Writing Workshop for Kids-- Interviews

Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on August 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (0)

A good way to encourage kids to write is to conduct interviews and document their answers. Not only will you find their answers amusing but you will have documented some memories for them that they can use to build stories on later. Below is an interview I did with my grandchildren when they were ten and six. You can figure out the questions I asked by their answers.




September 8, 2011, 6:30 pm


Interview with Alison Kayla Duckworth and Dodge Garrett Duckworth regarding their Mother who is turning 40 tomorrow.


Alison: My Mom’s favorite color is green.


Dodge: My Mom told me her favorite color is red.


AKD: My Mom likes to water flowers and being outside.


Dodge: My mom likes to go bowling or swimming at the Jackson swimming pool.


AKD: My mom gets mad when Dodge pees in the bathroom floor.


Dodge: I am not potty trained.


AKD: He is potty trained but not well.


Dodge: My mom gets mad when I break a glass.


AKD: My mom’s favorite song is “Rolling in the Deep”.


Dodge: Yeah, I think so too.


AKD: The artist is Adele—A-D-E-L-E.


Dodge: Yeah, that’s right.


AKD: What I like the best about my mom is her cooking and her helpfulness.


Dodge: What I like best is that mom helped me get potty trained. And I like the shopping too.


AKD: I love it when my mom takes me shopping.


AKD: My mom likes to eat at Shogun and El Torrero


Dodge: My mom likes to go to the ice cream shoppe and the Chinese place.


AKD: I love my Mom.


AKD: 40 is young


Dodge: My Dad is younger than my Mom; he is 42.


AKD: No Mom is the youngest; she is 40.

Writing Workshop For Kids Ages 6-10

Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on August 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Tools: Paper and Pencil




Five Components of fiction writing:


Start with facts and use your imagination to make up a story about the facts.



1. Character: Who the story is about. The name of your favorite animal for example.


2. Setting: Where the story takes place like ocean, forest, city, country, or desert.


3. Detail: Things that make the character special like color, size, personality, or age.


4. Detail: Things your character can do such as eat, play, run, swim, climb, or fly.


5. Detail: Abilities your character has like strength, speed, gentleness, clever, or funny.


Congratulations! You have everything you need to write your first story.


Example #1:




My favorite animal is a Llama named Rosé. Rosé lives in the country and is very strong. She is tall and is reddish-brown. She likes to take me for a ride on her back. Rosé is very gentle and makes sure I do not fall off.




“I wish I could go to my Nonna’s house,” said Alison. She crossed her arms and sighed dramatically. Alison’s mom stopped putting flowers in the vase and looked at Alison’s sad face. “Would you and Rosé like to walk down the lane to Nonna’s house?”


“Oh, yes,” said Alison. She clapped her hands and danced with her feet. “I would like that very much.” She raced for the door.


When Rosé and Alison started walking down the dusty lane Alison remembered she had forgotten her sandals. She was hopping on first one foot then another because the dirt was burning the bottom of her feet.


Suddenly Alison had an idea. “Rosé, can I get on your back and ride to Nonna’s house?” Rosé was a big, tall animal with shaggy white and brown fur and a very long neck. Rosé was happy for Alison to ride on her back because Rosé is a very strong animal.


However, neither Alison nor Rosé could quite figure out how Alison was going to get up on Rosé’s back. They pondered and pondered while standing on grass in the shade under a big red, oak tree.


“Maybe we can get a ladder,” said Alison. But they did not know where to find one. “What about a big step stool?” But they would have to walk back home on the hot dirt road to find one. “Maybe Grandpa will come by and help us.” But Grandpa did not come by.


All of a sudden Alison had a good idea. “How about if I climb up in the oak tree and crawl out on a branch right above Rosé and drop down on your back. Rosé did not like this idea because Alison might fall out of the tree and get hurt.


Then Rosé had an idea. She walked over to a fence and waited for Alison to climb the fence and get on Rosé’s back. The fence was just high enough to reach Rosé but not too high to be dangerous.


Alison climbed up the fence taking care not to get stuck with the barbed wire on the top row. Rosé stood close to the fence and Alison hopped onto Rosé’s back She twisted Rosé’s fur in her hand to hold on as Rosé started walking.


