Tara Benwell's Posts (219)

Writing Challenge: My Word of the Year for 2016

Have you heard about Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year? This year it's not a word at all! It's the Tears of Joy Emoji. According to Oxford, this emoji best represents the moods and preoccupations of 2015.

This year is coming to a close, and it's time to starting thinking about 2016. Instead of writing New Year's resolutions, one entrepreneur recommends thinking of a Word of the Year to "be, do, and have". I'm going to try this for 2016, and I hope you'll join me. 

Your Task: 

1. Think about one word that will define you in 2016. This word can be your #1 goal (Mexico), a hope (peace), or a personality trait (mischievous) that you hope to possess. 

2. Open a new blog post. Use the title Writing Challenge: My Word of the Year for 2016 - (Add word here)

3. Write a post describing why you chose this word. Include an emoji or image to help define your word and plans.

4. Share a link to your post in the comments below. Be sure to read my example, because it contains some important news. 

My Example

My Word of the Year for 2016 - Change

It is with sadness and gladness that I announce my Word of the Year for 2016: Change.

For the past 12 years, I've worked closely with Josef Essberger to help build and develop EnglishClub, the world's premier free site for English learners and teachers. In those years, I've enjoyed every project we've worked on from The Learning English Video Project to the Weekly News reports.

Developing and interacting with the MyEnglishClub community has been the most rewarding part of my EnglishClub journey. We started with a handful of learners and teachers in 2008, and have grown into a large, supportive, and creative community with members from all over the world. 

Sadly, every great chapter must come to an end. 

In 2016, I will be taking on a full-time position at an ELT publishing company here in Canada. This is an exciting change for me, and I am grateful for the opportunity.  

Even though I will no longer be the administrator of MyEC, I will check in on you all whenever I can. I hope some of our most active bloggers, members, and mods will continue to inspire and challenge you to practise your English in this fun, interactive, and supportive environment.

I'd like to say a special thank you to Josef as well as to all of the mods and active members who have helped run this club over the years. Please continue your great work, and promise to keep in touch.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and change-filled (insert your own word) 2016. 

Cheers to change and new beginnings,


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Writing Challenge: Invent a Word

Have you ever tried to think of a word for something, and then realized no perfect word existed? This happened to me today! I realized that I am not currently reading a book that I am really into. When I am reading a book that I am really excited about, I have a special feeling or glow, even when I'm not reading it. One man described it as being in book love. Does that make sense to you? I'm not in book love right now, so something feels missing.

This thought made me think of those great lists of foreign words that don't exist in English. I wonder if your language has a word for being in book love (or for NOT being in book love, which is really how I am feeling today).

Let's invent some words this month! 

Your Task: 

1. Brainstorm for a little while. Try to think of a word that exists in your language or another language that can't easily translate into English. Or, think of a feeling or situation that you would love to be able to describe in one English word, but can't find in a dictionary. This may be something that your own language doesn't have a word for either.

2. Come up with your own English word for this wordless idea/concept/feeling. Try to choose a logical root for your word by looking up related words in a dictionary. Decide what the part of speech would be for your word (e.g. noun) , and try to think of any other related words with different parts of speech (e.g. verb). 

3. Open a new blog post. Use the title Writing Challenge: Invent a Word. (You can add your word in brackets)

4. Write a dictionary entry for your word. Provide the word, the part of speech (provide at least one), and the definition(s). Include the pronunciation if possible (type IPA here). Then write example sentences that use your invented word in context. 

5. Publish your post and share a link to it in the comments below. 

6. Read Invent-a-Word Writing Challenge posts from other bloggers, and try to find out if an actual English word/synonym exists for any of these words. If you find a synonym, share it with your friend in the comments of their post. 

