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!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thanksgiving Time

To celebrate Thanksgiving, I read this poem to my classes, and gave them a copy to keep:

Thank You
for all my hands can hold--
apples red,
and melons gold,
yellow corn
both ripe and sweet,
peas and beans
so good to eat!

Thank You
for all my eyes can see--
lovely sunlight,
field and tree,
white cloud-boats
in sea-deep sky,
soaring bird
and butterfly.

Thank You
for all my ears can hear--
birds' song echoing
far and near,
songs of little
stream, big sea,
cricket, bullfrog,
duck and bee!
Ivy O'Eastwick

I love this poem because of its harvest theme in stanza one and the emphasis on nature overall.  Ivy O'Eastwick focused on three out of the five senses when she thought about things she was thankful for.  The students discussed the fact that the poet is not thankful for modern day inventions or material things, but rather beautiful and healthy things in nature.

So, this assignment was very open-ended.  My younger students were given a small poster with the words, "I am thankful for" at the top of the page, and were instructed to draw a scene depicting things they were thankful for.  They came up with some beautiful works of art.

This one is by Zara, 3rd grade.  Such wonderful things to be thankful for!

 This one is by Alexandria, 1st grade.  I love the scene she drew!

My older students were given an even more open-ended assignment.  They looked at me slightly in shock when I said they could do a writing and art assignment of their own choice, inspired by the poem and what it made them think about.  Some chose to make posters, others wrote poems, and some even wrote paragraphs on the five senses.  Their work was fantastic, and I hope you enjoy these fabulous pieces.

     I am thankful for my ability to touch because I love to play and pet my dog's fluffy, smooth, soft fur.  I enjoy running my fingers through the wet, slick grass.

     I am thankful for my ability to smell because I love to smell a fresh hot waffle with warm maple syrup.  I also am jubilant when I catch the aroma right after it has rained.

     I am thankful for my ability to taste because I love to eat new, pure, and nutritious tomatoes.  The taste is fabulous.  I love the taste of sweet, tangy, juicy pineapples.

     I am thankful for my ability to hear because I love to hear my mom vacuuming.  I also have the pleasure of hearing my friends laughing at my funny jokes.

     I am thankful for my ability to see because I love to see my pets' faces.  I enjoy seeing myself do something useful on my sport's team because it makes me feel fabulous!
Thank you!
By Ellery (5th grade) 
By Abby (5th grade)

I am thankful for everything and everyone my pair of eyes can see-
My dogs, my family, who keeps me safe and free.
My house, my school, the places where I learn,
The sunlight, the ocean, and plaints like a fern.
Thank you.

I am thankful for everything my one nose can smell- 
My favorite fruits, nature, on the beach the shells.
The trees, dictionaries, and the smell of Major's fur,
Pineapples, my grandma, how she smells when I hug her.
Thank you.

I am thankful for my ability to taste sweet foods.
Strawberries and blueberries put me in a good mood.
Corn, apples, cucumbers, and figs.
Rice, potatoes, and melons extra big.
Thank you.

I am thankful for my ability to touch many things.
Dog fur, pencils, and books for reading.
Soccer balls, basketballs, and volleyballs as well,
Cherries, flowers, they make me feel swell.
Thank you.

I am thankful for my hearing ability.
Talking, laughing, the sounds of the city.
Music, sizzling, the strum of a guitar.
Lyrics, the tide, and wind from afar.
Thank you. 

Thanksgiving Poem
By Mira (3rd grade)

I am thankful for feeling the cool breeze on a hot day,
the touch of the engraved smooth tree trunk,
as I run my hands over it.

I am thankful for seeing the bright, blue sky,
the sight of the hummingbird gathering pollen.

I am thankful for the sound of the rushing waves 
on the seashore,
the flutter of a ladybug's wings.

I am thankful for the taste of tomatoes, apricots, bananas,
the flavor of orange and ripe pumpkins, melons, and squash.

I am thankful for the smell of minty pine leaves,
the aroma of the fresh morning dew
glistening on the leaves.

Thank you.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Election Day!

During the week of the election, my students and I had a great time brainstorming ideas that would make great propositions to put on the next ballot.  We also talked about what would make them fantastic presidents if they were to run for office.  Enjoy these, and feel free to comment on if you would vote for them or not!

Proposition 100, by Ryan (4th grade)

     My name is Ryan, and I think that you should vote yes on proposition 100.
In California, GAS prices have gone up. At Shell, the GAS was $5.50 for a gallon last week! 

     Millions of people are losing money due to high gas prices and the owners of GAS companies are owning five mansions! People could start liking to actually go and buy gas for a low price. We should not have to worry about the oil companies making money. You should not have to waste precious money on gas. You should spend money on things that will help you not worry. People should also save money and not have to spend it on so much gas that will have to be paid for again in the next few days.  And people would like to go and see the world in a car if gas was cheap. In New York City the people in hurricane Sandy need gas for their car. The people there are in dire need for gas.

     A gallon of gas will never go over $1.00 ever again. So vote yes on proposition 100.

Proposition 43,952, by Crystal (5th grade)

     Vote YES on Proposition 43-952, but only if you want to lower taxes (which everyone does, right?)  Right now, people are wasting their money by trying to pay high taxes.  If people don't have enough money to pay taxes, stores won't have cash to improve themselves.  Then, stores won't be able to pay taxes, and the government will be angry.  When the government is angry, bad things happen and our economy will crash.  If the economy crashes, people will have no money to buy anything, and the whole cycle will repeat itself over and over again.  All of these tragic, miserable events could actually happen in real life.  (This is your last warning!)  If you want to lower your taxes, or if you don't want this whole cycle to keep repeating itself, vote YES on Prop 43,952.

Clarke for President!  (3rd grade)

     I want to be the president of the United States of America because I would make No Smoking anywhere a law.  I would also make more hospitals.  I would also make a law that if you get arrested, you would stay in jail until the president decided what to do with you.  I think I would be a very good president because I would only make good laws.  I would also make cars that had jetpacks and airplane wings.  Vote Clarke for President!

