Holidays

Dragon Puppet

This is a great activity for Chinese New Year or anytime of year!

What You Need: small paper bags, colored paper scraps, scissors, glue, markers, dragon stories and books

Play!
Read or tell some dragon stories to compare different kinds of dragons. Talk about what kind of dragons and dragons stories they like the best to get children ready to create their puppet.

Dragon puppet

A simple paper bag puppet is all you need for lots of pretend and imaginative tales

Puppets are made by turning the paper bag upside down and using the bottom flap as the puppet’s mouth. Have children practice this before they start so they get the idea of where a tongue, teeth, snout, and eyes might go.

Children cut out colored paper features and use markers to transform the bags into dragons.

As children create their paper bag puppets, be sure to encourage dialogue about their dragon with prompts such as:

  • What does a dragon need to look like a dragon?
  • What is your dragon’s name?
  • What is special about your dragon?
  • Does it have special powers?
  • Can your dragon fly?
  • What is the first thing your dragon is going to say?

Provide plenty of time for children to play together with their puppets. You might need to ask more questions to help children think of stories, rather than just roaring and fighting!

Write About It!

I have found these prompts helpful to get children excited to create and share dragon stories. Once they are finished, they can act these out with their puppets. Explain to the children they will write a story with their dragon as the star.

  • Where does your dragon live? In a cave… on an island… in a castle?dragon
  • Is your dragon scary or does it want to help people?
  • How do people feel about the dragon?
  • Does the dragon cause or solve a problem?
  • What are your dragon’s special powers? Does your dragon breath fire? Does it fly?
  • How does it use its powers to reach its goal?
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Categories: Fantasy and Fairy Tales, Holidays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Life of a Snowball

Let it snow! This is a great time to motivate children to write wintery stories. This one is especially fun as kids imagine themselves as a snowball. During the writing process they will naturally make connections to weather and the water cycle.

What You Need: Snow! It’s not necessary but it really helps make this writing activity come to life.

photo of snowball

My life really changed once I became a snowball…

Play! Discuss the story writing idea about the life of a snowball. Use story building questions to gather ideas. This could be fun to do outside on a snowy day. The children make a snowball for each idea they come up with. There are bound to be lots of ideas when the children return inside to write!

Let’s Write!Use these prompts to get the story rolling!
Beginning: Describe what the conditions were before the snowball. How hard was it snowing? Does the story start in a cloud? What was it like there?
When did the snow turn into a snowball? Who made it? What did it feel like? What was the new snowball feeling and thinking? What does it want to do? Does the snowball talk or make noise? What does it sound like?

Middle: Now let’s add some action! Snowballs don’t just sit there! What was the snowball used for? Was it added to other snowballs to make a snowman, sculpture, fort?
Was it thrown? Where did it land? What happened to it? Was it changed? Did someone else pick it up?
How is the snowball feeling as these things are happening? Is it enjoying it’s life? Does it want something? How will the snowball get what it wants?

End: What happens to the snowball in the end of the story? Does it become something else? Does it melt? If it melts, where does it go?

Present your stories: Take photos of the snowballs to include with your stories. Act out the snowball stories outside with real snowballs.

Categories: adventure writing, Holidays, Humor Writing, Science Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Playful Writing Book Now Available!

Playful Writing Cover image

Writing for fun and discovery!

Find 150 playful writing explorations for young children. Activities include a creative start and uses writing as a natural extension of self-expression, and playful encounters. Prompts and guiding questions keep children writing for real purposes children care about. Each activity includes Early Writer ideas for those emergent learners, as well as Ready Writer activities for those ready for more advanced and complete writing projects.

The playful writing activities are organized into 15 chapters. That include a combination of informational and fictional writing experiences. Take a look!

Playful Writing Link

Categories: adventure writing, Animals/ Nature, Early Childhood, Fantasy and Fairy Tales, Holidays, Humor Writing, Poetry, Science Writing, Talking Points, Writing Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey Talk!

These delightful puppets make great props for lots of turkey writing fun.

What You Need:
small paper lunch bag, scraps of recycled colored paper, scissors, glue

Directions:turkey puppet image

1.Turn paper bag upside down. Insert your hand to see how the flap works as a mount.
2.Cut out shapes from colored paper for eyes, beak, and wattle. Glue to the bag as shown.
3.Cut out wings and glue to each side.
4.Cut out feather shapes and glue to the back of the puppet.
Let’s Write!
Turkey Interviews: Continue reading
Categories: Animals/ Nature, Early Childhood, Holidays, Humor Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Jack Pumpkinhead to the Rescue

L. Frank Baum’s wonderful Oz books have enchanted readers young and old for over a century. One delightful character is Jack Pumpkinhead brought to life by Tip in the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904). Land of Oz cover In this activity, kids create their own Jack Pumpkinhead and magical story adventure.

There are 8 additional Oz books with Jack Pumpkinhead as a character, including #23 with a book titled with his name.

What You Need
Oz books with Jack Pumpkinhead as a character

Children's Jack Pumpkinhead examples

Jack Pumpkinheads in a row- each a unique creationGive children plenty of time to play with their characters to think up their own marvelous adventures.

Pumpkins, old clothes, and poles
OR
Cardboard scraps, paper, paper fasteners, paint, and brushes

Boy with Jack Pumpkinhead paper model

This Jack Pumpkinhead was made into a Jumping Jack!

