Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year. Please Enjoy this Guest Post by Karen Cioffi on Writing in Rhyme

Happy New Year to all-  readers, parents, authors, grandparents, teachers and of course our children.

Many of you may dream of writing a children's book or story in ryhme. Please welcome award winning author Karen Cioffi as she posts about writing in rhyme. Her expertise will  give you some great tips and links to informational sites that offer the tools you need to follow your writing dream in 2012 no matter your age or your skill level. Enjoy!

Writing in Rhyme

By Karen Cioffi

Rhyming, when done right, is a wonderful way to engage children. Children, as soon as they’re able, love to rhyme words . . . and this can begin as early as two-years-old: cat-hat, mouse-house. But, to write a rhyming story . . . a well written rhyming story . . . is difficult; you need a good story, rhyme, rhythm/beat, meter, stresses, and more—all this in addition to the already unique rules and tricks in writing for children. And, some writers just don’t have that innate ability to do rhyme well. But, it can be learned.

According to Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D., the elements of poetry are: voice; stanza; sound; rhythm; figures of speech; and form.

Voice (the speaker)

Stanza (the format of lines grouped together)

Sound (rhyme and other patterns)

Rhythm (the beat and meter – the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables)

Figures of Speech (types of figurative language)

Form (the type of poem, its design)

Along with this there is perfect rhyme, and approximate rhyme:

Perfect rhyme: tie/lie; stay/day

Approximate rhyme: top/cope; comb/tomb

And, there are many more bits and pieces that go into writing poetry/ rhyme. But, the foundation that holds your rhyming story all together is the story itself—you need a good story, especially when writing for children.

According to the article, “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” by Dori Chaconas, in the Writer Magazine, October 2001:

“You may write in perfect rhyme, with perfect rhythm, but if your piece lacks the elements of a good story, your efforts will be all fluff without substance. I like to think of story as the key element, and if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme, the rhyme will then enhance the story.”

This is a wonderful explanation because it mentions “if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme.” This means that not all stories will work in rhyme, and the writer needs to know whether his will or will not.

So, if you’re interested in writing in rhyme and/or poetry, there are a number of sites and articles online that can help, there are also books available, and classes you can take. Do a Google search for the tools that are right for you.

For a head start, you can check out the sites below:


Type in a word, it gives you rhyming words



Offers tips, information, dictionary, and rhyming words

Poets and Writers


Poetry Foundation


Karen Cioffi is a published author, freelance writer, and marketer, and to start the New Year with a BANG, from January 1 through February 28, 2012, she is offering all her writing and marketing e-books (purchased directly from her site/s using the Paypal SHOPPING CART) for a $1.19 each. And, this will include new titles added within that time period.

For a complete list of the available titles and links to more information:

For a complete list (with brief descriptions of each ebook) go to:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year Goals:

Top 10 Goals for the New Year: Where do you stand with your NewYear's Resolutions?

1. Eat Healthy- including offering healthy choices for the children
2. Spend Less- offer to work as a family team and look to the kids for suggestions
3.Stick to a Budget- balance income with expenses
4. Exercise- include everyone in the family
5. Live simply- get rid of the junk, clean out old toys, donate clothes to the shelter, throw out and get rid of...
6. Be grateful- practicing gratitude can open your heart to more blessings
7. Find one cause to volunteer for this year- at your school, nursing home, hospital, church, library, community center, animal shelter, be open to ideas and follow your heart as you find one place to volunteer this year.
8. Spend more quality time as a family- times are tough and spending quality family time will lessen stress and worry.
9. Read a good book- reading promotes literacy, offers a great example to your children, and offers relaxation and decreases stress
10. Get organized- start small, organize a drawer, a cupboard, a closet. For me it will be my desk first.

What are your goals for 2012? What are your top 10 ideas for making 2012 your best year yet? It may be to go to school, find a new job, organize your finances, become more spiritual. Whatever it is take these last days of 2011 to evaluate where you are as a mom, dad, grandparent, and decide where you want to be in 2012. Happy planning.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Count Down to The New Year with a Great Book Review:

When the Lights Go Out

Author: Max Elliot Anderson

ISBN: 978-1-936695-47-8

Comfort Publishing (

Peyton Aldrich is an Army kid, his father is an Army colonel. Something is top secret, something is always top secret. Peyton finds himself having to move again to a new army base because of top secret stuff  and a job that his dad does to keep the country safe after 911.

Peyton admires his dad, but he and a couple of new friends set off to find their own mission...something to accomplish and that will be meaningful. Little do they realize they will come right in the middle of a terrorist plot. Danger is just around the corner. Will Peyton and his friends expose the evil plan or even stop it? No one wants another 911 but what can Peyton do, and what will his dad think when he finds out?

This is an exciting, realistic, and dramatic story that will appeal to all readers. There is heart pounding action and so much adventure that even the most reluctant reader will keep turning the page. This book is a story for kids, their parents, and those who will never want to forget 911.

