VIVIAN KIRKFIELD PRESENTS:#50 Precious Words For Kids Contest

A Children’s Book Week Activity:  #50PreciousWordsforKids

Celebrating Diversity in Imagination

A writing contest for kids from all over the world.  Writing a story in 50 words or fewer.  Contest runs from April 30 through May 6, 2018.


  • Each child, grade K-6, writes a story of 50 words or less.
  • Title not included in word count.
  • Story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Happy or sad, silly or serious, true or make-believe.
  • Teachers/students choose one story to submit per class.
  • Homeschooling parents submit one story per child.
  • Please email story to: by May 7 at 11:59pm EST. This challenge is INTERNATIONAL.
  • Stories post on my blog: on May 11.
  • Teacher receives a certificate to copy and present to each child who wrote a story
  • Giveaway of seven mini-Skype author classroom visits.

Picture 158 B 2

Picture 158 B 2

Here’s the link from last year’s contest:

Questions? Contact Vivian Kirkfield at:


Laurie Wallmark Presents: STEM books with Curriculum Guides for Teachers.

Looking for great STEM books to use in the classroom?  Check out these gems from Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark.

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code and Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine are picture book biographies of computer science pioneers. These book and the associated teacher guide activities are appropriate for grades K-5.

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, 2017) by Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu


Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu

Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark’s debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, 2015), received four starred trade reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal) and many national awards including Outstanding Science Trade Book and Cook Prize Honor Book. Her latest picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), earned a Kirkus star and is on several public library’s best of lists. Laurie has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. When not writing, she teaches computer science at Raritan Valley Community College.  


Music in the Schools Month: Make your own Clarinet…With a Carrot!?

What better way to celebrate MUSIC IN THE SCHOOLS MONTH than to help the kiddos make some musical instruments.  One of my favorite tutorials on making a clarinet involves using a carrot. You will be amazed watching Linsey Pollak create that mellow clarinet sound from an ordinary carrot.

To make your own carrot clarinet:
Watch the amazing demonstration by Lindsey Pollack at TedxSydney2014.  When you get ready to make your own clarinet, adult supervision is needed.  Use caution with the drill bits.

Who knew carrots were not only delicious but also quite lovely to listen to.

For other interesting sites that have easy-to-make instruments, check out:


EVOLUTION REVOLUTION SERIES by Charlotte Bennardo: Curriculum Guides for the Classroom

The Evolution Revolution Series: by Charlotte Bennardo

Book three in the series

Based on the third-grade science curriculum and the introduction of simple machines, the award- winning Evolution Revolution trilogy employs numerous scientific and literary concepts. Simple Machines, book one in the series, shows Jack, an adventurous common gray squirrel, trying to outwit Fox, learning how to use a simple machine like the wheel from a boy, and then applying that basic knowledge to stop the construction machines that have come to cut down his woods. In Simple Plans, the sequel, Jack and Rat, now friends, spy on the humans who hide in their woods, studying them- until Rat gets caught. Jack, learning more simple machines like the axle from Collin, the boy who teaches him, frees Rat, but now must go on the run from the scientists who want to capture him. In the final book, Simple Lessons, Jack is taken to an animal sanctuary so he’s protected from the scientists. There, he teaches other squirrels what he’s learned, and bands together with various rescued animals to fight the humans one last time. While he wins the battle, Jack must choose whether to leave behind the woods he fought to protect. These books work well with grades 3-6 to learn, explore, discuss and understand concepts like simple machines, evolution, loss of habitat and environmental destruction, using literary devices like animals, adventure, allegory, and humor.

Resource links: Educator Resource Guides (with vocabulary lists, discussion questions, school/home projects and demonstrations, suggested further reading lists).


Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. The Evolution Revolution trilogy: Simple Machines, Simple Plans, and Simple Lessons are her first solo novels. She is co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series: Sirenz, Sirenz Back In Fashion, (Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology, Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). To put books in the hands of kids, she contributed to the fundraising ebook anthology of horror, Scare Me To Sleep. She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences, schools, libraries, and other venues. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels for middle grade, young and new adult readers. Connect with her on Twitter (charbennardo), Author Charlotte Bennardo on FB, on Pinterest and Instagram as Charlotte Bennardo, and through her blog,

Get Crafty For Easter.

With spring finally here, and Easter and Passover right around the corner, there are lots of ways to celebrate the season with crafts and egg decorating. Some of the easiest and festive kids crafts can be found on the RED TED ART sight.  There are 40 Easter crafts using eggs, pompom balls, and readily available materials.