My Example: 

bookrapt | adjective |  /ˈbʊkˌræpt/ 

describes how a reader feels when she is so wrapped up in a good book that she can't stop thinking about it or reading it; she feels this way even when she is not actively reading the book, because there is always something to look forward to

Example: I can't wait to finish work today. I'm bookrapt with this latest Harry Potter novel. 


bookrapture | noun | /ˈbʊkˌ'ræpchəɾ

a feeling of deep connection with a book that one is in the process of reading; a feeling that remains even when one is not presently reading the book

Example: My daughter has a serious case of bookrapture. She is reading a vampire series and won't even come down for dinner. 


 debookrapt | adjective (negative) | /di-bʊkˌræpt/

describes the empty feeling one has when NOT in the process of reading a good book; describes the frustrated feeling of wanting to find something good to read, but being unable to do so 

Example: I must get to the library. I am debookrapt now that I'm finished Margaret Atwood's latest novel.

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Writing Challenge: Terrifying Two-Line Tales

There is a fun story-writing challenge that many fiction writers participate in at this time of year – the very short, very creepy story challenge. By very short, I mean only two sentences long! Will you accept this month's writing challenge? 

Your Task:

1. Add a new blog post. Use the title "Writing Challenge: My Terrifying Two-Line Tale(s)".

2. Write a scary/creepy story that has a beginning, middle, and end, but only uses two sentences. Give your story a title.

3. Publish your story and share a link here. (If you want to write more than one story, add your other stories to the same post. Make sure your readers know that each story is different. Give each story a new title.) We will tweet the best very short and creepy stories on @EnglishClub.

4. Read other terrifying tales and add comments for the bloggers. 

Note: Please, please, please do NOT copy a two-line creepy story that you found online. That is not fun! If we get enough submissions, I will place them all in one Creepy Collection. 

My Example

The Wrong Floor

I entered the empty elevator from the basement level and chose the 13th floor. As the door shut in front of me, a voice behind me whispered, "Going down?"

UPDATE: Thank you for ALL of your entries this month. Your stories are terrifying and creative! If you used more than two lines in your story, you may have received an extra challenge from me in the comments of your post (you may have tried to get away with clever punctuation ... or you may have written run-on sentences or you may have written too many lines). Please accept my challenge and send me a private message to let me know that you have made some changes that you want me to check. 

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Happy National Black Cat Day!

Today is National Black Cat Day. Black cats need a bit of TLC at this time of year, because they are traditionally associated with witchcraft and evil. Some people think it's bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. Of course, black cats are just beautiful animals and deserve to be loved and adopted just like other cats. 

I've written and recorded a Halloween story this year about a black cat that is afraid of Halloween. You can listen to it here. If you want to read along or if you are a teacher, check out this post: Listen & Draw Halloween Activity.

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Writing Challenge: A Letter to Canada

Thank you for posting this month's Writing Challenge, Luci! Here is my letter to my country.

Dear Canada (my home and native land),

I’m so thankful that I was born in your protective and peaceful arms. That is not to say we don’t have any worries here. Just yesterday, the schools in our region were in a lockdown because of a murder nearby. But, fortunately, these things don’t happen very often in my region. I feel very fortunate to live in a country where most people don’t carry guns.

Your size is impressive, though sometimes I wish we could pinch you a little smaller. My family and friends are situated too far apart and domestic air travel is costly. I’m thankful for your mountains and oceans and your thousands of lakes. I don’t love how busy your highways are.

Canada, I appreciate your four seasons, but wish your winters were shorter. Pretty soon I may have to relocate to a sheltered valley in the west where the peaches grow. My children were born there, and I hope to return home one day soon.

The people here love you! This is evident when a sporting event is on. Though we usually dress in your colours of red and white, these days we are a sea of blue! The Toronto Blue Jays have made it to the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Even though hockey is our favourite sport, our whole country is watching baseball right now.

This week, we elected a new Liberal leader to run you, Canada. Let’s hope Justin Trudeau is a man of his word. He certainly is a positive politician with a sunny disposition. He promises to support the middle class and bring change. Let’s hope our new prime minister doesn’t change too many things about our great country!

Love Tara (a proud and grateful Canadian)

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Do You Want To Be a MyEC Star Member?

At the end of every month, we feature seven MyEC Members as Star Members. A picture of these members goes into our monthly newsletter. A picture is also placed on the EnglishClub homepage.

Being a Star Member is a great way to bring attention to your profile page. Find out more about the benefits of being a Star Member on our FAQ page.

