I would love to hear your thoughts on my take of the classic Three Billy Goats Gruff.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my take of the classic Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Hello everyone – happy Monday! I wanted to share my latest poem with you.
Yes, I Can! was inspired by a lot of self-defeating comments I’ve come to hear over the last 18 years teaching. Truthfully, if I had a nickel every time I heard a student say I can’t do it, I’d be off on a yacht somewhere right now (nah, maybe not – I get sea sick). Joking aside, the reality is that none of us are perfect. None of us can do everything. And sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we still don’t master various things – and that’s okay, at least we tried.
It’s when students give up before they even try that it’s NOT OKAY. That’s the point I’ve been trying to make with my students last week. Yes, some things are hard. Some tasks will challenge us. But the attitude we have toward challenges is what determines the outcome. It is this mindset, over time, that will shape and condition our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. Our mindset consists of our thoughts and attitudes toward ourselves and the world around us. These beliefs shape how we perceive and handle everyday situations. Do we look at challenges as opportunities to grow or do we fall prey to self-defeating thoughts?
Yes, I Can! is a poem I wrote that celebrates what children can do, as well as embraces that which they cannot, yet, do. Teaching children to have a “Growth Mindset” is crucial in helping them become better learners. After all, in order to succeed at anything, we must persist and push ourselves forward, despite the challenges. Positive self-talk is what helps children persevere and not give up. Yes, I Can! encourages children to adopt positive self-talk. Instead of focusing on ‘I can’t do it!’, it re-frames their thinking, ‘I can’t do it, yet!’
Along with the poem, I created a follow-up worksheet (rehearsing high-frequency word can) and a mini-book that is co-authored with me (my students were thrilled with the idea). It invites students to fill in a missing high-frequency word, as well as add a skill or task they can complete successfully, as well another skill they aspire to learn, reminding them that their mindset is the only thing in the way.
In all the excitement to teach children that our mindset is not a fixed state, I created a visual anchor for the classroom. Feel free to download a copy for your personal use by clicking on the image below.
Wishing you a fabulous week ahead!
Hello everyone! I was delighted to be featured in
Story Monsters Literary Magazine this past week.
I’d like to share my interview with you.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Israel and moved to Toronto when I was 11 years old. My family had just emigrated from Russia when I was born. I grew up weaved into a mix of cultures which taught me to have an appreciation for differences. But I can honestly say, having lived in Canada most of my life, I feel very much Canadian at heart.
What were some of your favorite authors and books?
I loved (and still enjoy) Shel Silverstein’s color-outside-the-lines style of poems and stories. One of my absolute favourite books by him is The Giving Tree. Also, I’ve always enjoyed fairy tales (but didn’t we all?). Charlotte’s Web, The Babysitter’s Club series and The Outsiders were some of my other favourites when I was growing up.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 years old. At some point that changed to wanting to become an interior designer, a lawyer, and even a psychologist. I finally opted for my first love and chose a career in teaching.
Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer.
Some years into my teaching career, I began writing poems and stories for my students. I guess you can say that writing became a calling after I began to see how important storytelling was as an educational tool. But then, I also learned that books added a fun element as well. I’m delighted that I had a built-in audience before I even published my first book!
How did you get started writing?
I wrote quite a bit as a teenager (mostly poetry) but found an audience for my writing in the classroom, writing mainly to support areas of study at school. I eventually discovered a terrific outlet to share my work with others—on my blog (wordsonalimb.com) and associated social media. This allowed me to create a digital library of some of my classroom content. In fact, several years ago, I wrote a poem to teach students about the power of words and their impact. It began to receive positive feedback from students, parents, colleagues, and online subscribers. It soon took a life of its own as an animation and eventually as my first a picture book, Words. This was the breakthrough that marked the beginning of my writing journey.
Why do you write books?
I love taking an idea and molding it to life with words and images. I also love being able to convey important messages through literature. These notions shine through in my book Freshly Baked Pie. It is a simple story, based on a poem that I wrote, that, through effective illustrations and whimsical writing, both gently teaches a lesson and entertains readers.
What do you like best about writing?
I love the creativity and flexibility that writing offers. Anything and everything can exist in our imagination. Real life may have boundaries, but stories, not so much. I revel in seeing a concept, that exists only as a mental sketch, come alive through words and images. I also appreciate the way an author can arrange letters, words, and sentences into a composition that evokes strong emotions—joy, sadness, surprise, wonder or inspiration. I also feel that picture books give me the freedom to take a lyrical form of writing, like poetry, and transform it into a story that can be enjoyed at bedtime. There is something unique about being able to create art from a simple idea.
What do you find the most challenging about writing?
