Tag Archives: Carrot Ranch

Can you fool the tooth fairy

Can you fool the tooth fairy?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills discussed important things in life including attitudes to aging. She challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can be humorous, dark or poignant. It can be true or total fiction. It can be fine wine or an old fossil. Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - ageing

Most of my work as a teacher has been with children who are experiencing one of the earliest physical signs of growing older — losing their baby teeth and growing adult teeth. The loss of these teeth is usually accompanied by great excitement, especially with the expectation that the tooth may be replaced with a coin by the tooth fairy.

lost tooth - Artie Feb 13 16

I previously wrote about the world’s diversity of traditions dealing with the loss of children’s baby teeth in A tooth for a tooth. That post also contains a flash story involving some gappy children’s smiles that help to cross barriers.

When I was growing up, many of my grandparents’ generation had false teeth or dentures that they left in a glass of water by their bedside when they were sleeping. With improved dental hygiene over the years, those numbers are now decreasing. This aspect of growing older — losing teeth whether at six or sixty-six — made me wonder if the tooth fairy might be fooled by false teeth and whether a creative child may have once tried to raise money that way.

Great-Grandmama’s Teeth

The sound like freight trains roaring through a tunnel assured Billy Great-Grandmama was asleep. He turned the doorknob ever so slowly, pushed the door gently and slipped into the darkened room. A chink of light bounced off the glass at the bedside. He daren’t breathe as he tiptoed over. Three quick whistles and he froze. The cavern with wibbly wobbly edges stretched wide. Would she wake? No, but better be quick. He lowered his fingers into the glass and withdrew his prize. All that was left was to fool the fairies and he’d buy his Mum that birthday cake.

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Create the possibilities

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - exhaustion

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads!

Feeling a little overwhelmed with extra demands on my time over the past few of months, coupled with a recent battle with the flu, I didn’t know if I could muster enough energy to respond this time. But when this blog’s tagline includes the words ‘Create the possibilities’, I thought I should give it a go. I hope you like my response.

Exhausted possibilities

Jolted awake when the bus reached the terminal, they grabbed their belongings and stumbled out. The driver shrugged when asked about accommodation.

‘NO VACANCY’ signs flashed along narrow streets. ‘NOT WELCOME’ lists accompanied the few with vacancies.

Trudging back to the terminal, hoping for seclusion, a ‘VACANCY’ appeared where none before. An old man bade them enter, waved away their money and installed them comfortably.

“Thank you. Thank you,” they bowed, and collapsed into sleep.

In the morning, they were alone. A note lay on the table:

When you think you have exhausted all possibilities, there is always more.”

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flash fiction rainbow futures

A rainbow of opportunities

The classrooms of today are filled with children from a diversity of backgrounds and with a multiplicity of perspectives. The futures of those children are filled with opportunities that were unimaginable when I was a child and possibly even now. The world’s landscape — physical, political and social — is changing rapidly. Maybe we are not too far away from finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Could our ‘wealth’ be bound up in acceptance of our diversity?

Charli Mill's flash fiction challenge - Gender fluidity

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers this week to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender. It can be fixed or fluid. Explore the topic on your own terms and open your mind to possibilities and understanding. Go where the prompt leads! I thought I’d have a little play.

Rainbow futures

The children went around the circle telling what they’d be when they grew up: police officer, paramedic, teacher, doctor, prosecutor, influencer …

Laughter erupted when Rudii responded, “Mother.”

“You can’t be a mother,” taunted one.

“Can too.”

“But you don’t have, you know, boobies,” said another, glancing at the teacher.

“Dad said I can be anything I want,” retorted Rudii.

“But—”

The teacher shushed them and the circle continued, punctuated only by an occasional half-giggle or nudge.

A rainbow of opportunity awaits, Teacher smiled inwardly, contemplating the question he and his partner were processing: who would be Mom?

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Beach adventures and sea mist

Beach adventures and sea mist

Growing up near the beach

Beach adventures were a big part of my childhood. I spent many long days swimming, sunbaking and exploring with friends and siblings at the beach no more than 500 metres from home. Generally, the instruction was to be home by tea time so, on our long summer holidays, we could spend as much time on the beach as we liked.