Help Tara Find Star Members

Finding MyEC members to feature (that have not been featured recently) is quite a big challenge these days. Many of you have your Settings as private. We cannot feature pages that are set to private, because the public cannot see the content. When we feature you in the newsletter, we want everyone to be able to see your great page.

Do you want to be a Star Member? Please check your privacy settings. 

1. Go to Settings in the top right corner of your page.

2. Choose Privacy

3. Change Visibility to Anyone. (You can set individual posts or content as private.)

You can also recommend someone as a Star Member. Make sure that your friend's page is set to Public first. To test it, sign out of MyEC and see if you can still view their profile page. If you can, great! Add a link to your friend's page in the comments below or send me a private message. Thanks for your help! 

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Writing Challenge: A Page from My Biography

Before you read this, pick a number from 1-300, and write it down.

This month, we are going to work on writing a page from our biography.  A biography is a book or article about a person's life. What is the most interesting part in a biography? Some people think the childhood is the most interesting part. Others like reading about the struggles of early marriage, career, or parenthood. We all hope that retirement or old age will be the best part of our lives. 

Even though we are writing about ourselves, we are going to write from a third person perspective (not first person - autobiography). 

Your Task 

1. Choose a number from 1-300. (You did that already, right? Don't change it now!)

2. Imagine that you have lived your whole life already. It may be 50 or 100 years from now! Someone is writing a biography about you, and they are on page ____ (fill in the blanks with the number you chose in step 1).

4. What part of your life will fill that page? Is it something that already happened, or something that hasn't happened yet? 

5. Write the page using the third-person narrative form (he/she). Proofread and publish your post. Then share it in the comments below. 

My Example

Page 215 - From Tara Benwell's Biography 

The time had come to fulfill the promise of moving to New York City for a year. Tara had told her husband that they would live there one day when the kids were grown up and the mortgage was paid off. He was a city boy at heart, but had gone along with living in small beach towns and suburbs when the family was young. 

Renting the house out for a year was the easy part. Their daughter's family quickly moved in and agreed to homeschool their kids and live in the valley for a year. Tara half wished she could just stay at home and hang out with her grandkids. But a promise was a promise. It really was time to do the Big Apple thing.  

Arriving in New York City was different for them this time. Instead of small backpacks for a weekend away, they each carried a large suitcase full of everything they would need for a year away from home. The plane was seven hours delayed, and they couldn't get seats together. It was an awful, rainy day, and Tara couldn't help wondering if it was a bad sign. And yet, eventually, they arrived.

The apartment was postage-stamp sized, just as the landlord had warned, but it was in a great location, just a few blocks from Central Park. A small window was wide open in the kitchen area, and house flies had moved in. There was a note with a fly swatter on the counter along with a key to the garbage locker. The note said, Sorry about the flies. Make yourself at home. 

Just after they dropped their suitcases in the hallway, the rain stopped and the sun poked out. There was a knock at the door. A red-headed young man in an oversized suit introduced himself as Andy, their new favourite neighbour. He handed them a bouquet of droopy yellow roses and told them he was in a band. He hoped they didn't mind about the Friday night band practices. Could he borrow some sugar? Oh, and would they be interested in helping him write some lyrics for his songs? 

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MyEC Bloggers United

We did it! Our June goal was to beat the MyEC record for most blogs posted in a single month. With all of your help, we achieved this (and so much more). The last time I checked, we had published 625 blog posts, which is double our current monthly average. That just shows you how important it is to set goals, doesn't it? 

I'm so proud of everyone who participated in the June Blogathon. Some of you set individual blogging goals, too. This really impressed me. I think we must always set goals for ourselves. Meeting personal goals helps give our lives meaning. 

As a few of you mentioned, there were some active bloggers who failed to appear this month. We really missed them, and hope they all come back when they have time to spare.

You aren't tired of blogging, are you? I hope some of you will take Walker's challenge and allow us to get to know you better. Or, you could respond to Josef's interesting question in a blog post and share a link on Joe's Café: Would you choose the future or the past?

Video Challenge

Next month I'm going to be posting a special video challenge. I know that videos aren't as easy to make and post as blogs are, but I hope some of you will join me nonetheless. Stay tuned!

