Monthly Archives: June 2012

Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 1

Since our studio doesn’t give homeschool music classes through the summer, I joined a new co-op to keep my son busy these last three months. I’ve always wanted to teach a creative writing class, and the co-op members graciously allowed me to give it a whirl. I tried to create activities that would work across all age groups, and I left it to the parents to decide how much actual writing their children would be doing. (For instance, I only made my second-grader write three sentences per assignment, but some of the older children wrote much more.) Anyway, I think this lesson plan would work for any age, or any size group. Let me know how it goes if you try any of the activities. I know that we had a blast, but I would love your feedback as well!

Lesson 1

The first activity of the day should always be easy and short – an icebreaker to get their minds to switch into writing mode without putting a lot of pressure on them.

Activity #1

Take a bunch of random pictures (internet, magazines, photos) to class. Try to vary the content type. Have the class members each choose a picture that appeals to them or kindles an idea in their minds.

After choosing a picture, have them write a few sentences based on something that it suggests to them.

Note #1

To keep the pressure low, I remind them that we won’t be reading this assignment out loud. I only ever read assigned homework aloud, never anything they’ve written on the spot, unless they volunteer. And I never announce the authors unless they want to take credit for their work.

Note #2

Instruct the students to write as it comes into their heads, even if they think it is poorly worded. They can always edit later; the hard part for most people is getting words on paper. When they are finished writing, they can reread it with a particular focus on one editing issue at a time. For instance, read through the piece once checking for punctuation errors, then reread again with a focus on spelling errors, etc. Having a process helps keep them from sitting and staring at their papers, wondering where to start (in both the writing and editing stages).

Activity #2

Take a bunch of random objects from around your house to class. The reason they should use objects (or artifacts) to jump-start their writing is to give them ideas that they wouldn’t come up with on their own.

As a class, talk about some of the ideas that are triggered by pictures and objects. Write them on the chalkboard.

You can also get ideas from memories that are triggered by scents, feelings that you associate with certain types of music, etc. (I also took in some spices, candles, and colognes for this class.)

As a class, talk about some of the memories that are triggered by certain scents or feelings that are associated with music.

If you have time, have the class write for a few minutes, basing their stories on an object that they choose.

Homework Assignment #1

Choose an object, picture, scent, or any combination, and write a story based on your ideas. For this assignment, individual students can choose whatever they want and write about whatever they want. They may choose from what you brought to class or from their own homes.

Homework Assignment #2

As a class, choose one more topic to write about. For this assignment, all students will write a story based on the same object, picture, etc. The purpose of this exercise is to see how diverse the stories can be even while triggered by the same thing. For instance, the class may choose an ink pen or a picture of the Amazon. Everyone writes something that includes the element in their piece. Read aloud next week, and experience the variety!

Challenge

Choose more than one element on which to base a story. If the above assignment included both the ink pen and the picture of the Amazon, the students would have to be more creative in their creation of the story. The more dissimilar the elements, the more creative they will have to be.

For Fun

Have each student bring an object to class from their own rooms. In class, they can switch objects with each other and write a few sentences based on someone else’s belonging. This would be a great follow-up activity for your next class.

If you would prefer to download Lesson 1 as a Word file, here it is: Multi Sensory Creative Writing Lesson 1

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Five Miles South of Peculiar

Sunday, I finished reading Five Miles South of Peculiar, by Angela Hunt. The story focused on three middle-aged sisters, their relationships with each other, and the changes that they all face when life steers them in new directions. Fear, betrayal, and anger are countered with love and forgiveness in this heart-warming tale that centers on the difficulties of living in a small town, where every woman’s history is well-known, and her decisions and mistakes can haunt her for the rest of her life.

This was a nice read. While I was never bored, it did seem to take me a while to get “into” the story. I think it was mostly due to the fact that the story is best suited for a middle-aged audience. The main characters are believable and well-developed, and I grew to care for them throughout the course of the book. A couple of times, I shed a few tears out of the empathy that I felt, as their hearts were torn, and then healed. This is a fantastic book for teaching all of us about forgiveness – a trait that’s becoming more rare as the years go by. Overall, this book really left me with a sense of hope, and an overall feeling that “life begins at fifty.”

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.

How to Cope with a Depressed Spouse, part 1

What you can do for yourself

You may love your spouse with every fiber of your being – or you may be to the point where you can’t stand the sight of him or her. On some days, you may even experience both of these emotions simultaneously. How can you live from day to day when someone else is affecting your happiness-factor?

The short answer: you can’t.

That is, you can’t allow someone else to affect your happiness-factor.

So what can you do for yourself?

Things that won’t work:

Society tells us to focus on ourselves, since we’re the only sure thing that we have. So maybe you’ve tried confiding in friends, or perhaps you’ve immersed yourself in a hobby. Others read, meditate, or otherwise seek out “me”-time. But why is it that none of these things seem to help alleviate stress?

