Tag Archives: Stories

Balloons on the Bumper #99WordStories

Balloons on the Bumper

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about balloons on a bumper. Is it a spectacle, an occasion, an eccentricity? Why are the balloons there? Who is involved? Go where the prompt leads!

The prompt reminded me of an occasion just over twenty years ago, when my sister, niece and I attended a ‘hen’s party’ (terrible term) for my future sister in-law. My niece collected a bunch of helium-filled balloons to take home. She couldn’t squeeze them all into the car, and I drove home with one balloon sailing above us and my sister and niece both in hysterics all the way. Needless to say, they’d both had a few drinks to help the merriment. When we got home, my daughter and nephew, both early teens, decided to inhale the helium, and the hilarity began all over again.

Anyway, I decided to revisit Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from a few prompts ago. I hope you like it.

Balloons on the Bumper

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.

“Whose party?”

“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”

“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”

“Right. Which way?”

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”

“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

Thank you blog post

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Swimmingly, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

The One Who Left the Dress #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the one who left the dress.” A 1940s-era dress still hangs in an abandoned house. Who left it and why? You can take any perspective and write in any genre. It can be a ghost story. Or not. Go where the prompt leads!

For this story, I tried to write a little more about Sandy and Angus from my story last week. When I did, I wrote a lot more, well a lot more than 99 words anyway, so I’ve had to pare it back and take away a lot of the backstory. I hope that what remains makes sense on its own, and that you enjoy it.

The One Who Left the Dress

The rotten timbers remained upright thanks to the bushes, branches and vines. Grassy tufts sprouted through decaying floorboards where leaves, animal scats and other detritus littered. The only hint of previous occupants was a wardrobe, miraculously still standing. Sandy gasped as its door fragmented as she opened it. Using her phone’s torch, she peered through cobwebs and dust, hoping for treasure. All she found was a dress, completely in tatters, but still hanging.

“Isn’t this your great grandmother’s — the one in the photo in the hall?”

“Could be.” said Angus. “So what?”

“I wonder why she left it here.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading, I appreciate your feedback, please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Remote, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Stone-stacking #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

I tried all week to find a fitting ending to my story beginning but couldn’t get anything I was hoping for to fit. I have ended up with ninety-nine though, so I hope it works, at least a little.

Stacking Stones

Active children were everywhere — throwing, skipping, climbing, swinging, laughing, playing. But over in the garden, on the gravel path, one child was stacking stones.

“What’s he doing?” a visiting teacher asked.

“Jack? Counting stones. He’s been doing it for days now. At the end of playtime, he tells me how many he stacked.”

“Why?”

His teacher shrugged. “He likes counting, I guess.”

“Is he okay, I mean, you know —”

“Oh, yes. He’s completely fine. He just wants to see how high he can count.”

“How high has he got?”

“Twelve.”

“How far does he want to get?”

“Ninety-nine.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Memorials, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Once Upon a Whoops! — Teaching Ideas – #readilearn

In this post I share some ideas for using Once Upon a Whoops! in the classroom.

Once Upon a Whoops! is a collection of over 40 fractured fairy tales and ridiculous rhymes written and illustrated by Australian authors and illustrators and published by Share Your Story in 2021.

The activities suggested in this post support teaching of the literature strand of the Australian Curriculum F-2. The list not comprehensive as there are too many stories to go into detail for each one. Instead, I provide some general ideas and reference just a few stories for each suggestion.

Of course, in addition to these, the stories can be used as a stimulus in art and technology units if children make props and other objects to support retellings, puppet plays and performances. Many of the stories also provide opportunities for mathematical discussions.

Once Upon a Whoops! is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Please note: this book is now also available in Dyslexia font.

Many of the stories have been recorded by the authors. The videos are available on YouTube by following this link.

My stories Silverlocks and the Three Bears and The Three Alpha Pigs are also available on the readilearn YouTube channel. Click on the titles to follow the links.

Once Upon a Whoops! — what’s in the book

Continue reading: Once Upon a Whoops! — Teaching Ideas – readilearn

Stars in the Sand #flashfiction

When I read Charli’s prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week, to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!, all I could think of was the story about the boy and the starfish. I’m sure you know the one, written by Loren Eiseley.

It’s about a boy who was walking along the beach one day when hundreds of starfish were stranded on the sand and the tide was going out. The starfish would die if left on the sand. The boy picked up the starfish, one by one, and gently threw them into the water. A man walking by asked him what he was doing and suggested he couldn’t make a difference as there were too many starfish. The boy continued to pick up the starfish and throw them back into the ocean. “I made a difference to that one,” he said.

It’s a beautiful story with a wonderful message. What seems like a small act to one, a drop in the ocean, can make an enormous difference to another. We may never know what impact our actions, even a smile, can have on another.

