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!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fairy Tales.... Another Perspective!

My oldest Authors and Artists were given a challenge at the end of our session.  In an experiment with voice and perspective, they were to write a fairy tale from the perspective of a character in the story.  This 1st person narration could include sentence fragments, sassy attitudes, new perspectives, and anything the author thought could enlighten the reader about another way to view the story.  They turned out fabulous and fun.  Here is one of my favorites for your entertainment! 

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     Little Red Riding Hood, by Laine and Anika (4th grade)

     I may be an old “grumpy bird” but there’s nothing worse than running out of candy on Halloween! By the way I’m Grandma from your favorite story “Little Red Riding Hood”, and I have a different version to tell.

         On Halloween Day I realized I had no candy. The only thing I could do was text my granddaughter Little Red and tell her to bring some.

         I heard the doorbell ring, and I answered the door. There was a mysterious trick-or-treater outside my door. The mysterious trick-or-treater looked real, and since I have bad fur allergies, I started to sneeze.

     “Trick-or-treat,” he growled.

         Oh-no! It was a wolf! I’m not sure if I’ve told you this, but I’m terrified of wolves. I got so scared my teeth fell out!

         Suddenly I saw a girl in a red hood with a basket of candy. It turned out to be Little Red!

         “Little Red! ” I called.  “Can you please scare this wolf away?

         “Of course Grandma!” Little Red replied, and she ran straight to the wolf. She screamed as loudly as she could while smacking him with my cane.

         After he left, Little Red and I happily sat outside and gave out candy to the trick-or-treaters while we enjoyed a wolf-free night sipping on hot apple cider and snacking on some caramel apples.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful Poems

ALLITERATION!  That was the theme of our poetry lesson when we wrote about Thanksgiving.  Alliteration is when two or more words close together start with the same sound.  Alliteration makes poetry sound super!  Rhyming was optional, but the students had to think of words and phrases that were meaningful about Thanksgiving, and also include some examples of alliteration.  Enjoy these fabulous poems!

T is for turkey and taking walks,
   And Thanksgiving treats and thankful talks.

H is for happiness and heart,
    And hosting parties, now let's start!

A is for autumn and love all around,
   Eating apple pie, and leaves on the ground.

N is for nuts and new things,
    And nice turkey that people bring.

K is for kitchens and leaves that go crunch,
   And cranberries and cookies that I love to munch.

S is for my special school,
   And spectacular cider that's sweet and cool.

~Sienna, 2nd grade


T is for trying your best and for terrific times.

H is for helpfulness and happiness.

A is for aunts and uncles and apple pie.

N is for nice things and for yummy nuts.

K is for kindness and Kendal and Cassie kisses and caring for others.

S is for sisters and brothers and for super times.

~ Sophia, 3rd grade


T is for terrific turkey and treats
   to eat when the family meets.

H is for holiday happiness by the hearth
    And giving thanks for the earth.

A is for absolutely amazing apple pie that I adore.

N is for November nights
    when people are taking many bites.

K is for caring and curious cousins that are very creative.

S is for cider, stuffing, and soup for a spectacular supper.

~ Adeline, 3rd grade


HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!  I am thankful for my wonderful students!

"My Life as a Leaf"

The changing of the seasons is fabulous for inspiring Authors and Artists!  As we watched the leaves around us change, we brainstormed and story mapped what it would be like to be a bud on a tree in spring, then a healthy, green leaf in the summer, and finally a crinkly, colorful leaf in autumn.  What would it feel like to be a tiny bud waking up in the spring?  Would it be scary to fall from the tree?  What would we see and do as the seasons change?  Where would we find ourselves after tumbling from the tree?  The students were to write three chapters: Spring, Summer, and Autumn.  Here are some top favorites of mine.  Enjoy!

Joseph (2nd grade) imagines how he'd feel season to season!  I really like how he describes Autumn.

     I was born in the Spring….
    I started as a tiny bud.  I saw the ground, and it was black.  I felt bad because I was small.  With my friends, I heard dogs barking.

     Summertime Fun!
     In summer, I became a leaf.  I felt good because I had grown.  I saw kids eating ice cream.  I drank rain water with my mouth.  I was looking at the kids.  I heard a lot of birds.  My friend and I were growing toward the sun!

     Autumn…. The End!
     In the fall, I started to turn yellow and red!  I saw other leaves falling on the ground.  I felt scared to see them fall, but at the same time, I kind of felt happy because I was big.  I saw swinging on the branch when all of a sudden, CRACK!  The branch fell, and I fell off.  This was the end of my life.

Alana (3rd grade) did a great job telling all that she could hear, see, and do as a leaf!

     I was born in Spring….
     I am a bud, so I am a baby.  I see a baby bird up in the sky learning how to fly.  I also see other buds talking.  I live in a backyard.  I hear kids talking.  I feel butterflies land on me and I hear birds chirping.  Since wind is blowing, it feels like I am dancing to the wind.  I feel excited because I am alive!

     Summertime Fun!
     I see squirrels eating nuts and flowers getting sprinkled with water.  I feel caterpillars crawling on me.  I am dancing to the wind and I am happy and joyful because I've grown.  I am happy to be alive!

     Autumn…. The End!
     I see leaves turning orange and red.  I hear kids having a really fun birthday.  I feel squirrels with their tails on me.  I am half orange, half green.  I've grown!  I suddenly fall to the ground.  A child picks me up and thinks I am pretty!


Morgan (3rd grade) did a fabulous job personifying herself as a leaf.  I love how she brings human things (like relaxing in the summer and swinging on a hammock) into her leaf life!  Enjoy!

