Plotting: Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #67

Pre-write

Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent, titled a blog post: “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Isn’t that so true of life? Keeping this title in mind, plot a story that could be titled “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

To practice using an outline for plotting a story, use the following outline based on the classic plot pyramid.

I. Exposition: Life as normal for your protagonist

II. Inciting Incident: Something happens (it could be a problem, a need, or a desire) that your protagonist is going to have to do something about.

III. Rising Action: The protagonist tries to fix the problem or get what he wants. There are usually complications. Nothing is as easy to do as the protagonist thinks it will be. However, the protagonist will keep trying to address his situation.

IV. Climax: This is the point in the story where no matter what your protagonist does, her life will be changed forever. She needs to make a choice and act on it.

V. Falling Action: The protagonist deals with the consequences of his choice.

VI. Denouement: Life has changed and the protagonist settles into a “new normal.”

Depending on the problems you create for your protagonist, will he end up being the windshield or the bug?

Write

Choose a scene from your outline and write it. Remember to establish the setting—time, place, mood—and use action and dialogue to carry your reader through your scene.

Share

When done, read what you’ve written with your writing partners or share here as a comment. Share both your outlines and your scenes. Compliment one another on the uniqueness and believability of your overall plots and on the vividness with which you play out your scenes.

 

Preschool Literacy:

Pre-write

Make a copy of the general plot outline, gather writing materials, and sit down with your preschooler. Ask him to tell you a story.

Write

As your preschooler tells you the story, write down what she says. Prompt her to move through the story by asking questions based on the plot outline.

Share When you are done, read aloud the story your preschooler has dictated, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one-to-one correspondence between written and spoke words.

Enjoy the story together. Consider using clip art, pictures from magazines, or stickers to make illustrations for the story. Enjoy sharing it with others.

The Best Trip? A Trip to the Library

If you have visited my Pinterest boards, one thing you may have noticed is that I love libraries. My board is full of grand and glorious libraries from all around the world. However, the best library, the most useful library, and the most accessible library is the one right in the town where you are.

I have dreamed of Beauty and the Beast libraries. But truly, the libraries that hold my heart are the local ones that have graced my life.

My first beloved: Grass Valley School Library, in Oakland, California. This is where I can still close my eyes and see exactly where Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books sat on the eastern wall (on a shelf right at floor level). My favorite princess anthology sat dead center on the northern wall, and when I first laid eyes on C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, it sat on display on a table near the windows. (Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn Wind was located on the western library wall at King Junior High.)

When I attended the University of California, Berkeley, the main library awed me. The marble stairs had worn indentations that cupped your feet like loving hands as you went up the main stairs to those wonderful rooms. I loved the card catalogues. I had to do a paper for a Bibliography class, plotting the research for a fictitious project of my choice. It was amazing how many fascinating topics were housed in that long room, in those worn, oak cabinets, in their tiny drawers, on little cards. (And it was even more amazing the tantalizing books I discovered on cards neighboring the ones that were the object of my quest.) After graduation I willingly plunked down the money for a lifetime membership in the alumni society just so I could retain the right to use that fabulous library.

And I have precious memories of “story times” with each of my three children at our various local libraries. My daughter’s storytime library was housed in a little, red brick building in the old, gold rush town of Grass Valley, California. We’d enter the library, go down a creaky, little, narrow 1800’s stairway to the children’s room in the basement. It was a magical place. There my daughter was entranced by storytelling, read-alouds, and puppeteering, while I rediscovered my beloved Elizabeth Goudge. After storytime the two of us would go into the old brick building next door and up another creaky flight of stairs, to dine on Cornish pasties, a legacy of the Cornish miners who had populated the region, and look down on the activity in the streets below.

Does your hometown have a library? If it does, visit it. Make the trip special. Go to a story time or author visit, or simply to pick out books then go out for ice cream or something special afterwards. It could be as simple as an easy breakfast-for-dinner evening or hot dogs roasted over the bar-b-que, with plenty of time after to enjoy your library selections in summer’s long twilight.

This summer, visit a library. Even if you’re traveling, check out the library wherever you are. You’ll surely find something to delight you and your children, and to add to the treasure trove of your memories of life with books.

Characters as Friends: Reading Response Exercise #90

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect

Think about what you have read. Which character in your reading did you like best?

Write/Discuss

  • Would this character make a good friend?
  • Why, or why not?
  • How could you support this character?
  • How could this character be supportive of you?
  • What would it be fun to do with this character on a summer day?

Share your responses with your reading partners, or better yet here on the blog. When sharing as a comment, be sure to mention the title and author of the book, as well as your favorite character. After all, your comment may inspire someone else to read your book.

