Nice quote

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." Neil Gaimon

Writing, Spelling and Language Arts

Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground.
-Noah Webster, lexicographer (1758-1843) 

Words are not created by academics in universities and suchlike, rather it is the man in the street who does so. Dictionary compilers almost always recognise them too late and embalm them in alphabetical order, in many cases when they have lost their original meaning. -Gabriel García Márquez, novelist and journalist, Nobel laureate (1927-2014) 

Writing and Publishing Opportunity: This was written on a couple of yahoo groups at the end of April 2013.  The person to submit writing to is  

Here is the post where she describes what she is looking for. 

Hi everyone. I'm an unschool mom who just got a new job as Travel Editor for We are going to launch the travel section of the website on June 1 (fingers crossed). is a traditional homeschooling community, but I believe so strongly that travel is the perfect example of how unschooling can work. Who goes on vacation with a curriculum? Almost no one. But look at how much they learn while you are traveling! Amazing! I really think of this new job as a means by which to share my beliefs, without having to utter the words.

One of the first things I want to launch with the site is a category devoted to kids and their writings. If you have a kiddo who enjoys writing and is looking for a by-line, I would love to publish their work. It can be about a vacation they took across the country or around the globe. Even something down the street....visiting the Aquarium or maybe a festival, a cool hotel, etc. Fun or educational. And parents, if you would like to contribute, I could use your work too. Shoot me an email at Lesli at for more info. Thx!

Here is one entry that Leslie received:

Link to further guidelines:  (Though this link doesn't specifically state that they are looking for young writers, they are!)

Writing links to explore on Deviantart:


Wreck This Journal: To Create Is to Destroy by Keri Smith
This overview of the book is from the Barnes and Noble site - For anyone who's ever wished to, but had trouble starting, keeping, or finishing a journal or sketchbook comes Wreck This Journal, an illustrated book that features a subversive collection of prompts, asking readers to muster up their best mistake- and mess-making abilities to fill the pages of the book (and even sometimes deface and destroy them). Acclaimed illustrator Keri Smith encourages journalers to engage in "destructive" acts—poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting with coffee, and more—in order to experience the true creative process. (Find more details at You'll discover a new way of art and journal making—and new ways to escape the fear of the blank page and fully engage in the creative process. (Thank you Nicole W for sharing this.)

Storybird site - Use pictures to inspire your story! This looks like a neat site to create stories (short or long or even poetry). Site states it's not for fan fiction. Looks very interesting and inspiring!! (Thank you Nicole W for sharing this.)

"The Artist's Way" I like "The Artist's Way" for writing for myself.  The Maine library lending system has the book.  I like the idea that you get better at writing by writing. 

Joyce Fetteroll's writing page:

More links at the bottom of Sandra's writing page.

"How To Raise A Good Writer" blogpost from Blog of the Zombie Princess:

"So, You Want To Be A Writer?  How to write, get published, and maybe even make it BIG!" by Vicki Hambleton and Cathleen Greenwood - I love this book!  Though it was written for kids, I got it out of the library for myself and liked it so much I purchased it!  
"Rip the Page" by Karen Benke (Minerva has the book too though!)

"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) (also check out her videos she did with Oprah) - This new book will be released in September 2015.

"50 Free Resources for Writers, Bloggers, And Other Freelancers"

An interesting topic on "The Craft of Writing Fiction" on "Linked In" - A Writer's Education (Is there a lack of education among writers? How did you learn to write and do you still learn? 

50 Writing Prompts by Talita Paolini (Christopher Paolini's mother - Christopher Paolini was 15 years old when he wrote Eragon)
Want to start a writer's workshop?  

Interested in meeting with a group of enthusiastic writers to share stories, writing tips, and get feedback and ideas?  

Here's a link to a book on facilitating a writer's workshop:  I don't own this book yet and have only seen what is available online, but it looks like it would be similar to the writer's workshop I attended at our local library which I thought was wonderful!  

The website states that "Whether you're a homeschool parent trying to make writing more meaningful to your child..." that the book may be what you are looking for.  Please note that (in my opinion) you don't have to make writing more meaningful to your child...your child will write when and because it is meaningful to them. If they are interested and motivated to write and would like to become a better writer, a writers workshop may provide the kind of environment that inspires and encourages them to continue writing and learning.  


Writing Because We Love To by Susannah Scheffer is a book one of my friends read and was inspired by.  Susannah Scheffer also wrote A Sense Of Self: Listening to Adolescent Girls (which is about how the 55 homeschooled girls she interviewed have good self-esteem and social skills and have the freedom and experience to make choices and be true to themselves.  Susannah was the editor of Growing Without Schooling magazine.  
This game looks neat!