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Walker's Writing Challenge: Myself

As part of the June Blog Challenge, Walker recommended that we write posts about ourselves. Here's my response:s

10 Random Things You Might Not Know About Me

1. I love to run! In the summer I try to jog for 30-40 minutes every other day. I don't run marathons or races, and I don't time myself. I'm not competitive at all when it comes to running. I run because it gives me energy and ideas. Some of the best ideas come to me while I'm jogging. In the winter I sometimes run around an indoor track inside our local hockey arena. 

2. I am almost always cold. Unless it's over 25 degrees Celsius, I tend to feel a bit chilly. When it's winter here, I am usually wearing a number of layers. It's pretty obvious that I should be living in a different country, but I am proud to be Canadian nonetheless. 

3. I'm obsessed with fuzzy slippers. I even wear them when it's summer. I take after my grandfather with my poor circulation. My feet are purple right now. 

4. I use a stand-up desk. After writing a lesson plan about Sitting Disease last year, I became a bit paranoid about my health. I spend a lot of time at my desk. Recent studies show that no amount of exercise can reverse the damage this does to a body. I bought myself a stand-up desk, and now I try to stand for about 1/4 of my work day. Whenever I have a meeting I stand. I am standing right now while I blog. 

5. I like dark coffee (1.5 cups per day) and dark chocolate (a handful of chocolate chips per day). 

6. I don't like TV. Now that Oprah is off the air, I almost never watch TV. I do watch sports. Right now the Women's World Cup is on. Canada lost against England on Saturday night. We were very sad to see this.

7. Besides being a mom, my other favourite role is being an auntie. I adore the preschool age between  1-4. I am lucky to have a nephew and niece who are this age right now. Most of my neighbours have small children and I feel blessed to have them in my life as well.

8. I bake my own bread. I don't bake all of my own bread, but I probably bake one loaf every other week. During American football season I often bake bread bowls and fill them with homemade chili. 

9. I love Indian food. The Indian family that lives a few doors down from us is very generous. Thank you! Our sons are very best friends.

10. Our grass is growing! We usually have a lot of trouble growing grass at this time of year, because it's so hot and we have a big tree that steals all of the moisture from the soil. This year we worked extra hard to get the grass to grow. We've had a lot of rain and right now our lawn is lush and green! 

Now, will you take Walker's challenge? 

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What's In a Number?

As many of you know, we are trying to reach the goal of posting 460 blog posts this June. I just noticed that we have posted 399 blog posts. That made me so happy! It also made me think about posting my next blog. I realized that if I wrote and published my next blog post really quickly, I would have the 400th post! But, that would be breaking one of my own secrets of blogging. I'm sure by the time I finish this post and put it aside for a little while, another blogger will have already posted #400. Who will it be?

This brings me to my next point about numbers. Early on in this challenge, one of our keen members brought something to my attention. (You might want to sit down for this.) The MyEC blog record is actually higher than 460. In fact, 580 blog posts were published on MyEC in July 2013! D'oh! How did I miss that? Maybe the numbers weren't updating properly the day I published our challenge. Or, maybe I just missed that one (but there were two other months higher than 460 as well). I've always been better with letters than numbers.

This put me in a bit of a pickle. I wasn't sure if I should tell our bloggers about the real number to beat, or not. After all, I didn't want any of our bloggers to get discouraged and give up. Would members like Mishaikh have continued with the challenge if they knew how difficult it would be? Mishaikh has published over 30 blogs, by the way. (I'd write the exact number, but he has probably posted another by now.) And what about members like Expector? Our blog moderator has been writing so many motivating posts and reminding us that we are still on target. Would he have given up by now?

And so, I decided to wait until now to reveal the real number to beat: 580. Though I don't think it's fair to change the goal for June this late in the game, I do think that we should still try to beat 580 at some point in time. For now...let's get 60 more posts written and beat our June challenge.

Get blogging!  

PS. If you're running out of ideas, try the "My Surroundings" theme that some of the bloggers have picked up. Write about the surroundings you see when you are blogging. You could also try some Writing Prompts.