     I was born in the Spring....
     I am a beautiful, eager bud.  In the spring, I see farm animals.  Sometimes, I hear the farm animals making noises.  When I'm itchy, and lucky, an insect crawls over my back.  It tickles me!  When I'm bored, I swing on my mother's branch.  Soon it becomes a game, and all my brothers and sisters join me.  When we are all resting, I feel relaxed with all of my brothers and sisters.

     Summertime Fun!
     In the summer, I see fruit on the trees and the farm animals growing.  When I hear the children playing, I wonder if I could ever play like them.  When it's almost sunset, I feel the summer heat.  Since it's the summer, I relax and do whatever I want.  I swing on my mother's branch a lot because it feels like I'm on a hammock.  At sunset, I feel relaxed from all the summer heat.

     Autumn..... The End!
     Autumn is finally here!  Around my mother's tree, I see golden, brown, orange, and red fruit trees.  When it's morning, I hear the children scurrying to school, trying to be on time.  I feel the wind tickling more than usual.  It's time for us to let go!

     A lot of my brothers and sisters drift away, but I cling on to my branch like a sloth.  I feel sad and lonely without my brothers and sisters.  I look like a golden, crispy leaf ready to be crunched up.

     I finally let go when a truck accidentally backed into my mother's trunk.  I drift away, ready to start a new life, giving nutrients to the soil.

You won't believe me when I tell you that a 4th grader wrote the following story.  But it's true!  Mira (4th grade) has been with me for two years now, and I am so proud of her progress.  Enjoy this beautiful story and how Mira uses sentence fragments and voice so effectively.

          Stars. The stars and the moon were the first things I saw in my life. Wisps of clouds floated over the midnight sky. The big, round moon and the small, twinkling stars were very reassuring. Below me I saw the shadows of the garden, that had just been filled with new plants and flowers. I also saw the sleeping forms of animals in the stable. The fruit and leaves of other trees looked delicious. (I was in an apple tree). All around me I saw the other buds, my brothers and sisters, stretching and yawning I felt excited. My life was finally beginning.
                        I woke up to the sound of birds chirping the next morning. Rain was drizzling, and it felt refreshing on my leafy, green skin. The farm animals were beginning to wake up, too. I could hear pigs snorting, dogs barking, and cats meowing. I saw butterflies floating and bees buzzing. My brothers and sisters were talking quietly among themselves. One of my sisters said, “The orchard is so beautiful!” My brother replied, “Yeah. But the farmer is always plucking apples from our tree.” The rain had begun to clear up and faint sunshine filtered through the gray clouds. A slight breeze was blowing, and a beautiful rainbow appeared. I danced with the wind. A ladybug skittered on me. I impatiently brushed it away. I felt social and anxious to grow!
                        During my three months of spring I grew, ate, and slept. I talked with my brothers and sisters and danced with them. I felt confident as my spring went by.
                        Sunlight. I felt its glorious golden warmth as it beat on me. Robins and puffy, white clouds soared over me. The crops, flowers, and grass stood taller in the sunlight. The animals ambled over to the fresh grass and took a big chunk of meadow grass. The roses and violets had butterflies hovering over them. Caterpillars were starting to transform into other beautiful butterflies. Other trees
 had flowers and my distant bud cousins, and my brothers and sisters were laughing heartily together.
                        That night as I was getting ready for bed, I heard crickets and the other buds quietly snoring. Owls were flying above me, and mice and foxes crept quietly in the tall grass. I felt the creepy legs of a spider and the brisk, warm wind of a cool summer night. The soft wings of a moth brushed past me. I shivered, then drifted off into a long, deep sleep.
                        The next few days I grew, danced boldly in the wind, and provided shade for the farmer’s little kids. I slept and ate. I felt courageous, and also a little disappointed. Why was I not continuing to grow? But I was modest, because I knew that I was the biggest and strongest leaf, but I never bragged. My summer was the best ever!

                        Wind. I danced with it and swung under my branch. I could see the golden sun and clouds. The beautiful leaves and branches hung around me on other trees. I must admit, autumn is my favorite season. I saw the animals walking around taking big pieces of sweet-smelling pasture grass. The crops had already been harvested, and some of the flowers were losing their petals. All around me I saw my big brother and sister leaves, but instead of sounding excited, they sound scared! “I don’t want to die!” my sister squealed. I turned away also. I was a little bit sad, too. I couldn’t believe I would die only after eight months! I felt like crying, but as a butterfly fluttered past me , I cheered up. I saw squirrels and chipmunks that chitter-chattered and brushed past me with their furry tails. An inchworm wiggled past me as it was going home, and I felt the legs of a beetle. As I was getting ready for bed, I looked down at myself, and gasped, stupefied. I was a beautiful goldish-reddish color. I was an autumn leaf.
                        The last few days before my death were the best. I slept hourts, at a feast, and felt excited and anxious. The day of my death came. I said farewell to all my brothers and sisers. I was smooth, beautiful, straightened-out, and still the beautiful goldish-reddish color. I said good-bye for the last time, then a breeze picked me up and carried me away. I fell slowly and calmly. And I saw the thing that I had first seen in my life. Stars.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happy 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 creature 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 creature 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!

Kendal's Creature (3rd grade):

     This strange animal has no fur.  It is just pink skin.  He has four heads and three eyes, and on each head is an angry, scary face with teeth.  The last to the right head has a happy face and sunglasses on.  He usually has green overalls and a peach colored undershirt and a pair of orange yellow polka-dotted shoes and a candy cane cane.  He hunts for bunnies at  midnight when the stars come out.  He has no fingers, just oval shaped palms.
 Kendal ended up having a teacher as a partner!  The students voted this one as an easy top-pick winner.  Way to go, Kendal and Mrs. Aronen!  http://seabearskindergarten.blogspot.com/


Adeline's Monster (3rd grade):
     My monster is a small, pink circle with lots of small light and dark pink fur.  She has two big green eyes withs mallet, but still big, pupils.  She has no nose, although she has a little red smile.  Also, she has a big red bow on the top of her head and tilting to her left.  The bow is outlined with a light blue.

