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!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pumpkin Autobiographies

     Our biggest and longest assignment of the session was writing our autobiographies….. as a pumpkin!  My family and I endeavored to grow pumpkins from seeds we saved from last year's jack-o-lanterns.  We planted our seeds in late Spring and took pictures and notes on our pumpkin plants.  My kids and I had a fantastic time and learned so much about pumpkins!  Here are some pictures I showed my students when I had them think about what it might be like to be a pumpkin, from seed to vine to pumpkin stages!

     With that inspiration, the students were asked to brainstorm four separate chapters: Seed, Growing, Pumpkin, and The End.  Of course, I didn't have any pictures of The End, but the students got to pick their own ending.  Some became jack-o-lanterns, others became pie, and some ended their lives as uncut decorations!  (Those last the longest of course!)

     Enjoy these fun stories, from youngest to oldest:
by Saviana (1st grade)

Chapter 1: I Started as a Seed.
     I started my life as a seed.  Farmer Sammie planted me in her backyard.  It was very smelly in the ground, but it was fine.  I was a little scared.  I was a little jealous of my brother's seed coat.

Chapter 2: I Began to Grow.
     I started to grow into a green vine!  Soon I noticed I was getting watered by Farmer Sammie!  My life got a whole lot more interesting!  Except my brother was making fun of me.  He was a pumpkin already.

Chapter 3: Then I Became a Pumpkin.
     I was so happy that I was a pumpkin!  I was green, then I was yellow, then I was finally a big orange pumpkin!  I was having a good time until I noticed that my hair was getting cut.  I was freaking out!

Chapter 4: The End
     Farmer Sammie was putting me somewhere very hot.  When she took me out, she cut off my forehead!  Then my other eye!  I was a pumpkin pie!  She then brought me to the table.  I was scared.  Ow!  I was getting gobbled up.  What a happy ending!

by Daniella (2nd grade)

    Chapter 1: I Started as a Seed.
     I'm so light and tiny.  I'm scared the neighbor might step on me.  I'm jealous the pumpkin next door is so big.  The soil is dirty!  At least I'm wearing my seed coat!

Chapter 2: I Began to Grow.
     I'm so tired and still scared!  The neighbor next door is getting bigger!  I see the sky and light!  I'm growing vines.  My life is happy.

Chapter 3: Then, I Became a Pumpkin.
     I'm big like my dad.  The neighbor next door can't step on me.  My mom is proud and happy.  My owner waters me.  It tickles.

Chapter 4: The End
     My life is over.  I'm now a pumpkin pie.  My owner cuts me.  It tickles!

by Sammie (3rd grade)

     Chapter 1: I Started as a Seed.
     When I was a seed, I was very very little.  I got held by Farmer Laura.  Then I got planted.

     A week later, the soil was warm and moist.  Then I began to grow roots.  The soil was wet and cold in the night.  My roots were getting bigger.  I thought I'd sprout soon.

     Chapter 2: I Began to Grow.
     Then my head poked through the dirt a little, and my legs were getting wider and deeper.  Three days later, I got more hands and hair.  Then I got big golden flowers.  I was confused.  I thought I was going to be a pumpkin, not a flower!  At least I am getting bigger.

     Oh, look!  A big black and yellow thing was going inside me, buzzing.  I hoped it wouldn't hurt me.  Oh good, it went away.

     One day later, my flower closed, and there was a green ball on the bottom of my flower.  Could it be I have a pumpkin on my bottom??

     Chapter 3: I Became a Pumpkin!
     My ball was getting bigger, and was turning yellow.  One day, my flower fell off.  I was happy because I never wanted to be a flower anyway!  I was starting to look more like a pumpkin.  I loved it!

     Two weeks later, I was an orange pumpkin.  I couldn't believe it.  I felt so plump and happy!

     Chapter 4: The End
     I was so sad my life was about to be over.  After Halloween, I was baked into a yummy pie.  

     First they scraped out all my goo.  My insides felt squishy!  Then they combined my insides with sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  In the oven I got really really hot.  I got put on a Halloween plate.  Ouch, those teeth hurt!

     I am glad I was a pumpkin!

by Sarah (4th grade)

      When I first opened my eyes, I saw a farmer holding me in her hand.  She said I was the littlest pumpkin seed she had ever seen.  She said she couldn't wait until she planted me in the pots which were near the pumpkin patch.
     Sadly, she accidentally dropped me near the creek when she tripped over a rock.  I was afraid, and really wet since I was close to a creek.  I was so lonely and lost.  I didn't know if I was too close to the creek or not.

     I didn't realize this was happening, but then I noticed…. I started to sprout!  Then my vines started growing longer and my roots were digging deeper into the ground.
     Within the next week, I grew beautiful, golden flowers.  I felt warmer, above the ground.  I was so excited that I was growing at last!

     A few weeks later, I finally turned into a pumpkin!  Even though I lost my flower, I was more excited about my pumpkin.  That week, I was only the color green, but then I started turning a yellowish orange color.  By the end of the week, I was pure golden.  I was still warm by the sun.  I was about a medium-sized pumpkin, and I only grew one inch in the next week.  
     I was really bored and waiting to grow more, but still happy that I was a pumpkin.

     When I was full grown, that farmer girl that dropped me, found me!  She said she was going to make me into a jack-o-lantern for a Halloween decoration.  I was tickled by the pen when she was drawing on me.  It hurt a lot when she was cutting my face with a knife!
     I became very warm when she put a candle inside of me.  I was so excited when she put me in front of her door.  I was scared of the people in costumes, but that didn't keep me from having fun on Halloween night!

