The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tools of the Trade

       Everyone has their favorite tools. If you're a cook, it might be your KitchenAid mixer. If you're a mechanic, it might be your... well, I have no idea what it might be. A cool wrench? (Is that an oxymoron?) If you're a teacher, we're easy. A Sharpie. Some colorful post-it notes. It doesn't take much.

      And writers are no different. We have our preferences. Fat pens. Skinny rollerballs. PCs (the best) or Macs. Unlined journals. Notebooks with lines.

       I have a writing acquaintance who only writes with a fountain pen. For him, the audible part--as the pen scratches its way across the page--is crucial to his writing process. (No one ever said writers aren't a peculiar bunch.) 

      What are some of your favorite tools? Do you have a computer program that helps you as you masterpiece up your manuscript? Where do you weigh in when it comes to pens? (And if you're a mechanic, perhaps you could enlighten me?) 


Monday, March 30, 2015

A Book ToDAY and a BirthDAY

            I love it when writers sneak things in... and when it comes to nonfiction books for kids, I especially love it when authors slip in information, resulting in kids learning things painlessly.

             Pat Hensley has a new book out--Excitement in the Park. It's a book I'm going to put in my class library because it would be a perfect model for my students. We have an informational-writing unit every year and we also have a 94-acre nature center that is a part of our school district. Twice a year we take a field trip and explore the various habitats there--the prairie, the pasture, the forest and the pond, and this book could be used for... well, I'll get to that in a moment. 

         In Hensley's book, the animals are getting ready for a group of fieldtrippers. On just about every page, some animal facts are slipped in. For example, Timmy the tadpole is worried about losing his tail before the students come; he wants to show it off. This would be a wonderful time to inform children that frogs are legless (and are called tadpoles) before they reach the adult stage. In the story, insects are eager to show off their decomposing skills. The whole life cycle of butterflies is part of the tale. I could go on and on--this book is jampacked with animal info. 

        Excitement in the Park would be perfect to use as a model. The book could be read aloud, the various parts where informational tidbits were inserted could be discussed, and the students could then write their own book based on the field trip to our nature center. (Pat took all the photographs as well; this would be another way that student writers could make decisions as they determine what photos would best illustrate each part. The kids could use disposable cameras or their phones to capture various flora and fauna during the field trip.)

        And tomorrow is Radar's first birthday. It's a day we never thought would arrive... with Radar still alive, that is. (He digs holes quicker than a backhoe.) He started out as darling handful of fur.

We didn't see the horns that were starting to grow...

He was just a barrel-bellied fur ball at this stage.

A local kennel offered one free day for puppies once a month.
The puppies even got report cards. Radar always got the same  comment:
"He was fairly good," which translates into: He drove us fruit!

Now Radar is 76 pounds of energy. Though still technically a puppy for a few
more months, he's turning into a wonderful dog.

Love a Golden Rescue got a pregnant puppymill mama a year ago. Three days after we got her, she gave birth to 11 puppies. Radar--in our opinion--was the handsomest of the litter, and according to the therapy dog trainer who evaluated the pups, he was one of the top two as far as temperament and intelligence.

We're hoping that when Radar is two years old, he can train to be a therapy dog. He hasn't met a stranger yet and--in his opinion--he thinks every person he encounters is put on this earth to admire and pet him (and give him a treat). Actually, now that I think about it, that's a philosophy I'd like to adopt (of course, you can take out the petting part and insert chocolate in front of treat).

So, check out Pat Hensley's book. (Just a few clicks on Amazon and it's yours.) What's another book you could recommend to a teacher like me? And do you have any funny puppy stories? We've filled in so many holes in our backyard, we're in need of some levity.