Katy for President!  (5th grade)

     If I could run for president, I definitely would for so many reasons.  Vote for me, an ambitious, determined, friendly, hard-working, smart Girl Scout for president!  If I were president, I would pass Proposition 150, making sure everything under $15 without tax is free.  Also, I would pass Prop 231, creating no kennel fees for vacations. Prop 155 would make your credit card bill lower, and Prop 234 would make sure you DON'T pay more money for taking pets on vacation.  You should vote for me because I am trustworthy, and I am excited to run.  This could change YOUR life because my laws would change the economy, bills, and vacations.  If you want a trust-worthy president, vote for Katy!

Jacob for President!  (5th grade)

     Imagine a handsome and strong president who is willing to risk everything, including his life, to keep his country safe and have the economy balanced.  That's why you should vote for me.  I have all of those good qualities, but here are some more reasons you should vote for me.

     First of all, I will be open to spending half of the country's tax money on giving all of the homeless people a place to live, and lower the tax rates.  I will do this because many people do not have homes and are having a miserable life due to worrying about where they're going to sleep tonight or tomorrow.  Tax rates would also support people having homes because lots of people have lost their jobs and to make matters worse, they will have to pay a lot of money on taxes, even though the government already has trillions of dollars.  I will definitely stop this now because this is all just unfair.  

     Picture everybody sleeping in a home with their family, worrying about very little.  That's what will happen if you vote for me, Jacob.

My Life as a Pumpkin

Writing from the point of view of a personified object is a wonderful exercise in creativity and voice.  My students had a great time becoming pumpkin seeds in my class one day.  We then talked about how their lives would turn out.  How would it feel to be be planted?  Under-watered?  Over-watered?  What would it be like to see the sun again as they sprouted?  Would it be fun to be a flower?  And of course, what would their pumpkin life be like?  (And END like?!)

I did this across my schools, from grades 1-6, modifying the assignment depending on the level of the class.  Enjoy these stories of pumpkin life!

Pumpkin: The Autobiography
By Kevin (4th grade)
     I started my life in a bag with my family. Wow, that was a bit squished.  One day I heard I was being “bought”. Was that bad or good? I had no idea. I decided to wait and find out.

     After a while in something called a “car,” someone opened our bag, and sunshine flooded my eyes. A little boy called Michael picked me up, and using his hands, dug a small hole, put me in, and covered me up with soil. Suddenly, the sunlight was gone but on the bright side, I was surrounded by soft, warm soil.

      Then I got watered for the first time! I drank and drank and drank some more! When I finally drank enough, I tried to strike up a conversation with my brother next to me in the dirt. He said he wanted to be a jack-o-lantern, whatever that was. Since there was nothing else to do, I settled down and went to sleep.

     When I woke up, I was in sunshine for some reason. I looked down, and suddenly realized that I was poking above the ground by just a tiny bit, and I had tiny little arms and legs! Later that day I got watered again and then fell asleep.

     After waking up again, I was a nice large vine as big as a small cat. I was so happy with how fast I was growing that I fell asleep without even noticing I was sleepy! When I awoke, I realized I was a flower! What was this? A trick? I was super annoyed. I’m no girl by the way, so you can imagine how mad I was. I fell asleep feeling very frustrated.

      After a couple of days and getting watered again I finally turned into a pumpkin, even though I was green. I decided to think about what I wanted to do with my life that day. I decided I wanted to be a pumpkin pie because I heard from my brother that everybody loved them and wanted to meet them or something. I also heard they were really sweet, but I didn’t know if that meant being eaten or fun to be with. I didn’t even know how he knew all of this.

     The next day I saw somebody mixing something called “fertilizer” with water, and they gave it to me! Were they trying to poison me? What was this? I cautiously took a tiny sip. It tasted really good! I tasted so good I slurped it all up in almost ten seconds. I drifted off to sleep contentedly.

     That night I had my first and last prediction dream. I dreamt that I had been carved, and my innards had been taken out so the other part of me could be made into pumpkin pie. Michael (the little boy who planted me) put me in an oven and did all of that stuff to make me into pie! It was weird to feel that the seed part of me was in a different place than the other part of me was. Then they put the pie part of me on their table and I thought I was meeting someone really famous because everybody was really excited.  However, when someone took out a knife and cut me (ow!) I suddenly realized they weren’t meeting me! They were eating me! Right then my dream ended.

     Was I the oracle? Was this true? I wanted to find out more! I guessed I would have to find out. Then I looked down, and realized I was orange! Yes!  So that “fertilizer” was good for me after all. That’s when I heard the screaming. At one moment, at least twenty different first-graders came running out of the house carrying knives! Were they going to kill my family and me? We had all just turned into pumpkins! Please no! They charged my family and me. This was an embarrassing way to die. Then I heard the yelling. At least a dozen parents ran out of the house yelling at the kids to drop their knives and get away from us this time. Our saviors!

     The parents then separated the children into small groups, with one parent in each group. Suddenly I was grabbed from behind and hoisted into the air to be inspected by a bunch of first-graders. I was shocked to find that I was staring into a knife. Okay, maybe first-graders weren’t that bad after all. After doing a staring contest (I lost) they cut me off my vine and carried me away into Michael’s house. I was gradually starting to feel my life slipping away from me bit by bit. Little did I know that the real torture was up next.

      First they took part of my head off and scooped my innards out. Then they put part of me in a burning hot oven to bake me. If I was being made into a pumpkin pie, it hurt! Afterwards, they scraped me out of myself (weird right?) and poured me in a thing called a “crust”. Then they put me in the oven again to harden me up. They were killing me! Well, at least I was going to be eaten instead of being wasted.

