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LinguaPhile, July 2003

A monthly e-mail newsletter nurturing the development and enjoyment of English language arts at home and at school.

We welcome new subscribers from the NICHE and CHEF conferences.


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Follow-Up on "Authors and Writers"

In the April LinguaPhile we addressed a subscriber's question about the difference between an author and a writer. I recently came across this quotation, which provides an additional viewpoint on the difference:

Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
--Colette, French novelist (1873-1954)

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Exchange Your Used Cartridges for Free Paper

Office Depot will give you a free ream of recycled copy paper (20 pound, 84 brightness, acid free) in exchange for an empty ink or toner cartridge. A customer can receive only one ream of paper per day. This offer is scheduled to expire September 1, 2003.

I have said that I'm as careful with customers' money as I am with my own. When I take advantage of this offer, it helps me keep Hands-On English and its companion products affordable. When you take advantage of this offer, it helps to make discretionary funds available so that you can buy Hands-On English products. And, of course, we are both doing our part to protect the environment.

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Is Your Child's Learning Impeded by Vision Problems?

Summer is an excellent time to have your child's vision checked. Especially if your child has difficulty with reading or other near-point tasks, it is wise to determine whether vision problems are a contributing cause. Many vision evaluations test only acuity. Vision involves much more than that, however. Problems may occur because the eyes are not working well together. I would recommend evaluation by a developmental optometrist (sometimes called a behavioral optometrist). Some people prefer an ophthalmologist because he or she has higher medical credentials. However, an optometrist has spent as much time studying vision as an ophthalmologist has spent studying the anatomy, functions, and diseases of the eye. To me, the optometrist is the specialist in vision.

For more information about vision, including a checklist of symptoms, developmental optometrists in your area, and a first-hand account of the changes that vision correction can make in a child's life, see "Vision: 20/20 Is Not Enough," which appeared in the July 2001 LinguaPhile:

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Quotes About Creativity

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
--Charles Dickens, English novelist (1812-1870)

In the creative state a man is taken out of himself. He lets down as it were a bucket into his subconscious, and draws up something which is normally beyond his reach. He mixes this thing with his normal experiences and out of the mixture he makes a work of art.
--E. M. Forster, English novelist (1879-1970)

It is the function of creative man to perceive and to connect the seemingly unconnected.
--William Plommer

We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.
--Lee Iacocca, American businessman (b. 1924)

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.
--W. Somerset Maugham, English writer (1874-1965)

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Really Expand Your Vocabulary: neologism

A neologism is, literally, a "new word." It can also be a new phrase or a new use of an existing word.

Shakespeare is credited with inventing at least 1700 words, about one tenth of the different words he used in his writing. Many of these words are still used today; however, the meanings of some of them have changed over 400 years. To see some of Shakespeare's words -- and use them in online interactive crossword puzzles, visit

Try inventing some neologisms of your own. Your words will seem more authentic if they grow out of existing language (taking into account sounds and morphemes, for example) instead of just arbitrarily combining letters.

Hands-On English includes nearly 200 morphemes, along with their meanings and examples. Knowing the meanings of morphemes can help you unlock hundreds of words the first time you encounter them. Reviewers of Hands-On English have said that the vocabulary section alone is worth the book's modest purchase price. Learn more -- and place your order -- at

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Q and A: Opportunities for Student Publication

Question: Do you have any information on writing contests or opportunities for publication for young writers?

Answer: Thank you for a great question! It is so important for students to have the opportunity to "publish" their writing. "Publication" does not necessarily imply payment; it simply means that they are writing for a genuine audience, not merely for a teacher/critic.

Nevertheless, people often want to find an audience larger than the single recipient of a letter or roomful of classmates. Here are some possibilities.

A book that would be full of just the information you want is Market Guide for Young Writers: Where and How to Sell What You Write by Kathy Henderson. Unfortunately, the latest edition of this book appears to have come out in 1996 (and this is the type of information that can quickly become obsolete).