     Her arms are purple with three fingers: one on each side, and they're horizontal.  The legs are purple too, but have five toes and are in a flower form.  She only has two legs.
     
     You know how I said she had a pink body?  That was the OUTLINE.  The inside is purple.

     And that is my monster.

Wow!  Charlotte (3rd grade) read Adeline's vivid description perfectly, because look what she drew!


Ritik's Monster (5th grade)
     Put the paper vertically.  The body is ten mid-sized circles that stack on top of each other vertically. Start the first circle at the bottom of the paper.  the feet are penguin feet, and there are two of them.  The arms are VERY long.  They start from the top circle.  They curve down and they end at the bottom of the paper.  The bottom three circles are green.  The three on top of that are red.  The three on top of that are orange.  The very top circle has two black eyes and one red mouth, like a human's.  The top circle is colorless.  There is a mid-sized triangle on top of the top circle.  The feet are pink and arms are blue.  

     The background is pink and purple.  There is a black fence that goes up to the circle on the very bottom.  On the top right, there is a yellow sun.  There is one arrow on the left of the monster that is pointing to the left.  There is another arrow to the right of the monster, pointing to the right.


What a thorough description!  It was so great, that Catie (5th grade) was able to produce this:

Mira's Monster (4th grade)

     My monster is very short and plump.  He has two green eyes, that are medium-sized.  His face is arranged like a human's.  He has a little, round, gray nose.  He also has a huge smiling pink mouth.  He has no teeth.

     My monster wears a bow tie.  It is purple and red.  There are seventeen purple polka-dots on his bow tie.  His head also has two neon orange ears on each side of his head.  He has one blue diamond in each ear.  He is called the KING OF DIAMONDS.

     The King of Diamonds has a big circle for his head.  He has a medium-sized body, which is also round.  His head and body are neon orange.  He has five magenta wiggly arms like noodles on each side of his body.  He has ten stick legs.  His legs are brown and he has ten black shoes.

     The King of Diamonds sits on a huge yellow throne.  "King of Diamonds" is written on top of the throne.  A blue diamond is on top of the throne.  Ten blue diamonds are on the throne.  He has a purple crown with blue diamonds on top of the crown.  
 Wow!  Mira's description was so thorough that Samantha (2nd grade) could practically draw her twin monster!


Abby's Monster (3rd grade)

     My monster's body is a spiky circle with a big spike at the top.  She has no fur.  My monster is orange.  Her eyes are large with blue middles.  She has glasses that are circular and they are much bigger than her eyes.  She has two eyes.  The nose is triangular and it is yellow.  The mouth is smiling and it is dark red.  She has a medium sized bow that is pink at the top of the big spike.  Her two arms are blue and my monster is throwing them up above her head.  The hands are like human hands, but there are only three fingers.  The legs are shaped like stairs, and they are purple.  She has two legs.  My monster has medium brown freckles.  

     The background is a school to the right of the monster.  The school is square, and it has doors that are square with a line through the middle, and four windows, two on the bottom, two on the top.  There are two circular doorknobs in the middle.  There are words above the doors that say in capital letters, "Welcome to Monster Elementary."  Above the words, there are two circular windows with pink on the bottom and red on the top, with yellow and orange next to pink.  The roof is triangular with a red cross on the top and a bunch of v's all over the brown roof.


For the 2nd and 3rd graders, this was their first time playing this descriptive game.  I was so impressed with how Abby wrote clearly enough to have Kristina (3rd grade) draw this!

GREAT WORK, and congratulations to our winners!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Summer Adventure Stories

When it came time to teaching creative story writing, the Budding Authors and Artists reflected on their summer vacations.  They learned the important skill of story mapping, and then gave a real summer experience a twist of adventure.  Can you tell where Charlotte's (3rd grade) story went from non-fiction to fantasy and creativity?  I hope you enjoy this tall tale as much as I did!

The Fishing Trip
By Charlotte (3rd grade)

     It was a crazy 4th of July last summer.  I went swimming at the White River with my Gramma and Grampa.

      I saw a huge rock, so I swam over to it  It was a long river, so it took me a while to get there.  But I did.  I climbed up the rock.  Then I slid down it.  It was a pretty bumpy ride, but at least it had wet moss on it.

     Suddenly, I saw a witch jump out of the bushes!  She waved her wand at me, and ran away.

     I started glowing in a goldish color.  When I stopped glowing, I was a dragon!  I had a ten foot wingspan.  I was all gold with two spiky horns in the middle of the back of my head, as well as the top of my head.  Then I realized I was a golden dragon!  (I mean like the type of dragon.)  I could breathe anything that's valuable, plus fire!

     My gramma and grampa saw the whole thing.  "Are you okay?" they asked.

     "I'm fine," I said.  "And just to let you know, we're rich.  I can breathe gold and anything valuable."

     My gramma and grampa rode home on me.  (I had to carry the car in my claws.)

     My family got rich because I just made 100,000 diamonds.  My family became famous for having a dragon.

Postcard Stories!

The "Awesome Authors and Artists" class got to use their Backwards Land paragraphs as creative inspiration for a tall tale told in the 1st person narration.  While their "travel brochure" paragraphs were written in the 3rd person, this next assignment was told from the point of view of the author who visited that land.  Some places were delightful and had students reporting wonderful adventures and fun times. Others were terrible and led to awful experiences!  Enjoy these two VERY different vacation reports!

Emma (5th grade) wrote about Yckutnek, a fun town where forgetful people stick to traditions and enjoy music and get-togethers.  It should be mentioned that the police department has some VERY strict rules...

Dear Grandpa,

     Yckutnek is great, but it wasn't too fantastic when I got here!