Writing requires commitment, dedication, and most of all, discipline in order to take it beyond a hobby. So I have learned to carve out time from my busy schedule to meet self-imposed deadlines. Sometimes I find that ideas flow through my head faster than I have time to devote to them, and that can be quite frustrating.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think a good story has a redeemable value, something the reader can take away, all the while being entertained. Also, a good story has an element that the reader can relate to, whether it be a character or an event. That connection between literature and real life experiences make the story more meaningful to the reader.
Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from working with kids,
my students, and my children. Sometimes an idea strikes amid a busy, noisy day. Other times a vision sneaks up in quiet moments of contemplation. My book, Lucky Me, stemmed from a theme we discussed in school. It was around the time of Thanksgiving and we had a great conversation about gratitude and things we felt blessed to have in our lives. This inspired me to write a poem for my class, and eventually I wanted to share this message of gratitude with a wider audience. Regardless of where in the world we each came from, and what stories we each had to tell, we had one thing in common—a sense of gratitude. This element inspired me to incorporate thank you in many languages. Several arduous months later, we published a truly global and memorable, sweet picture book. It was a hop, skip, and a jump from conversation to message-filled pages.
Tell us about your latest book/project.
My most recent title, The Three Witty Goats Gruff is a modern adaptation of the fairy tale, Three Billy Goats Gruff. Once again, the idea came from a simple math lesson about measurement and patterning. My students loved learning math through this story of the three goats! The math unit became my best-selling teacher resource package on a website I love to contribute to, called Teachers Pay Teachers. Once again, I felt compelled to transform this simple lesson into a book that can both teach and entertain kids all over the world. In my remake of the story, I proposed an alternative way for the goats to solve their dilemma—rather than using force to subdue their bully, they use their wit to outmaneuver the greedy old troll. As well, I incorporated a female goat as the heroine of the story as girls are seldom depicted as the hero, and I felt it was time to turn the tables! The book also contains plenty of fun learning opportunities for young children. I am so pleased to have completed and published this title.
What’s next for you?
I am currently working on a compilation book that features many of my poems and short stories that I composed throughout my writing and teaching career. Obviously not all of them can make it into a full picture book! But I wanted to share them in the shorter format just the same. I feel this book will be a landmark piece on a personal and professional level. Sometimes writers can feel vulnerable when they compile an anthology of personal thoughts in words. For me, it is especially the case since I will be sharing work that spans from my early years as a writer to some of my latest poems and short stories. We are currently deciding on the illustrations and book design, but it won’t be long! I am also working on converting my published books into a digital format so parents all over can swipe through my stories on their tablets before bedtime.
Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books?
I want your readers to know that, like many authors, my books are very personal to me, creations that I have nursed from their infancy until they are shared with the world. Readers will find that they can enjoy my stories on many levels: as literal stories, symbolic allegories, educational tools, and of course, bedtime treats.
Lora’s author page on Amazon.
Thank you Story Monsters for the time in the spotlight!
Check out Story Monsters online Magazine HERE
The place to keep up with the latest news, interviews, and happenings.
Three hungry goats need to cross a bridge to get to a luscious field of green grass. But a greedy old troll stands in their way and threatens to devour anything that sets foot on its path. So how can the goats safely cross the bridge?
They must get clever, of course!
The Three Witty Goats Gruff preserves the fun and charm of the beloved original, Three Billy Goats Gruff, while adding a new spin to this cautionary tale. With plenty of repetition and exciting dialogue, young readers are sure to join in on the adventure. Perfect for shared reading at home or in the classroom.
The original tale of Three Billy Goats Gruff came to us from Norway where it was first published by Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Engebretsen Moe in the early 1840’s. Prior to television and radio, oral storytelling was the most effective way to entertain people. Asbjornsen and Moe’s collection of folk tales brought many of these stories into a written form still shared today.
Three Billy Goats Gruff is a tale about three famished billy goats (male goats) who desperately want to get to a fresh field of grass that grows
on the other side of a bridge. In most incarnations of the story, the three goats are brothers – youngest to eldest. In others, they are youngster, father and grandfather (Gruff is used as their family name).
As the story goes, under the bridge lives a greedy troll that threatens to eat anything that dares cross it. The first and second billy goats manage to outwit the troll and cross the bridge by convincing him to wait for their bigger brother, a classic eat-me-when-I’m-fatter folk tale plotline. The eldest goat eventually knocks the wicked troll off the bridge with his mighty horns. The troll gets carried away by the stream and alas, the goats live happily ever after.
Since its initial publication, there have been many different versions of this folk tale. When people retell a story, they sometimes make changes to bring it up to date or make it their own. In my adaptation I incorporated a female goat (nanny). Although female goats have been used in previous editions of this tale, they have seldom, if ever, been featured as the heroine in the story. As well, I proposed an alternative way for the goats to solve their dilemma – instead of using force to subdue their bully, they use their wit to outmaneuver the greedy old troll.
