Thursday, October 31, 2019

Inktober's Digital Magic

When autumn meets my digital brush, 
the screen lights up with colors that suit my mood and noticings. 
Poetry often flows from the wonder of what I see but lately, I have been intrigued by #Inktober's word prompts. While not following each day's prompts as one would expect, I have played with digital tools to create as many #digitalinspirations/#imagepoems as time allowed. My #digipoetry offerings were created using @Buncee, @Fotojetapp, @PicMonkey and showcased at my blog or on Twitter and other social media sites. 

A listing of what I accomplished this month for #Inktober and #Poemtober follows.
Today, I finished the revision of my combined Inktober Day 7 & 15 animated poem, Enchanted Forest, that I created on Buncee here.  The still version is below. 
Inktober Day 17 showcased at my blog post, Apple Picking Memory.
Inktober Day 21 showcased at my blog post, Autumn's Treasure.
Inktober Day 22 showcased at my blog post, Ghosts Night Out.
Inktober Day 27 showcased at my blog post, I πŸ’—New York in Autumn.
Inktober Day 30, showcased at my Buncee dashboard, Halloween Fright Night.
Poemtober digital poems showcased at my Buncee dashboard, Pre-Halloween Poetry Fun and 
Howl Chant.
You can find these digital inspirations and many more from the at the Abundant Autumn Global Gallery of Artistic Expressions. 
Now turn your attention to the amazing Tabatha Yeatts, host of Poetry Friday this week. I can't wait to see what poetry goodness she has in store for us.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I πŸ’—New York in Autumn

Autumnal colors rock the runway this season. Color trends as noted by are "a mix  of deep, creamy yellows like Butterscotch and Dark Cheddar, along with soft, nutty browns like Sugar Almond and Hazel." Yesterday, after hours of dark gloomy rain that poured down incessantly, I noticed how beautiful the streets looked with their vibrant colors left on the trees. Streets were strewn with beautifully-colored wet leaves. 

My neighborhood was decorated in autumnal shades that were as brilliant as the clothing lines that are in the stores.  The "it-orange of the season, Orange Tiger" was blazing bright and the trees donned a shade of deep brown like colors on the runway, Rocky Road and Chicory Coffee. Long Island Autumn, trending the colors of the season, is surely dressed to walk the New York City runway.


The above image poem has been digitized to present a bold colorization of foliage in New York State. It is not a photo of my neighborhood.  It originated as a scene photographed while traveling from Long Island to Central New York, then used for the Inktober 2019 day 27 challenge with the word coat as the prompt. 

Perhaps you will join me in singing along with the I Love New York radio ad song, circa 1977-1980 and understand why I, as a New Yorker, am proud of my state.

Now for another favorite site of mine: Two Writing Teachers that brings us the Slice of Life Tuesday weekly. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Inktober Fun

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth  seeking the successive autumns."
-George Eliot

As the autumn season progresses, colors become more vibrant and picture-perfect. I, like many others, are lured by the beauty of an autumn day. Whether its a red and gold day or a grey one, I watch earth change its fashionable attire and capture the sight. Below you will find my October sightings that I turned into my Inktober/Poemtober offerings. 

Inktober Day 21 - treasure
Blog post-Autumn Treasure

Today was one of those special autumn days that stayed warm all the way into nighttime. The following quote states what I felt as I decorated the house for the Halloween party I am having tomorrow night.

"I was drinking in the surroundings: air so crisp you could snap it with your fingers and greens in every shade imaginable by autumnal flashes of red and yellow."
-Wendy Delsol Stork

I am pausing for a moment to listen to Autumn in New York
with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Other Inktober/Poemtober poems I had fun creating with a Halloweenish flair can be found at my Buncee dashboard. They are all examples of animated digital storytelling.

Howl Chant was created for Poemtomber. I intend to share it with my little granddaughter because she enjoys sing-song chants. 

Monster Fear is an animated story poem that I submitted to Michelle H. Barnes for her October Ditty created by Rebecca Herzog and for Poemtober. My blog post can be accessed here

Ghost Night Out! is my newest animated story poem for Inktober day 22/Poemtober.