Then there were the beautiful little origami wish stars that Bec and I used to make when she was young. We’d make them in all sorts of colours and fill jars with them (well, one or two at least). I don’t think we ever hid them in the sand, but we could have. What fun it would be to have a treasure hunt in the sand for stars.

This video explains how to make those little wish stars. Maybe you have made some too.

And of course, just like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, stars were always popular in early childhood classrooms to denote good work, good effort or good behaviour, and classes often had a ‘star of the week’ for special recognition and privileges. And at the collage table, glitter and glitter stars were always popular. A little glitter and few stars did wonders to enhance any work of art.

The image in my title is of one such artwork created for me by my granddaughter when she was still in her pre-school days. It is called ‘Starry Night’ and hangs proudly beside a print of the other more famous ‘Starry Night’ in my dining room.

The collage table is where I’ve gone with my response to Charli’s prompt. I had wanted to write about someone with stars in her eyes but feet in the sand but couldn’t quite pull it off. Perhaps it was too autobiographical. I had big plans for what I wanted to write but the sand kept shifting beneath my feet and I couldn’t grab hold of anything. Anyway, this is my response. I hope you like it.

Stars in the Sand

Works of art, created from random pieces of this and that, were incomplete without a generous sprinkling of glitter. When stars were available, the children were in heaven. Though insignificant to others, the works held meaning for the artist, at least for a moment like a particle of glitter passing through a sandglass. Peta watched George painstakingly place his stars. She turned his paper around. “Stars don’t go in the sand, silly. They go in the sky.” George turned it back. “They’re starfish. Starfish go in the sand. Don’t you know anything?” “Oh,” said Peta. “They are beautiful starfish!”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Seeds of Generosity #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads!

As for many other qualities and values, I think the seeds of generosity are sown in early childhood. The rewards are reaped throughout life, both for the giver and the recipients of the generosity.

I expected it to be easy to write a story about generosity. However, as with every other prompt, it was a battle to find an idea that wanted to work. When I finally found one and wrote it down, it was over 300 words!

I don’t think I’ve ever written that many words when composing flash before. It’s usually only about 150 words I have to whittle down.

Writing flash fiction is like writing a picture book manuscript. You tell just the bare bones and leave the rest up to the illustrator. However, with flash fiction, there is no illustrator.

Slowly, through six revisions, I condensed the story to 99 words. I hope it still makes sense and that you can paint in the gaps.

The Racing Car

Jamie was spending his birthday money—a rose for Mum, gum for Dad, balloons for Baby and a racing car for himself.

Mr Green counted Jamie’s coins. “You’ve only enough for three.”

Jamie pushed the car aside. “These three, please.”

As Jamie left, Mr Green called, “Wait!” He held out the racing car. Jamie beamed.

Nearly home, Jamie saw a little boy crouched beside a drain. A car, just like Jamie’s, lay far below.

“Foolish boy,” said the mother. “I warned you.” She dragged the howling boy away.

“Wait,” called Jamie, holding out his racing car. The boy beamed.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Take Flight #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write an escape. It can be daring or subtle. Who is escaping from what and why? Go where the prompt leads!

One of my favourite times of year as a teacher was springtime when we had a butterfly house in the classroom and watched the tiny caterpillars strip the plants of their leaves as they grew bigger and bigger on their journey to becoming butterflies. It was an almost magical experience to watch the caterpillars pupate and then, days later, emerge from their chrysalises as butterflies. I never tired of watching it and I was lucky to see it year after year while the children only got to see it when they were with me. (Though many came back to visit in following years, still mesmerised by the process.)

I am fascinated by metamorphosis. I view it as a hopeful process and consider it an analogy for our own ability to make change in our lives. It is also often used as an analogy for a transition that may occur, according to one’s belief, after death.

I often wonder what life must be like for the caterpillar, what occurs during metamorphosis, and the delight that must be felt when emerging as a butterfly. I have written many previous posts and flash fictions featuring butterflies but, as I said, I never tire of it. I hope you don’t either. Here’s my response to Charli’s prompt.

Take Flight

One day followed another — everyone in uniform, head down, following unwritten rules known by heart. Only Olive questioned, “Why?” She longed for adventure. Blue skies whispered promises on gentle breezes that rustled leaves and tantalised with sweet exotic perfumes. Her tastebuds rebelled. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, take another bite. She crawled into a shell and hoped to sleep for ever. Kaleidoscopic dreams flitted in a mash of memories and futuristic movie scenes. What was real and what imagined? She awoke renewed, seeing the world as if from other eyes. She unfurled her wings and flew to kiss the welcoming skies.

Thank you blog post

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A Story Reading for Easter – Readilearn

Easter Delivery is a story about Bilby twins Benny and Belinda who are excited to be old enough to make their first Easter delivery on their own. Before they are allowed to go out, they must prove to Mother and Father Bilby that they are capable of following instructions and delivering just the right number of Easter eggs for each family.

