Thursday, April 30, 2009


Helena Harper is a native of England and has loved reading and writing from a very early age. She did a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Exeter University and then started her career as a modern languages teacher, a career which has lasted twenty years. During that time she has continued to write, concentrating primarily on fantasy stories for young children. However, in the past few years she has also discovered the joys of writing poetry for adults, and her first two books are poetry collections: It's a Teacher's Life...! and Family and More – Enemies or Friends?, which have been inspired by her professional and personal life.

Helena is now a private tutor and translator. She is continuing to write children's stories, and illustrations for her first children's picture book which is now being done. Her aim is to see the book in print before the year is out. Many people ask Helena why she likes to write. She feels she can best express it like this:

The blank page calls,
the heart responds,
imagination spreads wide its wings
and launches into infinity...
Fingers dance,
words flow,
the page fills,
the soul takes flight
and the spirit sings.

If you've been a teacher yourself or just wonder what makes them tick you need to follow Helena Harper into this alternative world of coffee addiction, frantic marking, lesson-planning and inspections. Her insightful, evocative and often sardonic descriptions leave you more appreciative of the trials and tribulations (and the occasional pleasures) of being the dragon in front of the whiteboard.

Helena Harper's book of poetry titled It's a Teacher's Life...! will open the eyes of the pupils who always thought that teachers didn't exist outside of school hours... On the other hand, with such a long roll-call of meetings, assessments and after-hours activities, perhaps they were right all along!


Available in paperback from all major online retailers. Not stocked in bookstores, but can be ordered from any bookstore.

Come back later in the week for some excerpts and reviews of Helena Harper's book. Just click on the following links to read more about this exciting new author.

Author's website:
Authorsden website:
Follow her on Twitter:

Kathy Stemke's websites:
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Great Rebus Story by Kathy Stemke


Rebus stories are great for emergent readers. The picture clues bring their frustration level down. This makes it more fun for them to read. Click on the left picture to enlarge and print. This is the story with the words and pictures together. Click on the right picture if you want the rebus without words. have fun!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The following two people were the lucky winners of my Uprinting contest. Congratulations ladies! I pray these marketing tools will enhance your worthwhile businesses.

Vivian Zabel 4RV Publishing
Cindy Powers BRAIN-athon Emporium
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Sunday, April 12, 2009


Leave a comment at the end of this post and win a chance for 1,000 free custom business cards and 500 custom brochures from

For over 25 years, U-Printing has been a trusted leader in online printing, featuring its signature easy-to-use website and the famous Free File Review, a complimentary proofing service which requires no upfront payment. U-Printing offers convenient marketing support services such as design, lists, and direct mailing to help grow small and medium-size businesses nationwide.


Business Card Printing


Leave a comment at the end of this blog post, describing what you would use the free printing for.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Teach Creative Writing!

Reading books with your children not only opens up the whole world to them, but often kick-starts their creative writing juices. For instance, after reading "The Wizard of Oz," ask your children to write a story about a strange world. When teaching creative writing to children, I've found that using maps, props, cards, books they've read, or pictures help them oganize their thoughts and create characters and a plot. Use the following activities as a class project or a story starter for your child at home.


Draw an island on a crinkled up paper bag. This will show that the map is old. Now add some features. Give it some mountains or a volcano. Put in rivers, swamps, or lakes. (By the way, this is a great way to give your kids a geography lesson or map making lesson without them knowing!) It could have forests, beaches, caves, villages. How about an old, deserted pirate town? By the way, islands don't have to be tropical islands. There are also rocky islands,jungle islands, and since this is an imaginary story, how about rainbow islands, candy islands, islands made of toys, or any combination of elements you want.

Decide who lives on the island. Maybe it’s a clan of long-lost Vikings, rock people, whacky animals, or talking birds. Maybe there are two groups on each side of the island that don’t get along with each other. This might help you give the land a name.

Finally, start the story by bringing to the island a main character or two. What would happen when two kids get shipwrecked there, or a time-traveler shows up? They need to have a goal as well. It could be as simple as trying to get home, or finding an object that's needed to save the world.

Because you have a picture of your island it is easy to create a plot as your characters move from one part of the island to the other. Create a problem to overcome at each feature.

Try reading The Adventures of Grassie Green in the Colored Worlds by Steven Rox.


First give your character a reason to explore. Maybe you're looking for a lost treasure, a rare animal, or a cure for a terrible bug disease. As a tiny creature, everything looks different to you.

Use numbered popsicle sticks and string to map out your journey in the yard. Wind the string around each stick as you place it in the ground. Each stick represents a problem that you must overcome to continue your quest. Maybe you have to think of a way to get over a big rock, cross a puddle, get away from a hungry bird, ride on a dandelion seed, or in a toy car.

Finally, decide how you solve the final problem and find what you're looking for.

Try reading The Little Squeegy Bug by Bill Martin and Michael Sampson.


These types of stories are called folktales. They have historically explained things. Have your child draw a picture o make a clay figure of his favorite animal.

Make a list of the characteristics that make this animal unusual or different.
Write a story that explains how the animal got a particular trait. (How a tiger gets his stripes, how an elephant got large ears, why an eagle has a white head, or how a giraffe got a long neck.) For instance, start the story about elephants when they had tiny ears. Tell us the problems the elephant had. Tell how his ears grew to solve his problems.

Try reading Asian Children's Favorite Stories: A Treasury of Folktales from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia by David Conger, Patrick Yee, Marian Davies Toth, and Kay Loyons.
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