Entries Tagged 'Holiday & Seasonal Ideas' ↓

10 gifts for grammar geeks and writers

Gifts for grammar geeks, writers, and literary buffs! From dining room to game room, there's something clever for everyone on your list.

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As the holidays draw near, have you begun fretting about what to buy for that special someone? Well, if that person happens to be a writer, grammar geek, or literary enthusiast, you’re sure to appreciate these fabulous finds. From game room to dining room, there’s something for everyone on your list, so get comfy at your desk or settle into a cozy armchair and discover some fresh new gift ideas for the “wordies” in your life.

1. You’ve Been Sentenced!

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks, Writers, and Literary Buffs

If you’re looking for a fun new offering for game-lovers on your list, look no further than You’ve Been Sentenced. Adults, kids, word nerds, and grammar geeks will all enjoy this hilarious, imaginative game where creating grammatically correct sentences is the object. The result? Absurdly funny sentences and laughter galore!

2. Serve Up Some Grammar

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

Grab this adorably graphic Gourmet Grammarian Dish Set for your geekiest grammar friend—the one who corrects restaurant menus, store signs, Facebook posts, and even total strangers.

3. “I Get My Best Ideas in the Shower”

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

Writers get those “Aha!” moments at the most inconvenient times, such as in the middle of the night or while driving on the highway. But if the muse should strike while they’re in the shower, they can jot that perfect phrase or inspired thought on this ingenious waterproof notepad, thanks to your thoughtful gift of Aqua Notes!

4. Mug Shots

Here’s an amusing assortment of mugs that make great gifts for the writers and grammar-loving friends on your holiday gift list.

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

Perfect for the quiet grammarian, this Cafe Press mug proclaims, “I’m silently correcting your grammar.”

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

I’m especially fond of these six Grammar Grumbles mugs, an original design by The Literary Gift Company. Update 11/1/14: Item no longer available

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and WritersThis one is pretty awesome, too. I’d love to give an “I write, therefore I revise” mug to every student who exclaims, “But I like it the way it is!

5. For the Wordsmith

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

Sometimes, the hardest part of writing is coming up with ideas. This thoughtful gift opens the door to possibility with an endless combination of story starters. Everyone will love this cool Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the “Write” Side of Your Brain. As your writer friends spin the “Protagonist Wheel” or choose a “First Sentence” or “Last Straw” stick, they’ll give a boost to their creative writing project.

6. Creative Writing for Creative Kids

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

Let’s not forget the children on your list. Young writers will love Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing, with its wide variety of fun writing exercises and open-ended writing experiments. The book invites children to get curious, try something new, stretch their imaginations, get creative, and yes . . . rip the pages right out of the book! There’s no right or wrong, so even the most reluctant writers will find freedom and encouragement.

7. Are You Puzzled?

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

Everyone needs a break from the mundane now and then—including the book lovers and writers on your gift list! Working a jigsaw puzzle can help their minds to focus, so they’ll especially appreciate the diversion this Best-Selling Books Puzzle offers.

Can you spot your favorite novels in this puzzle? From The Cat in the Hat and Charlotte’s Web to Oliver Twist and To Kill a Mockingbird, the puzzle features over 50 classic titles from adult and children’s literature.

8. Seasoning with a Twist

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

I love these striking, color-coded salt and pepper grinders. Made of wood with metal ferrules, they’re even topped with iconic pink plastic erasers. Wouldn’t the pair make a great conversation piece on any writer’s table? After all, they’d add plenty of “twists” to the dinner plot! Update 11/1/14: Item no longer available

9. A Word by Any Other Name . . .

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and WritersYour favorite writer can never get enough of words, so what better way to stoke the creative fire than with a new thesaurus? Delight the wordsmith who has everything with a unique gift of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. 10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

The best all-purpose thesaurus for anyone on your gift list is by far The Synonym Finder. My own dog-eared paperback copy split in half and has long since been replaced. This durable hardback edition will make a smart statement on desk or bookshelf, where the perfect word is always within reach. The crown jewel of thesauri, The Synonym Finder is that single, indispensable tool everyone should own.

10. You Can Take It With You

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and Writers

What does a writer do when she feels stuck? Sometimes, a change of scenery is all that’s needed to get those creative juices flowing again. This cute Eat, Sleep, Write tote bag is perfect for taking along a notebook or laptop to the local cafe for an afternoon of uninterrupted wordsmithing.

