Entries from November 2011 ↓

Household Tip #47: Wash in coleslaw

Lately, I’ve seen lots of tips for using common household products such as baking soda, car wax, baby oil, and dryer sheets. Vinegar makes a great window cleaner. Mayonnaise can remove water rings from furniture. But I’ll admit it never occurred to me to use coleslaw as a laundry aid. So glad I saw this “qualifcation”!

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

Encourage thankfulness: Part 2

Cultivating gratitude in children and encouraging thankful hearts will teach them to be "others focused"

Yesterday, I gave some suggestions for cultivating gratitude in children’s hearts in Encourage Thankfulness: Part 1. Here are a few more ideas to try.

Dear God

A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. ~Book of Common Prayer (1892)

Give your child a small spiral notebook or special journal in which to write prayers. Encourage her to express gratitude and thanksgiving as part of each prayer she writes. She can thank God for:

  • Creation. I’m thankful for crisp snow, pink sunsets, autumn colors, grass and flowers, giraffes and snapping turtles.
  • Provision. Thank You for our house, food, clothing, toys, books, pets, family and friends; for Daddy’s job; that Mom can stay home and teach us; for hot water, warm blankets, and comfortable beds.
  • Gifts and talents. Thank You that I’m musical, athletic, smart. I’m a talented photographer. I’m good at building Legos, mowing the grass, baking. I know how to raise goats and plant a garden. I’m kind, loyal, faithful. I’m a hard worker. I can dance. I excel at computers, math, science. I love reading, writing, drawing, building with my hands.

Every day, help her look for ways to be thankful for big and little things. Find more ideas for keeping a Gratitude Journal.

Do Unto Others

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Invite your children to make a list of things they can do to express gratitude to someone who has been kind to them or to show kindness to someone who needs it. Once the list is complete, have them act on at least one of them. Their list can include things like:

  • Bake cookies.
  • Make a handmade card.
  • Mow the neighbor’s lawn.
  • Obey the first time Mom or Dad asks me to do something.
  • Do a favor without being asked.
  • Do one of my brother’s chores just because.
  • Invite Grandma over and make breakfast for her.
  • Write a poem for my auntie because she’s so kind to me.
  • Sponsor a child because I’m thankful I have a family.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or food bank because I’m thankful I have food and a roof over my head.
  • Fill a Christmas shoebox for a child who doesn’t have toys and treats, because I’m blessed to have so much.
  • Be kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it because God does that for me.

Operation Beautiful

All that we behold is full of blessings. ~William Wordsworth

A love note...Gratitude doesn’t always mean saying “thank you.” Simply stepping out of self-centeredness and considering others’ needs and feelings is a form of gratitude, too.

Your child can make people smile or feel better about themselves by placing a sticky note somewhere random. Write uplifting thoughts, kind words, and encouraging quotes. I love Operation Beautiful for this!

Finally, don’t just save gratitude for Thanksgiving. Help your children look for ways throughout the year to express thanks, turning the focus outward. By cultivating gratitude in your children, everyone will be the better for it.

30 Days of Gratitude

I Am Thankful (Acrostic Poem Activity)

 Photo: Matthew Cua, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Encourage thankfulness: Part 1

Ways to encourage children to express thankfulness and appreciation

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Around the country, we’ll soon be picking up our turkeys, baking pies, chopping aromatic vegetables for stuffing, and setting our prettiest table.

Even still, it’s hard to forget that we’re about to careen around the corner and crash right into December—that most commercial wonderful time of the year.

Do you feel like you’re walking on the edge of a knife, trying to maintain a thankful spirit in your home during the season of the “gimmees”?

You can cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your children, and the days or weeks preceding Thanksgiving are a great time to start. When the kids begin squabbling, acting selfish, or expressing entitlement, encourage thankfulness! Help them do a 180 and refocus, using one of these activities as a springboard.

Thank You For…

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

Writing a note of appreciation for a gift received seems obvious, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Who has made an impact on your children’s lives? Provide stationery and writing tools and have your kids think of deeper reasons they can express their thanks.

  • Dad. Thank him for making you feel safe and loved, for working hard for your family, for playing football in the yard, for showing you how to fix a flat on your bike, for teaching you about God, for playing Monopoly with you.
  • Mom. Thank her for being your teacher, for driving you to all your activities, for cooking tasty meals for your family, for showing you how to bake a chocolate cake, for helping you become kind and compassionate, for setting a good example.
  • Grandparents. Thank them for things you often take for granted, such as coming to your soccer games or school performances. Thank them for holding a special place in your life, for encouraging, supporting, and loving you.
  • Sunday school teacher. Thank her for caring about you, for teaching you about Jesus, for bringing donuts each week.
  • Newspaper deliverer or postman. Thank him for delivering your mail or paper every day, no matter how hot or cold or rainy or snowy. Thank him for being a dependable worker.
  • Pet. Thank your dog or cat for being faithful, friendly, loyal; for being a playmate; for providing companionship, entertainment, and smiles.