October has been a busy night noticing, wondering, and creating and it is not over yet. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I am not the only one capturing a glorious autumn photograph. The host of this week's Poetry Friday, Karen Edmisten, also snapped a photo of a beautiful autumn tree in full color followed by a Helen Hunt Jackson poem, October. I am heading over to Karen's blog to link up.

If anyone has an offering for my Abundant Autumn Gallery, please send it to me via Twitter at #AbundantAutumn or to my Gmail address. Thank you. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Autumn's Treasure

Each morning as a daily practice, I look out my window to see what nature has to offer. I eagerly watch earth's seasonal show before listening to the weather report or writing. Last week, gusts of wind blew relentlessly causing many leaves to fly helter-skelter. Luckily, after a couple of days of reported "winter-like" conditions, autumn returned with its beautiful changing colors. Yesterday, I woke to the following sight and realized that what I saw was a treasure of red and gold.

The word prompt for day 21 of the Inktober/Poemtober challenge was treasure so I spent considerable time reflecting and revising my thoughts. May your autumn days be filled with red and gold memories as illustrated by a favorite love song of mine.

This Tuesday Slice of Life writing places me in a nostalgic mood.
I never grow tired of watching autumn transform my neighborhood into a picture postcard.
If you have a favorite photo that you would like to design into an image poem for my Abundant Autumn Gallery of Artistic Expressions, please add it to the collection I am storing on Twitter.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Creative Expression via Digital Storytelling

Halloween is such a fun occasion to share a spooky story with little ones. Imagine a darkened room with background music filtering through. Creaky sounds and crackling noises set the stage as children sit in anticipation. The reader dressed in costume invites children to listen and imagine as the read aloud opens. Stories come alive as little eyes pop with excitement. 

Now, switch this scene from my 1990's schoolwide, Harvest House elementary reading room to a 21st-century, technology-infused classroom. Children sit watching the words of an engrossing story projected on a Smartboard, laptops, or iPads. Some are enjoying independent reading time. Others are listening to an audio version or rereading a story to their partner. Those who have already engaged in reading are now trying to write their own version of the story using background scenes from the Buncee platform demonstrated below or other digital platforms. The teacher is the guide on this reading and writing journey where digital storytelling and creativity come alive in many classrooms around the globe. 

For interested teachers, each month, ditty writing challenges can be found at Michelle H. Barnes' website. This month's ditty challenge, Monster Fears, by poet friends Michelle Barnes and Rebecca Herzog, is right up my writing alley. The prompt is: "Most everyone is afraid of monsters, but what are most monsters afraid of?" I started my writing yesterday on NCTE's National Day on Writing, along with decorating the house for Halloween. 

Today, as I prepare for #NYEDChat's convo on improving student learning through creative expression, I am letting my creative juices flow. Are you ready for a ditty treat?  Click on background sounds here. Then, sit back to view my tale for children, Monster Fear, created on the Buncee platform. (I am still in editing mode, but you can take a look.)

Thanks Rebecca Herzog for the inspiration.

Thanks Michelle H. Barnes for the following fun advertisement
about my little ditty storytelling poem.
Just for fun, I am adding in these songs. 
I hope to greet many educators, parents, and students tonight at #NYEDChat for a collective conversation on creative expression.

 Have a happy day filled with creativity.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Apple Picking Memory

Last weekend was filled with wonderful memories. Wishing to relive my children's autumn excursions, the family traveled to the Virginia countryside. I was expecting to see fall through the eyes of my twenty-eight-month-old granddaughter.

Our first stop was Sky Meadow State Park's fall festival. Upon entering the park we followed the windy road to the top of the hill. We immediately went to the children's playground that was piled high with haystacks in the form of a little house. She enjoyed the peek-your-head through wooden signs and the farm trucks. Sierra gleefully played before scampering through the pumpkin field, then off to listen to the banjo player strumming his country tunes. The only sight that was not readily accepted by her were the hens that pranced freely around searching for dropped food.  

Remembering our annual childhood apple and pumpkin picking trips, we drove to our second stop, Hollin Farm Orchard. The apple orchard was set in a slightly hilly area near the Blue Ridge Mountains. When reaching the top of the orchard, I looked out to the magnificent expanse while my granddaughter hung on to her little bag waiting to find the just-right apples to pick.  