This video provides a brief introduction to the story.

The story encourages children to join in helping Benny and Belinda work out the number of Easter eggs required for each family and choosing which boxes or packs of eggs to leave. It is most suited for use on an interactive whiteboard with a small group or class of children, or on a computer with one or two children.

It can also be used interactively with children if teaching over Zoom as explained in this video.

In this next video, I read the story for you and your children to enjoy.

Continue reading: A Story Reading for Easter – Readilearn

A place for everyone

A Place for Everyone #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens. Maybe it’s an ancient fairy tale or a modern brand name. What ideas seep into your imagination? Is there a character or place involved? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch - Lemon Queens

I thought it would be easy to write about sunflowers but, alas, I struggled. I finally came up with this story with the theme of diversity, acceptance, belonging and a place for everyone. I hope you like it.

A place for everyone

Rose prickled and turned away from the newcomer. “You can’t blow in here on a breeze expecting to be welcomed,” she whispered to a neighbour.

Sweet Pea belied her name, ignoring the stranger and trailing away to mix with others of her own kind.

Even cousin Marigold wasn’t hospitable, fearing he might spoil their whole bunch.

He didn’t tempt rejection by the glamourous golden Queen outstanding in the field.

Instead, he sailed right by and alighted far from cultivation where his lowly origins wouldn’t raise a brow.

“Look! A dandelion! Do you like butter or cheese? Let’s play!”

 

While many consider dandelions a weed, they actually have many positive uses.

Children love blowing their seeds around and, as the video below shows, physicists learn a lot from studying them.

When I was a child, we used to hold dandelion flowers beneath our chins to decide whether we liked butter or cheese. A lighter refection would indicate a preference for butter. A darker reflection would indicate a fondness for cheese. I don’t think our readings were particularly scientific, but we were always pretty confident of our interpretations.

I was also interested to discover that dandelions, sunflowers, marigolds, lettuce, artichokes and others all belong to the daisy family. Now I’m wishing I did my research first rather than leaving it until the last minute.

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Who's in charge flash fiction

Who’s in charge? #Flashfiction

Carrot Ranch - in charge flash fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge. Who is this character, and what situation calls for their action? It can be playful or serious, fantastical, or realistic. Go where the prompt leads!

While not really about a character taking charge, as Charli suggested, my thoughts went to the stampede that occurred in supermarkets across the globe earlier this month, and I wondered who had initiated it and how they had achieved such a dramatic result. It seemed to me that it was more suited to an April Fools’ Day joke (that’s tomorrow, folks) than a serious event organised by the March Hare. Not that I would approve of such a joke.

I remember being warned in the early seventies (way back last century) about the use of subliminal messaging in cinema advertising. I never liked the idea that someone could be trying to control my thoughts and actions with subliminal messages. Now, of course, we have social media. There’s nothing subliminal about that and the effect is more immediate and more widespread.

The toilet paper stampede occurred because of a fictional shortage which then became a reality because people were buying in bulk and hoarding it, meaning there was none for anyone else. People seemed to be doing it because everyone else was doing it, regardless of the reassurances we were being given that there was, and never would be, a toilet paper shortage.

This, in turn, reminded me of the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. It has been one of my favourite stories since childhood. I could never understand why people would join in admiring the emperor’s clothes when they must have been able to see that he wasn’t wearing any. However, the very clever trickster weavers pulled the perfect April Fools’ Day joke by telling everyone that only the clever could see the clothes. Who would dare to admit their lack of cleverness? I was always pleased that it was the children who were brave and honest and spoke up to denounce the scoundrels.

So, with April Fools’ Day on 1 April and Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on 2 April, it seems the perfect time to think about who might be in charge. This is my story. I hope you like it.

Charge!

As if a starting gun had been fired, the children scattered, looking in grass, under rocks, in branches of trees.

“What’re you doing?” asked the playground supervisor.

“There’s eggs, Miss. Easter eggs — millions of ‘em. Enough for everyone.”

“How many’ve you found?”

“None yet. Gotta keep lookin’.”

After a while, the searching slowed. “How many’ve you got?”

They showed empty pockets and empty hands.

The supervisor said, “Who said there were eggs?”

They shrugged.

When the punishment was handed down, the instigators explained, “It was just an experiment to see how many’d be sucked in. We meant no harm.”

You’ll be as pleased to know as I am, that Google has cancelled April Fools’ Day jokes for 2020 and that the coronavirus is deemed unsuitable for April Fools’ pranks. I thought that would go without saying.

I want you to know that this is not a joke: I may join in these challenges only intermittently for the next few months due to work commitments. I may also not get to visit your blogs as often as I would like but know that I will get there as often as I can. Stay well and happy and keep your distance from that awful virus.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.