Sneak Peek into what I’m teaching at a Writing Camp for Kids

This week I’m combining my love of writing and teaching through play to facilitate a writing camp for kids in St. Paul, Alberta. The St. Paul & District Arts Foundation is offering Compose Your Summer, four days of literature and dance. Miss Heather is facilitating the dance and I’ll facilitate the writing portion.

Here are some of the ideas we’ll be trying:

DAY 1 – FOCUS ON SETTING

Ice-breaker idea from She’s Crafty

 

Challenge: Draw a giant map or picture of your story world using crayons, markers, paint, or whatever else you choose. Think about what your world is like, who lives there, and how your characters work together or against each other.

DAY 2 – FOCUS ON CHARACTER

Challenge: Explore costumes and figure out what your main character looks like. Draw a picture of your character and/or fill out a character questionnaire. Then interview a fellow camper and find out about his or her character. If you’d like, you can act out your character and we’ll capture him or her on video.

DAY 3 – FOCUS ON STORY STRUCTURE

Challenge: Brainstorm a beginning (including hook), middle, and end to a story with the group. As a group, act out the group story, which will be videoed. Decide on the main points of your own story and either write out or act out your story. (Discussions of genre and dialogue as time permits)

DAY 4 – FOCUS ON PULLING THE PIECES TOGETHER

Challenge: Explore the senses and create a sensory dictionary as a group. Go through your story and highlight each sense with a different colour. Discuss self-editing tips as a group. Exchange stories and give feedback. Work on revisions.

RESOURCES:

20 Three Minute Brain Breaks

I’ve found an amazing array of resources on writing and teaching writing to children to include as handouts for each participant.

Stay tuned for a report back on how the writing camp went and lessons I learned 🙂


Bankhead: a hidden treasure near Banff

Our family enjoyed hiking through the ruins of Bankhead this summer on our vacation in Banff National Park. We camped at Two Jack Main, so we were just kilometres away from the ghost town. However, we didn’t realize there was more than a hiking trail at Lower Bankhead until we went on the Boat Cruise at Lake Minnewanka. While we were on the cruise, our guide told us that we should definitely set aside some time to explore the mining ghost town at Lower Bankhead.

We discovered signage for Lower Bankhead is only visible when you’re travelling from Lake Minnewanka back past Upper Bankhead. The hiking trail is 1.1 km, and designated “easy” (the most difficult part is the stairs to get down to the trail). We found the trail easy to follow, mostly marked with coal. Signs with historical information helped us decipher what used to exist in Bankhead.

The mining town of Bankhead only existed from 1903 – 1922. At it’s height, the town was a prosperous, booming mining town of 1,000 people. An amazing amount of coal was mined in those years, a half million tons of coal during peak production. However, I found it disconcerting to read that most of the miners were Chinese and that they lived “on the other side of the slag heap.” The many rhubarb and raspberry plants which still grow are evidence that the Chinese families worked hard, both in the mines and in their gardens. Although the signs pointed to a happy life for many residents of Bankhead, I wonder if the prosperity was shared equally.

Below are some of the pictures I took during our hike.

For more information:

http://www.bigdoer.com/5538/exploring-history/bankhead-alberta-ghost-town/

http://www.ghosttowns.com/canada/alberta/bankhead.html

http://www.ghosttownpix.com/alberta/bankhead.html

https://magazine.cim.org/en/September-October-2007/mining-lore/Bankhead-mining-for-coal.aspx

http://www.trailpeak.com/trail-Bankhead-Historical-Loop-near-Banff-AB-1834

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bankhead,_Alberta

 

 


Town of Banff

Our 2015 family holiday in Banff National Park

This past week our family had the opportunity to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Banff National Park. In this post I’m sharing some of my favourite pictures. In the next few posts I’ll provide details about some of the places we visited and activities we enjoyed.

Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep

We were able to see many different kinds of animals. When I commented that the sheep were molting, one of our sons commented, “Well, you know, Mom, it is summer!”

Glacier Sky Walk
Glacier Sky Walk

The Glacier Skywalk topped my list of activities. What an amazing view!

