Happy Thanksgiving Day!


Bushel baskets of
Golden leaves; fall’s abundance
Sings: Give thanks! Give thanks!


Greek and Latin Roots Vocabulary and Spelling, Unit I Lesson V: Eu, Bene, Caco, and Mal

1. eu = well/easy/agreeable
2. euphoria
3. bene = good
4. beneficial
5. caco = vile/diseased
6. cacophony
7. mal = bad/defective
8. malignant

Review Roots

9. mater/matri = mother
10. patr = father
11. filia/filius = son/daughter
12. zo = animal
13. avi = bird
14. saur = lizard

Simplified List use only the roots and the following words:

4. benefit
8. malice

Challenge List use only the roots and the following words:

2. euphemism
4. benevolence
6. cacophonous
8. malnutrition

Wonderful Words: On Plot and Story

Plots, Aristotle told us, have beginnings, middles and ends, and they proceed through a series of reversals and recognitions, a reversal being a shift in a situation to its opposite, and a recognition being a change from ignorance to awareness. The basic plot of every story…is: A central character wants something intensely, goes after it despite opposition and, as a result of a struggle, comes to either win or lose.

~John Dufresne, “How to Let Plot Guide Your Short Story”, Writers Digest.com, 6/7/11

Love that Setting! Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #83


Think about a place you love. Be there. See the details.

Get out a piece of paper. List:

  • The objects you see there
  • The colors you see there
  • The sounds you hear there
  • The scents you smell there
  • The textures you see and feel there
  • How it feels there
  • What things there taste like (even the air)


Write a description of this place. Write it in such loving detail that a reader would know you love this place without you saying the words.

After you’ve written your rough draft, polish for specific and sensory word choices and details.


When done, read your description to your writing partners or share it as a comment here.

Compliment one another on the richness and depth of the details and on the vividness of the sensory language.

Preschool Literacy:


Gather pencils, paper, and art materials.

Sit down with your preschooler and ask him what his favorite place is. Write the name of the place in big letters at the top of the page.


Now ask your preschooler to describe this place. Ask her what it:

  • looks like
  • sounds like
  • smells like
  • feels like
  • even tastes like.

As she answers your questions, list her responses beneath the title on the paper.


When done, read back to your preschooler what he or she has said, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between each written and spoke word.

Together illustrate the paper and display it somewhere other family members can appreciate it.

Greek and Latin Roots Review Strategy: Puzzlers

When teaching the Greek and Latin Roots Vocabulary and Spelling System, it is a good idea to have a variety of strategies to use to help your students make the meanings of their roots their own. After Roots for Early Dismissal, Puzzlers was one of my students’ favorite exercises.

To start, have your students get out:

  • the current list of roots
  • a sheet of paper
  • pens or pencils

Instruct them to pair up with partners.

Assign each set of partners one of the roots from the list and have them write the root and its meaning at the top of their paper.

Discuss how roots are “pieces” of words whose meanings influence the definition of the word.

Instruct them to create words of their own by combining their assigned root with other roots or  words then write a definition for this “new word” that is influenced by the root’s meaning. Emphasize the fact that you do not want your students to find real words that include the root, but rather to make up their own words using the root.

For example, from this week’s list they might come up with something like:

Zoodeli = a zoo animal gourmet feed store

Sauroskin = a skin condition in which a person’s skin becomes dry and scaly like a lizard

Require each set of partners to create at least three new “words.” (I offered extra credit points if they created more than five.)

After the students have created their words and definitions, tell them look over their list and circle the Puzzler word they like best.

Call on each pair of students to stand up and tell the class:

  • their root
  • its meaning
  • their Puzzler word
  • its definition

Through sharing their Puzzler words with each other, the students will have the opportunity to not only reinforce the meaning of their own particular root, but to make associations with the meaning of the other roots as classmates share their roots, Puzzlers, and definitions.

Have fun with this strategy.  And please share the wonderful words your students create as a comment here. I look forward to reading them!

So Many Books, So Little Time

One thing is consistent in life and likewise with this blog—change. This month the big change in my life is I have finally landed a job I love. I am working three days a week teaching writing to GED students, and two days managing a middle school/high school library. I love both jobs and the variety they weave into my workweek.

However, my writing and blogging time are now greatly diminished. Like most otherwise employed writers, I squeeze in time to write before work, during lunch, and on the weekends.

Blogging time and reading time has been a little tougher to keep up with. This month I finished reading just one book. (No Mom, I’m not sick; there is no need to come over and take my temperature.) This was the result of a combination of forces—first a number of commitments on my calendar based on the assumption I would not be employed this month—including a one-day writing conference, a writing retreat, and a church women’s retreat. (Whew! It makes me tired just listing them.) All were great experiences, but the combination, along with my new job, left me exhausted. Therefore…I went to bed each night solely to sleep, and not, as is my habit, to read then sleep.

However, I can wholeheartedly recommend the one book I did finish reading—it was a revisit with an old friend: Elizabeth Goudge’s Gentian Hill. It is always interesting to come back to a novel you read long ago. There are several storylines in Gentian Hill, and the only one I had any recollection of was that of the young people. However, as a no-longer-so-young person myself, I was deeply drawn to the older characters and their equally significant roles in the novel. Read it if you can find it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

As November rolls in, my personal calendar is beginning to look a lot less tiring. However, to keep it manageable, I am revising my blog schedule.

As a writer, the “Play With Your Words” writing prompts are one of my favorite parts of the Literate Lives blog and will continue in their weekend-kick-off position, Friday.

Mondays will be the grab-bag day. Best Books of the Month, Wonderful Words, Teachers’ File Drawer, Websites to Check Out, Reading Response Exercises and random posts will appear here.

Lastly, I am deeply committed to the Greek and Latin Roots Spelling and Vocabulary Program. Therefore new root and word lists (every other week during the school year) and tips and strategies for helping students learn their roots will appear on Wednesdays of each week.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming month. And I can hardly wait to begin reading some of the many books that have been placed in my care. I love reading; I love writing; I love books. As writer, reader, writing teacher, and librarian, I am one happy lady.

Write a Scene, Nautical or Otherwise: Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #82

The boat slowly pulled away from the shore…


What could happen next? Brainstorm a list of possibilities and pick the one you like best.


Write a scene for a story beginning with the words, “The boat slowly pulled away from the shore…”

Remember, a scene features characters acting out their story. Be sure to include:

  • a setting
  • conflict (character vs. character, character vs. self, or character vs. the environment)
  • dialogue
  • the thoughts of the point of view character.


When done, revise and edit what you’ve written. Be sure you include plenty of sensory imagery to lend your scene an air of reality. Now read your scene to your writing partners. Compliment one another on the strengths of your setting, conflict, characterization, and dialogue.

Please feel free to share your scene here as well. I am eager to discover whether your characters are setting off on an adventure or watching a loved one depart. Either way, I’d love to read your scene.

Unit I Lesson IV: Zo, Avi, Saur

1. zo = animal

2. zoology

3. avi = bird

4. aviation

5. saur = lizard

6. dinosaur

Review Roots

7. quin = five

8. hex = six

9. sept = seven

10. oct/octav = eight

11. non/novem = nine

12. mater/matri = mother

13. patr = father

14. filia/filius = son/daughter

Modified List use only the roots and the following words:

2. zoo

4. aviator

Challenge List use only the roots and the following words:

2. zoomorphism

4. aviculture

6. saurischian