A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Archive for August, 2012

Summer Vacation Souvenir Survey–Your Favorites and Theirs

Posted by lindamartinandersen on August 9, 2012


“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

Question:  What do these words have in common?  Souvenirs, tourists, gifts, mementos, collections, and budget. 

Answer:  Vacation.

Every fall when school starts back, teachers ask students to write about “What did you do over summer vacation?”  Why not approach this assignment in a unique way this year? Survey friends and family members about vacation souvenirs to discover what was received or purchased and which were favorites.  Then when you return to school you can answer, “I conducted a survey about vacation souvenirs.  Here are my results.” 

Brainstorm about summer vacation souvenirs and then you’ll be ready to conduct a survey.  I have created a sample.  I hope you find it helpful.

Name some summer vacation souvenirs you have received or collected.  Make a list.  Divide the items into Purchased Souvenirs and Free Souvenirs.

Name some summer vacation souvenirs you’ve purchased for others.  Make a list.  Divide the items into Purchased Souvenirs  and Free Souvenirs.

Survey your friends about souvenirs received and purchased.  Tally the results.  What was the most popular souvenir?  What was the least popular?  Group surveys by age.  Consider these groupings:  Under 6, 6-12, 13-18, and Over 18.

 Survey of Vacation Souvenirs 

Age Group:  ____(under 6), ____(6-12), ____(13-18), and ____(Over 18)


For Self

For Others


One For Self


One For Others

T-shirt or other clothing





Mug, refrigerator magnet, etc.





Photographs or postcards





Toy or stuffed animal





Ticket stub





Shells, rocks, etc.





Snowglobe, Replica of Place,etc. 















Number 1 most frequently received–is it a T-shirt? 

As for me, I’d rather get photographs or postcards, if I can’t go along on the trip.  Some people call that taking an “armchair vacation” because you can enjoy the beauty without leaving your oversized comfy armchair.  Here are a few photographs from friends who traveled far and wide. Can you find these locations on a world map or globe?  To visit the photographers’ blogs/websites, click the links below:



www.joanyedwards.com (Joan’s photographs are not available here, but activities for children are)

Columns built for Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Copyright © 2012 Maureen Wartski

Fountain in Versailles, France.  Copyright © 2012 Maureen Martski

Clear Creek River Georgetown, Colorado, taken from Georgetown Loop Narrow Gauge Train Ride. Copyright © 2012 Joan Edwards

Tambopata Research Center in Rainforest of Peru. Copyright © 2012 Joy Acey

Howler Monkey in Rainforest of Peru. Copyright © 2012 Joy Acey

Mt. Rainier near Washington Route 7, about 25 miles south of Puyallup, Washington. Copyright © 2012 Joan Edwards

All photographs were used with permission by the owner.  Thank you to my friends who shared these interesting scenes.  Thanks to all the readers who stopped by to visit “A Writer’s Playground.”  Please leave a comment and come back soon.  Bring a friend.

Copyright © 2012 Linda Martin Andersen

Posted in Games, Interviews, Monthly Activities, Reading, Social Studies, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

It’s Time to Announce the Winner of the Julie Bowe Signed Book Giveaway!

Posted by lindamartinandersen on August 9, 2012


“A Writer’s Playground” is proud to announce the winner of the signed copy of My Extra Best Friend by Julie Bowe.  The winner is…

Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Congratulations, Joyce!  I understand that you know Julie Bowe.  Would you care to share details? Please contact me offline, provide your address, and tell how you would like your copy personalized.  Julie Bowe will get that in the mail to you shortly.

Thank you to all who left a comment and I hope you’ll continue to enter future contests.  Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.”  Come again soon and bring a friend.

Let’s give one more thank you to Julie Bowe and her series of “Friends for Keeps.”


The correct order of “Friends for Keeps” series is…

1.My Last Best Friend

2.My New Best Friend

3. My Best Frenamy

4. My Forever Friends

5.  My Extra Best Friend

Look for copies of Julie Bowe’s “Friends for Keeps” series at a location convenient to you.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Meet Julie Bowe, Author of “Friends for Keeps” Series. Book Giveaway

Posted by lindamartinandersen on August 4, 2012


“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

It’s Friendship Day, August 5, 2012.  

Here to celebrate with us is Julie Bowe, author of “Friends for Keeps” Series. Pull up a chair or sit under a tree.  You’re in for a real treat.  Are there any fourth graders reading this?  Is there anyone out there who has had a friend for more than a year?  Two years?  More than two?  How many years? 

Let’s hear what Julie Bowe has to say about fourth grade Ida May and her friends from “Friends for Keeps” Series.

 Welcome Julie Bowe!

