Setting Postage Stamp: Reading Response Exercise #82


Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.


Think about what you have read. Where was a key scene in your story set? On a piece of scratch paper, jot down some details about this setting.

Draw or Create a Collage:

Postage stamps feature many subjects: people, places, feelings, things, and symbols. Draw or make a collage designed to fit on a postage stamp depicting the setting for which you’ve made notes.


Show your reading partners the pictures you’ve made. What can you tell about each other’s books from the setting “postage stamps”? After talking with your partners, what do you think you could have included on your “postage stamp” that would have given them an even better idea of what your book was about?

Preschool Literacy


Enjoy a picture book with your preschooler.


When done, talk about where the story took place.

Draw or Create a Collage:

Get out some paper and crayons or markers, or magazines to cut up and glue. Make a picture together that depicts the setting you discussed.


Defend an Epigram: Persuasive Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #60

I received the following epigram in the wrapping of a chocolate bar:

“Expect the best, and you may get it.”

Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Prepare to write about it.


On a piece of scratch paper, draw a “t” chart. Label the top left section of the chart, “Agree,” and the top right, “Disagree.” Brainstorms the reasons you might agree or disagree with the epigram in the columns under the appropriate headings.

Now, look over what you have written and decide which perspective for which you would like to craft an argument.


Open your persuasive essay with an introductory paragraph that includes the epigram and your thesis (theory) describing in simple terms your agreement or disagreement with it.

In the body paragraphs of your essay use ideas from your “t” chart to support your point-of-view.

For an even stronger essay, state ideas from the other side of the “t” chart and demonstrate how they are not true.

When done, wrap it up with a snappy concluding paragraph that ties all your ideas together.

(If you are pressed for time, just write the introductory or concluding paragraphs and list the ideas you would use in the body of your essay to support your argument.


When done, read what you’ve written with your writing partners or share it as a comment here on the blog. Compliment one another on the strengths of your arguments, the clarity of your examples, and the vividness of your descriptions. In the end, will any of you change someone in your group’s mind?

A Pair of Quatrains/Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #59


Sorry I am so late with today’s writing prompt. I’m sick and feeling pretty crummy. However, even sick, my brain cannot seem to stop playing with words. So, in keeping with National Poetry Month, here’s a little ditty for today:

I feel half dead
I think I’ll go to bed
Because I have
A cold in my head.

And whilst I sleep
Perchance I’ll dream
Of nasal cavities
Clear and clean.

How is your day? Better than mine I hope. Write a pair of quatrains describing your April 20, 2012.

And please post them as comments. Reading and resting are about all that’s on my agenda today.

Teacher’s File Drawer: Puzzle Fun/Paul Revere’s Wild Ride

“Listen my children and you shall hear
of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”

Today is the anniversary of Paul Revere’s Ride. Celebrate it by reading Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem and making a puzzle together to challenge your friends.

After you have enjoyed Longfellow’s narrative poem, brainstorm words you associate with Paul Revere and his mission that April night. Here’s a few that can give you a start: silversmith, British, lantern… Now think of and list some more.

When you have completed your list, ten to twenty words at least, get out some graph paper and try laying out and connecting your words, scrabble style, so they have points of intersection with one another. After you have placed all the words you want to include, starting at the top left corner and moving across row by row, number the boxes containing the first letters of your words.

Next, trace your word-grid onto another piece of graph paper, or photocopy it—white out the words—and photocopy it again so you have an empty grid your friends can fill out.

On a separate piece of paper, write the number for each word and a clue to describe it. For example, for the word “silversmith” your clue might read, “What did Paul Revere do for a living?” Make separate lists for the words that go crossways and the words that go down.

Have fun building your puzzle, and when you are done, find a friend or family member and challenge them to complete it. If they need a little help, read them Longfellow’s poem. Celebrate Paul Revere’s fateful ride.

Aesop Says… Reading Response Exercise #81


Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.


Remember Aesop’s Fables? Remember how they concluded? “And the moral of the story is…” Think about what you have read today. If your reading were a fable, what would be the moral of the story?


Write out the moral of your recent reading or discuss it with your reading partners. Explain why you think your moral is a good lesson that can be learned from the events of the story.

Preschool Literacy:


Enjoy a picture book with your preschooler.


When you have finished, ask your preschooler if he or she learned anything from the story.


Enjoy discussing what your preschooler learned today. Share your own ideas only after he or she has shared his or her.

Narrative Writing: Describe a Magical Moment/Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #58

In keeping with Wednesday’s post, “Pay Attention: Notice What Nourishes,” today’s writing prompt is going to ask you to do just that.


Think back over this last week. Choose a moment in time that felt magical, blessed, nourishing, or fulfilling. Consider what made it so.


Write about this unique time in your past week. Describe what led up to it. Where were you? When did it happen? How did it happen? Describe the moment and its events as they played out. Remember to use sensory details—sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.


When done, read what you’ve written with your writing partners or share it as a comment here. Compliment one another on the vividness of the writing. What did you like? How did it make you feel?

Preschool Literacy:


Get out writing materials and sit down with your preschooler.


Ask him or her to tell you about something special that happened in the last week. Double spacing your writing to leave room for additions, jot down what the child tells you as he speaks. Ask her appropriate sensory questions; for example, what did it look like? Smell like? Feel like? Work these details into the child’s narration.


