Something From Nothing

Sometimes, you order the wrong length of paper for your printer. This has happened at Little House…but something fun has come from it! We have been left with many slips of paper as we trimmed the ends of the too-long pieces, and while this is a riveting mistake I am rambling on about, I will get to the point!

I decided to start making little booklets out of these seemingly unwanted pieces of paper and some colorful, special projects have been created. One student, Julia, has made a math sticker book – to keep track of all the math pages she has completed and to have a safe place for her beloved animal stickers to live. Other students, such as Elise and Stephen have made rhyming booklets where they carefully add color to simple pictures, find words that rhyme with them, and change what was once a mistake into something that matters to them.

While this was a simple idea, I have noticed how the students seem to slow down and take pride in making their little booklets…and it served as a simple reminder to me that everything matters and has a purpose, even tiny bits of forgotten paper.

– Carly 🙂


The Importance of Creative Writing

The Importance of Creative Writing

Creative writing: Should children be encouraged to develop their skills in this field from an early age? The straight forward answer to that question is yes. Why? Because it is absolutely necessary.

Creative writing forces a child to develop, use and build on their imagination. It makes children more aware and observant of their surroundings and allows them to develop a healthy inquisitiveness, which in turn forms the basis of learning and paves the way for a life-long hunger for knowledge. It introduces children to writing from different narratives – which develops their understanding of all sides of a story and not just one perspective.

The skill of digging down deep and not just taking stories (and everyday encounters and events) at the surface level is extremely important and will remain with children throughout their lives. It encourages children and adolescents to investigate a situation, understand it from the various perspectives and cling to the idea that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

Rudimentary English classes in schools lays the ground work for understanding the nature of the language. Creative writing helps elaborate on the importance of storytelling and writing. It helps children and adolescents see how stories are in integral part of our culture – stories give life to their imaginations and creativity; they allow children to discover and explore the world and the many ways it can be seen and understood. And most important of all, they help children realize that stories are the base of all things – a sacred geometry of sorts.

It is wrong to limit the exposure children have to creative writing by assuming that it is for adolescents only. This not only starves off the creativity and imagination of young children, but also stops them from discovering new ways of looking at themselves. It is through creative writing that children discover the sacred little details and perspectives of the world around them.

To introduce and teach creative writing to children is one of the best gifts one can give to their rich imagination and developing minds.


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Brainstorming: I Have a Plan!

Nicole Del Negro's drawing

Staring at a blank sheet of lined paper can be a nightmare. For some, the empty lines can represent so many possibilities for wonderful compositions that they have no idea how to start. For others, the blankness of the paper causes them to forget every word they ever learned and they find themselves equally unable to start writing. Struggling to start writing – whether a story, an essay, or a poem– is a familiar experience for people of all ages. Whether you are someone with an overabundance of ideas, or someone who tends to need help developing them, a technique I always recommend is to brainstorm and plan before starting to write. I learned this from my grade eleven English teacher who told us that students who take time to plan before starting an in-class essay always do better than those who do not. This advice has been invaluable for me, both in my final years in high school as well as in university.

Before starting a written composition, I have my students write their topic on a piece of paper and write down all their ideas about the topic. Some prefer having the topic in the middle with ideas spreading outward, while others use bullet points. It doesn’t matter what method they use, as long as it works for them. Once they have recorded their ideas, we work together to determine which ideas are useful for the composition, and the order in which they will be included. This method has been helpful for both my grade three and grade six students, as it makes their writing more focused and organized. It also tends to result in more developed ideas, since it gives the students an opportunity to think more about their topic before starting to write.

Ultimately, taking time to brainstorm and plan before starting a written composition is an incredibly important habit to develop. Students who start doing this early will not only be stronger writers now, but will be better prepared for more challenging writing assignments as they progress through school. I only wish I had started doing this sooner!


The Magic Begins


When I was first learning how to read, my parents would read a chapter of Harry Potter to me each night before bed. The story was so compelling that I would always be left dying to find out what would happen next. When my parents would not indulge my pleas for just one more chapter (after already having read more than one that night), I started trying to read it myself. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop, and I devoured each book as soon as I got ahold of it. These novels inspired a passion for reading that has lasted my whole life.


When I reread the series a few years ago, my respect for J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece was renewed. In addition to being an amazing story, the series includes strong messages about the importance of friendship, justice, acceptance, and appreciating others for their differences. Currently, I am reading Harry Potter with two of my students, and will be starting with a third next week.


The first just told me how much more fun his lessons have been since we incorporated Harry Potter. The second keeps reading after our lessons as he waits to get picked up. The third will be starting Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone once he finishes the book he is currently reading, and he asks each time how much longer he has to wait. It is always exciting for me when students enjoy learning, and especially so when I get to share with them something that I love.


The world of Harry Potter is so elaborate and magical that it excites the imagination of readers. I see this happen with my students as they enthusiastically race through each page. The series was instrumental in helping me learn and love to read, and I hope that it can play a similar role for my students.