and they don't spit poison at you.

Another wonderful semester has begun!

I am happy to report that more wonderful sessions of Writers' Workshop have begun at three different schools, and I have loved getting to know each of my students.

We started off with our first assignment of A Summer Adventure Story.  We've all been given the task of writing or telling about something fun we had done over the summer.... but this assignment was given an exciting twist.  At some point in the story, the students were asked to to turn their true story into one of fantasy and adventure.  We started off brainstorming and story mapping, and then began our rough drafts.  Here are just two of many outstanding stories that were turned in!  See if you can figure out when the truth becomes fiction.....

Here is Riya's (3rd grade).  I love the ending of her story!

"This Summer...." by Riya

This summer my dad and I went to Crater Lake.  I went swimming and relaxed a lot.  But one part of my trip wasn't relaxing.....

When we were just about to start swimming, I saw a lobster.  My dad said he would pull it out, but he only got the claw.  Just the claw bit him for some reason.

"Ouch!" said Dad.

Then the rest of the lobster came together again!  We were so surprised that we forgot about swimming.  We put the lobster in a bucket and took it home.

While we were walking back to the car, we saw that the lobster had disappeared!  We went back to the water to search for it.  Then I found it again, and it said to me, "I am magical.  Please don't eat me!"

So we didn't eat it, but instead took it home as a pet.  Now it's sitting in my room, practicing its magic tricks.

Here is Arushi's (4th grade).  I love her vocabulary, especially her use of outstanding and descriptive action verbs. I also think the subtle mention of sibling rivalry is quite humorous!

"My Vacation," by Arushi

This summer I went to Santa Barbara.  It was a hot day in Santa Barbara, a perfect day for swimming.  But what happened in the pool wasn't what I anticipated....

It was July 20th when all of this happened.  I had persuaded my sister to help me get our parents to let us go to the pool.  They finally said yes, and they decided we'd all go.  So I got my swimsuit on and off we went.

My dad jumped in and told my sister and me to come in.  We shook our heads and wandered around the pool.  Then, my dad decided we were taking too long.  He heaved himself out of the pool and grabbed us.  My sister, being the younger one, screamed, 'Eeeek!"  I, meanwhile, silently struggled.  Okay, maybe I screamed a little  Anyway, my dad lifted us up and threw us in the pool.  We landed with a large splash.

As soon as we rose for breath, my sister shrieked, "Dad!  This is going to ruin my clothes!  They're brand new!"

"Your clothes aren't brand new," I said calmly in my big-sister tone.  "It doesn't matter.  Let's just swim."

I had a fun time playing in the pool after that, even though I had to put up with my sister's grumbling.  Then my dad went to join my mom in the hot tub.

Finally, my sister stopped moaning and dared me to touch the tile dolphin at the very bottom of the pool. I dived down and looked around for the dolphin.  Then I saw it.  It was much more realistic than I originally thought, and its tail glistened and glittered.  I hovered above it, watching sparkles dance around it.  It didn't occur to me that I had been down there five minutes, and hadn't drowned!  All I could do was stare.  Finally, I touched its tail.

Suddenly, the tail started to flip and flop.  I pulled back my hand and saw the tile dolphin come to life!  My sister had come down to see what the hold-up was, and she saw everything.  "Dolphin!" she squealed, and the next thing I knew, I was on the dolphin, watching all the fish.

Fish?  Where was I??  "Um, take us to the top," I told the dolphin, feeling silly talking to it.

But it just nodded and raced to the top of the water.  When I looked, I realized that I was in the sea!  The dolphin looked at me and saw the surprise on my face.  "Don't worry.  I'm Splash, Ruler of the Dolphins, and you are now Ruler of the Sea.  I will take you to the palace," the dolphin said kindly.

"So I'm just a visitor?" whined my sister.

The dolphin nodded.  I, meanwhile, had only just figured out what was happening.  The dolphin took no notice and sped down into the sea.

We finally arrived at the sandy bottom.  A huge team of dolphins swam by and gave me something with their flippers.  It was a glowing green trident.  My sister and I stared at it, awestruck.  Then my sister realized it wasn't for her.  "It's not fair that you get it!" she yelled, startling a school of fish.

"Dolphin, take me to a place where I can rest," she commanded.

I watched her ride off.  After that, I had a great day.  The dolphins took me swimming, a bunch of huge sea horses gave me a ride, and the seals showed me the palace.

Then my sister swam back, a big smile on her face.  "I take back what I said before.  I love this!"

Uh oh.  She couldn't be happy here.  This was MY palace.  She could go get her own!  I decided to make her leave.  I called Splash and asked her to to take us home.  She agreed, but only because I said we'd be back.