I am including the above image poem in the Poemtober/Inktober 2019, day 17 challenge. 
The prompt is ornament.

You can read more about my fall getaway with photos and poetry here

I am excited to announce the winner of Michelle Schaub's book, Finding Treasure, that I reviewed last week at the Last Stop of the Blog Tour.  Congratulations Irene Latham!


Join me at the ever joyful Jama Rattigan's blog site here where she hosts  the
Poetry Friday Roundup for this week.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Fall Getaway

Morning breaks. Sunshine filters through immense trees beckoning me to take a ride down country roads. The family prepares for a Sunday outing, reminiscent of my childhood days. Quiet roads lead us to our destination, Sky Meadows State Park.

quiet roads curve, swerve
edging closer to bliss
countryside charm 
©CV, 2019   

Northern Virginia's pastoral landscape is inviting.
Join me as I:

Stroll through autumn's golden trails
and rolling pastures rich in history.
Listen to the "Country Shredder"
strumming his old-time banjo tunes. 
Watch graceful farm hens prance around.
Imagine colonial farm life in a century-plus old
kitchen warmed by an immense stone hearth.
Stare into the embers glowing with color, a 
black cast-iron kettle filled with cornbread,
and delicious pumpkin butter waiting on the table.
Find autumnal bliss; gaze into the grand expanse.
Notice and wonder about country farm life
on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
©CV, 2019   

In the stir of 
autumn rustlings, plump pumpkins
await picking
©CV, 2019   
with excitement
toddler picks her prized apple
after many searches
childhood apple picking trip
will be remembered forever
via iPhone photography
©CV, 2019   

This writing was drafted this morning but did not have time to work on my Tuesday Slice of Life until now. Each week I join Two Writing Teachers to add my #TuesdayThoughts in the form of a slice. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Last Stop on "Finding Treasure" Blog Tour + Giveaway

Are you a collector?

If so, sit back and enjoy a peek into Michelle Schaub's delightful poetry book, FINDING TREASURE-A Collection of Collections, published by Charlesbridge on September 19th and creatively illustrated by Carmen Saldana. 

FINDING TREASURE takes the reader on a journey of discovery. The main character, an elementary child, is faced with a dilemma-how to destress about her upcoming show-and-tell assignment. In the first poem, My Collection Conundrum, the little girl worries about her homework that has the rest of the class excited. Carefully observe the illustration to see how accurately Carmen Saldana portrayed this scene.
What will our main character do? Through a series of clever rhyming poems, the story unfolds. The little girl visits different family members to find out what each one collects. Different perspectives are provided and one that tickled my fancy was Sissy's Snow Globes As a child, I loved to hold my Nonnie's snow globe and watch the flakes softly fall after each shake. I passed on my love for snow globes to my children and last Christmas to my granddaughter who received her mother's childhood snow globe. Sierra at age 1 1/2 years then was fascinated as she watched the "lacy flakes whirl and twirl". 
Michelle's poem not only beautifully describes Sissy's snow globes but organizes her thoughts as if they were falling like snowflakes. In addition, the alliteration and rhyme scheme, create a memorable stand-alone poem that works well within the storyline.  

Another poem children will enjoy reading is Auntie Kate's Vanity PL8TS. Even adults will like to decode the vanity license plates on the wall. I had fun deciphering the plates Michelle shared. I wanted to add my vanity plate, ELA READ,  that I designed when I became a districtwide director of literacy but unfortunately it does not fit the rhyme scheme. This poem is a clever one.
Image result for finding treasure by schaub
The main character visits other people beyond her family to check out their collections. Her friend Meg has a black and white menagerie of collectibles. Her neighbor Rogers has a yard full of birdhouses and the mail carrier cache is an interesting collection that I did not figure out until the end of the poem.  Lastly, when I read Collecting Star?, I paused to savor the beauty of the illustration and the thought of sparks of starlight dancing in the sky.  
When finished reading the poem, I paused to create a found poem based on Michelle's poem, Collecting Stars? as per a challenge posed by Matt Forrest Esenwine, the host of the first stop on the FINDING TREASURE's Online Blog Tour.  Below is my "found poem" using words from the above poem. I added a twist to the challenge-a shape poem.)