     First, I got here blindfolded in a wagon.  (They didn't want me to know the way.)  Then when we finally got the hotel, the manager forgot who I was.  The Yekcutnek people are very forgetful.  We were there for hours, and finally they remembered me.  The room was very nice.  I was so tired from the long check-in, I fell asleep on the floor.

     The next morning, I woke up in hail.  It turns out the police got mad at me for sleeping on the floor and not the bed.  Fortunately, the next hour, they let me out.  That morning, I had muffins for breakfast.  A bunch of people came up and met me.  They were very nice.

     After breakfast, I went to play jump rope in the town square.  (That was Monday's activity.)  That night, we danced to traditional Yckutnek music.  The people forget a lot of things here, but they didn't forget their dance moves!

     Things are still going great.  I bought a snow globe of the town for you.  I miss you, and wish you could come.  I don't want to go home!

      Much love,
     Emma

Ritik's (5th grade) Kroy Wen is the complete opposite of New York!  It has a tiny population and is not anything like the exciting city that never sleeps.  Read on, and visit only if you dare!

Dear Ryan,

     I am in the most horrible place in the world: Kroy Wen.

     I got here by a private helicopter because no pilot dares to come here.  The hotel is terrible.  There is mold EVERYWHERE.  The hotel food is so plain.  It was a little serving of rice and water.

     The next day, I decided to go exploring.  I saw a sign that said, "Population: 50."  I hated the people.  They would stand around for twenty minutes, then sit for twenty minutes.  There are weird rules here, like "NO talking allowed!" and "No standing closer than five yards next to someone."  The worst rule is that you CANNOT ever leave!  I learned that rice and water are the only foods.  The only activities are to sleep, stand, sit, run, walk, and eat, unfortunately.  You have to sleep on concrete.  Everyone is forbidden to talk.

     I cannot leave, so please come get me!

     Miserably,
     Ritik

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paragraph Writing: Backwards Land

The "Awesome Authors and Artists" class practiced perfect paragraph writing by writing mini-travel brochures for an imaginary city, state, country, island..... whatever they could imagine!  They were taught how to vary sentence their patterns and focus on subjects like:
~ climate
~ day-to-day life
~ culture
~ type of land
~ animals
And more!

Mrs. Huff's "Florida" turned into "Adirolf...." a winter wonderland with fresh snow in the morning, sunshiny days, and the opportunity to participate in winter sports all year long.  Can you figure out how these students named their places??

Enjoy these paragraphs and book your tickets today!

Eropagnis
by Annika (5th grade)
     Eropagnis is a wonderful, fancy island that is relaxing and unique.  It is fun on the amazing beach side, but very fancy with the latest products all over the place.  Everyone drinks with their pinkies up, showers in the morning, and wakes up by 7:00 AM sharp.  The president is a royal panda, and everyone lives in a mansion.  Eropagnis always welcomes visitors.  It's located on the Equator and Prime Meridian.  Book your flight to Eropagnis today and enjoy and amazing vacation!

 Sirap
By Ashley (3rd grade)

     Sirap is a musical place with beautiful mountains.  Each night, the band will play fun tunes.  Every person in Sirap plays a musical instrument.  When tourists come, they love to dance to the music.  Book your tickets now and boogie with the Sirapians!




Monday, October 14, 2013

Paragraph Writing: Backwards Animals!

The "Budding Authors and Artists" class got to make up their own animals in their imaginations when it came time to learning how to write a paragraph.   We started off by having a fun brainstorming session, where we thought of animal names by spelling real animals forward, then backwards.  Mrs. Huff's flamingo turned into an "Ognimalf," a puffy bird with huge feet and a diet of ice cream cones!  The children were encouraged to create an animal very different from what the forward-spelling animal was like.  They were also given tips on how to vary their sentences to make their paragraph more interesting to read.  After our lesson in sentence writing, many students naturally used phrases that described where and when, and of course, lots of adjectives.  I think they did a fabulous job!  Have fun reading about these exotic creatures!
The Noil Krahs
by Adam (3rd grade)

     The Noil Krahs is an extremely ferocious creature.  It gobbles up juicy people who like to swim the deadliest oceans like the Pacific Ocean, where it lives.  It likes to jump extremely high to keep an eye on anybody who is going to swim.  The Noil Krahs has marvelous eyesight, so it can see very far away.  If anybody is coming close, it can sense them.  It is rare because it lives at the bottom of the sea.  It is a very strong and smart creature, so if you shoot it or play a trick on it, it wouldn't be your lucky day.  A Noil Krahs would be a terrible pet!

 The Retsmah
by Daniel (2nd grade)

     The Retsmah is very hungry.  It eats everything in trees and bushes.  It lives in the middle of the forest.  When it sees people, it conceals itself.  This creature is going to be an amazing pet because it can do anything!

The Tibbar
by Sammie (2nd grade)

     The Tibbar is blue and purple.  It is really sweet.  When it sees people, its hair goes into a braid.  It acts really funny.  The Tibbar gobbles cookies.  Its favorite cookie is rainbow with chocolate chips.  It looks like a puffball.  It flies a lot with its ears, and swims with its ears too.  The Tibbar lives in my desk at school, and has a happy life!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Starting Off With Super Sentences!

"Budding Authors and Artists" (grades 2-3) and "Awesome Authors and Artists" (grades 4-6) recently had lessons in how to write super sentences that create a vivid picture in the mind of the reader.  We started off with a  base sentence (otherwise known as a "boring sentence," containing just 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!!)

Once we added all of our details, we experimented with placement.  Many students found their sentences improved by moving their "When" or "Where" to the beginning of the sentence, for example.