10 Gifts for Grammar Geeks and WritersTurn this into a complete writer’s gift package by filling the tote with a paperback thesaurus, spiral notebook or Moleskine journalpens, and sticky notes. Tuck in a Starbucks gift card and top it all off with a pack of cinnamon-chocolate almonds.

You’ll be good to go . . . and so will she!




Gratitude lists for kids

Help your children count their blessings with these Thanksgiving-inspired gratitude lists for kids - In Our Write Minds

THE Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching. Are your kids getting stir-crazy while you finish your lists of ingredients to buy, food to prepare, and relatives to seat at the dining room table?

Help them feel included in the bustling preparations. Give each one a pad of paper, and encourage them to make their own gratitude lists.

10 Reasons I’m Thankful for You

Invite your daughter to choose one family member on the Thanksgiving guest list. Now, ask her to write down ten reasons she’s thankful for this person. Some items on her gratitude list might be one-word character or personality traits (cheerful, musical, trustworthy). Other entries could be short phrases or full sentences (She takes the time to listen; prays for me a lot).

If your daughter is too shy to give her list to that special person this Thursday, save it to mail in a Christmas card!

On Adventures We Will Go

Let your son choose a different family member from the master guest list. Ask your fun-loving boy to make a list of ten activities he enjoys sharing with this special relative. Challenge him to begin each entry with an “-ing” word (present participle), followed by a prepositional phrase:

  • Running at the park
  • Hiking in the woods
  • Fishing at the lake
  • Playing board games on Sunday afternoons

When he finishes his list, help him write a gratitude-filled title, such as “I’m Thankful We Can Spend Time Together.”

The Blessing of Food

Encourage your children to peek inside the refrigerator or pantry so they can count their many blessings related to food! With such a variety of tastes and smells—not to mention the plethora of grocery stores in town and kitchen gadgets at home—our families have so much to be thankful for.

Favorite Foods

Help your littlest writers make a list of five or six foods they’re thankful for. Ask them to include at least one item from each food group.

Kitchen Memories

Ask your daughter to make a list of her favorite memories related to food. If she draws a blank, jog her memory by reviewing the four seasons:

  • You baked pumpkin muffins with Grandma last winter.
  • We decorated an amazing birthday cake last spring.
  • You picked lemons and made real lemonade last summer.
  • We visited a farmer’s market in July.
  • You and your brother made raisin faces on peanut butter sandwiches this fall.

Thankful for Farmers (and Truckers and Grocers!)

Ask you son to make a list of all the people who help provide the food we eat. If your son loves cereal, remind him of…

  • Farmers who grow the grain
  • Workers who repair farm tractors and sprinklers
  • Harvesters and cereal-factory workers
  • Truck drivers and warehouse managers
  • Grocery store checkers and baggers…
  • …and don’t forget the people who help produce the milk!

Whether your youngsters write lists about people or food, remind them to give thanks for each blessing in their life. Who knows? You might feel inspired to write one more list of your own.

Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna who loves real food, plush pets, and large family gatherings.

Photo: LearningLark, courtesy of Creative Commons

{the first Thanksgiving} writing prompts

Fun writing prompts for kids about Pilgrim food and the first Thanksgiving!

WHEN the Plymouth colonists shared their first autumn feast, they had much to be thankful for. They had survived an Atlantic crossing in a cramped, smelly ship and lived through a harsh New England winter that claimed many lives. As they ate and celebrated that first Thanksgiving, their hearts overflowed with memories and hopes for the future.

Let these Thanksgiving writing prompts transport your family back to 1620, when the Pilgrims set sail from Holland for a new life in America.

1. Mayflower Meals

One hundred and two passengers lived below deck on the Mayflower for months on end. Meals on ship usually included crunchy biscuits (“hard tack”) or salted meat. Throughout the week, families took turns using an iron “firebox” to cook hot meals. Describe the smell, taste, and texture of a hot stew after two long days of chewing on hard tack.

2. Just in Time

When the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts, the Pilgrim men set out on exploring parties. They soon discovered Corn Hill, an empty Indian village with piles of seed corn buried in the ground. Because their winter food supplies were low, the explorers took the corn and decided to repay it later. Explain how you would have handled the same situation.

3. A Feast is Planted

In the spring of 1621, an English-speaking Indian named Squanto befriended the hungry Pilgrims. He taught them how to plant corn with fish as a fertilizer, which promised a plentiful crop a few months later. Write a list of three questions about farming you would have asked Squanto if you were a Pilgrim.

