Play With Your Words Writing Prompts: Tool Time Field Trip

Tool Time Family Field TripI have been putting some time into brainstorming and planning for the future content of Literate Lives, and one of the ideas that I thought would be fun is doing a little writing prompt “blast from the past.” Today, to kick off this feature, I thought I’d revisit my first summer writing prompt:

A Tool Time Family Field Trip

So, with a little editing, here goes!

Last weekend I found myself in a hardware store with my husband, and not just any hardware store but one that focuses on tools for customers who know what they were looking for (few items have instructions on their packaging).

We spent some time on the welding aisle. It was amazing! There were so many objects whose purposes were a mystery to me. 

 I saw something called a “Chipping Hammer” that had a spiral metal wire handle with a rod and a hunk of wood located at its end. Pointing upward from the wood were bristles like on a hairbrush, only they were made of metal. Protruding from the end of the “hairbrush” base was what looked like a hatchet blade. It got me thinking. What is this used for? What can I imagine it to be used for? What would some space alien, coming upon it, think it was used for?

There was a welding helmet shaped and painted like a skull with silver teeth and a rectangle where its eyes should be and a cool 24 inch magnetic claw that I know a bunch of third graders could have a lot of fun with. It had a spring powered handle at the top and a bright orange casing that held two little magnets at the bottom and from which emerged a little metal spider-hand when the handle was activated.

The Field Trip         

Suddenly it ocured me. What a great family field trip this would make. You could go to a store that sells things you know nothing about (a farm machinery or a tractor parts warehouse, an auto shop, craft or hobby store). Each person should take a tablet or paper and clipboard and a pen or pencil for taking notes (or use your cell phone to snap a picture). You might even want color pencils or pens for drawing your finds.

 After a reasonable time browsing, each person should select one object. (You might want to choose an aisle to focus on so you won’t have to split up if you have small children.) Each family member should take notes describing their object or make a picture of it, and speculate on its potential uses. If there are instructions, DO NOT READ THEM.

Next, go somewhere you can sit down and write. (Mmm. An ice cream parlor sounds pretty amazing right now, but a picnic table in a park would serve just as well.) Each person must write a catalog description of their object, including a physical description of the item and instructions for how they have determined it is to be used. (Other options might include a short story, script, or comic strip showing their object in use.)

Then, of course, it is time to share your masterpieces. Read aloud and praise one another. Specifically highlight where each person’s writing really shines.

Remember, have fun! And if you want to, share the results of your field trip in the comments  below.

*image: Radekkulupa, Pixabay



Summer Reading: Let’s Make a List!

A Gazillion Places to Read

An Alarming Statistic

Did you know kids can lose up to two months of reading skill if they do not read during the summer? And take it from me, a GED Writing and Language Arts coach, those losses add up by the time a student is trying to complete high school, let alone excel in college.

Summer is half over (more than half in some communities), and so I thought it might be time to support each other in supporting young people reading. Therefore, let’s make a list.

What are some of your favorite places for summer reading? I’ll start out with a few, then it’s your job to help us reach the “Gazillion” mark. (And it’s okay if you want to list some of you recent favorites. No need to limit the list to places you liked to read as a kid.)

Awesome Places for Summer Reading

  1. During the lifeguard breaks at the pool or beach
  2. While you wait for a sibling (or child) at his or her sport’s practice/gym/art/_____ class
  3. In a treehouse (I know a writer who writes in a treehouse!)
  4. In a cool, air-conditioned library on a sweltering day
  5. In the backseat while running errands or on a trip (Oh, you lucky kids who don’t have to drive!)
  6. On a picnic (What if the whole family goes on a reading picnic–bring a blanket, yummy snacks, comfy chairs, and–of course–lots of books? Mmm, fun!)
  7. At the bus stop, bus/rapid transit/train station, airport or wherever waiting for a ride
  8. Under a shady tree beside a river or stream (My personal favorite)
  9. In at tent–at a campground or in your own back yard
  10. Before going to sleep (Want to know the true sign of an awesome parent? His or her children do not need flashlights to read in bed. However, if you want to read under the covers with a flashlight–enjoy the fun.)

