All posts in Writing

Diverse Minds HS Writing Challenge: $5000 Prizes

Diverse Minds HS Writing Challenge: $5000 Prizes

For High School Students in the following areas:Washington, D.C. Metro Area, Southern New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and New York

Diverse Minds Writing Challenge

Now celebrating its 11th Anniversary!

This innovative competition asks high school students, in each region, to write and illustrate a children’s book that tells a story of tolerance, diversity or inclusion.

Students currently enrolled in the 9th – 12th grades are eligible to participate. The first place-winning individual or team will receive a college scholarship of $5,000, and B’nai B’rith will professionally publish the winning submission – making the student a published author! Submissions placing second and third will also receive scholarships.

In addition, the teacher of the student(s) who place first will receive a $1,000 stipend and the school will receive a $500 grant. The submission deadline for DC/Delmarva and New Jersey will be March 18, 2017.

Diverse Minds HS Writing Challenge: $5000 Prizes

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#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

My son started middle school this year and this is my year to evaluate his study spaces now that he will be getting more homework. What’s interesting is that good study spaces are not what I thought: it’s better to mix it up rather than study in the same place all the time. This New York Times Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits article by Benedict Carey upends that idea that a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library is good for retention. The research finds just the opposite.

Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

My son likes to study in different spots around the house. The perfect study space for my tween is actually many locations: his room, my office, and the kitchen.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

He likes to read, draw, or do homework in his bedroom lying down.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

The reading nook in my office is a sunny spot to work on homework, and I’m near by if he has a question or wants me to quiz him on something like Spanish words.

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He likes to do project work here, especially anything messy or arty. It’s really sunny and bright so it’s a nice creative work space.

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Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese Art

Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese Art

A traditional Japanese haiku poem is written in three lines:

5 syllables on the first line

7 syllables on the second line

5 syllables on the third line

Haiku is inspired by nature, combining two different images or ideas together.

My son’s 5th grade poetry unit included haiku inspired by Japanese block prints created by Katsushika Hokusai, considered one of Japan’s iconic artists.

I have block prints by Hokusai below that I photographed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Which prints do you like? Do they inspire you or your kids to write a haiku? Please share your poems! Here are my son’s:

Getting Kids to Write Haiku using Japanese Art
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Taking a Children's Book Writing Class

Taking a Children’s Book Writing Class

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to take a children’s book writing class so I signed up for one through my local community education program: Children’s Book Writing with Margo Lemieux. She teaches art at Lasell college but has also written children’s books. Interestingly, she has not yet illustrated her picture books. I found one of hers at my local library and it’s perfect for a spring diversity pick.

taking a children's book writing class with Margo Lemieux

Full Worm Moon by Margo Lemieux, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

Native American parents tell their eager children the story of the Full Moon Worm which brings the earthworms to the surface, helping prepare the ground for planting. They stay awake all night to catch this phenomenon, and thus the spring rituals of planting begin. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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Fun & Easy Ways to Expose Kids to Poetry

Fun & Easy Ways to Expose Kids to Poetry

National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry introduced in 1996 and organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.

Fun & Easy Ways to Expose Kids to Poetry

I’m not great about exposing my kids to poetry so this is my easy way for April’s National Poetry Month. I’m just going to have my kids watch this wonderful 2.5 minute video. Read more…

Fight for Your Write

Fight for Your Write #BICFightForYourWrite

…Cursive writing may train self-control ability in a way that other modes of writing do not, and some researchers argue that it may even be a path to treating dyslexia. from NY Times

calligraphy by felix doolittle

Grasshopper and Sensei interned at this fine stationery company. Felix’s penmanship is beautiful!

 

My kids recently argued over which of them had the best handwriting. I was to judge. It’s interesting how my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, who used to have illegible handwriting in elementary school has turned it around. Her penmanship in high school now is text-book perfect.
grasshopper and sensei

Grasshopper and Sensei uses her cursive handwriting as part of her art. Here’s a condolence card she sold to me.
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Write Now Read Later: Summer Writing Prompts for Kids

Write Now Read Later: Summer Writing Prompts for Kids

Are you sliding into your summer routine? Have you hit the point of boredom yet or are you still enjoying the lazy days of summer? Let’s talk, write and read about your summer.

I’d love to post what you’ve written! If you want to share, please email me an image of your wonderful story and I’ll post it right on this post at the bottom. My email is pragmaticmomblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Summer Writing Prompts for Kids

Are you have the best summer ever? Why or why not? Write about a perfect summer day for you, real or imagined.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee

My son and I think this is the funniest picture book ever! Marla Frazee’s dry wit will be appreciated by parents reading this book over and over. James and Eamon visit Eamon’s grandparents’ house to attend a week of Nature Camp which doesn’t enthrall them. They learn new vocabulary words from his grandfather’s driving. In their free time, they resist going outside and stay in instead eating waffles and playing video games. They finally make it outside to the delight of the grandparents but even though their week wasn’t according to plan, it’s still the best week ever! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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Teaching Kids Rich Vocabulary using the Thesaurus

Rich Vocabulary Part 2: Using the Thesaurus

To appreciate the stuffy Thesaurus, it might help kids to read about the man behind the tome. His story is beautifully told in the non-fiction picture book, The Right Word.

synonym: a word that means the same thing, or almost the same thing, as another word

How to Find the Right Word

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Byrant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet Read more…

Write First Read Later: Alien Writing Prompts for Kids

Write First Read Later: Alien Writing Prompts for Kids

Alien Writing Prompts for Kids

A reader asked me for summer writing ideas and I sent her all the links I could find. It made me think about what a challenge it is to get my own kids writing when they don’t have too so I came up with an idea of Write First Read Later: Writing Prompts for Kids. The idea is fun writing prompts and a book to go along with it either to inspire or just for comparison. This week’s Write Now Read Later is about aliens. I hope to get my son writing this summer too! Read more…