In extreme situations, people often turn to drugs or alcohol, or even find themselves nursing dangerously intimate relationships with the opposite sex. Those are the sorts of things that will only serve to make their situations even worse. And they certainly aren’t being helpful to their spouses.

The number one thing you can do for yourself

Develop a relationship with our Creator. You know, the One who saw fit to place you on this earth in the first place. Search Him out, seek to understand His will, and talk to him daily. Tell Him how you really feel – don’t use fancy words or try speaking in old English; God understands what the word “you” means, so you can skip the “thees” and “thous.” Ask Him questions, and listen for an answer. You’ll be amazed at how often the answer seems to reveal itself upon asking. Base your happiness on the fact that you’re connected to the most loving, most powerful Being in the universe, and also upon the fact that you’ll get to leave all of this trouble behind when we finally reach eternity.

If you’re not a believer

At least do your research, and see what you find. It’s kind of silly to be an unbeliever just for the sake of being one. The same thing goes for believers. Know what you believe, but more importantly, know why you believe it. Beg God to reveal Himself to you, if He really exists – and He will.

I know He will because that’s what He did for me. But He didn’t hit me all at once with a “sign:” I just kept asking Him to help me find Him, to help me know which religion was the true one, and eventually, because I was talking to Him so much, I just sort of got to know Him. He speaks back to us through His Word, and in other small ways. He’s impossible to miss, if you’re truly looking.

You’ve tried everything else

Why not try Jesus? What have you got to lose?

A prompt disguised as volunteering…

Explore ways to volunteer in your area; then choose an opportunity, and spend an afternoon helping out somewhere. Not only does it encourage a helpful attitude, and help you grow into a better citizen, but it may very well spark a story idea or two. How? Well, you’ll be working with new people, many of whom will show up to help for entirely different reasons – community service, involvement in an organization, a former recipient of the service being provided, etc. They all have a story to tell. And if you are lucky enough to meet the people you are helping out, even better! On top of all that, you’ll be dropped into the middle of new scenery, new dynamic relationships, and new ways of thinking. Give it a try – even if no stories are forthcoming, you’ll be glad you did!

Post from the Past: Sanctuary

The purpose of this post is to collect ideas for making things special at home every evening. How do you make each day different? How do you make your home a sanctuary for your husband? I’ve thought of a couple of little things myself, but please add to the list if you can!

  1. Be dressed in a feminine manner when he walks through the door.
  2. Smell nice.
  3. Fix your hair.
  4. Make a menu for fun, highlighting the evening’s meal. (Jesse loves this!)
  5. Straighten the house.
  6. Make small changes to your home to keep things fresh, such as:
  7. Light a candle.
  8. Play soft music.
  9. Rearrange a couple of things to make the house look slightly different (and for some strange reason, this also adds to the perception of a clean house).

Any more ideas would be greatly appreciated!

A Prompt Disguised as Reading…

Research something you know absolutely nothing about. Pick up a magazine that you would never have considered buying, and flip through it for inspiration.

I always thought it would be cool to build a science fiction story off of a Popular Science article, for instance. I also know nothing about horses. I wonder what kind of inspiration I could glean from  Equestrian? Or a mag about outdoor survival? Visit your local library, and see where your imagination takes you!

Treasures of Healthy Living

Tuesday I finished Treasures of Healthy Living, written by Annette Reeder and Dr. Richard Couey, and I am so pleased to review it for you. When I received this book, I expected it to tell me all about healthy foods and how to improve my diet. Well, it did all of those things, but it is so much more than a book about food; it is a manual for living a well-balanced, all-‘round godly lifestyle.

Even though the book contains a twelve-week course intended for study groups, I read it in just a few days. Because I am already trying to eat better and exercise, the faster pace didn’t overwhelm me. Instead, I made notes to myself for later and implemented several changes immediately, such as: excluding unclean meats from my diet, making a conscious effort to purchase healthier animal products, laying down a plan for fasting, implementing scripture memory into my exercise routine, purchasing plants for home and office, taking greater care in food preparation and storage, becoming aware of the ingredients in topical lotions, cosmetics, etc, and intentionally increasing the happiness factor in my relationships. From this list, I don’t want you to get the idea that the book doesn’t cover food in-depth. It does! In fact, the first half contains information and ideas for eating food in the way it was designed to be eaten.

– I only had two issues with the book. First: references. I wish there had been more (mostly because I’m a newbie, and although many of the statements made in the text may be common knowledge for those who have been studying healthy living for a while, I would prefer to see more proof). I also would have liked for those references to be listed at the bottom of each page, instead of at the end of the book. Secondly, I wish that all of the scriptures had been printed in-full within the text. One non-issue: I expected the book to have recipes in it, but I discovered that it is basically a text-book/study-guide, and that recipes are included in a companion book that I will be ordering very soon. This was not an issue because the book was already long enough, and I am more than happy to order a separate recipe book, but I just thought I would throw that out there for those of you who may have had the same expectations.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.