4. Pilgrim Kitchens

Small and sturdy, cabins in the Plymouth colony had just enough room for cooking, eating, and sleeping. Pots and kettles hung from a green wooden “lugpole” across the hearth, and tables were set with spoons, “trenchers” (dishes), and large napkins. Pilgrims usually shared their cups, and they had no forks. Compare and contrast a Pilgrim kitchen to your kitchen today.

5. The First Thanksgiving

Governor Bradford called for a Thanksgiving feast in the fall of 1621. Only four women had survived the previous winter, so Pilgrim children helped prepare the food. They gathered mussels from the rocks along the shore and salad greens from the gardens of their little town. Imagine you have worked all week to prepare the feast. How do you feel when it’s finally your turn to sit down and eat?

Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays, and check out our Holiday and Seasonal Ideas for more Thanksgiving-themed writing activities.

Photos: VaMedia (kettle), Joy (corn souffle), John B. (turkey), and Annie (girl’s dress), courtesy of Creative Commons

Apple theme word banks for fall writing

Apple-themed word banks for fun fall writing projects!

EVERY fall, children love collecting leaves, acorns, squash, and especially pumpkins to decorate hearths, mantels, and dining room tables.

It’s the perfect time of year to add seasonal flair to your writing lessons, too! Once your children have finished collecting bits of nature, encourage them to come inside, warm up rosy cheeks and fingers, and collect words for an apple-themed word bank. 

Word lists (such as our popular fall-inspired word bank) can inspire young writers to create seasonal acrostic poems, stories based on outdoor field trips, or other pieces of descriptive writing. This week, help your kids appreciate the richness of autumn harvest time with a word bank of apple theme words. The one we’ve created below should help you get started:

Apple Theme Word Bank

Here’s a list of vocabulary words that focus on apple-picking, hay rides, and fall fun in the orchard! Let this word bank inspire your kids to write poems and stories.

autumn, harvest, farm, orchard, tree, leaves, bag, basket, bushel, crate, wheelbarrow, wagon, hay bale, horse, cart, ladder, barn, farmstand, farmer’s market, cider press, apple peeler

Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Fuji, McIntosh, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Winesap, York, Pink Lady, Cortland, Crispin, Empire, Rome Beauty, Honey Crisp, crab apple

skin, peel, core, seeds, stem, slices, juicy, sweet, tart, sour, red, crimson, pink, blush, yellow, gold, green, firm, fresh, crisp, crunchy, soft, mushy, mealy, plump, ripe, round, shiny, smooth, bruised, polished

pie, turnover, tart, cobbler, strudel, crumble, caramel, cinnamon, muffins, apple cider, apple juice, applesauce, apple butter, apple chips, apple-cider vinegar

gather, pick, collect, climb, reach, grasp, peel, cut, slice, bake, simmer, mix, stir, heap, pile, press, scoop, dip

Make Your Own Word Bank

As a writing warm-up, your kids can build their own apple season word banks. This will not only stretch vocabularies and reinforce spelling skills, but also help overcome writer’s block.

Guide younger children to create a word bank collage:

  • Gather glossy photos from fall magazines. (Cooking magazines are an excellent choice.)
  • Set up a fun workspace with cardstock, scissors, and glue sticks.
  • Choose a theme for each collage, such as “Apple Farm,” “Baking with Apples,” or “Apple Desserts.”
  • As you children arrange their collages, help them write several words around each picture—at least one noun, one verb, and one adjective.
  • Display these colorful word banks in a prominent place!

Apple-Themed Writing Days

If you feel inspired, why not spice up fall writing days with apple flavors and activities? The ideas are endless, but here are just a few:

Writing Activities Using the Apple Theme Word Bank

  • Give each child an apple and ask them to describe its appearance, color, and texture. Next, have them take a bite and describe its aroma, flavor, and the texture of its flesh.
  • Describe a real or imagined trip to an apple farm. What will you see and do?
  • Explain the process of making an apple dessert from start to finish.

Apple Basket

Writing Rewards

[Affiliate links in this post are for products we personally use or feel confident recommending for your family.]

  • Let your kids celebrate the end of a writing project by bobbing for apples. If you’re feeling casual, try the old-fashioned method with apples floating in a tub of cold water. For a larger group, tie apples to strings and hang them from a patio cover. Be sure to take lots of pictures while your kids try to get their first bite—it’s harder than it sounds!
  • Play a rousing game of Apples to Apples!
  • Make Laurie’s caramel apples! For a quicker snack option, serve apple slices with a bowl of warm caramel sauce, and let the kiddos dip away.
  • While the family enjoys tasty apple treats, take turns reading aloud the true story of Johnny Appleseed.