Other Impressive EnglishClub Numbers 

17,963 MyEC Blog Posts in Total

135,041 MyEC Members

423,063 Views of EC's Happy Birthday Song on YouTube 

154 YouTube Videos

81,100+ Twitter Followers

404,000+ Facebook Likes

5,143 Google + followers


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7 Secrets To Blogging

1. Use a Short, Catchy Title 

A good blog title is the first thing you need to capture a reader's interest. Your blog title does not need to be a complete sentence. It does need to be spelled and formatted properly. Use a capital letter for the first letter in every important word in your title. If you aren't sure which words to capitalize, use a capital letter to start each word in your title. Do NOT type ALL IN CAPS in your blog or title (unless it's one word like NOT). This is like yelling in English.

2.  Use Paragraphs

I have said this before, and I will say this again, use paragraphs in your blog posts. I almost always read to the end of a blog post if it is written in nice, neat paragraphs, don't you? Don't make your paragraphs too long. Readers will skip over your writing if you write too much. Try to focus on one topic in each paragraph. 

3. Read Out Loud Before Publishing

When you finish your post, save it as a draft. Hours or even a day later, read your post out loud to yourself. You will be much more likely to catch your errors and typos if you read your post out loud. 

4. Check Spelling and Punctuation

Use a dictionary to check your spelling before you publish. Check your punctuation and spacing, too. Never place a space before a comma or period/full stop. Place one space after your punctuation. You may think I'm being picky, but good formatting makes a huge difference to your reader. I would rather read a low-level post with proper punctuation and spacing than an advanced-level post that is poorly formatted.

5. Make a Few Tweaks

Your first draft does not have to be your final draft. Do you have some new ideas that are better than your original ones? Make a few minor changes (tweaks) to the content as you correct any grammatical or spelling errors. Cut anything that is not important.

6. Invite Interaction 

A blog is meant to be a communicative form of writing. Invite your readers to respond to your writing. Why not end with a question or challenge? Use the tag #corrections as an invitation to teachers and advanced learners to offer English tips. If you edit your blog based on a grammatical correction, you can use a different colour font to show where you've made changes. This will help your readers learn too.

7. Respond to Comments 

When someone takes the time to leave a comment, acknowledge them by writing a reply. If a bunch of readers leave a similar comment or you get too many comments, it's okay to leave a group reply. Can you keep the conversation going for days, weeks, or even months? 

This post belongs to our June Writing Challenge: Bloggers Unite. Thanks to all who have participated so far. Please help us meet our goal! Start by blogging about something blog related!  

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Writing Challenge ~ Bloggers Unite

Why English Language Teachers Should Blog

I have been blogging with English language learners for about six and a half years. Before MyEC, I had blogged on other platforms; however, I quickly realized that blogging with EnglishClub members would be different than blogging alone. Blogging in this community has taught me that all English language teachers should have a blog that they share with their students and their colleagues. 

Blogging with your English learners can help you discover their weak points. When your students blog or write comments on your post (or the posts of their peers), you can discover confusing words and common errors that learners need to work on. Then, you can use your blog to challenge or prompt your learners to focus on these points. I do this through MyEC's monthly writing challenges and EC's weekly writing prompts

English language teachers can also discover the interests of their learners by blogging. The more you get to know your learners, the more interested they will be in your classes and lessons. I've learned so much about the MyEC members through their blogs and mine.  Members on MyEC have shared their passions for poetry, drawing, photography, and travel. I've learned which members are parents and which ones are working on academic studies. This helps me design new lessons and challenges for learners around the world.

Blogging helps teachers (and materials writers like me) try out new ideas and activities before using them in a classroom or lesson plan. I often look at the number of views and comments I receive on my blog posts. What worked well and was popular? What was too difficult or too confusing. If you think of your blog as a sandbox, you will never stop experimenting. 

Finally, blogging is a great way to share the wealth. When you attend a professional development  session, or if you hear about a new tool, textbook, or program that you think is great, why not share it with other teachers or learners? A blog is an easy way to promote the ideas and resources that have made you a better teacher. You can also promote and share tips that work well for your students.

As the old saying goes, the best way to learn is to teach. By teaching about blogging and writing, I am becoming a better blogger (and writer) myself. All English language teachers and materials writers can benefit by blogging with learners. I can't think of a better way to learn.