Create-A-Story: The Creative Writing Game
Create-A-Story is the first board game to make story writing kid's play. Travel through time, walk on the moon, befriend a talking frog.
Preview by Yahoo
Create-A-Story Game 
Item: Story 1 $44.95

Create! Press 
P.O. Box 2785
Carlsbad, CA 92018-2785
Phone: 760-730-9550
Fax: 760-730-7519

A review of the game: Review of: Create-A-Story Game

"One Word Pearl" is a children's book about a girl who loved words and stored them in her treasure chest.

Writing and Correspondence Ideas:
Maybe your child would enjoy writing to pen pals, friends or family members?  It can be a neat way to meet new friends, even in other countries or keep in touch with special people.  

Would your child enjoy reading "Flat Stanley" and then sending his/her own Flat Stanley to others?  It might be fun to write back and forth about Stanley's adventures!  

Would your children enjoy writing for and receiving free things in the mail?
"Free Stuff for Kids" Free Stuff for Kids" (book) is available in the Maine Library system (request it and it can be delivered right to your library). 

Help your child create a blog.  They can make it private or public.

Write stories, poems, limericks, comics, make to do or other lists, etc.  
  • You can do these things and share them with your family.  Maybe they will be inspired to try it too!  
  • Need ideas?  "Wishes, Lies and Dreams" by Kenneth Koch is full of ideas for writing poems.  
  • When Katie was little, I started to write down some poems by family members and friends in a composition notebook.  This is neat to look through.  In addition, my dad has always enjoyed writing limericks and poems.  I recently found out that he is still creating them and sharing them with other poetry enthusiasts online!  
  • Here is a book for those who love comics: How To Draw and Sell Comics by Alan McKenzie  or find it on sale now at this link: (not sure what shipping would be nor how long the sale will last, but might be worth finding out as five dollars is a good deal!).
  • New! My daughter Makana found this on the 2014-2015 Maine Student Book Award List: "Draw Out the Story: Ten Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics" by Brian McLachlan (yes, it is in the Minerva system!) 
Magnetic Letters - Use them on the fridge to spell out your child's name or other words.    

Magnetic Poetry (Word Magnets)  - Great for poetry or notes - anything!  I wish I took photos of some of the poems and words that were put together on our refrigerator!!
Link to the many different kinds of magnetic poetry kits on amazon.

Mad Libs - Fun and creative, and you learn about nouns, verbs, adverbs, plurals, etc. 
There are paper versions or you can do it online for free:

Grocery Store Lists - Would your child like to add an item to the grocery list?  Maybe they'd like to help you in the store to cross an item off the list, find the next one, and to make sure you don't forget the good stuff! ;) 

Wish Lists - Make one with your child and post it on the wall.  They can refer to it or add to it as they like.      

fun site to play around with that will involve writing:

Here is a cute site for sending e-cards. From what I've seen so far, many of the cards include animals, nice music (some classical) and you can even learn things (ie. The end of the greeting of the Rockin' Rally e-card, which is under the Get Well tab, allows you to roll the cursor over each car to find out information about the different cars.) Thank you Sarah Aiken for sharing this! 

Another fun e-card site that involves typing and reading is American Greetings Talking E-cards: Many of the cards available are talking animals and you can choose between a voice in the United States or a voice the United Kingdom.  

An inspiring book for writing prompts: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Spelling: If your child asks you how to spell a word, spell it for them!  They will still learn even if they don't look it up or sound it out themselves....AND they'll learn how to patiently and kindly help others because of how they are treated.  

Though spelling may come easily to some, it may take others longer.  There is no timetable for learning how to spell.  Some people have certain words that they will always find tricky to remember how to spell.  Spell check is a wonderful tool!  

It would feel so disrespectful to me if I was engrossed in writing and asked my husband or a friend for help to spell a word and was told to "look it up."  If you ever feel the urge to tell your child "look it up," pause and think of how you would want to be treated.  Wouldn't you want your spouse, partner or friend to simply spell the word for you?  

If you feel the urge to say "Look it up" or have done so, please read this as another reminder of why that might not be such a good idea and what you can do otherwise:

Many kids learn to spell by being surrounded with literature.  Some ways spelling might naturally be learned over time include: reading and writing stories, poems, lists, letters, emails and cards, texting, typing on an old typewriter, typing to a friend while skyping or gaming, labeling things (ie. creating signs in Minecraft and typing text onto them), and playing games where spelling is a part of the game such as Scribblenauts - though I'd get a game for the fun and creativity of the game, not to specifically teach my kid to spell...though that may be a side effect.  If you do get a game like Scribblenauts, be prepared to be asked how to spell Lots of words! 