1.  Julie, what was your fourth grade school year like?  How was it the same as the characters in “Friends for Keeps?”  How was it different? 

I attended a small school, like Ida and her friends.  We had just one classroom of fourth graders, so I knew all my classmates well.  I experienced much of the same friendship drama Ida experiences.  There were rifts between the girls, and the boys always did their best to annoy us. 🙂  Like Ida, I had to deal with a bully for awhile–a boy who called me names and harassed me in other ways.  Ida’s dad talks about this boy during one of their conversations in My Last Best Friend.

2.  What friendship skills did you learn in fourth grade?

Well, that was a long time ago so my memory is a little rusty!  In general, I learned that words can harm, but they can also heal.  I learned that friendship can sneak up on you.  I learned that holding hands with your BFF is the best feeling in the world.

3.  What friendship skills did your book characters learn in fourth grade?  Did they learn any of them the hard way?

I’m not sure that anything worth learning ever comes easy so, yes, Ida and her friends learn things “the hard way” throughout the series.  And that’s okay.  I think people spend way too much time trying to avoid the hard stuff.  Life is much more interesting when we dive in and get whirled around a bit.  What specific friendship skills the Friends for Keeps characters learn?  You’ll have to read the books to find out! 😉

4.  What friendship skills did you learn while writing “Friends for Keeps” series?  Could you give an example?

Be a friend to yourself and other writers–set realistic writing goals; pat yourself on the back when you meet a goal; offer words of encouragement and honest critiques to your writing friends.

5.  What advice would you give concerning making friends? 

Accept people for who they are and where they’re at.

6.  Ida May has a friend who moves away in your book  series.  Did you ever have a good friend move away or hurt you in some way?  Did you take a risk to make things right afterwards?  What did you do?

I didn’t have a best friend move away like Ida does in My Last Best Friend, but when I visit schools, I’m always amazed by the number of students who have had such an experience.  Books can be so grounding for kids, especially when their lives are uprooted by a move and/or shifting friendships.  Connecting with a good book feels like coming home!

7.  As an author, what are some risks you have taken? 

I think authors risk scrutiny when they put words on paper and then pass them around for everyone to see.  They risk having those words misunderstood or, more often, read in ways they hadn’t envisioned.  But that’s the beauty of stringing words together.  Everyone experiences them in different ways. 

8.  Julie, did you ever hear Ida May’s voice helping you write your story?  Tell about it.

When I’m working on a story, I listen for my characters’ voices throughout the day while I’m doing the dishes, shopping for groceries, etc.  I cut up copies of my old drafts and use the slips of paper for jotting down story ideas and snippets of conversations I hear between the characters.  Then, later, I’ll sit down at my computer and add the bits and pieces to the draft.

 9What advice would you recommend to a young writer?

Read a lot!  Books. Magazines.  Cereal boxes.  Your sister’s diary. (Hee!–maybe not that last one.)  Write a lot!  Write for the pure fun and joy of creating something new.  Try not to worry if your writing is ” good enough” to get published.

10.  Do you plan to write another series about friendship?  If so, tell us about it.

I’m working  on the first book in a new series for young readers.  Like the “Friends for Keeps” series, the new series will revolve around a group of fourth grade friends.

Time for cheers and a giveaway.

Thank you Julie Bowe for making Friendship Day 2012 an extra special one. 


Okay readers,  leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a giveaway for a signed copy of the final book in “Friends for Keeps” series entitled:  My Extra Best Friend.  Please consider following this blog.  If you want to be entered in the giveaway and you’re not a follower, include your email address.  Entries are open to residents of USA and Canada.  Contest closes on August 8, 2012 at midnight.  The winner will be announced by August 10.Good luck! 

Look for the entire “Friends for Keeps” series at your local book store.  Remember to celebrate Friendship Day and your friendships.


  • To learn more about Julie Bowe visit her at her website:  http://www.juliebowe.com/
  • For another blog post about Julie Bowe, read an interview at From the Mixed-Up Files by Jacqueline Houtman on June 15, 2012. 


Copyright © 2012 Linda Martin Andersen

Do you know the order of the “Friends for Keeps” Series?  The answer will be listed in the next post.  Stay tuned to see if you’re correct.

Posted in Careers, Character Traits, Interviews, Monthly Activities, Reading, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

August 2012 Activities

Posted by lindamartinandersen on August 1, 2012

“August 2012 Activities” by Linda Martin Andersen

  “A Writer’s Playground”

A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

Think:  What does the word “August” bring to mind?

  • End of summer vacation
  • School supplies, fall clothes, backpacks, and all things Back to School.
  • Tax Free Weekend–Here’s a link to Department of Revenue in North Carolina.  Check to see if your state participates.  http://www.dor.state.nc.us/press/2012/salesholiday.html

What else happens in August?  Choose one of the conversation starters below and leave a comment.

