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An Extraordinary Way to Inspire Writing About Ordinary Moments

If you’ve been taking part in the 14th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge, then you know that a slice of life story is a storytelling technique that offers insight into an ordinary person’s life. Often, a slice of life story is about a small segment of a person’s day. Usually it’s about a small moment in time. It might be a collection of words and photos that describe a scenario. 

Through the years, I’ve adopted a motto. That is, I’m “always seeking to make life’s ordinary moments extraordinary” through my slice of life writing.  I think I’ve gotten pretty good at doing this through the years (It helps that I don’t lead a glamorous life!), but it’s taken a lot of practice.

Extraordinary!  is written in verse by Penny Harrison  and is beautifully illustrated by Katie Wilson. It is a “gentle tale about reaching for the stars and being extraordinary . . . but remembering the ordinary too. Extraordinary! celebrates the best moments in life: the ones we share with friends and family. They may be simple, they may be ordinary, but they are moments we will cherish forever. From the moment readers encounter the initial page spread, they are transported into a world that invites them to think about the extraordinary things they wish, hope, and dream they could do in life. But this book doesn’t just celebrate the extraordinary. Quite the contrary. It asks the reader:

But what of the ordinary, everyday thing?

The soft, quiet moment that makes the world sing?

Readers are instructed to observe the natural world closely. They’re encouraged to dig in the dirt and discover the wonder of food growing in a garden. They’re invited to linger in simple pleasures like kite flying, roasting marshmallows in a camp fire, snuggling with a loved one, and feeling the breeze as they glide through the air on a swing. Basically, readers are encouraged to remember that the ordinary can be extraordinary.

Whether you’re about to embark on the 9th Annual Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge or you’re about to begin a unit on poetry where you want to encourage students to capture the beauty of their ordinary lives in verse, consider using Extraordinary! as a mentor text. Read it aloud. Talk about the pictures. Use the help students generate a personal and class lists of ordinary and extraordinary things they can write about. 

Here’s a peek inside of Extraordinary!

Giveaway Information:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Extraordinary! Many thanks to Kane Miller for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Extraordinary!, please leave a comment about this post by Saturday, March 27th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Tuesday, March 30th. You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter the giveaway.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Kane Miller will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – EXTRAORDINARY. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

37 thoughts on “An Extraordinary Way to Inspire Writing About Ordinary Moments Leave a comment

  1. Oh, this book looks wonderful! I love how ordinary moments can turn extraordinary just by writing them down, drawing them, or telling their stories. Thank you for creating a giveway for this book!

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  2. Slice of life writing really helps me file through my thoughts to find simple nuggets to polish and share. This book sounds like it would foster thix kind of thinking.

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  3. Holy cow! This looks amazing. Looks like I am adding this to my cart. Plan to use this next year in our grade 2 poetry unit as we encourage kids to write about the ordinary but see them in a new way. Thinking this might also be useful in small moments writing!

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  4. I’m reading The Season of Styx Malone to my class right now, and one of the main themes is the main character’s determination to escape the “ordinary” label. He even misunderstands “extraordinary,” thinking that it just means that you are super ordinary. This book seems like a really good companion piece.

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  5. I think this book is so poignant especially now with covid removing all of the “big things” from our lives, leaving us with the magic that comes with the ordinary. I think this book reminds us that we need to be looking for the magic and making these memories out of the everyday… It would be lovely to read ♥️

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  6. This text reminds me to slow down and be mindful of the world around me. Appreciate the beauty in a smile, croci peeping their heads out of the earth, and the blue sky that envelopes me…that is what this book reminds me to do.

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  7. This book looks wonderful! It can be such an inspiration for those who have difficulty finding things to write about. I appreciate the recommendation! 🙂 ~JudyK

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  8. Wow, this is perfect timing. I am constantly asking my students to find the extraordinary in the ordinary and that they all have a story that needs to be told. We will be exploring “golden lines” later this week. This book will add another dimension to our storytelling. I will be adding this book to my collection even if I do not win.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

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  9. What a wonderful book! My own slice today is about the joy of dandelions, henbit, and grape hyacinths…please don’t call them weeds. 🙂

    I’m excited about this book and look forward to sharing it with my students and family (I love reading poetry to my granddaughters)!

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  10. You can reach for the grand
    and the mighty, it’s true
    Just remember the ordinary…

    What a beautiful book!

    And I love your SOLC commentary, “seeking to make life’s ordinary moments extraordinary” ❤️.

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  11. First Stacey, I always return to your posts to remind myself of how to capture a small moment. Here, your celebration of this book really speaks to the science teacher in me… I used to be a first grade teacher, teaching small moment writing. Now I teach my science students to use the common-place wonders around them to make connections and add evidence to their learning of big science ideas. Thank you for sharing this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This book sounds like a dream. As a writing specialist, I always encourage students and teachers to write about the magic that lives in the ordinary. I need this book on my shelf! 🙂

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  13. The quote,

    “But what of the ordinary, everyday thing?
    The soft, quiet moment that makes the world sing?”

    rings true in my heart. In the busyness of life, do we take time to remember the everyday, extraordinary events that make life beautiful?

    The illustrations are gorgeous, too, and add so much to the poetry!
    Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This looks and sounds like an amazing book to share with all ages — to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life and those that are experienced each day!

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  15. What a beautiful verse you shared! Poetry is such an important part of life and I am always encouraging teachers and students to savor it, study it, and write their own…this book would be a wonderful addition to share with all audiences about how to savor life!

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    • Ooh – I’m excited about this book. Bringing this sort of observation and writing to my high school students has become incredibly important to my teaching practice. I can’t wait to get this book – looks like a must-have for my classroom. Thank you for introducing it!

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  16. This sounds like a great mentor book, I would love to use for encouraging young writers. There is always downtime in a sub’s day, and I fill those times with writing activities.

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  17. This book looks fantastic. Writing about the ordinary is a constant goal I seek. Ordinary makes the most beautiful moments, though.

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  18. Our class shares our poetic moments every day. All are extraordinarily real and precious. Love a book that celebrates being a present human being.

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  19. This book sounds lovely— especially now, when we’ve all been growing in our abilities to appreciate the more ordinary things in our lives as things that are truly special.

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  20. This book looks like the perfect mentor text to use when generating topic ideas, especially with our younger writers. They can connect to each extraordinary moment. Thanks for introducing it to me!

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  21. Thank you for another wonderful book suggestion. I can’t wait to add it to my mentor text library and share it with my students.

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  22. “Observe the natural world closely.” What a simple, yet important thought. This post is refreshing because in a year where we often hear how “far behind” the students are, the past year has also provided unique opportunities for many who have spent more time at home. I want to try this idea with my students and see what extraordinary moments they discover within.

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  23. How inspiring to use an incredible mentor text such as this to encourage our student writers. I often tell my students to think about small moments within the day that might benefit others in different ways. All we need to do is only turn our ordinary thoughts into extraordinary stories.

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  24. This post is a much needed reminder that writing about the ordinary can help us/our students to see the world in beautiful ways. I try to remind my students that those small moments in their lives that made them smile, feel emotionally attached, are exactly the moments they can write about and give their lives meaning. Thank you for this reminder. The book looks amazing.

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