     The Life of a Pumpkin
By: Mira (5th grade)

Chapter 1: Seed

I am, simply, a seed. And right now I am trying to contain my emotions, but inside, I am BURSTING WITH EXCITEMENT!!! I am about to be planted in the rich and plentiful soil of Illinois, in Bert’s Big Pumpkin Patch, with 400 other tiny white seeds (my brothers and sisters). I am about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life! The big and rough farmer named Bert, with a wide-brimmed hat, kneels down to pat me into the soil. Bert takes care of us responsibly though; he is a good handler with delicate pumpkin seeds.
After Bert finishes planting us all, he leaves. Now I can talk freely with my brothers and sisters in the soil!
I ask a brother next to me, “Aren’t you excited?”
He answers, “No.”
I shrug, than turn to a sister on my other side. “Are you excited?”
She nods happily and screeches, “So excited. OMG, OMG.” She rolls her eyes giddily.
I converse with other brothers and sisters and get their feedback on being a seed. Wow! I can’t wait to start growing!
As I sprout from the ground, I flourish into a light green sprout with two leaves. I am a delicate root, with a white stem.
As I grow, I feel the warm sun beaming down on me, on some occasions light rain sprinkling and gusts of wind blowing, tiny black ants tickling, and the rustling of sprouts of my brothers and sisters. I am ecstatic.  I feel content and grreeeaaatt, and very happy to be living this life.

Chapter 2: Grow

Okay. I am so angry and frustrated right now, you can barely imagine my rage!!! When I wake up, I am pretty happy and glad that I am growing little green arms and legs. I am turning into a full-fledged sprout!
After a few weeks, I start to realize that I am growing more and more and more and more and I am changing colors (all this while my new owner, Mira (isn’t it a coincidence that our names are the same?), is watering me and taking very good care of me)! But I’m not becoming a pumpkin. I am becoming a pretty orangish-yellowish flower growing on a vine with big, green leaves around me. And than I grasp the concept and bug out (pun intended). I rant and rave until the day is old. Then I cry a river, and after this I see that my brothers and sisters are pumpkins! After this, I go totally ballistic, and repeat the whole process over again. After this, I sob myself to sleep.
In the morning, I look down at my sorry self. And then I see that I am attached to this ball! I saw this before, all around me, when my brothers and sisters were growing faster. They were flowers, but then they shriveled up and that little ball became a large pumpkin. I didn’t think much of it then, but now I understand that this is a crucial point in my life.
YAY! YAY! YAY! I’m going to become a pumpkin! I’m just a late bloomer (pun intended)! My hat is off, and my tuxedo is on! I’m going to be the biggest, most beautiful pumpkin in the world!
As I sway in happiness, I feel the shade that the other leaves are covering me with, bugs crawling, caterpillars chewing, and the weather doing its weekly checkups.
Right then I know that this is the finest life of any living thing.

Chapter 3: Pumpkin

It is a windy September afternoon, and I am a H-U-G-E pumpkin! Mira talks to me and says I am of the Storybook Pumpkin variety, and that I am the biggest of my kind that she has ever seen! I am very wide and have rounded ridges and lines. My color is a tangy and tarnished orange, and my flower has shriveled up. My brothers and sisters are gone, because their pumpkins got picked not too long ago, and I am sad and lonely sometimes. But I have my friends, Queen Elizabeth and Hernán Cortes, the royal beetle and the adventurous butterfly.
I am very excited to be a wonderful pumpkin, and ecstatic for ME!!! But sometimes, I am sad because I know I am nearing the end of my life (sniffle, cry quietly). On these occasions I talk to Queen Elizabeth and Hernán Cortes.
“Were you sad when you turned from a boring caterpillar to a magnificent butterfly? Or were you happy to be free?”
“Did you like it when you started changing colors as a beetle? Or were you scared?”
“How do you feel now when you know you are nearing the end of your… uh… er… well… cycle???”
These questions I ask constantly, and many others. Finally, they answer.
“You know, Mira, I think dying is very peaceful,” says Queen Elizabeth, the beetle gently.
“Yes, yes,” chimes in Hernán Cortes, the butterfly. “I think you have ab-so-lute-ly nothing to worry about.”
I sigh in relief. “You’ve taken a huge burden off me,” I say. I thank them warmly, and they skedaddle off.
Over this month, I discover strange, curly, green things growing out of my head, which Mira identifies as tan-druls. No, tendrils! I experience more rain and wind in fall than in any other season, and the gusts and gales feel refreshing and cool.
What an extraordinary thing it is to be a pumpkin.

Chapter 4: End

Ahh. Just smell that brisk, crisp air and leaves. A typical windy day, and I am very excited for this day because today… I am getting picked!
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a pumpkin and hanging out with Queen Elizabeth and Hernán Cortes, but recently, my life has been a little bit… well… BORING!!! I am pumped to get plucked, because I am ready for a new adventure!
As I see Bert slowly walking towards me, I say a (sniff) tearful farewell to my kind and good friends, the special beetle and butterfly. Bert leans down and takes a good look at me, with Mira right at his heels. Bert reaches over, and with a sharp THWACK, separates me from my vine. And with that, everything goes black.

I wake up to the sweet and strong scent of bread. I am in a huge bakery, called the Lee Boolaungear. No, the Le Boaleangoer. I’ve got it now! The Le Boulanger! Oh no! A big and fat woman is taking me to a gigantic oven! Aaaaaah…
Aah. I am soooooo toasty and warm in here, it is like I am in a pool sauna. I look at my surroundings and watch steel walls glow like burning coals and feel heat that burns like fire from a flaming dragon. But it all goes by too fast. In less than ten minutes, I am pulled out of the oven, and I am transformed into a HUGE pumpkin muffin!!! I feel a burning sensation inside of me and know, right then, that this is an adventure.

Five days later. Imagine my surprise when Mira bursts into the store and strides right up to the worker here today, and says:
“Where is the enormous pumpkin muffin that I’ve heard so much about? I am—or was—its owner before it was a muffin, you know.”
The employee stammers, “Uh—uh—uh—of course, miss, right this way, miss, watch your step, miss.”
Mira walks purposefully into the back room and says, “Hello, Mira. I’ve come to enroll you in the Annual Thanksgiving Pumpkin Muffin Contest 2014, for your own benefit.”
And just like that, I’m being carted away and off to the biggest event of my life.