Finally, we popped out of the water, and saw the pool.  We joined our parents in the hot tub and told them everything, but no one believed us.  But I knew I was still Queen of the Sea.

I really enjoyed reading Sarah's (5th grade).  Her visual imagery is just beautiful.  What a fabulous adventure!

Horse Rides
by Sarah

            This past summer I went to Lake Tahoe with my family.  We rented a vacation house and it was the best house ever!  We went swimming in the hot tub, playing in the lake, boating, fishing, and horseback riding.  Even though we had a lot of things to do, horseback riding was the event I would never forget.
            First of all, my mom selected the specialty ride because she thought our ride should be a little more special this time.  The trail guide looked really excited about her customers.  She assigned us to our horses and as soon as we got on, we started walking along the trail.
            The ride was pretty long and boring until suddenly, all the horses moved to a small new narrow trail that seemed to have just appeared.  And then we could see a huge tree in the distance that was in the way.
            When we were about to bump into it, a warm gust of wind blew across my face.  I didn’t feel anything when we walked into the tree.  But when I looked back, I could not see the tree anymore.  I didn’t need to care about that because once I turned back around, I was too stunned to say anything.  There was a huge horn right in front of me!  My horse had just turned into a unicorn!
            I think it was about nighttime in this new world because it was all dark and everything was glowing and sparkling.  It wasn’t a cold night; it was warm.  There was soft green moss on the ground and our guide just smiled to our stunned faces.
            Our guide showed us around this new land.  There were pixies everywhere, spreading pixie dust over our heads.  There were also ponies with wings that were grazing in the huge, healthy meadow.  Also, there was a lake that had mermaids in it.  The path we were walking on was lined with different little flowers.  The land was beautiful, filled with life and a sweet aroma always filling the air. 
            The guide led us to some money trees (we weren’t allowed to pick any) to take a break.  I fell asleep and I had no dreams.  Then, I didn’t keep track of what happened after that.
            It was a peaceful sleep, until I woke up under not a money tree in the magical land, but under an apple tree by the horse stables.  Suddenly, I realized that the ride was over and I did not remember a thing about it.  My family kept on telling me that I had fallen asleep on the horse, and they had to get me off the horse and put me under the tree.  I really don’t believe them since they don’t sound so convincing.  I think the pixie dust was to make me think it actually happened.  I’m the one who knows what really happened.  Or so I think.  Maybe I’m wrong.  We’ll never know.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gearing Up for Back to School

These past two weeks, I have had the pleasure of working with a wonderful, hard-working group of students in a shortened Writers' Workshop course. I am proud to share some of their work with you!

We focused on some important academic aspects of writing this summer. We wrote creative stories, but first created story maps so as to keep on track and remain focused on a goal during our writing. I also did a lesson on how to outline, and then how to follow the outline to write a detailed, organized report. We also learned how to write an outstanding book report, with an introduction, body, and conclusion.

These students worked hard and tomorrow we will celebrate with some writing games and a Read Aloud party with parents invited. What a fun celebration of school in the middle of summer!

Book Reports

Book reports can unfortunately be perceived as dull assignments to many students. We tried to make it fun this summer, and I presented the students with a guide to making book reports sound great. Here it is, for anybody's use this upcoming school year!

(Recommended age guideline for this report format is 3rd grade and up.)

Step 1: Write an introduction paragraph. This should tell what book you read, who the author is, if the book is part of a series, and even how many pages it is. You should also include one or two adjectives describing your book in this paragraph!
Step 2: Choose one, two, or all three of the topic choices below. This will make up the BODY of your report.
*Choice #1: Write a paragraph on the main characters. Tell their names, and what they did in the book. Were they good or bad characters? Would you like them as friends? If they were animals, were they personified? Think about these questions to help you.
*Choice #2: Give a one to two paragraph SUMMARY of your book. Remember, summaries tell what happened in YOUR OWN WORDS. Be sure to include the most important information.
*Choice #3: Summarize your favorite part of the book. Use lots of detail, so the person reading your report will know exactly what happened, and why it was your favorite part!
Step 3: Write a conclusion to your book report. Be creative! Tell why you liked or disliked this book. Would you recommend this book to a friend? Would you like to read other books by the same author? Would you have changed the book in any way if YOU were the author? Think about these questions to help you write a great conclusion.
I am still waiting for a student's final copy to post on this site, but in the meantime, I will provide my own sample!
Old Mother West Wind: Old Stories for the Young at Heart!
I read the fantastic book Old Mother West Wind. Thornton W. Burgess wrote this book in 1911, so it is almost 100 years old! Even though it was written long ago, it is still perfect for today's children. Anyone who likes animals, humor, and adventure will really enjoy this book. Thornton W. Burgess loved nature, and wrote many stories based on the characters found in Old Mother West Wind.