Play!
Create a Jack Pumpkinhead character. If using a real pumpkin, create the character as you would a scarecrow using ta carved pumpkin for the head. This is great fun to construct in stages, reading the book The Marvelous Land of Oz along the way for lots of ideas.

If a real pumpkin is too diffiicult for your children to use for construction, create a paper version. I found a big sized model best and the most fun for children to use as they play and pretend Oz adventures.JumpingJack
Children create each body part separately and attach them together with paper fasteners so Jack can move in lots of positions.

For another fun option, attach the limbs to a central string in the back to turn the pumpkinhead figure into a Jumping Jack! Continue reading

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Spooky Shadow Stories for Halloween

Halloween is a perfect time to bring out the flashlights to write and perform spooky stories by flashlight.flashlight

What You Need: 

•Flashlights
•Scraps of cardstock
•Colored plastic
Play!
Using a wall, ceiling, or piece of white cardstock as a screen, hands can be moved in front of the light to make shadow animals and creatures.
Children experiment as they discover how to make their shadows get bigger, smaller, and dance in front of the light.
Shapes cut from cardboard or heavy paper can be used as characters and props to act out Halloween stories and poems. Continue reading
Categories: adventure writing, Holidays, Science Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Animal Riddle Valentines

Riddles are fun to write and create, especially animal riddles for Valentine’s Day.

What You Need: scrap paper, glue, scissors, thesaurus (print or online- not essential))

valentine deer made of hearts

A valentine dear to the heart!

Play! 1. Cut out lots of different sizes, shapes, and colors of hearts.
2. Arrange hearts into animal shapes and glue onto a white piece of paper.
3. Next, write your riddle or riddle poem (see Write About It) and place on the paper next to your Valentine animal.
4. You can also make these into clever cards. Put the riddle on the outside and open the card to find the Valentine animal inside.

Write About It! Continue reading

Categories: Animals/ Nature, Holidays, Humor Writing, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Groundhog’s Day Shadow Puppet

It that time again! Time for groundhogs to shine in the spotlight!

groundhog puppet shadow

Ta daa!!!

What You Need: cardboard scraps, scissors, flashlight or lamp

Sample of cardboard groundhog cutout

Cartoon groundhog puppets add to the fun

Play!
1. Draw an outline of a groundhog on a stiff piece of cardboard. This can be a cartoon version like the example. It is fun to have the arms, ears, and tail stick out to create more interesting shadows.
2. Cut out the animal. Use a paper punch to make holes for the eyes. Cut out the mouth if desired.
3. Tape the groundhog to a pencil (eraser side down to avoid pokes).
4. Play together to hold the flashlight and move the groundhog next to a wall or door in a darkened room in order to see the shadow.

5. Hold and move the groundhog at different angles and distances from the light to discover how the shadow grow and changes. Move the flashlight as well to see how this changes the shadow.
6. Play and pretend with the groundhog as a character. Act out the groundhog getting ready for Groundhog Day.

Write About It!
What can happen when a silly groundhog puppet see’s it shadow? Kids will come up with lots of ideas when playing with their shadow puppets. Perhaps the groundhog is afraid of its own shadow, or thinks a bigger dark groundhog is following him. Maybe the groundhog decides to come up with a plan to make sure he does or doesn’t see his shadow on the big day. These fun observations and playful encounters create great Groundhog Day stories.

Categories: Animals/ Nature, Holidays, Humor Writing, Science Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King Day reminds us all of the power of words spoken with passion and conviction. What does this have to do with playful writing? Children love to act out important roles. Setting up a podium, microphone, and tapping into their own passions encourages children to speak out for what they dream about for a better world.drawing of child giving a speech

What You Need: a podium or make one from a tall box, a real or pretend microphone (a child’s karaoke mic works great allow even the softest voices to speak out), dress-up clothes, and a speech!

Play! Watch and listen to important and passionate speeches. A perfect example is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech available from History. com at the following link: http://www.history.com/videos/martin-luther-king-jr-i-have-a-dream#martin-luther-king-jr-i-have-a-dream

Ask children to describe what makes the speech effective. What speeches are long remembered? What does the speaker say to make people take notice? What body language and voice do speakers use to get points across?

Continue reading

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Party Poppers with a Twist

Kids love to get into the New Year’s Action or any party with the opportunity for games and fun. These poppers are easy to make and fun for kids to get some party action. Filling the prize with notes, riddles, jokes, fortunes, and quotes adds playful writing into the fun.

What You Need: Recycled cardboard tubes (paper towels, toilet paper, or wrapping paper tubes work great!) cut into 4-6 inch lengths, tape, scraps of wrapping or tissue paper, scissors, strips of colorful paper or cardboard for surprise writing

photo of supplies: paper, tubes, scissors, tape, ribbon, and cardboard strips

Recycle holiday tubes, wrappings, and ribbons to make these fun party poppers

Play and Write! Show children samples of party poppers or make one ahead of time as a model so they have the idea of how they work.

1. Children write favorite riddles, jokes, make-up fortunes, sayings, pictures, and look up quotes to write on the colored strips of paper. Fold the strips accordion style.
2. Cut the cardboard tubes in half.
3. Cut wrapping paper 3 inches longer than the tubes. Decorate the paper with drawings and writing.

Continue reading

Categories: Holidays, Humor Writing, Writing Games | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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