A writer inspired by nature and human nature

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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Write a 🎃 Halloween Haiku 🎃 & Get the Kids Writing Too!


Write a Halloween Haiku & Get the Kids Writing Too!

BLACK CAT, A Halloween Haiku (inspired by Midnight, our fabulous furry feline). ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Meet Midnight—The fabulous furry feline who inspired me to write BLACK CAT, a 🎃Halloween haiku🎃 (Haiku: a Japanese-inspired three-line: 5-7-5 syllable poetry form).

Midnight’s grooming table is decked out for each season or holiday and she loves it. I designed this year’s poster using a photo I took of Midnight resting on her grooming table here at the farmstead in central Maine. She’s a kitty who loves to hunt for spiders (one of her favorite treats). After taking the photo and writing the haiku, I added text plus spider and web graphics, then added a frame to make a poster. Kids of all ages enjoy writing and  illustrating their own poetry. It makes a great family activity too. 

What’s inspiring you this Halloween?
Brainstorm your list and get writing.
🎃Have fun—don’t forget to get the kids writing too!

Here are some writer’s tricks (literary devices found in every writer’s toolbox) I used to create BLACK CAT. These tools can set a mood— they make writing and reading memorable and fun.  Check them out and see if you can discover where I used them in my poem.

Read on to find out more about these literary devices.

BLACK CAT (haiku) by Bette A. Stevens

Black cat waits, watches…
Stalking tricksters in their web.
Spiders are her treats!

Three Writer’s Tricks (Literary devices used in writing poetry and prose)

Assonance
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words.

Consonance
Another literary device used by writers and poets is consonance. It is the repetition of the final consonant sounds, usually in the more important words or in the accented syllables.

Alliteration
You put your alliteration tool to work when words that start with the same sound are used close together in a phrase or sentence. The sound is usually a consonant and the words don’t have to always be right next to one another.

Finding “just the right words”
Abundant resources are available in print as well as through online searches. Listed below are the two resources I had readily available in the classroom for my students (Grades 4-8). Paperbacks are inexpensive enough to have multiple copies available, and in my opinion, they are indispensable.

  • The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young
  • Webster’s Thesaurus for Students by Merriam-Webster

                        🎃 Happy Writing and Reading Haiku

                                    & Happy Halloween 🎃

                     ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

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“Autumnal Archway” (HAIKU) by Bette A. Stevens


Autumnal Archway

Haiku by Bette A. Stevens

Summer gate closes
As autumn’s brilliant archway
Beckons—nature’s call

© Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

About the author

Maine author Bette A. Stevens pictured with a male Monarch butterfly drying its wings after emerging from its chrysalis.

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and for milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens is the author of AMAZING MATILDA, an award-winning picture book about a monarch butterfly; The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a home/school resource  incorporating hands-on math and writing; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to her début novel, DOG BONE SOUP—a coming-of-age story and family drama set in 1950s and 60s New England.

Stevens is currently working on her first poetry book—MY MAINE, a seasonal haiku collection—which she plans to publish fall (2018).

 

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Monarch Butterfly Haiku by Bette A. Stevens (+FREE “Help Protect Monarch Butterflies” Poster)


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Monarch butterflies are a threatened/near-endangered species. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety filed a legal petition requesting Endangered Species Act protection for the monarch and its habitat.

Plant Milkweed Today

Monarch Butterfly HAIKU by Bette A. Stevens

Regal messenger
Standing at the podium
“Plant milkweed today!”

Did you know that monarch butterflies and the monarch caterpillars’ host plant milkweed is one that monarchs rely upon for their survival?  This summer I was able catch a glimpse of 43 of these regal creatures dancing around my gardens where I encourage milkweed to flourish among the flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables that we grow and harvest here at the farmstead in central Maine. I even managed to capture five of them with my Canon PowerShot~ Bette A. Stevens

Four more of the 43 Monarch butterflies sighted at the farmstead as of August 25, 2018.

 

  • To find out how you can help protect monarch butterflies—one of our amazing pollinators— download your free poster here:

PROTECT MONARCH BUTTERFLIES free-poster

More about monarchs

  • Find out how to tell a male monarch from a female monarch and discover other amazing monarch butterfly facts
  • Enjoy monarch crafts, games, gardening and discover so much more…

Download Bette’s free pdf here:

FUN & LEARNING with MONARCHS (free pdf)

Maine author/illustrator Bette A. Stevens
“Inspired by nature and human nature.”

Find AMAZING MATILDA and all of Bette’s books at YOUR AMAZON.

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AMAZING MATILDA by Bette A. Stevens: Inspiring children to meet challenges with patience and persistence.


“Meeting the challenges of life at every stage of life is no easy task. Matilda and her friends encourage readers and listeners of all ages to meet those challenges with patience and persistence.

“Matilda’s story is my story. It’s you story too. It’s a story the kids will want to hear you read to them again and again.” (Bette A. Stevens)

“One concern parents have is how to inspire their children to meet challenges with patience and persistence. This is the plot of a [children’s] book, ‘Amazing Matilda’.” ~Paula Hrbecek Examiner.com

Amazing Matilda, A Monarch’s Tale by Bette A. Stevens is available in paperback ($9.49) and eBook ($3.99) versions. Take a look inside and grab a copy or two today at  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AU9ZISA/  

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Write a Haiku & Get the Kids Writing Too!


