Friday, March 31, 2006

Reading Aloud:

Research tells us that reading aloud daily is a major factor in determining whether children will become lifelong readers.


TRACKS, a picture book by David Galef, is filled with action and colorful illustrations which makes it great for reading aloud .

As you read this book have your students or children predict where the train will go next.

A fun follow up activity for kids it to make a pair of eye glasses for Albert, the main character, out of construction paper and piper cleaners.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Creating a Home Office


by: Carol Fraser Boles

Writers spend a great deal time in their home offices.
Creating a comfortable, productive and inspirational office space should be the goal of every writer or business person who works from home. Arranging and organizing such an office can be easy.
Consider including the following aspects when setting up your home office:

Dedicate a specific room. You need to define your home office space as where you work and not mix it with where you sleep and relax. Devote a room for your home office. This is where you go to work every morning.

Create a comfortable home office: Buy a comfortable chair that rolls and make sure your keyboard is at the correct height. make sure you have adequate lighting and include a radio, if you work better with music and a coffee pot if you work best early in the morning.

Organize your home office: Have everything you need to write and execute projects in your home business efficiently. Place paper near the printer, maintain a rolodex to make call quickly, get a desk caddy for your pens, pencil, stapler, tape and notepads.
Set up an alphabetized list (using an address book) of your user and passwords for your computer.
Organize your bookshelves according subject for easy reference.

Create a space that’s inspirational: If you can, set up your home office in a room that has a window. Allow sunshine and contact with the outside world to come in. Sometimes this can be a distaction, but for most bringing the outdoors in increases their level of productivity and creativity.

Devote wall space to show your accomplishments. Hang your diplomas, awards and letters of recognition on the wall. Many people hang a picture of someone they admire. This motivates them to achieve their goals.

Create a warm and inviting space. Don’t dread going to your home office. Make it pleasing to the eye. Place family pictures on your desk, or on the wall. Tack up children’s art projects. Bring the garden inside with fresh flowers and green plants.

You will see your writing career or home business take off, when you decide to create professional workspace.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Chocolate Easter Nests Your Kids Will Love to Make and Eat!


Instead of coloring eggs this Easter how about having your kids make edible chocolate Easter nests? These nests are easy to concoct and will look and taste just like the expensive candy nests you see in the stores this time of year. Best of all, your kids can help with these. They'll have fun forming this chocolaty mixture into nests, then decorating each nest with jellybean eggs.

What you will need:

A double boiler
A medium size muffin tin
1 (14 oz.) bag sweetened flaked coconut
1 (6 oz.) bag milk chocolate baking chips
1 can chow mein noodles
1 (7 oz.) bag assorted jelly beans
1 Tbsp. solid shortening
Non-stick cooking spray


In a double boil (or place a glass bowl over simmering water) melt the milk chocolate chips and one tablespoon of shortening. After mixture is completely melted, fold in flaked coconut and chow mein noodles. Gently mix together until thoroughly blended.

Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon enough chocolate mixture into each section of a muffin tin to flatten along the inside of each section make a basket shape. Immediately press jellybeans (gently) into nest.

When all sections of the muffin tin have been filled with a "chocolate nest," let them dry completely. While they last, display on a pretty dish covered with colorful Easter grass.

Makes approximately 24- 30 nests depending on your muffin tin.

Variation: These nests can be made with white chocolate baking chips as well. You can also add a couple of drops of either red or green food coloring to make pink or green nests from the white chocolate.

Happy Easter!

Let Me Coach You to the Ultimate Writer's Life - Work at Home, Set Your Own Hours, and Enjoy What You Do

Read this about writer Suzanne Lieurance's online coaching program - The Working Writer's Coaching Program. Suzanne is a freelance writer, children's author and working writer's coach.


Have you always dreamed of becoming a freelance writer? Someone who works from the comfort of your own home and even lives in comfy pjs, or sweatpants and a t-shirt, most of the time instead of stuffy, uncomfortable business attire? IS a wonderful life.

I know from personal experience. I'm sitting here at my computer in my bathrobe as I write this, while I watch other people outside, trudging off to their offices. I'm so thankful I don't have to jump in the shower every morning, rush to get dressed, and race out the door to a job that makes me miserable. Been there. Done that.

So what's stopping YOU from living the ultimate writer's life?

