A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Wheeler’

What Does an Old Cricket Have to Do With Trustworthiness?

Posted by lindamartinandersen on February 22, 2013

“What Does an Old Cricket Have to Do With Trustworthiness?” by Linda Martin Andersen


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

Think of February and Washington’s birthday and you may recall the story of a cherry tree, an axe, and George’s honesty.  Hopefully, after reading this post, when you think of February, you’ll also think of Old Cricket, Lisa Wheeler, and trustworthiness.

When I was an elementary School Counselor in Cumberland County, NC, students studied character traits each month. Through blog posts at “A Writer’s Playground,” I continue to spread the word about good character. 

This month, like the Cumberland County Schools in Fayetteville, NC, I present the character trait of TRUSTWORTHINESS, which is defined as “telling the truth and keeping promises.”  To promote this trait, I selected one of my favorite read-aloud picture books by Lisa Wheeler.  

Adults, you’ll enjoy reading this as much as readers love hearing it.  Whether reading for one or a whole classroom, encourage interactive participation.  Point out body parts and repeat the sound effects made by Old Cricket’s physical ailments. 

Before reading, predict what Old Cricket says or does that gets him in trouble.  Remember, one of the book’s themes is trustworthiness.  Does Old Cricket tell a lie?  Does he break a promise?  What do you think he might have promised or said that was a lie?  Read the book to see if you’re correct.


Look closely at the book jacket.  Is Old Cricket putting on his hat?  Is this a scene from the book?  I’d like to send a response to Old Cricket and to Lisa Wheeler:  I’m tipping my hat to both of you. Readers, do you know what that means?  Why would I make this gesture?  After reading the book, see if you agree with my actions.  Why or why not?

Learn about Old Cricket and many other picture book titles by Lisa Wheeler here:


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For activities created for Old Cricket by two different guide authors, please check the links below:



If you’re a children’s author, I recommend checking out Lisa Wheeler’s upcoming boot camps.


I’d love to hear about a time you told the truth or kept a promise.  Or perhaps you’d like to tell about a time when you didn’t tell the truth or you didn’t keep a promise.  What happened?  Did anyone discover what you’d done?  Did you admit you had done wrong?  Did you apologize? Please leave a comment below.

Thank you for joining us at “A Writer’s Playground.”  Come again soon and bring a friend.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

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

It’s February. Don’t You LOVE It?

Posted by lindamartinandersen on February 1, 2013

“It’s February.  Don’t You LOVE It?” 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 “February” bring to mind?  Cupids, bows and arrows, valentines, chocolates, flowers, sweethearts, romance, etc.  Check the listing below for many more ways to remember February.

Special Days in February:

  • Bubble Gum Day:  1—-Smack your gum.  Blow a bubble.  Read Bubble Gum by LisaWheeler and learn what happens when toad gets stuck in gum.  For activities and an except check the author’s site here:  http://www.lisawheelerbooks.com/LW/bubblegum.html9780316988940_p0_v1_s114x166[1]

  • Have a contest for… the biggest bubble, chewing one piece all day long (honor system), or naming 10 different flavors in 10 seconds.  

  • Survey your friends.  Categories:  Favorite flavors, those who can blow a bubble, or those who can rub their belly and chew at the same time.   What other categories can you name? 

  • Picture book writers, check out Lisa Wheeler’s Boot Camp at www.lisawheelerbooks.com

  • Give Kids a Smile Day:  1  Kids, remind adults all day that it’s “Give Kids a Smile Day.”  Count the number of smiles you get.  Be sure to give one back.

  • Groundhog Day:  2  In or out?  Spring or winter?  Shadow or no shadow?  Which do you wish for?  Why?

  • Have you read Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill?  I hope you will.   Check out the author’s website at http://www.susannahill.com/punxsutawneyphyllis.html


  • Picture book writers, Susanna Leonard Hill conducts online writing courses.  Check it out at www.susannahill.com

  • Sled Dog Day:  2  Create writing prompts about sled dogs and dog sled races.  Place each prompt on a slip of paper and share them with your teacher.  Perhaps your class will use one or more of these today or later this month.

