A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Posts Tagged ‘National Green Week’

Winner of Island Sting by Bonnie Doerr

Posted by lindamartinandersen on February 18, 2013

“Winner of Island Sting by Bonnie Doerr” 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.

I hope you enjoyed National Green Week from February 11-17. 

Bonnie Doerr, our guest blogger this week, did a great job of listing ways to make a difference and keep “all things green.” 

Today, we announce the winner of the giveaway.  This lucky person will receive a copy of Bonnie Doerr’s book, Island Sting.

Island sting new cover small 

And the winner is…June Baker

Congratulations  June. Your prize will be mailed on March 1 or shortly there after.  To all others, please look for Bonnie Doerr’s books for your reading pleasure.

Add Stake Out to your list of books to read. 

small Stakeout_cover_web2

Both books are available on Amazon in traditional and Kindle formats. Island Sting: http://amzn.to/WsYmTc  and Stake Out: http://amzn.to/11ZgXNw. To learn more about Bonnie visit www.BonnieDoerrBooks.com. A click on the Teacher Page button will take you to activities and links to lesson plans for a variety of disciplines.

Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.”  Come again soon.  Bring a friend.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

Posted in Careers, Character Traits, Interviews, Monthly Activities, Reading, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

All Things Green and a Book Giveaway

Posted by lindamartinandersen on February 11, 2013

“All Things Green and a Book Giveaway” 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.

National Green Week is February 11-17. 

To celebrate, Bonnie Doerr has agreed to be our guest blogger.  Bonnie writes tween fiction and has two books with characters who care for our world and “all things green.”

Join me in providing a warm welcome for Bonnie Doerr.


Linda, I’m super happy to help celebrate National Green Week with you. Isn’t it wonderful how many young people are beginning to care about the health of our beautiful Earth? Much credit must be given to their teachers for organizing activities to promote going green and to their parents for setting good examples.

Importance of “green” in my writing:

Though I hadn’t considered this before, I realize that this oversimplified term green is the basis for most of my work. To me, being green begins with a deep respect, reverence, and appreciation for the natural world. These qualities fuel a passion to protect our environment and are reflected in my writing. If I were not closely surrounded by trees, plants, wildlife, and open sky, I would feel incomplete— mentally and emotionally unhealthy. It would be difficult for me to function. It’s likely I wouldn’t be writing at all if I couldn’t interact daily with the natural world.

As a child, I…

was awestruck by nature in all its manifestations—animal, vegetable, mineral—long before I had the tiniest clue that my life was somehow connected to nature, in fact, dependent upon it.

My tween adventure/mystery novels, Island Sting and StakeOut…

feature endangered species struggling to survive in a sensitive environment. In the course of protecting these creatures, the teen characters learn about the many human behaviors that both directly and indirectly threaten animal survival. The teens’ experiences lead them to becoming environmental stewards.

For example, in StakeOut, Kenzie rescues a sea turtle that is choking on a grocery bag. This incident inspires her crusade against the use of plastic bags. Though Kenzie begins this campaign in order to save sea turtles, reducing the production of petroleum based plastics has a far reaching effect on the overall health of our planet. There is a connection between the survival of one creature, the health of its habitat, and the survival of the human race. Kenzie’s experience is a perfect example of how living green begins with an appreciation of the natural world.

Sadly, there are many children who live what Dr. Jane Clark (University of Maryland) calls a “containerized” life…

a life spent mostly within walls. How can these children experience nature? Can we expect nature-deprived children to care much about something with which they are unfamiliar? How then will they ever connect environmental health with their own well-being?

Could a virtual outdoor experience help make this connection?

Reading outdoor adventures or mysteries may provide the taste of a genuine experience. A taste that could crack those restrictive walls allowing a glimmer of natural light to leak in and spark interest in the world outside. Even if this outside world stretched no farther than a backyard habitat, a vacant lot, or a community park, it would be a start toward valuing nature.

Picture books with ecological themes abound. But often older readers aren’t introduced to such fiction. Tweens in particular are at a critical age where values are being formed. Reading action-packed stories with environmental themes impacts readers subtly. When readers care about the characters in books, they will cheer for the hero’s success. Literary environmental heroes can inspire real world action. I know this for a fact. I’ve heard from an Island Sting reader who was inspired to become a park ranger and a StakeOut reader who raised funds to support a sea turtle hospital. I learned another reader formed an environmental club at school.

There are many fun environmentally inspired reads for tweens and teens.

Books by Jeanne Craighead George remain popular. I recommend anything by Ginny Rorby and all of Carl Hiaasen’s children’s books. Other great reads are Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French and Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things, by Wendelin Van Draanen.

An excellent resource for ecologically themed books is the Green Earth Award list:

http://www.newtonmarascofoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Full-List-of-GEBA-Winners-2011.pdf. I’m proud that StakeOut was a finalist for this award in 2012.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of children spending time outdoors if they are to become genuinely invested in living a green life. For an in depth discussion of this critical relationship between children and nature refer to Richard Louv’s well-researched Last Child in the Woods, Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Now, Linda, on to your second request.