Our boring, base sentence was: "The sun shines."  Check out how these students improved them, and made outstanding art projects too!
 The bright shiny sun shines fantastically on the beautiful garden while my mom waters the plants.
Anjalia, 2nd grade

 The yellow, orange, and hot sun shines brightly at noon at the sandy wavy beach.
Taryn, 3rd grade

 "Yesterday, on a terribly hot day, the bright, cheerful sun shone colorfully on a big puffy tree."
Abby, 3rd Grade

 "Because the firey, beautiful sun shines in the light blue sky of the misty morning, the village gets ready for the upcoming day."
Leila, 5th grade

"While dolphins swim happily in the crystal clear ocean, the scorching golden sun shines brightly."
Sofia, 5th grade 

Now that we have mastered sentence writing, we are ready for paragraphs!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Day in the Life of a.......

What would it feel like to be an inanimate object we use, see, or play with every day?  What would we see and do?  How would we feel?  What would we experience?  These are the questions we asked ourselves as we turned into pencils, mannequins, sporting equipment,  school buses, cars, paper, plants, clothing, food, and more!  All students were asked to story map how their day would begin and end, and of course, what would happen in the middle.   Each map had to show the objects' feelings with strong adjectives and verbs.  The story was to be written in a way that the reader could truly feel and understand every moment the object was experiencing.  Older students were encouraged to use Voice creatively, giving themselves, the object, a personality.  The results were fantastic!  Enjoy these....

My Life as an Ice Cube, by Florence (2nd grade)

     What's happening?  I am water in an ice maker!  It's freezing!  What am I going to turn into?  I feel different.  My dream is coming true.  I'm ice!  Plop!  I fall into a bucket with others in my family.

     A hand comes and grabs me.  I feel scared.  The hand looks boney, and its finger nails are two inches long!  The hand puts me in a glass of lemonade.  I feel hot, hot, hot!  I'm now in a throat.  Yuck!  Yuck!  I'm in the tummy.

     I feel like I was ice a long time ago.  I'm water now again in this squishy red place.
 

A Day in the Gross Life of a Piece of Bubblegum, by Julia (3rd grade)

     Oh, wow.  Being in this cramped, pitch dark, old, and boring store wrapper makes my life so unpleasant.  As you must know, I am Julie the Bubblegum.  I have beautiful thick hair and I am very sticky.  I have only one wish right now: I hope somebody buys me today!  I would be the happiest bubble gum in the world if someone bought me.  

     Oh!  I hear someone picking my wrapper and me up, and boy do they have a tight grip!  I can hear this person's voice now, and it sounds girly.  So, I bet the person who is buying me is a girl.

.....10 Minutes later.....

     We're finally here!  My new home awaits me.  Click1  I am locked in somewhere, but I am not sure where.  But wherever I am, it sure feels empty.

..... 2 Hours later......

     Chatter, chatter, chatter.  I have been unpeeled from my wrapper..... and put into someone's mouth!!  EEWWWW!!!!!!  I'm being tortured!!  This person is mushing and crunching me.  I'm bumping into all of their teeth.  I'm covered with rotten teeth, germs, and cavities.  EEEKK!  I think I was just almost swallowed.  This is turning into a nightmare!  I hope it ends soon.

..... 15 seconds later.....

     Plop.  I have landed in the trash can.  That's right, I landed in it.  Can you believe it?  I thought this person was my friend.  Instead they have thrown me into the garbage can.  They are now the enemy.  Anyway, this trash can has only three things in it so far: an empty plastic bottle, a goldfish wrapper, and me.  Right now, I feel stuck and unfree.  BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.... That is a garbage truck!  I'm probably going to die.... but I had a great life.


A Day in the Life of a Baseball, by Ritik (4th grade)

     I'm having a wonderful day so far.  I have been thrown by the pitcher and have never been hit by the bat of the batter.  I like the wind that is pushing me.  I feel so relaxed.  I look at the scoreboard and see that it is the last inning.  The game is tied 0-0.

     I learn that after this inning, the other team has to bat.  Nobody has hit me, and after three strike-outs, the other team has to bat.  There are two strike-outs, and I think that the game will soon end as a tie.  I feel happy and relaxed.

     BAM!  I feel a hard bat crushing me with a lot of force!  The wind is flying past me, and then.... SPLASH!  I realize I have landed in McCovey Cove.  Now I am sinking, and telling myself.... Good bye!


A Day in the Life of an Airplane, by Aaron (5th grade)

     I woke up. It was Sunday morning and the tarmac was boiling. Then the pilot in my brain sent a signal to the control tower: five o’clock, pilot 253 ready for battle. I didn’t hear the message back.

       Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. I am an airplane, an IL-2 to be exact. That’s a Russian ground attack aircraft.

        Ah, now we’ve started taxiing. The tarmac feels hard under my wheels. I feel nervous. Today we are going into battle with the Germans. I wonder if I’m going to survive.

        Owee! My pilot is pulling on the thrust. It feels like someone is literally dragging me along the smooth pavement. I’ m gaining speed. 100,200…300 kilometers an hour! In the blink of an eye, I’m off the runway and gaining altitude. I see the fields below me, the blue and white above me. Oh, the view is great up here! I can feel the wind rushing past my face at 500 KM/H. This is so exciting!

          Then everything turns to chaos. The Germans come too fast. Their airplanes are smirking; their pilots have jaws set with determination. I see an enemy coming at me. I will the pilot to turn, but he won’t. “Come on, come on,” are all my thoughts.

      Then everything goes red and time slows. I spiral out of control! My back is full of lead. Then, a split second later, BAAM! I slam into the ground at a speed exceeding 1000 KM/H. My pilot, the lucky guy, managed to eject. But now I’M a burning wreck. Gah! I’m so mad at my pilot. And I thought I was gonna have a fun day....