Ghost mining town at Lower Bankhead
Lower Bankhead

Looking for a free, educational activity? Check out Lower Bankhead, which used to be a mining town in the early 1900’s.

Boat ride on Lake Minnewanka
Boat ride on Lake Minnewanka

Although we had been on the boat ride before, we learned many more interesting facts, thanks to our informative guide, Dan.

Hiking in Banff National Park
Hiking in Banff National Park

There is a wonderful variety of hiking trails in Banff National Park – all lengths and levels of difficulty.

Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure
Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure

The Brewster bus ride onto the Columbia Icefield Glacier takes you down the second steepest incline (32 degrees) in the world.

Bull and cow Elk near Two Jack
Bull and cow Elk near Two Jack

We were delighted to find this pair of elk just outside the entrance to the Two Jack Main campground.

Elk at dusk in Banff National Park
Elk at dusk

The above shot of an elk at dusk is my favourite photo from our trip.

Bird on sign at Jasper glacier
Lots of natural beauty

A whiskey jack entertained us while we were at the Columbia Icefields visitor centre.

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Too close to the bear!

Despite warnings, tourists insist on feeding animals and getting close to the wild animals. One guide asked us if we knew which animal sends the most tourists to the hospital from the national parks. Any guesses?

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View from Sulpher Mountain Gondola

We enjoyed a ride on the Sulpher Mountain Gondola. What a view!

Where did you go on your family vacation this year? Any hints to share?


Redefining Disability Week 3: Experiences with Medical Treatment/Therapy

Disability and medical

Our experiences with medical treatment and therapy have been varied. I would say the “human” factor makes the biggest difference. Some doctors and therapists detach themselves and only dispense medicine and knowledge. Others genuinely care about those they are treating. They laugh with you and cry with you and cheer when there is progress. When one of these individuals moves on, you go through a grieving process. Here’s a summary of our experiences:

  • The first pediatrician who saw our twins said they would never walk, talk, or feed themselves. Perhaps he was merely trying to prepare people for the worst case scenario? Thankfully his prediction proved to be false.
  • The pediatrician who became our family pediatrician told us he wasn’t sure what the twins were capable of, but he committed to being with us each step of the way. He not only provided information, but he also gave helpful referrals and filled out copious amounts of paperwork to ensure they received necessary services.
  • Our pediatric ophthalmologist is a gem. He used sound effects and animated stuffies to help with examinations. He took his time and always made sure our questions were answered before he said goodbye. He cautioned us to be careful about making appointments in the winter, knowing that we traveled a few hours to see him. When he retired, he let us know and made sure someone else was there to take care of us.
  • The first speech therapist we were referred to knew less than we did about how to help our boys. We were told he could help us with the feeding issues one of our twins experienced. The best thing he did was admit he had no clue how to help us.
  • After enduring many speech therapy sessions that were a waste of time, we finally found someone who did more than diagnose problems. She taught us how to play with purpose by getting down on the floor with our twins and building a relationship with them. She not only told us what to do, but explained the reason behind it.
  • It took many phone calls and conversations before I located an occupational therapist who was willing to travel to us. He was honest about the rules which most people played by, but told us he would help in whatever area he could. He only did assessments when they were required for funding or some other useful purpose. Otherwise, he spent his time watching, listening, joking with the boys, and offering a professional sounding board for our family. He also made himself available for many phone calls and e-mails. To this day I know that I can ask for his opinion. I know he’s there for us.
  • My first encounters with special education were not positive. I discovered a system that was more about rules and money than about meeting the needs of unique individuals. Thankfully, I met other parents with more experience who helped me learn the ropes. (I chose to serve on our local school board for six years because I believed I could make a difference for other children and their families.) We also worked with some very caring teachers and educational assistants. People who were willing to go beyond the call of duty to make sure needs were met.

I’m thankful for the many amazing professionals we’ve interacted with on our journey. It truly does take a community to raise a child, especially when the child has unique needs.

What do you look for when you need medical intervention or therapy? What have your experiences been like?


