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Girls to the Rescue Theater

Girls to the Rescue

Looking for some theater ideas for your classroom?  Clover Park High School in Lakewood, WA is rehearsing a one-act play based on a Girls to the Rescue story!  Read the article below then visit www.FictionTeachers.com for more ideas and stories for your class!

The plays are the thing for Clover Park High School Thespian - The Suburban Times


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Short Metaphorical Poems

Giggle Poetry

by Bruce Lansky

Most of my school visits include 4 or 5 writing workshops—usually with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students. And since we usually write 3 to 6 poems in each of those sessions,
I wind up creating about 10 to 20 poems on every full-day school visit. Recently I have begun to include free-verse poems in the mix. This allows us to focus on ideas and words—without having to worry about rhythm and rhyme. I started experimenting with a new “genre” I invented called “Short Metaphorical Poems.” These poems usually involve a comparison between two things or ideas. Sometimes they use metaphors (e.g., “My Mother is My Alarm Clock”), sometimes they use similes (e.g., “The Moon is Like a Light Bulb”) and sometimes they use comparisons (e.g., “How to Tell if the Critter Who Sleeps in Your Bed is a Dog or Cat”).

When I write metrical poems with students, I usually spend about 2/3 of the time explaining and demonstrating where the rhyming words go, the difference between “true rhymes” (in which both the vowels and consonants rhyme—like nap and cap) and “near rhymes” (in which only the vowels rhyme—like nap and hat), the need for a consistent rhyme pattern, how to count “beats,” the difference between “beats” and “syllables” (usually there are two or three or four beats in each line and two or three times as many syllables), and the need for a consistent rhythm pattern.

I thought you might find it interesting to share a recent free-verse comparative poem I wrote with students I recently visited in Dallas and Wichita. I got the idea in a 5th grade workshop in McKinney, TX. While working on “The Moon is Like a Light Bulb,” a clever student suggested that because the moon reflects light from the sun, it is more like a mirror than a light bulb. At the end of the session, I asked the students to think about other comparisons they might want to write about. One suggested a comparison between dogs and cats.

I worked on that suggestion with other 5th grade students in McKinney, TX and with 4th and 5th grade students in Andover, KS. The students seemed to love the concept and couldn’t stop thinking about experiments that would demonstrate the difference. The challenge of writing a quasi-scientific, humorous poem about the difference between cats and dogs kept students’ hands up throughout the workshops.

(I should probably mention that students in my writing workshops usually spend more time revising lines of poetry we’ve just written than writing new lines of poetry. Often they would rather rewrite, or fix, the line of poetry we’ve just written than start work on the next new line of poetry. I think this may be one of the biggest lessons they learn: That rewriting poetry is as important and fun as writing down a fresh idea.

Maybe it was the fun of writing non-metrical poems; maybe it was the plunge into scientific thinking—but whatever it was, the students were fascinated*. After I got home I decided to fine-tune the poem for presentation on my Giggle Poetry Facebook page. Below is my second rewrite on the dog/cat comparison theme. You might want to show it to your children or students to see what other experiments they can come up with.

How to Tell If the Critter Who Sleeps On Your Bed is a Dog or Cat

Call the critter. If it runs to you and wants you to pet it, it’s a dog. If it looks at you as if you are crazy, it’s a cat.

Throw a tennis ball across the yard and say, “Fetch!” If the critter chases it, brings it back to you—all wet and gooey—and then wags its tail happily, it’s a dog. If the critter walks after the ball, sniffs it, and then walks away, it’s a cat.

Take your critter to the lake, then run into the water and yell, “Come!” If the critter follows you into the water it’s a dog. If the critter won’t go near the water, it’s a cat.

On the fourth of July, bring your critter to the parade. When the fire truck drives by, if the critter chases after it barking loudly, it’s a dog. If the critter runs home and hides under your bed, it’s a cat.

Pick the critter up and throw it onto your bed. If it lands safely on its feet, it’s a cat. If it crash lands on its back it’s a dog.

Now that you know if your critter is a cat or a dog, take good care of it so your parents don’t get so tired of feeding it they threaten to donate it to Goodwill.

Vampire Brat

Vampire Brat

On the night he was bit by a vampire bat,
my brother turned into a vampire brat.
He used to be someone I tried to ignore,
but now he’s obnoxious like never before. 

He brushes his teeth, then he sharpens his fangs.
He sweeps back his hair to get rid of his bangs.
He swoops through the room, and he messes my hair.
He’s weird. I mean, look how he dresses, I swear. 

He says I’ve got zits, such an ugly complexion,
but look in the mirror—he’s got no reflection.
At dinner he makes me feel very uptight
when he raises his eyebrows and asks for a “bite.”

He stays up all night watching movies and junk,
then he sleeps upside down from the top of his bunk.
My friends won’t come over. My life is a wreck.
Let’s face it, my brother’s a pain in the neck. 

Text © Neal Levin with permission of its publisher Meadowbrook Press. Illustration © Mike & Carl Gordon. Any copying or use of this poem or illustration without consent is unlawful.

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Mary Had a Little Jam

Mary Had a Little a Jam the best-selling “fractured nursery rhyme” book is now back and better than ever with twice as many poems!

This collection of silly, contemporary rhymes recount the latest adventures of Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, Old Mother Hubbard, Little Boy Blue, Little Bo-Beep, and other popular Mother Goose characters.  Written by a gang of gifted poets including Bruce Lansky, Kenn Nesbitt, Linda Knaus, and Darren Sardelli, these rhymes are guaranteed to delight children of all ages.