WriteShop Blog--In Our Write MindsDaniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella also blogs at www.waterlilywriter.com.

Photos:  Jennifer Boyer (orchard), Shane McGraw (first bite), Sarah Hicks (basket), Scot Martin (child’s hand), & bigbirdz (apple basket) courtesy of Creative Commons

Fall picture writing prompts

These fall picture writing prompts will stir your kids' imagination!

GATHER ’round the table and let creativity bubble over with our fall picture writing prompts! For a change of pace, these journal prompts are inspired by interesting photos that will stir your child’s soul or spark flights of literary fancy!

Autumn Walk

Is this an ordinary walk in the woods, or does an adventure await you over the crest of the hill? Who (or what) is watching you from the trees?

These fall picture writing prompts will stir your kids' imagination!

The Furry Messenger

You’re exploring in the woods with your best friend when a chipmunk suddenly jumps up on a rock and starts shouting a warning! What is it saying? Are you in danger? What will you do? What will you discover? What will happen to you?

These fall picture writing prompts will stir your kids' imagination!

Fairy Secrets

Use at least four of these words to tell a story about this photo: forest, explore, mushroom, fairies, fog, door, stairs, secret, ancient, lock, book

These fall picture writing prompts will stir your kids' imagination!

Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photos: davharuk, Nina Stawski, & Brenda Clarke, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Summer writing prompts

summer writing prompts, summer journal prompts

WRITING will be a breeze when your kids pick from our list of summer writing prompts. After they’ve captured the sights of the season on paper, don’t forget to share a cold drink or frozen treat!

1. Umbrellas and Ice Cream and Sunscreen (oh my!)

Write a story using at least four of the following words and phrases: beach umbrella, Sahara desert, ice cream stand, teacup, ice cube, lion, sunscreen.

2. Make a Splash

What could be better than a day at the lake? Write about three water sports or activities you would like to try on a lakeside vacation.

3. Cricket Lullaby

Do you lie awake on summer nights, listening to waves crash against the shore? Do you watch for fireflies through an open window, while breathing in the humid air? Make a word bank filled with nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that remind you of summer nights.

4. Ripe, Plump & Juicy

Think of your favorite summer fruit. Is it a luscious peach, a succulent strawberry, or a massive melon? Write a list of instructions for preparing and eating this fruit, beginning with how to buy it. Do you drive to the store, walk to a fruit stand, or reach into the branches of a backyard tree?

5. Sky High Rides & Blue-Ribbon Pies

Describe the atmosphere of a county fair. Include the tastes of the fair food, the smells of the livestock, the sounds of the stage shows, and the feel of riding the Ferris wheel (or another favorite ride).

Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo: Will Ockenden, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Patriotic 4th of July Journal Prompts

Independence Day journal topics, patriotic writing prompts, 4th of July journal prompts

OH, say, can you write about Independence Day? Inspire family members young and old to ponder America’s founding with these 4th of July journal prompts.

1. Our Lives, Our Fortunes, & Our Sacred Honor

For more than a century, American colonists governed themselves according to conscience. Finally, in July 1776, fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Yet, they knew that freedom with self-government could cost their earthly fortunes and even their very lives. Write about a time when you were self-governed and followed your conscience, even though no one else told you the right thing to do.

2. The War for Independence: Eight Long Years

On December 19, 1777, George Washington and his Continental Army arrived at their winter camp site in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The discouraged army now faced a hard winter filled with disease and hunger. Imagine you are a patriot soldier at Valley Forge, with no shoes or blanket to call your own. Write about three reasons you will stay with General Washington instead of deserting the army.

3. No Tyrants Allowed

In 1787, the Framers of the Constitution of the United States instituted a wise system of government: Three branches of government–executive, legislative, and judicial–would ensure that powers remained divided, with a pattern of checks and balances. Compare and contrast a government of divided powers with a government of one absolute ruler.

4. Calling All Architects!

In 1792, Thomas Jefferson announced a design contest for the United States Capitol building. What would your entry have looked like? Draw your most impressive design for a Capitol building, and write a paragraph explaining the style and materials you have chosen.

5. You’re a Grand Old Flag

It’s 1837 and you live on a sprawling farm in the new state of Michigan. Write a letter to a friend and share your excitement over the new U.S. flag with a 26th star for Michigan. The flag will be official on July 4, 1837!

6. E Pluribus Unum

In 1873, an Act of Congress required the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) to appear on all U.S. coins. Only eight years had passed since a devastating Civil War had ended with our nation still united as one. Today, as then, Americans have many differences but much in common. Write about two of these differences, and two things we all share.

