No Excuses!

Face The Facts!

It’s been a tough winter and I now have spring fever. I am done with the snow, ice, and cold weather. I am done with the dry skin, long socks, and closed in shoes. I want out of these shoes and into sandals and flip-flops. I want my soft, moisturized skin back, and I want to be able to sit under a tree and read a good book.

During this winter, I haven’t been motivated to do much of anything and that includes writing. No matter how hard I “concentrated,” the ideas just would not flow and my attitude about writing was not very positive. I then realized that I was starting to sound like my students who think that they don’t have anything to write about. I sympathize with them because I was in a writing slump and it seemed that I would not recover until I could see around my winter blues to new blooms in spring. However, let’s tell the truth and STOP MAKING EXCUSES. There are plenty of topics that would allow us to write stories and essays of interest. We just need a little help finding them.

As I thought about my writing slump, I found that I did manage to watch tons of movies and I read several good books (on my reading list) that I downloaded from our local library.  I love being able to go to my tablet and check out a book to read on a snowy day. Anyway, those movies and good books make great topics for writing.  

By the way, have you tried using your local library’s website to download e-books? It’s a “NO EXCUSE” resource for adults and children. You don’t have to leave the house and they even make recommendations based on your check out history.

I am going to do all of us a favor by compiling a short list of topics that will help us when we just don’t know what to write or when we are not inspired to write at all.  I like to call them my “NO EXCUSE” writing topics because everyone can find something on this list that inspires.

My Top 30 “NO EXCUSE” Writing Topics

* What is your favorite season?

* What is your least favorite season?

* What is your favorite book?

* What is your least favorite book?

* What is your favorite movie?

* What is your least favorite movie?

* Who is your favorite book character?

* Who is your least favorite book character?

* Who is your favorite movie character?

* Who is your least favorite movie character?

* What is your favorite food?

* What is your favorite school subject?

* What is your opinion of the biggest news stories of the week?

* What makes you smile?

* What makes you sad?

* What type of music do you like?

* What was your most embarrassing moment?

* Which sports do you love?

* Which sports can you do without?

* How do you help out in your community?

* What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

* What is your favorite ice cream topping?

* What is your favorite holiday?

* What is your least favorite holiday?

* What is the best vacation you have ever taken?

* What is the worst vacation you have ever taken?

* What destination do you most want to visit?

* What is your favorite television show?

* What is your favorite hobby?

* What is your favorite app to use?

This list could go on and on but do you get the idea? Everything that we experience opens a doors for writing topics. What other topics could we add to this list? With this list and your ideas, there are “NO EXCUSES” to the question, “What do I write about?”

Please respond to this post or feel free to contact me with topic suggestions @, facebook, and twitter.

Happy Writing,

Towanda Mckie


Own This School Year!

Own This School Year! It’s a brand new school year and some of you are already dreading the work load that comes with being a student, BUT DREAD NO MORE.  I am sharing with you several homework and…

Source: Own This School Year!

Own This School Year!

Own This School Year!

It’s a brand new school year and some of you are already dreading the work load that comes with being a student, BUT DREAD NO MORE.  I am sharing with you several homework and study tips that will make life easier for parents and students. If you follow these tips, this school year is guaranteed to be ‘in the bag’.

 Homework Tips for Students

*Before Leaving School

~ Make sure assignments are recorded in your assignment book. Click on this link for customizable homework charts, logs, and checklists.

~ If possible, use the last period of the day or free time to begin your homework and to ask teachers questions before leaving for the day.

~ Make sure you have all of your materials before leaving school.

~ Exchange phone numbers with a homework buddy just in case you have questions about an assignment.

*At Home

~ Have a set study time every night. It doesn’t matter if it is after an afternoon snack or after dinner. Do not wait until it is close to your bedtime to attempt to do quality work.

~ Set up a homework station that is distraction free, friendly, stocked with supplies, and is well lit.

~ Break up long assignments.  You can use a kitchen timer, stopwatch, etc. Rotate assignments every 15 minutes. Include 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes.

~ Make an attempt to complete each homework question even if you do not understand the material. This is also a great time to take a break and check with a homework buddy. If you still do not understand, check with the teacher during your homeroom time, free time, or any appropriate time before the school day ends.

~ All completed homework should be placed in a “homework” folder and returned to school each day.

How can I study at home?

  • Review notes.
  • Use flash cards.
  • Make a timeline of events.
  • Have a parent or sibling ask you questions.
  • Make a practice test.
  • Explain concepts to parents.
  • Rewrite your notes several times until you can write them without having to look back each time.
  • Form a study group with friends.

For more homework tips go to

For more study tips go to

Please let us know if this information was helpful to you or what we can do to help you. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and our website.

Free Summer Fun

The school year is quickly coming to an end and you are probably looking for low cost or free programs to help keep your children busy. I am sharing a list of free things to do over the summer with kids and my list of ways to encourage summer reading.

Free Things To Do With Kids Over The Summer

*Chuck E. Cheese’s: Read everyday for two weeks and receive 10 free tokens. Download the Chuck E. Cheese Rewards Calendar for Reading, mark the days off with a pen or sticker, and take it into a Chuck E. Cheese location to receive 10 free tokens as a reward.

*Museums on Us: Get free general admission to participating museums, science centers, botanical gardens and more on the first full weekend of every month-just by presenting your Bank Of America or Merrill Lynch Card and photo id.