Old Mother West Wind is a chapter book, with each chapter focusing on different animal characters and the adventures they go on. Some chapters tell stories simply to entertain, but most stories have a moral of the story and a lesson to be learned. A few chapters tell how certain animals came to be the way they are today. The animals are all personified and some act like children, while others act like adults.

          There are too many characters to list, so I will share some of my favorites. All of the animals are personified and wear clothes, live in houses, talk, and have their own unique personalities. Johnny Chuck is a woodchuck who is very good-natured. He is always in a good mood and even when funny or embarrassing things happen to him, he remains cheerful. Grandfather Frog is old and wise. He has lived longer than any of the other animals and has many great stories to tell. Spotty the Turtle doesn't make any big appearances until the end of the book when he outsmarts everyone in a race. I like how he uses his brains, not necessarily his athleticism, to win! Reddy Fox is an interesting character to me, but I wouldn't want him to be my friend. He is the bully of the book, but he makes the stories more interesting by being in them!

          As I mentioned, I really liked the last chapter of the book called "Spotty the Turtle Wins a Race." In it, Spotty gets teased by the faster animals and gets challenged to race against them. Spotty agrees, and ends up outsmarting them all and winning the race, even though he is by far the slowest. Honestly, Spotty does cheat in the race, but the reader ends up liking him so much that it seems okay for him to do so! At the end of the book, everyone is so surprised and happy that Spotty won, and the reader is too!

          I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to students in grades two through six. Anyone who likes personified animals in literature will enjoy this book. I plan on reading all the other books by Thornton W. Burgess!

July 29, 2010
I was able to get a copy of Katherine's (entering 4th grade) book report, and I just love how she organized it. She chose to do two out of the three body options, which is a great goal for her age group. With a little assistance, she made some strong revisions and came up with the following excellent report:

Night of the New Magicians, by Katherine (entering 4th grade)

          I read an adventure book called Night of the New Magicians by Mary Pope Osborne. If you like adventures, you might like this book. This book is part of the Magic Tree House series, A Merlin Mission. Mary Pope Osborne loves adventures! This magic book with lead you to Jack and Annie's magical land.

          The main characters are Jack and Annie. They love going on adventures. When Jack and Annie go on adventures, they go in a Magic Tree House. When a mission begins with Jack and Annie, the tree house spins faster and faster, and then it's still. They are good at solving things. I wouldn't want to be friends with them because sometimes I'm shy meeting new friends.

          My favorite part of the book was when Jack and Annie were running from one place to another in the Paris World's Fair. They were trying to find all the magicians. Each time they ran to a new place, a messenger always came before them. After they went to the last place, they went to the Eiffel Tower and found all the magicians. It was good that Jack and Annie found all the magicians: Magicians of Invisible, Sound, Iron, and Fire.

          I liked this book. It wasn't the best book, but I still liked it. I think kids who like adventures should fly into this book and have adventures with Jack and Annie.

Here is Jeffrey's (entering 3rd grade).  He did a fabulous job.  I wish I could type this blog in his own cursive-- it is absolutely beautiful!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic, by Jeffrey (entering 3rd grade)

          I read the great book Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic.  Betty MacDonald wrote this book in 1949.  This book is currently 61 years old.  Even though it is 61 years old, it's still a fun book to read.  Anyone that likes Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle will love this book.

          Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic is a chapter book, with each chapter focusing on a bad habit of a certain child.  Some chapters don't have cures, but most do.  All the cures are silly and aren't real.

          I really liked the last chapter of the book called "The Waddle I Doers."  In it all the children are invited to go to Big Rock with Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  It was raining, so they went to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's house instead.  Since Mr. Piggle-Wiggle had hidden money in secret drawers in the house, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle ran out of money, they had to find the gold.  When they looked, the basement was flooded.  So they drained it, and then they found a note from Mr. Piggle-Wiggle that told where the treasure was.  After opening the right chambers, they used the gold to buy dinner.

          I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone.  It was fun and interesting.  This is my third one and I can't wait to read the fourth!

Research Papers

I was surprised to hear from my summer students that they had never been taught how to outline. I am wondering if it's a lost art, no longer being taught in Language Arts classrooms. It is such a wonderful organizational tool in my opinion. I was happy to pass this lesson on to my students, and they did a wonderful job with it. Their assignment was to bring notes in on any subject they found interesting. At first we organized their notes into categories (animal behaviors, diets, life span, etc) and then formed an outline with points and sub points. We made sure to include topic sentences with many well-written supporting points. This led to some very organized and informative reports, and I am proud to share these here!

Here is Rebecca's (entering 5th grade in the fall). She came to class with an incredible amount of information, and she did a great job organizing it into an outline, and then spicing up her sentences when it came to writing her report.

