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Write Cook

           Writing tools, tips, and tricks!


Possessives and the Writing Process

Posted on September 11, 2012 at 6:12 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,
We've reviewed the basic structure of a paragraph and the importance of using precise nouns and vivid verbs. This week we will ...
1- take a look at possessive nouns and 
2- study the writing process.
A possessive noun is a noun that has been modified by adding an apostrophe or an apostrophe s to indicate ownership (the noun owns or has (possesses) something. For example: the cat's meow (the meow that "belongs" to the cat).
Study the following document, complete the exercises, and take the quiz.
Possessive Nouns (PDF — 81 KB)
Here's a link to the rules and to a few fun videos:
Every writer has a personal writing process or system for planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. You need to discover and develop yours. The following document will walk you through the basics. I want you to keep in mind that writing is an artistic process similar to creating a painting or cooking a gourmet dish. You start by learning and following a series of basic steps, but as you become more experienced, you usually end up modifying the process so it suits your creative style. And that's perfectly okay. Think of the writing process described in this document as a place to start your journey as a skilled writer.
Your assignment for this week is to write an 8-sentence paragraph following the writing process (brainstorm, plan, draft, revise/edit, write a final copy) about someone who means/meant a lot to you. (What is/was this person like? What makes/made him/her so special?) 
You could start your paragraph: "A person that means a lot to me is _____." or "A person that meant a lot to me was ____."
Talk to you next Wednesday.
Happy writing!
Write Cook
P.S. What's your favorite lunch item? Mine is a granola-almond-cranberry mix.

More Nouns and the Hamburger Paragraph

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 6:41 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

This week we will continue studying nouns, and we will review the basic structure of a paragraph.

Many nouns can be singular (one) or plural (more than one). For example: friend (singular), friends (plural). These nouns are classified as "count" nouns because they name things that can be counted. Nouns that name things that cannot be counted are classified as "non-count" nouns and are never used in a plural form. For example: fun, ice.

It's important for writers to know the guidelines for spelling the plural of nouns. Study the following document and complete the practice exercise:

Spelling Plural Nouns (PDF — 135 KB)

Your main assignment for this week is to review the basic structure of a paragraph and to compose a paragraph that follows this structure. 

Paragraphs that begin with a main idea statement and end with a restatement of the main idea are often called hamburger (or hot dog, or sandwich, or accordion) paragraphs. The following document contains examples of different kinds of paragraphs and instructions on how to compose a hamburger paragraph:

Read the document and write a 5-8 sentence paragraph about your favorite activity (what it is and why you like it). You could start the paragraph like this: I love to ___. (For example: I love to go fishing.) 

Use the following document to plan your paragraph:

Planning a Paragraph (PDF — 168 KB)

Make sure to use vivid verbs and precise nouns. If necessary, review the following document:

Wonderful Colorful Words (PDF — 428 KB)

Have a great week! I'll post again next Wednesday.

Write Cook

P.S. Here's an easy way to make a grilled cheese sandwich (it's not really grilled, but it tastes almost as good). 

1- Toast two pieces of your favorite sandwich bread.
2- Spread butter on the outside of the pieces of toast.
3- Place one of the pieces of toast (buttered side down) on a microwavable dish.
4- Add two slices of American cheese (or any other favorite cheese).
5- Top with the second piece of toast (buttered side out).
6- Cover loosely with a paper towel.
7- Microwave 15-20 seconds (until the cheese starts to melt).
8- Enjoy!


Conceptual Nouns and Precise Nouns

Posted on August 29, 2012 at 9:46 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

The first lesson of the school year will be on identifying and using nouns. We will focus on conceptual (abstract) nouns and on precise (specific) nouns. 

Nouns are the names we give to persons, places, things, and ideas. Review nouns by studying the following document:

NOUNS (PDF — 235 KB)

Conceptual (abstract) nouns are the names of ideas:   

Things we can think about: thoughts   

Believe in: democracy, religion   

Feel (emotionally): anger, love, pride   

Imagine, but can’t touch: math, time 

Your first assignment for this week (due next Wednesday), is to compose an acrostic poem about yourself. Each line should start with a letter of your name (first name or first and last names) so that the letters spell your name if you read them from top to bottom. Your poem must contain (in each line) conceptual (abstract) nouns that represent some of your ideals. For example: curiosity, courage, intelligence, strength, etc.

Here's mine:


Your second assignment is on precise nouns. Study the following document:

Wonderful Colorful Words (PDF — 428 KB)

Precise nouns are the specific names of persons, places, things, and ideas. For example: I am a teacher. Teacher is one of my generic names. I am Ms. Pla. Ms. Pla is my specific name (it's also a proper noun). Precise nouns are often proper nouns as well.

Your assignment is to write a paragraph (5-7 sentences) about what you hope to do next summer. Use at least five precise nouns.

