Think First….5 Ways

Open your door to thinking!

Open your door to thinking!

Are you a  learner or a teacher or are you  running a company? No matter what you do, to think is to add brilliance to your life!

Research proves that certain types of thinking just plain make you a better all around success story! These five will put you on the path to better thinking.

Ideas all over everywhere!

Ideas all over everywhere!


Get the creative juices rolling. With this technique, you will be popping with new  ideas and alternatives every time!

Step by step and the answer is clear!

Step by step and the answer is clear!

DECISION MAKING considers the impact as well as the questions to lead you to finding the best solution to your problem  – whether shopping or taking a step into the future!

Think ahead and save time and trouble.

Think ahead and save time and trouble.

FORECASTING/PREDICTING isn’t fortune telling, but focus on the possible results and implications before you make a move OR figure out what went wrong from many angles, and you are doing what most people never learned.

A planner avoids mistakes and capitalizes are the future!

A planner avoids mistakes and capitalizes are the future!

Make that PLAN, and it reveals: specific steps, materials needed, and  the research as well as the possible  problems and solutions that may save you from disasters.  New home?                     New step in life?   Doing a project for work or school?  Develop a plan first!

Planning looks at the puzzle pieces before you start.

Effective communication brings it all together.

Analogies, metaphors, specifics or broad ideas – effective COMMUNICATION                           makes your point clear – and your voice heard.


Because it’s easier to introduce new ideas with familiar foundations, Cinderella of fairy tale renown will take you down the pathways to thinking.  Decision making helps Cindy decide how to get to the ball. Predicting possible problems, she identifies the implications of a midnight curfew. Creative ideas help her to get her three sisters’ bossy work load done faster – and better.  A plan helps her hide her glass slipper from her sisters.  Communication makes her points with analogies and metaphors when she writes to her sisters back home.

                 For  Cinderella’s detailed thinking techniques , go to                                and click on Trudi Loves Teaching.


 Be brilliant!  Be a thinker!





This list of thinking skills is based on the teacher training program Talents Unlimited. I trained for them in  the 1980’s while teaching in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. How I use them now is my own take on them as I blend in other teaching ideas.

Source: Talents Unlimited materials are based on extensive research to prove that using thinking skills to learn subject areas increases student achievement both in the classroom and in testing. To find out more about them, go here: and search Talents Unlimited.


Children Need Camera Experience

A 1950’s Kodak was a black box camera with a plastic handle. Held in my hands at waist high I peered into the lens on the top, held still, and pressed the lever. Twelve pictures later, the roll of black and white film was dropped off at the camera shop, then anxiously waited for, and finally picked up a week later. Inside the white envelope with my name and address on the front, was a smaller packet with negatives and photos. At last! I considered the photo taking a success if three pictures looked good.

Brandon Christopher Warren / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Without a doubt, children benefit when photography is added to their repertoire of life skills.

Photography develops critical as well as creative thinking. To compose a scene, pose a person, consider the lighting, and pore over photography books for ideas requires thinking skills and unique perceptions.

How does photography affect children? It enhances whatever the child loves – from sports, to poetry, to pets, to fashion, to friends and family.  A photo collection makes that love ‘even better.’ Children become more observant which carries over to the details used in writing and in conversations. Independent thinking improves because picture taking goes beyond ‘shoot and snap’. It requires analysis for the ‘best’ angle; decision making for the lighting and shadows, and creative thinking for the tilt of someone’s head. With today’s cameras and camera phones, a child finds a world of color, shapes, and light to explore – and think about.

Are cameras for children? Absolutely!


Photography became a natural part of my children’s lives that continues to enrich them even today. My son captures ‘snaps” small animals eating seeds, bread, and apples. Indoors, he tracks down spiders, researches their behavior, and creates photo stories. My daughter is the traveler. Getting up early to catch the morning light, she explores the cities and mountains. A snowstorm in NYC became a photo-op of a winter wonderland. Canvases on the wall of her home showcase her work.

Recently I created an album of beach pictures from Florida to California to the Gulf to Long Island. The final sand photo shows long shadows with my flip-flop toes and shadow next to my brother’s shadow. The album title is “I Am Happiest at the Beach”.

