Saturday, July 30, 2011

Just Ask Justin: Wii Fun

Welcome to another installment of Just Ask Justin.  After spending a rainy summer day inside, Justin wants to talk
about his favorite Wii games and why he likes the Wii system.

P:  How long have you  had the Wii system?
J:  Since the beginning of 1st grade.  So, 2 years.

P:  Can you explain how you use the Wii system?
J:  It is hooked up to your TV.  You put a game (they come on CDs) into the Wii console.  You use the Wii remote to select things, complete actions and move characters.  Sometimes you have to move your whole body to do certain games.  You can play some games with up to 4 people.

P:  I heard that you can play Wii with people that are not even in your house.  How does that work?
J:  You can connect with friends over the internet.  You need a friend code to play with people remotely.

P:  What are some of your favorite games?
J:  Just Dance 2, Just Dance Summer Party, Super Mario Bros, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Mario Sports Mix, Rio, Wipeout and Mario Party 8.

P:  Why do you like the Just Dance games?
J:  You get to dance and you can dance with friends.  You get to dance to cool songs.  Sometimes, I have Just Dance parties with my friends and we have a competition.

P:  Is Mario your favorite character?
J:  No, Yoshi is.  He is cute, friendly, loving and caring.  He is also strong in battle games because of his long

P:  Is the Wipeout game like the TV show?
J:  Sort of.  You can chose a character then you go through different obstacles like the TV show.  You can play with your friends.  You do not get wet, but your character does.

P:  Why do you like the Wii system?
J:  Because you get to play with friends.  You also get to make Mii's.  Mii's are characters you get to create on the Mii channel.  You make them look like yourself or you can just be crazy and make weird people with weird names.  You get to use your Mii as your character to play in some games.

P:  If you could make your own Wii game, what would it be about?
J:  It would be about a Yoshi that was the last character in Mario World that didn't get stolen and turned into game pieces.  And the Yoshi has to save Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach.  I would name it The Yoshi Strikes Back.  And there are four Yoshi's so you can play with friends.  There are cool worlds and levels.  You can unlock new worlds and colored Yoshi's. 

Thank you Justin for all the great information about Wii games.
Please let us know what Justin should talk about next time.  We appreciate your comments and suggestions!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

YOU CAN Write a Story, Part 3

Here is the last part of "How YOU can Write a Story,"  the workshop I presented for the younger generation.   Please share your thoughts.  Do you have certain methods that you use when you write?  Do you use an outline?
Happy Writing!

Start with a bang! Your story's opening scene
  • Start with the day that is different -- the day the hero is called to adventure
  • Start your story as close to the "big event" as you can
  • Show the main character and the problem, or hint at the problem.
Use action to get your story rolling and make your reader want to see what happens next

Part Six: Write
I don't write until I've planned my character, conflict, scenes, and especially my opening. In your rough draft, just concentrate on getting it all on paper. You can go back and fix things later.

Part Seven: Revise
It's important to correct spelling and grammar mistakes, but first, make sure your story is in good shape. Look at your plan again and make sure that you showed those things in your story. Here are two examples:

Sometimes writers plan a great character, but reread their rough draft and discover they left out important information about the character. Check that you showed the character's problem, strengths, and weaknesses.

Sometimes writers find that important parts of their BIG SCENE were not properly set up earlier in the story. For example, if your character solves a riddle in the big scene, you need to show earlier in the story that your character is good at riddles.

Be sure to read your story several times.  Sometimes I leave my story for a day, come back to it, read it again and find new things to improve.  Another idea is to read it out loud.  Sometimes, dialogue doesn't sound right when read out loud.
I hope these tips help you create wonderful stories!  Have fun!  Good luck!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fun Friday: Dogs Rule!

