Do you want to learn how to write a guided reading book like the one pictured? I'm a guest blogger at Nancy I. Sander's Blogzone. Come join me there if you'd like to learn about guided reading levels and the writer. Nancy has been teaching us how to submit to a specific educational publisher, Kaeden.
I'd like to welcome my writing critique friend, Laura Sassi! This is the last stop on her blog tour for her debut picture book, Goodnight, Ark, which was published by Zonderkidz. This is an adorable, rocking read aloud! If you are a teacher, you're eligible to win a free 30 minute Skype session for your classroom with Laura. Enter at the end of this post. Take it away, Laura!
I can’t imagine a more pleasant place to finish up the GOODNIGHT, ARK blog tour than here with Tina. Tina and I are writing partners, but we are also both teachers at heart. I taught elementary school for eight years before writing and she taught elementary for eleven years. Today, I’d like put on that teacher hat and think about creating extension activities for the picture books we write.
But how do you get started? Here are four brainstorming strategies I recommend.
Notice what your readers notice. Even before ARK officially released, I read my advance copy to my children and young relatives. I showed it to friends. I was even lucky enough to get to share a folded galley with my mom. As we read, I listened carefully to what each reader noticed. My mom, for example, was fascinated by Jane’s use of stripes, dots, and other patterns throughout her illustrations. Other readers noticed the pattern in rhyme and meter. Yet others commented on the patterns of repeated words and sounds. Pulling those pattern-thoughts together, I created “Going on a Pattern Hunt”, an extension activity that challenges kids to find picture, text, and sound patterns in GOODNIGHT, ARK and then create their own. That extension activity is now available on my blog.
Build upon the Common Core. A close look at your book’s listing on Amazon or at your local library will show you which common core standards your book meets. The three listed for GOODNIGHT, ARK are:
1.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
2.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.3 Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
3.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
I am now in the process of using these as jumping off points for creating fun activities that include the learning elements above. Stay tuned… they’ll be up on my blog soon.
Get input from a teacher. Whether you are a teacher or not, I highly recommend showing your story to several teachers. I did and I was amazed at the lesson suggestions. One teacher in particular got really excited about all the spelling lesson possibilities that can be drawn from GOODNIGHT, ARK. And she’s right! The text is full of short vowels, long vowels, adverbs, blends galore, digraphs, rhyming words and more! I would never have thought of this, but I’m now creating fun spelling extensions for primary graders. I’ve also got lessons in mind that will focus on cause and effect, making predictions, and counting by twos. Thank you, teachers!
Think multi-sensory. Kids learn and process things differently and so don’t forget to take a multi-sensory approach. My son, for example, is very visual and verbal, so visual/verbal activities work well for him. My daughter is more of a kinesthetic, artistic learner. So, as I brainstorm, I strive to meet all kinds of learning styles with activities that include movement, art, and interactive activities. I also love crafts and will definitely include extension posts that require glue and scissors.
So there you have it.
Writers, I hope these strategies will spark your creative teaching juices as you think about extension activities for your own stories. Teachers, I hope you will check out my blog in the coming weeks as I continue to post extension activities for GOODNIGHT, ARK.
Thanks, Tina, for having me. It’s been a lovely last spot for a tour.
*If you're an educator and would like to win a free Skype visit for your classroom, please leave your name and and the grade you teach in the comments below. A winner will be drawn on Saturday, 9/27. Please check back on Sunday for the results!
Bio: Laura’s poems, stories, articles and crafts have appeared in many publications including Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Spider, Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr., FamilyFun, and Pack-O-Fun. GOODNIGHT, ARK, published by Zonderkidz, a HarperCollins Company, and illustrated by Jane Chapman is her first picture book. She is represented by Lara Perkins of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Laura writes from her century-old home in New Jersey where she lives with her awesome husband, two adorable kids, and a black cockapoo named Sophie. You can also find her on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here's a list of all the stops on Laura's blog tour if you want to read other posts.
8/26 The Stylin’ Librarian
8/28 Picture Book Den
9/3 Pragmatic Mom
9/5 Time out with Becky Kopitzke
9/8 Rosanne L. Kurstedt’s KALEIDOSCOPE
9/10 Southern Belleview Daily
9/12 Susanna Leonard Hill
9/18 Tara Lazar’s Writing While Raising Kids
9/22 Le&ndra’s Blog
9/24 Tina’s Tidbits
I'm over at one of my critique group's new blogs, Pens and Brushes! If you want to see my 10 tips about writing from our hamster, come join me there! thanks!
If you didn't see it yet, I was at the Grog Blog on Sept. 3rd, interviewing Nancy I. Sanders on the release of her Get to Know Biography series. Please join me over there to learn more tips from Nancy!
I've enjoyed every bit of summer vacation from two trips to the ocean to my very first mountain climbing experience even to movie making! Every week my 75 year old father-in-law climbs a small mountain less than five minutes away from where we live. So one Saturday morning I was determined our family would give it a try. Probably about 100 or more people around my age and older make the climb each weekend for exercise. I was put to shame as older people passed me! Sometimes the path was somewhat paved but most of it was rocky. Mind you, this wasn't life-threatening, dangerous mountain climbing. But after much endurance, the four of us conquered the challenge. Passing a 3-inch slug and baby snake and beautiful butterflies made our climb interesting. And my 8-year-old son exclaimed to his Sunday school class that he learned that he could get through hard things! Maybe a story idea will even come to me...