Young Writers: Enriching Sentences

As one mother said, “I know my son is creative, but I can’t get him to write creatively.”

What is missing? Sometimes it’s lack of confidence. Creative writing doesn’t have a step by step procedure. Often the  lack of creativity is not understanding the process of enrichment.

Creativity is the ability to let one’s imagination fly – to leap frog from one idea into the next, and then pop! with a new idea.

The following Enrichment Process for sentence writing teaches the young writer to think while they are writing.

To begin, identify short sentences that have potential: The squirrel jumped. The dog barked. A tree is green. The storm is wild. The bee buzzed. The car stopped.

On the board, write a short sentence.  Next, ask questions based on grammar. [Samples below.]  Use the child’s answers and rewrite the sentence with the new information.  Continue asking questions and rewriting the sentence until a long unique sentence is completed.

For instance: (3 words)

The frog leaped. What does the frog look like?

The small, green frog leaped. What did the frog leap over?

The small green frog leaped over an old log. How did he leap?

The small green frog leaped high into the air over an old log. Why did he do that?

The small green frog leaped high into the air over an old log when the owl swooped down. Where did this happen?

Down by the pond, the small green frog leaped high into the air over an old log when the owl swooped down. (22 words)

Of course, an astute child will notice that leaping high into the air probably meant the frog became owl’s dinner!  🙂 

If the follow-up assignment is to copy the sentence, encourage the young writers to change the ideas. Maybe their frogs will jump into the log instead of high over it!

As children become familiar with this enrichment process, take a step towards independent work. Have each child sit with a partner of the same ability level. Write a short sentence on the board. Discuss [or list] related questions, and step back! Creativity brings lots of laughter the gateway to unique ideas.

Share. Compliment. Laugh a lot.Draw pictures.

Enrichment is being learned. Creativity has taken a step forward.

Building a Foundation for Creative Writing for Young Children

For the young child, who believes in tooth fairies, Santa Claus, and invisible friends, creative writing begins not with ideas but a clear and easy writing process. A writing process easily understood and repeated over time, allows them to tell the stories hidden in their imagination.

The following process has been used in first to fourth grade classrooms.

The Writing Process.

Choose a topic ahead of time and set out picture books, science books, and story books.  Encourage the children to look at them during the week before the writing activity.

On the first day, read a variety of passages from the books that provides ideas for writing.

Next, put an open-ended question on the board related to the passages you read. If the topic is ‘spring’, and you read passages about the coming of spring, it might be asked: “What happens in nature when spring arrives?”  List their answers as short sentences. ‘Squirrels leave their winter nests.’  ‘Leaves begin to unfold.’  ‘The air gets warmer.’   ‘Ice melts.’

After several sentences are recorded, provide opportunities for successful participation.  Ask, “Who will come up and point to the word ‘squirrels’?  ‘Who will read this sentence?’ At the height of excited involvement, stop.  Compliment them. (Save those sentences!)

The next day, begin with the children rereading the sentences. Have them add words to make the sentences more interesting. (See the blog article ‘Young Writers: Enriching Sentences’.  If you have done this  activity a few times, they will enrich the sentences easily. )

Introduce and define an opening and closing sentence.  Write an example of each. Identify a title. Perhaps have them identify a couple of titles. Make sure they are super familiar with the words. Compliment them.


For the next two days, let them write.  If they are just beginning, take it step by step.  Let those who can, go ahead of you.

“Everyone write down an opening sentence, either mine or one that you make up.”

“Choose and write three to four sentences that tell about the opening sentence.”

“Write a closing sentence, yours or mine.”


When there is time, let them share one of their favorite sentences.

On the final day, (For me, this was Friday.)  offer options that allow each child to finish their work, make it better, or illustrate it.


1. Finish your first draft.

2. Make a final copy.

3. Draw a picture(s).

4. Share your story with someone.

3. Read more in the reference books. Tell the class new ideas you found out.


As this process is repeated and becomes clear to each child, it builds a solid foundation. Over time, expand and enrich it. It is not static! It grows with you and your class.

Soon you will be reading the whimsical tales found in their imagination.