  • World Wetlands Day:  2  What is a wetland?  Where have wetlands been drained?  Is draining wetlands recommended today?  Why or why not?

  • Ballet Day:  7  Have you ever attended a ballet?  Have you ever taken ballet class?  Have you been in a recital or performance?  Do a subject search on your public library or school library site and see how many books are in their collection about ballet.  Which genre had the largest collection?  Look for one that interests you.   

  • Laugh and Get Rich Day:  8  What do you think this special day is all about?  Do you know the expression “laugh all the way to the bank?”  What do you think that means?  Discuss your ideas with a parent.

  • National Stop bullying Day:  9  Tell about a time you were afraid of a bully.  What do these terms mean:  bully, victim, and bystander?  What can you do to prevent or stop bullying?

  • Read in the Bathtub Day:  9  Have you ever read in the bathtub?  Have you ever played with toys in the bathtub?  Tell a bathtub story you know.

  • National Shut-in Visitation Day:  11  What is a shut-in?  Do you know one?  When have you visited someone who is shut-in?  Tell about it.

  • Lincoln’s Birthday:  12  Pretend you were asked to do a photo shoot of Lincoln and Washington.  What backgrounds would you use?  Why?  What prop would you have each to hold?  Are the images you see of these presidents on bulletin boards the same cardboard headshots you’ve seen for years?  Get creative this year.  Research images, books, online sites.  Make a collage.  Learn facts  about Lincoln and Washington while you look for photographs.

  • Paul Bunyan Day:  12  If you were to run into Paul Bunyan, who would mostly likely be with him?  What would they be doing?  Read a book about this folk hero.  Tell how you are like him.  How are you different. 

  • Ferris Wheel Day:  14  Ferris wheels–Do you love ’em or hate ’em?  Have you ever ridden a double ferris wheel?  Pinpoint the states where you’ve visited amusement parks.

  • National Donor Day:  14  What is an organ donor?  Research to learn more.  What organ is most frequently donated?

  • Valentines Day:  14  What is your favorite valentine symbol?  Why?  What would be your ideal Valentine’s Day celebration?  Tell about a special Valentine’s Day memory.

  • National Hippo Day:  15  What hippo book characters do you know?  Do a title search at your library and read fiction and nonfiction hippo books. 

  • National Gum Drop Day:  15  Do you eat gum drops?  Have you ever used them to create craft projects?  Name what you made.  I’ve made  gum drop trees for Christmas.  Have you?       

  • My Way Day:  17  Name five things you would ask for if it was “My Way Day.”

  • Battery Day: 18  Survey friends and family for their favorite “toy” that uses batteries.  What size does it require?

  • Cow Milked While Flying In an Airplane Day:  18  Just for fun name an animal, an action, and a mode of transportation.  Make it a special day to celebrate.  Please leave your creation in the comment section.

  • Pluto Day:  18  Brainstorm the word “Pluto.”  Which is your favorite use for the word?  Why?

  • Presidents Day:  18  Which presidents are celebrated this day?  What will you do to celebrate?  See the suggestions above for Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12.

  • World Thinking Day:  22  What are three key things that the world needs to think about? 

  • George Washington’s Birthday:  22  What picture comes in your mind when someone mentions George Washington’s name?  Research to learn three important facts you did not know about George Washington.  Would you rather have known him when he was a child, a general, or a president?  why?

  • International Sword Swallowers Day:  23  Have you ever seen a sword swallowers perform?  Look for books and research about sword swallowers.  Locate jokes and riddles about them too.  Check for performances on videos or dvds. 

  • For Pete’s Sake Day:  26   What does this expression mean:  For Pete’s Sake.  When do people use this saying?  Have you ever heard it?  When?