Thanks to all of the MyEC bloggers who teach me something new every day. Keep blogging!

PS. It's June 5, and this is blog #99! We must all keep blogging to reach our June Blogging Goal. Will you write a new blog post today?

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Writing Challenge: Bloggers Unite

Calling all bloggers!

This month I'm going to give you a challenge inside a challenge!

First, I want to challenge MyEnglishClub bloggers to set a record for most blog posts ever published in one month. The current record for MyEC blog posts is 460 posts (May 2011). To beat this record, we need all active members to publish at least one blog post in June.

Second, for this month's writing challenge, we're going to blog about blogging. I'll give you some topic ideas below, but you can also choose any topic related to blogging. 

Your Task

1. Choose a topic related to blogging and add a new post to your blog. Use the title Writing Challenge: Bloggers Unite. (You can start now, but save your post as a draft so that it counts towards our June blog count. To locate your drafts, go to the bottom of your blogs and click View All. Then choose Edit. Publish your post(s) on June 1 or later.)

2. Leave a comment below with a link to your Bloggers Unite post. 

3. Bonus Challenge: Write at least one more post in June about any topic of your choice. If you are a regular blogger, try to write one or two extra blog posts this June to help us reach our goal. Why not challenge yourself to post something daily? (No plagiarizing, please. Also, no cheating; i.e., don't post a blog that is just a few words.)

4. Encourage at least one MyEC member who doesn't regularly blog to take this month's challenge (or to post a blog on any topic.) You can copy and paste the ad above and place it on their wall. 

5. Celebrate that we have met our blogging goal of over 460 posts! (fingers crossed)

Suggested Topics

Here are some suggested topics related to blogging, but you can also choose your own. 

1. Why Blogging is Useful for English Learners

2. Why English Language Teachers Should Blog

3. How Blogging has Changed my Life

4. Why Blogging in a Community is Better than Blogging Alone

5. Making Friends Through Blogging

6. A Blog Post That Meant a Lot To Me

7. My Definition of a Blog

8. It's All About the Comments

9. Comment Etiquette 

10. Blogging Tips from a Seasoned Blogger

My Example

I usually post an example below my writing challenge, but this month I'll post my example in a separate post so that it will count towards our June blog posts! Stay tuned...

Who can join? 

Any MyEC member can join my writing challenges at any time! This month, simply write a blog post on your own blog (about blogging). Then leave a link to your post below.

Ready, set, blog!

PS. Don't forget to use the tag #corrections if you want members and teachers to offer writing tips and suggestions on your MyEC blog posts.

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Mother's Day Collection

This month I challenged our bloggers to write about mothers and mothering in honour of Mother's Day (May 10, 2015). Our growing writing collection is dedicated to the moms of all MyEC members as well as the MyEC members who are amazing moms themselves.

We're just getting started. Please write your post and share a link here, so I can add it to this collection.

Happy Mother's Day! 

Please follow the links to read these stories and tributes. Don't forget to leave comments for our inspiring bloggers: 

Mishaikh: How I Learned Reading

Alice: Wishes For My Mother

Setareh: A Letter For Mother

Afro: My Brave Mother

Tara: Advice for a Brand New Mother

Expector: Do All Mothers Deserve a Hug?

Anastasia: They Came Back Again

Luci: The Hardest Job

Seeker: Random Thoughts on Motherhood

Usra Riasat: My Shelter

Gatsby: Mother's Love Never Ends

Vision: Celebrating Four Generations

1s2s3d: Mother – An Amazing Word

Noaspls: 9 Rumbustious Children

Dimi: Mother – A Simple Word with a Thousand Meanings

Note: If you want me to change the name of your tribute or story, (or if you want it removed from this collection) please send me a private message. Also, it is not too late to participate in this challenge. The instructions are here. Leave a link in the comments after you post your blog, and I will add your post to this collection. Thanks for your participation! 

Check out last year's Father's Day Collection, and consider adding to it this June. 

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Writing Challenge: Mothers

For this month's Writing Challenge. Dedicated to my lil' neighbour KF, born a few hours ago to a lovely new mother and good friend. 

