Book Review: Celebrate National Novel Writing Month with Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Published by Doubleday, 2011.

Happy National Novel Writing Month! Even though writing can be a fun form of self-expression for kids, teens, and adults, motivating yourself to write can often be challenging. Novels in particular require a great deal of self-motivation over a long period of time. Since 1999, the organization and movement known as “National Novel Writing Month” has encouraged amateur and professional writers to push themselves. Anyone can participate in NaNoWriMo, which asks participants to write a 50,000 word manuscript in a single month, between November 1 and November 30. That means an average of 1,667 words per day! NaNoWriMo helps writers across the country and beyond by providing “pep talks” from professional authors, and meet ups in real life so that writers can take a break from this solitary pursuit. Read the rest of this entry »

YA Book Review: Back to School for the First Time in This Girl is Different

This Girl Is Different by J.J. Johnson. Published by Peachtree Publishers, 2011.

For lots of kids, parents, and young adults, September signals time to re-adjust to the schedule and lifestyle of school. For a homeschooler attending school for the very first time, this transition is much more difficult…and exciting! J.J Johnson’s young adult novel This Girl is Different centers around Evie, a homeschooler, entering school for the first time as a high school senior. This book flips the typical high school narrative on its head. Evie has to beg her mother to go to school. She wants to meet more people and experience a lifestyle she has only seen in movies. Before school even starts, Evie happens to befriend kindhearted Jacinda and Jacinda’s cute cousin Rajas, both seniors. But Evie quickly discovers that she knows less than she thought she did about the rules and cut-throat culture of public school. Read the rest of this entry »

Board Game Bonanza at Westfield State University

Board Game Bonanza for Students & Teachers
In Westfield on May 2nd, 2012

Some examples of the games include: “Follow the Pi”, an interactive board game that reviews basic algebra and invites students to move and learn through a Pi shaped board. Another group has developed the “Healthy Hungry Market” in which students learn about the value of money and healthy nutritional habits. Board Game topics vary from Language arts to Science to Math to Spanish to Health. One student from Geography and Regional Planning developed a type of “Westfieldopoly” which will provide an interactive means to introduce new students to the campus and community.

Students at Westfield State University present the Board Game Bonanza!

The event, which will take place on Wednesday, May 2nd from 1:30-3pm,  features student-designed board games that teach players about a subject within typical classroom content (think state learning standards) and incorporate physical movement at the same time!  Some of the games include an algebra review game with a pi-shaped board, Westfieldopoly, and a game about the value of money and how it affects making healthy food choices.

Students and classroom teachers attending the event will have the chance to play multiple games, and will be able to learn not only about the topics covered in the games, but will gain an awareness of the level of thought expected and produced in college, and can learn about creative ways of expressing knowledge (specifically, through games).

The event will take place in the Woodward Center Lounge on the Westfield State University campus.  For more info call 413-572-5368. Free event, but pre-registration is required.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Alan Bates]

Hilltown Spring Festival Offers Opportunities for Young Entrepreneurs

Middle and High School Students Invited to Create and Operate Games at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival

Entrepreneur opportunity in the hilltowns for middle and high school students at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Middle school and high school students are invited to participate in the fifth annual Hilltown Spring Festival, which will take place this year on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Students are encouraged to create games which can be played by younger children. The youthful game creators may charge a fee to each player who chooses to play their game. Proposals for all kinds of games are welcome. A description of the game, and the proposed fee, should be submitted in advance to Hilltown CDC. Email staff@hilltowncdc.org for more information.

These games will be in addition to the Kids-Made Craft Bazaar, which was very successful last year. More than a dozen children of all ages offered their handmade crafts for sale.

The Hilltown Spring Festival was visited by 2,000 people last year. It features music all day on three stages, food from local vendors, children’s activities all day long, a Sustainable Living Expo, and displays by area businesses, non-profits, and artists and craftspeople. Admission is $5 per person; children 12 and under are admitted free. For more information visit the Hilltown CDC.

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