  • Inconvenience Yourself Day:  27  What does it mean to inconvenience yourself?  Why would you do that?  Look for ways to show respect for others, self, and things.

  • National Tooth Fairy Day:  28 Book Titles  What story can you tell about leaving a tooth for the tooth fairy?

Special Weeks in February:

  • Children’s Authors & Illustrators Week:  3-9  Who is your favorite author?  Who is your favorite illustrator?  Tell a friend and ask who is his/her favorite.  Consider reading something by that author or illustrator.  Visit an author or illustrator’s website.  Check out their published books.  Look for a title you’d like to read.

  • International Coaching Week: 3-9  Who is your favorite coach.  Make a card and send it.  Bake a plate of cookies and deliver it.

  • International Friendship Week:  4-8  Who is your best friend?  Do you have a friend in another state or country?  Think of something you can do for your friend.  Do it!

  • National School Counseling Week:  4-8  Does your school have a counselor?  Name three or more things the counselor does for students.  Have you ever talked with him/her?  What can you do to recognize this person?

  • Jell-O Week: 10-16  What is your favorite flavor?  Do you like fruit  in your jello?  Do you eat it with whipped topping?  Ask your parents if you can help make some.  Eat jello with your family.  Just for fun, create ways to eat it.  For example, tap it with a spoon and count to three.  Is it still wiggling?

  • National Pancake Week:  10-16  Can you name pancake varieties from A-Z?

  • Random Acts of Kindness:  10-16  Who could you do something nice for without telling them your plans ahead of time?

  • National Green Week:  11-17  What does “green” mean to you? What ways do you practice being “green?”  Please visit again on February 11, 2013 for a guest blog by tween author Bonnie Doerr about “being green.”

  • Great Backyard Bird Count:  15-17  Have you ever participated in this event?  Learn more about it.

  • Read Me Week: 21-25  How will you celebrate?  Do you have a book on a shelf you’ve never read or one you haven’t read in a year or more?  Read anything you like, just read!

  • Peace Corps Week:  25-3/3  Research about the Peace Corps.  Do you know anyone who has volunteered for this group?  What things has the Peace Corp done to assist others?  Name at least three things.

February is…

  • Heart Month  What celebrations are going on in your community?  Read a nonfiction book about the heart.  Read a fiction book with “heart” in the title.  Name heart healthy exercises.

  • Bake for Family Fun Month  What will you and your family bake for fun?  Try doubling a recipe.  Learn a substitute for a food ingredient.  These are included in many cookbooks.

  • Dog Training Education Month  What kind of trainings are there for dogs.  Research and see.

  • From Africa to Virginia Month  Do some globe or world atlas studies.  Study and learn the names of locations.  Check your public library for a data base on world cultures.  Learn about somewhere you’ve never been.

  • International Boost Self-Esteem Month  Joan Edwards, a friend of mine likes to say, “Do something to celebrate you.”  I hope you will take her advice.

  • International Expect Success Month  Name a success you have had recently.  Name one you expect to have this month.

  • Library Lovers Month  Please tell a librarian something you love at the library.  Try something new there this month.

  • National Black History Month  Research two African American heroes who are lesser known.

  • National Children’s Dental Health Month  Who is your dentist?  Call him/her and say, “Thank you.”  How can you improve your dental health habits.

  • National Time Management Month  How can you spend your time more wisely?  Share your ideas with your parents.  Set a goal for one of these areas.  Good luck!

  • Youth Leadership Month  Name one or more youth leaders who has made a difference in your life.  What ways has this person helped you to be a better person?  Thank them for that improvement.

  • Lent:  What is Lent?  How is it celebrated?  Have you ever given up something for lent?  What does that mean?

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

Coming soon:  A guest blog by Bonnie Doerr for National Green Week (Feb. 11-17)

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

Posted in Calendar Events, Careers, Character Traits, Games, Interviews, Math, Monthly Activities, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

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