Thursday, January 30, 2014

Amp It Up With Adverbs

How many of you have tried to spice up your writing with adverbs? Not sure what they are? I'm talking about those -ly words that can change a regular sentence into something extraordinary.

For example, I could say: Joanna picked up her backpack and walked home.
That's a fine sentence. I can picture Joanna walking home with a backpack.

But, what if we did this: Joanna picked up her backpack and grudgingly walked home.
Woah! Now, I'm getting curious. Usually, we all want to get home right after school. What's going on that Joanna is GRUDGINGLY walking home? Maybe it's her dad's first day at his new job and he won't be home. Or, maybe, it's her birthday and she's positive her family is throwing her a surprise party, but she hates surprises. That one little word—grudgingly—gets us thinking.

Let's try another one: Steven ate his peas.
I can see this, but I'm curious. Did he like his peas? Is there anything special about him eating the peas?

How about we amp it up with an adverb? Steven joyously ate his peas.
This sentence made me wake up. Who eats peas JOYOUSLY? Does Steven just love peas or is something else making him joyous. It makes me want to know more.

Now you try it! See if you can amp up each sentence below with an interesting adverb.

The boys dug in the ground.
The teachers watched the clock.
Many students waited in the cafeteria.

Good luck!
- Margie

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Skype With Me on World Read Aloud Day!

Dear K-2 Teachers, Librarians, or Media Specialists,

World Read Aloud Day is March 5!

In honor of this day, I'm offering a 20-minute Skype session to a K-2 classroom. I'll provide a couple of fun things for you to do to prepare for my virtual visit, and then I'll read Look What I Can Do! and Storm Song. There will also be a surprise visit from one of the animals in one of the above books (who may or may not be stuffed)! And of course, there will be a few minutes left over for questions from the VIPS, also known as your curious students.

Just send me an email at nancyviau(at)comcast(dot)net and let's make a date.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Write a Dream Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 85th birthday this month. Each January, when reading or listening to a recording of Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, we’re reminded of the power of his words and how they helped inspire change in America. There are several good books about Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. One favorite picture book is My Brother Martin written by his sister Christine King Farris with wonderful illustrations by Chris Soenpiet. This book shares how Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in Atlanta in the 1930’s. He liked to joke and had to practice the piano like a lot of children still do, but Martin was told by his white neighbors that they couldn’t play with him because of the color of his skin. That’s when he first began to realize the need for change in the world.
All dreams are possible. Try writing a “Dream” speech. The following questions may help focus writing ideas:
  • What is something special you hope to happen soon?
  • What do you hope or dream about happening for your family?
  • Do you have any hopes or dreams for your friends?
  • Do you have any hopes or dreams for the world?

Now, just as Dr. King did, speak your “dream” speech aloud to share the power of your hopeful words.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Flaws ROCK!

If you are writing fiction, and you write about a character who does everything well (because you want to impress your teacher...*heh, heh*), don't do it! Give your character a few flaws--things they didn't mean to do or stuff they have trouble with. Even flat-out mistakes! Characters who make mistakes, and eventually learn from them, are interesting. Nobody's perfect, right?

Make a list of five mistakes you've made. Use at least one in a story that you write this week.

Now, it's my turn. Here are my mistakes. I bet there's a story in there somewhere!
1. I used too much butter in my cranberry bread and it was a disaster.
2. I ran into a plant and said, "Excuse me."
3. I sent a text to the wrong person.
4. I burped while in line at the grocery store.
5. I lost my keys, twice in the same day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Publication Date for New Picture Book

Just stopping in to say...

MY NEXT PICTURE BOOK, City Street Beat, WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE FALL OF 2014. I am so excited. Can you tell?

Carry on...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Paint A Picture With Words

Show - don’t tell

and don’t tell – show.

Do it well

and pictures grow!

One thing writers hear all the time is “showdon’t tell”.  It seems like a funny thing to say because you’d think pictures would “show” and words would “tell”.  But, if you choose descriptive and active words, you’ll be showing – not telling.   If you use vivid details, you’ll be painting a picture in the reader’s head. 

Here’s an example: 
Tell:  Bob was happy. 
Show:  Bob grinned from ear to ear. 

In the “show” example, I didn’t have to tell you Bob was happy – instead, you probably imagined Bob with a big smile on his face.  I painted picture in your head. 

Here’s another example:
Tell:  Sarah was scared by the storm. 
Show:  With each flash of lightning and boom of thunder, Sarah ducked under her covers and squeezed her eyes shut. 

I didn’t mention Sarah being scared, but you got the picture! 

So, when you’re editing a story you’ve already written or when writing a new story, look for ways you can show and not tell. 

Click HERE for an awesome activity to help you practice.  It’s from a website called Beg, Borrow and Teach. (Teachers, bookmark this site. You'll want to come back again and again for great ideas!) 

~ Lori


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Spelling Bee Time

Turn your computer over to a friend.
NO Peeking!
The rest of this post is for your friend. He or she will tell YOU what to do.

Hi there, friend,

1. Review the list below to yourself. (If you need help pronouncing any words, ask a parent or teacher.)


2. Say each word, out loud, to the person next to you. Repeat it.
3. That person should say the word, SPELL the word, and repeat the word.
4. Did he or she get it right?
5. Don't make them suffer. BE KIND! Tell them the correct spelling right away and move on.

For BOTH of you:
6. Write down the list of words above. When you write something, it has a better chance of getting into your brain. When I was in elementary school, we had to write each of our spelling words 10 times! Does your teacher make YOU do this?

: )