The following web page lists print periodicals that publish children's writing. It includes addresses and the type of material published: Writing Workshop: Publishing Children's Writing

Books From the Heart offers ideas for creating special keepsakes, including kits to make handbound books:

There are also opportunities for publishing on the Internet:
Kid News (provides guidelines for writing various genres and an opportunity for children to publish their writing on the Internet)

MidLink Magazine: The Digital Magazine for Kids by Kids from 8 to 18 (published quarterly; articles are solicited on specific topics):

Kids on the Net (opportunity to publish your writing on the Internet and to read writing from kids around the world)

Kids' Space (includes activities for art, literacy, and music):

Do you have favorite sources that publish student writing? If you send me information about them, I will include them in a follow-up next month:

Hands-On English will put a wealth of information at your fingertips so that you can quickly find what you need to know about grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and more. Get details -- and place your order -- at

We invite your questions for this feature:

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Exploring Creativity

Creativity -- the ability to bring something original into existence -- is a trait that most people admire in others and disparage in themselves. Contrary to popular opinion, everyone has the potential for creativity and can nurture its development. Although creativity is frequently associated with the arts, many arenas -- including cooking, business, survival, and problem solving -- provide opportunities for creativity.

Some people distinguish "creative writing" from other kinds of composition, notably "expository writing." To me, all writing -- apart from penmanship practice -- is "creative." All writing involves expressing ideas in words that convey to another person something that you want him or her to know, or feel, or do.

Among the personal qualities that contribute to creativity are curiosity, playfulness, fluency, flexibility, adventurousness, patience, and persistence. Nurturing these qualities will help to develop creativity. Since creativity often develops from unusual juxtapositions, it is also helpful to have a willingness to accept disorder and to tolerate ambiguity.

Many people believe that freedom sparks creativity. While some freedom is helpful, too much freedom actually inhibits creativity. Think about it: Would Mission Control, who had to improvise an adapter for Apollo 13, have been as creative if they had had at their disposal all items on Earth instead of being restricted to those available to the astronauts in space? Which cook is more creative -- the one who has unlimited resources and follows a recipe to the letter, or the one who improvises because some ingredients are unavailable and others must be used before they spoil?

The following website will help you explore many aspects of creativity:

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Review: The Big Book of Creativity Games: Quick, Fun Activities for Jumpstarting Innovation by Robert Epstein, Ph.D.

It is probably no accident that Robert Epstein's Big Book of Creativity Games: Quick, Fun Activities for Jumpstarting Innovation appears at first glance to be a book for children. Its title, colorful cover, and interior design are reminiscent of children's books. While many of the games can be used in classrooms, the primary audience for the book is adults -- people who want to improve the creativity of those in their businesses or other organizations.

The forty-eight games in the book are based on Epstein's Generativity Theory. His ideas about the creative process grew out of his laboratory research. In addition to refuting popular myths about the creative process, Epstein identifies four core competencies that help individuals express their creativity (plus four more competencies to nurture creativity in others):
1. Capturing new ideas
2. Challenging yourself so that new ideas emerge
3. Broadening your base of knowledge and experience
4. Surrounding yourself with an environment -- both physical and social -- that encourages new ideas

Despite the fact that the book is grounded in theory and research, the information it contains is practical and easily accessible. The book is written in lay terms, and the information is as easy to understand as the juvenile format leads you to expect it to be.

The games are categorized by purpose (such as "convincing people that they're creative") and by core competency. It is easy, therefore, to find games to fit a particular need. Epstein devotes about three pages to each game, providing a summary of the game, its objective, the time required (ranging from 5 to 90 minutes), the materials needed (generally readily available), the procedure, and discussion questions. The discussion questions are indeed a key feature of the book, for the games are intended not only to boost creativity but also to demonstrate creativity's basic principles.

Epstein places a high premium on failure. He says that failure causes us to recall past methods of dealing with a problem -- and often discover a new solution. Without failure, creativity is not needed (remember the Apollo 13 mission, mentioned in the article above). Many games involving the second competency, Challenging, deal with managing the frustration and other negative emotions that often accompany failure.

In addition, the book includes an abridged version of Epstein's Creativity Competencies Inventory for Individuals (ECCI-i) along with a self-scorer. These tools are effective for evaluating a person's overall creativity and each of the four competencies. It is easy, then, for a person to see which areas would benefit from development.

Published by McGraw-Hill, 2000, 223 pages.
Available from The Big Book of Creativity Games: Quick, Fun Acitivities for Jumpstarting Innovation

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Activities to Improve Creativity

1. Become alert to your surroundings. Try to look at your everyday environs as if you were seeing them for the first time. What would impress you?