      The guests are here now. I feel sorry for that turkey. Well now it’s my turn. I’m being carried to their table right now. At least my dream is sort of coming true. Hey, they’re spraying whipped cream on me right now! Wait! Are those my seeds? Are they using my seeds for more pumpkins? At least my family will go on generation after generation. Wait! Oh no! Part of me is getting separated with a knife! I’m on a fork! They’re eating me... Goodbye..........
                           The end
                              (of my happy/sad life)

My Pumpkin Life, by Jerry (3rd grade)

     I don't really remember anything of the beginning of my life except that I was born on a black thing called a road.  Cars came zipping by and once a car almost crashed into me, but instead it crashed into another car.  A black and white car with blue and red lights came.  I think it was called a polike or police  The road was also really spiky; it hurt.

     Well, that time of my life was frightening.  But then, a big wind carried me to a place called a pumpkin patch.  At first, I was scared and then I realized how much the farmers cared about us.  They put us in rich cool soil.  It was dark and I was a little scared, but I heard the farmer say to some little people that a pumpkin's life always begins in the dark cool soil.  Then the farmer poured water into the soil.  Yummy!

     After a day, I woke up still in the soil.  I thought I would never grow into a pumpkin!  After one hour, I got used to the dark, and I saw my brother.  I wanted to say hi, but I just couldn't seem to say anything.  

     Days passed, and I was growing a stem.  I guess I was wrong after all.  It just took a long time for me to grow up!

     Later, I became a flower, and I was confused.  I thought I was a pumpkin seed, not a giant flower seed!

     A few days later, I changed into an ugly watermelon with bumps.  I heard the farmer tell a new group of kids that my life cycle is seed-vine-flower-green pumpkin-yellow pumpkin-big orange pumpkin.  I was thrilled when I heard that!

     Later, I became a yellow pumpkin, and I was so excited.  It was so hard to wait.  One hour was like one century!

     After a long time, I became a round orange pumpkin!  I saw them pick out my brother and they did something really mean to him.  They turned him into pie with a really hot machine!

     I was scared when they picked me and they did something weird.  They drew a scary, cute face on me.  It tickled!  Then they did something that was painful.  They used a sharp thing to cute the face they had drawn on me! Boy, it hurt, but then they cut the top of my head!  Then, it felt warm and cozy and I lit up.  Maybe I'm a pumpkin with a face!

     Later that night, all kinds of monsters came and played, and some of them actually played with me!  It was fun, and I hope next year will be just like this year!

With my younger classes, I changed my approach slightly.  I broke down the four main parts of their story and had them write 3-5 sentences on each section of their life.  We focused on adjectives, and how we would feel in every stage.  The students also drew a picture of themselves at every stage.  (That's why you'll find hair on these pumpkin seeds!)  I think these two turned out great!

This first excellent story is by Joel, 2nd grade:

I was at the seed store.  I was tiny and alone.  One day, Mrs. Dorsey went to the seed store.  She bought a seed, which was me.  I was so excited!  She put me in the dirt.  I felt sad because it was dark.

When I started to grow, I started growing into a flower.  I looked big, smart, and cute.  I was a very long vine.

After I was a flower, I opened my eyes.  I never knew I was growing.  Then I felt round, big, and smart.  I was yellow!

After I became a pumpkin, I started to turn orange!  I felt so big that I thought I was bigger than the house.  Then Mrs. Dorsey carved me!  When she was carving me, I felt funny.

This final story is by one of my youngest students, 1st grader Sammie.  I was so impressed by the 1st graders in my class.  For many of them, this was the first story/book they had ever written.  This was a big project for them, and they did a fabulous job!

      I was a seed in a bag.  I wanted to get picked to be planted.  Samantha planted me!  I felt very scared but my Mommy was with me!
      I became a vine.  I felt bigger and stronger!  I saw the sky.  I felt happy.

I became a pumpkin.  I was green and big.  I wanted to be bigger and yellow!  Finally I was orange.

After Halloween I was baked into pumpkin pie.  I was so yummy!  But I didn't want to get eaten.

What would YOUR life be like if YOU were a pumpkin??

Squiggle Stories!

While my older classes worked on a longer piece, I assigned my younger class this fun assignment that was such a big hit that I will be bringing it to the older grades next session!  In this creative assignment, students were given eight squiggly lines to choose from.  (My youngest class heard "Harold and the Purple Crayon" before we started, as a little inspiration!)  They were then to turn that simple squiggle line into a work of art.  It was amazing to see how the same squiggle line turned into so many different objects and scenes for different students!

After a timed drawing session, the students spent the second half of class writing a short story about their picture.  The story could be in either 1st person or 3rd person narration, and it was interesting to see what the children chose to do.  Describing what was happening was the key, and all students were encouraged the use adjectives to make their stories more descriptive and exciting.

Enjoy looking at these and reading what the students came up with!  Then ask yourself.... what do YOU see??

     It was raining.  I went into the water and I found a castle.  Inside there was shiny gold and I got it.  I finally got home with the gold.
Ian, 1st grade

     A group of letters were having a play date at a little girl's house at night.  They played ballet and had a great time.  But then it was time to go.  Then the girl was alone.
Samantha, 1st grade

      There once was a school of fish.  One day, a new fish came to town.  He was a shark!  He also tried to eat the other fish.  Luckily, the fish were very fast swimmers.  And he only chased them at recess.
Charlotte, 2nd grade

      On a nice hot day, I went to a magical skate park.  There were neon green stairs, the ground was orange, and almost everywhere I looked, I saw purple.  It looked so much fun.

     I started skateboarding as fast as I could.  I couldn't wait to get on the big purple jump.  When I did, I flew so high, it felt like I was flying like a bird.  I would like to be a bird.

     My skateboard's wheels hit the ground.  I thought I landed on cement.  I almost fell of my purple skateboard.  I had barely begun.

     I was there for the whole day.  I had a magical key so only I could go in.  I can't wait to go back.

Josh, 3rd grade

It's wonderful to see the progression from 1st to 3rd grade, isn't it?  All students were told to use their imaginations, and use adjectives and lots of description in their short stories, but you can see how an older child can write more and take the story further than a younger child has the ability to do.  I think all of these turned out fabulous!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween Monster Draw Game!