 

redefining-disability1

Last year Rose Fischer started a Redefining Disability Challenge. This year she is continuing to invite people to join the challenge by blogging about a set of questions she developed. I’ve decided to join this challenge and most Mondays (or Tuesdays!) will be answering one of her questions.


Writer’s Blog Hop – Sample from Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life

31 Days of Hope231 Days of Hope1

One of the major projects I’m working on this year is a series of Kindle books (31 Days of … Series). The first book I’m putting together is Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life. I’ve worked on the cover design and received feedback. Now I need to finalize which colour scheme I’m going with. Which cover do you prefer? Left or right? Or is there a different colour you think I should try for the main title? (Let me know in the comment section below.)

Below you’ll find Focus, one of the devotionals I’ll be including in the book. I’m also learning to make podcasts, so listen in if you prefer 🙂

NOTE: to see what other authors are working on, go to the blog hop.

Focus

By Ruth L. Snyder

It’s 8:03. The bus comes at 8:25. My daughter wants me to read a story to her and her brothers are looking at the latest Scholastic book order forms, trying to get my attention so they can tell me what they want to order. I want to tell them we’ll deal with the book order after school, except today’s the last day orders are being accepted. My daughter opens her book. I start reading. While she’s flipping to the next page I find one of the desired books and circle it on the order form. I read the next page. One son pushes his way closer so he can listen too. I read the next page then cut out the order form while the page is being flipped. This process continues until 8:11. The book is finished; the order forms are half filled out. It’s time to get jackets, backpacks, and mitts. I still need to add the order up, write a cheque, and write the book down on my daughter’s reading list.

“Get your jackets on. I’ll finish here.”

The children rush to the entryway. I add the order up, write a cheque, staple everything together, and write the book down on the reading list. I’ll clean up after the kids are on the bus.

I take the order and reading list to the entryway. Two boys are on their way out the door. My daughter is having trouble with her zipper. My other son is nowhere to be seen. I put the order and reading list in her backpack and help with the zipper. Then I go in search of my MIA son. He’s just coming out of his room.

“Hurry! It’s time to go.”

As I’m talking to him, a glimpse of the sky takes my breath away. The sunrise is beautiful. For over a week temperatures hovered in the minus thirty range. Today it’s warmer and the sky is showing evidence of the change in temperature. You know the saying: “Red in the morning, Shepherd’s warning.” I race to grab my camera and snap a picture. My daughter’s ready, and my son is close behind.

As we walk to the bus, my focus is on the beauty of the sunrise. The busyness of the morning rush is forgotten. I breathe deeply, smile at the antics of our Husky dog, Olaf, snap pictures, and pray with my children before they climb on the bus. After the bus leaves, I continue to snap pictures as the sun rises and colours change. I revel in the moment, knowing it will soon disappear and the hectic pace of life will be back, clawing and whining for attention.

Focus. We can choose our focus. We can allow all the ugly, dark, discouraging events we all face to drag us down. Or, we can instead focus on the glimpses of beauty that surround us.

In Matthew 14, we read about the disciples crossing a lake in the middle of the night. It was stormy. They had to work to keep the boat going in the right direction. Then, just before dawn, they saw something, someone, walking on water towards them. Some of them cried out in fear, thinking it was a ghost. Peter responded by calling out:

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me come to you on the water.” (verse 28)

Jesus tells him to come, so Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus. Verse thirty tells us:

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter, rebuking him for doubting, and helping him climb back into the boat.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but Jesus does. He’s there for you: the same Jesus who spoke the world into existence.

Are we going to focus on our circumstances today? Or are we going to choose to focus on Jesus and trust Him?


Parenting Checklist: Clean Your Room

I don’t know about you, but getting my children to clean their rooms AND understand when they are clean has been a challenge. Today I went looking for a checklist I could use with my children. I found one I liked at www.earlybirdmom.com, but it didn’t have everything I wanted and there were no graphics. So, I decided to make my own checklist using Canva. Here’s what I came up with:

Clean Your Room

I’ve printed out a copy for each of my younger children. I plan to laminate them, post them in the children’s bedrooms and supply an erasable marker. I’ll let you know how it goes :).