Encourage Thankfulness in Children

It’s Been Said

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Encourage your children to copy favorite quotes about gratitude and thanksgiving and pin them to a wall or bulletin board in their room. For starters, find gratitude quotes here and here. Then, have your kids try one of these ideas:

  • Copy each saying using neatest penmanship.
  • Write the quote on fancy paper using calligraphy or italic handwriting.
  • Type it on the computer, choose an appropriate font, enlarge the text to fill the page, and print it on pretty paper.

Count Your Blessings

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. ~Estonian Proverb

Mount a large sheet of posterboard on the wall of your kitchen or family room, and keep a jar of colored markers nearby. Encourage your children to write things they’re thankful for, no matter how small. Pre-writers can simply draw pictures on the posterboard.

Alternatively, make a stack of sticky notes available on which they can record their words of gratitude. Provide a centralized spot for these thankful thoughts, or simply let the kids pepper the house with notes.

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Gratitude is an amazing thing. It’s good for our health and well-being; it helps us choose contentment over want, self-centeredness, and entitlement; and it makes us easier to please. We can indeed be purposeful about helping our kids ditch their “me” mentality and become more others-focused.

You can find more ideas at 30 Days of Gratitude. And check back tomorrow for Encourage Thankfulness: Part 2.


Photos: Eren {sea + prairie) and Fern R, courtesy of Creative Commons.

1000 fans giveaway winners!

Congratulations to the winners of our 1000 fans giveaway!

Three happy moms have each won a $25 gift certificate to the WriteShop store and are excited to go shopping for new writing curriculum!

Our Winners

Comment #41: Lynne!


 Comment #28: Missional Mama!


Comment #9: Sara!


Winners have been notified by email. Congrats again, ladies!

Not so great

Adorable craft. Spelling? Not so grate great.

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


1000 fans: It’s giveaway time!

This giveaway is now closed.

Today we reached a milestone: 1000 Facebook fans on our WriteShop page!

In honor of this momentous occasion, we’re going to give away THREE $25 gift certificates to the WriteShop store. Simply leave a comment below telling how you would spend your $25!

Enter to Win a $25 Gift Certificate

  • The giveaway will be open until midnight EST Friday November 18, 2011. Winners will be announced Saturday, November 19.
  • Share the love! Encourage your friends to *like* our Facebook page. www.facebook.com/writeshop
  • You can get up to 3 extra entries by posting on Facebook, blogging, or tweeting a link to the giveaway. You must leave a separate comment for EACH entry (4 entries max per person). Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.
  • This giveaway is offered to US & international residents.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. “Liking” WriteShop’s Facebook page is not a requirement for entering the drawing.
  • IMPORTANT: In order to enter the drawing, you must leave a comment on THIS post. To leave a comment, scroll to the bottom of the post. (If you are reading this via RSS, you will need to visit the actual blog to post a comment.)

Writing activity centers: Part 4

Writing activity centers are a great way to reinforce the formal composition skills you’re teaching in your curriculum. They’ll give your kids more practice writing in a fun, relaxed setting. In the last of our four-part series, you’ll find just a few more fun ideas to use during writing time.

Mandarin Autumn

Picture Files

Keep file folders of colorful prints, magazine pictures, and calendar photos sorted by topic: animals, people, nature, buildings, and the like. Have each child choose a picture for inspiration and write a short story based upon the picture.

Songwriting Challenge

Provide a selection of index cards with a word written on each card. Each child draws one card at a time, until all the cards are drawn. Now, each child will write a song or jingle using all the words they’ve drawn. Work out melodies and rhythms and entertain one another with a performance!

Now Hiring!

Provide sample résumés for this writing activity center. Allow your children time to study the résumés for ideas and formats. Here’s one to get you started, but you can find many other examples online by doing a Google search.

Have your kids put together a résumé of their lives. What should be included? What jobs might they be interested in, now and in the future? What information would they want their future employers to know? Remind the children to consider those questions as they write their résumés.

Noun Safari

Keep available a selection of magazines, glue sticks or tape, construction paper, and scissors. Ask children to look through the magazines, searching for nouns. Cut out the nouns and glue them to construction paper. Later, select a noun from one of the noun pages, and use that specific noun as the basis for a story.

Related Posts: Writing Activity Centers: Part 1, Writing Activity Centers: Part 2, Writing Activity Centers: Part 3

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Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

Creative Commons photo: Art G. courtesy of Flickr. Used with permission.
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