Special Days in August:

  • Respect for Parents:  1  What’s one way you show your parents respect?  What’s one way you can improve?
  • World Wide Web Day:  1  Brainstorm internet terms.  Name ways the internet has made positive and negative differences.  Use the internet to connect with family and friends near and far away.
  • Watermelon Day:  3  List the products you know with watermelon flavor.  Which would you recommend to a friend?
  • National Chocolate Chip Day:  4  What can you add chocolate chips to today?  Pancakes, cookies, trailmix, etc.
  • National Mustard Day:  4 (1st Saturday)  Read the parable of the mustard seed.  What do you think it means?  Do you like hotdogs and hamburgers with or without mustard?  Do you like honey mustard or spicy mustard? 
  • Social Security Day:  4 Ask your parents or grandparents to explain what Social Security is.  Do they predict it will exist in the future?  What would they recommend be done, if anything?
  • Friendship Day:  5 (1st Sunday) Visit again on Friendship Day for an interview with Julie Bowe. Also, enter a giveaway for a signed copy of My Extra Best Friend, the last book in her “Friends for Keeps” Series.
  • National Kids’ Day:  5 (1st Sunday) What would be your idea of a picture perfect Kids’ Day?
  • Vinyl Record Day:  12 Ask your parents or grandparents about the history, size, and speed of vinyl records.  Does anyone you know collect these?  Have you ever played one on a record player?
  • International Lefthander’s Day:  13  Research names of people who are lefthanded.   Tell of a time you noticed a left-hander doing something differently from a righthander.  What are other things they do differently?
  • Poet’s Day:  21  I know a poet who writes a poem a day for kids and posts it on her blog.   She told me that she wished she could eat a sandwich with her favorite poet for Poet’s Day.  I can’t arrange that, but maybe I can persuade you to share one of your poems with her. Follow this link to meet Joy Acey, the Princess of Poetry:  http://www.poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com/ Leave her a comment.  Follow her blog and begin writing poetry every day like Joy.
  • Senior Citizen’s Day:  21  What is a senior citizen?  Make a list of all the senior citizens you know.  Do they live in a rest home, nursing home, at home, with family members?  Do you have senior citizens in your neighborhood?  In your church?  How can you help seniors?  Get your parents’ permission first.

Special Weeks in August:

  • International Clown Week:  1-7 Do you know anyone who is afraid of clowns?  What is that fear called?  What is your most pleasant memory of a clown?  What is your favorite book with a clown?  Read it again.  What fast food restaurant(s) uses a clown character for advertising?  Where else do you see clowns?
  • Exercise With Your Child Week:  6-12  What type exercise does your family do together?  What would you like to do together?  Why not ask?
  • National Scrabble Week:  11-15  Have you ever played Scrabble?  Other word games?  Have you ever visited a library for a game night there?  Does your family play board games together?  Why not start a board game club?
  • National Aviation Week 15-21 Visit Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC, home of the first successful airplane flight in 1903.  Check their website:  http://www.nps.gov/wrbr/index.htm  The park schedules events for kids including homemade kite flying and a way to earn Junior Ranger badges.  Read a book about Wilbur and Orville Wright.
  • Little League Baseball World Series:  17-26 Research the history of Little League Baseball.  Have you ever played for a baseball team?  What position did you play?  Tell about a favorite memory.
  • Be Kind to Humankind Week:  25-31 What are random acts of kindness?  Try one.  Get parent permission first.
  • National Safe at Home Week:  27-31 (Last M-F Week)  Do you have a home safety plan?  A fire escape plan?  Create and post an evacuation plan and practice it.  Schools have drills.  Homes can too.

August is…

  • American Indian Heritage Month  What Native Americans are in your area?  Learn more about one of them.  Read books about Native Americans.
  • What Will Be Your Legacy Month  What is a legacy?  What do you want yours to be?  Discuss your ideas with your parents.  Set goals.

*Thank you Brownie Locks.com for August celebration information.  For more August observances check out:  http://www.brownielocks.com/august.html

Let’s talk:  Choose one or more of the conversation starters above and leave a comment.  Thank you for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.”  Please come again soon.  Bring a friend.

*Resources:  http//vertex42.com (calendar) and http://www.brownielocks.com/august.html(calendar observances)

Coming next: Meet Julie Bowe, author of “Friends For Keeps” Series and Register for a Signed Copy Giveaway

Copyright © 2012 Linda Martin Andersen


Posted in Careers, Character Traits, Games, Interviews, Math, Monthly Activities, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

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