Gosh. Gosh. Gosh. I cannot believe it. I’ve just won the contest for best pumpkin muffin in weight and taste. I am just plain BIG, weighing approximately 467.7 pounds, and apparently, the judges can’t stop taking bites of me. A first place blue ribbon is pinned on me and many people are tasting my warm, soft skin. I close my eyes and am in quiet for a moment, even with all the hustle-bustle around me. With Mira standing beside me and fond memories inside my head, this really is the most perfect life.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Squiggle Stories!


One of my favorite creative writing assignments is the "Squiggle Story."  First, the students get to choose from eight different squiggle lines.  I ask them to envision what they could turn the lines into, and their imaginations go wild!  I took the above picture during the art portion of this assignment.  If you look closely, you will see the beginning of "Frodrick" and "Surf" from the featured stories below.  In the middle, you can admire Morgan's (4th grade) beginning of her story about aliens coming to Earth, led by their Earthling-fooler "Goofy."  I love how students can see the same squiggle line and turn them into completely different pictures!  This first one below has been turned upside down and made into a fairy dress and a vase tipping over, and turned sideways and made into a sea monster.  Now, it is a bunny ear!

Enjoy these stories!

"Bumbo," by Julia (5th grade)

     "Haha!" giggled some bunnies outside Bunny Burrow Boulevard.  "Bumbo has big ears, let's say Cheers!" they chant the official chant of the decade, dedicated to Bumbo Brebolla, the bunny whose ears are as big as they get!  But don't worry!  Bumbo did not take it personally, as he might have five years ago!  Let me tell you how this famous bunny's story goes!

     It was a sunny and beautiful day, and Bumbo bunny was on his way home from school, when a note in a paper carrot shape flew toward him, followed by laughter and the sound of feet hopping away.  He unfolded the note, although he did not need to know what it said and who wrote it.  Benjamin Bunny, the meanest bunny on the block, frequently wrote notes, and they all said the same scrawled words: "Teacher's pet!  You stink!  Nobody wants you here!"  Although he had seen it many times, his eyes filled with tears.  His mother met him at the door, and said her usual greeting, "Not another note, Sweet Cabbage.  Oh dear."

     The following day, Bumbo received a letter.  But not just any letter!  It was a letter from Brock O'Bunny, the Bunny President, inviting Bumbo to the Orange House for a delicious gourmet meal and Photo Shoot!  "Can I go, Mommy?" he asked sweetly but excitedly.

     "My Sweet Cabbage, of course!" she screamed hopping up and down with excitement.  We need to get you a new suit, dress shoes…" and she went on with a huge list of new things to get him.

     When the big day came, Mama Bunny was hopping all over, making remarks like, "Remember your manners."

     "Remember, your father would be proud," she said, embracing him and blinking back tears.  When she finally let go, he scurried off to the bus calling, "Bye, Mommy!" over his shoulder.

     When he arrived, he found the president standing outside the Orange House, in conversation with a handsome bunny with a news camera in hand.  When he caught sight of Bumbo, he waved in a friendly manner.  "Bumbo, I hope you aren't camera shy," he said, laughing at the excited look on Bumbo's face.  "My name is Brock O'Bunny, your president!" he said.  "We have a lot to discuss."

     He surprised Bumbo by asking interview questions like, "What would you say to all the big-eared bunnies out there to inspire them?"  

     When it was time for Bumbo to go back to Bunny Burrow Boulevard, he told the president, "Thank you, Mr. O'Bunny.  This was very fun.  I hope I will see you soon.  Good bye!"

     "Actually, I was planning on visiting Bunny Burrow Boulevard next week.  I will need a place to stay.  If it is all right with your mother…." he was stopped mid-sentnece by a rumble of a private jet.  The president smiled and continued.  "If it is all right with your mother, I was hoping I could stay with you at your house?  Also, you are taking a private jet back to your home."

     "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Bumbo shouted, smiling until his cheeks hurt.  "See you next week!  My mom will be fine with it!  Good bye!" and Bumbo climbed into the jet on his way home.

     As you can see, Bumbo then became a very famous bunny.  Everybody, including Benjamin Bunny, respected him.  In fact, Benjamin became his biggest admirer!  Now the carrot note said: "Carrots are orange, cabbage is green.  Let me know if you want a taco supreme! -Ben Bunny."  

     All in all, Bumbo became a very happy bunny.

"Surf," by Charlotte (4th grade)

      Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…. there was a 10 year old sea monster named Surf.  You see, Surf was not like other sea  monsters.  Surf, unlike his foul, man-eating dad, disliked the taste of humans.  Surf's father desperately wanted poor Surf to devour everyone he saw.

     It just so happened to be July 29th, the day before Surf's birthday.  Surf was very excited.  As a birthday gift, Surf hoped that his dad might not pressure him to eat people.

     The next day, on July 30th, Surf swam (more like torpedoed) over to his dad.  His father said, "Son, for your birthday, I would like to offer you a deal.  Eat just one person, and you will never have to eat another person as long as you live."

     Surf answered, "Deal!" and he devoured a very plump man swimming at a nearby beach.

     "Yum!" Surf said.  "I think I like people after all!"  So he and his dad swam over to a nearby beach together and swallowed everyone with glee.

"Frodrick," by Lucy (4th grade)

     One day on a farm, there was a chicken named Frodrick who only had one leg.  He was very hungry.

     "I'm getting hungry!" growled Frodrick.  Then he spotted it: THE WORM!  "Snack!" he croaked.

     He zipped over to the worm.  He thought the worm saw him because it looked like it was trying to get away.

     Frodrick paused for a second, watching it struggle.  The worm had a big, sad frown on his face.  Frodrick thought he heard a tiny little voice calling, "Mom!  Help me!"  While Frodrick watched  it wiggle, he heard the other chickens calling for him to get to church.  He thought, "I better make it fast!  Just one more hop!"

     "Darn it, I stepped on my snack!  Now it's not good for me to eat.  I guess I'll go to church  now," said the sad, sad chicken.