You will want to grab this book and also check out the author's website at or his blog at

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 2011 Educational Post

Once again, here we are at the end of another calendar year.  This time seems to come around faster and faster as the years go by.  The end of the year signals a time of reflection about time that has passed and gives us all a moment to review our routines and make changes where we see they are needed.
There is a lot of talk of “success” in schools and student performance.  Statistics are what they are and many grades and assessments are subjective.  What do you, as a parent or caregiver, consider to be a measure of success?  How do you assess the student success rate for your child?  We are all busy with schedules and taking care of our families and this time of year, in particular, pulls us in so many different directions.  We can use this holiday time to pause, take a moment, and ask ourselves if we think our children are achieving success to the best of their ability. 
Utilize the most important tool we have in our caregiving task; conversation.  Take the time to talk to a child and ask if there is anything they need or want from us that could help in their role as a student.  Maybe they are running low on school supplies in class and need some more pencils or loose leaf paper; perhaps a folder is ripped and could use a replacement or they might feel that we are rushed in helping with homework assignments at the end of our long day.  It might not seem like it is a critical piece in the wheel of student performance; but every little part of the school day is important to a student. Schedules are meant to keep us all on task but they can also keep us moving and miss small moments or pieces of information that can make a difference to a child on his or her path as a successful student.  Find some time this holiday to talk to the children in your life.  In a quiet moment, ask a child if there is anything he or she needs to help make the school day the most successful it can be.  Even if it is just reminding them that you care. What better gift to give this holiday?
Have a wonderful holiday and all the best in the New Year!

Be well,  
Alice Knisley Matthias
Education Writer

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessings to All.....

From our homes to yours, Merry Christmas and Blessings to all. Have a wonderful weekend with family and friends. Join us back here next week with more great posts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Products for Children to Educate and Entertain

Mighty Minds: School Zone Launches Four New

“Super” Flash Action Workbook and Software Sets for 2012

Grand Haven, MI (December 17, 2011) – School Zone Publishing introduces a new way to help young minds take off and soar: Super Workbook and Flash Action Software sets that pair traditional pencil-and-paper learning with high-tech software, toteach essential reading or math skills in a flash!

We’ve combined our award-winning workbook and software formats to offer a dynamic duo that has super value in both learning and fun, providing an ideal balance of teacher-created educational content, creative play and flash action excitement,” says Jonathan Hoffman, President and CEO of School Zone.

The new Super Flash Action Workbook and Software set titles include:

· Super Flash Action Preschool Software & Workbook

· Super Flash Action Kindergarten Software & Workbook

· Super Flash Action Math Made Easy Software & Workbook (Grades 1-2)

· Super Flash Action Reading Made Easy Software & Workbook (Grades 1-2)

Each workbook is designed to teach age-appropriate skills in reading or math with fun-filledexercises and colorful illustrations, as well as build school readiness andconfidence. Workbooks also feature easy tear-out pages for on-the-go learning. The complimentary Flash Action Software helps reinforce newly learned concepts with playful characters, sound effects, bright colors and interactive graphic animation. The software also promotes positive play and even cheers children on to encourage success.

The new Super Flash Action Workbook and Software sets will be available for retail January 2012. Each set will retail for $19.99 at

For more information on all School Zone Publishing products, please visit


School Zone Publishing has been producing children’s educational products for over thirty years. Founded in 1979 by educators, this family-run company is a trusted source for workbooks, flash cards, and educational software. Heralded by parents and teachers as the best educational material, School Zone leads the industry in quality content at affordable prices.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: Chickens in the Know/ Chickens on the Go by Aunt Judy

Chickens on the Go

ISBN: 9780693-0-7

Chickens in the Know

ISBN: 978-0-9780693-1-5

Author: Aunt Judy (AKA Judith A. McEwen)

These two books are an adorable way to show children about the world around them. In Chickens on the Go, the wonderful rhyming text tells children that it doesn't matter where we're from, "We're all chickens---let's have fun". Chickens around the world are depicted in the charming illustrations demonstrating that color, shape, or country doesn't change the fact that we are all the same.

Chickens in the Know does a fabulous job of teaching children that "It doesn't matter what we do, the world needs me....the world needs you!" What a fun way to tell children how important each of them is to the world around them.

I loved these two books. The website offers kids pages with activities and learning guides for teachers. The books can be read over and over again for fun but kids will gain so much more from the hidden messages of worth and self-esteem.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review: The Deep Black Pond by Morgan Kostival

The Deep Black Pond

Author:  Morgan Kostival

Photographs: Morgan Kostival

ISBN: 978-1-60976-486-9

From the back cover: Follow the misadventures of one of these tiny creatures named Mimi the peewee. Learn just how Mimi becomes the very first pink pearl in the world.

At the same time, Mimi unknowingly brings together all the other creatures living in the pond by inspiring cooperation and friendship.

This fable-like bedtime story will enthrall your little ones, as Mimi meets the Queen of the water lilies,
Cuddles the fish, and the mysterious Baron.

My review:
 This is an interesting children's book to say the least, and the author shows remarkable talent at both writing and creating the scenes which he photographed to illustrate the book. He states on the back cover that adults forget to use their imaginations and I believe he might have something there. This story sparks the imagination and spurs it on with the unusual and interesting pictures.

