Small Business Saturday 2010


First there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. This year, November 27th is the first ever Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday is a national movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the U.S.

More than a dozen advocacy, public and private organizations have already joined American Express OPEN, the company’s small business unit, in declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday.


Would you like to make a positive impact on small businesses that supply your community and your special needs (such as homeschooling)? Small Business Saturday is a great way for you to support local, grass-roots, entrepreneurial, and mom-and-pop companies. Americans love “big box” stores, but it’s important to support small businesses. We can’t survive without you!

Why Support Small Businesses?

  1. Small businesses are our nation’s economic heart and soul. Supporting us keeps us alive and thriving.
  2. In this “big box” world, it’s refreshing to patronize one-of-a-kind businesses and small companies with character.
  3. Small businesses such as Writeshop are often birthed out of a need. Entrepreneurship allows us to be innovative, inventive, and creative.
  4. Small businesses develop and choose products based on the needs of their niche customers, thus providing you with a wide array of product choices.

Save 20% at

To learn more, visit Small Business Saturday on Facebook. I also hope you’ll join me in supporting small businesses. To encourage your support, here’s a discount coupon to use in the WriteShop store.

Use coupon code 20SBS at checkout to receive 20% off your purchase on Saturday, November 27 at

Grammar lesson, Humphrey Bogart style

A rugged leading man gets a grammar lesson from his English-teacher leading lady. The 1940s flair adds a whole lot of fun!

Oh, and make sure to pay close attention to the credits. I missed this extra bit of subtle humor the first time through.

English is confusing

English is confusing. Writing mistakes can distract from the message you or your kids want to communicate.

Unless I’m typing in my sleep, I’ll probably never confuse its with it’s or your with you’re. I’m pretty handy with a hyphen, and I’m confident that I’m not prone to apostrophe catastrophes.

But I’m the first to admit that I don’t know all the rules—and I have to look up an awful lot of them.

English is confusing.

Sometimes I second-guess myself. Is it “all together” or “altogether”? Should that be “lie” or “lay”? And at such times, I’m thankful for grammar resources that answer my questions or quell my doubts.

Today, I thought it would be fun to look at some common usage errors. You may identify yourself or your children as guilty of one or more of these. If so, it’s time to learn a few new rules!

Between you and I

For some reason, many people use I by default. I suppose they think it sounds more educated. But between you and me, is incorrect in this case.

Center around

Center around is a bad hybrid of center on and revolve around. Center around is never correct.

Dr. Duckwillow’s presentation will center on the preservation of sand flies.

Chock it up

We chalk it up to experience. Chock it up is just, well . . . wrong!

Would of (could of, should of)

When spoken, the contractions would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve sound like would of, could of, and should of. But the correct word is have, not of.

I should have planned better. If I would have worn my blue suede shoes, I could have disco danced.

Dyeing vs. dying

Bertrille was dyeing her shirt chartreuse, and Mavis was dying to see how it would turn out.


Hermione can’t escape the truth: There is no such word as excape.


Whether you’re expressing yourself verbally or in writing, espresso is the correct way to spell the name of this strong coffee.

Mute point

A moot point is an irrelevant argument—not a silent one. Therefore, mute is not correct.

Why should we care?

Does anyone, at the end of the day, say to himself, “Hey! My toe didn’t hurt today!” As a rule, no. I certainly don’t give my big toe a second thought. But a few years ago, I really whacked it, and for days afterward, that throbbing toe clamored for my attention every time I bumped it.

Poor grammar and spelling have that same effect. Who reaches the last chapter of a novel exclaiming, “Wow! Not a single misplaced modifier in the entire book!”


That’s because good grammar and punctuation run quietly in the background, so no one really notices (nor should they) proper usage. On the other hand, errors like the ones above really do stand out like a sore thumb, er . . . toe.

Bottom line: Glaring mistakes in your speech and writing will distract from the message you want to communicate, and may even discredit you altogether, so if you’re not sure, look it up!

Photo: Life Mental Health, courtesy of Creative Commons

Happy Thankgivening


Today’s lesson is on compound words. A compound word  is formed by combining two words together to make one new word.

It’s simple, really. Thanks + giving = Thanksgiving

Now, you try it.

Thanks + giving = Thankgivening

Um, no.

Let’s try another one, shall we?

Thanks + giving = Tanksgiven

*Sigh* — I give up.

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

Photos used with permission from Jen at CakeWrecks

I’m nominated!

Overflowing-inbox Monday.
Piles-of-laundry Monday.
Rainy, drizzly, mountains-shrouded-in-fog Monday.

You’ve-been-nominated-for-a-blog-award Monday.


