Memorial Day freebies

I know — Memorial Day is a holiday. And holidays shouldn’t involve schoolwork, right? Well, before you decide that, let me ask you a few questions: 1. Do you know the former name of Memorial Day? 2. Do you know why Memorial Day is associated with poppies? 3. Do you know which president began the


Organic writing

Because I teach writing classes, or maybe because I’m a professional writer, or maybe just because I write kinda good-like, one question I get asked a lot is, “Which writing curriculum should I use?” My answer: “The organic one.” “Organic” conjures up images of purity. Of food untouched by pesticides, varmints, antibiotics, or human hands.


Playing outside the box

Woohoo — it’s Tuesday! I know, I know; usually only Friday engenders this level of enthusiasm. But around the Workshop, Tuesdays are the day that we play. I’m a big believer in the idea that kids need to PLAY — both outside and inside. I make it a point on Tuesdays to break out the


Deconstructing short stories

The latest assignment around here was to write a short story… which is a monumental task for elementary-age kids! It arose because the kiddos heard about a short story contest and desperately wanted to enter… but the deadline was only two days away. So after several hours (no joke) of feverish writing, we dashed off


Free game: Think Quick!

Here’s a Terrific Tuesday game for you: Think Quick! Description: Wake up those brains! Students must write one word of phrase that comes to mind for each given word. This is a great ice-breaker or warm-up writing activity. What I love about using activities like this is the reminder that kids are creative! One of


Guess the Flower

“I have a game for you,” I told the kids. “It involves going outside and writing.” They looked less than enthused (it was EARLY Monday morning, in their defense), so I quickly added, “And if you do it well, you get one dollar.” Suddenly they couldn’t wait to get started. The “game” (in grown-up talk

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