Monday, April 30, 2012

The Smartest Summer Ever

In the spring of 1998, my daughter was finishing her first year at Providence Montessori.  She loved school and didn’t want it to end.  So it occurred to me that I could try to create some lessons that would stimulate thought and inspire creativity to bridge the school year.  Several months before summer vacation, I made a list of subjects I thought a five-year old might like.  From there, I divided each subject into five separate units and researched each unit.  I wrote a short lesson plan and incorporated a “hands-on” project. 

That summer, I prepared for our first “class.”  I set out the materials for the project on the kitchen table the night before to create curiosity and anticipation.  Though I felt prepared for teaching, I was unprepared for my daughter’s reaction.  She wanted to be the teacher, too!  Our “class” consisted of her dolls, arranged shoulder to shoulder on the couch in the living room.  In our arrangement I presented the lesson, and afterward, she quizzed “the students.”  She helped demonstrate the art or science projects for the class. 
These summer classes were so successful that I continued to write more lessons and to invent more activities for five more years.  The result became my book The Smartest Summer Ever: 50 Fun-filled Lessons for Grades 2 - 5.
Inside my book, you'll find 100 colorful pages of kid-tested and teacher-approved lessons and activities for learning English, math, history, art, and more, which will provide opportunities to enrich your child's summer.  The book is a great teaching tool, whether you offer lessons on a daily basis or on the weekends.  Many activities integrate more than one skill like writing practice and spelling words.  The projects reinforce the theme of the lesson and they're fun, inexpensive, and easy to do.  For example, children will: 
                                        Perform sweet pollination experiments
                                        Cook easy and delicious international foods
                                        Design Pop-Art pictures using cookie cutters
                                        Create and play a colonial board game
                                        Go on a scavenger hunt for verbs
                                        Construct a coral reef diorama 

The Smartest Summer Ever is perfect for parents hungry to bridge learning from the school year, to encourage creativity, and to spend time and make memories with their children. For a free lesson plan and activity or to order, please leave a comment.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Pilgrimage of a Writer

The Maggie Project presents a guest blog by writer Geary Smith:

I was told that there are two great forces that drive us in life—inspiration and desperation. I think I experienced a little of both when I first started thinking about becoming a writer. I was fresh out of college when I came across an ad for becoming a successful writer. However after several weeks, the thought of becoming a successful writer had died. I realized much later that I had to make a change in my life.  I needed to take writing classes.
After encouraging advice from my instructors, I began to write again. I started with Highlights for Children Magazine based on my childhood reading. Therefore, I read and studied every Highlights Magazine that I could find, and then I began to write based on their needs and specifications.

After what seemed to be about one hundred rejections letters, I finally sold my first story entitled, “Follow Your Heart”, a re-told folktale. It was the most exciting feeling seeing my words combined with the illustrator’s colorful pictures in print for millions of children and parents to read and enjoy.

Ms. Marileta Robinson, Senior Editor for Highlights Magazine called me at home wanting to know  about the original source of the re-told folktale and how I developed the idea. It was a joy speaking with Ms. Robinson and providing her with the information for the story. In fact, Highlights wanted to send an article to my local newspaper about my story and announce when it would be published. I knew then, that I had the skills and ability to be a professional writer.
My first story not only led to a working relationship with Highlights for future stories, quizzes and activities, but it led to something I truly loved to do—speaking in schools and for local organizations.
Recently, I sold another story entitled, “Cock-A-Doodle, Whisper” to Highlights. It is based on how many times we get down on ourselves, but don’t realize how our gifts and talents benefit others. I wanted to take the idea of a rooster’s loud crows in the morning to teach children a valuable lesson about developing their gifts and talents. I feel that the story was accepted because Highlights likes to publish stories that are re-told fables or stories that teach a moral lesson. My story met the editor's needs. This simple fact applies to other magazines. Knowing your market is one of the biggest keys to becoming a successful writer. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Writing Wishes

As writers, we have the opportunity to create wonderful pieces which may be shared with others through publishing.  And yet other times, our work may never reach an audience.  We may ask:

Why hasn't my piece been published yet?
Why hasn't the editor responded to my query?
Why was my work rejected? 

The world of writing has its ups and downs, and occassionally it seems so unfair.  I'm probably not the first person to tell you that have to develop a tough skin.  But wouldn’t it be nice if writers:     

*received a decision about their submissions in a timely fashion.
*were contacted, even with a form letter, if their work was rejected.
*were given a specific reason for a rejection so that they could improve their work. 
*had the chance to revise.
And wouldn’t it be nice if editors:  
*worked together with writers in the editing process.   
*made suggestions for a revision.  
*praised a writer’s hard work.
*paid writers for their work.

These are just a few of my wishes for writers.  And sometimes, those wishes come true. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bibliography Reminders

Most of us learn how to cite sources in high school.  Yet, about 50% of the
nonfiction submissions that I receive for Stories for Children Magazine fail to format bibliographies correctly. Surprisingly, some writers use out of date sources.      In fact, one writer listed a source that had been published over 50 years ago!

Here are some rules to remember: 

*Alphabetize the sources by authors’ last names.
*Italicize book titles and the names of journals.
*Don't capitalize each letter of a word in a book title.
*Include the publishing city and the state if the city is obscure.
*Place titles of journal articles in quotes.
*Aim for five to ten current and reliable sources.
*Try to include primary sources.
*Provide dates for interviews

Don’t get lazy with the bibliography.  Submitting an incomplete or improperly formatted bibliography is unprofessional.  You win not win over an editor with a sloppy biblio. 

My favorite reference is the Chicago Manual of Style.  I refer to it often.  I would suggest that writers invest in a copy or visit the website.  It’s a wonderful source to refer to whenever you’re in doubt.

Aliya Seen says...

Great post. I'd like to bookmark your article and waiting for the next one.Making bibliography is not a easy job. You've to put all info about someone's personality. If you need help in making great bibliography then we recommend it proves beneficial for you all.

Posted by aliya seen to The Maggie Project at October 10, 2017 at 1:27 PM