Dolphins, by Rebecca (entering 5th grade)

Many people think dolphins are fish, but they're not. Dolphins are actually mammals; they breathe air just like humans. Dolphins are very unique animals.

When baby dolphins are born, they are born tail first, unlike every other mammal. After the baby is born, their mother will stay with it for about two to three years. Then, the calf is on its own.

There are many types of dolphins, and therefore many sizes. The killer whale is actually the largest member of the dolphin family. The boto is the largest fresh water dolphin. It is found in the Amazon River. The bottlenose dolphin is the most commonly seen. They live in the ocean. The pink dolphin is found in the Amazon River and is endangered.

Dolphins can consume thirty pounds of fish a day. What's interesting is that dolphins swallow fish whole, even though they have 100 teeth in their mouth. Dolphins use those 100 teeth to catch their prey: fish! They have two stomachs: one for digesting food, and one for storing food. Dolphins have very interesting ways of eating!

A dolphin's body is very amazing. They have very little sense of smell. However, they make up for it with excellent eye sight both above and below water. Their skin is very delicate, just like humans'. They are highly intelligent. Their brain is larger in relation to apes.

Dolphins have amazing water behavior. They can dive as deep as 1,000 feet. They can also swim up to 25 miles per hour, faster than the best human swimmers! Dolphins can hold their breath for thirty minutes, whereas all other mammals have to breathe approximately every twenty seconds. They can jump twenty feet high out of the water. What a sight to see!

Dolphins are awesome animals. If I could have any wild pet, it would be a dolphin. Then, I could teach it tricks and maybe make some money by putting on shows for people!

Nathan (entering 6th grade) researched rabbits, specifically house rabbits. We decided to take his report in a slightly different direction: his job was to sell us all on why we should have a rabbit as a pet. I love how he added in some fun adjectives and almost personified his subject. It is informative and entertaining!

House Rabbits, by Nathan (entering 6th grade)

If you are looking for a compassionate, furry companion, house rabbits are the perfect match for you. Rabbits are perfect pets because they live a long time and will be at your side for years. They are very calm and soothing, but they can be scared by loud noises and mishandling. That's why unsupervised children under age seven should not have rabbits as pets. Rabbits are very social. They are willing to be a pillow for anyone and anything. Bunnies will also groom other pets. These reasons are why rabbits are good pets.

Rabbits live a very luxurious lifestyle. Rabbits need large enclosures and don't have to pay for rent or their house. Letting rabbits roam the house is a very good idea because rabbits need a lot of hopping space. The rabbits' diet is timothy hay, pellets, and alfalfa hay. Rabbits shed fur like snakes shed their skin. When the rabbits shed their fur, your house will have clumps of fur everywhere. So watch where you step, because eventually one of those clumps of fur might be a home to some baby rabbits.

Do you know what also makes bunnies awesome pets? They live eight to twelve years, so they can grow up with you.

In conclusion, rabbits are really nice pets. Even if you don't want them, just give them to your friends. Don't release them because they won't live very long. They are domestic, and aren't trained to live in the wild.

Summer Adventure Stories

We've all been assigned the traditional "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" writing assignments. So on my first meeting with my workshop students this summer, I gave this assignment a fun twist. The students were to turn a true story about something they did over the summer into an adventure story. They got to pick at what point the truth turned to fantasy, and they also got to choose if, at the end, all returned to normal, or if things remained fictional. The students did a fabulous job! Amy (entering 5th grade) wrote one of my favorites, as I am a huge Disneyland fan myself!:

My Outer Space Adventure, by Amy (entering 5th grade)

My sister Naomi and I had a lot of summer adventures. In June, my mom, Naomi, and I went to Tokyo, Japan.

The day after we arrived, we went to Disneyland Tokyo. We were having so much fun until we came across the roller coasted called "Space Mountain." Naomi really wanted to go on the coaster, but the line was super long. So, we got a fast pass. Naomi and I were really excited! Maybe we shouldn't have been so excited....

On the ride, I was screaming my head off! The ride was so much fun.

I looked around. Suddenly, the stars looked different, the tracks were gone, and all around us there were planets that astronauts haven't discovered yet!

All of a sudden, aliens started to surround us! They were pretty ugly. They did not seem happy that we crash landed on their planet. Emperor Sir Hsutamali Kczingzing Pipe told his guards, Z, Y,X, and W to put us in his prison.

That's when Naomi pulled out her magical, magnificent, and super GREEN DUCT TAPE! She stripped it out with a loud SSSTTTRRRIIPP! and as fast as lightning, Naomi taped the aliens in a gigantic clump! Then she took Emperor Sir Hsutamali Kczingczing Pipe's crown and put it on her head. The clump of aliens was so heavy that it rolled off their planet into the endless doom of darkness.