ADJECTIVES, ADJECTIVES, ADJECTIVES!  They have been a big theme for my classes this year.  Without adjectives, the reader is left with an incomplete picture.  With adjectives, we see exactly what the author wants us to see and comprehend!  Size, shape, color, and number adjectives tell it all!

That was the theme of the "Halloween Monster Draw Game."  The game went as follows:

Step 1: Draw an imaginative monster.
Step 2: Describe your monster in clear detail.  Each sentence should describe a feature with size, shape, color, and number adjectives.
Step 3: Trade descriptions with a partner.
Step 4: Draw a picture of that monster based on the description.  If the description is extremely vivid, clear, thorough, and complete, the monsters will end up to be twins!
Winners got some Trick-or-Treat candy as well as a spot on the blog.  Congratulations to our winners!

Ben's Monster (6th grade)

     My monster has an oval body, the long way horizontal.  It has six skinny legs with three toes on each foot.  The legs are gray.  It has blue stripes in a turquoise shade.  It also has yellow stripes double the size of the blue ones.  There are four yellow stripes and three blue ones.  It has an orange small crest on top of it.  Its eye is orange and has a red pupil like a snake's.  The eye is a half circle evil eye.  Since it is facing sideways, only one eye is visible.  The mouth is like a sideways "v" with four yellow teeth on the top and bottom.  It the background there are two snow-capped mountains that are brown at the bottom.

This description was so vivid, that Riley (5th grade) was able to use his excellent reading comprehension skills to draw this:

Portia's Monster (5th grade)

     My monster has a big round head attached to a wobbly skinny body.  My monster has one big eye with a spectacle.  It has two arms, one skinny and one fat, and two legs that are both skinny.  The body has many colorful skins.  The head is aqua, and the eye is yellow with a red pupil.  The neck is orangish yellow.  The arms and chest are pink with purple polka dots.  The stomach is blueish green, the hip is blue and the bottom is pink.  The legs are neon green.  The background has colorful waves and the water is pink.  On the top of my monster's head, there is a red mohawk.

I love all those size, shape, color, and number adjectives!  Sulwen (5th grade) did a great job with reading and drawing:

Kevin's Monster (4th grade)

     My monster is a big, long, horizontal oval that is blue.  He has two medium-sized green antenna with green small balls on top.  He has two big eyes which are write and a small triangular brown nose.  His facial features are arranged as a human's.  He has a horizontal red mouth which is like a long red line.  He also has two medium sized white buck teeth.  He has two feet dressed in green shoes and centimeter-long legs covered in red socks.  He has two short white arms with hands, and the hands have four fingers.  His hands are like Mickey Mouse's, except they are a bit smaller.  His hands and legs are like a human's.

     He is standing on a yellowish beach and in the background there is the blue sea.  The turquoise sea is bigger than the beach.  In the top left corner there is a small green sailboat with a red sail.  The boat is very simple. 

Kevin did such an outstanding job with his description that Emily (4th grade) practically drew the twin!

Ellery's Monster (5th grade)

     My monster has a big circular body outlined in yellow.  It has five oval eyes connecting, alternating the pupil, down-up.  The pupil is teal.  It has two periwinkle small round noses.  It has a small smiling red mouth with a tongue.  The outline of it is red, and it has a red vertical line on it.  It has a teal trianglular mohawk centered on top of its head.  It has a medium purple polka-dotted bow tie right below the mouth.  My monster has two inch purple boots with circles at the end.  My monster has NO arms!

     My monster is walking on a two inch thick green lawn that dips on the right side.  There is a medium pink car on the right side below the monster.  The background has a horizontal one inch thick periwinkle sky, and in the right corner there is a yellow sun halfway showing.  The rays are yellow, alternating small and big.

     My monster's milkshake is a one inch tall periwinkle milkshake with a brown upside down L straw.

Great details!  And Annika has outstanding reading comprehension skills to produce this monster's twin!  (How does this monster hold the milkshake without any arms??!) 

Andrew's Monster (3rd grade)

     My monster has a big circle body with orange curly skin.  It has four purple small eyes and a green huge nose on every arrm.  It has a huge purple mouth with sharp white teeth.  He has huge spikes.  He has long hairy arms and no hands.  He has long vertical legs.  He lives in a huge black house with lightning everywhere.  Zombies are rising from the dead with mauled skin.  There is a gray full round moon.

These were my youngest participants in this game, and look how well Emaan (2nd grade) followed Andrew's directions!

 Congratulations to all of our winners!

A Genre of Excitement: The Adventure Story!

The "Awesome Authors and Artists" got to write adventure stories.  One of my schools took the traditional "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" Story and gave it a twist of adventure.  They were to start their story with events that truly happened, and somewhere in their story create a tall tale.  Enjoy these two fabulous adventures!  They are loaded with vivid adjectives and have a clear beginning, middle and end.  Bravo!

Summer Adventure in Hong Kong                                                         
By: Emily (4th grade)

This summer I experienced am adventure in swimming at Hong Kong. One day, I went swimming with my dad and uncle. While I swam around the pool, I saw a big rock at the edge.  There was an opening in the stone slab! I slipped in and gasped. This was no ordinary rock! I didn’t know what was about to happen next…

The hole closed behind me, and I took a couple steps back, stunned. Suddenly, I slipped on water and fell into a vat of ocean water! I started to paddle frantically. After a minute, I made no progress, but I could miraculously breathe in water! I swam down and saw an octopus, a giant clam with giant pearls, and more! I had some fun discovering my abilities to actually do stuff underwater.

Suddenly, a voice boomed, “You will become my dinner!” a shadow came over me and I looked up. Two hideous yellow teeth hovered inches above me. “I’m Fang!” the shark growled.

He snapped at my arm. I dodged. He tried my leg. I kicked Fang’s jaw shut. Then, I punted his stomach. “Mommy!! I mean, No Fair!” Fang screeched. He barred the two big teeth and aimed for my head. I swam onto his head and started jumping. But, because of the lack of gravity, the result wasn’t so good.

