Persuasive Family Adventure Websites

Philbrick-Cricenti Bog

Montshire nature trails

Saunt-Gaudens National Historic Site

Valley Quests

Murdough Experimental Greenhouse at Dartmouth

Brookfield Floating Bridge

covered bridges of NH

covered bridges of VT

251 Club of Vermont

Hood Museum of Art

walking tour of Claremont Village Industrial District (free brochure from Chamber of Commerce on Tremont Square)

Things to do in New Hampshire

30 Great Things to Do in Vermont

Quechee Gorge

Velvet Rocks Trail in Lebanon, NH



Or borrow one my books for a night or two to find many more ideas:

Off the Beaten Path:  Guide to Unique Places in New Hampshire

Insiders’ Guide:  Fun with the Family in Vermont and New Hampshire

Best-Loved Family Adventures in the Connecticut River Valley

–Vt and NH guides

–Valley Quest guides

Persuasive Family Adventure

This is the month to practice our persuasive writing techniques at home.  My prediction is that you will have a blast on this family adventure.  One reason you will enjoy this assignment is that it gets you out in the beautiful New England springtime to enjoy the fresh air with your family BEFORE the black flies hatch.  Also, who doesn’t want to explore something they haven’t seen or learned about before?  You even get to choose whatever type of adventure you wish to experience!  It can be as simple as hiking in the woods or as fancy as a “tourist trap.”  Finally, I think you will enjoy writing persuasively because you will share what you have discovered with a very appreciative audience.  So off you go!

What?  A Family Adventure

Where?  You choose!  The goal is to find something in your neighborhood/town/community that you haven’t seen or tried before.  See the suggestions that follow to get your creative juices flowing.

While you are there?  Come up with a creative way to show what you did.  Take a photograph, film a little video, grab a brochure, draw a picture, make a collage, or come up with your own idea.  We will look forward to seeing a little something visual when you share your writing piece, and perhaps it could be shared on your blog as well.

Then what?  Go on your adventure by Monday, May 1st.  Fill in the graphic organizer online ( or on paper with your opinion about the place you went.  Should we go there too?  Or not?  Think of at least three strong reasons for your opinion, and add smaller details about each reason.  Be sure to discuss your reasons with your family and include their ideas as well.

When?  Bring your graphic organizer/planner to class by Monday, May 1st.  We will discuss the next steps together after giving each other suggestions about the strength of the reasons for our opinion.


Some ideas to consider:

*Is there a place of physical beauty in your neighborhood that you have not yet taken the time to visit?  (A mountain to climb, a river to explore, a historic marker you haven’t taken the time to read and visit, or a forest to hike in?)

*Is there something that you’ve always been curious about that you have never yet stopped to see?  (A strange looking store, a neighboring farm, the Lebanon Pet and Aquarium Center, a bridge with interesting architecture, a cemetery with very old markers?)

*Explore online to find out what might be in your area that is new to you.  (For example, have you heard of the floating bridge in Brookfield, the bog trail in New London, NH, or the Murdough Experimental Greenhouse at Dartmouth College?)

*Splurge over vacation going somewhere your family has wanted to go.  (King Arthur Flour, the aquatic center, a bowling alley, or the sea)

*Perhaps there is an activity your family has always wondered about.  (Just a few years ago, I took training with the Upper Valley and discovered Valley Quest treasure hunting.  Check out the website or borrow one of my questing books.)

*Try something ridiculous (or don’t!).  I just read about having a Maple Massage at the Spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge, a lovely maple syrup and brown sugar scrub treatment, followed by a shower with seven shower heads, for only $150!  Ha ha.

Search for the Shrieking Birds

Everywhere you look, there are adventures just waiting for you to notice them.  What can you unearth today?  What would make an intriguing writing piece?

This week, my niece was captivated by the very vocal birds she heard on her bike rides on the Rail Trail.  She and her best friend helped me to create a post that might inspire you to find your own investigation to write about.  Students, we would love if you would share yours with all of us on your blog.  Write on!


*****     *****     *****    The Dramatic Version     *****     *****     *****


Cutting through the shrubbery of the leafy Rail Trail, it came again.  Shriek!  Shriek!  Not a human, although it sounded like the cry of one.  What was it?  We set out on . . . the search for the shrieking birds.

We spotted some black, massive birds circling overhead.  Their wingspans were gigantic, and they reminded us of the size of blue herons.  We followed their calls up into the mysterious woods–deep, commanding calls, gentler high ones, along with soft peeping.  What would we find?

Some of the black giants were resting in tall, dead trees.  Others were munching on compost at a pile a nearby school discards in the woods.  Five or six birds flew off one at a time when we approached.

We examined the evidence.  We looked over how they ate and what they left behind.  We gathered feathers that we found along the ground.  We used our forest ranger knowledge to try to figure out clues from their scat.



