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My humorous thoughts about life.

"My Humorous and Helpful Thoughts About Teaching / Educational Resources for Your Classroom / Music and Random Fun"

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Show Don't Tell

#TpT Article to teach show don't tell

I was upset when the car hit my dog.

Those of us who own dogs certainly understand how someone would feel if they lost their pet. After all, my dogs are my children. But as a reader, simply telling someone that you are upset does not invite them into the story. In order to truly build an understanding, the writer must show the scene as it happens.

First off, I think of what I would do if a car hit my fur baby.
  • cry
  • scream
  • stomp my feet
  • bury my face in his fur, the grass, etc.
Sometimes when I am writing, I feel like an actress as I physically go through the motions of what I would do before writing it all down. After living the emotions in my mind, it's time to write a scene as if I were a part of it.

The red Camaro whipped around the curve striking my dog, Zep, and continuing on its murderous path. Darting to the road, I sank to my knees and buried my tear filled eyes in his cold lifeless body. "No. Oh, no," I cried. Next, a blood curdling scream escaped from my throat as I moved his remains to a patch of grass. Fisting the trunk of a tree, I knew things would not be the same.

When writing with description of what happened, the reader becomes more invested in the scene. To teach this skill, I give each kids a note card with a different emotion written on it. They must write out a scene to show this emotion but are not allowed to mention the given word in their writing. Students read writing aloud as classmates have fun trying to guess which emotion the student has written about.
  • happy
  • sad
  • angry
  • proud
  • mean
  • afraid
  • confused
  • embarrassed
  • worried
  • surprised
After students practice this skill, you could give them a simple scene and have each child practice writing what you describe. For example, the teacher could say:  "After we hit the nurse with snowballs, she was angry." Instruct the students to describe the scene and show the anger. What did the nurse do?

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get a free resource along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

Listed are PowerPoints to help teach this concept.

I hope you've enjoyed my series on writing skills. Tune in next week, where I will provide one final writing tip along with a prompt involving an October scene.

Thanks to Kate Hadfield Designs for the clipart. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Using Multiple Senses in Writing

#iteach #writing #writingtips

When teaching, how many of your students tell all about what they see in a scene? The visual is popular in young writers, but it's certainly not the only way to provide details in a story. We have five senses, so a writer who only includes the visual is short changing his or her readers. At a writers' conference, I was told that every time a character enters a new scene, that scene should be described with at least three senses.

To make students aware of multiple senses, I give them a handful of highlighter pens and ask them to color code their writing as follows:

  • sight - green
  • hearing - orange
  • touch - pink
  • smell - yellow
  • taste - purple
  • emotion - blue

After highlighting the senses used in writing, something is always missing, and it's usually not what the students sees.

#TpT #teachers #iteach456
Imagine a scene in the forest.

Sure, students can write about the green leafy canopy above, but how about including the sounds of the wind blowing those leaves and the crunch below their feet as they wander through the woods?

Or students could write about how they shiver in the cool breeze that spreads the scent of pine through the forest. Smell is quite powerful in writing because it often connects the reader to a memory. While smell provides the memory, taste means a challenge to the novice writer and is often the hardest sense to incorporate into a scene. When kids write about taste, make sure the taste has meaning in whatever is being written, rather than something thrown into a story for the sake of including the sense of taste. It is better to leave taste out altogether than to add it in a way that doesn't work for the reader.

I've also included emotion because a story with no emotion will come off as flat. After all, we are usually writing stories with main characters, and the more relatable the character, the more we will care about where they go or what they do.

Including multiple senses in writing is like colorizing a black and white movie. For a fun and productive lesson, have your students critique their own writing for senses and then work to add whatever is missing. Be sure to share the results!

If you are interested in teaching students to write using multiple senses, below is a link to a PowerPoint lesson that does just that.

#teachers, #tips, #writing using multiple senses

Using Senses in Writing

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get free resources along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

Thanks to Kate Hadfield Designs for the clipart. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Using Specific Nouns in Writing

I've often told my students to close their eyes and imagine a dog. Next, I ask them what they see. There are usually as many different answers as students in the room because writing about a dog just doesn't point our readers in any set direction.

However, if I ask them to see a golden retriever puppy, they know what to imagine, if they've been lucky enough to know one. When it comes to writing, the author wants to lead the reader into what it is that they see. That is why my second blog tip is to use specific nouns in writing.

Rather than writing about candy, try saying chocolate. Of course, chocolate is not enough. Maybe Hershey bar would be more specific or Hershey bar with almonds. See the difference?

To teach students how to use specific nouns, I like to throw out vague nouns and see what they can do to make them more specific.
  • girl
  • chair
  • sign
  • book
Which is better?

The girl sat in a chair under a sign and read a book.


The two-year-old girl climbed into the wooden rocking chair, under the Furniture Department sign and studied the golden retriever puppy in her cardboard picture book.

Now, it's your turn to teach your writers how to use specific nouns!

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get free resources along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

If you want help with this skill, I have a resource for you.

Using specific nouns in writing, #iteach #tpt

Friday, September 6, 2019

New and Free

Just a quick note to let you know what's new and FREE!


Logic puzzles about Southwest Region


Just like my blog, I've started a writing series with my mail group. The difference is that my mail group gets FREE products with each mailing. Why not join us?

In joining, you will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack. 

Get free resources by clicking link.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Using Strong Action Words in Writing

crying over losing be verbs  #teacher

I've always felt that one of my best tricks of the trade is to take away a boring verb and replace it with a strong action verb. For example, no one wants to read that, "The dog was sleepy." However, if you take away "was" and turn sleepy into the adjective before the noun, there is no limit to what you can write.

Writers can be typical:

The sleepy dog curled into itself under the desk.

Or include more action:

The sleepy dog defied slumber by lurching at the unsuspecting human trying to pet it.

Maybe even add some creativity:

The sleepy dog stretched its paws and signaled the spacecraft to retrieve it from earth.

No matter what you decide to do with the sleepy dog, removing the be verb frees you up to create a story behind the image.

Therefore, my first trick along the writer's journey is to find ways to eliminate those boring be verbs and replace them with action verbs. I've even held mock funerals in my class, where we take index cards and bury the words in the school yard.

We give a teary goodbye to our friends who were always there for us in our writing slumps. Does anyone, *sniff* want to say some parting words to *sniff* our friends? Make sure you remember to bring the box of tissues outside with you for this is a truly sad moment.

Students take turns saying a few words, digging small holes with a shovel, and burying the following friends:

  • is
  • was
  • are
  • were
  • have
  • had
  • has
  • am
Goodbye, friends.

After the funeral, we go inside to answer a prompt without using our friends. Sure. There is a time to use these words, but students must learn how not to use them before they can add a few be verbs back into their writing.

If you want help with teaching kids to eliminate boring verbs, here is a new product for you.