Fang started chasing me past a field of seaweed, through a maze of stinging jelly fish, over big chunks of coral, and back to the giant clam. The enormous shark opened his mouth and started coming towards me. I quickly grabbed the big pearl from the clam and swam to the shark. I jammed the pearl into the shark’s mouth. “Agh-Kig-Ooog-Ogige!” he said with difficulty. Grinning, I started to swim to the top the ocean. As I started to climb out, I remembered I needed to say thanks to that clam! He did let me use the pearl. But, when I took a breath of water, I started coughing and spluttering. For some reason, I couldn’t breathe under water anymore! I shook my head and staggered to the rock. The rock opened, and I ran outside.

“Emily! What took you so long to swim to and back?” Dad asked.

“Uh, um…I went to eat a snack,” I replied, seeing the vending machine near the pool.

“That‘s a long time to eat a snack. You were gone for almost two hours,” Dad said, his voice rising.

I told him every single thing that happened just then. I expected him to call the Hong Kong News station (not that I knew any), but he didn’t.

Can you BELIEVE he didn’t believe me???!!!


Ellery & Me! The True Story Of My Experience With Ellery The Lake Monster
Abby (5th grade)

      This summer I went to Gray, Maine for the fourth of July. I met my second cousins Avery and Alexa, my Dad’s cousins Paige, Carrie and Becky and my great uncle Art and my great aunt Gail. It was so much fun road tripping Maine for a day, tubing, and just relaxing. But I can’t really call my first 4th of July in Maine relaxing…
     We went to Avery and Alexa’s grandparent’s house on Annyrelle Lake with a dock and a full cook-out buffet of everything red, white and blue! There were lobsters, white cake, mussels and more!
     After about an hour, all the kids asked if we could go tubing. I didn’t know what tubing was so I just grabbed a life jacket like everybody else and followed them to the dock. Little did I know that this afternoon would be much more than I bargained for!
     Tubing was so much fun! The tube went bouncing to the left, to the right, here, there, and everywhere! Then, about half way through our ride, Avery yelled, “Switch!” and everybody was scrambling to get to a different spot. The back flap was open, and Avery asked me if I wanted to get on it. “Sure, why not?” I thought. So I clambered to the back of the tube and the ride started! We took off, bouncing and bumping!
     At first it was fun. But after about one minute, it started to become torturous. The water was pulling down my life jacket squeezing through the big hole at the top. Lake water was spraying into my mouth and nose, and it was hard to breathe.
     “Help!” I screamed, but no one could hear me. “Help!” I screamed again, louder.
     Suddenly, something scooped me up and lifted me high in the air. I screamed and screamed until Sam and Avery heard me. Somehow, they got my dad to stop the boat, and they all looked up at me in awe.
     “Turn around!” yelled Alexa.
     Slowly, I turned around.
     “Are you OK? Because you don’t look so good,” said a high voice. Standing in front of me was a light green animal with dark blue spots, 50 feet tall.
     “Wha-what are you?” I stammered.
     “Oh, sorry. I’m Ellery. I live here in the lake. Oh, but don’t worry,” she added. “I would never, ever hurt you.  I’m a lover, not a fighter. And plus, I want a new friend.”
     Phew. I thought. I started to relax a bit. This huge, wet, fuzzy…well, thing, wasn’t going to hurt me, it just wanted a friend.
     “OK. I’m Abby. This is my first time here. Do you think you could show me around?”
     “Sure!” she replied with a huge grin on her face. “Hop on!”
     So I jumped on to her back. I was a little nervous, but then I remembered how nice Ellery was.
     “Ready? Let’s go!” she shouted, and she shot into the water. At first it was kind of scary the way she zoomed past the muddy ground. But it was all like one giant super fun roller coaster ride.
     “I almost forgot,” she said out of breath, “that you can’t breathe underwater like I can.”
     “You’re right, I can’t!” I said to Ellery. And from who knows where she pulled out something that looked like a baseball cap.
     “Put this on,” she said. “It will make you breathe underwater.”
     So I gingerly put on the baseball cap. Should I trust this thing? Would this cap hurt me somehow? All in a few moments I’ll find out, I thought.
     “Ready?” she asked. I nodded, scared. “Let’s go!” She zoomed off again, taking an excited me with her. It was the biggest, fastest, scariest roller coaster I had ever been on! It was so much fun shooting above the muddy ground and across reefs and next to fish. She shot out of the water every once in a while and I saw Avery using a waterproof camera to take pictures of Ellery and me jumping. Before I knew it, Ellery slowed down and took me to the surface of the lake.
     “That was so fun, Ellery! Thank you so much!” I exclaimed, twitterpated.
     “Yes, but now its time for you to have dinner. But before you go I want to give you this piece of seaweed,“she said, handing me a long slice of kelp. “If you tap the seaweed, you’ll be able to see my face and talk to me. I hope you’ll remember me!” she said sinking slowly into the water.
     “Ellery, wait! Here are my earrings for you to remember me by,” I said, handing them to her. So we said our goodbyes, and nothing would ever be the same again. I would call every night on the seaweed line, and no one but my family and I knew the truth about that twitterpatic day in Maine.

Another one of my schools used their "Backwards Land" paragraph (see prior blog post) as a springboard for their adventure story.  They also had to write from the 1st person point of view, but their assignment was to put themselves in their Backwards Land, and write a letter to someone about their experience!  So you have a frame of reference, I will include Crystal's (5th grade) paragraph AND her letter to her mom.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

C.D. Notgnihsaw, by Crystal (5th grade)

     C.D. Notgnihsaw is a musical, breezy suburban town.  Because everyone loves playing records and the weather is windy, the musical notes are carried far off, and tourists are drawn to the devilish pulsing music against their own will.  The climate of C.D. Notgnihsaw is thunderstormy and windy.  All of the evil in the town rubs off on the weather, so the clouds are dark gray and gloomy all the time.  While the climate of C.D. Notghnihsaw is loathesome, the culture is even worse.  Every person plays records to lure tourists to the town, and they trap the tourists so they can never go home.  Be sure to never go to this windy, instrumental town!

