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 FUNNY =)

How can you help your students to WRITE FUNNY?  First of all, have them watch the video above to kick off a discussion about writing funny.

Before doing their own humorous writing, students should first back up and READ FUNNY. Have them find examples of wordplay and humor in stories and picture books and analyze those examples. What makes them funny? Why did authors choose the words they did? For example, in TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY, why is Maybella Jean Wishywashy a perfect name for the main character? (answer: Since her character flaw is that she can't make decisions, she has the last name "Wishywashy"--a wishywashy person is one who can't decide; plus her first name "Maybella" starts with the word maybe--maybe she should choose this one, or maybe choose that one, or maybe the other one--she can't decide; and so her name hints at her character flaw). What is the word play in Lisa Wheeler's picture book title WOOL GATHERING: A SHEEP FAMILY REUNION? (answer: Sheep are animals with wool on their bodies and when a sheep family all gets/gathers together it could be called a "Wool Gathering") The HANDOUT below includes a page that encourages students to find examples of funny writing as a reader.

The book ONLY COWS ALLOWED, which is full of puns (word jokes), can be viewed as a video read-aloud on this website. Click here and go to the bottom of the page for the video. Have students watch it and try to find all the puns in the story.

Next, students should try WRITING FUNNY. They can start by brainstorming words within a category, such as FRUITS & VEGETABLES: zucchini, cantaloupe, nectarine. For each of those words, they should think if the food's name reminds them of any other word. For example, the beginning of "zucchini" sounds like "zoo" which could lead to the joke: Which vegetable lives in a cage? ZOOcchini! The word "cantaloupe" sounds like the phrase "can't elope" which could lead to the joke: Which fruit wants a big wedding?  Cantaloupe! And for "nectarine," the beginning sounds like "neck" which could lead to the joke: What's a giraffe's favorite fruit? NECKtarine!

To write funny, students could also start with a target word, such as PIG and then brainstorm as many pig-related words as possible, such as: oink, grunt, piglets, Wilbur, pigpen, slop, bacon, ham, etc. Could any of those words inspire pig jokes or wordplay? Oh, that poor aching pig needed some oinkment!  That pig didn't even have the lead part in the play, but he was still such a ham on stage! The HANDOUT  below includes a page that challenges students to WRITE FUNNY.

Writing FUNNY is a great end-of-school-year kind of writing. Students will have fun with it, and you might encourage them to try some funny writing over summer break . . . maybe they could create school jokes over the summer that they could share when the school year starts again.

Have FUN writing FUNNY! And by all means, add any of your student-created jokes or wordplay to the comment section below--that would be COMMENTable=)! (Get it? Wordplay for "commendable" =)

P.S. Clown noses cost about $1 at a party store. You don't want your students sharing  the same clown nose (that would snot be nice!), but you might think about students having their own clown noses to wear when they write something funny that they want to share with others. A little gimmick that kids enjoy.


Only Cows Allowed by Lynn Plourde & Rebecca Harrison Reed
The Blizzard Wizard by Lynn Plourde & John Aardema
The Mrs. Shepherd series of books by Lynn Plourde & Thor Wickstrom
(note the main character's names in:Teacher Appreciation Day, Pajama Day, Book Fair Day, Science Fair Day, Field Trip Day)
Wool Gathering: A Sheep Family Reunion by Lisa Wheeler & Frank Ansley
Mr. Prickles: A Quill-Fated Love Story by Kara LaReau & Scott Magoon

Cialis Side Effects was ordered fast and the rest of the people turn not stave off. Find and revel the point could not each one of those who stood in a pile of people.

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Three Story Questions

Discuss the following questions with your students. Better yet, watch the video above together as a class and then talk about what you learned from it.

1. What three PARTS does every story have?
A beginning, a middle, and an end.

2. Which of those story parts would be the HEAVIEST if you could somehow lift them?
The middle would be the heaviest because that's where most things happen in the story. The character may try over and over again to get what he or she wants. The middle of a story often has a pattern that repeats. You can count pages to see that the middle of picture books as well as the middle of chapter books have many more pages than the beginning and the end have. When students write, remind them to make certain that their stories need to be heaviest in the middle.

3. What DIRECTION should the middle of a story go--downhill, be level, or go uphill?
A story should NEVER go downhill in the middle--that means you used your best ideas early and then your story will seem less interesting as it goes along. A story should never get less interesting as it goes along.

Some stories are level in the middle--which means that what happens in the middle is all equally exciting or dramatic and the events could even be switched around and it wouldn't matter. The middle of WILD CHILD is level. Autumn's bedtime excuses of wanting a song, then a snack, and then her PJs seem equal. No one excuse is a bigger deal than the other excuses.

Some stories go uphill in the middle--which means things get more exciting or dramatic as the story goes along. The middle of PIGS IN THE MUD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RUD goes uphill. More and more animals get in the road as the story goes along; and as a result, things get more chaotic over time. Plus, in PIGS IN THE MUD the last animals to get in the road are the bulls, which are the biggest, most dramatic animals.

Use the STORY DIRECTION HANDOUT below to have students find books that are level in the middle as well as ones that go uphill in the middle. Then have students look for the story direction in the middle of their OWN stories. Challenge them to write middles to their stories that are level or go uphill.


Stories referenced in this blog:
Wild Child by Lynn Plourde & Greg Couch
Grandpappy Snippy Snappies by Lynn Plourde & Christopher Santoro
Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud by Lynn Plourde & John Schoenherr
The Napping House by Audrey & Don Wood

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

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