For example: Next summer I hope to visit the Denver Zoo. (Instead of writing the common noun "zoo," I wrote the more specific (precise) noun "Denver Zoo.") 

Work on these two assignments this week, and also play the game "Abstract or Concrete" found in (go to Grade Level Help, then 6th Grade Language Arts).

Talk to you next Wednesday,

Write Cook

P.S. School makes me hungry for pizza. My favorite? Pineapple and black olives. Yours?


Vivid Verbs

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 6:56 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,
This week we will start taking a look at all we can do with verbs.
A verb is a word that shows action or state of being or links the subject to another word in the sentence.
The soccer ball flew out of the field. (action verb)
Megan is excited about the trip. (state of being verb)
Jimmy's locker smells funny. (linking verb)
The main verb (or verbs) in a sentence is/are the "heart" of the sentence. Without that "heart," the sentence is incomplete (it's a sentence fragment).
Because verbs are the "hearts" of sentences, we must choose them wisely:
1- Try to use action verbs as much as possible, searching for words that paint a powerful and vivid picture of the action.
"The child stepped out of the house a little hesitantly. The fog wreathed around him like a long-lost friend. And then, uncertainly at first, then with increasing speed and confidence, the boy tottered up the hill " (from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman)
2- Consider the connotation (feelings associated with words) of the verbs you choose.
The man staggered down the sidewalk. (This verb choice makes you wonder if the man is drunk.)
The man limped down the sidewalk. (This verb choice makes you wonder if the man is injured.)
3- Use the active voice (let the subject carry out the action) whenever possible.
The sheep was eaten by a lion. (passive voice - not as powerful)
The lion devoured the sheep. (active voice - more powerful)
Try the following exercise: Find a thesaurus and look for synonyms of every-day verbs such as walk, run, eat, etc. Find 10 super-vivid verbs and use each of them as the main verb (active voice) of a sentence. Save those sentences in your writer's notebook.
Verb: run
The feral child scampered down the rocky hill and loped into the forest.
Fun Grammar Games: (a list of sites to choose from)
I hope you enjoy the games!

Teachers, check out the writing exercises I'm sharing on The Write Town:
Talk to you later,
Write Cook
P.S. Salads are wonderfully delicious this time of year. Try adding chopped walnuts and slices of apples or pears to your favorite mixed salad greens. (You can add cubed chicken or hard-boiled eggs to make it a complete meal.)Top your salad with a low-fat cranberry vinaigrette dressing. Yum!

Artful Adjectives

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,
This week we will focus on adjectives. An adjective is a word that describes a noun or a pronoun. Adjectives are important in writing because they add details and make meanings clearer. Some things you need to know about adjectives:
1- Adjectives can be found before and after nouns:
Before: I met a jolly, green giant. 
After: The giant I met was jolly and green.
2- Adjectives can show comparison:
That was the most delicious chocolate cake I've ever tasted.
Your mom's cooking is better than my mom's. 
3- Adjectives can be compound:
4- "It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather." --Louis Sachar, Holes
5- Adjectives can be proper:
A Japanese poet visited our school.
6- Certain verbs are sometimes used as adjectives:
I stopped to watch the climbing spider.
Read the following document for more information on adjectives:
Adjectives (PDF — 333 KB)
Try the following fun exercise:
Try creating a list of your favorite adjectives to keep in your writer's notebook.
Here's a list to choose from:
Talk to you later!
Write Cook
P.S. Here's a yummy, no-bake pie recipe:
Overnight No-Bake Fruit and Cheese Pie
4 oz.- light cream cheese
1/2 cup - confectioners' sugar (optional)
1 tsp. - vanilla extract
2 cups - Light Cool Whip 
1 can of your favorite low sugar fruit pie filling
1 reduced fat graham cracker pie shell
(With an 8 oz. container of cream cheese, an 8 oz. container of Cool Whip, and 2 cans of pie filling you can make two pies.)
1- Blend the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with a fork. 
2- Add the Cool Whip and mix well.
3- Spoon mix into the pie shell, cover, and chill overnight in refrigerator. 
4- Top with pie filling right before serving.

Fun with Nouns

Posted on July 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

Let's try a couple more fun exercises with nouns. 

First review the document "Plural Nouns":

Spelling Plural Nouns (PDF — 135 KB)

Then go to the following link and review the rules for possessive nouns:

Now you're set to go. Print (or copy) the following chart, and fill it out with your favorite names of people, places, things, and ideas. Then have each of your family members fill out a chart, as well. Be the teacher and correct their mistakes. It'll be fun!

Noun Practice (DOC — 42 KB)

Teachers: Don't forget to check out my new blog: The Write Town (

Talk to you later!

Write Cook

P.S. Summer is the best time for smoothies!

Summer Word Fun

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 2:38 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

I trust you're all enjoying a fabulous summer break. We'll start getting ready for the school year by having a bit of fun with the parts of speech.