And now her letter to her mom:

Dear Mom,

     Hi from C.D. Notgnihsaw!  I wish you were here, but you aren't, so I'll share my adventures with you.

     The ride here was totally awesome!  I arrived by kangaroo, and I rode inside its pouch.  There was a flat-screen TV inside (it was an eight feet tall pouch), and it kept me entertained for almost the entire trip!  Guinea pig servants served me food and beverages the whole way.  Even better, I had a dance party with five hamsters!  Sadly, the journey only lasted an hour, which was way too short.

     When I arrived in town, I was instantly drawn to the music that the locals were playing.  Then, I walked through the iron gates and to my "hotel."  It was a smelly, one-room building, and that room was mine!  I slept in a roach-infested, filthy cot that horrible night.

      The next morning, I set out to meet some of the townsfolk.  Suddenly, I noticed that everybody was gloomy, and the weather was thunderstormy and windy.  Everyone was wearing black raincoats and boots.  The gray clouds in the sky matched their outfits.

     Mom, make sure to never come back here!  Now, because I did, I can never come back home because of the evil music that traps all who visit in a lamp!

     Love, Crystal

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fabulous Paragraph Writing: Welcome to Backwards Land!

The "Awesome Authors and Artists" class had a lesson in paragraph writing that emphasized varying one's sentence patterns.  Well-written, interesting paragraphs have sentences that start differently or have different elements within each sentence.  Examples include:
~ Start a sentence with Because
~ Start a sentence with "when," "while," "where," etc.
~ Include a powerful adverb
~ Do not repeat the topic noun too much; use pronouns when appropriate
~ Use two adjectives in the predicate

The topic?  A new vacation destination that we created in our imaginations!  We had fun brainstorming real places on the board spelled forwards and backwards.  Then we tried to envision these strange lands in our minds.  We wrote paragraphs that began to resemble a tourist brochure, with pictures to match!  Some places turned out to be delightful vacation spots, and some places should definitely be avoided.  Enjoy some of my favorites:

Lizarb, by Sulwen (5th grade)
     Lizarb is a nice, sunny desert on one side, and a dark horrible rainforest on the other.  An evil prilled lizard rules the rainforest, with evil snake minions, while a nice desert tortoise rules the desert.  In the desert, happy lizards and tortoises live freely.  The King Tortoise is fair, and treats his loyal subjects generously.  The prilled lizard doesn't like his first name, so he goes by King Prill.  His kingdom is filled with snakes and poisonous frogs who hypnotize the rest of the citizens who live in the rainforest.  The sky in the rainforest is always covered in gray clouds which bring rain and thunderstorms all year long, while the desert skies are sunny and bright.  Lizarb is a great place if you go to the desert, but dark and gloomy in the rainforest.  So, if you ever go to Lizarb, stay away from the rainforest side!

Ocsinarf Nas, by Ellery (5th grade)
     Ocsinarf Nas is a frosty, snowy, chilly island, surrounded by cold, freezing ice you can walk on.  Its only inhabitants are snowy dogs.  Because the dogs are friendly and obedient, they love seeing people and tourists.  These dogs enjoy pulling visitors around on their comfortable sleds on the chilly snow, because there are no vehicles there.  The snow dogs also love to play fetch and other doggy games on the ice surrounding the island.  Ocsinarf Nas is a fabulous island with friendly, loving, playful snow dogs.

Selegna Sol, by Abigail (5th grade)
     Selgegna Sol is a place that people call a tropical jungle.  When visitors are sight-seeing, they see many kinds of frogs, snakes, and other jungle creatures.  During the day, it is the best time to see the rarest animal of all, the Selegnian Monkey.  Because of all the humid and hot weather, the snakes will always come out, whether there are enemies preying on them or not.  Selegna Sol is the best spot for you and your family (except for the snakes!) 

(I'm going to give this one to you forward because you'll never get it!  "Massachusettes Institute of Technology!")
 By Brandon (5th grade)
     Ygolonhcet Fo Etutisni Settesuhcassam (Y.E.S) is a dark and evil half submerged city.  It is filled with sinful, smelly sorcerers living in shacks, firing spells into the air.  Because of this, Y.E.S's mountains are covered in craters and land mines, and half of the island is sunken because of a sorcerer's stray spell.  There are many pools of sulphur with ash beaches.  There are no airplanes going away from the island, and it is located 500 miles away from any civilization.  At 4:00, every sorcerer shoots an evil spell to destruct their city.  Yes, Y.E.S's people are sinister and eat raw crab, sharks, and metal.  They wear robes of brilliant poison green.  Clearly, Y.E.S. is a dark, evil, and poisonous place.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Super Sentence Writing!

Both classes recently had lessons in how to write super sentences that create a vivid picture in the mind of the reader.  We started off with various base sentences (sentences that are the bare minimum noun + verb) and added:
~ 2 adjectives
~ 1 adverb
~ a phrase telling "where"
~ a phrase telling "when"
~ Awesome Authors and Artists also learned how to start a sentence with "Because."  (YES, you can, if it's done right!!)

The Budding Authors and Artists started out with the base sentence of Their Name + plays.  I love how these turned out!

Thankful and fantastic Alex plays soccer on the hot field at 9:00 on Saturday.
By Alex, 2nd grade 

At 1:00 in the morning on the tiny field, sweet, kind Lucy plays soccer with her cat.
By Lucy, 2nd grade 
(Notice how Lucy put her "where" and "when" in the beginning for style!)

Cool, athletic Chris plays happily in a humungous baseball field at 2:00.
By Chris, 3rd grade

The Awesome Authors and Artists students had a slightly different task.  We started off with the base sentence: "The puppy licks."  Step by step, we added to our sentence until we had amazingly vivid, creative sentences like this one from Annika (5th grade):
Because I dropped my lollipop in front of the door, the soft, brown puppy licked the cherry-flavored treat curiously.
I love the "Because" phrase at the beginning, and the adverb really works at the end! 

Here is another one by Katie (3rd grade), this time with the "because" phrase effectively at the end:
In July, the cute fluffy puppy licks a fuzzy kitten in the afternoon because he likes the furry friend. 