After all that excitement, my sister and I got into the first car of the roller coaster, and I flew the coaster back to Earth. Suddenly, we were back in Space Mountain, meeting confused faces from the other passengers. We were yelling and screaming our story to everyone! But most people didn't understand us because we were speaking English, and they were Japanese. My mom just said we had wonderful imaginations, but we kept insisting it all was true!

We went back to the hotel and another adventure awaited us the next day. But that's another story.....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Lesson in Descriptive Writing

Adjectives, adjectives, adjectives!! They paint such important pictures in our minds. Colors, numbers, shapes, and sizes.... we can't clearly envision an object without adjectives.

That was the theme of the "Snowman Draw" game that we played one cold winter's day. Here is how you play:
1. Draw a snowman and have fun with the art work.
2. Write a description that is incredibly detailed. Describe every aspect of your picture with size, shape, color, and number adjectives.
3. Exchange your descriptions with a partner.
4. Attempt to draw their snowman, while they draw yours.
5. The winners' pictures will look almost identical, because the description will be so vivid and easy to follow.

Christina (4th grade) drew Caley's (4th grade) picture perfectly! You'll see why as you read Caley's excellent description. She even remembered to break her description down into paragraphs, making it so much easier to follow. Congratulations, girls!

Caley's Snowman:

My snowman is three snowballs: the top one is small, the middle one is bigger, and the bottom one is the biggest.

He has a purple flower headband, with six purple flowers on the top snowball. The flowers have orange middles.

He has two black coal eyes and a black coal smile that has exactly eight pieces of coal. Right above his mouth is a perfect orange carrot nose.

He has a lei made out of seven purple flowers with orange middles that matches his headband. It is on his middle snowball. Also in his middle, he has three black coal buttons going from top to bottom.

His arms are nothing but brown sticks with three twigs at the end. They are sticking straight out.

Next my snowman has a dark green grass skirt going all the way to the sides of the bottom snowball.

My snowman is standing upright looking at the dark blue ocean. There are two palm trees in the background. The one on the left is facing left with a dark brown trunk, five big dark green leaves right on top of the trunk, and three dark brown coconuts. The one on the right is facing the right with a dark brown trunk, four big dark green leaves (one of which is going out of the picture), and three dark brown coconuts right on top of the trunk.

Right above the snowman's head there are two white clouds. In between them there is a yellow sun with no rays.

Here is what Caley drew, and described so beautifully:

And here's what Christina got from it. She is an excellent, careful reader, don't you think?

I just love this assignment. We did it first semester, too, with monsters at Halloween time. (I think I like these sweet little snowmen better!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Author Imitations

The past two weeks, we have studied the art of imitation. We learned how to read a story, appreciate it for its unique style, and then attempt to write our own story in a style imitating that of the author's.

Our goal was to write a class book imitating the style of Laura Numeroff's "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." I had never done anything like this before and wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. It looked great in my head, but we teachers know that sometimes even the best, most creative idea turns out to be a flop in the classroom!

My students have exceeded my expectations and goals. In an around-the-world writing format, we created this book together, assisted each other with ideas, and offered suggestions on how to keep our writing style in the same style as Laura Numeroff's. We referred to her book often and constantly analyzed and critiqued ourselves as we went. Last week we drafted our notes and mapped out the story from beginning to end, and this week we fine tuned our notes into stories where every sentence was approved by the class and even the illustrations were voted on and created. I am so very proud of my students!

I bet you are dying to know the titles of their stories.....

Monday's: "If You Give a Puppy a Pizza"
Tuesday's: "If You Give a Penguin a Pie"

Did you know that if you give a puppy a pizza, she's going to ask for a bubbly beverage to go with it? You will give her some of your favorite root beer, which will remind her of a jacuzzi tub.......

And if you give a penguin a pie, she is going to ask for some whipped cream to go on top. You will make some of your own delicious homemade whipped cream. The whipped cream will remind her of snow.....

From there, the students did a beautiful job of creating cause and effect stories, bringing their tales full circle, leading back to the original requests of the animals. I love their stories! I wish I could publish them on the blog, but you are just going to have to request a copy from our publishing company instead!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Summer Adventure Stories

A flashback to first semester......

We've all been assigned the traditional "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" writing assignments. So on my first meeting with my workshop students last semester, I gave this assignment a fun twist. The students were to turn a true story about something they did over the summer into an adventure story. They got to pick at what point the truth turned to fantasy, and they also got to choose if, at the end, all returned to normal, or if things remained fictional. The students did a fabulous job! Amelia (3rd grade) wrote one of my favorites:

"Amelia's Trip to the Ocean in Orange County"

When I was in Orange County, I was visiting my cousins. We went to the beach. For the first time, I went boogie boarding.