     "Blaaaaa," said the worm, saying good bye to its last heart.  (Worms have ten hearts).

"Butterfly Adventure," by Taryn (4th grade)

     Once upon a time, there were two butterflies.  One of the butterflies was called Butter.  The other butterfly was called Mom Butterfly.

     They were flying along, and then they came across a flower.

     "Mom!  Mom!  Come on!  I found a flower!" shouted Butter.

     "Honey, it's a Venus Fly Trap!" said Mom.  'When you land on it, it's going to eat you!  Now stay away!"

     After her warning, Mom Butterfly flew away.

     Suddenly, she stopped.  Butter wasn't there flying beside her!

     Butter had gone in the other direction.  She was heading for the Venus Fly Trap!

     "Now I know it's a flower!"  Butter said confidently.  "I know my mom is wrong!"

     When she landed, she bounced on the flower.  Then she bounced on it again!  It was a flower after all!  It smelled like cherry blossoms and had some nectar inside.  The petals were so colorful and soft!

     *The moral of the story is: Even if your mom says No, just do it.  Just kidding!!*

"Fishing," by Samantha (3rd grade)

     "Whistle, whistle!" went Bald Donald.  He thought it was a glorious day to go fishing.  He threw out his line.  But as soon as the little worm went under water, he felt a massive tug!  

     As he pulled out the line…. he saw something AMAZING!  Enough fish to make a shark happy for a year were hanging on each other by the tails.  

     All the little fish had angry scowls on their faces, except one small rainbow fish.  She told him she would be his pet if he let all these poor fish go.  He agreed, and brought home the little rainbow fish in a small fish bowl.

     And from that day on, Bald Donald had a pet, a friend, and a companion.

"The Statue of Liberty," by Nick (2nd grade)

         There once was a Statue of Liberty.  He held his favorite flames.  One day he let go of it.  Then he jumped.  He got it!  He felt so happy to have his flames back once again.

"The Bunny," by Alex (1st grade)

     Once upon a time a bunny was going to an ice cream man.  Then he was going to see his friends.  Then he dropped his ice cream on the ground and then he cried.

"The Man Who Climbed a Mountain" by Tyler (Kindergarten)
     The man is standing on a mountain.  He is looking down at a tree.  It was hot that summer.  He climbed to get a better view.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monster Draw Game!

Adjectives, Adjectives, Adjectives!!  They are very important when an author is attempting to paint the perfect picture in the reader's mind.  Adjectives can tell size, shape, color, and number.  And this is the theme of the Monster Draw Game!  We enjoyed this assignment at Halloween time.

Step 1: Draw a monster.  (Having a background will give you more difficulty points during judging.)
Step 2: Describe your monster in vivid and complete detail.
Step 3: Exchange descriptions with a partner.  Attempt to draw each other's monster.  Monsters who are practically twins will win the contest!

It is always fun to see the improvement in kids as they take repeated workshops with me.  These first two girls started off in my program as wee 1st graders.  Their first Monster Draw game in 2nd grade was a flop; they both remember!  Now look at them in 3rd grade!  Voted class winners!  Congratulations Anjalia (writer) and Sammie (reader)!

     My paper is vertical.

     My monster is a medium green square with fat blue stripes.   It has no fur or skin.  It has two big black vertical oval eyes with a black circle pupil at the bottom of it.  It has no nose.  Its mouth is red and smiling.  Its mouth is closed.  It is medium.  It is shaped like a U.  Its two arms are pink small rectangles with no fingers.  Its legs are small purple rectangles that have no feet.  It has no clothing.  Its standing on a fat green floor with one purple circle at the bottom, one on the right, and one on the left. Oh!  I forgot all about the antennae and the lollipop.  The two antennae have a black vertical line with a yellow circle on top.  In my monster's left hand (my monster's left NOT YOUR left), there is a lollipop.  The stem is purple and the part that you eat is pink.  Okay.  Back to the background.  There are three gray tall triangle mountains in the background that are overlapping each other.  There is a dark yellow medium ball with the same color spikes coming out of the ball for the sun.

     Can you see my monster in your head???

     Next we have two returning students who have been with me for a few sessions as well.  Mathis (5th grade) is just a wee bit interested in Greek mythology and attempts to bring mythical creatures into every assignment I give!  Here he drew a Poseidon monster, and described it so vividly that Morgan (4th grade) could practically draw his twin!  Congratulations you two!

     My monster is a cyclops with one large, round, and brown eye in the middle of his head.  His skin is peach.  He is smiling and holding two big, round black boulders in each of his hands.  He is in the middle of the page.  He has no nose.  Above his head there is a blue trident.  He has shaggy brown hair.  He has a long sleeve shirt with a blue trident and underneath the word "Poseidon" is written.  The shirt is green around the trident.  He has brown pants and blue shoes.  In the background, he is floating on a small brown circle just big enough for him to stand on.  Last but not least, there is a sun on your right with rays of orange and yellow.  He is floating away in the sea.

     This last group is an exciting combination of a 3rd and 5th grader!  This was Nicole's (3rd grade) first time playing the game.  Francesca (5th grade) wrote very carefully and clearly to help her partner achieve this match!

     Notice: The whole thing is slanted from the bottom right corner to the middle left.  There is a line that she is standing on (the ground.)

     My monster has two arms, both bright orange, and he is flexing, so they get wider when they attach to his body.  His hands are circular, with no fingers.  He has four legs, also bright orange, with circular feet and no nose.  The hands and feet are orange, with the hands being small.

     Her head is also a body, and she is very round.  She has a medium size pink bow sitting on her head/body.  She has a light blue mustache, medium sized, with a dark pink tongue, pretty big, sticking out from under it.  Her eyes, which are large, are ovals, with a half circle on the bottom half.  That circle is cut in half with a vertical line.  The right half (your right) is colored with pencil.  The other side is with dark blue.  The eyes are above the mustache horizontally.

