Winning a Free Xbox

If you want to be a published writer, you must write, but then revise, seek and accept feedback, revise again and polish. It’s hard work. Our budding writers created three drafts of their personal experience articles in our four-day workshop. They heard feedback from fellow students, incorporated the principle of “show, don’t tell” and more. Our student Levi had already learned the rewards of hard work, as he describes in his article, “Winning a Free Xbox”.

“Oh, look, you can win an Xbox,” my mom pointed out.

“Really?” I sat straight up at the thought.

Many years ago, I was enrolled in an extracurricular learning program called Kumon. A lot Leviof kids around the world have this program in their country. This study center is designed to focus on many different elements of language arts and math. It was also created to help students excel in their classes.

Kumon opened up a program in which you could claim various prizes, from lava lamps to Samsung tablets. The way to claim prizes was simple: Earn points.

Since I had been a member of Kumon for a long time, I had accumulated a boatload of points. When I was on the computer looking at the prize catalog, a particular prize caught my eye: An Xbox 360. My brother planned to earn himself a tablet.

“Mom, can I have the Xbox?” I questioned.

“If you get enough points,” she explained.

My work began to speed up. As I completed assignments, points were added to my total. Eventually I had enough points to claim an Xbox.

Days later I happily ran to the front door to grab the package with my Xbox inside. Not only had I earned a big prize, I had also learned a big lesson: Study and hard work can lead to many great things. This applies to all people.
Levi is a 12-year-old who goes to Monroe Middle School. He has dedicated himself to writing poetry and fiction. Levi has been writing since kindergarten.

Our next Budding Writers workshop is July 18-21, 1-3:30 p.m.
Email us for more details at

*Please note, Budding Writers200 is not affiliated with or endorsed by District 200.


My Pet Furball

Our eight budding writers in this week’s first BuddingWriters workshop selected a picture snipped from a magazine to stimulate their writing journal entries. They could choose to create a fictional story or describe a memory sparked by the image.

Czarina, an incoming 4th grader, selected a graphic of a mysterious furry creature swinging on Czarina bencha playset. She gave us permission to share her account, entitled, “My Pet Furball”:

“Wake up, sleepy head!” shouted my mom. “We’re heading to the pet store.”

As soon as I heard those words, I leapt out of my bed, sped to my closet and changed into my lucky blue shirt with white stripes on the shoulder.

As I tiptoed downstairs, I could smell mom’s fresh golden pancakes and homemade blueberry bagels. I went even faster down the stairs.

“Hey, Kiddo,” said my mom as I sat down. “Go ahead and start eating.” The pancake melting in my mouth was like heaven.

Minutes flew by and I was excited as we got in the car. You could even see my head bobbing up and down with excitement.

Throughout the ride I kept asking, “Are we there yet?” until my dad finally said yes.

My sister helped me choose an animal. She told me to get something that didn’t cost a lot. I examined the room then happily pointed at a furball.
“Are you sure?” asked my mom, dad and sister.
“Yup,” I replied.
After convincing them, we bought it and went home.

furballThe furball and I played with each other every day and night. He was the cutest furball ever. He was big, hairy and covered with flowers (I added those). He had cute horns to scare away the monsters under my bed.

Wait! I can’t end without telling you his name! It’s Smackle Smottle.

Czarina just completed third grade. She loves being on her gymnastics team, “The Springers.” She is working on a book for young adults called The Light. Czarina  collects smooth rocks and loves her baby brother.

As you can see, the creativity of Czarina and all of our budding writers this week is delightful. We’ll be posting more of their personal narrative assignments here soon. Check back for more!

*Please note, Budding Writers200 is not affiliated with or endorsed by District 200.




Our budding writers are penning imagedaily entries in their writing journals this week. We don’t critique them and sharing what they wrote is completely voluntary. Of course, we hope they’ll journal regularly on their own for life. Yesterday our writers chose a superpower they’d possess for a day. Lauren, a future 5th grader, gave us permission to share her piece:

My superpower would be the ability to use other [people’s] powers. I would have to touch the person who has the superpower and would only be able to have one power at a time.

When I wake up, I touch my brother, who has the power to always be full. I taste a burst of strawberry and am full.

I then touch my dad who can make any technology work. I go to the basement and fix our broken Xbox.

Blake [my brother] and I
play MC at lunch. I touch Blake again, taste a jelly sandwich and am full.

My mom says, “Clean your room.” I touch her and run to my room, wave my hand and am done.(My mom has the power of super cleaning.) It’s dinner time then…

How about you? What superpower would you choose for a day?


The night I hunted for John Adams’ bones

The eight budding writers of our first workshop this summer scribbled the beginnings of their first writing assignment. We’ve tasked them to write a personal narrative focused on a life-changing moment. They may not have won the Nobel prize yet, but everyone has an experience to share. I penned my own example, entitled, “The Night I Hunted for John Adams’ Bones:

The wind scuttled frost-bitten leaf carcasses across the circular walkway surrounding the cc8f5d0d-a662-43c0-81d1-393e2e14b6cdfountain. On warmer nights all paths led to the heart of the Adams Park, this fountain. It splashed happily for children, mothers who watched them anxiously, and college students holding hands. But tonight the icy wind slapped my face and tore at my scarf. The dark fountain was almost ghostly and the deserted park did not welcome us.

“Why are we here, Matt?” I asked.

He was a fourth grade teacher, so I had believed him a few minutes earlier when he pulled his black Jetta up to the park without warning that March night. Matt had muttered something about researching our country’s former president, John Adams.

“Adams’ bones are supposed to be buried in this fountain,” he said, pointing at it.
Incredulous, I asked, “What?”

“Look,” he said, “If you look closer over the ledge you can see them!”

I like to think now that my brain was frozen by the chill. Gullibly, I leaned over the cement edge, grabbing cold stone. A shallow, icy layer covered the fountains’ dark bed, through which I discerned shapes of coins and litter. Spying no bones, I righted myself.

The view shocked me: Matt kneeled on one knee, holding up a black velvet box that revealed a glittering ring. “Will you marry me?” I felt as if I was turning upside down.

We had found the diamond and white gold ring at Stones jeweler’s on Front Street together a few weeks ago, so I knew a proposal was likely someday. But I had still fallen completely for John Adams’ bones.

Luckily for Matt, I was ignorant of both Wheaton’s and the presidential history. John Quincy Adams, who moved to Wheaton in 1876, and built his home on the block that is now Adams Park, was only a distant relative of our 2nd and 6th presidents.

I also fell for Matt Jewell, a guy who values permanence and community, which is why heMatt, Dawn 10 year anniv chose Adams Park. “I figured it would always be there,” he said. “It’s never closed and you can go day or night. It’s at the center of Wheaton.” And the rest is history.

Come back for more updates and hopefully excerpts of our budding writers’ work!


3, 2, 1 Write!

“If you wish to be a writer, write,” said Epictetus, the early Greek philosopher. So, this week i am a writer imagewe, Matt and Dawn, are launching our first workshop of Budding Writers200 with eight budding writers in Wheaton, IL. Our young scribes range from 4th-7th grade and enjoy narrative writing, poems, stories and more. Together we will interview three local authors and one LA Times journalist: author Margaret Philbrick, novelist Tony Romano and LA Times Pulitzer-prize winning copyeditor Boaz Herzog. We will also develop journal writing skills, practice group writing, learn interviewing and note-taking techniques, hone descriptive writing skills and create a publishable article. Check back to view our budding writers’ works published here! In the meantime, peruse our site:
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