Just when Monday was threatening to overtake me by storm, I learned that In Our Write Minds has been nominated for a 2010 Homeschool Blog Award in the “Best Curriculum and Business Blog” category.

I’m humbled and thrilled at the same time!

If my blog has blessed or encouraged you this past year, I’d be honored to have your vote. Voting ends November 18.


30 days of gratitude

30 Days of Gratitude | November--this most "thankful" of months--is a perfect time to cultivate gratitude in your family.

The word “writing” can strike fear in young hearts because children tend to associate it with lengthy and often-painful tasks such as essays and stories.

But as I’ve frequently shared here on my blog, writing can truly be as simple as making lists, playing word games, or publishing a story as a craft. By offering your children a varied writing diet, they learn to enjoy appetizers and desserts along with the main meal.

One way to inspire writing is through focused journals such as a diary of a vacation, a memory book about a special friend or family member, or reflections on a season or holiday. Today, I’d like to encourage you and your family to focus your journaling on 30 days of gratitude.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Does your home more closely resemble Grumbletown? Is everyone wearing you down with their bickering and squabbling? Are tempers flaring? Do you find yourself long on complaints and short on compliments?

Sounds like you or your children may be in need of an attitude makeover, and November—this most “thankful” of months—makes a perfect time to cultivate gratitude in your family.

Many people (myself included) are taking the opportunity to journal every day about the things we’re thankful for. These journalings go by different names, but they all serve the same purpose: To count our blessings and record them. It’s a way to purposefully acknowledge our gratitude for those things, both large and small.

Plan Your Journal

30 Days of Gratitude | Keeping a Gratitude JournalWhen I say “journal,” don’t break into a cold sweat on me, OK? For this little project, I’m only asking for a sentence (or two or three).

Are you breathing easier now? Good. Then let’s talk about how to actually do this!

First, everyone needs to decide where and how to record their thoughts. Each person needs an outlet—and the choices are many!


  • Notebook. Keep a daily journal in a something as elegant as a leather diary or as simple as a spiral notebook.
  • Blog. Record your journal online, if you have a blog.
  • Journal Jar. Scribble your thanks on scraps of paper and store them in a mason jar or small box.

It’s very possible that you might have four family members journaling their thankful thoughts in four different ways. Yay for diversity!

Next, choose a name for your Thanksgiving gratitude project. Here are a few ideas:

  • Gratitude Journal
  • 30 Days of Gratitude
  • Thankful Project
  • My Thankful Box
  • I Am Thankful

Count Your Blessings

Ponder a bit. What makes you thankful? At first, the obvious will pop into your minds: Food, family, friends, faith. But encourage your children to look for hidden, unexpected, or less obvious things too, such as the smell of clean hair, hugs from Nana, a warm bed, a kind deed.

Write Them Down

Younger children can write one thing every day. Older children and adults can write five things you’re grateful for. Whether each note is brief or lengthy, it should be personally meaningful.

Make It Personal

If you wish, you and your children can make your journal or box even more personal by including quotations, Bible verses, or photographs.

Journal Faithfully

Keep your gratitude journals for the entire month of November—or at least through Thanksgiving. As a special Thanksgiving Day activity, invite each family member to share one or two excerpts from their journals.

With everyone’s hearts and minds turned toward giving thanks and recording blessings, I know that renewed attitudes and more pleasant temperaments will be the refreshing outcome.

I hope you’ll join me! Will you take the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge? Leave a comment to let me know.

If one is good, two must be better

Found on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway. That unnecessary extra “N” is a good example of government excess.

“Why does this say ‘upcomming’ events?”

“Because it’s plural. If they were talking about just one event, it would have said “upcoming.'”

“Oh, OK. Upcomming toumaments.”


“That’s what it says.”

Second photo courtesy of Mike at

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

Make an ABC book

Encourage older children to make an ABC book as a gift for younger siblings!

Do your older children have a hard time thinking of what to give a younger sibling for a birthday or Christmas gift? Why not encourage them to create a scrapbook-style (or digital) alphabet book for a fun writing project with a real purpose?

Make an ABC Book


1.  Gather stickers, die cuts, and pictures. Keep in mind that young children love bright colors. Collect pictures from old magazines, catalogs, greeting cards, and calendars as well as photos of familiar faces and objects.

For a digital ABC book, go through your own digital photos, encourage your older child to take some new ones, and look for free images online at sites such as StockXchng.