The PARTS of SPEECH (PDF — 122 KB)

We'll begin by taking a close look at NOUNS. Read the following document, and then make a list of your favorite people, places, and things. Be specific! After that, make a list of ideas that are important in your life. (For example: love, peace, friendship). Create a colorful poster or a wordle ( with your NOUNS.

NOUNS (PDF — 235 KB)

NEWS!!! I started a companion blog to The Write Kitchen. It's titled The Write Town and contains examples of quirky writing exercises for writers of any age. Check it out! :) Also, I've added new book reviews to The Reading Café (I'll be adding more by the 7th of each month). (The Reading Café)

Talk to you later!

Write Cook


Lemonade stand, anyone?

Pronouns and Adjectives

Posted on October 23, 2011 at 12:18 AM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers,
Congratulations on your creative use of precise nouns! We're moving on to identifying and utilizing clear pronouns and artful adjectives. You will find information on these parts of speech on the "Let's Start Cookin' " page. Look for "The Parts of Speech" and "Wonderful Colorful Words."
Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns so we don't have to repeat the same nouns over and over. The key to using pronouns is clarity: We must check that our pronouns match the nouns they are replacing.
Study the following document and do the practice exercise on identifying and utilizing pronouns.
Adjectives are words that describe nouns and pronouns. They help the reader imagine the scenes that writers create. They help the writer construct sensory details, figurative language, action scenes, and more. And they help make our writing beautiful, interesting, and fun to read (in other words, yummy!). However, sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If you overload your nouns and pronouns with strings of adjectives, you'll give your readers a literary "stomachache"! So two keys when using adjectives: creativity and moderation.
We will begin with an exercise where you'll practice identifying nouns and adjectives, then an exercise where you'll add precise nouns, and finally an exercise where you'll practice adding adjectives. Have fun!
Talk to you soon,
Great Halloween healthy treat: Use mozzarella sticks to create creepy "severed fingers." Cut out nail-shapes out of red or green gummy candy and stick them to the tops of the "fingers." Then add red food-coloring to the other end of the sticks to simulate blood. Serve them with gummy worms. Gross and cool!
Happy Halloween!!!

Even More Nouns

Posted on September 26, 2011 at 9:51 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers,
Excellent job using precise and plural nouns! I am attaching a few links (below) to websites that will help you review nouns and learn more about them (pay special attention to the lessons on possessive nouns). Learning to identify and use nouns (and all other parts of speech) are important skills for every writer because the more we know about words, the more cool and creative things we can do with them. Remember that one of your revision goals should be to replace general, boring nouns with precise, interesting ones.
Here's an assignment that will help you practice writing precise nouns:
Imagine that a wealthy uncle (that you didn't know you had) wants to spend a total of five thousand dollars on ten amazing gifts for your birthday. Since he lives in a remote castle in Europe, he has asked you to send him a list of the items you want, so he can buy them online and have them mailed to you. Write your uncle an email listing the ten amazing gifts you would like for your birthday. Do the math, be precise, and have fun!
www.superteacherworksheets,com  (Click on Super Teacher Worksheets - Printable Worksheets, and scroll down to Grammar. There are lots of helpful worksheets on this site!)  (Click on Word Wise and look for Nouns.)  (Click on Guide to Grammar and Writing. This site is high-level.)
Possesive Nouns Quiz (DOCX — 45 KB)
Talk to you soon,
October is only a few days away. What's your favorite Halloween snack?

More Nouns

Posted on September 5, 2011 at 8:57 PM Comments comments (0)
Please note that I plan to alternate posts on this blog with posts on my reading blog ( Check out my reading recommendations!
Hello, writers,
I trust you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I know I did! Now it's time to get back to cookin' with words.
I'm happy to see that you are understanding the concept of nouns (the names we give to all the stuff in the universe), and that you are learning to identify and utilize them. (By the way, why do you think it's important to learn to identify the parts of speech? More on that on my next post.) We still need to spend a little more time on nouns, but we must also start writing yummy paragraphs.
You have two tasks for the next two weeks:
1- Study the following spelling guidelines, and practice changing singular nouns to their plural forms.
Spelling Plural Nouns (PDF — 135 KB)
2- Study the attached documents, and write a paragraph to the following prompt:
Your state is on the path of a powerful storm. Your family has been ordered to leave their home and rush to a storm shelter. You are allowed to take only one personal belonging. What will you choose and why?
Your revision objective: add precise nouns.
Wonderful, Colorful WORDS (PDF — 421 KB)
Talk to you soon,
My favorite after school snack is tea and toast.
Try these two delectable versions of the pbj:
1- Nutty wheat bread, crunchy peanut butter, and apricot preserves.
2- Country white bread (one thick slice), creamy peanut butter, banana slices, and hot fudge. (Eat with fork and knife.)