Children that have an interest in the deep sea and the creatures below will be enthralled I am sure. For me, the story was very creative as were the photos, but I found them to be more scary than I like in a children's book, However, I believe he will find a huge audience of children who will love the mystique, especially boys. It demonstrates not only good solid writing and creating but an artistic angle that is not found in every book for kids.
I think we will be seeing more work from this creative children's author.

For more:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Billy D. Page: Author of Books for Kids Series

Lessons from Scouting, History Solve Modern Problems in New Kids’ Book Series

The simpler days of times past in small town America might be gone, but a new series of children’s fiction books from a noted educator who infuses his stories with history, science and language development is reviving the important lessons of honesty, hard work and compassion for a new generation.

Billy D. Page ( – a PhD whose career in education spans elementary school teaching to college dean, public school leader to Boy and Cub Scout master – has fused a lifetime of learning about the struggles of growing up into a compelling new series that brings to life the trials and tribulations of small town life with the adventures of curious, capable young people. Set in Page’s hometown of Marion, Iowa, the two-book series, titled Horse Thief Cave and Boy Scouts, Bullies & Indian Creek, finds its protagonists grappling with modern problems, but turning to the lessons of history and their own skills developed in scouting to set things right.

“Life for kids can be complicated, and those of us lucky to have grown up in a simpler time - when the line between right and wrong was a lot clearer - have an obligation to share our wisdom in ways that will engage and inspire a new generation,” Page said.

“The great stories found in our history books, our small town museums and passed down from generation to generation in great organizations like the Boy Scouts have lessons which still ring true. This is my way of bringing those stories to children everywhere.”

The twin entries in the “It Happened in Marion Series” are Horse Thief Cave and Boy Scouts, Bullies & Indian Creek. Both books tell the tales of middle and high school boys whose lives take difficult turns and are further complicated by family challenges and dishonest and criminal forces in their town that threaten to tear apart its fabric. Using the time-honored skill and character building programs of Scouting, the boys’ adventures lead them to find solutions to their problems.

Each novel is also infused with appropriate, challenging vocabulary for children ages nine to 12 and a glossary that will help young readers build their abilities.

“Children are hungry for guidance in their everyday lives and I’m thrilled to be able to bring all my experience as an educator, a scout master, a father, grandfather and great-grandfather to them through these books,” Page said.

“The greatest gifts we can provide our children are our wisdom and our sense of adventure for life. These stories are written to inspire and empower them to be independent and assured young people.”

About Billy D. Page

A native of Iowa and graduate of University of Northern Iowa, Michigan State University and St. Louis University, Billy D. Page has dedicated his life’s work to education and children. He has taught at all levels of public education, from elementary school to college, and is a former school superintendent and dean of students at a Michigan community college. A longtime member of the Boy Scouts of America, he has been a dedicated Scoutmaster and Sunday school teacher. He lives in Michigan, where he and his wife, Loyce, preside over a family of three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and celebrate the Page family’s combined 181 years of marriage.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review: Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework by Ann K. Dolin

Review by Wayne S. Walker

Published by:  Advantage Books; Date: 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9714609-8-0
Price: $14.95
Ages: For parents with school children of all ages
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

     Synopsis:   Do your kids have problems with their homework?  With over twenty years of teaching and tutoring experience, Author Ann K. Dolin has written Homework Made Simple to help parents help their children to learn how to do their homework, thus taking the stress out of the homework experience.  In the preface, she recognizes that “there is no one cure-all for homework challenges.”  Thus, she seeks to share solutions that are diverse and reflect the specific problems that different students encounter.  The book is divided into three sections.  In Part I, “Getting Started,” the three chapters deal with finding the real problem, how parenting styles affect homework, and some principles that will work for all kids.  The six chapters of Part II contain almost 100 ideas to choose from for solving frequent, but challenging homework problems for the disorganized, the rusher, the procrastinator, the avoider, the inattentive, and the easily frustrated.  Part III concludes with three chapters discuss improving study skills, which includes a very interesting discussion of learning styles, handing difficult situations, and putting it all together.  There is a list of resources at the end for those who would like more information.  Did you know that studies shows that students who go to bed right after studying retain more information than those who engage in activities such as listening to music, watching TV, or playing video games?  That’s just one of the tips that you’ll find in this very useful book.

     Overall thoughts: There seems to be great disagreement about the question of homework.  Some believe that students need more and more homework so that they can be prepared for the workforce and our nation can compete in the global market, while others feel that too much homework places undue pressure on children, takes away from other equally important activities, and just keeps them from being kids.  Regardless of the debate, if students are in public, private, or parochial school, they will likely have some degree of homework.  A lot of students have little difficulty with homework, but there are those who find that it is very stressful both for themselves and for their parents.  Dolin has an undergraduate degree in Child Psychology with Teacher Certification for grades 1-8 and an M.Ed. in Special Education.   After a successful teaching career, she founded Educational Connections Inc., to provide individualized one-to-one instruction based on each student’s learning style.  I highly recommend this book for parents of any school-age children, whether in institutional schools or in homeschool.

     Links: (book), (publisher)


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.