     There is a tree to your left that has gone behind her arm.  The trunk is brown and the top green. It is medium size.  There is a medium size gray rock to your right.  Below the ground there are three patched of grass in each corner below the ground.  The rest below the ground is white.  The sky is scribbled blue with spaces.

     Try to draw my monster.

Congratulations to our winners!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Postcard Stories!

     The "Awesome Authors and Artists" got to take their "Backwards Land" paragraphs to the next level.  After creating their land and describing it vividly, they then had to journey to their land and write a short story about their stay there!  Some places were NOT good vacation destinations, and some turned out to be very promising!  The authors had to stick to the details they wrote about in their paragraphs, and then apply those details to their stories.  Check out Morgan's (4th grade) story.  Her vacation to a winter wonder and ocean land started off horribly, but ended very positively!

     (You can see how her story scanned on my scanner.  You can get a peek at how the paper was designed to imitate a real postcard, complete with a writing side, and a spot for the address!)

Dear Mom,

     I am so tired.  You would not believe what happened on my way to Amohalko!  There was a big man sitting next to me, snoring the WHOLE time.  On the other side there was a baby kicking, screaming, and crying.  It was a ten day trip with NO restroom!

     Things looked up once I got there.  I checked in to my five star hotel, then built a snow fort next to it.  The front desk gave me a hover board and taught me how to ride!  There were so many fun activities!  Some of my favorites were hover boarding contests, ice sculpture lessons and a contest, taking a tour on a whale, and I got to see dolphins in an ice proof suit!  The ice sculpture prize was a free ticket to professional ice sculpture lessons, a free mug of cocoa, and a free hover board ride home.  I was determined to win, and I did!  I made an eagle.  It was one of the hardest sculptures.

     I will definitely buy a home here, and I hope you will come with me next time!

     Love, Morgan

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Paragraph Writing: Backwards Land!

     My older students had fun with paragraph writing by creating an imaginary place and writing about its landscape, people, climate, customs, animals, and more!  How did they come up with the name?  They spelled a real place backwards!  We had fun trying to pronounce the new name, and picturing the type of place that would match a fancy, silly, or adventurous kind of name.  Enjoy these paragraphs, and decide if you'd like to visit!

Eohat Ekal, by Jerry (5th grade)

     If you're a fan of hats, then Eohat Ekal is the place for you!  The people there are really nice, and there are many great sights to be seen.  But beware, if you don't have a hat, you'll get a hat superglued right on to your head when you set foot there!  You'll also probably want to wear t-shirts and shorts because it's really hot there.  There are many wacky animals called hat animals.  These are animals with unremovable hats on their heads.  If you're lucky, you'll encounter either a gorillaphant, giraffken, or a cird.  You'll also probably want to bring a camera, because you'll want to show your friends the wonderful sights!  So remember, if you plan on going to Eohat Ekal, be sure to wear a hat!

Do you know what Jerry's backwards land is forward?  And do you know why he focused so much on the hat theme?  Well done, Jerry!

Sarah (4th grade) couldn't stick to just one topic for Napaj.  So she wrote a mini essay on her Backwards Land.  And if you are wondering how to pronounce "Napaj," try saying it "Nuh-pahj."  It's much fancier than "Nap-ij!"

     Napaj is a very posh place with very posh people.  The women usually wear dresses and the men usually wear tuxedos.  They are never messy in town.  Only a few people farm, and the only thing they grow are carrots.  They get all the rest of their food from Japan.  All the people love ballet dancing.

     All around Napaj it is very beautiful.  Napaj has a very clear area all around.  For some reason, there is only one mountain in sight.  There are lots of small rose patches dotted around the clear, flat area with other flowers.  Napajians say that the sunsets there are gorgeous.  They also say that it looks magical when it snows in winter.  It looks really moist, even though it is really sunny.

     The rulers are very rich, and they live in a  palace.  The king's name is Norobo.  The Queen's name is Elizabeth the Fourth.  Finally, the princess' name is Laura.

     Napaj is the fanciest place in the world!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Paragraph Writing: Summer Vacation

The "Budding Authors and Artists" learned that a paragraph is all about ONE topic.  Since summer was still fresh in our memories, we wrote about a fun summer memory we wanted to share with the class.  The students were encouraged to use a descriptive adjective in at least two sentences.  Enjoy these samples of beautiful writing and art!  It sounds like these girls had really fun summers!

 Alyssa, 1st grade

Chloe, 2nd grade

Noun Poems!

As we continued our study of parts of speech, the "Budding Authors and Artists" wrote Noun Poems.  These are a Mad Lib style, fill-in-the-blank activity, where the students choose common and proper nouns when prompted by the teacher.  The end result is a poem they didn't know they were creating.  They often times turn out quite humorous! The underlined, bold words are the nouns the children chose as they were being prompted.  Enjoy!

A Noun Poem
By Kaden (1st grade)

My video game,  my video game 
I love it!  It's cool.
I'd like to buy one for Nicky at school.
I bring mine with me wherever I go,
From Legoland to home to Colorado.
My friends Nick and Alex
Say a star is more useful.
But I feel that I must remain truthful.
I will hold my video game close to my heart.
And hope that we never, ever must part!

A Noun Poem
By Danika (2nd grade)

My desk, my desk,
I love it!  It's cool.
I'd like to buy one for Rayne at school.
I bring mine with me wherever I go,
From Disneyland to New York City to Colorado.
My friends Chloe and Daniella 
Say a book is more useful.
But I feel that I must remain truthful.
I will hold my desk close to my heart.
And hope that we never, ever must part!

Having Fun with Adjectives with Name Poems

My younger students are still learning the value of adjectives.  So, our next assignment was to describe ourselves using the letters in our names.  Enjoy these fabulous Name Poems!

S is for sweet, stupendous, and spectacular
A is for awesome and A-OK
V is for very cute and crazy
I is for impressive and intelligent
A is for amazing
N is for nice, noisy, and nifty
A is for absolutely fabulous

~Saviana, 1st grade
(Notice how well Saviana dealt with tricky V, plus having three A's in her name!)