From an educational perspective, my book strives to enrich young readers in the area of literacy (vocabulary-building) and mathematics (concepts of patterning, number sense and measurement), as well as encourages discussions about various themes, including overcoming obstacles, problem-solving, teamwork, unity, courage, greed and bullying.
I hope you enjoy reading The Three Witty Goats Gruff as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Feel free to share your comments and thoughts below.
Summer is upon us at last! If you are anything like me, you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible, walking, cycling, swimming, enjoying time with family and friends on patios, having barbecues, exploring amusement parks (I can go on and on). With all that summer fun comes the need for sun safety as well. I was delighted when blogger, social worker and stay-at-home dad, Sean Morris, contacted me and wanted to share some of his tips on planning fun and safe family activities. Thank you Sean for a very informative article.
As a stay-at-home dad, I love the summer because it means family vacations, warm nights catching fireflies, day trips to the amusement park, and sleep-away camps where my kids will make lifelong memories. But I also know that summer means traveling in a cramped, noisy car for long periods of time, mosquitoes and other pests (not to mention the threat of disease), and standing in line for roller coasters in the hot sun, and that uneasy feeling every parent gets when their child leaves the nest. Summer comes with its share of dangers. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to prepare your family and stay safe.
Four Fun, Safe Activities for Summer Break
Summer is the time when children are out of school and ready to play. But the excitement of a long break with no responsibilities can often get the better of them, and rigorous activities may lead to scraped knees, bruises, or even something more serious. The best way to ensure your kids don’t invent their own, potentially dangerous game is to come up with specific activities targeted to their interests. Here are a few things you might suggest to keep your kids entertained and safe.
Chalk Art: Beautify Your Driveway
Chalk art is a low energy activity that can prevent injuries resulting from wild behavior. The color is nontoxic and is perfectly acceptable to get on the skin. If possible, find a shaded patch of sidewalk or driveway for your kids to decorate. Though shade can help prevent sunburn, it is still important that you apply sunscreen every two hours.
Also, keep in mind that your kids are likely too distracted by their chalk to think about re-hydration. Prompt your kids to drink water every half hour. Avoid sugared beverages as they are far less healthy and likely less hydrating.
Make Your Own Art Supplies
Creating your own art supplies both entertains your kids and guarantees the safety of the materials they are using. You can even make a homemade sidewalk chalk paint. Some other fun, easy-clean art mediums you can make in your own kitchen are bathtub puffy paint and water color paint.
A recipe for water color paint, a kid-sized easel, and some cheap brushes can make for a wonderful backyard activity. The homemade, biodegradable paint allows you to take your kids outside to enjoy the fresh air and channel their inner Da Vinci.
Freeze Your Own Healthy Popsicles
Frozen, tasty treats are part of what makes summer, summer. Unfortunately, most of those treats are loaded with unhealthy ingredients and are chock full of sugar. Instead of chasing down the ice cream truck, spend some time in the kitchen and make your own healthy and delicious treats.
With the right equipment, making homemade popsicles is easier than you think, while a homemade smoothie may be just what your child needs to replenish during a break from playing. Letting your kids create their own summer treats is a fun way to get them inside and out of the sun.
Consider making cherry juice popsicles for the end of the day, which can help your kids sleep better at night. Often, it is still hot by the time your kids should be in bed, and the last thing they want to do is curl up under a blanket. A cool, healthy popsicle that is low in sugar might be a great way to end a long, hot day of playing and cool your kids down enough for sleep. Cherry juice itself contains melatonin, the hormone your brain produces for sleep.
For some kids, nothing is more exciting than taking care of a plant and watching it grow, bloom, and maybe produce food. Even if you only have a pot sitting in your window sill, taking your kids out to pick out their own flower seeds and a small, inexpensive bag of soil can be the start of a summer-long activity.
Not only will planting the seeds be exciting for your kids but providing them something to water every day can maintain a sense of responsibility. If you have access to a garden, tending to all the plants with your children can become a long, daily activity that might even result in healthy foods for your family.
Though summer is not necessarily fraught with risk, minor injuries, sunburns, dehydration, poor nutrition, and lack of sleep are all very real and common problems kids can experience in the summer. By building your activities around avoiding these unnecessary injuries or health issues, your kids will be able to enjoy summer to the fullest.
Let your kids get creative, help them make healthy snacks, and maybe spend a dollar or two on some flower seeds to brighten your window. Summer is supposed to be enjoyable. Keeping your kids safe does not mean they shouldn’t get to have fun.