When I was a kid, we died eggs by dipping them into cups of colored water.  You can still  do that, but now there are many other ways to decorate eggs for the holiday. You can use non-toxic water color paints to create works of art.  Try paint daubers to make dots, Crayola or other non-toxic markers to draw designs. The Red TED sight has many other ideas for egg decorating.  If you wish to try the Polish art of PISANKY egg dying, you can order your own kit from:

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

Here’s a unique way to give out chocolate treats for the holiday:  Create egg-shaped baskets out of balloons and dazzle family and friends with your talent.  Check out the how-tos for MAGIC BALLOON TREATS  at:

Happy Easter and Happy crafting!

Heal The Earth Classroom Contest.

After the long winter, kids in your classroom may long to get outside and play or explore.  Why not make it part of the curriculum?  Perfect for Earth Day or Arbor Day, here’s a contest your classroom can participate in to show ways we can help heal the earth.

The contest is open to classroom teachers and librarians.  Winners will receive a signed copy of Author Julian Lennon’s new book HEAL THE EARTH.

What creative activities and projects can your class come up with that promote a positive message about taking care of Planet Earth?  Check the website for rules and entry forms

All submissions must be received by midnight EST on Monday, April 30.

Teacher Resources 2: YA Author Yvonne Ventresca.

Here is the second selection in the series of CURRICULUM GUIDES AND MATERIALS for use in the classroom based on popular titles.  Today, YA author YVONNE VENTRESCA presents the curriculum guide and core content study questions for her second novel.

Black Flowers, White Lies    

 Black Flowers, Whites Lies is a young adult psychological thriller by Yvonne Ventresca that won the 2017 Gold Medal Independent Publisher’s Award for YA fiction. Sky Pony Press published the hardcover in 2016, and they officially released the paperback version in March.

The paperback includes bonus content, including sample discussion questions for educators. The complete guide was created by Marcie Colleen to help educators use Black Flowers, White Lies for classroom study, book clubs, and independent reading. To download a free copy of the complete educator’s guide, containing over fifty discussion points, activities, and writing prompts, visit Yvonne Ventresca’s website at

Black Flowers, White Lies Education Guide: Common Core Alignment for Grades 7-12

 7th grade: ELA.

RI.7.1,2,3,4,5,6,9;; W.7.3a-­e,4;; SL.7.4,5;; L.7.1,2,3

8th grade: ELA.

RI.8.1,2,3,4,6,9;; W.8.3a-­e,4;; SL.8.1a,3,5;; L.8.1,2,3,4a,c,d

9–10th grade: ELA.

RL.9–10.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9;; W.9–10.3a–e,4;; SL.9–10.1,4,5;; L.9–10.1,2,4a,c,d

11–12th grade: ELA.

RL.11–12.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9;; W.11–12.3a–e,4;; SL.11–12.1,4,5;; L.11–12.1,2,4a,c,d

About the free education guide

The education guide encourages analytical thinking and more in-depth discussion of the story. For example, there are suggestions for map-drawing activities, rewriting scenes from a different character’s point of view, and creating a brochure for a walking tour of the setting.

One of the themes of Black Flowers, White Lies is dishonesty. The education guide includes several activities to help students discuss this theme. How does it feel to tell a lie or to discover that someone else has lied? Why are the characters dishonest in the story? Students can play two truths and a lie and practice looking for signs of untruthfulness. They can also investigate topics like gaslighting and how someone’s perceptions can be manipulated.

Sample Activity for Black Flowers, White Lies

Fact vs Perception

Sometimes it is difficult to sort through what is fact and what is perception.

Have someone unannounced (a teacher or a student from a different class) come into your classroom while students are working quietly on a task at their desks. Plan with the mystery visitor ahead of time to make sure he or she does several things in your class during his or her brief visit such as:

  • Borrow something like a book, a craft supply, money, etc.
  • Talk to a student in the class
  • Give a note to the teacher
  • Ask a question
  • Set something down on a table

After the visitor leaves the room, have the students write down as many details as they can remember about the visit.

  • What details do they recall? What was the visitor wearing? How long was the visitor in the room? What did the visitor borrow while in the room? Whom did he or she talk to? What did he or she say?

Once everyone has finished writing, ask students to share their observations. Compare notes. What are the similarities and differences between student reports? Discuss what might be facts and what was simply perception.

Copyright © 2017 by Marcie Colleen. Reproduced with permission from Marcie Collen. All rights reserved.

About the novel:

 Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a connection that transcends the grave. Since her mother disapproves, she keeps her visits to the cemetery where he’s buried secret. But when Ella learns that her mother may have lied about how Dad died sixteen years ago, it’s clear she’s not the only one with secrets. New facts point to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not a car accident as Mom always claimed.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger, as he did once before, or if someone’s playing unsettling tricks on her. But as the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, she finds herself terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone new: Ella herself. What if, like Dad, she’s suffering from a mental breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers—no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

To obtain a free copy of discussion points, activities, and writing prompts, visit and download the Black Flowers, White Lies education guide.