7. Wings Like Eagles

The bald eagle has long been an emblem of the United States of America. The eagle can remind us of Isaiah 40:31, which says:

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Do you believe that nations and people who fear God and His laws will have new strength? Why or why not?

Hope you enjoy these 4th of July journal prompts. Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo: Drew Myers, courtesy of Creative Commons.

7 Father’s Day journal prompts

Father's Day, journal prompts, writing prompts

Whether writing the inside of a card for Dad, or journaling about the special man in their life, your kids are sure to find inspiration with these Father’s Day journal prompts. From our family to yours, happy Father’s Day!

1. Remember When?

What is your earliest memory of your dad? Use your five senses to describe the people and items in the scene.

2. Ask Dad

What was the best piece of advice your father ever gave you? Write about the effect his words and example have had on your life.

3. Perfect Fit

Choose one item to describe your dad. Is it a saxophone? Mechanical pencil? Bicycle? Hammer? Camp stove? Write about why you chose this item to represent him.

4. Shh! It’s a Surprise!

If you could plan a surprise vacation for Dad, what would it be like? Who would go on this trip, and where would they go? Describe the kind of hotel (or tent) your dad would stay in and the activities he would do.

5. Way, Way Back, Many Centuries Ago…

Do you have a photo of your dad when he was  your age? Describe his appearance in the photo, including his clothing styles and facial expression. Explain the action he was doing when someone clicked the camera.

6. Any Dream Will Do

What is your father’s vision for his family? What are his goals for his marriage and his dreams for his children? If you’re not sure, sit down and ask him. Write down his answers and ways your family can work together to make these dreams a reality.

7. Thank You

Write about why you are grateful to have a father in your life. Include at least three reasons you’re thankful for him!

Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo: Chris Parfitt, courtesy of Creative Commons.

10 Mother’s Day writing prompts

Mother's Day writing prompts, Mother's Day journal prompts

WRITING WARM-UPS are always a good idea, even more so at this cherished time of year. These Mother’s Day writing prompts will draw your family together and set pens and pencils in motion!

Descriptive Mother’s Day Writing Prompts

1. Do you notice any similarities between your mother and your grandmother? Describe the personality traits, character qualities, or physical attributes they share.

2. Describe a piece of jewelry that your mother always wears. What makes this piece of jewelry so special to her?

3. Describe a talent, interest, or hobby that makes your mother different from every other mom you know.

4. Think of your mother’s voice when she sings a special song or shares a favorite verse with you. Write three similes for her voice at these times. Is it as soft as a summer wind or as musical as choir of bells?

5. Describe your mother’s decorating style. Use your best adjectives, and include the senses of sight, smell, and touch.

6. Write a color poem to describe your mother. Choose a color, and write three or four similes comparing your mother to things of that color, such as: 

“My Mother Is Yellow”

My mother’s face is as bright as the mid-day sun.

She holds her head high, like a bold sunflower.

Her heart is as cheerful as a field of yellow daisies.

My mother is a treasure, like shiny nuggets of gold.

Other Mother’s Day Writing Prompts

1. Does your mother have a nickname for you? Where did she get that name?

2. Is there a story behind your mother’s name? Ask her why she received her first and middle names. Does she have a nickname?

3. What do you think a perfect day for your mother would be like? Write about one thing you could do to help make that wonderful, imaginary day become a reality.

4. What do you think it means to have a beautiful heart?


Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo © Karah Fredricks. Used by permission.


More Mother’s Day writing activities

Mother's Day writing activities, acrostic poems, writing prompts, and card ideas children can make for Mom on her special day.

I’m guest blogging over at Home Educating Family, offering some Mother’s Day writing activities. Join me?

Whether it’s delivering breakfast in bed or creating a handmade card, your children’s hearts are filled up with you, their mama—and on your special day, they can’t wait to present you with their sweet offerings.

Many children, especially younger ones, are eager to bless you on Mother’s Day with something they’ve created themselves, but let’s be honest. Without guidance and direction, it probably won’t happen.

Take advantage of the days leading up to this celebratory Sunday. Why not set out a box of paper, writing tools, and craft supplies and encourage your children to write or create something special for you? They can fashion a crafty gift, write a sentimental letter or poem, or design a pretty card. No matter what they come up with, you’ll be one grateful and happy mom . . .

Read the complete article here and share these Mother’s Day writing activities with your family. Hope they take the bait and shower you with loving words and handmade cards on your special day!

For additional ideas, see last year’s Mother’s Day Writing Activities.

Copyright 2013 © by Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

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