Martian Mustache Mischief
Martian Mustache Mischief is an example of a tongue twister. Check out former Childrens' Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt's great article on tongue twisters for various forms and funny examples. Have students see if they can create their own!
In the story, Martians view ketchup as a precious resource. Help students define what a resource is and see if they can list some specific resources and why they might be valuable and how they might be used in different ways.
Characters in the story put ketchup on all kinds of different foods including ice cream. Discuss with students the importance of healthy food choices. Also discuss how different cultures find different foods and combinations of food appealing.
The Deductive Detective
Arbordalel has an amazing online resource for teachers including the following activities:
What Do Children Already Know?
Comprehension Questions & Writing Prompts
Cross-Curricular Vocabulary Activities
Cross Curricular: Silly Sentences
Word Families & Rhyming Words
Edible Sorting and Classifying Activity
Animal Sorting Cards
What are the Chances?
Number Families: a Dozen and a Baker’s Dozen
Number Patterns and Subtraction
Appendix A—“What Children Know” Cards
Appendix B—Venn Diagram
DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!
Don’t Play With Your Food! resulted from a case of writer’s block. Unable to come up with a story idea, Brian looked at the table in front of him and noticed a plastic salt and pepper set. He asked himself what would they be doing if he wasn’t there spying on them, and the answer became the poem “A Spicy Romance.” Your students can also find inspiration by looking at everyday items from a new perspective.
Play With Your Food:
Have your students write a short poem from the perspective of a piece of fruit. They can focus on growing from a seed, or hanging from a tree all day, or hanging out in a fruit bowl or even being eaten! You can use this same exercise in perspective to write about anything: chairs, books, desks, backpacks, lunchboxes, even teachers!
Food is a great way to introduce different cultures. Ask your students if they or anyone they know has been to another country. Ask them if they know about the foods in those countries. Students may be surprised to learn that they eat squid in Japan or kangaroo in Australia or even alligator in Louisiana. Have students write a poem including kinds of food from two or three or more countries.
Have students pick their favorite food and write a short poem about it. They can include its color, shape, size. They can explain why its better than other foods. They can see how many words rhyme with their favorite food and just make a rhyming, nonsense poem.
Brian got the idea for Piggies by remembering the “This Little Piggy” nursery rhyme and asking himself, why would a piggy go to the market? Why did one have to stay home?...
Likewise, your students can get many good creative writing ideas by beginning with stories they already know.
Fun With Nursery Rhymes:
Read the first line of a rhyming couplet from a familiar nursery rhyme, then read the second line except for the last word. See if students can guess the rhyming word.
There’s a great deal of mystery to many nursery rhymes. Why did the mice run up the clock? What caused Jack to fall and break his crown? How was a cow able to jump over the moon? Have your students brainstorm possible explanations for these and other nursery rhymes.
Many nursery rhymes are actually accounts of historical events. Humpty Dumpty was really a British canon. Ring around the
rosie actually recounts the Black Plague. London Bridge is Falling Down was a comment on the state of disrepair of national landmark. Ask your students to create their own rhyme or story about an event from their own personal history or from an event they’ve learned about in US History.
Writing Tips For Young Authors
1. READ! The best writers love to read as much as they can. The more you read, the more you will develop an ear for what sounds right on the printed page.
2. Write the story to please yourself, but check your grammar to please your audience. Never write what you think someone else wants to hear. If you’re not excited about what you’re writing, no one will be excited to read it. Also, no amount of your excitement can keep a reader interested if they’re distracted or confused by poor grammar.
3. Keep a writer’s notebook or journal. This journal is for your eyes only. This is the place where you are allowed to daydream and brainstorm and ask “what if?” Whenever you hear a funny phrase or get an idea for an unusual character or just get one or two words stuck in your head and don’t know what to do with them, write them down! Over time, your journal will become a storytelling garden blooming with the seeds you’ve planted with each entry.
Use Story-Starting Ideas
Start with one word -quick! write the first word that comes to mind - then branch to another - then to another - and another...
5. First Sentences
Describe an unusual scene in one sentence - use the rest of the story to explain.
6. Dictionary Digging
Pick six words at random - then find ways to combine them.
7. What If?
Write 10 questions as fast as you can that begin with “What if...” Now answer them in your story!
8. Story Machine
Mix and match stacks of: Adjectives, Occupations, Verbs, Places; connect them to make stories
9. Read your work out loud.
Once you’ve finished your story, read it out loud to yourself. See if there are any phrases that sound awkward or confusing. Sometimes when we read silently our mind fills in the gaps that we meant to say, making it harder to catch mistakes.
10. Write as fast as possible, edit as slowly as possible.
When you write don’t slow yourself down by worrying about spelling or punctuation or you might forget that great idea
you were just about to write. When you’re finished writing, go slowly through each sentence and check for errors. Wait a week and edit it again. You’ll be surprised by how many mistakes you missed the first time you edited.
Have a comment or question for Brian? Just email BrianRock@brianrock.us