OK, so I love dogs!  They rule!  Here is fun video for Friday.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Discover How YOU can Write a Story, Part 2

Did you enjoy sketching out your story?  Here is the next section on How YOU can Write a Story:
Part Four: Planning the Plot
Character and conflict are the heart of your story. The plot is just the sequence of events that happen as the character faces problems. Here are a few things to remember about plotting:
  • A plot is based on cause and effect.
  • The plot follows the effects of the character's actions and decisions.
  • Avoid a series of events. You want a chain of events, each affecting the next.  Each link in the chain should be necessary to your story!
Elements of most plots
Plan these scenes and you should be ready to write.
  • "Get the story going" event: Show character's problem & event that starts adventure. 
  • Adventure scene(s): Meet friends & enemies, face obstacles, learn lessons, prepare for...
  • THE BIG EVENT: Everything is on the line. Most exciting part of story. 
  • Wrap-Up: Tie up the loose ends and hand out rewards and punishments.

Part Five: Plan your story: Dialogue
Dialogue does many things for your story.
Reveals character (especially through reactions)
Advances plot
Brings scenes to life
Adjusts the story's pace
Start a new paragraph every time a new character speaks. 
  • Plan your setting -- know details about it. This makes your story more vivid.
  • Setting helps you avoid "floating" scenes -- conversation or action that could be happening anywhere. 
  • Setting adds atmosphere to scenes. Example: In a beach story, a character might compare Aunt Mary's screeching to a seagull. In a city story, Aunt Mary might remind the character of a burglar alarm
Use the worksheet below to fill in each section:
The Plot:  what happens and why

1.      Introduction - The beginning of the story where the characters and the setting is revealed.

2.      Getting the story going: This is where the events in the story become complicated and the conflict in the story is revealed.  What problem does your character have to solve?

3.      Adventure scene: This is the turning point of the story.  The reader wonders what will happen next; will the conflict be resolved or not?

4.      The Big Event - The events and complications begin to fix themselves.  The reader knows what has happened next and if the conflict was resolved or not

5.      The Ending:  This is the final outcome or untangling of events in the story.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Discover How YOU Can Write a Story, Part 1

Have you always wanted to write a story?  Have you wanted to teach your child how to write a story?  Over the next few blog posts, I will give you basic instructions to get your story going.  Happy Writing!
Part One: Ideas
People often wonder where writers get their ideas for stories. It takes so many ideas to make a story or a novel! Here's a secret: writers don't think of all those ideas. They steal them! Not really, but they find ideas from many sources and combine them to make an original story.
  • Look for ideas in real life, such as funny quotes, interesting people, or occurrences at school.
  • Consider your favorite stories. You can use elements of them to make a new story.
  • Brainstorm! Combine several ideas to form the basis of a new story. 
  • Go on a nature walk.  Find interesting rocks, sticks, flowers, grasses or bugs.  Maybe the rock you find reminds your of a diamond.  A stick could look like a snake.  A  leaf might resemble a floppy elephant ear. 

Part Two: Sketch the "basics" of your story
These are the basics of all stories:
1. Sympathetic character
2. Who faces a problem
3. Character solves problem
Don't get into details, but have an idea of your main character and the conflict.

Part Three: Fill in the details: Character and Conflict
First, build your main character. Here are important traits of a main character:
  • Has a problem or need.
  • Has the ability to solve the problem, whether or not he knows it (there's usually more suspense if he doesn't).
  • Often has a flaw to overcome to solve the problem or win the reward.
Then, think about your secondary characters: the main character's friends and enemies. To get you started, I've listed some types of secondary characters, along with famous examples of each.

Conflict -- what makes your story exciting
  • The stronger the story problem, the stronger the story.
  • Don't be nice to your character! Create obstacles to the goal. The story is more exciting that way, the character learns more, and the reward is more valuable since the character worked so hard for it.
  • Think about the worst thing that could happen to your character 
 Use the questions below to get started writing your story:

Sketch out your story:

Who is your main character?

What problem does he get into?

How does he solve the problem?


What do they look like? 

What do they like to do? 

How old are they? 

What he/she says, thinks, feels and dreams

What he/she does or does not do

What others say about him/her and how others react to him/her

Think about the worst thing that could happen to your character


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