Make the book as personalized as possible by including pictures of things the child knows and loves. Use these categories as starting points:

  • Family members and pets
  • Foods, snacks, meals, and drinks
  • Familiar household objects and furniture
  • Familiar places (park, zoo, yard, store, fair)
  • Animals
  • Vehicles
  • Facial expressions (happy, sad, mad)
  • Articles of clothing
  • Toys
  • Colors
  • Seasonal words, holidays, and activities
  • Action words (jump, sleep, dig)

Alphabet stickers2. Using alphabet stickers or neat printing, label solid-color sheets of 8.5- x 11-inch scrapbooking paper with each letter of the alphabet, one letter per page. If possible, include both upper- and lower-case letters.

3. Glue pictures and photos to the appropriate page.

4. Neatly label each picture. Encourage older children to also write a sentence or poem using several of the words on that page.

5. When dry, insert pages into page-protector sleeves and place into a slim 3-ring binder.

Don’t you just love this creative, personal gift idea? So will the young recipient! Get your older child on board, warm up those crafting muscles, and let the fun begin! And if you prefer to go the digital route, check out some of the resources below.

Resources, Ideas, and Tips

ABC word lists

ABC scrapbooking ideas

Digital scrapbooking/digital book resources


NaNoWriMo – Are your pencils sharpened?

IT’S HERE! NaNoWriMo starts TODAY!

Short for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo is an amazing writing event that takes place every November.

I love that NaNoWriMo also has a Young Writers Program that’s open to children 17 and under. The challenge? Pump out a novel in 30 days.

According to the website, “The only thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The high-velocity approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”

Free Resources

NaNoWriMo offers some great resources to help your students along their writing journey—“new and improved, 100% awesome, non-lame” Young Novelist Workbooks.

You can download the workbooks here absolutely FREE! Choose from:

  • Elementary Student Noveling Workbook
  • Middle School Student Noveling Workbook
  • High School Student Noveling Workbook

Ready for a crazy, roller-coaster November? Register here for the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program!

. . . . .

Reprinted from the archives.

High school writing: How to help your homeschool teen

I’VE BEEN GIVING YOU an overview of the basic writing stages and writing needs of children at various grade levels. Today I’m wrapping up the series with a look at high school.

Writing is the most important academic skill students need to develop in their secondary education.

Why? Because it’s “the most visible expression not only of what [they] know but also of how well they have learned it” (Carl Nagin, Because Writing Matters).

Use these important high school years to teach, train, guide, and direct. Provide opportunities for your child to work more independently, letting the rope out bit by bit so she has a chance to prove herself. Your goal is to produce a strong, independent writer who’s equipped and confident to enter college or the workplace.

Where Should You Focus?

Secondary students need to:

  • Write clearly, concisely, and correctly for both academic and personal purposes.
  • Develop research skills.
  • Vary sentence structure beyond the subject-verb sentence.
  • Use correct conventions (spelling, grammar and usage). Incorrect or sloppy grammar distracts the audience from the content, so continue working on grammar and punctuation throughout these secondary years until you know their skills are solid.

There are no shortcuts to improving student writing achievement in your home. Teens need:

  • Skill development that builds incrementally.
  • Short, relevant, high-interest assignments.
  • Tools to help them refine word choice and sentence fluency.
  • An involved parent!

How Much and How Often?

  • Have your high schooler write regularly—4-5 days a week—for a variety of subjects.
  • 2-3 short writing projects per month makes a good goal. Your child should take these compositions completely through the stages of the writing process, from brainstorming to final copy.
  • In addition, assign 1-2 longer research papers, each of which can be spread out over an entire quarter. These can range from 4-15 pages, depending on age and skill level. Requirements for a 9th grader should not be as stringent as those for a senior.
  • Tuck in shorter essays, journal writing, book summaries, or responses to current events along the way—assignments that only take a day or so and that don’t require much in terms of editing or revising.
  • To prepare your student for college entrance exams and other timed writing situations, make sure to assign timed essays at least every other week.
  • Keeping in mind her maturity and attention span, spend about 1 hour per day on writing.

Promote Independence but Remain Involved

When our children become teens, it’s easy to think: “They’re getting older. I’ll back off and let them take responsibility.” There will come a time to step back. But that time comes when your child has proven herself trustworthy and reliable.

Even with such a dependable child, you’ll still need to monitor her work. As part of your involvement:

You need to help your teen develop self-discipline and independence, but you also need to hold her accountable. In doing so, you’re preparing her for the demands of college-level writing.

Catch the Whole Series

Helping your K-2nd grader with writing
Helping your 3rd-5th grader with writing
Helping your 5th-8th grader with writing

Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

WriteShop I and II are great programs for teaching and reinforcing the steps of the writing process to your junior high and high schoolers. 

Photo courtesy of
Related Posts with Thumbnails