Friday, March 29, 2013

Creative Kids and Characters

Since my daughter, Emily, was very small, we have been making crafts. Crafts are so much a part of our life that whenever she has a play date she expects me to have a craft ready for her and her friend. So it didn't surprise me at all that while on Spring break this week she came up with a craft of her own. She managed to save some toilet  paper rolls, scavenged out craft drawers, and created these cute t.p. girls.

Looking at these imaginative girlies made me think of a creative character named Holly in a book I just read. Everywhere Holly looks there are beautiful gardens full of lovely blooms and she wants to grow perfect flowers too. But no matter how hard she tries, her flowers just won't cooperate. But Holly is inventive and persistent and manages to create a long lasting beautiful bunch of flowers. To find out how, grab your own copy of Holly Bloom's Garden!

Signing of for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Great Family Movie Promoting Reading


Often movies are adaptations of books, but rarely are they about books. So the movie, The Reading Room, starring James Earl Jones was a wonderful surprise to me. It is the story of a widower (Mr. Jones) who makes a promise to his dying wife that he will open a reading room in one of the downtown buildings he owns. She knew he would need something to fill the void when she was gone, and she believed that by sharing his extensive library and love of reading with others he would do just that.

Mr. Jones does indeed open a reading room; however, not all the neighborhood residents are happy with his presence there. He struggles to attract people to the room, he struggles with crime, and he struggles with those opposed to change even when that change is beneficial. The Reading Room is a movie that shows that although life is often difficult, something as basic as teaching a child to read can strengthen and rebuild an entire community.

I give this movie two thumbs up. Not only are the actors superb, but the message is as well. Reading is a key that opens many doors and offers everyone the opportunity to learn lessons of respect, loyalty, honesty, community, compassion, and most of all perseverance. These are things my late father taught me, things I hold dear, things that led to my motto "Kids Who Read Can Do Anything". So if you have yet to see this movie, I suggest you check it out. And after you have watched it, I bet you will be inspired to read another, and another, and another book.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jelly Beans Aren't Just For Easter!

Tonight for her her homework reading requirement my daughter, Emily, read the The Jellybeans and the Big Dance to me. At first I thought it would be a book about Easter with Jellybeans being so prominent in the title, but it was actually a lovely book about friendship. To be more precise, it was a book about totally different individuals who felt that they will be unlikely to be friends until they discovered something they had in common. You guessed it, they all loved jellybeans.

This discovery led them to realize that although they were different they could still be friends and have a wonderful time dancing together. As soon as Emily started reading and told me that the main character was named Emily, I knew this book was sure to be a winner with her. After all how can you not love a book whose main character has your name. But don't fret, even if your darling isn't named Emily, I'm sure she will love this book about friendship, dancing, and jellybeans!

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The "Write" Kind Of A Workshop

Recently I held a children's writing workshop sponsored by the PTO of a local school, and I must admit that I'm hooked. I really think I could host this workshop repeatedly and never tire of spending time with fabulous kids who are interested in reading and writing. Although a small group, the children that attended seemed eager to listen and learn.

We covered many things such as literary terms and their meanings, we did a fun worksheet where the kids had to find all the letters I used to create a cowgirl, I did a little illustrating, and I read a story out of my book which we used to discuss the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions every author answers when writing.

About half way through the program, I handed out composition notebooks, pens, and picture prompts. The picture prompts were the six pieces of clip art to the right that I created and  printed out in worksheet form. I then asked the children to incorporate the pictures into a story of their own. Since there were students ranging from first to eighth grade, I told them not to worry about spelling, but to do the best they could in sounding out words. Each and every child used their unique imaginations and in the end there were seven wonderful stories.

I gave each child the opportunity to read their story out loud, and for those few too shy to do so, I read them instead. I was particularly impressed with the story written by a fifth grader named Taylor. She was a quiet girl but quite attentive. She told a tale of mice having a birthday party which was disturbed when an owl swooped down and flew off with the birthday mouse. The other mice gave chase and finally found the owl's home. She described the rescue mission as follows: They climbed all night. It felt like it would take forever. The huge acorn tree was so tall it touched the moon. 
The way she described the tree touching the moon gave me cause for excitement, and I had her repeat those lines for the other students. I asked them what they would have thought if she had simply said, "the tree was tall." Of course they all replied that would be very boring. This opened up the opportunity to discuss using descriptive words to give readers a mental picture of what we are writing about.

In that moment of time, I was in my element and the immense love of words instilled in me by my late father was never more evident. This was definitely the "Write" kind of a workshop for me.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

My Illustration Attempt
Taylor and Friends Hard At Work
Getting Started On A Story