*Explore National parks, lands, and waters:  Receive a free pass by visiting Every Kid In A Park Program.

*Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Triathlon:  Download the Barnes & Noble Reading Journal, complete it, and take it into your local store to receive a free book.

*Geocaching Adventure:  Join the World’s Largest Treasure Hunt. Sign up for a free account and you are on your way to a geocaching adventure.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Read: Prepare, motivate, and encourage your young child, teen, or an adult to take advantage of the local reading programs offered during the summer. Visit the Collaborative Summer Library Program  for tips to encourage your summer reader. You should also check with your local library to see what they will offer this summer.

*Volunteer: Visit to find volunteer opportunities that your family will love.

* $1 Summer Movie Express: Family fun movies playing Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the summertime. Visit Regal Entertainment Group for the schedule of movies showing at theatres around you.

 Encourage Summer Reading

All young people experience summer learning loss when they are not engaged in educational activities. Ensure that your child is engaged in productive learning for the summer.

Here are some tips that I used when my children were young and still use with my teenager.

* Read the newspaper, magazines, and books around your children so they know that reading can be fun and is important.

*Take books with you everywhere you go (grocery store, doctor’s office, park, long drives, beach, etc.).

*Look for opportunities to read and teach new words.

*Contact your local library and ask about summer reading programs. Many of them will provide prizes based on the number of minutes read.

*Make reading and word study fun. Come up with games to play during bike riding, playing at the park, swimming in the pool, or simply sitting on your deck.

*Create your own rewards for the number of minutes read or for learning a new word.

*Read books that your children can relate to. For example, your family is about to take a vacation; it is a perfect time to read about going to the beach, etc.

*Read to your children even if they can read on their own. This practice can help them build fluency.

*Hire a tutor to ensure time is set aside for summer learning.

For more summer reading tips click on the links below.


If you have any suggestions to add to the list of free/low cost programs or ways to encourage summer reading please reply to this post, comment on Facebook, Twitter, or email us.

Have A Great Summer!

get ready set read

Read A New Book Month

December: Read A New Book Month

The holidays are here and that means that many of us are busier than we are at any other time of the year. After the shopping is done and the holiday plans are made I have found that we do get a breather. The holidays will present an opportunity to slow down and pick up a new book. December is Read A New Book Month so I am sharing tips to help you choose a book that you will love.

*Plan to read during the holiday. When you are shopping for gifts be sure to put yourself on the list. Make a plan to visit your local library or bookstore and take home a new book.

*Choose a book that you are interested in. You have heard your co-workers at the office water cooler talking about that book that is a page turner. Make a note to check it out.

*Ask friends or co-workers for suggestions. Listen to their reviews to see if the book will hold your interest. You could even go online and look at the book reviews.

*Check out the New York Times Best Seller List.

*Take some time to indulge yourself and don’t feel guilty. Reading a good book can reduce stress by distracting you from everyday stressors.

Don’t allow December to go by without setting an example and reading a new book. Opportunities will present when you don’t expect them and you can plan your reading time.

In honor of Read A New Book Month, we will run several promotions for our books throughout the month of December at and Check out the promotions link at

Feel free to let us know what you are reading by visiting us on Facebook, Twitter, or our website.

Happy Reading,

The Mckie Family

American Education Week

Celebrate Public Education!

American Education Week is the week in which we celebrate public education and those who contribute to the goal of ensuring a quality education for all children. American Education Week will be celebrated November 16-20 this year with daily celebrations. Check with your child’s school to see what you can do to recognize the effort of those who work tirelessly for student achievement and to participate in the planned activities.

The National Education Association’s 93 annual celebration includes house parties, Parents Day, Educator Support Professionals Day and several other spotlights. Visit their website @ for more information about these celebrations.

To help plan and promote American Education Week’s celebration days, NEA is offering an online toolkit, complete with promotional materials, activity ideas, and downloadable templates. The toolkit is available at This is a great way to check out the programs available at your child’s school and to get to know what your child’s day is like.

Communicate with us and tell us how you plan to celebrate American Education Week and thank those who help to ensure that every child received a quality education. Reach out to us on facebook, twitter, or our website.

Blessings to you,

The Mckie Family


Books for Halloween!

Consider giving books for Halloween.

Halloween is known for haunted houses, costumes, and sweet treats. This year Mckie Works would like for you to consider adding books to your Halloween giving. As advocates of early reading and literacy skills we think it’s important to maximize the contact that you will have with pre-school and school aged children by giving them a treat and/or a book. We believe that giving books with their candy bags will put words into action by showing them that reading is important.

As a parent I do understand that Halloween is a fun time planned for your children, friends, and neighbors but remember that reading is fun too. We challenge you to make a pledge to not only give a treat but to promote reading too. Books are a fun treat that will last and won’t cost your children trips to the dentist.

Your book treat does not have to be expensive and does not have to take a lot of time to plan. You could be creative and make your own small booklets with a Halloween story or you could include miniature composition notebooks so that children can write and illustrate their own stories. Imagine children writing and illustrating stories about their Halloween experiences. This is a fun and sneaky way to get kids to be creative while having fun.

If these ideas don’t interest you consider including a poem or some other form of literature that goes along with the Halloween theme.

Feel free to send us a message on Facebook, Twitter, or our website letting us know that you are accepting the challenge to promote reading for Halloween.

Happy Reading,

The Mckie Family