Sean Morris became a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get to spend more time with his kids. He enjoys sharing his experiences via LearnFit.org and hopes writing for the site will help him provide other parents with tips and advice on juggling life, career, and family.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This Father’s Day, we want to thank our Dads and all the father-figures in our lives – grandpas, step-dads, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends….whoever your hero happens to be – Words on a Limb would like to wish you a Happy Father’s Day!
defaultJoin me at Chapters Brampton on Sunday, April 24 from 11:00 to 1:00. I’ll be reading from my picture book WORDS and then hang around for fun activities and book signing. Hope to see you there!
Nothing fills the classroom with more excitement and cheer – and gives you instant celebrity status (the coolest teacher ever) faster than the declaration of Game Time!
While students see this is as a well deserved break from all their hard work, what they don’t suspect is that it’s actually a way to consolidate their learning, albeit outside the typically structured setting (but they don’t need to know that). Playing cards reinforces important math skills (number sense; number recognition, counting, adding, subtracting), social skills (taking turns, sharing, sportsmanship) and builds on children’s strategic thinking and planning. As a teacher, of course, observing my students play is the perfect opportunity to also assess their strengths and weaknesses in these areas and plan future lessons based on their needs.
So go ahead – roll up your sleeves, gather eager players, hand out the cards and let the games begin!
A few notes:
CARD GAMES FOR THE CLASSROOM
Give Me Ten
Place all the cards facing down in the centre of the table. Each player picks up 4 cards and holds them up, not revealing their cards to the other players. Four additional cards are drawn and placed in the middle as the ‘bank’ reserve. The first player tries to match one of their cards with one from the bank to add up to 10. For example, if a player holds a 6 and the bank has a 4, they collect the card and place it aside as a ten-point. They can also add up to 10 by picking up various other combinations (i.e., 6, 2, 2 or 5, 1, 4) and by using as many of their cards as possible in one turn. The aim is to make as many sets of 10 as possible. If/when the bank is ‘empty’ the current player must put down any random card from their hand and the next player continues. With each round, players continue to pick up 4 cards and aim sets of 10. A king can only pick up a king, a queen only a queen, a jack can pick up all the number cards. When no cards remain, the player with the most sets of 10 wins the game. As an alternative, instead of adding to 10, choose another number (i.e., 11, 12).
Each player picks up 4 cards from the deck and place them face up. Players rearrange their cards and try to create number pairs that add up to 100, or else as close as possible. For example, the cards 9, 1, 4, 5, can be arranged to create two larger numbers: 51 and 49. When added together 51 and 49 equal 100. When everyone’s ready, they should share their final numbers. Whoever is closest to 100 receives a point. Play for 10 rounds. The player with the most points at the end of the final round wins.
Spread the cards face down on a table in a random pattern or in a grid. Players take turns turning over two cards while all the players can see them. If they are not a matching pair, they turn them back over. The next player turns over two cards. If they are a matching pair, that player removes them from the table and keeps them, and then has another turn. When all cards have been removed from the table, each player counts up the number of cards they have collected. The player with the most matching cards wins the game. This is a great game to enhance memory and concentration skills.
Divide all the cards equally among the players. Players may organize their cards without showing them to the others. The first player places a card face down in the centre of the table saying ace. The next player must place down a card higher up in value (i.e., number 2). The following player discards threes, and so on. Players announce their cards as they lay them. After kings have been played, aces start again. Players can discard up to four cards at a time. Players don’t have to play the cards they announce – they can be bluffing. After each turn, any player can challenge the last player (if they believe they are lying) by saying You’re bluffing! When this happens, the challenger can look at the discarded cards. If they match what the person who played them said, the challenger picks up all cards in the discard pile and adds them to his personal pile. If the cards are not what the person said they were, the player who discarded them must pick up the entire discard pile. The player to lay down his entire hand of cards first will win the game.
Divide all the cards equally among the players. Cards facing down, each player turns over a card from their ‘bank’ and puts it down in the centre. When all of the players had a chance to put down a card, the player with the highest ranking card takes them all and places them aside. With each round, players continue to place down cards from their ‘bank’, until no cards remain. The player with the most cards at the end wins the game. As an alternative, the player that can make the most sets of ten wins the game (i.e., 5, 2 and 3 is one set of 10; 9 and 1 is another, a king and a king is a ten, etc.)
Each player is dealt five cards. The rest of the deck goes facedown in a pile, with the top card turned up beside it. This is the discard pile. The player to the left of the dealer discards a card from his hand that matches either the number or suit of the top card in the discard pile. For example, if the card is a five of hearts, he could play any heart or any five. If he does not have a matching card, he continues picking up cards from the deck until he gets one that is playable. Eights are wild and can be put down on any suit. For example, an eight could be played to match a heart. The next player must match their card to the number or suit that the eight was meant to cover. Play continues with players matching the card at the top of the discard pile. The first player to use up all his cards wins. If the deck runs out before the game is over, the discard pile can be used.
To download a free copy of Card Games for the Classroom for your personal use in the classroom, click on the image below.