dance begins.
Darkness deepens;
embers flash and grow,
dancing inside a glass jar.
I quietly watch with glee.
Moments of pleasure
float freely like my
thoughts into the
indigo sky.
©CV, 2019

Looking at the author's craft, I see that Michelle has used multiple poetic formats throughout her book: list poem, two-voice poem, haiku sequence, question poem, and others I have not played with yet: rondeau, double-dactyl, and counting poem. The fun of Michelle's book is not just in the illustrations or the storyline but in the power of the read aloud. Each poem provides a lyrical look at a child's journey to find her own collection for the class assignment. The last poem, My Treasure Found, shares the little girl's joy at knowing that she had a collection after all. You will just have to read the book to find out what collection the little girl shares with her class.

From an educator's perspective, I was especially excited that Michelle brought the love of language into focus. Within the eighteen poems in the book, I found a plethora of challenging words that Michelle used to play with language. With Word Art, I created an image filled with the words I collected from the poems. Bringing attention to these words would make for an interesting follow-up activity and a great word wall of complex vocabulary for use when writing. 
"I like to say that poetry is literacy's superfood. It 's packed with rich content in a concise package." - Michelle Schaub via Maria Marshall's The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Michelle Schaub.
As both a teacher and an author, Michelle understands children and while writing FINDING TREASURE certainly packed a school box of sights, sounds, and content for her readers to delve into and enjoy. 

Keeping the craft of experimenting with language at the forefront, I asked Michelle one question. "Was it your purpose in writing this book to acquaint your young readers with challenging words to build their vocabulary?" 
"As far as my purpose in writing FINDING TREASURE, I definitely had vocabulary acquisition in mind. I talk a lot about poetry's power to boost vocabulary on my blog and when I do school visits."
In addition to her writers' craft and cleverness in unfolding a story, Michelle's website is filled with other treasures that educators would enjoy perusing and using.
You can access the Educator's Guide here. 

Michelle also has a delightful Story Hour Kit that teachers, librarians, and parents can download here for hours of fun. Children and parents would also like to watch the charming Finding Treasure Book Trailer by clicking on the title of the trailer or the image below.
What's new with Michelle Schaub?

There is a new feature on Michelle's website, a Poetry Boost tab. It shares strategies for using poetry in the classroom. I believe educators and parents will enjoy this section as much as I did. When I tweeted Michelle about hernew resource, she responded immediately. 
"I'm really hoping my blog gives teachers new ideas for boosting literacy with kidlit poetry."
ImageImage result for michelle schaub
Using poetry to boost literacy.

Are you ready for the Giveaway?

Leave a comment below. A random winner will win a personalized copy of FINDING TREASURE. The deadline for all residents of the United States and Canada is at the end of the holiday weekend, Monday night, October 13th. Thank you Charlesburgh for offering a copy of Michelle Schaub's amazing FINDING TREASURE - A Collection of Collections.

It is Poetry Friday time now with Catherine Flynn, our host. I hope you join me at her blog site, Reading to the Core, for poetry goodness.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Sunset Blessing

Evening settles on the lake-
shimmers and glows,
Moments adjust
to hues
against the sky.
Night is
©CVarsalona, 2019


When my poetry colleague, Margaret Simon, sent me her gorgeous sunset for my #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection I challenged myself to write a zeno poem, a poetic format created by master poet, J. Patrick Lewis. This format is tricky because it not only follows a formula of a mathematical sequence of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1  syllables per line but also adds rhyming to each 1 syllable line. After creating many drafts, I felt perplexed and decided to step away from the process for a while. When I returned to writing, I was determined to complete the poem. 

I would gladly accept any thoughts on this zeno that I finally wrote. 
You can listen to the poem at Vimeo at

I am sharing these Tuesday thoughts, my slice of life, with Two Writing Teachers.
Happy Autumn!

The above photo and poem will grace the walls of my #Embraceable Summer Gallery collection found on Twitter. You can find other sunset photos and poetry from around the globe at: and