Fun game that involves spelling: Boggle.  You can play it online too:   
Note: When we play the game as a family, we make it easier for those still learning or newly able to read and spell.  ie. Makana can still count her words even if they are only two letters long and she can use any letters to make her words.  Her letters don't have to be right next to each other.  I've noticed as of the last time we played the game with my mom in early August, that she is able to make and spell more words and her handwriting is coming along.

The end of the book "Sarah, Plain and Tall" by Patricia MacLachlan has a final chapter called, "Life After Sarah, Plain and Tall" that talks about what she thinks about as a writer and what she thinks her audience would want to know.  She did make a sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall called "Skylark."  Here is a link to the sequence of the Sarah, Plain and Tall books if you'd like to read them in order:

Elizabeth Gilbert's Thought's on Writing:

Good post on writing (becoming a writer) - 

Delancyplace is a "..brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came." 

Visit the Delancyplace homepage: click here
For Delancyplace previous daily emails click here.
To sign up for the Delancyplace daily email click here.

Aerogramme Writers' Studio:

Ten Creativity Lessons From George Carlin:
Writing Link by Oprah:

"Writers Speak: a collection of interviews with writers on Fresh Air with Terry Gross"  From the learnoutloud link: "In this next best thing to a writer's workshop, 13 acclaimed novelists, poets, and cultural icons talk about their lives, their experiences, and their writings in these recorded interviews from NPRUs 'Fresh Air with Terry Gross.' Includes such noted writers as Norman Mailer, Stephen King, and David Sedaris."

Writer's Speak is also available through the Maine Library Lending System (minerva):

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” — E.L. Doctorow

“Don't forget—no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” — Charles de Lint

“[Writing is] being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page.” — Mary Gaitskill

25 Tips To Make You A Better Non-Fiction Writer:

Idzie's Blog 
Grown Unschooler Idzie's Blog called "I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write." - These are the "writing" labels on her blog, though you might want to check the rest of it out too.:

Grown Unschooler Cameron Lovejoy's New Book "Mudfoot"

Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series of books by Lois Burdett - fun to read and illustrated by kids.  Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Twelth Night (Sometimes my daughter would draw the characters while I read the book aloud to her and my son.)

Great Illustrated Classics series of books (library has many of them)

"When They Were Girls" by Rebecca Dening Moore
Each chapter is a story about a different famous female author.  


Poetry Starters Write-Abouts Grades 4 - 8  Can be used for prompts. (Thank you Gretchen L)

"Wishes, Lies, and Dreams" by Kenneth Koch - Though this book is about "teaching" poetry, I am including it because I liked how it gave me new and refreshing ways to think about writing poems.  

"The Elusive Here & Now, Inspirational Poetry for the Soul" by Dan Coppersmith
- I like this book as the poems are thoughtful, much to do with nature and people and life in general.

"All On A Summer's Day" Verses by William Wise (Sweet black and white photos that go so well along with poems about being very young - I think my mom got this at a garage sale and gave it to us)

"Winter Poems" Selected by Barbara Rogasky

"A Thousand Yards of Sea: A Collection of Sea Stories and Poems" Compiled by Laura Cecil

"Poems For Children: A Delightful Collection For Boys and Girls" by Jessie Willcox Smith

"Moxie Day and Family: A Laugh And Learn Book Of Poetry" by Robert Pottle

"Poetry For Young People: Edna St. Vincent Millay" Edited by Frances Schoonmaker

"Edna St. Vincent Millay" Collected Sonnets

"Dinosaur Dinner (With A Slice Of Alligator Pie) Favorite Poems by Dennis Lee"
 - Selected by Jack Prelutsky

"The New Kid On The Block" - poems by Jack Prelutsky

"Miles Of Smiles: Kids Pick The Funniest Poems, Book #3" Edited by Bruce Lansky

"Poems to Learn by Heart" by Caroline Kennedy

A poem a friend posted online that I thought was lovely: 

You were born with potential,
You were born with goodness and trust,
You were born with ideals and dreams,
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.

--- Rumi

Gosh....I realized one of my favorite authors and poets is not on here and should be!!  Shel Silverstein!  Check out some of his books: link to some of Shel's books for kids

Guessing games that stimulate creativity and critical thinking

"Stories with Holes" by Nathan Levy -  These are super fun and get you thinking!  You say aloud the "story" and others ask questions that you can only answer yes or no to in order to try to figure out how it makes sense.  It can be played with two people or many.  Here is an example: 

Story 1: The man was afraid to go home because the man with the mask was there.
Answer: The man with the mask was a catcher in a baseball team. The other man was a base runner.

