Archive for the ‘Words!’ Category

April: National Poetry Month

Did you know that? Old hat for Brave Writer fans, right?

One of the funny things about being in the “hot seat” for writing and language arts is that I’ve become a confessor of sorts. Mothers like to corner me at conferences or in the hallways of our co-op to ask me their questions and to tell me their guilty tales of failed writing attempts. One question I get frequently is: “How do I teach poetry? Do I have to? I’ve never liked it and don’t understand it. Truth is: we never read it.”

If that’s you, if you’re wondering how to give a lesson in poetry to your kids when you never spent much time with it yourself, I’ve got some ideas for you! April is obviously just the right month to tackle it.

An insightful use of language

I read this quote this morning in Roger Cohen’s op-ed piece in the New York Times. With the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, someone emailed the following to Mr. Cohen:

Rosa Parks sat in 1955. Martin Luther King walked in 1963. Barack Obama ran in 2008. That our children might fly.

Talk to your kids about the uses of these words, what they imply and mean about each era and how they demonstrate a trajectory in American history. Nice little history lesson in four lines, and a powerful use of language.

Language Games

Brave Writer mom Cyndi writes:

I just found your website and program tonight and joined the yahoo group and very excited about trying it out with my two oldest children.  As I was going through the site I saw the language games you had listed and thought I would share this one with you.

One of my favorites is something I picked up at a large children’s used item sale — it is called Storybook (comes in a box that looks like a mini metal lunchbox). It has cards with pictures.  The rules say that the first player picks a card and starts the story and then each player picks a card and repeats the previous portion of the story and adds a new part (this is somewhat cumbersome as the previous cards have all been turned face down).

My children just take turns picking a card and adding their portion to the story.  They will even pick it up and just start playing it for fun! It was so cute the one time they were doing it together (without my initiation) and I went to get my digital video camera to make a movie of them sitting on the sofa together.  Then they decided to read for the camera so that was an added benefit that made it more fun for them.  Now when one of them gets it out and starts their own story (my daughter just goes through the cards and makes up a story by herself) then the other goes to get the camera to record it!!  How cute!!

I think the game can be purchased at Target for about $5 where the card games are found (i.e. Uno, Crazy Eights, etc.) – usually an end cap!!

Another one I picked up one day in Barnes and Noble to have something to entertain the kids at the table in a restaurant (high end restaurant with long wait for food to arrive) was ZING!  The Bewitching Storymaking Game (it comes in normal size and a miniature version (like you would attach to a gift card).  There are 80 magnetic words and build a story grids. Each person selects 5 magnetic tiles from the three categories of words (elementary, edgy, esoteric) takes turns writing with their sentence using 2-7 words (must use at least one word from those chosen and can add their own words using the blank magnets. It is a little like Scrabble other than being able to add your own words (oh how many times have we just wished that we had that ONE LETTER while playing Scrabble????)  Anyway, “I” think it will be a lot of fun to play, but unfortunately it did not work out as an activity at dinner that evening and we haven’t taken time to try it out since.  (Note to self:  PLAY ZING! with the kids tomorrow!)

Anyway, hope these game ideas help and I am looking forward to learning more about Brave Writer and showing my kids that writing can be fun!!


Two Word Poems

If you’re sick of writing lengthy pieces and revising, now’s the time for short and sweet:


Why? (Eli Siegel)

Boo! (Anon)

ugh(s) (students in a classroom)

To help you out, get a book. Grab one word and find another to match it (rhyme it, or address it). You can create a word picture, a thought, an idea, an action. Post your best ones in comments.

Here are a few to read to help you think:




scarf (summing up Little Red Riding Hood in two words!)

I look forward to your two word poems!


Originally uploaded by juliecinci

If you want to turn spelling into a challenge akin to Scrabble but with less trauma (you don’t need to interlock words, just create them), Quiddler is a terrific little card game. In our house, Caitrin even played before she could read! How? We helped her. She would put her cards out and we’d talk about the ways you could make words from her letters. Her drive to play this game actually helped her learn to read and has been critical to helping her spell.

We often play “open hand” when a child is stuck and can’t think of what to do with his or her cards. So don’t feel the need to turn the game into ruthless competition (unless you enjoy that kind of thing!). Take a break from handwriting and play Quiddler instead.

For more information about Quiddler, check out this link.