         A Day In the Life of a Roasted Chicken, by Crystal (5th grade)

     Ahhhh.... this rotisserie’s heat is like being inside a sauna! A chef wearing a ridiculous hat walks over to turn the skewer I am on. Oh, that feels so marvelous! Another chef with a curly waxed moustache comes to take me off the skewer. Darn it! I am whisked onto a neon-yellow plate, and set to cool on the counter. Just then, a round of dirty dishes is brought back to the kitchen. I can clearly hear the leftovers talking in hushed voices: “He nearly got me! I thought that I was about to die!” Upon hearing this, all of the newly cooked dishes, including me, chorused: “Please tell us a scary story about those monsters with two legs and lots of hair!” Carrie the cornbread, a gentle food who had nearly been chomped on, finally relented to our cheering encouragements.


            “I was on a plate with some other foods, being carried out to the dining room. I knew that I was soon going to die. It’s terrible knowing that you are going to die in 15 minutes and you can’t do anything, you know. At the table, I saw that my life would be ended by a little girl in a pink tutu, holding a sparkly fake wand. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand the fact that I was going to be murdered ruthlessly by a 5 year old girl. I spoke quietly to her. ‘Please don’t kill me! I’m too young to die!’ I whimpered. Surprisingly, she understood my shaking words! She left me on the edge of the plate and didn’t touch me for the whole meal. But, her dad nearly stabbed me with a sharp metal thingy. He just missed my arm. See, here’s a part that he cut off! Anyways, I now owe my life to that little girl.” Carrie finished. We all cheered softly as she blushed, as modest as always. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever eat sweet, kind, Carrie!   


            Then, the moment came- a waiter walked in to carry me out to my doom. I was put next to some rosemary garlic fries, and taken out to the room filled with nothing but horror and murder. On the serving tray, I looked at my surroundings for one last time, then closed my eyes. When I finally opened them, I was on a table, next to a girl. Maybe I could do what Carrie had done! But the girl was eating the rosemary garlic fries, and clearly enjoying them. I could hear the muffled screams as each fry was stuffed into her mouth. How could these monstrous creatures be so pitiless? Didn’t they see and hear us foods suffering? I thought in despair. Oh, well. No time for these thoughts. I was about to be eaten alive! The girl had finished the fries and reached for me. Just as I was about to pass her mouth, I screeched the simple word: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The word did the trick. She stopped, mid-bite, and stared wonderingly at me. I shrank back in fright. She kept staring, but slowly lowered me down, back to the plate. There was hope!! But then, in that moment of fate, she shook her head, stabbed me with a fork, shoved me in her mouth, and ended my life with a single crunch.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Poetry!

I love teaching Poetry!  It really can be taught to any age.  Teaching kids to appreciate poetry and find out what makes it beautiful is one half of the lesson; the other half is teaching them that they too can be poets!

Here are some samples of poems my students wrote right around the first day of Spring.

My youngest students were taught the BIG word ONOMATOPOEIA!  It was so fun having them sound it out after writing it on the board.  Then we discussed that ONOMATOPOEIA is when a word sounds like it's meaning.  We talked about how spring time is full of onomatopoetic words, and we gave examples.  The students then had to write a poem fill-in-the-blank style, using onomatopoeia whenever they could or wanted to.

Here is Jessica's (1st grade.)  I absolutely love it!

Spring is when.....
Rain pitter-patters
Birds peck the tree
Lambs jump
Chicks peep
The wind blows and smells fresh
Flowers bloom
Leaves drink the rain
And the Easter bunny hops!

Here is Alec's (3rd grade).  Notice all of his onomatopoeia!

Spring is when....
Rain drip drops
Birds peep
Lambs clip clop
Chicks chirp and peck
The wind swooshes
Flowers swish
Leaves rustle
and the Easter bunny hides eggs!

Some of my younger class members chose to use the Fill-in-the-blank format as a brainstorm for their own original poems.   Aren't these wonderful?

Spring is.... by Josh (3rd grade)
Sprouting flowers
Fluttering leaves
Chicks peeping and tweeting
Rain pitter patters
The Easter Bunny hides his eggs and boings his way through the world.
Spring is so much fun!

Spring is when... by Adeline (2nd grade)
Rain pitter patters on the roof,
Newborn birds chip in their nest,
Lambs leap in the grass meadows,
Chicks squeak beside their mother,
The wind whistles amongst the tree tops,
Flowers dance with the grass,
Leaves appear a pretty light green,
and the Easter Bunny boings while delivering Easter eggs with treats.
Let's sing a song of Spring!

My older students were taught my "Favorite Five"-- five poetic tools that a poet can use to create imagery in a poem, and make poetry sound great!
end-line rhyme: rhyme at the end of a line
internal-line rhyme: rhyme in the middle of a line
repetition: a word that is repeated (for effect and emphasis)
alliteration: two or more words that start with the same sound
onomatopoeia: words that sound like their meaning

After reading a sample which contained all five, the students were encouraged to use as many tools as they could when writing their own poem.

I LOVE Sulwen's (5th grade).  She used all five tools!  Enjoy!

READING
Reading is a way to go away,
It isn't a time to laugh and play,
Swish!  Swish!  Swish! go the pages as you flip.
Into the book you silently slip.

Reading is a journey,
You can travel to faraway lands.
You can be surrounded by knights and dragons,
Or by a blaring band.

Reading is a creative way,
To inspire yourself to write away,
Whether it's a poem, novel, or a picture book,
Into a book you should look!

This is beautiful, by Eliza (4th grade)

HAWAII
As I go swimming across the waves,
With my cousin I cherish the days.
Stepping across the rocks with care,
I am happy I am there.
The seagulls that fly, up in the sky,
Make me happy that I am there.
Even when I got water in my eye,
I am happy that I am there.
Splish!  Splash! listen to my feet, 
As I splash in the shallow beach.

