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Flat as a Pancake - The Flat Ana Edition

We have Flat Ana visiting us from Colorado. Maybe you're familiar with Flat Stanley, written by Jeff Brown. In Flat Stanley, Stanley is hit by his bullentin board and is flattened. In his flattened state, he is stuffed into an envelope and travels through the mail to visit friends and relatives.

Watch the Flat Ana edition and learn about similies, metaphors and idioms! Think of pancakes (as in...Ana is flat as a pancake)  to remember word choice in your writing.
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(no subject)

November 4, 2008 was a big day in the United States. Millions of Americans used their voices and exercised their right to vote. According to the Associated Press at the time of this entry, Obama received 63,427,856 votes and McCain received 56,084,064 votes.

No matter which candidate you and your family hoped would win, there is no doubt, history was made last night. In celebration of the election, we're making Election Parfaits today.

Ingredients: strawberry yogurt, bananas, blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream.

(Layer one of our parfait--yogurt. Layer two--strawberries.)

Americans used their voices this election year to make sure they were heard. They talked about the issues that were important to them. They debated, campaigned for their favorites and voted. VOICE IN YOUR WRITING: What is important to the character you are writing about? What makes them happy, sad or angry? Is there anything so important to your character that she'd run for political office to change or influence?

(Layer three -- add bananas.)

Yesterday, many people voted for change. No matter who won, the U.S. would experience change. However, the candidates had drastically different views on several key issues. YOUR WRITING VOICE: Does your character hold an opinion or views that are different from what "everyone else" thinks? How does he see the world?

(Layer four -- blueberries.)

People voted for opportunity and the American Dream. YOUR WRITING VOICE: What about your character? What dreams does she have? What does he hope to accomplish? Does he feel there are obstacles holding him back? Who? What? How can that be changed? If you are writing about someone who is already strong, successful or blessed with opportunity, is there someone or something they care about? A person your character would like to see be given an opportunity to realize her potential?

(Layer five--a little whipped cream.)

After months of campaigning and debating, a winner was declared as most children were headed to bed for the night. Barack Obama will be our next president. Some people cried, some people cheered. Some cried and cheered.

In the days, months and weeks to come, no matter how people voted, we will see people from all backgrounds, people with vastly different opinions and views of the world, come together and support the new administration. People used their voices on November 4, 2008, and history was made. (Coming together despite our differences--that's the whipped cream on top!)

YOUR WRITING VOICE: After your character struggles to achieve his goals, no matter if he succeeds or not, what does he see as the reward? What is the pay off? What did he learn? Will people come together or be divided as a result of his actions?

The answers to all these questions can help develop the character, give her personality and make her feel like a real person. Personality and making your character seem real--that's another way to achieve voice in writing!

Make a parfait, take family photos in front of election results on TV or with the newspaper. Write an essay about how you feel today and save it in your scrapbook. Do something to make this day memorable!

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Have you ever heard the phrase "Show. Don't tell"? It means that the writer should paint a vivid word picture that hooks the reader and makes the reader feel like he or she is experiencing the story. Do you ever wonder if you've done too much telling and not enough showing? Watch this video, and let the SPIDER be your guide!
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Ideas? Where do you get them?

Where do you get your best ideas? When you're stuck, one of the best ways to come up with an idea is to get a little messy and play with words!

The Littlest Word Chef is making art dough today. First, she mixes the cream of tartar, salt and flour. (Maybe you could doodle on your paper. Write a few words that remind you of your topic. Let's get the other story ingredients on the page. What do you need? A beginning? A middle? An end? Some characters?)

After adding water and oil, she stirs the mixture on medium heat until it looks like dough. (Now, stir things up. Can you change the setting? Change a character? Make a character older or younger? What's the opposite of your topic? What character is the opposite of one you've already chosen? What would happen if you turned one into a dragon or a butterfly? Watch your story take a new form when you mix things up!)

After the dough cools, she kneads the dough and adds flour until the dough is not sticky anymore. (Once you have the basic idea, play with it a bit. Move sentences around. Start or end in a diffferent place. Play the "what if..." game. What if the Goldilocks visited her Grandmother in space? What if the Wolf was really an alien? What if....)

What happened? Her creation has changed! It's not that plain, old flour mixture! It's not even white anymore! (When you play with words, you take something ordinary and make it extraordinary!)

She keeps kneading the dough to mix all the red food coloring. (Don't be afraid to revise. Keep at it! Nothing is wasted except the paper you are using. Every time you revise, you learn something new that will help you in this project or in a later project. Don't be afraid to get dirty!)

Never be afraid to PLAY with words! The basic ingredients will transform into something beautiful (or creepy or mysterious!) when you take the time to PLAY!

 Another Tip: Your toys can be another source of inspiration. Did you know that lots of writers play with toys to spark fresh ideas? Some copywriters I know play with Play-Doh, action figures and Legos when they need inspiration. The key is to stop thinking so hard and to let your imagination take over. Relax, let your mind wander, and the ideas will come to you! 


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Voice = Brownies (or our friend, Maybelle)

Voice is one of those writing terms that teachers have a hard time explaining--and students have difficulty grasping. Talk to 100 people, and you'll get 100 definitions of voice! In this episode, we're making brownies in honor of one of our favorite chapter books, "Maybelle in the Soup."

Maybelle is a cockroach who gets into a lot of trouble due to her curiosity and love of food. Maybelle happens to like chocolate, so we baked brownies while we talked about creating "voice" in our writing.

For more information about Maybelle in the Soup or Maybelle Goes to Tea, visit www.katiespeck.com, where you'll also find some of Maybelle's favorite recipes.

Visit the Scholastic site for an additional activity featuring Maybelle.

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Learn to Write with the Word Chef! Pancakes = Details

Hey, kids! I'm The Word Chef, and I'm here to help you learn to write. Some of the posts on this site will be videos. Others will be photographs. Sometimes, I'll post a writing exercise. You might even find a few recipes here!

In this first episode, we're making pancakes and talking about adding interesting details to our writing.

Check back weekly for more writing tips just for kids! (Pssst....your parents and teachers might learn something too, but these tips are just for you!)

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