The purpose of this blog for teachers and my mission as a kids’ book author who does frequent visits to schools is to MAKE WRITING VISIBLE. So much of writing is invisible, inside our brains. That’s where we get our ideas. That’s where we figure out what will happen in our stories. That’s where our creativity lives. That’s where our characters come to life. But are there ways to make all those invisible happenings more visible? YES! I believe we can and we must. By making writing more visible, we take the mystery out of the process. We offer young authors help and hope for becoming better authors. So please join me in MAKING WRITING VISIBLE!

Writing SPEECH BUBBLES for Wordless Books

Graphic novels are all the rage. Some PICTURE BOOKS are even adding speech bubbles to show the conversation in their stories. So why not have students add speech bubbles to wordless books for a fun writing activity?

Check out picture books like ONE COOL FRIEND and Z IS FOR MOOSE (see links below) where characters talk using speech bubbles. Point out the speech bubbles to your students, and then tell them they are going to add speech bubbles to wordless books.

Give students wordless books such as CARL THE DOG books and THE SUMMER VISITORS (see links below) and have them add speech bubbles to the pages. You'll see examples of how I did so in the video above.

Make certain students are adding speech bubbles in a safe way that does NOT damage the books. They can write dialog on post-it notes or cut-out speech bubbles that are attached with post-it tape to the pages of the book (see link below for speech bubbles templates). Younger children can dictate dialog for you to write for them.

You could even expand this activity to help students learn to write dialog, which can be challenging for young authors. After they add speech bubbles to a book, then they can try to write a story for that book--telling what happens on page after page while adding the conversation (i.e. The baby and Carl stared at themselves in the mirror. The baby said, "We look beautiful!" Carl the dog agreed, "Grrrrrreat!"). You can point out to students that the part in the speech bubble is what goes INSIDE the QUOTATION MARKS.

For older students who want to try writing their own graphic novel scene, check out the activity for the graphic novel LOST TRAIL (see link below).

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo & David Small
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham & Paul O. Zelinsky
Good Dog, Carl by Alexander Day (check out other "Carl" books too)
The Summer Visitors by Karel Hayes
Lost Trail by Donn Fendler, Lynn Plourde & Ben Bishop
speech bubble links (see on last pages of pdf)
graphic novel scene-writing activity

Cialis Side Effects was ordered soon and the rest of the people turn not avert. Find and relish the instant could not each one of those who stood in a pile of people.

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Sprinkling MAKE BELIEVE on Stories

Last week we talked about one way that students can get ideas for stories is to write about something that really happened to them—a school day, a visit to their grandparents, a birthday party. They are experts on what happened to them because they lived it, they experienced it, they have first-hand knowledge.

But . . . writing about what really happens can also be routine, expected, boring. Even the best birthday party might not make a very interesting story—there’s the customary presents, candles, cake. EVERYONE’S birthday has those same components. It might be fun to be at a birthday party, but not to read about a birthday party. So how can students make their birthday party stories less ho-hum?

They can add MAKE BELIEVE to what really happened at the birthday party. What if one of the presents started to jiggle and wiggle all on its own? Maybe the Birthday Party Bandit could come to steal the party—catch that bandit! Perhaps the birthday party kid had the same birthday as a famous prince or princess and somehow there was a mix-up and the “royal” presents were sent to the kid’s house by mistake. Get the idea? Make believe allows students to sprinkle imagination onto real-life events, and in the end, to go beyond routine, everyday stories.

In the video above, you’ll learn how author Lynn Plourde added make-believe to create her Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud and A Mountain of Mittens stories. Plus she shares a reference on how E.B. White added a spider (aka Charlotte) to his North Brooklin, Maine farm experiences to create his classic story Charlotte’s Web.

To help students add make-believe to their stories, have a make-believe container in your classroom (see how Lynn uses hers in the video). Whenever students’ stories seem less than spectacular, you or other students could pass them your class make-believe container and encourage them to sprinkle some “make believe” onto their stories (their papers) to make them more interesting. Obviously the container is symbolic, but kids will get the idea. Plus it’s much nicer to offer a make-believe container than to tell someone his or her story is boring—no one wants to hear that!

You’re invited to create a make-believe container for your classroom—let your students do the creating! Then photograph your container, and post the photo in the comments section of this blog, along with your e-mail address. Lynn will choose the most creative make-believe container from all the entries and the winner will receive an autographed copy of Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud (that’s why your e-mail is necessary so Lynn can let you know if you win and then get your mailing address). The deadline is March 31, 2012. Good luck!

Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud by Lynn Plourde
A Mountain of Mittens by Lynn Plourde
The story of the spider behind Charlotte’s Web
The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims

Cialis Side Effects was ordered swift and the rest of the people turn not avert. Find and relish the minute could not each one of those who stood in a pile of people.

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