This summer I've also been renewing my teaching license online by taking three classes, one of which is using the program Movie Maker + an "iPad in the Classroom" class. I've really enjoyed learning new ideas incorporating technology into my lessons with my kiddos. And I learned how to make videos, which I can also use for my writing career. So it's been a win-win situation.
We started homeschool last Thursday. So now I'm teaching 7th and 4th grades + freelance writing afternoons and evenings.
Are you all ready for Fall, Back-to-School writing?
Summertime means vacations, excursions to the beach, and plenty of playtime with the kids. But in my opinion, writers are never truly off work. We're kind of like professionals "on call."
You never know when some idea will pop into your head or some activity on vacation will start the wheels turning about a new plot.
For example, we drove to the ocean TWICE in the past month. It's three hours to the east coast of Korea where the water is cleaner and prettier. I took my trusty notebook, sat on the beach while my kids and husband played, and I wrote. I composed and sold a rebus to Clubhouse Jr and wrote a picture book draft for the 12x12 challenge I'm in.
One evening we explored the city we were staying in, and on a walk around a lake, I discovered the most beautiful field--a lotus field! I've never seen so many lotuses. The scent was heavenly. The perfect lotus bud reminded me of the children's movie Epic. My "on call writerly" brain made me take lots of pictures. This lotus field will make the perfect setting for a new story!
So you see--we writers are never on break. We're always researching and hunting down the next story.
If you have time, you can join me at Kidlit Summer School, hosted by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Kami Kinard, who run the popular Nerdy Chicks Write Blog. (Registration ends July 25)
Here are my lotus photos. Enjoy your summer!
I'm at the grog blog today talking about "How to Write for the Christian Market." Check it out if you're interested!
Hooray for summer! Just what do writers do in summer? Or better yet, what do stuck-at-home writers do in summer? What if you can't get out to conferences, you're stuck on the other side of the world, what can you do to keep the writer muse?
Here's what I've been doing so far.
I'm catching up listening to some famous authors at the "Let's Get Busy" Podcast. I've already been inspired by Tammi Sauer, Ame Dyckman, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, and Seymour Simon. I may never hear these authors live, but I feel like I'm right there as I listen to their "writerly" wisdom!
I viewed a free video from agent Jill Corcoran and author Martha Alderson on "How to Revise Your Novel/PB." It was fantastic advice from both ladies. If I ever write a novel, I'd want to pay to view the rest of the series. Do take time to watch it!
Reading Children's Books/errr...Research
I'm trying to read children's books each day from picture books to novels, print books and e-books. I like what one author said about reading children's books--it's research! There are a couple web sites that have free picture books online such as Storyline Online and We Give Books. It's been fun to catch up on titles that I've missed.
Studying the "Bug" magazines
Cricket Magazine has free summer issues for all of their magazines. Since my husband gave me an iPad Air for my birthday, I've downloaded all the free issues for the magazines I'd like to study. That's 3 issues of each one so far. Maybe I can come up with a story for them.
I just finished author Katie Davis's How to Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to a Bestseller. I'll be doing a book review for it on the grog blog next month. So for now I'll just say that if you plan on writing a book, you must read this! In fact, I need to get busy preparing and following Katie's steps!
I'm revising my WIPs and will write new manuscripts since I'm in the 12x12 picture book challenge to write one manuscript each month. I'd also like to start research for a new nonfiction picture book.
Reviews and GoodReads
I have a goal to write some book reviews for some author friends on Amazon. My social media goal is to learn Goodreads. If you use that site, you can give me tips!
As with every summer, I'll enjoy the family outings we do and find a way to turn them into stories! What are you doing this summer?
This past spring I participated in an online writing contest hosted by Cynthea Liu, called Red Light Green Light. When the light is green, writers can send in the first 125 words of their story. Cynthea gives a tiny critique, and you either pass and continue in the contest or return to the start line. If you pass, you continue sending in next pages until someone wins. If your story doesn't pass, you return to the start line with a new story. It's really fun to play and get some feedback. Well, I happened to be one of the winners for the picture book category. I won a free critique from Cynthea.
Cynthea is amazing! She's represented by Andrea Brown Literary Agency and is the author of the most recent picture book Wooby and Peep, Sterling 2013. She's also written a middle grade novel and young adult book. Her full bio is here.
I had a wonderful 30 minute phone call with her, and she gave me great new advice and suggestions. It was also good to get her multicultural writing advice because Cynthea has written some multicultural books and has experience with editors and marketing. I've already revised my manuscript and can't wait to see what my critique groups say.
So if you want another eye and perspective on your WIP, check out Cynthea's critique service. Her prices are very reasonable, and she's quite knowledgeable of the market.
You can find Cynthea at her web site: Writing for Children and Teens. Below are some books she has written.