Posts Tagged ‘creative writing prompts’

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Conquering Worries

March 20, 2013
What's under the magic hat today? Tricks to help kids conquer worries.

What’s under the magic hat today? Tricks to help kids conquer worries.

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas.

Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S HELP CHILDREN (AND OURSELVES) CONQUER WORRIES!

In the school where I’m teaching this week, I’ve already seen sights that have brought me face to face once again with the reality that many children come to school burdened with all kinds of worries. Have you seen this too?

My experience tells me that kids’ carrying un – or -under-addressed worries in their minds and hearts are less able to stay focused on learning in school.

Enter another Attentionology trick…one specifically designed to catch kids’ attention with helpful steps that they can take to conquer their worries.

Oh yes…and teaching children how to manage worrisome feelings helps teachers as well…helps any adults that care for kids to manage our own worrisome feelings. Trust me; I know; I’m a working mother/teacher.

Remember this…Teaching is a great way to learn!

Let’s call the Attentionology trick “Size It Up!.”

Even proud lions sometimes feel worried.

Even proud lions sometimes feel worried.

If you like it, share it with your class.

Use my writing (see below) with a reminder to your class that even the proudest lion, like the one in my blog pic here, sometimes feels worried. (Post a picture of a lion in your classroom to help kids visualize this concept.)


Call it a problem; call it a challenge; call it whatever you want; when you have something difficult to deal with, it can seem totally overwhelming!

All kinds of unpleasant images may come to mind. You may picture yourself being eaten by a lion or swallowed down a drain. Maybe you imagine that you’re a mouse cowering at the foot of an elephant or a traveler stooped over with a too-heavy backpack as you gaze up a mountain that appears way to high to climb.

Wait a minute! Maybe if you calm down and size up the problem, you’ll see that after all, it’s one that you can solve! Then you can picture yourself in the winner’s circle!

Let’s get started with the following steps:

Step 1 – Size up the problem.

Okay, what’s the deal? Ask and answer the following questions: Is your problem really as big as if first seemed? Why is it a problem? Is the problem something that you can fix all by yourself or do you need help?

Step 2 – Break up your problem into pieces.

Problems are like puzzles. When your problem seems too big to fix in one fell swoop, break it up into pieces that you can work on one at a time. After you fix all of the pieces, the puzzle will come together.

Step 3 – Set goals.

When you have a problem to deal with, it’s helpful to set goals that you can reach. Depending on the size of the problem, you may need short-term and long-term goals. List some fairly quick steps you can take to get to a goal. Build confidence as your problem shrinks in size.

Step 4 – Reward yourself.

Give yourself a pat on the back each time you take a step toward solving your problem and each time you reach a goal. If adults are helping you deal with your problem, talk with them about other rewards that may spur you toward the finish line. Picture yourself in the winner’s circle!

Step 5 – Drop the negative attitude from the get-go.

A negative attitude blocks solutions. Surround yourself with positive people. Find a can-do attitude and keep it!

There’s an old-timey song about “smilers never losing and frowners never winning.” Life isn’t nearly that simple in today’s world – for children or adults – but positive “vibes” are still a powerful force for conquering worries.

We speed through our days together, don’t you think. The relentless pace and the escalation of change can result in uncertainty and worry that is sometimes left un-articulated in the rush of our lives.

That’s why teachers are well-advised to be on the lookout for worried children in school. Simple steps, like the ones outlined above, can pave the way to conquering focus-blockers, helping kids learn more and feel better about themselves and the world around them.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara The Lovable Poet


The Magic Hat – Mid – Week Focus – Writing Prompts

September 26, 2012

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid – Week Focus!

Mid – Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S HELP KIDS WANT TO WRITE BY OFFERING INSPIRING WRITING PROMPTS.

What’s under the magic hat today?

What’s under the Magic Hat today? A shower full of poetry  writing fun.

Background: I was talking last week with a woman named Zinaida (Zeen-eye-da); she was born and raised in the Ukraine.

Zinaida told me that her daughter’s been having trouble with school writing assignments. As we talked about creating home-based writing prompts to help the girl get started, Zinaida’s face lit up when she said that the coolest prompt for her daughter is a hot one…the shower!

Just like magic…a shower of new attentionology tricks presented themselves…here’s one:

MAKE A SPLASH WITH YOUR WRITING – Share this trick with parents in your next school update. Water inspires the muse in all of us. Research supports this assertion. Don’t know why, but I know it to be true in my own writing experience. Encourage parents to try this trick at home with students in grades 2 – 5. Make a game of it. Here’s how to play:

1. Tell your child that you’re setting aside a time (maybe 40 minutes) for a shower or bath that evening and a game called Make a Splash with Writing!

2. Suggest that your child let her/his mind wander to a favorite place with water; the beach, a lake, river, pond. Encourage your child to picture time there using all five senses (and get scrubbed up, too!)

3. Immediately after your child has dried off and slipped into pajamas, meet up at a table with notebook paper, a sharpened pencil, and if possible, a new Splash Writing Folder decorated with a water theme, like dolphins splashing in the ocean, for example.

4. Help your child get started writing a poem about water. Prompt him/her by asking what he/she saw, heard, smelled, touched, and if relevant, tasted (think marshmallows toasted over a campfire by the lake).

5. Remind your child (and yourself) that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, but certainly can if rhyming words come easily to mind.

6. Most of all, enjoy the Make a Splash with Writing game together. Your child will begin to associate writing with fun. This is key to success!

As you know, a lot of parents WANT to help their children succeed with core skills, including writing, but simply don’t know HOW TO HELP. Offering the attentionology trick outlined above gives parents a blueprint  for a special kind of homework time.

Will this trick work in school? Absolutely, with some revisions. Obviously you can’t have kids taking showers. But, you CAN IMMERSE

Water worlds inspire the poetry muse in all of us!

THE CLASS IN A WATERY WORLD as an introduction to poetry writing about water by reading a few short poems about water from a book with illustrations, like you see in my blog pic here, and by passing around shells like the one shown with the book. Then you can choose to:

1) show a video about the ocean or another water environment (makes for a good science-writing connection).

2) play a soundtrack that features water, like a recording of ocean waves splashing on the beach.

3) invite your students to use blue, green, (water colors) markers or crayons to quickly draw pictures of water on white paper, enabling them to “see” water.

4) instruct the kids to write poems about their pictures.

Over the years, I’ve heard many teachers, parents and students complain about end-of-grade writing tests that start with boring or unclear writing prompts. What’s been your experience? Please send a comment and let me know. Send your ideas for attention-getting writing prompts, too. I’m saving others that I have for upcoming blogs.

Stop by next Wednesday for more Mid-Week Focus. On Monday Attentionology will be back with more magic. Meanwhile, The Attentionology Traveler is traveling on.

All the best,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet