Sunday, May 22, 2022

How to Correct Mixed Metaphors and Malapropisms

Internet Bloopers Can Be Entertaining

Have you ever noticed while clicking around on the Internet, how often something really funny pops up on your screen? To me, the humor is even more entertaining when it is unintentional. Often the humor comes from someone using a mixed metaphor or a malapropism. They may be funny, but you should avoid them when speaking or writing.


Hints to Avoid the Use of Mixed Metaphors and Malapropisms

A metaphor is a comparison that must contain elements that can be compared logically. The comparison must be consistent. (The sun was a ball in the sky.)

A mixed metaphor combines different images or ideas in a way that is foolish or illogical, and the results are often comical or amusing.

Examples include:

  • “A  leopard can’t change his stripes." – Al Gore
  • “You need to bite the bullet and eat your piece of the pie.” – anonymous

Hints to avoid using mixed metaphors include:

  • Being sure the verb matches the action the subject of the metaphor takes.

(For instance: A car cannot march up a field; it must drive.)

  • Using only one comparison in each metaphor.
  • Avoiding clich├ęs.

A malapropism is the misuse of a word, especially by confusing two words that are similar in sound. You can avoid using malapropisms by choosing your words carefully when you speak or write.

Examples include:

“We broke up because he took me for granite.” –  a high school student

“She has chicken pops.”  my grandson

“He was a man of great statue.” – Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston"

“Be sure and put some of those neutrons on it.” –  Mike Smith, ordering a salad at a restaurant.

You can avoid using malapropisms by choosing your words carefully when you speak or write.

Your students will enjoy pointing out examples to you that they hear or read.

If you want more information and a practice exercise you can print or use in Google Drive and Easel, click here.

I hope fun and a restful summer break are within your sight. You deserve every moment of it. Feel free to email me at any time with suggestions for lessons that would be helpful for your students.

Thanks for reading,


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Sunday, April 24, 2022

Make an Old Story New Again

Some say there are only three types of plots:

The happy ending, the unhappy ending, and the classical Greek tragic ending in which events are controlled by fate.

There are many variations on these three plots, of course, and plots are always controlled by the conflict between the characters. 

Remember the conflicts taught in high school literature classes?
  • character vs character
  • character vs nature
  • character vs the environment
  • character vs machine
  • character vs the supernatural
  • character vs self
  • character vs religion

The point? It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Coming up with a new plot that has never been written is improbable. So, take a cue from many modern writers and rework a plot from a story you've read or a movie you've seen.

There are many examples of revised plots. For example, Romeo and Juliet was adapted as the musical, West Side Story, and the typical spaghetti western novel was transformed into Star Wars. The same classic plots, but oh so different in every other way.

So, if you have trouble coming up with an idea, just work with a classic plot and start changing all the other elements to make it your own story.
  • Change the setting.
  • Change the point-of-view. Tell the story through the mind of a different character than in the original story. 
  • Choose a classic plot and bring it into the modern age. Choose a fairy tale, an epic poem, a classic novel, a Bible story, or a myth. 
  • Keep the conflict from a novel or play or movie and change everything else. (Change characters, point-of-view, plot, setting, etc.)
  • Change the protagonist from male to female or child to adult.
In my creative writing classes, I had my students watch both True Grit and Shane. Then they had to outline two original stories using the same plots as the movies but the settings would be in the present day. They had to invent their own characters and settings, but the basic plot and the themes were to remain the same as in the movies they saw. My students wrote some great stories and told me they loved doing the assignment.

Remember, if you base your writing on a plot and then make it your own by using your own words, you will not be plagiarizing. An idea cannot be copyrighted.

So, don't take too much time reinventing the wheel. Just think of books and movies that you really enjoyed. If you liked the plot or the theme, use it, but change all the other elements.

You will find many creative writing ideas and resources in my TpT store. Take a look. You will save 20% if you purchase the resources in a bundle. 

Thanks for reading,

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Sunday, March 20, 2022

Tips to Save Money on Groceries



Scout your fridge and freezer for things that need to be used up.

  • When planning your meals for the week, include these things first. 
  • If you already have ground beef, choose a meal that would use it. 
  • If you have a surplus of eggs, make deviled eggs, etc. 

Only store a week’s worth of perishable food in your fridge to avoid wasting food that has spoiled. (If you prefer to shop every two weeks or monthly, adjust accordingly.)

Choose one day a week to plan your main meals for seven days ahead.

(You could choose any day of the week, but it’s nice to have the weekend planned out to avoid the rush at the grocery stores. Fridays are sometimes crowded days at the stores. Monday is often a restocking day, and that’s a mess.)

Keep it simple. Make a master list of meals that are family favorites and keep it handy for future reference.

    • Meatloaf, baked potato, and a vegetable.
    • Tacos and refried beans.
    • Pork chops, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable.
    • Elbow pasta and red sauce with chicken.
    • Chicken pot pie.
    • Chicken fettuccini and a vegetable
    • Quiche
    • Black bean tacos
    • Cottage cheese and fruit
    • Scrambled eggs and toast

2.  As you think through the ingredients of each of these meal plans, write down what you already have on the What I Already Have worksheet. If you do not have something you need, write it on the What I Need worksheet. (You can download both worksheets here.)

3. Consider what snacks you already have. Write them on the What I Already Have worksheet. Do not buy any more until those are gone or supply is getting low.

4. Consider what beverages you already have. Write them on the What I Already Have worksheet. Do not buy any more until those are gone or supply is getting low.

5. Decide what routine cleaning supplies you will use in the next week. Take careful inventory of what you already have. Do not buy a new cleaning product unless you plan to use it that week. Try to use up everything you have before you buy more. 

Use natural cleaning products when possible. On the Internet, you can find tips on how use them. 

    • White vinegar
    • Baking soda
    • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Isopropyl alcohol
    • Liquid dishwashing soap
    • Microfiber towels to rewash and save on paper towels

Consider making these changes to save money.

1. Plan to serve meatless meals a couple of times a week.

Use the following foods to cook meatless meals that contain a healthy amount of protein. 

Eggs (1 egg has 6 grams of protein.)

Black beans (1 cup has 39 grams of protein.)

Cottage Cheese (1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 26 grams of protein.)

Cooked Quinoa (1 cup has 8 grams of protein.)

You can find all kinds of interesting recipes on the Internet using the foods above. For example:

    • Grilled cheese sandwiches.
    • Macaroni and cheese casserole.
    • Quiche
    • Frittata
    • Black beans and rice
    • Black bean chili

2. If serving meat, try making the portions smaller. Put less hamburger in soups and casseroles. Cut stew meat into smaller pieces and use fewer of them in a stew. It is not necessary to use a quarter pound of beef to make a hamburger taste good.

3.  Use a green salad as a side dish but try an apple cider vinegar and oil dressing instead of expensive bottled dressings.

4. Serve each person one-half of a large baked potato. It will usually be just the right portion.

My two biggest hints are (1) to take inventory and plan your meals before shopping and (2) to avoid shopping when you are hungry.

I fed a family of five on a teacher’s salary for many years, and these are just hints that worked for me. I still use them to cook for my husband and me. You can adjust accordingly. I hope you find something here that will help you.

I have a resource in my store that will help students avoid a common error when using apostrophes. You might want to take a look here. 

Thanks for reading,

You will find some interesting blog posts below from my friends in The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative. 


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Monday, February 21, 2022

Tips for Using Who's vs. Whose and Their vs .There, vs. They're

The words who's vs. whose and their vs. there vs. they're are frequently confused and used incorrectly.

Here are some simple tips to help you use these often-confused words correctly.

We'll begin by learning to choose between their vs. there vs. they're.
  • Their means it belongs to them. For example, I listen to their music.
  • There indicates a location. (Replace it with the similar word where to help you remember its meaning.) For example, I am going there after school.
  • They're is a contraction for the words they are. Read the contraction as two words. For example, They're (They are) my parents.
Here's a practice question. Choose between the words their, there, and they're to fill in the blanks.

1. When I got ________, he had ________ gift in his hands, and ________ going to be surprised.

Now let's discuss choosing between whose and who's.

  • Whose means it belongs to whom. For example, Whose coat is this?
  • Who's is a contraction for the words who is. Read the contraction as two words. For example, Who's (Who is) coming with me tonight?
Here are practice questions #2 and #3. Choose the correct word from the parentheses.

2. I don't know (who's, whose) to blame for this mess in the kitchen.
3.  (Who's, Whose) dirty dishes are on the counter?

You will find the answers at the end of this post.
To improve your writing, do a search for these words when you proofread something you have written to be sure you have chosen correctly.

To avoid making a mistake, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you mean where? If so, choose there.
  • Do you mean it belongs to them? If so, choose their.
  • Do you mean they are? If so, choose they're.
  • Do you mean who is? If so, choose who's.
  • Do you mean it belongs to whom? If so, choose whose.
The following example sentences are correct:
  • Whose photos are posted there on the bulletin board?
  • They're the students who are going to take their time to do the assignment.
  • Who's the person who left the door open?
As promised, the answers to the practice questions above are #1 their, their, and they're  
#2 who's  
#3 whose

I hope you will find these tips helpful to use with your students and improve their writing. I have resources in my TpT store that will provide more helpful instruction and practice. The first one is FREE.

Thanks for reading,

Here are some interesting and helpful blog posts from my friends in The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative. Take a look.

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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Create a Lesson Plan Your Students Will Love

How to Create A Lesson Plan Your Students Will Love

Here are 5 ways to create a lesson plan your students will love:
  1. Make them laugh.
  2. Promise they will make a good grade.
  3. Tie the lesson into modern culture.
  4. Let them talk to each other.
  5. Let them move around the room.

Little Bo Peep and Jack in the Beanstalk

Here's a chance for your students to do something they will really enjoy while practicing several valuable skills such as critical reading, critical writing, editing, proofreading, and cooperative learning. Students will work in groups to create newspapers based on nursery rhymes. They will have so much fun being creative and clever and it will not seem like work at all.

You can find it here 

I hope you have a Happy New Year in 2022.

Thanks for reading. Take a look at some of the interesting blog posts below from my teacher friends at The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative.

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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Good Writers Vary Their Sentence Patterns

Writers sometimes make the mistake of repeating simple patterns in their sentences. A simple pattern would begin with the subject and the verb. Although such sentences are correct, using only one sentence pattern can become boring to the reader.

For example, Jane went to the zoo for her birthday. Two large, scary snakes lay in the window of the reptile house.

Good writers vary their sentence patterns by sometimes placing phrases or clauses at the beginning of their sentences to achieve variety. A longer introductory phrase or introductory clause should be followed by a comma.

For example, For her birthday, Jane went to the zoo. In the window of the reptile house, lay two large, scary snakes.

The twenty Christmas-themed sentences in the exercise shown above all begin with the subject and the verb. Learning to rewrite the sentences without changing their meaning is good practice for students to achieve sentence variety. At the same time, they will be reminded of things that are associated with the Christmas season.

You can use the resource three ways. Print it, use in Google Drive™, or use with Easel™ by TpT.

Click here to get your copy of this fun activity in my store.

Click here for a FREE holiday resource your students will enjoy.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. I hope you are safe and surrounded by those you love.

Thanks for reading. You may want to read some of the interesting blog posts from my teacher friends in The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative.

Best regards,

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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Tips to Strengthen Your Sentences

Here are three tips to help your students strengthen their sentences and improve their writing.

1.  Use strong verbs and nouns instead of trying to prop up weak ones with adjectives and adverbs.

Weak: The dentist intentionally spoke untruthfully about the diagnosis.

Strong: The dentist lied about the diagnosis.

Weak: The insurance agency maliciously took advantage of persons with limited income and limited knowledge.

Strong: The insurance agency deceived the poor and the ignorant.

2.  If you do use adjectives and adverbs choose strong ones and avoid adding intensifiers.

violent  —  not rather violent

starved  —   not somewhat starved

histrionic  —  not slightly histrionic

3.  In contrast, do not try to prop up weak adjectives and adverbs with a string of intensifiers.

She was very, very, very mad. Instead say: She was infuriated. 

The pain was really, really bad. Instead say: The pain was excruciating. 

Here's a lesson with even more hints that will help your students improve their writing. It's ready to print and distribute to your students or you can assign it in Google Classroom.™ 

Answers are included.

Be sure to check my store for Christmas and holiday activities both free and priced. My latest is Four Fun Holiday Activities that you can print or assign in Easel.™

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is peaceful and joyful.

Thanks for reading. Take a look at some of the interesting blog posts below from my teacher friends at The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative.

Best regards,

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Simple Steps to Create a Story Plan

A story plan is the first step in writing fiction.

A story plan will be a sketch of the story you plan to write and is to be used for planning purposes. One way to get started is to think of a real incident that you or someone you know has experienced. Base your story plan on that incident, but change anything you wish if it makes your story more interesting or exciting.

You can also base a story on real events that you read about online or hear on the news. Just change the names, the location, and embellish the sequence of events to make them your own creation. For example, West Side Story is a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Consider the following elements when you begin your story plan. You can skip around if you wish, but be sure to complete all the steps below.

Decide on the characters. Name the characters and describe their role in the story and their relationship to one another. For example: Marie Martin, heroine, secretary to the president of the bank. (If you are not ready to use names, just use descriptions: librarian, doctor, etc.)

Choose a setting. Decide when and where the events will take place. Be as specific as you can because that will help you when you begin your research. (For example: the South in the 60’s vs. Birmingham, Alabama in 1965.)

Decide on the main conflict in the story. What is the problem that your main character faces when the story begins? (For example: Marie Martin has been accused of stealing money from the bank.)

Decide on a series of events in the plot. Briefly describe what happens in a few sentences. (You can add to these, subtract from these, and rearrange these later.) What happens? What happens next?

Determine the climax of the story. Describe the moment after which nothing will be the same. If a car is dangling over a cliff throughout the story, and then the driver is rescued moments before the car plunges down the embankment, that's the climax.

Determine the resolution of the story. What happens at the end when the loose ends are tied up? (Some writers determine the ending first and work backwards from there.)

Visit my store for an exercise your students can do to create a story plan.

This activity is part of a creative writing bundle with 9 activities 
and saves you 20%. 

Here's hoping the 2021-22 school year is off to a great start!

Take a look at some of the interesting blog posts below from my teacher friends at The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marking Cooperative. If you are a teacher-author, joining this organization will help you market your materials.

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The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marking Cooperative

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