Advice for a Brand New Mother 

Congratulations! Your baby has finally arrived. Here is some advice for you on your first Mother's Day!

Hang Out with Your Baby

Your baby is now your first priority in life. Don't be afraid to spend too much time with your baby. The more time you spend with her now, the more independent she will be in the future. You should never feel guilty for cuddling the day away with a newborn. The dishes will get done eventually...

Read to Your Baby

Now is the perfect time to start reading to your baby. She will appreciate any type of reading, as long as she gets to hear your voice. She will probably love nursery rhymes. Here are some classic baby books. Use expression when you read!

Sing to Your Baby

Bring music into your baby's life. It doesn't have to be lullabies! Your baby will have fun rocking out with you to your favourite kind of music. Dance with your baby, too. (My babies loved dancing with me to salsa music in a Baby Bjorn.) 

Take a Moment for Yourself

You need a few moments to yourself each day. Even if the baby is crying, it's okay to take a break. Make sure your baby is in a safe place. Then step outside your front door and take a few deep breaths. Remember that every stage will pass quickly. Don't be afraid to call your neighbour if you need to paint your nails or take a shower. It takes a village to raise a child. 

Trust Yourself

People will give you a lot of advice. Your baby is only a few hours old, and I'm already making suggestions. Trust your own instincts. You were born to be her mother. Smile and nod when others try to give you advice that you didn't ask for. Always listen to the whisper of your own voice. 

Happy Mother's Day! 

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Writing Challenge: Mothers

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday, May 10. Last year many of you wrote beautiful pieces about your fathers for Father's Day. We even made a Father's Day collection. This month, I'd like to do the same for and about mothers! 

Here are some possible writing topics to explore in May. I will not assign a special format or assignment for this topic. You can choose any of the topics below (or choose your own related topic) and write a blog however you please. Then we will make a Mother's Day collection of writing to go with our Father's Day collection

Your Task

1. Choose a topic from the list below. 

2. Add a new blog post. Use the title, Writing Challenge: Mothers.

3. Write your post. Check for spelling, formatting, punctuation, etc.

4. Publish your post and share a link to it in the comments below. 

Mother's Day Writing Topics

How My Mother Raised Me

The Best Thing About Being A Mother (for the MyEC Moms)

A Maternal Figure In My Life (Tell us about someone who is like a mother to you.)

Super Mom (About a mom who seems to have superpowers.)

A Letter To My Mom (For a mom who is far away or no longer with you.)

A Short Biography Of My Mom

A Memory of My Mother

A Fictional Story About A Bad/Good Mother

A Mother's Day Poem

My Mother the _______________ (tell us something interesting about your mom)

My Example: Coming soon on a special post of its own!

Writing Tip: When you are writing about mothers or your mom in a general sense, use a lowercase "m". This is a common noun. When you are referring to your mother by name, use a capital "M". This is a proper noun.

  • I called Mom on Monday. She is doing well. (often used this way when speakers are in the same family, e.g., brother and sister both know her as "Mom")
  • Have you called your mom lately? I'm sure your mother would love to hear from you. 

 UPDATE: Here is our Mother's Day Collection.

It's never too late to take this challenge. Leave a comment below with a link to your post, and I will add it to our collection. 

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What's Your Leprechaun Name?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Are you on Facebook? Head on over to EnglishClub's Facebook page today to find out your leprechaun name! My leprechaun name is Timid McBlarney.

If you don't like what you get, you could also come up with your own first name by using EnglishClub's personality adjectives. Choose a word that starts with the same first letter as your first name. 

Positive Personality Adjectives

Negative Personality Adjectives

After you visit our Facebook page, come back and tell me what your leprechaun name is! My favourite leprechaun name so far is Adorable O'Doodles.

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Writing Challenge: My Eponym

We have a new vocabulary reference section on EnglishClub:Eponyms. An eponym is a word (usually a noun) that comes from a person's name. The person may be real or fictional/mythological.

Many English words are eponyms. You probably know some of them, such as atlas, braille, and cardigan. This month, we're going to invent words based on our own names! Please join me in the fun. 