N is for nice
A is for awesome
T is for terrific
H is for handsome
A is for amazing
N is for neat

~Nathan, 2nd grade
(Great job with two N's and two A's!)

S is for a super soccer player who has silky hair
A is for an awesome animal lover
M is for having a marvelous mommy
A is for being an amazing friend
N is for nice and neat writing, and eating nectarines
T is for being on the terrific Tigers soccer team
H is for having a happy heart
A is for drawing wonderful art

~Samantha, 3rd grade
(I love the rhyme at the end, and the compliment to her Mommy!!)

Fabulous Sentence Writing

No matter what age I teach, we start every workshop off with a lesson in detailed sentence writing.  All students, grades K-5, were given this base sentence:
The sun shines.

From there, we added:
~where phrases or clauses
~when phrases or clauses
The older students added:
~And they also learned how to start a sentence with "Because."

I always enjoy posting all grade levels for this particular assignment.  You can see how the students improve year to year!  Enjoy these samples:

 The light, bright sun shines in the sky next to a cloud in the morning.
~Tyler, Kindergarten

The hot, yellow sun shines next to a rainbow in the summer.
~Nikolas, 1st grade

 The bright, yellow sun shines next to the rainbow in the summer.
~Daniella, Grade 2

While the brown baby fawn is going to sleep, the sparkly and hot sun shines brightly over her.  ~Jessica, Grade 3

 Because the glowing bright sun shines flamingly, the ocean glistens at sunset.  ~Morgan, 4th grade

On top of the magnificent snow-capped mountains, the gold and yellow star-shaped sun shines sleepily when the sky starts turning orange. ~Kaitlyn, 5th grade

Friday, May 16, 2014

5 Poetic Tools

My "Awesome Authors and Artists" Class got to learn five tools that make poetry sound fabulous:

1. end line rhyme- rhyme at the end of a line
2. internal line rhyme- rhyme in the middle of a line
3. repetition- words repeated 3-4 times
4. alliteration- 2 or more words starting with the same sound
5. onomatopoeia- words that sound like their meaning

My 4th and 5th graders did such a wonderful job with these tools that it was hard to pick just a few to put on the blog.  So I picked seven!!  Enjoy these fantastic poems, and see if you can find the tools listed above!

Caramel, by Anika (4th grade)

Soft, thick, gooey, sweet,
Caramel has a taste that nothing can beat.
Homemade or not, it's always great,
Once it's made, I can not wait.
Tasting the sugar melt in my mouth
Don't forget its beautiful color: brown!
Slurp, slurp, slurp!  Gulp, gulp, gulp!
Down goes the caramel, yum, yum, yum!

Fudge Cake, by Medha (4th grade)

Fudge cake is something sweet,
Jelly doughnuts can not beat.

Chomp! Chomp! Chew it in your mouth.
Fudge cake is the best in town!

Eat it with ice cream, eat it with berries,
Of course you can always eat it with a cherry!

Hot, cold, temperature doesn't matter
The next thing you know, you're eating the batter.

Frosted, iced, never bent,
Fudge cake is better when you share it with a friend!

Yummy Spaghetti, by Mathis (4th grade)

The stringy, yummy spaghetti
dashes down my hungry tummy.
The waiter says it is tomato saucey
I slurp it down to my amazed stomach,
Noodles left my plate 
and into my full tummy.
Yummy, yummy spaghetti
Into pieces in my tummy.

Are you hungry after reading those poems?! 

Tennis, by Ritik (5th grade)

I stand in the court
As I hold the racket in my hand.
I haul the ball in the air.
Read to serve.
My opponent swerves to the ball, and hits it.
I hear the ball roar as it soars through the air.
Hit, hit, hit
I win the match and snatch the ball,
as I am enthralled with the trophy.

Can you tell what his favorite sport is??

The Cat, by Julia (4th grade)

Meow Meow,
Goes the tabby cat
Super thick fur and nice and fat
Click clack go her nails on the floor
Playing with her is a real bore!
Sleeps so much it drives me crazy,
Her movements are lazy, so life is hazy.
Snuggle, snuggle, cuddle, cuddle, cuddle
Tabby sleepy, wraps in a bundle
Purr purr purr...... 
Maybe there is something cute about her!!

I love how Julia uses her poetic tools so effectively, and how she changes her mind about the cat at the end!

 Ocean Reef, by Sofia (5th grade)

The ocean reef has many places to see
So very full of beauty
Swimming in the clear ocean
Makes you feel like tasting a good potion
Fish and other creatures too
Will greet you as you swim right through
Beaches with bright white sand
Making castles with your hands
Are you enjoying your day
Here at the bay?

Rain, by Leila (5th grade)

I sit inside on my bed and think,
When suddenly I hear a plink, plink, plink.
A grin on my face, I rush to the door,
A wet sensation, water galore!
Rain, puddles, water dripping from trees,
A wonderland, a wet everything.
I smile and run out to play,
Because rain does not come every day.
I splash and jump and laugh and clap,
And then a branch suddenly snaps.
The lightning starts, followed by thunder,
I find an overhang and go under.
Too windy, cold, and wet to go outside,
I walk away and let out a sigh.
And a little while later, what do you know?
Out there, in the sky, is a beautiful rainbow.

These girls paint such beautiful pictures in their readers' minds!

Great poetry everybody!!!  Don't you just love reading and writing poetry??

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Poetry Time! Let's try some Onomatopoeia!

My Budding Authors and Artists class learned the poetic tool "Onomatopoeia."  What does that big word mean?  Onomatopoeia is when words sound like their meaning, like "Boom," "Splash," and "Click."  Onomatopoeia is really fun to use in poetry!  Check out these samples!  (Some students liked to rhyme, too!)

Lightning, by Sienna (2nd grade)

I looked down at the ground
Hearing a cracking lightning sound
Boom, crack, and crash
Lightning coming closer, Flash!
It was getting very late.
It was getting close to eight.
Oh wait.
I heard the gate.
I went inside my room,
And I was warm soon.