2. Expose yourself to new stimuli. Visit new places, for example. This needn't be an expensive trip to an exotic land; it could simply be going to a part of your city you haven't been to before -- or going to a different department of a store you regularly visit. Such an excursion will put new ideas into your head. They may pair up with each other or with ideas already present to make something novel that commands your attention.

3. Establish a way to capture your ideas so that you can retrieve them when you want them. This may be a tape recorder, a notebook (spiral, looseleaf, electronic), a sketch pad, or something else. You might find that you prefer to record different ideas in different ways. The point is to snare them so you'll have them later.

4. Give both your mind and your body some play time. Ideas are likely to make new associations if they can romp freely in an energized mind.

5. Practice divergent thinking. So often in our problem solving we are seeking one right answer. (This is convergent thinking, and it has its place -- in math facts, for example.) Try working the other direction though. How many possible -- or even fanciful -- solutions can you find to a particular problem? Don't disparage the fanciful. While worthwhile in and of itself, it might also suggest something practical.

6. Consider many possibilities. This is fluency. It is similar to #5 with the emphasis on number rather than divergence. One of the best ways to get a good idea is to get many ideas.

7. Try something new, even if you aren't sure you'll succeed. You know you won't succeed if you don't try. Remember that failure sparks creativity, which can eventually lead to success.

8. Brainstorm a list of words you especially like. Select words for their intrinsic values, such as their sound, rather than for the concepts they represent. In addition, include words that are different parts of speech -- nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Then combine three words into an original phrase (add articles and prepositions if necessary). This activity is likely to result in the juxtaposition of words that have never been juxtaposed before, such as "dappled mauve lullaby." The phrases convey an impression even if they are not completely logical, and they encourage you to combine words in fresh ways. Some of the created phrases might spark poems or stories.

9. For specific suggestions for finding and nurturing ideas for writing, see the March 2001 LinguaPhile:

10. Last month we looked at lipograms (pieces of writing created without the use of a particular letter). For additional verbal restrictions that can spur creativity see the March 2001 LinguaPhile:

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"Stories with Holes"

"Stories with holes" stimulate thinking and problem solving. In such a story, a situation is described in a sentence or two. Then those solving the puzzle -- a group works best -- ask yes/no questions to discover the explanation behind the situation. These puzzles can quickly engage minds that might otherwise be idle -- around a campfire, in a car, during an unexpected break in classroom activity, etc. The following site has a large supply of these puzzles (with their solutions):

Have you discovered the other websites and books recommended on the GrammarAndMore website? They will lead you to a wealth of information:

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Puzzlers: USA Words / Open-Ended Challenges

A. USA Words

If you want to get into the holiday spirit, the LinguaPhile Puzzler in July 2001, October 2001, and July 2002 included "USA words." Example: gnats  _ U _ S A _ _ _ (nUiSAnce)

B. Open-Ended Challenges

Since this issue has discussed divergent thinking and fluency, the puzzler will provide an opportunity to develop those skills.

1. How many words can you make from the letters in independence? (Use each letter only as many times as it appears in the word. Do not count the addition of the -ed suffix as an additional word.)

2. List the number of possible uses for an everyday object, such as a toothpick. (Include a variety of uses. For example, a toothpick needn't be utilizing a pointed end.)

Send your answers for inclusion in next month's newsletter:

Answers to June Puzzler

1. rabbit fur (hare hair)
2. tired vegetable (beat beet)
3. path taken by the underground part of a plant (root route)
4. spot occupied by a company's lowest-performing salesperson (seller cellar)
5. central body (core corps)
6. spooky lake or canal (eerie Erie)
7. strange marketplace (bizarre bazaar)
8. scorched greens (charred chard)

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Thank you for reading. If you find LinguaPhile helpful and interesting, don't keep it a secret! Consider which of your friends would also enjoy it, and send them information about subscribing. Those receiving this forwarded message can subscribe at . People who have e-mail but do not have Internet access can subscribe by clicking on this link and requesting to subscribe: .

We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated monthly, is now available in either a text or .doc format on the GrammarAndMore Web site:
This makes the information from previous issues readily accessible. You are encouraged to print the index for your convenience or to share it with friends. Why not send them the URL of the text version?
It's a gift you can give, yet still have for yourself!

© 2003 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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