One very hot afternoon, my aunt said, "Why don't we go to the beach today?" We all agreed, so we had to pack a ton of stuff. You see, my aunt has three boys, and then add me, and that's four kids. Then there was my dad, my aunt, their brothers and sisters, and then other cousins! We finally finished packing, so we got in the car.

We arrived, and I had my first boogie board ride. I was terrible. I fell off, and got water up my nose. Then I said, "I'm terrible! I can't do this! I GIVE UP!"

As I said those words, I started to see something in the sky. It was a flying horse! I said to my dad, "Daddy, do you see that?"

As I pointed at it, he said, "No, I don't know what you're talking about."

So then I knew that I was the only one seeing it.

It came down to me and said, "Don't give up, little child. I'm the Don't Give Up Magic Pegasus. Whenever I hear a little child say, 'I give up,' I come down and say, 'Don't give up. Try again little child, don't give up!'" And he flew away into the sky.

So I tried again. I remembered the horse's words. I did it, and it was all thanks to the Magic Pegasus.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Riddle Poems

The children who finished their assignments early got a special task: Write a riddle poem! The rhyme scheme had to be AABB, and had to be in the form of a riddle. The more obvious, the better the poem! We had fun using my rhyming dictionary to assist us with rhyming lines that made sense for our riddle.

I love Carl's (3rd grade). We guessed his right away, which meant it was well-written!

You need these objects in baseball.
If you don't use them, you will fall.
If they don't fit, you will find
That you'll fall and dizzy your mind.
What are they?

(Answer: Baseball cleats)

Christina's (4th grade) was a joy to read and figure out!

This class is after-school fun.
When it's over, you don't want it to be done.
You work and work, and write and write.
And then you think about it all night.
What is it?

(Answer: Writers' Workshop)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mad Libs!

The students love doing Mad Libs. For anyone not familiar with them, a Mad Lib is a story with certain key words omitted. Where the word is omitted, the student fills in the part of speech without knowing what the story is about, therefore creating very amusing stories. By writing them, we get to review and practice important parts of speech and examine how they can be used in sentences and passages. We all sure had fun completing Melissa's (4th grade) Mad Lib in class last week:

Writer's Workshop is a(n) __________________ (adjective) after-school activity directed by Mrs. Huff. Students write _____________ (plural noun), ____________________ (adjective) passages, and personification __________________(plural noun). Not to mention Mad Libs, like this one right here! It all seems like ______________________ (adjective) work, but it's actually ________________(adverb) fun. Mrs. Huff is a(n) ______________________ (adjective), fun-loving teacher, like many teachers at _____________________ (proper noun, place). She is always nice, and she gives out ___________________ (plural noun) if she thinks we're doing a(n) ________________ (adjective) job. In conclusion, if you like ______________________(adjective) writing, Writers' Workshop is the ______________ (noun) for you!

Thanks for the compliments, Melissa! (Although, this has the potential to be not-so-complimentary, depending on the word choices!!)

Look For These New Sports in Future Olympics!

I had "Persuasive Essay" on the agenda for this semester, but was looking for a creative and fun way to tie the assignment into real life for my students. I absolutely love the Olympics, and thought it would be fun for the children to write persuasive letters to the Olympic Board of Commissioners. The students' assignment was to create a new Olympic sport, possibly by blending two already in existence, and write a five paragraph letter attempting to convince the Board that they just HAD to bring this new sport to the next Olympic games! We studied my sample and figured out the five paragraphs should go something like this:
Paragraph 1: A complimentary, welcoming couple of sentences. (As my students put it, "Tell them how great they are!")
Paragraph 2: A brief introduction to the new sport
Paragraph 3: A more detailed description of the sport, including rules, location, and how to earn points
Paragraph 4: A paragraph explaining why the board should adopt this new sport.
Paragraph 5: A conclusion, wrapping it all up and possibly complimenting them once more.

One Mom told me she was worried... now that I have taught persuasive thinking and writing, she is afraid her daughter will use it at home when she wants something!

Here is Maggie's (5th grade). She was extremely creative, and admittedly, unrealistic! But, she still sells this idea very, very well! I love her ideas and I love her picture, too. And check out her first paragraph. She is definitely complimentary!!

To The Olympic Board of Commissioners,

You must be very smart and organized to set up such a big event like the Olympics. It must be such an honor to work for the Olympics! I enjoyed the 2010 Olympics so much. I'll bet the athletes love you.

I have something important to ask you. Maybe, possibly, you will consider adding a new sport to the 2014 Olympics. Picture this: moon craters everywhere, snow brought by the ten thousands, spaceships galore! Then, let's give this picture a name: Moon Skiing!

