Welcome to our Authors and Artists blog! This is a web site for my "Budding Authors and Artists" (grades 1-3) 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!

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!)