My guess is, you really don't know how to get started - OR - if you have gotten started, only to encounter a few road blocks along the way, you don't know what to do next to get back on track.

So, that's where I come in.

I teach many people HOW to write. But I also coach people and help them develop the freelance writing career of their dreams through my Working Writer's Coaching Program. I help each writer in the program develop a unique blueprint for a writing career based on his or her individual experience, talents, and interests.

Some of you may know me as a children's writer, but YOU don't have to write for children to take advantage of my coaching program. I have coached many people who write only for adults. Some are medical writers, business writers, educational writers, copywriters, etc. The program works for all kinds of writers who want to make freelance writing a part-time or full-time career.

Join me for a free informational teleconference about this exciting program on April 7th, at 7:00 p.m. (Central Time) and find out how it can help you live the ultimate writer's life. As an added bonus just for attending the conference, I'll email you a FREE copy of my Working Writer's Marketing Guide (a $19.95 value). It's yours to keep and enjoy, even if you don't sign up for my coaching program.

Simply click on my name below to send me an email and you'll receive an invitation to this free event (only cost is for the long distance phone call). In the subject line of the email write, "Free Coaching Teleconference."

I hope to talk to you soon about building the freelance writing career of your dreams.

Happy writing!

Suzanne Lieurance

P.S. Just for reading all this, I'd like to send you two free ebooks for writers. Visit the FREEBIES folder of my website and request them now.

Services For Writers

If you're a writer or business person, you need quality promotional materials to give to prospective clients, editors, and other people you will network with.

Don't settle for a generic business card. Have one created just for you. That way, it will help "brand" you in your particular niche.

Meet The Lieurance Group's newest member, Lisa Harkrader.


In addition to writing for children, Lisa specializes in the design and lay out of promotional materials for authors - bookmarks, business cards, and postcards. She also designs newsletters, calendars, and a wide variety of other materials. She will be a great asset to the Lieurance Group.

E-mail Lisa directly at for more information about her writing and/or design services.

Visit her at to find out about her many books for children. Lisa is the author of twelve books for children; the most recent is a middle-grade novel, Airball: My Life in Briefs, a Junior Library Guild Selection and winner of the 2006 Juvenile Literary Award from the Friends of American Writers.

She has published over two hundred stories, articles, and poems in magazines such as Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, and Guideposts for Kids and in several anthologies, including Meadowbrook's Newfangled Fairy Tales.

She has received SCBWI's Magazine Merit Award four times, for fiction and poetry. Harkrader holds a BFA in art and has worked as a graphic designer for nearly twenty years. Her design clients include The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Rockhurst University.Lieurance for more information about her writing and/or design services. Visit her website (coming soon) to find out about her many books for children.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Cooking With Kids: Easy Chocolate Dessert Trifle

Here's an article that I orginally wrote for the Three Angels Gourmet Co. blog - for their "Cooking With Kids" Saturday feature.


by Carol Boles

Kids love to help mom in the kitchen, but they don't always have the skills and attention span necessary to cook. This dessert is easy to prepare and quick to assemble. Your kids will love this dish because it has cake and pudding, both things they love to eat.

Easy Chocolate Dessert Trifle


1 (18 oz.) white cake mix
1 (18 oz.) raspberry jam
1 (12 oz.) tub Cool Whip@
2 (3.9 oz.) boxes instant chocolate pudding


Prepare cake mix according to package directions and bake. While cake is baking prepare pudding mixes according to package directions. Pour raspberry jam into a bowl and mix a little to to make is easy to spread.

After cake cools slice cake into strips. With your children helping assemble the trifle. First, line the bottom of a trifle or a deep dessert dish with strips of cake. Next, spread raspberry jam onto cake. Then, spread about one third of pudding on top of jam layer then cover the pudding layer with about one third of the cool whip topping.

Repeat these steps and make two more layers.

Substitute Teaching: Ten Tips for Success

by Carol Boles

421477_schoolYou may be a recent university graduate with a teaching degree hoping to secure a teaching position, or you may be unable to work full time because you have small children at home. Whatever your reasons, substitute teaching can be a frustrating job if you're not prepared. School districts have expectations for substitute teachers. However, many times they fail to communicate those expectations. They assume new and inexperienced teachers know what to do.