Hear me sigh as I leave the beach,
I am sad I am leaving there.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Paragraph Game

My older students understand that a paragraph can be about only one topic.  However, the challenge to writing engaging, interesting paragraphs is to have a variety of sentence patterns and starters.  "The Snowflake" sentence-building activity taught the students various ways to create a sentence.   Now my challenge as a teacher was to present a lesson on paragraph writing that was entertaining and challenging.

"The Paragraph Game" was an idea I thought up at one of those moments when I should have been trying to go to sleep, but was instead planning ahead for workshops.  I must say, I am glad I didn't fall asleep early!

Here's how it goes (and I recommend this only for students in grades 3 and up):

1. Students are given a list of 10 or so sentence writing cues.  These may include:
- Start a sentence with a "when" phrase
- Start a sentence with a "where" phrase
- Start a sentence with "Because"
- Include an interesting verb
- Put an adverb in your sentence
- Write a quote sentence
And more!

2. Students pair or group up based on their topic choices/interests.

3. Each group is given a bag filled with papers numbered 1-10.

4. Each person takes turn drawing a number.  The number they draw corresponds to a sentence style or pattern, and the group has to come up with a way to write that type of sentence in their paragraph.

5. One "pass" is allowed, if the pattern simply won't work or sound right.

6. Students know they are done when they have a 4-8 sentence paragraph, and the last number they draw just leads nicely to a conclusion.

5th graders Annika, Ellery, and Michelle selected the topic "Favorite Vacation Spot."  They chose to do a story-style paragraph where they describe a day in Disneyland.  I love this!

     Annika, Ellery, and I took a vacation to Disneyland.  Dizzily we got off the twirling Teacups.  We rushed off to get to the next ride, which was Splash Mountain.  When we got there, the speaker exclaimed, "Prepare to get wet!"  Because Ellery didn't want to get wet, she whined the entire time.  Finally Ellery calmed down when Annika and I told her we would buy her cotton candy after the ride.  "Splash Mountain" was thrilling and we got soaking wet.  Quickly we hustled to "Haunted Mansion."  At the end of the day, we all went home with huge smiles on our faces.

I can't even begin to describe the teamwork these three girls used to write this super paragraph.  They were open to advice and truly worked as a unit to write this.  I am proud of them! It can be harder to work with two other people, especially with the potential of everyone having different ideas. 

Call me biased, but I absolutely loved Alex's (5th grade) and Katie's (3rd grade) paragraph.  See if you can tell why!

     "Awesome Authors and Artists" provides many fun creative writing projects with amazing art work to go with it.  Excitedly, students work together to create interesting paragraphs in the Paragraph Game.  "'Awesome Authors and Artists' is a wonderful class where kids can learn a lot and still have fun!" exclaimed 3rd graders Mira and Anja.  Because a few people left out details in the description of their snowman, there were a few wacky-looking snowman drawings in the "Snowman Draw Game."  The great assignments and excellent teacher make "Awesome Authors and Artists" an amazing class!

Okay, maybe it's obvious why I chose this paragraph to blog.  Even Alex realized it would be an excellent advertisement, and convinced me I should blog it for that reason alone.  But that's not the only reason I chose it!  Notice the wonderful adverb starting sentence two; the fabulous adjectives used; the appropriate use of a quotation sentence; the fantastic conclusion.  This is a very well-written paragraph, especially considering the fact they were challenging themselves with different sentence styles and rules the entire time!

My classrooms were abuzz with teamwork and collaboration the day we did this game.  I will definitely be making this a permanent assignment in my curriculum!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Great Inventions!

To celebrate Thomas Edison's birthday (February 11, 1847 in case you were wondering), I had all of my classes brainstorm on a great invention they could create in their imaginations.  What could they think of, make, design, or build that would improve people's lives?

We started the activity by learning a little bit about Thomas Edison's no-quit attitude.   We then brainstormed ideas on the board and named inventions (or simply described them if we weren't ready to name them).  Once everyone had an idea in mind, we outlined the following:

~Name of invention and one sentence description
~More detailed explanation of the invention and how it would work
~Whom it would help
~Other interesting facts (appearance, cost, etc.)
~A quick summary/conclusion with a descriptive adjective

Once we filled in these important pieces of information, the students realized they had a neatly organized 5-paragraph essay waiting to be written in front of them!

There were so many amazing inventions that it was hard to pick just a few to share with all of you.  Here are some that I think you will agree would really improve the quality of life.  (This first one is an invention after my own heart.....)  Who knows?  Maybe we'll be seeing these items on store shelves soon!

"The Hold Everything Box," by Ryan (4th grade)

     If I could create something, it would be the "Hold Everything Box," the invention that can hold anything!  Any mom who needs to clean up their children's toys or needs more storage space will no longer have to use tons of boxes.

     The "Hold Everything Box" can turn from a tiny cube to a huge storage bin with just one touch of a button.  By simply touching the button on the top of the "Hold Everything Box," it will turn into a huge storage box.  Next, press the button again.  Within seconds, the box will shrink to a tiny fraction of the normal box size.  It is that simple.  You could put all your stuff in the box!  It would fit toys, pencils, cups, papers, and even furniture!

     It's clear that moms have kids who probably have tons of stuff everywhere.  Well, the "Hold Everything Box" can be of great help to the moms and the children.  It could hold as much storage as you want.  The mothers can take a deep breath and the kids don't have to decide which toy, paper, or item to throw away because there is no more room in the house!

     It only costs $20, and one can choose any color or design!  From red to blue to polka dots and stripes, to anything!  The "Hold Everything Box" will always be yours.

     In conclusion, the "Hold Everything Box" is very useful to everyone, especially moms.


Here is a great sample from one of my youngest students.  Even my 1st graders were able to complete a very simple story map and convert it to a short essay.  Sammie (1st grade) truly invented something that would help ALL kids....