Enormous Me, by Kendal (3rd grade)

I am a fish
Swimming in a dish
There is only one wish
I wish to 
and Swash
in the ocean.
I am a killer whale
I deserve better than this!
I would be near
The pier.
I would stay all year
With sharks
And not a tear of fear! 

McDonald's Rush, by Mitchell (3rd grade)

Welcome to my restaurant
Hamburger please
Kaching Bah-bing, sizzle sizzle splat
Kaching, vroom vroom room
Shhhhhh sssssss flip flop yummy, num num gulp
Thank you!
Squirt squirt, splat chit chat

May I have a burger please?
Thank you Sir!

Kaching, bah-bing,
Bye Restaurant!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Personified Object

What would it be like to live a day in the life of an object we see or use every day?  For three weeks, I called on the students by their new personified object name.  Students became a variety of things, from school supplies to home accessories; from sporting equipment to clothing; from food to historical landmarks.  The students were very creative as they mapped out how their day would begin and end.  Some of them also got very creative with the use of voice.  It was hard to pick just a few samples, but here they are from across the grade levels.  Enjoy!
My Life as a Pencil, by Sammie (2nd grade)

     I am a shiny red pencil, waiting to be used by Mrs. Huff's Afternoon Writing Class.  I am in a bag on a yellow table with other pencils.  One pencil is not nice to me.  He scratches my paint off!

     Then class begins, and a naughty boy steals me.  He isn't in Writing Class, and isn't allowed to use me!  My life is ruined.  His pencil box is a mess!  I am uncomfortable.  I do not like my life.  Why couldn't he pick someone else, like the mean pencil?!  The mean boy bites my eraser feet, and I cry.  Then he sharpens me so so much that I feel like my head is getting chopped off!  This hurts!  Because I am now so short, the teacher tells him to throw me away in the garbage can.

     But one of the good things that happens is that Sophia Pencil is in here too!  We can now get thrown away together at least! 

The Weird Life of a Pencil
By Sophia (2nd grade)

     I am a pink sparkly pencil.  I am always treated badly.  First of all, I am in a clear pencil box.  I see the lights coming on.  I see a line of kids coming in.  My owner, who is a naughty kid, opens the pencil box.  She puts me in the pencil hair cutting place (the pencil sharpener). 

     After she is done, she starts to CHEW on ME!  Then she is told to throw me in the garbage!  I see one of my friends in there with me too.  We start to talk.  After a few minutes, the sky starts to get dark.  Then, I think I look so small.  And my friend does, too.  My friend says, "Am I chewed on, or is it just me?"  Then I say, "You are chewed."  Then, we start to laugh, and then I fall asleep.

My Life as a Sock
By Adeline (3rd grade)

     Hi, I'm Adeline, a purple sock with white polka dots.  I spend a lot of time in a sock drawer that is in a girl's purple room.  Here is the beginning of a day in my life.  

     I hear the thumpety-thumps of my girl rushing into the room.  "Oh no.  Not again," I groan.  She opens the drawer, as usual, and yanks me out.  "Ow, ow, ow!" I wince.

      Next she puts me on her foot.  By now, I'm used to the weird feeling of something being in me.  But at first it felt so wrong and weird, that it tickled me!
     Then she runs into the living room-- "Ouch, ooh, ow!" and squishes me into a dark, oval space-- "Eek!"  Wait, what is this place?

     Now I'm going up-down-up-down-up-down.  Wait, why am I stopping?  It's been about ten minutes now.  Whoa!  It feels like I've been thrown off a cliff!  I hear a car door slam, and a muffled "Good-bye!"

     Here I go, going up-down-up-down-up-down again for about ten minutes.  When my owner stops, I hear a loud, muffled, "Riiiingg!" of a bell, and then I start going again.

     By now I am very bruised.  It hurts a lot when I go up-down-up-down.  My owner stops, and then starts tapping me for a looooong time.  It must've been an hour.  Then she starts walking again.

     P.E. class!!  Oh no, this is bad, bad bad!!  Super-duper disgusting and smelly liquid is starting to drip into me!  Yuck!!  Sweat!!

     After a long day, my owner finally takes me off.  Ahhhhhh.  That feels better.  I relax.

     "Washing day!" calls my girl's owner.  YES!!  Someone throws me into the washing machine.  "Round and round the sockey goes, do, do do, dooo!" I sing to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel."

     When the washing machine is done washing, the owner of my girl folds me and puts me back in my drawer.  What a fun and funny day!  And I bet it will all happen again tomorrow!

A Day in the Life of Venetian Lipstick

 By Mira (4th grade)

      This is scandalous. Tragic. Unbelievable. No place for a stylish, delicate, sassy lipstick like me. I cannot believe I am stuck here! My friends say I am overreacting. Dahlings, I am not overreacting. Not in the least. In fact, my friends are a little bit dull and dim-witted, nothing like my brilliant and creative brain.

      I am in an apartment in Venice, Italy. I must admit, Venice is beautiful! All those canals, parades, and romance. But, alas, I can see nothing of it, because most of the time I am…stuck in a bathroom.

      You see, dahlings, I am not meant to be in tiny, enclosed spaces. I am meant to be out in the world, being fashionable, wonderful, and ME! But I rarely get to be outside, only when my owner allows it.

      My owner, Madame Mathilde, is a rather unattractive, talkative, big-boned woman. For months and months, years and years, she has tried to get a date. But, alas, all the men turn her down. Maybe if she could use me better, then she might have a chance, instead of smearing me all over her red, pouty lips. I shudder just to think about it.

      At that moment, Madame Mathilde breezes in. She sets to work with my friends and me. My friends are a pearl-handled comb, some dove-colored face cream, rogue blush, and a deep azure eyeshadow. Though Madame Mathilde is not pretty, she is wealthy.