Your Task 

1. Review a few of the eponyms in EnglishClub's list

2. Think of something YOU are known for or are good at. Do you make great muffins? Are you good at drawing realistic animals? Do you have a high-pitched laugh? Create a word that incorporates your first or last name and defines your specialty or skill.  This is your eponym. Note: Most eponyms start as nouns, but you can also create a verb or adjective if it's easier.

3. Start a new blog post with the title, Writing Challenge: My Eponym. Format your post just as the entries are formatted on EnglishClub

  • Word 
  • Meaning
  • Example sentence 1
  • Example sentence 2
  • Origin
  • Quick Quiz

4. Publish your post and share a link to it in the comments below. Visit other posts and take the blogger's quiz! 

My Eponym


Meaning: an idea that suddenly comes to you; it feels like it should be shared with the world 

For example:

1. I tweeted my benwelldea to all my followers. Some tweeted back that they would try it.

2. My best benwelldeas come to me when I first wake up or when I'm in the shower.

Origin: Tara Benwell is a Canadian writer, teacher, and blogger who specializes in materials for English language learners. She writes lesson plans and blog posts, and records podcasts, such as Listen to News. Benwell also loves learning and sharing interesting facts. One of her favourite things to do is come up with new ways of challenging English learners to practice their writing. She tries to make it fun so that they don't think of writing as work. Benwell's ideas often come to her suddenly, and she is quick to share them with the world. The benwelldea is named after her.

Quick Quiz 

Which of the following is an example of a benwelldea? 

a. a party game for a baby shower

b. a good friend named Ben

c. a  baby dear named Bambi

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Writing Challenge: Fairy Tale Awards

Happy Fairy Tale Day! My daughter's grade five class is doing a fun activity this week called The Golden Wand Awards. The students each have to pretend to be a fairy tale character. The characters have been nominated for Fairy Tale Awards in a variety of categories. Each character has to have an acceptance speech ready in case they win! 

Would you like to play along? 

Your Task 

1. Choose a category below that interests you (e.g. Best Villain).

2. Choose a fairy tale character who might be nominated for that award. Read the fairy tale your character is in if you are unfamiliar with it. 

3.  Start a new blog post. Use the title: Writing Challenge: Fairy Tale Awards. Write an acceptance speech (in first-person narrative form) thanking the Fairy Tale Academy for giving you the award in your category (e.g., Best Hair). 

4. Publish your acceptance speech and share a link in the comments. You could record it, too!

5. Read acceptance speeches by other members. If a number of people participate, I will create a form so that we can vote.

Awards and Nominees 

These are just a few options. Feel free to create a new award and nominee. 

  • Best Hair: Rapunzel, The Little Mermaid, Goldilocks
  • Best Villain: The Big Bad Wolf, The Wicked Witch, Ugly Stepsister, Evil Stepmother, Troll, Queen of Hearts
  • Most Innocent: Baby Bear, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel
  • Most Enchanting: Prince Charming, Cinderella, Fairy Godmother, Snow White 
  • Least Brilliant: First Pig, Alice in Wonderland, The Gingerbread Man
  • Best Dressed: Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Peter Pan

My Example

Category: Best Villain | Queen of Hearts

Thank you, everyone. Please, please have a seat. Hurry up! I'd like to begin. Do you like my red dress? My designer originally made it red with white roses, but of course it was supposed to be white with red roses! I had my people paint it and my seamstress lost her head over it. In other words, I'm hiring if you know a good designer.

Excuse me! There is still one man standing up! Off with his head! Oh, wait. Is that the King of Hearts? You can hardly see the insignificant man even when he's right in front of your nose! 

Now, where was I? It is an honour to win Best Villain today, though I can't say I'm surprised. I always strive to be wicked, evil, and memorable. Please do not call me psychotic. I know exactly what I'm doing, and by giving me this award, you have all made it clear that Alice deserves to die.  And yet, she is still exploring Wonderland last I heard. 

Would you please turn that music off?! I'm not finished! Apparently I'm supposed to thank someone. But, who is there to thank, but myself? Perhaps I should thank the Fairy Tale Academy for including such an important category for the first time ever. Now, I must go. I'm late for my croquet game. Husband, bring me my flamingo! 

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