Moon Skiing is exactly like slalom skiing except it is on the moon! The skiers will wear astronaut suits, and skis of course. The organizers will bring LOTS of snow to one of the moon's craters, and then the skiers will ski in the crater. As a grand finale, if a skier can jump over the American flag, they will earn one hundred points! They earn this many because five racers will race at a time, and there is only one American flag. Of course, the fact that the American flag is about six miles away from the crater will create a level of difficulty worthy of so many points. It would be hosted by Cape Kennedy on the Space Coast. (If snow is needed, fake snow will be provided.)

The benefits of this sport are numerous. The Olympics will gain even more popularity. Who wouldn't want to watch skiing on the moon? It would be amazingly new: the first Olympic sport on the moon! It would earn lots of money. Many people dream of going to the moon.

I hope you will consider this sport to be entered in the 2014 Olympics. Everyone will love this sport.


Here is Abby's (5th grade). I love everything about Abby's, from the name she chose for her sport, to her convincing fourth paragraph. She sold me the moment I read her rough draft!

To The Olympic Board of Commissioners,

I have wanted to write a letter to the important people who manage the Olympics ever since I watched Bode Miller in his first Winter Olympics.

I have a brilliant new event that I hope you will consider adding to the 2014 Olympic Games. I would like you to call it, "Flying Bobsled," also known as "Jumping Bob." While brainstorming, I tried to combine two winter sports into one. "Flying Bobsled" is a combination of two man bobsledding and ski jumping. I chose these two events because they seem very interesting and fun.

This sport will start out like the two man bobsledding on a track, and the two men will start running as fast as they can with the sled. Then they will get in the sled (just like the bobsledding event), and after a certain distance, they will use radar to see how fast they are going. After a few yards, the track will propel the bobsled gracefully into the air. The team will be judged on how fast they were going, and how far they jumped.

Commissioners, put your brilliant minds to work! Imagine athletes coming together for this sport! But do not forget your benefits. The tickets would probably be sold out after only a week or two! Also, more jobs would be created for building the tracks and sleds. Countries everywhere would want to compete, and everyone would want to watch! Imagine the benefits!

I do hope that maybe, possibly, you will consider adding the event "Jumping Bob" to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Just remember: First impressions are not always what they look like.


Here is India's (5th grade). I love the name of her sport! What I like best about India's is that I can see the event taking place in my mind, which means she describes it very clearly and with great detail. I could actually see this one becoming an event one day!

Dear Olympic Board of Commissioners,

For the last few weeks, I have been oohing and aahing over this year's 2010 Olympic Games. I've been so impressed by all of this week's amazing athletes and their eye catching talents. All of these exotic sports have been so very fun to watch. Once again, I have been blown away by all these amazing sporting events, and I am honored in sharing my new ideas with you.

I have recently been pondering some new ideas for the future 2012 Olympic Games. Out of all these ideas, one has stood out: GYMTRACKSTICS. Gymtrackstics is a high pressure sport, combining BOTH track and gymnastics. This spectacular sport will stand out in front of many others! It will gain a lot of popularity.

Now, I will explain how this remarkable sport really works. First of all, it uses the speed and skill of track, AND the flexibility and talent of gymnastics. In this sport, eight athletes will compete at the same time on a track. Each of them are going for the gold! This sport is very different from normal track, because the competitors are not just expected to run across the finish line. They have to run as fast as they can while doing a series of flips, 360's, and cartwheels. This sport's judging will not be based just on speed and creative moves, but costumes and themes as well. To compete, you have to wear a vibrant outfit with a theme as well as perform to music that goes with your routine as you move around the track. Therefore, creativity is the key!

Board members, THINK! Think of all the tourism the 2012 Olympic Games will gain! People will drool over this sport! They will scream with excitement, and they will never take their eyes off the television! This sport will attract billions. People just like me and you!

I hope this sport will interest you, and I hope you will take it into consideration. Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the year!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poetry Time!

Tonight I am preparing for this week's Writers' Workshop. Whatever style of writing I plan for my students to do, I assign myself the same task the week before, and present them with a sample. This week we are going to discuss poetic tools: end line rhyme, internal line rhyme, repetition, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Their assignment will be to write a poem with at least two of these tools. I challenged myself and used all five! I guess my subject matter inspired me. I just had to post my little poem on our blog.

Tub Time
by Mrs. Huff

Splish! Splash! go their tiny feet.
Tubby time is such a treat.
Little hands making waves,
These are moments I want to save
In my mind forever more.
Babies age one, and age four.
Best of Buddies, splashing about,
Excitement shown with screams and shouts.
Fun, fun, fun! Play, play, play!
What a way to end our day!