Let nature inspire you…

Our rock garden at the Farmstead is singing. The columbine were so glorious this season they inspired me to write “The Choral Debut,”  a haiku (Japanese-inspired, non-rhyming three-line: 5-7-5 syllable poem). I hope The Choral Debut inspires you to get outdoors and let nature sing its songs to you. 

The Choral Debut

HAIKU by Bette A. Stevens

Rising with the sun

Pristine perennials join

The choral début

I enjoy designing  posters to go with my poems and often use photos I have taken. As a former teacher (now retired) in grades four through eight, I’ve learned that kids of all ages love writing poetry and like me, they enjoy illustrating their poems too. It’s simple and it’s so much fun to tell a story in the three short lines of Haiku. Of course, you can write as many stanzas as you wish. I invite you to give it a try. In fact, I’m working on a Maine haiku collection that sings of the seasons. 

Don’t be shy. Grab a pen and paper, get outdoors, get inspired…and get the kids writing haiku too!

~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

(Haiku: m)

haiku

noun hai·ku \ˈhī-(ˌ)kü\

plural

haiku

  1. :  an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively; also :  a poem in this form usually having a seasonal reference — compare tanka

Discover more about how to write haiku and other poetry:

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Inspiring Kids of All Ages—One Book at a Time—#GetCaughtReading


“The love of reading is a lynchpin for successful learning—for success in life. Kids learn to read best when adults take time to share their passion for books with them.” ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author.

One of the best ways to inspire kids to love to read is by reading aloud to them and talking with them about the books you share. We can all make a difference in the lives of the children around us when we #GetCaughtReading with the kids!

Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children of all ages

  • Expands vocabulary as they hear new words in context
  • Provides contextual examples for grammar and sentence structure that everyday conversation does not offer
  • Strengthens reading comprehension
  • Increases a child’s attention span
  • Teaches life skills associated with story themes and characters
  • Fosters family/generational/community communication.

Research has shown that children who come to school with a large vocabulary achieve more in school than those that have little familiarity with a wide range of words. Children are great listeners and imitators—they pay attention to what they hear. Reading aloud and discussing books with children is crucial to successful learning. Before children are reading on their own, a crucial part of their learning is based on imitating what they hear and observe.

Children are able to listen and comprehend content read to them two years above their actual reading level. Reading comprehension doesn’t catch up to a child’s listening comprehension level until eighth grade. When listening to adults read stories above their current reading level, a child’s vocabulary increases. This also provides an opportunity for listeners hear complete and complex sentence structure that is not offered in everyday conversation.

Children of all ages love to be read to by adults who are excited about books and reading. In fact, avid adult readers are walking, talking advertisements for books as they share their love of the written word with listeners. And, children enjoy talking about books with adults as much as the adults enjoy talking with them. When readers and listeners discuss characters and themes, their lives are enriched and family/generational communication skills are strengthened. A child’s story comprehension skills increase significantly as well. Reading aloud to children creates a win-win experience for everyone.

Where are the children?

In the U.S. alone there are about 15 million children living in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold—many of these children do not have books in their homes or adults who are available to read to them.

Where are these children? We’ll find them in homes, schools and libraries in villages, towns and cities in our own communities and across the globe. Local libraries and elementary schools are pleased to hear from those of us who are looking for the opportunity to share our love of reading with those who need it most—children of all ages, from all walks of life. Together we can change the world—one reader, one book, one book talk—one child or group of children at a time.

“So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.” ~William James

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and for milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens is the author of AMAZING MATILDA, an award-winning picture book (Ages 5-11); The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a home/school resource incorporating hands-on math, science and writing (Ages 6-12); and PURE TRASH (Ages 10-Adult), the short story prequel to her début novel, DOG BONE SOUP (Ages 12-Adult)—coming-of-age story and family drama set in 1950s and 60s New England.

 

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Write a Spring Haiku & Get the Kids Writing Too!


Celebrate National Poetry Month!

Countdown Commences (Spring Haiku) by Bette A. Stevens

Happy April and Happy National Poetry Month. Snow pack is still in meltdown stage here at the farmstead in Central Maine, but spring blooms will soon be appearing. Johnny-jump-ups (like the ones I photographed on the poster) are sure to be among the first blooms of the season. They’re one of those hardy native plants that bloom in abundance and pop up everywhere from early spring until the first hard freeze the next fall—hence the title and last line of the poem. This photo of last year’s blooms inspired me to write countdown Commences,  a spring haiku (Japanese-inspired, non-rhyming three-line: 5-7-5 syllable poem).

Countdown Commences

Haiku by Bette A. Stevens

Enchanting blossoms
Springtide emerging from earth
Countdown commences

I love designing  posters to go with my poems and often use photos I have taken. As a former teacher (now retired) in grades four through eight, I know that kids of all ages love writing poetry and they enjoy illustrating their poems too. It’s simple and it’s so much fun to tell a story in the three short lines of Haiku. Of course, you can write as many stanzas as you wish. Give it a try! 

Grab the kids, take out your pens, head into the great outdoors and get inspired!

~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

(Haiku: m)

haiku

noun hai·ku \ˈhī-(ˌ)kü\

  1. :  an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively; also :  a poem in this form usually having a seasonal reference — compare tanka

 

Discover more about how to write haiku and other poetry

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