Okay your turn. I’ve listed my first 10. Now, please, help me bring the list closer to a gazillion!

Where are some of your favorite places to read in the summer?

Photo: Depositphotos_6644031_original

My June 2016 Reading List

June marked the end of the school year and so I had to really push to finish two books I was reading from our school library. The rest of the month’s reading was guided by fascination and fun.

23383399The Eternal City by Paula Morris: This book was a great launch into summer. It takes an intriguing look at a high school classics student’s visit to Rome with her class and the strange events that occur starting the day of their very first day in the city. Watch out for the birds!

47304The Freedom Writer’s Diary by The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell: This is a fascinating and inspiring story that shows the difference one teacher can make in the lives of her students. The students’ journal entries are eye-opening and heartbreaking for someone who has lived comfortably in the middle class, even if it was often in the low-end of the middle class. However, as a teacher, I also find it alarming. Gruwell pours so much of her life into her students, and while it works for the four years she has them–not, I am certain, without some stress, this cannot be the recipe for an effective teaching career. It simply demands too much of Gruwell’s life.

15723286Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger: This was another marvelous romp through Carriger’s YA steampunk series. Sophronia and her dirigible finishing school embark on a mysterious trip to London. As in her previous novel, intrigue and adventure ensues.

22824188Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes by Jude Morgan: A challenging and fascinating look at the lives of the Bronte’s told, primarily, through Charlotte’s eyes. The point of view, while mostly Charlotte’s, but occasionally including that of her siblings and other people closely involved in her life, is such a tightly written first person that it can be confusing at times. However, having the patience to follow rewards you with a highly engrossing read. Even though you most likely already know how this story ends, you can’t help hoping somehow this reading will show you something different.

What books have you recently read that you would like to recommend?

A Fourth of July Blast From the Past

4941bfa021c7c1594a9eae51ac64b200I am visiting my mom this Independence Day, so I thought I would share a “blast from the past.” To read the full post click here.

My husband, son, and I went to a bar-b-que at my daughter’s house. In addition to our family, which includes my absolutely adorable granddaughters, were my daughter’s sister-in-law and husband who came with their five little girls.

As always when I visit her house, my granddaughter, Gracie, wanted me to come play in her room. We played house. I was the mommy and she the little girl, when two of her cousins caught up with us and joined in. We “ate” breakfast (plastic waffles and eggs), “went to the park” (the living room), “went home” and “ate” lunch (more plastic food), “went swimming”(the living room area rug),  “ate” invisible goldfish crackers followed by dinner (plastic cake with fruit on it–Grace was running out of healthy food that came in quantities of four), and went to bed.

Now Grace, nearly four years old, likes to go to bed with a flashlight, and she has several, so me and the girls curled up in her bed, each of them with her own flashlight. One brought a book and asked me to read it.

There we snuggled in the dark, me pointing to the part of the page where the words were printed and three little girls training their flashlights on them. We read Ten Naughty Little Monkeys by Suzanne Williams, then Up All Night Counting by Robin Koontz.

My delightful audience giggled as I did the voice of the doctor in Ten Little Monkeys, and marveled as they lifted the flaps and jiggled the pages of Up All Night Counting.

Who cares if I missed the poker game in the backyard or the firing up of the fire pit for s’mores! The time I passed reading with those three little girls was magic, and I hope the memory will be one they savor as well as I.

My Gracie has now completed third grade and this week is borrowing Edward Eager’s Half Magic. She has two delightful sisters and a new baby brother, and they are the joy of my life.

I hope this 4th finds you enjoying the holiday with loved ones and provides a little literacy magic.

Please share your happy happenings, and have a safe and blessed holiday!