Eliza (5th grade) was struggling with a bit of writer's block when it came to thinking of a topic. I wanted her to feel strongly about her topic. I shared with her my memory of a summer play date that was held at her home when my daughter was just a baby. Eliza remembered our pool and lunch day vividly, and she came up with this sweet poem:

Playing in the Pool
By Eliza (5th grade)

Pool time, pool time, fun in the sun.
Havin’ some fun with the little one.
Making memories in the pool,
Enjoying the time away from school.

Yum, yum, yum, eating some food,
Enjoying the taste in a happy mood.
Ladybug, ladybug, swim, swim, swim!
Baby’s so cute with her swimsuit so prim.

I really like Eliza's use of repetition and end line rhyme in the AABB pattern. It gives the poem such a fabulous song-like quality. I just love this poem!

A Day in the Life of a Personified Object

This was a fun assignment the children really got into! I asked them to personify themselves as any object. We brainstormed ideas, and got some great ones. Everything from sporting equipment to electronics to furniture to toys got mentioned! The students were asked to write about a moment in time from their life. I really pushed them to literally BECOME that object for a day, and they did a fabulous job. Here is Rebecca's (5th grade). I love how she ties it all together in the end. She is right back where she started.... but she has changed! Enjoy!

Life as a Barbie
by Rebecca (5th grade)

Uhhhh. I am a smooshed Barbie doll in this cramped toy box. I am next to a G.I. Joe toy and this smelly dinosaur. This is my first year at Emerald Hills Pre School.

Oh, the light! They're opening the box! The light feels so.... aahhhh...... This baby is squeezing my arm. You know, that's attached! Oh, wait.... not anymore. Aahhh, it fell off!

Now I am getting grabbed by a different girl. Awww, she's so cute. I think she is holding me close to her heart. No, wait, not the mouth! Aaahhhh! Mmm mmm mmmm....

Okay. Next child. Oh my gosh, I am so wet. Her mouth has no teeth. What does she think I am, a lollipop?!

Oh no, now it's a boy. He's really going to kill me! Why are there scissors in his hands?! He's only three years old. Where's the teacher?! Wait, ahhh!! He's cutting my hair off. My beautiful blonde locks. Gone!

Finally, a lady is picking me up. Oh, she's setting me on the counter. Yes! A mirror! Now I can see myself..... AHHHH!! Oh my, I'm ugly!

Great, now she's throwing me in that toy box again. Hello G.I. Joe. Good bye, cruel world!

I love this one by Savannah (3rd grade). How fun to personify yourself as a food! I like how she gives clues throughout her story about what she is, and her last sentence reveals the answer to her readers.

A Holiday Journey
By Savannah (3rd grade)

Yea, I'm being planted! I feel so, so loved. I am getting watered and the sun makes me so happy and warm. I am ready to grow!

I am not a seed anymore. I'm a potato, and now I'm a potato plant.

Great! I'm getting picked! Ow! You know, I have feet! Stop! Slap! These hands are the biggest hands ever!

Now I'm getting grated. Ow! They're- Ow!- flipping me- Ow!

Wah, wah, I'm about to be eaten! I am a latka on Hanukkah.

Kaitlin's (4th grade) cracked us all up! She is so creative, and funny too. Her 5th paragraph is my favorite part. And I love how she personifies herself, and the rest of the family!

A Tissue's Furious Life
By Kaitlin (4th grade)

I'm only a tissue in a tissue box, and lead a very happy ilfe. But I'm NOT looking forward to being at the top of the box!

My box is on a desk at school. Oh no! Here comes that weird woman!

Not again! She's coming for my parents! I can see her blowing her nose. What a horrible experience!

Oh no! It seems she caught some sort of disease.... what's it called? I don't remember..... Oh, right! She has a cold! What am I to do?!

I'm mad, sad, cold, and confused. Not again! She's starting for the last of my brothers and sisters. The worst part of my life is about to come!

Close my eyes.... Ew! Peyew! It smells horrible in here! Where am I? Open my eyes... and what do you know? Yuck! I'm in the garbage can surrounded by rubbish! No place for a dignified creature like me! There's rotten oranges, apple cores, smelly banana peels, a snail, five slugs, a greasy plastic bag, eight soda cans, and a wrinkled Writers' Workshop rough draft. But no friends, family, or other tissues! I feel like crying! Waaa, waaa, waaaaa......

Oh no! Here comes something! My life is about to end! I can feel that dirty raccoon's nose on me. It's chewing me up!

Gasp! Who's that?! I can't believe what I'm seeing! It's a miracle! Mom! Dad! Brother! Sister! I'm now the happiest tissue!

(Despite the "eewws" that Kaitlin's story got from her classmates, we all thought her story was quite creative and entertaining, and we were glad that she ended up with her family again, even if it was in the process of a raccoon's rummaging meal!)