A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Posts Tagged ‘Stake Out’

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 »

Write a Little, Write a Lot, Just Write

Posted by lindamartinandersen on January 7, 2013

“Write a Little, Write a Lot, Just Write” 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.

January 8-14 is Universal Letter Writing Week

Have you heard the chatter:  “Letter writing is a dying art,” some claim.  The number of letters mailed are on the decline and postal delivery may be reduced.  Saturday delivery could be eliminated.

At Christmas, a postal worker told me he had observed that only “little old ladies” were sending Christmas cards anymore.  Still, I won’t get discouraged because written communication does takes place, just in different places and in new formats.  Look for it.  It’s seen in blog posts, text messages, billboards, lunch boxes notes from Mom, church marques, cheers and jeers in newspapers, etc.  Where have you seen written messages?  Choose a day during Universal Letter Writing Week and keep a tally of written communication you see.  And remember to keep writing–a little, a lot, just write.

Recently, I read a letter written by Kelly Starling Lyons that was posted at ReaderKidZ, a blog site that reviews books written for children and spotlights authors.  Kelly chose a dynamic way to tell readers about her new book, Hope’s Gift.  After reading her letter, I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of  Hope’s Gift.

Hope's GiftFor description and purchase information:  http://www.amazon.com/Hopes-Gift-Kelly-Starling-Lyons/dp/0399160019/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357338421&sr=8-1&keywords=hope%27s+gift

Read Kelly Starling Lyon’s letter to “Dear Readers” here:


Listed below are a few examples of writing done by kids and adults.  Find your category.  How many of the listed examples have you written?  What others can you add to the lists?

Kids Write…

  • Thank you notes
  • Letters of apology
  • Poems, stories, and reports
  • Greeting cards (hand-made or purchased)
  • Letters to Santa
  • Letters to an author (not bad to be up there with Santa and the Tooth Fairy)
  • Letters to the Tooth Fairy (Seen posted at my dentist’s office):

Tooth Fairy--final one

Adults Write…

  • Emails  to family and friends
  • Notes in their child’s lunch box
  • Letters to someone deployed or far away
  • Greeting cards
  • Blog posts
  • Book reviews
  • Thank you notes–I recently won a copy of Stake Out by Bonnie J. Doerr at Carol Baldwin’s Blog.  I have been fortunate enough to win many books by commenting on favorite blogs.  When I am a winner, I always send an email thank you and sometimes I send a thank you note in the mail. 

Product Details

For description and purchase information:  http://www.amazon.com/Stakeout-Bonnie-J-Doerr/dp/1616030070/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357338950&sr=8-1&keywords=Bonnie+J.+Doerr

To learn more about Bonnie Doerr’s book, Stake Out, check Carol’s blog post here:  http://www.carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com/  Carol ‘s blog features book reviews and giveaways.  Check it out.

Adult Writers/Authors Write…

  • Letters to an agent or editor
  • Query Letters
  • Outlines
  • Proposals to Publishing Company
  • Thank you notes
  • Newsletters
  • Poems, short stories, and novels
  • Blog posts, tweets, a Facebook comments, or other social media messages.
  • Authors inform contestants of winning a contest
  • Authors or other famous person answers fan mail
  • Book Reviews–I recently posted two on Amazon:

Book Review #1:  Lessons Learned:  The Story of Pilot Mountain School  by Gretchen Griffith

Product Details

To hear an excerpt from Lessons Learned, listen here:  http://www.southernwritersonline.com/take-five.html

For description and purchase information:  http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Learned-Story-Mountain-School/dp/0914875647/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357329446&sr=8-1&keywords=Lessons+Learned+by+Gretchen+Griffith

5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School by Gretchen Griffith, November 26, 2012
This review is from: Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School (Paperback)

Gretchen Griffith describes herself as a storycatcher. Her ability to capture the Pilot Mountain School stories and their underlying lessons goes beyond storycatching. She records more than mere words. Griffith’s text weaves the voice and heart of the people in such a way that readers connect, whether they grew up in that area or thousands of miles away. Lessons Learned tells the story of Pilot Mountain School, constructed in 1942, and how it became the hub of the community. Even though its doors eventually closed to rural school children, the lessons learned there were not forgotten. Today, the building serves as a gathering place for shopping and dining, as well as a center for a community outreach program. Pilot Mountain School continues to radiate lessons. Lessons Learned is recommended to all who love history and creative approaches to restoration of buildings.

Book Review #2:  Flip Flap Floodle by Joan Y. Edwards

Flip Flap Floodle cover 300x421 300 res

5.0 out of 5 stars School Counselor’s Review of Flip Flap Floodle by Joan Y. Edwards, January 4, 2013
This review is from: Flip Flap Floodle (Paperback)

When I was a School Counselor, I often used literature to illustrate good character traits and making good decisions. I shared Flip Flap Floodle with a 1st grade class. We had been talking about asking trusted adults for help when needed. This book fit right in with our study. After reading, the students created thank you cards to give an adult who had helped them. One of the children said that the author should get a thank you card for her book about helping others. I agreed.

Let’s talk:  What do you think about letter writing in 2013?  Does it make you sad that there are less handwritten letters?  Do you enjoy corresponding by email?  What are your thoughts? Please enter them in the comment section.

Thank you for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.” Please come again soon.  Bring a friend. 

Coming soon:  A guest blog by Joyce Hostetter, children’s book author.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

Posted in Calendar Events, Careers, Character Traits, Games, Interviews, Math, Monthly Activities, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

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