I watch in horror and grief as Madame Mathilde yanks the comb through her hair, smears face cream all over her nose and cheeks, powders blush up and down her face, and applies her eyeshadow so high that it reaches her eyebrows. She finally reaches down, plucks me up, and slathers me all over her mouth. Smacking her lips in front of an opal hand mirror, she declares herself perfect, and flounces off to a canal, dragging my friends and me as we cling to her tightly. I just hope this date will be short.

      Help me! The part of me that is on her lips is getting panicky on this huge mouth with rows and rows of teeth in it. I’m going to die in here!

      Madame Mathilde has set her date night at the Sicily, a famous restaurant, known for its delicious pasta, pizza, and Strangula Pretti (spinach wrapped in butter and melted cheese.) It also seems as if the Sicily floats on water! Oh, can things get any worse?!

      But, it does get worse! Dahlings, the servers are bringing very much alive and still screaming food to Madame Mathilde and the man across from her! Don’t they have any compassion? I shield my eyes, disgusted and horrified at the carnage my owner and her date are doing and even more worried about the food touching my fragile, pink skin.

Soon the couple finish their dinner and signal for the bill. It is brought by no other than Chef Ferdinand, a small, squat man with a gigantic chef’s hat and moustache. He slaps our bill on the table, his huge meat cleaver’s knife glinting dangerously in the light and his deep, tambour, Italian accent booming.

      Dear God, I pray. Please let this dreadful night be over. A fashionista like me needs beauty rest. At that point, I swoon into a faint. What can I say? I’m delicate.

      I’m totally and fully exhausted. It turns out that I went to all that trouble to be beautiful for nothing. The date did not go well. Not in the least. Madame Mathilde washes me off along with my friends. She is crying and moping about her “lost opportunity.” Madame Mathilde flops down on her bed and is asleep almost instantly. I make myself comfortable between my friends. I admit I can be a little bit self-absorbed and dramatic, but I am still a good lipstick inside. Believe me. You just need some time to get used to me.

         I sigh contentedly and drift off into a long, dreamless slumber. Good night, dahlings.

My Life as a Car Tire
By Catie (5th grade)

     Oh hi.  It's Crabby McCar Tire, here in the boring old shop.  The car I'm supposed to be on broke down, so I'm waiting to be re-purchased.  I hope I don't, because I HATE being on a car.  A screw in my back?!  I mean, just try to live like that.  And carrying all that weight?  I feel like I want to pop.  Which I have done.  Twice.  

     Wait.  Why is the clerk lifting me to the counter?  Oh no, I'm being bought!!

     Ohhhh.... I'm in agony!  I'm in the front of the car, the worst place to be placed.  You experience all the pain first, and harder.  Ohhhh.... the car is being loaded.  And everyone's piling in, with their cameras and maps.  Wait.  Cameras and maps?  My worst fear has come true: ROAD TRIP!!

     *Bump*  OWWW!  Ack, this is terrible!  "Fellow tires," I say, "Obey your new master!"  No reply.  "I said, obey me, and put on those brakes!"  Still no reply.

     Arrgghhh!  Those guys are so dumb.  Please excuse my attitude.  If you can imagine being surrounded by nothingness while spinning at the speed of light, try it.  Not pleasant.  Oh boy, now there's a light in my eyes.  Wait, light?  Light!  A gas station!  Maybe if I pop, I won't have to go on this trip!  Ooooh, I see a sharp rock.  If I can just time it right.....

     P O P !!!!

     Oh geeze, I forgot how unpleasant that is.  But, I get to stay in a remote place, free of buyers.  What's this?  They're unscrewing me, never to use me again!  And now I'm in the dump!  (Paradise for a tire)

     Good bye, it's time for me to live my life in style!  Like I said, it's a tire thing.

                   By Emma (6th grade)

How I adore rainy days! Various sizes of raindrops sliding down my head is what I live for. Outside the window, sidewalks slick with water and morning dew on the grass make everything look picturesque. Young Isabel, my owner, comes skipping down the hall and goes to grab an umbrella. Ohh! She picks the red one with the white daisies….that's me!  I will finally have a chance to experience the outdoors.
Isabel opens me and holds me above her head. I can sense fat, small, large, and minuscule raindrops sliding down my head. It feels like I am taking a cold shower right now. Frigidness overcomes me as well as excitement.  Yay! I am spinning and dancing in this beautiful rain shower.  Puddles looking like small ponds conceal the ground. I stare at the ominous clouds shrouding the sky.
I glance around, my vision slightly blurred from the incessant rainfall. I am able to make out crowds of people, lofty buildings, luminous head lights, and bare tree limbs.
I wish I could stay out here and enjoy the magnificent rain, but I know we are nearing the school. Suddenly, a huge gust of wind sweeps us up and carries us right to the front door.
Luckily, Isabel regains her balance and we are welcomed into the cozy classroom. I am disregarded in the umbrella bucket with others of my kind.
Tic-tock tic-tock goes the clock in the classroom. Isabel has math class right now. I hear the teacher droning on and on. 9+10=19, 20 <  30, and more writing on the wall that I can not understand.  Only five more minutes till recess, and I hope it is outdoors.  I do not enjoy being cooped up in the classroom all day.
Unfortunately, recess is indoors because of the increasingly heavy rainfall. I watch, still waiting as I see puzzles, dolls, art supplies, blocks, and books being taken out. Being small  makes the classroom look colossal.
School passes at the rate of a walking snail! Finally, class is dismissed, and Isabel shrugs on her raincoat.  Waving goodbye to the teacher, we bounce out of the classroom in a hurry to get back home.
The sky has cleared up a little and I can see the sun peeking out from behind the  clouds. Cool, crisp wind caresses me. We pass street lamps and the once deserted park that is now filled with happy children.  While I would love to be open, I am enjoying this view and our stroll  home.

Back home we are dry and warm. Although I love the rain, exhaustion overcomes me. What I need now is a very long nap. Isabel sips hot chocolate at the counter while doing homework. This has been the most magical and exciting day of my life! Who would have thought umbrellas have such an adventurous life?