Apply these 10 tips and you'll become a successful substitute teacher - one who is appreciated by both the school district and the students.

1. Be prepared to work - If you know you may have to leave home early the next morning, have your clothes ready. Dress professionally, you will command more respect than those who dress casually. Print directions off the Internet to the school where you have been assigned. If you substitute in elementary schools make sure you wear a watch and have a whistle for recess duty.

2. Be Prompt and Dependable - Always arrive ahead of schedule so you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with lesson plans and instructions the classroom teacher has prepared for you.

3. Follow the Lesson Plan - Never change the teacher's lesson plan unless the teacher has failed to leave plans for the day. If you arrive in a classroom without lesson plans, call the office and ask for the teacher's emergency sub plan. If there isn't one available, ask the principal or buddy teacher what the students should be working on. It's always good to bring along an emergency writing exercise, such as "Let Me Tell You About Me" or " Let Me Tell You About my Favorite Pet." This will keep students busy while you make plans for the day.

4. Whenever Possible, Teach - If you're a licensed teacher and familiar with the subject area, then teach. If you are unfamiliar with the subject area, ask another teacher for help.

5. Be Friendly - Help your students feel comfortable with a positive and enthusiastic attitude. Greet students at the door as they arrive. Write your name on the board and introduce yourself.6. Fulfill the Teacher's Responsibilities - You're expected to be the teacher on duty, whether that means outside recess, lunchroom supervision, or escorting students on a field trip.

7. Follow District Policies - Every classroom should have an emergency/evacuation plan posted. Familiarize yourself with the designated safe area and the lockdown procedure. Know how to handle a fire drill. Notify the principal, front office or nurse through the intercom system if there is a medical emergency in your classroom. Understand the district and school policy regarding phone and computer use. Never use district equipment for personal use.

8. Be Professional - Never discuss confidential information or behavioral problems with other parents or staff members. Speak with the principal if you have a concern about a particular student and leave a note for the teacher. Leave your views on religion, politics and education at home.

9. Leave a Note - At the end of the day, leave a note detailing the day's events and what you accomplished. Explain any problems or changes you needed to make in the teacher's lesson plans and why.

10. Maintain Records - Keep a record of who you substituted for, how long and when. If a payroll error is made you will have a record to refer to.

School districts depend on substitute teachers and are always eager to hire qualified applicants. Do a conscientious and professional job every time and your substitute teaching may lead to a permanent teaching position. But, above all, have fun and enjoy the kids.

Note: This article is available for free reprint at

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Help With Commas: Back to the Basics

by Diane E. Samson

150232_5097As writers, we all want to create clean, professional work. We can spend hours writing and rewriting a piece to get just the right words on the page. Don’t let a simple punctuation error spoil an otherwise excellent job.

An occasional review of proper punctuation and especially the comma can be helpful to all writers, no matter what their skill level. One reason commas can be extra confusing for writers is that there are different rules for literature writing and journalism writing. The Associated Press (AP) established different rules from the basic English rules to save space in newspapers and help with legibility. Good writers are aware of the rules and know when to use what rule. If you are freelance writing an article for a client and are unsure of what set of rules to use, ask.
Here are a few tips on the use and misuse of commas.

1.Use a Comma In a series: Use a comma to separate words, phrases or clauses in a series or list. She bought apples, oranges, and bananas at the store. The final comma before “and” is used in English style, but not according to AP style, unless there is a conjunction at the end of the sentence, or the sentence would be confusing without it. He bought cherry popsicles, chocolate ice cream bars, and peaches and cream ice cream at the store.

2. To separate adjectives: When several adjectives are used to describe a noun in a sentence, sometimes the conjunction “and” is used. If you could sensibly use “and” in the sentence, you can use commas to separate the adjectives instead. Example: A long and dangerous road becomes A long, dangerous road. If “and” doesn’t work between the adjectives, no comma is needed. She received a new fur coat for Christmas. Here we have no commas because “and” isn’t needed between new and fur.

3. With nonessential phrases: This rule can be very confusing. We use a comma in a sentence where the addition of certain information in not essential to the reader’s understanding of the sentence. If the information is essential, we don’t use a comma. Example: The company president, John Jones, spoke. Commas are used because there is only one company president and the writer is adding information not essential to the sentence. We saw the award-winning movie “Titanic.” No commas are used here because many movies have won awards. The name of the movie is essential to the meaning of the sentence.