How can students live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Because I write for tweens and young teens, my suggestions target this age group, though younger children can adapt many of these ideas for their use or encourage their family to do so.

The best thing anyone can do to protect the environment is to set a good example.

Be strong enough to ignore anyone who thinks it’s cool to toss trash out of a car window. Something as small as a piece of discarded chewing gum means death to animals that swallow it. Food may be biodegradable, but if tossed out the window, it draws hungry small animals. These critters attract predators. Then the predators are often struck by cars. Remember that old saying “Stash your trash.” It’s easy to carry a litter container in the car and empty it in a container outside any retail establishment.

Use fun fabric bags for all shopping instead of accepting plastic bags to carry purchases. Plastic bags often blow out of trash containers and garbage trucks, creating ecological havoc. Reducing garbage roadside not only makes for a more pleasant visual environment (hopefully contributing to neighborhood pride) but also protects wildlife and prevents the blockage of storm drains. You wouldn’t believe the amount of trash we clear off our bridge after high water. Most of it is washed from roadsides during heavy rains. Not only do cups, bottles, and bags pose a danger to wildlife, but chemicals in waste pollute our water.

It costs nothing to simply to pick up a few pieces of litter each day, whether you dropped them or not, and put them in a trash container. Make a green pledge to leave a place better than you found it.

It’s free and can be a fun social experience to join an environmental group online or in person. Check out http://www.teensturninggreen.org/ .

Teens can reduce their carbon footprint with creative takes on fashion.

Instead of buying new clothes that travel thousands of miles using scads of energy, teens can hold fashion swap parties. Partiers brings clothes they’re tired of, trade or combine separates into new looks or alter pieces in creative ways. A fashion show makes a grand finale.

But what would life be like without a new outfit once in a while? When buying a mood booster, choose an outfit that doesn’t require dry cleaning. Not only is taking clothes to the cleaners a hassle, but it’s expensive. If dry cleaning is an absolute must (not only is dry cleaning not really *dry*, but it often isn’t needed even though the label says so), try to find a shop that uses greener methods (wet-cleaning or liquid CO2) to reduce its toxic load. Check out http://www.nodryclean.com/ to find a green cleaner near you.

For more information on green cleaning visit this site: http://ecohearth.com/eco-zine/home-and-renovation/973-green-dry-cleaning-find-green-dry-cleaner.html

Teens can support companies like Patagonia. Patagonia helps reduce the load on our planet by collecting worn-out clothes and rebuilding them into new garments. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_34/b3998431.htm

Why not become a smart label shopper? By reducing your use of petroleum cosmetic products, you can help reduce the effects of climate change.  Petroleum (in the form of paraffin oil, propylene glycol, and ethylene) is found in products like lip balm, lotions, lubricants, and many plastic covered products.  Choose products containing beeswax, cocoa butter, and vegetable oils instead. Visit http://greenbeautyteam.com/answers-advice/teens-tweens-sprouts/tween-beauty-queen-party/ for ideas on holding a green-tween-beauty-queen party

Packing a waste free lunch is an easy way to help the planet. A typical American student can generate 67 pounds of school lunch packaging waste per school year. Wash and reuse all containers. When possible, stay away from any throwaway containers. http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/wastefree.htm

Students can also do what Kenzie and her friends are planning in my work in progress. They are encouraging their school cafeteria to go green. Here is a resource for ideas: http://www.ehow.com/how_6554419_go-green-school_s-cafeteria.html

The hardest part of becoming a better environmental steward is establishing new habits.

Any time you remember to engage in a green habit, no matter how insignificant you think it is, it sets a positive example and takes you another step closer to mastering the habit.

Linda, thanks for inviting me to join you here at A Writers’ Playground. It’s been fun to be a part of your mission.

Check out how to order Bonnie Doerr’s books here:

Island sting new cover small                                small Stakeout_cover_web2

Educators can order Island Sting and StakeOut from Follett and most other distributors. Both books are available on Amazon in traditional and Kindle formats. Island Sting: http://amzn.to/WsYmTc  and StakeOut: http://amzn.to/11ZgXNw. To learn more about Bonnie visit www.BonnieDoerrBooks.com. A click on the Teacher Page button will take you to activities and links to lesson plans for a variety of disciplines.

Bonnie, thanks so much for being our guest blogger!  If you would like to ask Bonnie questions or make comments, please do.  Those who leave comments before midnight on February 17, 2013 will be included in a drawing for a copy of Island Sting.  Please include your email for contact purposes.  The winner will be announced on February 18 and the prize will be mailed on March 1 or shortly there after.

Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.”  Come again soon.  Bring a friend.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

Posted in Careers, Character Traits, Interviews, Monthly Activities, Reading, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 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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