There were no songbird songs while we were in the Shrieking Birds Woods.  We wondered why . . . .






***** ***** *****      The Scientific Version     ***** ***** *****


What could these gigantic black birds be?  We set off on an expedition to find out the truth about the shrieking birds.

In our journal we listed everything we found in our examinations of their habitat.

We used different bird search features on the internet as well as our bird guide to try to find out what they are.  So far we haven’t found an exact match because even though many of their characteristics are like crows, they are larger than the other crows we have been around.  They don’t have heads like a vulture though.

On our next trip to the Woods of the Shrieking Birds, we are going to hide so that we can get a picture.  Then we plan to send it to VINS to see what they think.

So far it all remains a mystery . . . .






Hidden Gems

Baa haa haa!  Hee hee!  Loud cheering and clapping!  Raucous laughter!

Out of all the many groups who have shared the dorm with me over these four weeks, guess who has had the most fun by far?  They hooted and har-de-harred for hours yesterday evening, so loudly that I could hear their entire conversations the whole length of the hallway from the lobby.  It made me want to be Harriet the Spy just to see what made these folks so very much fun to be around.

Have you made your guesses?  Nope, not teachers.  Nope, not firefighters.  It is the New England City and Town Clerks conference!  Their website says, “Our annual conference ‘contributes to the initiation of long-lasting friendships and a general feeling of camaraderie between all clerks in the New England states.’”  I would testify that they are representing that accurately.

I will never feel quite the same again about a visit to the town office.  Hidden beneath the “Your Lack of Planning Does Not Constitute My Emergency” sign might be a hilarious entertainer, and it makes me want to know more.

Screen shot 2010-07-20 at 4.45.53 PM

What person have you met lately that fills you with curiosity?  Tell us about your encounter.

An Image–my third draft (but not done yet)


New Hampshire summer sunlight dapples down through the maple tree outside my door, calling me to come.  Our nesting woodpecker chimes her repeated note, but the full-leafed rustle of breezy forest is the only other sound.  Perfect stillness.

Delicate pink Cosmos shimmer in the morning air where my Mama planted a flower bed outside my window for my birthday.  Ruffled petals surround a center of fuzzy yellow.  Some of the stems droop over with the weight of the blossom, and some stand tall with their pointy leaves at attention.  I gather a tiny bouquet for Grandma’s baby vase, tucking in a bit of lacy fern.

For as long as I can remember, Mama has welcomed us home with Cosmos in the summer.  A woman of few words but deep and rich thoughts, she is an intriguing mystery none of us will ever completely solve.  She leaves clues to her innermost self with small but deliberate actions.   When you arrive at her Vermont home, meticulous gardens greet you,  and on the front door is a thin flower basket filled with a fresh welcome gift.  No matter the mix, it always includes Cosmos, the smiling harbingers of our New England summers.  Throughout the house similar offerings surprise you in every room.  A tiny vase is tucked in the corner of the bathroom counter, your bureau holds another arrangement, and there is even a miniature window box in the center of the kitchen window near where we sit to sip tea.  I always feel like Mama’s flowers are her arms drawing me into an embrace in her mind, tender and full of love.

Today I started my day with a Cosmo.



Do you remember how it felt when Marty Kelley came to visit us?  Wasn’t it a thrill to hear Mary Lyn Ray respond to your own writing?  Well, one of the privileges of the Writing Institute is getting to meet a new published author EVERY WEEK!  We listen carefully to something they have written, and they challenge us to write something too.

Our first author, Janna Smith, had us pick an image, a picture that we had in our head.  Then we created, keeping just that simple picture in our minds.  My classmates wrote about all kinds of things, such as ladies carrying water on their heads in Kenya, being in a kayak on a river, and even a very dirty and gross sponge.

I was in  sort of a peaceful mood because I had a picture of my flower garden in my head that day, but it could be any kind of image you want.  What’s in your head today?  I wonder if you might have the image of your baseball game, the sprinkler in your back yard, or your friend’s arm full of Silly Bandz.  Write a comment or a post on your blog about the image in your head.  I will write back if you do!

Who are YOU?

On our first day of the Writing Institute, we wrote about our name.  Where did your name come from?  Were you named after someone?  Does your name have a meaning?  Do you have a nickname you like to be called?  Have your parents told you any stories about your name?  Do people often get it wrong, and do you have any funny stories about what happened?  What is the meaning behind your name?

So . . . tell us about your name!

I’ll share my writing, which is still just an early draft, not ready to publish yet.  Write about your name as a comment to this post (not on your blog, since you keep your real name private there).  Ask an adult to help you cut and paste it into the blog comment area and to check your safety choices.

I can’t wait to find out more about you, and neither can the other blog readers!