With over 800,000 copies sold of the original edition, it’s the most popular book of funny, contemporary nursery rhymes in the English language.  The new edition includes 40 kid-tested and hilarious poems from Peter, Peter, Pizza Eater that’s sure to keep kids laughing long after the last poems are read.

“An instant classic.  Move over Mother Goose!”
—Peggy Gisler, “Dear Teacher” syndicated columnist

“Long overdue!  A kinder, gentler Mother Goose… and funny too!”
—Christine Clark, “Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine

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Mary Had a Little Jam Giveaway

Thumbprint Mice

Thumbprint Mice

© copyright Trish Kuffner from The Preschooler's Busy Book with permission of its publisher Meadowbrook Press.

Busy Book Recommendation

The Toddler's Busy Book


The Toddler's Busy Book is a top recommendation in the 4th edition of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.

Pick up your copy online or in stores!

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Now Available

The Simple Guide to Having a BabyThe Simple Guide to Having a Baby by Penny Simkin, PT; et al, is the accessible, easy-to-read version of the best-selling Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn.  Newly updated for 2016, Simple Guide is for expectant parents who only want the most important, need-to-know, and how-to information. 

Written with clear and simple language and filled with photographs and illustrations, The Simple Guide to Having a Baby is readily accessible to most teens and adults. It’s perfect for the busy parent
who doesn’t have time to read a comprehensive book or for parents who may have difficulty reading at a higher level. The book tells readers everything they need to stay healthy during pregnancy, how to handle labor pain and birth, and caring for a new baby. 

Notable updates to the 2016 edition include:

  • Stories about typical pregnancy and birth experiences, which make content easier to relate to.
  • Links to online content and resources, so readers can learn more about topics of concern.
  • Nutrition guidelines and fitness recommendations.
  • A simplified explanation of the entire labor process and comfort techniques.
  • Updated maternity care recommendations to reduce the number of cesarean births.
  • Increased discussion of mental health and emotional issues during pregnancy and postpartum.
  • The most current breastfeeding advice from lactation consultants.

“This supportive and accessible guide is easy to read, explains medical jargon, and includes illustrations, adding to an understanding of the body’s wonderful abilities to give birth”
—Book review printed in Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care


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Now Available

First-Year Baby Care

First-Year Baby Care by Paula Kelly, MD, is the easy-to-use “owner’s manual” every parent needs. Thoroughly updated and revised with the most recent medical and baby care advice, the 5th edition includes the latest information on newborn screenings, checkups, vaccination schedules, and expanded information on nutrition; including how to prevent food allergies and childhood obesity.

Other notable updates to the book include:

  • Breastfeeding advice for working mothers. 

  • Car seat and crib safety.
  • Guidelines for childproofing individual rooms in the home.
  • Circumcision
– Is it necessary?
  • Day care options
– Questions to ask and things to look for.
  • Diaper choices – Advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • Environmental hazards
you might not be aware of.
  • When to introduce new foods and making homemade baby food.
  • Monthly developmental milestones.
  • Traveling with the baby – Tips and safety.
  • An expanded medical care section with over 40 different emergencies and illnesses.

“The most accessible and helpful guide for the first 12 months”
—Mitch Einzig, MD; Children’s Health Care of Minnesota

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One in Five British Mothers Regrets Her Child’s Name

by Bruce Lansky

When I read the title and reading line for the article Amelia Hill wrote in The Guardian: I guessed that the leading cause of “baby-name regret” was caused by picking a popular (e.g., top-20) name and then realizing how many other parents had made precisely the same choices.

Here are two fragments from the article that explain when and why parents begin regretting the names they have chosen:

-“The main reason for regretting the name was that it was too commonly used (25%).”
-“23% began to regret their choice when their children first started nursery or school.”

Why do so many parents fall into the trap of picking highly popular names for their children, (even though naming experts strongly recommend against that)?

Once you are pregnant, you start reading articles and books about baby names (which contain lists of the most popular names); and you also may start reading the birth announcement section of your local newspaper. Your ears are likely to perk up when friends and relatives start talking about their new babies. And when you notice new parents pushing baby strollers or carrying babies in slings, you go over to have a closer look. If you’re lucky, you might even be invited to hold the baby. Naturally, you ask the baby’s name, and say something nice about the baby and its name.

Pretty soon you realize that your interest in anything related to babies is giving you a “good feel” for names and which ones you like. Every time you meet a cute baby and “like” the name you are adding “data” to your very own baby-name “research project”—which includes your feelings about the names of cute babies you’ve cooed over or bounced; the names of babies your friends, relatives and neighbors have just announced; and the cute celebrity babies photographed in “People” and “Us.”

At some point it may dawn on you that the short list of names you are actively considering for your baby includes half of the top-10 list published every year by the Social Security Administration (or the agency in your country that publishes official name statistics).

How can newly pregnant parents avoid picking names they may wind up regretting, when they find out how popular they are? It helps to start your name search by making a list of names you like. They could be names of famous people you admire (e.g., Lincoln and Eleanor) names of characters in books or movies you love (e.g., Scout and Starbuck); names of your favorite actors or Olympic heroes (e.g., Simone and Bolt); names common in the language you studied in high school (e.g., Natasha and Ivan); names of your favorite foods or wines (e.g., Brie and Kale); names of your favorite places to vacation (e.g., Kauai and Siena); or names of relatives you want to honor.

By picking names that have meaning for you, you won’t be sidetracked by falling-in-like with names currently used by your friends, relatives and acquaintances and by the popular names in announcement lists and the media.

Baby Names in the News

For Bruce's latest musings on names and naming check out his blog, Baby Names in the News.

100,000+ Baby Names is available in stores and online.

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