Click here to open a PDF file so that you can print your own copy to use with your children.


New Release: Uplifting Devotionals for Parents

Uplifting Devotionals for Parents Cover

I’m happy to announce that Uplifting Devotionals for Parents is now available as an e-book. Have you ever wanted to resign from parenting? The responsibility is overwhelming some days. Thankfully, we don’t have to parent in our own strength. God walks with us each day, strengthening us, guiding us, and giving us wisdom – if we ask. As you’ll see in these readings, I’m still learning. My prayer is that God will use these devotionals to provide encouragement, help, and joy in your parenting journey.

Here are a few snippets:

  • Some of life’s greatest lessons are taught not by what happens but by how I respond in messy situations.Nurturing walk with God
  • People who parent children with special needs perform a delicate dance each day, taking into account the individual needs of each child while also making sure necessary tasks are accomplished.
  • I need to nurture my own walk with God in order to effectively teach my children to do the same.
  • When we accept God’s free gift of salvation, He provides His presence every day, an eternal home in heaven, perfect love, incredible hope, an advocate, an inheritance out of this world, and an amazing family.
  • When life is tough and parenting is a struggle, we need to choose to love anyway.
  • My top priority as a parent is teaching my children about God and preparing the soil of their hearts to have a personal relationship with Him.
  • Christmas is not about chocolate, or presents, or trees, or anything else. It’s about the King, Jesus Christ.

If you would like free graphics of the above quotes to enjoy personally or share on social media, please send me an email with “Devotional graphics” in the subject line.

Purchase in Canada: Amazon.ca

Purchase in the U.S.A.: Amazon.com

Uplifting Devotional Cover

If you prefer paperback, these devotionals will be included in a devotional bundle written by fellow Canadian authors: Murray Pura, Tracy Krauss, Marcia Lee Laycock, Janice L. Dick, and me. This book is scheduled to be released in the near future.

5 Minute Friday Post – Dare

“Dare to be a Daniel”

“Dare to be different”

“Dare to stand up for what you believe”

“I dare you.”

“How dare you?”

Dare involves some sort of challenge. Risk. Change. Uncertainty.

But with the possibility of fame, big or small. A chance to stand out. To be a leader.

Some dares are public. Like walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, pushing a wheelbarrow. Or taking a dare from people who call themselves friends, but really just want to get you in trouble. Or taking a stand for what you believe, even if you know it’s not popular. Like Daniel, who decided he was going to follow God and not eat the fancy food the king was serving. Daniel, who was basically a slave, a captive in a foreign land. Dared. Will I?

5 Minute Friday is a weekly challenge for bloggers to write for (you guessed it) 5 minutes on a given word. No editing. No deleting (it’s HARD!). If you would like to join me and other amazing 5 minute free writing friends, please visit Kate’s blog and linkup!


Sorting through the time crunch

Weekly CalendarToday’s assignment in the Balanced Challenge is one that I know I’ll have to keep coming back to. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s often a challenge to figure out how I’m going to make the best use of each 24 hour segment God gives me. There just isn’t enough time to do everything.

Tricia Goyer shares one way to sort through the time crunch: Sit down and make a list with four categories.

  1. Things I have to do (non-negotiable items like work or feeding and clothing your family)
  2. Things I should do (no one will die if these things aren’t done, but they are very important. e.g. reading the Bible)
  3. Things I want to do (those things that bring me joy and make me feel more alive e.g. my work with InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship)
  4. Things I’m doing to “look good” or doing out of guilt (usually volunteer activities that are good, but may be zapping our energy)

Tricia then challenges us to cut ALL the items listed under #4 and schedule the rest of the items into some sort of calender. I’ve shared the beginning of my calendar at the top of this post. It still needs some work – my husband and I plan to compare notes and calendars.

This exercise has been an important reminder to me that I can’t be everything to everybody. Some things have to give. Tricia reminds us that there are different seasons in life and sometimes we have to wait to do things until a different season.

How do you plan your schedule? What do you struggle with the most? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.

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