     I will invent The Magic Cookie Machine.  If your mom says you can't have a cookie, you can sneak them all day.  It would look like a toy, and you have to type different codes to get different types of yummy cookies.  It looks like a rainbow, but when my mommy walks by, it turns invisible so she can't see it.  My Magic Cookie Machine would be so so awesome!


Here is an invention EVERYBODY wishes they had!

"The Back Scratcher Robot," by Zara (3rd grade)

     My invention would be a Back Scratcher Robot.  The Back Scratcher Robot would scratch your back in the spots that were about to itch!

     It would take five minutes for installation.  To start the machine, you press a tiny blue button.  Then, a metal hand with just the right sized fingernails for your back would come down from a projector-like machine, in slow motion.

     This machine would help people with dry and itchy backs.  Don't you think buying plastic backscratchers or using your poor little children to scratch your back is bad?

     The Back Scratcher Robot would be very calm and relaxing for your back.  You can buy one at www.Z.com.



Thursday, April 4, 2013

Squiggle Stories

      This project is fun for all ages!  Students got to pick from 10 designs of squiggle lines, and then got to brainstorm a story from the 5 W's and the H:
Who is the subject of their picture?
What is happening in the picture?
When is this taking place?
Where is this taking place?
Why is this happening?
How?  (This was the main idea of the story)

It was so fun to hear and read different ideas students came up with for the very same squiggle lines.  Here are some excellent samples from across the grades.  Enjoy!



Once upon a time, there was a girl named Anjalia.  She was trying to lick the ice cream before it melted.  She was licking it in the hills on the first day of summer.  She wanted to win the "Licking Ice Cream Cone Contest" by eating it super fast.  Guess what!  She won!  And she didn't even get a tummy ache!
-Anjalia, 1st grade


Once there was a cat named Rosie who wanted something to play with.  (She was very bored.)  So she looked around the house.

Then she found a pink ball of yarn on a table next to a vase.  It was a very pretty vase.  It was blue with a purple rose on beautiful green grass.  There were brown branches on the sides of the vase.  It was Rosie's owner's favorite vase.

Rosie knew her owners loved the vase very much.  But she wanted the yarn so badly.  So she bounced up on the table and got the pink ball of yarn.  But..... she knocked over the vase!  And her owners saw it all happen!  Rosie got in very big trouble.  She got put outside (away from the yarn).

After all that work, she didn't get to play with the ball of yarn!
-Charlotte, 2nd grade

(I have to share some interesting information before this next story and picture from 6th grader Ben.  Ben and Charlotte are brother and sister in two different classes.  Unknowingly, they chose the SAME Squiggle starter!  But look how differently they perceived the same line!)




John:
"John!  I'll give you ten pesos if you go bring back a leaf from the forgotten valley!" said my brother Robert.  I denied him.

"No way!  If I'm going to the valley, it would be worth thirty!"

Robert agreed to give me thirty pesos if I went in.  I started to see the fluffs that measure the valley.  I recently learned at the castle that the Fluffs were made out of water, and you can walk right through them.  Remembering this, I walked beneath the fluffs.  The grass started to get rougher, like the old "leather" as the old people call it.  There they were, the only trees on the island.  I plucked a leaf off, and as I did, an earthquake started.

Robert:
I was starting to worry about John.  He had been gone for twenty minutes.  I thought I should have told the king.  

Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the castle.

"King!  John is gone, adn there just was an earthquake in the valley!"

The king was missing!

John:
King?  I saw the king sprinting over to me, with a dagger in his hand.  But he didn't do anything.

King:
I ran right past John without knowing it.  Right then I was about to retrieve him no matter the cost.  I ran all the way to the peak.  I kept going.  I climbed over it.  I came out on a plateau and, walking to the left, I found a huge jelly-like object.

I came to a cliff, and climbing down, realization dawned on me.  I was living on a huge animal swimming through the sea!  I climbed back up, and stabbed the beast in the eye multiple times with my dagger.  I must slay the beast!  But I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.

John:
I heard a cacophony of terrible noises spread across the air like knives on my ears.  The world tipped and my eyes filled with salt, and I couldn't breathe.

King:
I had tipped the beast over!

Robert:
In my short life, I had never heard a noise that loud.  Then I flipped over, my eyes and nose burned.  This is how a dead man must feel.

 



-->
Lost and Found



              Goldy the baby chick shivered in the

crisp, brisk April air. She had been here for one

hour already. She kept having memories of

falling out of her nest, being unable to fly, and

wandering all alone.

              She gasped as she heard loud trotting

through the tall, marsh grass. She saw a huge

figure lapping up water at the waterfall. She

peeped nervously.

              The figure turned towards her and

started walking to her. As the shadow loomed

above her, it was too much for Goldy. She

fainted.

              Goldy awakened to gentle drops of

water dripping on her face.

              “Hello,” said a spotted dog, which she

 realized was the shadow she had seen earlier.

“It took minutes to wake you up!” “I’m glad I

finally did!” said the dog. “What’s your name?”

it said. “I’m Fudge.” Obviously, Fudge was very

talkative.

              Goldy noticed that the water she had

felt was Fudge’s drool! “Goldy,” stammered the

little chick.

              “Are you lost?” asked Fudge.

              “Yes,” stammered Goldy again.

              “Well, we better get going,” said Fudge.

“New Zealand can be very dark after dusk.”

              As they traveled, Fudge said, “I can

already smell the scent of your nest!” Goldy

smiled. She was soon going to be at home.

              “Well,” said Fudge, after five more

minutes. “You’re here.” “You’re safe now.” He

gently lifted her up and plopped her down in

her nest.

              “Thank you,” said Goldy. “Thank you so

much!” she repeated. And then she fell into a

deep, dreamless slumber.
-Mira, 3rd grade

Aren't these fabulous stories?  I am so proud of my creative students!