Story 4: John and Mary are on the floor. There are pieces of broken glass and a puddle of liquid also on the floor. Mary is dead. 
Answer: John, a cat, knocked over a fishbowl, in which, Mary, a fish, lived.
Click here for a link to many more examples so you can see if you like them.

"Whose Clues?" by Nathan Levy - One person reads out clues and one or more people try to identify who it is.  

"Perplexing Lateral Thinking Puzzles" and "Challenging Lateral Thinking Puzzles" by Paul Sloane & Des MacHale


Interested in Spanish?
"Muzzy" - You can borrow the Muzzy books and the movie from the library through Minerva, the library lending system in Maine:  

Rosetta Stone is a popular language course:  (Rosetta Stone is available in german through Minerva, the Maine library lending system.)

Spanish-English dictionaries can be useful to look at.  There are some geared toward kids with pictures.  

Visit friends who speak spanish.  Maybe get together for a pot luck dinner or dessert and have casual conversation.  You can ask questions, hear new words or phrases, and if you made spanish food or desserts, you can enjoy spanish cuisine.  

Get the same book out from the library in spanish and in english.   

Read stories that include words in spanish such as "Victor Lopez at the Alamo" by James Rice (historical fiction).  Because the words are a meaningful part of the story, they might be remembered more easily than if they were heard or read randomly, without connection or context.  

There are movies you can watch in spanish (put on subtitles in English).

Here is an article where the author shared how he learned spanish - watching movies was a part of how he learned:

Spanish customs might also be picked up by watching some movies (depending on the movie, not just because you hear it in spanish!).  

A site with movie recommendations (I have not seen these movies): 

Sites that may be of help in writing essays, bibliographies, research papers, etc: 

Something to think about if you are worried what others think of your child's handwriting.  This was Joyce's thoughtful response to a post on the alwayslearning yahoo list.:

How would writing their names make them better at being 6 and 8? Without schools, when would it *ever* be necessary for 6 or 8 yo to need to -- as in you wouldn't be allowed to do it for them -- write their names on a piece of paper with a pencil?

Just because kids in school can be taught tricks that moms can show off to other moms, doesn't make those tricks important for the child to do right at that age. (And for some of the tricks, maybe never!)

They believe that 6 yos writing their names is important without ever having thought about it. And by stating their belief so confidently, you've been shamed into accepting it as truth. Turn that around. Be confident that you're right and they're the sadly blind ones following along with what they've been told they must do and believe.

You could say, "Probably! But right now they're focused on baking cupcakes and building bird houses and doing back flips on the trampoline! :-D I'm fully confident that by the time they leave home they'll be able to write their names!"

Say it confidently and with humor. Fully believe that their concern has no foundation. See them not as someone who knows better than you but as someone who is a victim of group think. 

School is like a treadmill. And everyone believes the treadmill is the only path to success for them and their kids. But to be successful on the treadmill everyone must run. They must all run at the same pace. And if they don't keep running they'll fall and FAIL.

They see you not running. And they *know* you're deluded. They're worried for your kids. They're frightened that someone so clueless should be allowed to have kids.

But you're not on the treadmill. You're on the paths through the world garden. You can take whatever path tickles your kids' fancy. You can pause when you want. You can backtrack. You can go in whatever order your kids' fascination leads them.

Opportunities to practice writing
Have they enthusiastically chosen to enter a writing competition that they need to practice for? ;-) 

Look for opportunities to *play* with spelling, forming letters, writing. Give them opportunities to do fine motor activities like Legos, clay.  Let go of the focus on *hand* writing. 

Write their names -- and the names of their favorite characters, games, fun big words like trampoline -- with shaving cream or finger paints in the bath, with a hose, with a big brush dipped in water on the side of the house, with pancake batter on a griddle, with nails in a piece of wood and with a wood burner. Type their names in a big font, in lots of crazy fonts and print them out to hang on their doors. And *listen* to your kids. If they're not interested let it go for now. Pressuring them to do it keeps them from doing something that matches what they're physically and mentally puzzling and playing and working with right now.

With unschooling it's much better not to look at an end point and not to look for a direct path to it. Look for what it connects to and what connects to it. Think bigger, broader, sideways. Hand writing their names will come as a side effect of loads of activities that may have nothing to do with handwriting.

Foreign Languages:


All Japanese All The Time (AJATT) (and these will give you a chuckle too!): 

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