After that "warm-up" exercise, we proceeded to play an Around the World writing game.  Every student thought of their own base sentence and wrote it down.  The paper was then passed to the next person, who added two adjectives.  The paper was then passed to the next person, who added an adverb.  This continued until the sentence had been seen by seven new sets of eyes!  When it got back to the original owner, the sentence was nothing like what they thought it would be, but many students were happy with the outcome!  Those who weren't were given the object to change any bits and pieces that they wanted to.  Here is a great example, by Luka (4th grade): 
Because the colorful and big globe fell in an earthquake, it powerfully made a big splash in the sink.
Here is another great example of a student effectively starting a sentence with a "Because" phrase.  Excellent work, everyone! 


Name poetry

The Budding Authors and Artists class got to write name alliteration poems!  I loved teaching them the concept of adjectives while finding out more about them through their word choice.  1st graders needed to use one adjective; 2nd and 3rd graders needed two or more.  3rd graders were even encouraged to try rhyming!  This is a really fun assignment that can meet the needs and goals of many age levels.  It's also an outstanding vocabulary builder!

It was hard to pick just three name poems to blog.  Enjoy!

Samantha, 1st grade
Notice how Samantha has THREE "a's" in her name!!  For her last "a," we let her use the word "always" and her favorite adjective.  She did a lovely job!

Harrison (2nd grade) has a long name, too!  He worked very hard to get adjectives and phrases that fit him just perfectly.

John, 3rd grade
Notice how John rhymes his poem!  That's not easy to do!

Summer Memories

The first assignment the Budding Authors and Artists class got to complete was to make a mini book called "Summer Memories."  They designed a cover, and also completed four pages with sentence starters.  Here are some of my favorites!

"The best thing I did this summer was...."

By Cody, 3rd grade: 
My best part of summer was going to the Jersey Shore.  I liked that because I went boogie boarding and deep sea fishing.  I also went to the Boardwalk and won my ninth jackpot in four years.

By Florence, 2nd grade: 
My best was going to London and visiting my best friends.  I went to a gymnastics camp.  It was fun!   I went to my best friend's birthday.

 "The worst thing about summer was...."

by Adeline, 2nd grade
I stood on hundreds of sand crabs, thinking they were pebbles.

By Joel, 2nd grade: 
In LGS camp, my worst part was Zoomba.  I had to dance.

"The most surprising thing that happened was..."

By Alexandria, 1st grade: 
I got baby kittens.  It was very surprising.  They were black and white but had different designs.

By Clarke, 3rd grade: 
when I fell off a raft at a lake.  The cold water was very surprising.  I was house boating with my family.

"The funniest thing that happened was...."

By Jerry, 3rd grade: 
when I thought a mosquito was on me, until I figured out it was just my brother.

By Sammie, 1st grade: 
when I went swimming at the swimming pool and I caught the ball in mid air.

Back to School Time!

It's time to start up another school year!  This year, I have 65 students across three different schools in my two after-school clubs: "Budding Authors and Artists" (for grades 1-3), and "Awesome Authors and Artists" (for grades 4-6).  I am excited to share their work with you!  I know it will be difficult to pick only a few samples from each assignment we will complete, because every student is working so hard and producing such beautiful work. 


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Riddle Poetry

Our last day of our Juniors workshop was spent catching up on old assignments.  Once students were all caught up, they could enter "The Poetry Room," where we were having fun discussing rhyme scheme by writing "Riddle Poems."  This is a fun poem to write as it introduces children to the concept of rhyme scheme, patterns, and meter.  The AABB rhyme scheme should include lines with great clues to solve the riddle.  See if you can solve these!!

This is a pet you'll want to pat,
With lots of fur it will look very fat.
It meows for dinner every night,
But feed it quickly or it will fight!

What is it?

Answer: A cat!
by Emily, 4th grade

This big animal can be brown or black.
It will neigh, but it won't quack.
On its back you can race,
It wears shoes, but not a shoelace!

What is it?

Answer: A horse!
by Emily, 4th grade

This season is really fun
You get to play in the sun.
The weather is warm and you can stay
Outside every single day.

What is this?
Answer: Summer!
by Marston, 2nd grade

This little fellow likes to jump.
This green animal has some lumps.
These creatures jump on lily pads
When they lose their tails, it is sad.

What is this?

Answer: a frog!
by Shefali, 4th grade

This funny feline wears a hat
His jokes are never flat.
He is very funny,
But doesn't have any money.

Who is he?

Answer: The cat in the hat!
by Raya, 4th grade

This takes place in a vat of water,
But you wouldn't see an otter.
It's hard to do some strokes.
If you don't know how, you could choke.

What is this?

Answer: Swimming!
by Luka, 4th grade

Greek Myths

The Seniors' last assignment was to write a Greek myth-like story explaining how something came to be the way it is today.  The students first wrote a story map:

Setting (where/when)
Characters (major/minor)

We focused on character development and a story that truly showed how something came to be the way it is today.  We brainstormed on everything in nature, from animals to natural disasters.  I wish I could publish them all here, as they were so very creative.  Here are just two for your enjoyment:

Did you ever want to know how animals became the way they are today?  Did you know that a bear used to be a meek and mild animal?  Read on to learn more!

