When I do workshops on revision, I often share an example from a draft and a revision to illustrate how I work. At the request of teachers, I have created pdf pages that you can download and print (or project onto your classroom screen) to share with students.
Listen to Mary Amato sing one of the songs from her Riot Brother series and talk about how she writes her Riot Brother books.
Teachers and librarians, if your school blocks youtube you can view this on teachertube.
When it comes to writing, some kids have a hard time getting started. In this article (first published in the Arizona Reading Association Journal), you can read my suggestions.
In Invisible Lines, Trevor Musgrove makes a spore print. If you’d like to try it, read on.
Mushrooms release spores, which are tiny, round, reproductive bodies, which you can literally “capture” in a print. Take a mushroom and gently remove the stem—you don’t want to damage the mushroom, but you do want to make sure the thin veil of flesh covering the gills is open so that the gills are exposed. Put the mushroom gill-side down on a piece of paper and cover with a glass. Wait 24 hours, lift off the glass, and carefully pick up the mushroom. You should see the spores released in a pattern.
If the spores are white, you won’t see them on white paper and should try placing a new mushroom on a piece of black paper. Some people make spore prints on half black/half white paper to cover either possibility.
Grocery store mushrooms do not work well because they aren’t fresh. Your best bet is to pick a mushroom in the wild, one in which the veil has already begun to open or has opened. You should wash your hands after handling the mushroom, but don’t worry about toxicity exposure…mushrooms that are poisonous to eat are okay to handle with appropriate caution.
If you want to keep your print, make sure to spray it with fixative.
Some people are allergic to mushroom spores, so be appropriately cautious and don’t sniff the spores. –Mary Amato
In my book, Invisible Lines, Trevor’s science class goes outside for a mushroom “foray.” Looking for mushrooms is kind of like going on a natural treasure hunt. You don’t have to be in the wild. Mushrooms grow everywhere, even in New York City!
Once you start looking for mushrooms, you will start to see them growing on trees, near trees, under leaves, near creeks, in median strips, on your front lawn, etc. Different mushrooms pop up at different times of the year. Especially after a good soak.
Looking over some mushroom identification guidebooks can be a great way to familiarize yourself with what might be out there.
Poisonous species can look remarkably similar to edible types, so don’t eat anything unless you are foraging with a mycologist. Join your local mycological association to find experts who can teach you how to identify mushrooms.–Mary Amato
Kids at Barrington Elementary School in Ohio acted out scenes from the Riot Brother books and posted them as a slide-show on their school website. What a great way to encourage reading, improvisation, and playwriting! Students can improvise or write short plays, based on scenes from their favorite books, and act them out.
Slobber Trivia Game Questions (From Stinky and Successful and Take the Mummy and Run)
- In which Riot Brother book does Slobber, the pet rat, first appear?
- One of the chapters in the third book is called “Slobber and Frank.” Who is Frank?
- On April Fools Day, where does Orville first hide Slobber?
- In the same chapter, when Lydia Riot finds Slobber, what does she do?
- At the end of the story, the boys find a hiding place for Slobber that makes their mom scream. Where do they hide him?
- Fill in the blanks of this famous Riot Brother saying about Slobber that Wilbur says at the end of the April Fools story: “Just remember, slobber is what goes __ ___ of a pillow and Slobber is what goes _____ a pillow.”
- In Take the Mummy and Run: The Riot Brothers are on a Roll, the boys put Slobber in a bucket labeled ____ _____.
- In “The Riot Brothers Solve a Mystery” Orville throws Slobber at a _____ who turns out to be a ___.
- What is the real Slobber made of?
- According to Amelia, if the boys miss Slobber, what should they do?
Slobber Trivia Game Answers
- In Stinky and Successful: The Riot Brothers Never Stop (Book 3)
- Frank is Wilbur’s pet eyeball.
- Orville hides Slobber in his mom’s desk drawer.
- Lydia Riot doesn’t scream when she finds Slobber in her pencil drawer. She calmly says, “Actually I believe that Slobber ate all my pencils.
- The boys hide Slobber under their mom’s pillow.
- “Just remember, slobber is what goes on top of a pillow and Slobber is what goes under a pillow.”
- In Take the Mummy and Run: The Riot Brothers are on a Roll, the boys put Slobber in a bucket labeled free candy.
- In The Riot Brothers Solve a Mystery, Orville throws Slobber at a _____ who turns out to be a ___.
- The real Slobber is made of rubber.
- If the boys miss Slobber, they should chew gum really fast so that they slobber.
Slobber the Rat is a character in Stinky and Successful: The Riot Brothers Return and in Take the Mummy and Run: The Riot Brothers are on a Roll. I had fun making these rats reading miniature copies of my books as a gift for my publisher, Holiday House.