It wasn’t the most beautiful of beaches. The sand was coarse and yellow and the shore rocky in places. The water was often filled with jellyfish and seaweed. The narrow beach was edged by tall red cliffs which prompted Captain James Cook to name the area Redcliffe when he passed by in 1770. But we loved it anyway.

There were huge cotton trees, as perfect for climbing as the red cliffs were for scaling, and a playground with swings and slides, many of which are no longer considered child-safe. But we survived.

We’d explore the rocks for sea life, avoiding the jellyfish and seaweed as best we could, both in and out of the water. We’d play in the water and on the sand and lie on our towels talking, laughing and dreaming of whatever we did as children back then.

Sun safety

It may sound idyllic and perhaps it was, though to us, it just was. Most of us are now paying for those long days at the beach with sun damaged skin. If anyone was aware of the dangers of being too long in the sun back then, we certainly weren’t. We considered a bad dose of sunburn as nothing more than inconvenient and we took turns to peel layers of skin off each other’s backs when the blisters burst.

Nowadays, my beach adventures are mostly confined to observations of sparkling white sands and perfect blue water from a shady deck with a cool drink in hand. However, I may venture out for a stroll in the late afternoon when the sun’s light has dimmed, leaving the water and sky to meet and greet in shades of pink and lilac.

Our Australian culture has a love-hate relationship with the beach and sunshine. At the first hint of warm summer weather, we’ll be told it’s a great day for the beach and we’ll be presented with images of beaches crowded with sunbathers. On another occasion, we’ll be advised to stay out of the sun and avoid the damage to our skin. Queensland is, after all, the skin cancer capital of the world. I’ve never figured out why we don’t get a more sensible approach that combines enjoyment with safety.

But let’s not dwell too long on the negatives. Hopefully now with better education and the availability of protective products, the younger generation will not be so nonchalant about time spent in the sun.

A beach excursion

A beach excursion, whether with school or family, presents as many opportunities for learning as it does for fun. There are phenomena to inspire wonder and stimulate curiosity, and countless questions to ask and answers to discover; for example,

Ten beach-inspired questions

  • What makes the waves?
  • Why does the tide come in and out?
  • How is sand made?
  • Where do the shells come from?
  • Why does the sand squeak when we walk on it?
  • What lives in the ocean?
  • Why should we take our rubbish home with us or put it in a bin?
  • How do fish breathe?
  • What made these tracks on the sand?
  • My sandcastle was here this morning. What happened to it?

Some answers can be discovered through investigation and exploration at the beach. Others require research.

Three fun beach activities that involve learning

Shells are not only fun to collect, they are great for sorting and counting, measuring and making, creating patterns and trading.

Fish might be fun to catch (for some); but they can also be identified, measured and weighed. Children can research the different types of fish and regulations for catching them.

Photographs provide a great record of beach adventures. Children can be encouraged to compile them and write a recount or report about the outing.

And of course, there are always wonderful books to read about the beach; such as:

Ten beach or ocean themed picture books

The Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker

Circle by Jeannie Baker

The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft

Neptune’s Nursery by Kim Michelle Toft

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Beach-inspired flash fiction

Charli Mills's flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch

I was taken back to the beach this week by the challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Canned Sea Mist

No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dozed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.

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flash fiction about analysing in detail works of art

Meaning in each word

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads.

I had an idea I wanted to craft into a story. I’ve had a go. I’m not certain that it expresses quite what I was hoping, and certainly not as explicitly as I hoped. I had wanted it to stand alone, requiring no other explanation or padding and, while it fails, I’ve let it do just that.

Analyse the Detail

The artisan turned each piece to the light, this way and that, fitting and refitting, arranging and rearranging. Finally, it was done. Each piece necessary and perfectly positioned creating the whole— exquisite, harmonious, illuminating—not one greater nor outshining any other. It filled each open heart with hopes of dreams fulfilled.

Another sought to analyse its beauty, the power of its message to explore. He picked out all the pieces one by one and examined each in every detail. Too late he saw that, shattered and alone, not one shard revealed a secret. Only united did their meaning shine.