4. With introductory phrases and clauses: Separate the introductory phrase or clause from the main clause with a comma. Examples: When she finished preparing the meal, the family ate. With his happy tail wagging, the dog raced to greet me at the door. At once, the man leapt out of bed. Two introductory phrases sometimes need only one comma. In the middle of the night, she heard a strange sound.

5. With conjunctions: Use a comma with a conjunction in a compound sentence when linking two clauses that each could stand alone as a sentence. Examples: She raised her hand to throw the stick, and the dog ran like the wind to catch it. We went to the dinner party, and the hostess treated us like royalty.

6. To separate contrasting elements: Example: He became a nurse, not a doctor.

7. Other uses: Commas are used in many other ways, including introducing direct quotes, before attribution, between city and state names, and between an individual and his or her age. Keep a good grammar handbook handy if you are in question.

Don’t Use a Comma:

1. To separate verbs and objects. Example: The plumber said, that the pipes were a problem.

2. To separate words or phrases joined by and or or. Example: She drove home, and started dinner.

3. To break up words unnecessarily. Example: The fact that the dog had bitten the man, was enough evidence for the court to issue a fine of $200, and request the dog be removed from the home. No commas are needed in the previous sentence. Don’t start throwing commas in to make it better. Instead, rewrite it. Perhaps break the sentence up into several shorter sentences.

Field Trips: They're Not Just for Kids if You're a Children's Writer

Do you want to succeed as a children's writer? Read what Children's writer Suzanne Lieurance has to say.

It always amazes me when I meet people who want to write for children, yet they haven't read a single children's book since they were children or since their own kids (now ages 35 and 42) were little.Don't they get it? Publishers change, publications change, and even children change with the times! If you want to write for children, you need to start taking "field trips" to keep up with these changes. You'll not only be better informed about today's markets, you'll also become a better writer in the process.
Besides...these trips are fun!

Take regular field trips to the children's section of your local bookstores and the public library. If your interest is in writing picture books, start by looking at as many pictures books as you can each time you visit. If you'd like to write beginning readers, or early chapter books, take time to look at some of these.

If you don't want to spend the money to actually purchase a few of the titles in either of these categories, look for these books at your local library. Check them out and take them home where you can read them and study them.

Once you start making these little field trips, you'll look forward to them and realize how valuable they are to your writing.

Suzanne Lieurance is a children's author, freelance writer, and owner of the Three Angels Gourmet Co. Find out more about writing for children at her website at or visit to learn more about her freelance writing services. Read her daily food tips at Source:

Monday, March 20, 2006

St. Patrick's Day Parade Snack Mix


Today, more than ever, parents want to provide healthy snacks for their children. This March 17th, take along a mix of nuts, fruits, and grains, plus bottled water, instead of cookies and colas as you watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

There are many ways to assemble a snack mix. You first need to decide whether you want it salty, sweet or fruity. All of these recipes call for easy to find ingredients. Just remember, when buying ingredients, look for fruit that isn’t sugar coated and nuts and grains free of sulfites or other preservatives.

Note: Peanuts and other small nuts are choking hazards to small children. Make sure your children are quiet and attentive when enjoying their snack.

St. Pat’s Sweet Mix
1 ½ cups -sugar-free green jelly beans
1 ½ cups -yogurt peanuts
1 ½ cups -carob covered raisings
2 cups -Teddy Graham Crackers @
1 cup -golden raisins

St. Pat’s Salty Mix
2 cups -mini-pretzels
2 cups -cheese crackers
2 cups -sunflower seeds
1 cup -honey roasted peanuts
1 cup -roasted Cashews

St. Pat’s Fruity Mix
2 cups -banana chips
2 cups -apricot bits
2 cups - pineapple chunks
2 cups - dried Dates
1 cup -dried apple slices

Place ingredients for each mix recipe in a zip lock bag, then shake to blend. Each recipe will make approximately seven to eight cups of snack mix, depending on the size of your pretzels, dried fruit pieces, etc.. Make individual portions in small sandwich size zip lock bags.Of course you can always put your own twist on each mix. It's as easy as packing up the kids, a couple of bags of snack mix and enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day parade.