When you are done, read back what he or she has told you, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between written and spoken word. Draw pictures, use stickers, or clip art to illustrate the narrative.

Pay Attention: Notice What Nourishes

The other day, as  I was reading the article “A Deeper Knowing,” by A. Calhoun and K. Trujillo on the Kyria website, I was struck by this quote from the book of Isaiah, “You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.” Although written thousands of years ago, the words of this prophet are truer than ever today. Life moves so fast. It’s easy to miss the little things, even easier to miss the things that lend it joy.

As I’ve written previously, I’m in a “between” time right now. I’m not only between writing projects, but also between careers, between the seasons of the year when the air outdoors is healthy for me to breathe (I have allergies), and between the time my husband has been accepted to and will begin a new education program and a change of occupation.

Each day, job hunting seems to consume my hours. Who would have ever imagined looking for a full-time job could swallow up more hours per week than working one? And so I spend hours trying not to hunch over my computer, keeping my nose to the “grindstone”: get this application filled out, write that cover letter, describe the range of your skills… I guess I can’t complain that I’m not writing, and yet… I’m not writing.

The days slip by. My crocuses bloomed without me ever stepping out onto the patio to admire them. The daffodils are dodging hailstones, and the buds of the tulips I planted last fall are starting to emerge from the protective cocoon of their sheltering leaves. I need to stop and notice. It is these little details that feed the creative soul.

Happily, I can report I continue to jot down notes for my new project. With each new idea my soul sprouts wings, and I yearn to start the writing. And I have found a new occupation for those minutes I lie in bed trying to fall asleep. I collect an alphabet of words that bring me delight—either the sound of them or their meaning—delicious, sapphire, harmony. Often the words are inspired by looking back over my day—gentleness, for my husband’s touch, sparkling, for the shaft of sunlight that broke through the clouds. In remembering, I notice, and my spirit is filled.

What do you do to help you notice what nourishes when life is spinning you along at a madcap pace?

What’s this Word? Reading Response Exercise #80


In order to complete this reading response, be sure you have a pen or pencil and paper handy.


Read for twenty to thirty minutes. When you come across a word whose meaning you are uncertain of jot it and page number where it occurs on your paper.


Choose a word from your list and fill in the blanks in the following statements:

A word I was not certain of was: ________________.

I found it in this sentence: ________________. (Copy out the complete sentence)

Based on what was happening in the novel and the sentence I found the word in I think it means: ________________.

I looked the word up and it means: ________________.

I think the author chose to use this word, and none of the others like it because this one: ________________.


Discuss your responses with your reading partners. Over the next few days, try using your newly learned words when talking to each other.

Poem a Day Challenge: Play With Your Words Poetry Prompt #21

April is National Poetry Month and Writer’s Digest is running a “poem a day” challenge. Below is the prompt, crafted by Robert Lee Brewer, for the first day of April:

“Write a communication poem. The communication could be dialogue between two (or more people); a postcard correspondence; a letter; a voicemail; a text message; a series of tweets; or whatever. Heck, I guess a poem is a form of communication–so there’s really no way to screw up today’s prompt (outside of writing nothing at all). Let’s get this party started!”


Decide who will be communicating with whom in your communication poem. Consider the individuals’ personalities, needs, and desires. What is it they, or one of them, hopes to achieve through this dialogue? Determine what form their communication will take. Brainstorm words of phrases that might be typical of each individual.


Write your poem. It could be formal rhymed verse, some form of patterned poem or free verse.

As you write the dialogue remember these standard patterns of dialogue punctuation:

  • “Talking,” tag/said name of speaker.
  • Name of speaker tag/said, “Talking.”
  • “Talking,” tag/said name of speaker, “talking.”

Punctuation at the end of a quote always fits within the quotation marks.


When done, read what you’ve written with your writing partners or share it here as a comment. Observe the uniqueness of each speaker/individual’s voice. Compliment one another on the strengths and impact of the poems.

Best Book(s) of March

At last! My reading rate has picked up. Due to recent stressors, it had dropped off in late January. This month, however not only do I have a selection of books to choose from I want to talk about a few of them.

First, the best read of March goes to Liz Curtis Higgs’ novels Here Burns my Candle, and Mine is the Night. They are companion novels and the second book picked up so closely to where the last left off, they were like reading a single continuous story, an excellent continuous story. Set in Scotland during the time of Bonny Prince Charley’s uprising of 1745, it focuses on a Scottish family and all they go through as a result. These books kept me up way too late reading many a night until I finished them.

In addition to Higgs, I read a YA novel by Veronica Bennett titled AngelMonster. It is a re-imagining of the romance and marriage of Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The novel was gripping. It traced not only the course of their relationship but the imagined roots of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It is important to note that this book is not a biography—although it concerns me that young readers might consider it as such, in spite of the Author’s Note at the end. Bennett bases the novel on the major events of the Shelleys’ lives together, but tells it in first person, in Mary’s voice and creates a fictional version of her inner life. In addition, although stating that she wanted the novel to highlight the literary achievement of young Mary, the novel delays the completion of Frankenstein until after Percy’s death. Laying these concerns aside, however, I must say it was a fascinating read and I would recommend it for both older teens and adults.

What have you been reading this month?