Soon Alison got tired of the bouncing around on Rosé’s back. Fortunately, Nonna’s driveway was just ahead. Alison slid off Rosé’s back holding onto Rosé’s neck until her toes touched the ground.


Rosé and Alison trotted down the driveway where Nonna was waiting with cookies and milk.


Example #2:




Landon the leopard is my favorite animal. Landon lives in the Kalahari Desert near the Limpopo River in Africa. Landon is a leopard cub and belongs in the wilderness. Landon is white with brown spots all over his body. Landon can run very fast.




Dodge peeked out his window to see if Landon was still hiding in the rose garden. The white roses were a perfect camouflage for Landon.


“Yes! There he is,” said Dodge. He pumped his arm in victory and ran outside.


Landon the Leopard does not belong in Dodge’s backyard. Landon belongs in the Kalahari Desert near the Limpopo River in Africa.


Dodge dug out the piece of steak he saved from dinner and flung it to the leopard cub. Landon gulped the food greedily and looked for more.


“I will find some more food for you,” promised Dodge. He dashed back to the house to get ready for school.


All day Dodge worried about Landon. He knew he had to get more food for the growing cub.


Dodge saved his sandwich and fed Landon as soon as he got off the school bus. Dodge used the water hose to fill Landon’s water bowl. But he was still worried about how to care for the cub.


“What’s wrong, Dodge?” asked his mom. “You seem worried.”


“Well, I do have a little problem,” he confessed. “I don’t think Dad will be happy about a secret I have.” Dodge’s mother stopped stirring the stringy spaghetti.


“Dad has always been fair so I don’t think you need to fret. It is best to not keep secrets that worry you.”


“The other night I heard a noise outside my window,” said Dodge. “I thought I saw a big cat but it was not a cat. Then I thought it was a small puppy, but it was not a puppy.”


“Go on,” urged Dodge’s dad. “What was it?”


“ I looked it up on the Internet and it is a leopard cub.” Dodge waited to see his dad’s reaction.


“Let me take a look at it,” said his dad. “Leopard’s don’t live in backyards.” Dodge’s dad squatted down and looked at the cub intently.


“You are right, Dodge, this is a leopard cub. People need to understand that they should not buy wild animals. A wild animal should always live in the wild.


“What can we do, Dad? Landon does not have a mom or dad to take care of him?” said Dodge.


“We will take Landon to an animal sanctuary where they will let him live until they can find a zoo for him. That will be the most like his natural habitat.”


Dodge was sad to leave Landon at the animal sanctuary but Landon happily scampered over the rocky ground that was just like his home in Africa. Dodge waved goodbye.


Tips and Tools for Writing Your Memoirs

Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on July 31, 2013 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Tips and Tools for Writing Your Memoirs


1. Smart phone, tablet, Kindle, Nook, computer, or paper and pencil

2. Jump drive/iCloud (something to back up your stories)

3. Memories


1. Start now.

2. Using your device or notepad, write down your first childhood memory in twenty-five words or less.

3. Add details: setting, characters, age(s), senses (see, smell, taste, touch, and hear)

4. Date every memoir entry.


1. Memory: I remember my little sister and I pushing a dog in a baby buggy.

2. Setting: Our home is in the country on a hill with a long driveway. The wind is blowing dust across the dirt driveway and I can smell cow manure emanating from the barn behind the house. Chickens are pecking around the yard.

3. Characters: Brenda is my sister and Brownie is the puppy. Brenda is four and I am five and we are wearing dresses.

Memoir: When we were four and five my little sister, Brenda, and I would push Brownie, our dog in a baby buggy. The puppy would squirm to get out of the buggy but we would keep shoving him back in. It took both of us to push the buggy over the rough yard filled with dirt clods and crabgrass. We wore dresses because back then girls did not wear long pants for any reason. We would play for hours in the long dirt driveway leading up to our house on the hill. The old grey barn behind the house tilted with age and weather but still provided cover for the three red Hereford cows milling about. The smell of cow manure was as familiar as the smell of leaves burning. We chased the chickens until we wore out or Mom called us for supper.

July 30, 2013