The Rattler by Sophia (6th grade)
  A long time ago in ancient Greece, Annametrious, the animal goddess, started her new creation. She said she wanted to make something nice to befriend all animals. But she needed to hurry, as it was already mid summer. Annametrious was supposed to start making the creature in early summer. She stretched the creature long, then added four legs. She gave him a “sssss” sound. Then she quickly placed a smile on it, not knowing it was a grin a mischief.
   Annametrious sat the creature down on Earth. Snake has awakened. Annametrious said to befriend other animals then went back into a deep sleep. Snake walked off into a forest, looking for a place to rest, but instead he found Coyote. He was much bigger and stronger than he, so he tried to prove that he could be his friend. Snake went deeper into the forest while Coyote spied on him.
   The first animal he spotted was Spider, an easy victim. Four small legs couldn’t get him anywhere fast. Snake went up into a tree with Spider’s web in it. Spider started climbing up the tree while Snake knotted up his web and threw it down on him.  Coyote started laughing. His bellow awakened Annametrious. She saw Spider and Snake and what had happened. She went down to Earth and said,
   “Snake, I’m very ashamed of you. I am giving you two more chances. If you are not nice two more times you will suffer the consequences.” And with that she flew off into a deep slumber.
     Snake ran off looking for another friend. A few minutes later he stumbled upon Bobcat. He wanted to impress him, so he found Bear. Bear was a small helpless creature. Snake dug a hole several feet away from his trick. Bear was scampering along the forest path, when suddenly Snake jumped out of the tree and scared Bear. Bear backed up and fell into the hole. He  shrieked so loudly that Annametrious woke up again and saw what Snake did. 

     She came back to Earth and said,

   “I am very disappointed in you Snake. I’m giving you one more chance. If you do something unacceptable one more time you will be punished!”  
   She helped Bear out of the hole then went into a doze. Bear scurried off, and Snake walked away, not looking for mischief.
   Instead of not finding mischief, he found the opposite: Lion. He didn’t want to get in trouble with Lion or Annametrious, but Lion was so scary he couldn’t say no when Lion asked him to play a trick on Crow.         
   Snake planned his attack, then leaped in front of crow and put sap around Crow’s beak. Crow couldn’t open it! Lion roared in laughter, but this time Annametrious saw what was going on before Lion’s roar. She came down to Earth,
   “Snake, I will have to punish you. You have brought great shame to you and your ancestors. From now on all snakes will slither on the ground, not being able to climb, run, walk, and jump. Snakes will also have a rattler, so prey will know you are coming. And now, all crows will have the ability to fly. All bears will be as big as lions, and all spiders will have eight legs to run quickly.” 
With a satisfied nod she left to her slumber.

 Enjoy this myth about a creation gone horribly wrong!

How Cats Were Created
by Nils (5th grade)

    In winter, a long, long time ago, a problem emerged in North America.  Linke was a god that lived in the sky, directly above North America.  He was a demigod.  He didn’t know how powerful he really was.  His dad didn’t let him use his powers.  “It isn’t safe for a demigod to do a full god’s job,” he would say.
    “But DAD!” Linke argued.  “I’ll just create a bug!”  Linke’s dad never gave in.  One day, Linke was so mad at his did that he would create a creature no matter what.
    Linke waited until all of the gods were asleep.  Then, he snuck into the dad’s lab.  “What shall I make?” he wondered out loud.  He thought at little bit, and finally decided.  “I’ll make a mini horse!”  he claimed.  “It will have paws, not hooves.  It will have a short nose, not a long one.  It shall have whiskers like a lion, and fur like a bunny.  This.... “cat” will have a tail like a squirrel.  The cat will be small like a hamster.  It will be forgiving! Helpful! Nice! Considerate!
    As Linke madly molded and inserted characteristics in his new creation--the cat--the thing rumbled.  It burst out of its coating and ran out the door.  Something was weird as it burst out the door.  It shed all its fur and grew to the size of an elephant!  It broke the clouds!  The cat jumped down to earth, crushing a house!  The “cat” was the opposite of what Linke wanted.  It was a “tac”.
    The tac ran through the village, ears as pointy as ever.  A poor farmer took a bow and arrow and shot the tac.  The tac turned around and roared at the poor villager.  The tac chased him through the town.  The tac easily caught the villager and ate him. 
    A small baby kangaroo, a witness, jumped from cloud to could, up to the gods.  He needed to tell the gods what was happening.
    “Who goes there?” said the guard coyote. 
    The kangaroo spoke fast.  “It is me the baby kangaroo.  I’m here to see Linke’s dad!”
    “Hmm,” puzzled the coyote.
    “Well.....” the guards were being too slow for the kangaroo.  The baby kangaroo snuck away.  He ran to Linke’s dad’s cloud bed.  The kangaroo jumped on top of him.
    “RRRRRRRRRRRR!”  Linke’s dad was not in a good mood.
    “Someone,” said the nervous kangaroo, “unleashed a monster! It’s terrorizing the town!” 
    “LINKE!” yelled Linke’s dad.  He ran to Linke’s cloud.  Linke’s dad picked up the cloud that Linke slept on.  He picked it up and under that Linke hid.
    “What have you done!?” he screamed.  “I’ll tell you what you did!  You let out a monster, expected me to save the world, and hid under your cloud. I’m gonna go save the world now!”
    Linke’s dad ran out of the room. He dashed to a thin batch of clouds. He smashed it, and it broke. He reached down to earth and picked up the tac. The tac had limbs in it’s mouth. Linke’s dad threw the limbs down earth. Linke’s dad raced to the lab with the tac in his hand. He passed by Linke’s cloud on the way. Linke’s dad dashed in and grabbed Linke by his  hair. He carried the two to the lab.
    When Linke, his dad, and the tac were in the lab, Linke’s dad ordered Linke to sit down. Linke’s dad threw the tac on a table.
    “What were you thinking! I told you not to use your powers for a reason! Now your creation    has killed many wonderful people!” screamed Linke’s dad. He realized that Linke was scared, and that he should cool down. Linke’s dad sighed. “What did you want your animal to be like?” he asked reluctantly. Linke told him, and his dad silently recreated the cat. Linke’s dad finally put the last ingredient in. Life.
    “As your punishment,” said Linke’s dad,“The ‘cat’ is not helpful or considerate. It is sometimes nice and sometimes forgiving. He is sometimes annoying and mischievous.”
    “Okay,” he said trying to look sad while petting the new cat.
    “And,” Linke’s dad added ,“You will lose all of your powers.”
    Linked loved the cat. He found that the cat made a perfect house pet. As long as Linke had a cat, he didn’t care that he lost his powers. Now we still love cats and keep them as pets.
    That is how the best house pet--a cat--came to be.