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The Sound and the Fury flash fiction contest #5

Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury Winners

The results of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest #5 The Sound and the Fury have been announced. What fabulous stories. Ride on over to the Ranch to read the winners, the Honourable Mentions and all the entries. Great writing everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By D. Avery

Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Your flash should never let go of that rope.

That was my lead-in to the prompt for the final rodeo contest, the Sound and Fury. I wanted contestants to write about a dangerous situation that people willingly engage in.

I have learned so much here at the Ranch even since penning such tough talk over a month ago. The prompt was to write of danger and risk, but for many just sharing one’s writing is a risk, and to compete is an even greater risk. To be willing to face a fear, to do what is not easy to do, engenders learning and growth; it is an act of creative courage.

Creative courage is what Carrot Ranch is about. The rope here is a…

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a selection of potato dishes

How do you like those potatoes?

Now that the 2018 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo has ended and winners of each contest are being announced weekly, the regular flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction mashed potato super power prompt

This week, Charli Mills challenged writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs mashed potatoes with a superpower. It can be in any circumstance, funny or poignant. Go where the prompt leads.

A month or two ago on readilearn, I wrote a post titled Learning to be friends — unleash your friendship superpower.  In that post, I suggested that we need to

Help children to see that, although they may have some special friends, they can be friendly towards everyone. No one should be excluded. Everyone should be included.

Explain that being friendly towards others encourages others to be friendly towards them. Being a friend is like a superpower. It helps everyone, including yourself, have a good day.”

ideas for teaching friendship skills in early childhood classrooms

I also discussed some new and existing resources to support the teaching of friendship skills in early childhood classrooms.

How could I not choose friendship as my superpower, but how could I mash it with potatoes as Charli suggested?

Of course, there is the Wiggles song Hot Potato that includes mashed banana, why not mashed potato?

And there is the popular party game Hot Potato where everyone sits in a circle and passes an object like a ball, bean bag, or even a potato around the circle while music plays. Whoever is holding the object when the music stops is out, so it is important to pass it quickly, like a hot potato, so as to not be caught with it. Could the game be played with mashed potato? It could get rather messy, I think.

fist game one potato two potato

When I was a child, we used to play an elimination game using the song One potato, Two potatoes. Everyone would stand in a circle and put out both fists. “It” would go around the circle, bumping each fist in turn. Whichever fist was bumped on ‘more’ would be put behind the player’s back. The song and actions would then be repeated until only one fist (one player) remained.

Then, of course, there is the Mr Potato Head toy which made a comeback in the Toy Story movies.

Singing songs and playing games, including these, is always a great way to help develop that friendship superpower.

Although I’ve presented quite a mash of potato ideas, I haven’t even mentioned real potatoes yet.

If I stayed with childhood stories, I would say that mashed potato was a regular feature of evening meals with a humble serving blobbed unceremoniously on the plate. Roast potatoes were traditional for Sunday lunch and always much preferred. I never saw mashed potato as anything to get excited over, but Hub, who hails from Northern Ireland, has high praise for the champ of his younger days.  Though I’ve tried, my attempts haven’t ever matched his expectations. I am surprised to see that mash is now a popular item on many restaurant menus —not quite so humble anymore, and perhaps a healthier choice than chips, which seem to be served with nearly everything.

So where to for a mashed potato superhero? Sometimes you need to look no further than the plate in front of you.

Here’s my response.

If only

Jake pushed the plate away.  “Don’t like mash.”

Mum sighed and turned away.

As Jake stared at the potato, out popped a tiny, lumpy, and obviously grumpy, old man. He shook his fists.

Jake leaned forward. “Pardon?”

“I’m leaving.”

“Why?”

“Ya always push me away. Say ya’d rather chips or roasties. Doncha know we’re all the same—inside—only outside’s different.”

“Didn’t think—”

“Your kind—unkindness—never do. Gotta learn ta look beyond the differences, kid. Learn ta love us all.”

“Wait—”

“What?” said Mum, turning as Jake scooped the last spoonful of mash into his mouth.

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