Guest Post :: Patti Wheeler of Travels with Gannon & Wyatt

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  Where We Find Our Inspiration By Patti Wheeler, coauthor of Travels with Gannon & Wyatt This past year I have had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of elementary school children about my middle-grade adventure book series. Meeting with parents and teachers along the way, one of the first questions I’m always asked is what inspired me to write these books. The answer is similar, I think, to what a lot of writers would say if asked the same question: my life. I grew up in a small town in North Florida that most people have never heard of. My father was a truck driver. He drove routes all over the southeastern United States. Sometimes I got to ride along. I remember the first time I saw the Smokey Mountains. Those high, misty mountains seemed like a different world to me, and yet it was only a car ride away. It was those early trips that opened my mind to the … [Read more...]

Born Mobile – The Power of Games to Inspire STEM Learning

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Born Mobile – The Power of Games to Inspire STEM Learning You can’t get around kids and mobile devices these days. According to a recent study by Common Sense Media, more than 80 percent of kids 2-8 years old use a mobile device, which is no surprise considering that households with kids own a whopping 10 mobile devices[1]. Our lifestyles and our kids are wired for go. And, what’s occupying their mobile screentime? Games. Apps. No doubt, you’ve heard the familiar call, “Mooommmm, can I download…” In addition to the fun factor, games can also be the gateway to inspired learning – especially in math and science. There is growing evidence that giving children a head start in developing their math and science skills can be beneficial in that they are more likely to show real interest in these subjects and they are more likely to do well in these classes at school. It’s a win-win … [Read more...]

Spotlight on The Orange County Children’s Book Festival

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This coming Sunday the 29th is the Orange County Children's Book Festival and I will be attending in the Author's Booth section dressed in my pirate gear.  This festival holds a special place for me because years ago when we attended with my (then) three year old daughter - Penelope the Purple Pirate was just a dream and I was at the very early stages of writing the story and had yet to meet Paul Johnson, our Illustrator.  I still remember walking through the book festival looking at the authors selling their books and thought to myself that one day I will be here too, selling my book.  I didn't know when (or how) this would happen, but I was determined to make it a reality.  Fast forward four years and this is my third festival where I will showcase Penelope and now Gerry the Giraffe.  My daughter has been there with me the past few years which made it even more special as I was able to … [Read more...]

DIY Craft Ideas for School Gifts and Supplies

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My daughter loves to do crafts, draw pictures, build Lego's, and play Minecraft on the iPad. If it is something she can create and build - she is game!  I found some cute DIY gift and school supply ideas to do with the kids on a lazy day.  There are only a few weeks left for most before school starts so enjoy this free time together.  Here are some of my favorites ideas that could also be used as gifts such as the painted storage jars and alphabet vase or to organize your children's school supplies with the colorful supply caddy.       Painted Storage Jars: To create your own animal topped storage jars, grab old plastic toys, some super glue and some spray paint. Et voilà!  We have so many plastic animals laying around this will be an easy craft to do!  Just recycle spaghetti glass jars and you are set - you just need to pick up some spray paint at the … [Read more...]

10 Places to Visit with the Family this Summer

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Both my parents were raised in the Midwest and thus big fans of fishing.  As kids,  we would spend many a summer taking trips to various fishing spots to catch the next big one!  Summer vacations with the family can be a great time to create long-lasting memories.  I can still remember making S'mores  while staying in a Big Bear cabin and hearing bears outside our place rummaging through the trash cans (this was before they made the trash cans bear-proof).  We sat inside looking at each other wide-eyed eating our S'mores and giggling nervously.  I still remember those times fondly! Here are some great places to visit with your family this summer courtesy of Parents.com.  And Colleen Gurney, an elementary schoolteacher, put together a wonderful  Vacation Family Journal that your kids can fill out while on your family trip.  Have a great time this summer!     The … [Read more...]

In the Spotlight with Stephen Mooser, Editor of SCBWI Bulletin

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    When I was first thinking (and dreaming) about writing a children's picture book over three years ago, the owner of a local bookstore told me to join The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. Several of the most prestigious children’s literature professionals sit on the SCBWI Board of Advisors. I ended up joining the organization and have attended several of their events.  They offer events where you have the opportunity to have your book reviewed by some of the best editors at the major publishing houses in the country, to top agents.  It was a huge learning curve for me but one I am so glad I embarked on as it helped me to … [Read more...]

Fuel Reading this Summer with PBS Kids Free Resources

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For many families, school got out this past week and many parents (especially moms) might be thinking about ways they plan to keep their children busy and minds active.  Studies have shown that children score lower on reading and writing tests at the end of the summer than from the end of the school year.  According to a study from Improve Reading Skills.com research shows: ~ Students who read over the summer do better in school in the fall. ~ Students who do not read over the summer demonstrate academic loss in fall. ~ 8 out of 10 studies indicate students who read for fun outperformed those who did not. ~ Students read more when they can choose their own books. ~ Reading 5 books over the summer can prevent academic loss. ~ Summer reading loss is cumulative.  By the end of 6th grade, children who do not read over the summer are two years behind other children.   PBS Kids … [Read more...]

MrsP.com Announces Finalists for 4th National Kids’ Writing Contest

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                        MrsP.com Announces Finalists for 4th National Kids’ Writing Contest This year we are excited to be participating as a sponsor in the Mrs.P National Children's Writing Contest.  I feel it is so important to start the love of reading and writing at an early age - the earlier the better - so I was more than happy to be a sponsor again this year for the Mrs. P Be-A-Famous-Writer Contest.  Mrs. P  is headed up by the very funny Kathy Kinney who played Mimi from the Drew Carey Show.  Mrs. P Enterprises, LLC, was founded in 2008 by Hollywood team Clay Graham, Kathy Kinney and Dana Plautz.  After having built successful careers in television and New Media, the three creators of MrsP.com were brought together by a love of reading and a desire to help spark that same passion in young people everywhere. The company endeavors to expose young people to great books and … [Read more...]

10 Easy Steps to Write a Letter to Santa Claus

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  What a magical time of year to be a kid - or big kid at heart!  What better way to get into the spirit of things than to help your children write a letter to Santa!  Here I provide some tips on how to write to St. Nick and tell him about some of the wonderful things you've done for the year and mention the toys you would like most this year.  1.  Set the scene.  To get into the spirit of the holidays I have holiday music playing nonstop.  This is the perfect time to put in your favorite holiday tunes and even wear a holiday hat.  Tis the season!  2.  Get out some colorful pens and paper.  There are different sites that offer some Santa Letter templates if you want to use these.  Or you can use plain white paper and decorate it as you see fit.  Santa likes personal letters so you can't go wrong!    3. Begin your letter with a greeting, which is also known as a salutation. … [Read more...]

November 15th is I Love To Write Day

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November 15th is I Love to Write Day which was started by John Riddle exactly 10 years ago.  He says that while driving from his home in Delaware to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's conference with his college-aged daughter, he told her "remember this day, November 15th, as I declare it as"I Love to Write Day."  Of course the journey to make this become a reality and into what it is today with over 30,000 schools participating with events to celebrate I Love to Write Day across the country is more than what Mr. Riddle said he could have expected! He said he began by sending out press releases to media outlets across the United States as well as information to schools, bookstores and libraries.  The response he said was way beyond his wildest dreams as over 11,000 schools across the country signed up to hold I Love to Write Day events and activities!  This past year they had … [Read more...]