Preschool Literacy

Read

Enjoy a picture book with your preschooler.

Ask

When you are done, ask your child which character was his favorite.

Discuss

Discuss the questions listed above with your preschooler.

Plan a fun outing inspired by her responses.

Summer is—Figuratively Speaking: Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #66

Pre-write

Use the chart below, or create you own to explore ways to describe summer and exercise your skills at using figurative language.

Be sure you:

  • Use sensory imagery. Come up with words or phrases that describe the shape and color of summer, how it sounds, tastes, smells, feels, and what it looks like.
  • Write a simile for summer. Remember a simile is a phrase that uses one thing to explain what another is like—for example: The scotch broom on the hillside is as yellow as pollen. (It’s still allergy season for me. My eyes itch as I type this.)
  • Write a metaphor. Remember a metaphor is a phrase that says one thing is something else it really is not, in order for you to apply that second thing to your understanding of the first. (I apologize for the convoluted sentence! Let’s try an example to show you what I mean—My eyes are leaky faucets. But no, rest assured I’m not crying. It’s just their reaction to all that pollen.

Write

Using the words and phrases, write a paragraph describing summer. Make it a richly detailed paragraph that would assist the reader in “experiencing” your version of summer as they read it. Make it at least five sentences long.

Share

When done, read what you’ve written with your writing partners. Compliment one another on the creativity and the strengths of your descriptive words and phrases. Or, consider sharing it here as a comment. It will probably be the only positive taste of summer I’ll be able to enjoy for at least another week!

Preschool Literacy:

Pre-write

Get out pen or pencil and paper and using the prompts above, ask your preschooler to describe summer—(or even just “today”). Write down everything she says.

Write

Choose an image from the list and cut out a big shape. Transfer your child’s words onto the shape.

Share When you are done, read back what he said, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between written and spoke word. Hang this summer reflection somewhere others in the household can enjoy it.

Read to Your Kids/Summer is Here

It’s official. The graduation ceremonies and parties have wound down. The make ups for snow days have been served. The sun has come out—even in my rainy little corner of the country. Summer is here. Make sure you use some of the free time to read with your kids.

Reading together and talking about literature builds your children’s awareness of reading fluency, helps them enjoy and develop positive associations with literature and reading (even if it is an area in which they struggle at school), develops critical thinking skills, and is just plain fun (not to mention a good way to bond as a family).

The books my children and I have read together enrich our common history and created a bond in which sharing books and reading remains a part of our family identity. There are so many stories we all love, and some characters who feel like family.

How can you get in more reading time with your kids?

  • Take advantage of the extended daylight hours and take a picnic blanket and dessert out into the backyard to relax and enjoy a book together.
  • Listen to an audio book in the car when your family travels. Our family has shared many a laugh on a drive down to Grandma’s, or the beach, or the mountains. Sometimes we would laugh so hard we had to stop the “book,” go back a few minutes, and listen to what we missed while laughing.
  • Read a book together around the campfire or in the hotel room to wind down after a busy day of travel and touring. Consider selecting a book that takes place in the part of the country you are exploring.
  • I just read about a library program called Prime Time that you could implement at home. Sit down as a family and share a picture book together then discuss it honoring the ideas and opinions of even the youngest members of the family. Consider things like: what is learned by the characters through the story? Who did you like best? What did you think of what that character did? In addition, you can always use Literate Lives reading response questions to kick-start your discussion.

Enjoy your summer. Enjoy reading together. Enjoy each other, and have fun!

P.S. How do you and your family enjoy reading together?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Reading Response Exercise #89

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect

Think about what you have read. What changes have occurred in the plot between where you began reading and where you ended?

Write/Discuss

Share your responses with your reading partners.

Preschool Literacy

Read

Enjoy a picture book with your preschooler.

Ask

When you’ve finished, ask him or her what has changed in the story between the beginning and the end.

Discuss

Enjoy a pleasant book talk with your preschooler.

Craft a Scene: Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #65

Pre-write

“The whole town was in an uproar.”

Think about this statement.

  • What town?
  • Why?
  • What happened?
  • Who was involved?
  • How did it get resolved?

Write

Write the scene inspired by this statement, remembering to include:

  • characters who are unique individuals
  • characters with wants and hopes and dreams
  • a concrete, defined setting
  • a problem to suck the reader in
  • action to pull the reader along

Share

When done, read what you’ve written with your writing partners or share as a comment. Compliment each other on the strengths of your stories. Ask each other questions that can help to make any of the fictional elements more distinct.