Happy Chinese New Year: Easy Dragon Craft

The Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Saturday 1-28-2017.  It is the YEAR OF THE ROOSTER.  Why not have your kids join in the festivities by making their own CHINESE DRAGON PUPPETS.

Here is all you need (with scissors, tacky glue and some bag clips to hold pieces in place):

2016-01-16-19-52-20I used thin foam pieces for the head and tail, and card stock for the head fin and middle section.  You can also use craft paper for the whole thing, or felt and ribbons or yarn for the mid-section.  Pipe cleaners are another option for the mid section or stems. Let your imagination go for creative designs.

Using the pattern pieces below, cut the number of pieces indicated and set aside.

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If you’re using paper for the midsection, fold it accordion style as shown here:

2016-01-16-21-09-48Make it as long as you like…it actually looks best when the middle is long and twisting.

Assemble the head by inserting the fin between the two pieces.  Glue in place.   Insert the sticks (I used wooden skewers) between the head pieces and tail pieces.  Insert the ends of the midsection into these pieces as shown.  Glue in place and clip to hold together until it dries.

2016-01-16-21-26-15        2016-01-16-21-26-27Add a googlie eye or draw facial features with a Sharpie marker.  Don’t forget to put features on both sides!

 

Hold the sticks at both ends to make the Dragon move.

Here’s another version of a dragon puppet:  http://www.redtedart.com/chinese-new-year-craft-dragon-puppet-free-printable/

For more activities and easy crafts to celebrate the Year of the Rooster visit:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear/

Happy New Year!

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Boost Your Brain – Part 1

Want you and your family to have healthier, sharper, and better-functioning brains?  It is easier than you might think.  There is a lot you can do to improve brain health by following some science-based tips.  I am posting several today and will have more at the end of the month.

  1. Learning a foreign language helps your brain process information better and focus more sharply.  Try Apple’s  iPhone app Duolingo to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish or several other languages.
  2. If you want to remember items from a list or details from notes, write them in RED.  Studies have shown that the color red “fixes” itself on our memory better than other colors.
  3. To improve attention and concentration, TRY PING PONG.
  4. To help recall details of an event, CLOSE YOUR EYES.  When visual distractions are removed, your brain focuses more efficiently.
  5. Eat fish and avocados. Both improve brain function by reducing inflammation.  A handful of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts also help improve cognition.
  6. Try new things and see new sights.  New experiences give the brain exercise like a new muscle.
  7. Coloring eases stress and puts your brain in meditation mode.  Any activity that calms the body, restores the brain.  There are numerous coloring books for kids and adults of all ages.
  8. GET UP AND MOVE! Aerobic exercise actually increases the size of your hippocampus – the part of the brain involved in learning and remembering.  Put on a record and dance, take a Zumba class, go jogging, or jump on a trampoline.  It’s all good for the brain.
  9. Do something with your non-dominate hand. Brushing teeth, writing your name, unscrewing the lid of a jar.  By using your “other” hand, you challenge the brain to perform the activity and fire new synapses while doing it.

 

 

In Service to Others.

Tomorrow is a day we’ve set aside to remember a great man: Martin Luther King Jr.  What better way to remember him and honor his memory than to do our own “good deeds” of service.  To quote King: “I have decided to stick with Love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”           martin_luther_king_jr_nywtsTo discover service opportunities in your community visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday

Scholastic has lesson plans for teachers in grades 3-12 as well as service opportunities for children.  http://www.scholastic.com/mlkday

The Art of Cursive Writing: Good for the Brain.

At first I thought I was a dinosaur – lamenting the demise of cursive writing in our culture.  Most schools no longer teach it in this age of keyboarding.  But I’ve recently seen a number of scientifically researched articles on the benefits of cursive writing in child development – specifically on brain development.

Cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing, typing or keyboarding.   There is a reason why beautiful handwriting  seems like an artistic art form: Cursive writing engages the same areas of the brain used to create art.

Another important area associated with cursive writing and one that supports self-esteem building is when the limbic – or emotional area of the child’s brain –  is engaged in a positive linguistic exercise.  Writing in cursive stimulates this area of the brain as well.

So, encourage your child’s brain development by teaching them the art of cursive writing.  Not good at handwriting yourself?  There are many practice books to get started.  And, it’s never too late to “train your brain” to be more creative.

To learn more about these fascinating studies visit:

http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/3555

http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog/2014/09/brain-benefits-write-in-cursive/

http://naturalsociety.com/how-cursive-writing-affects-brain-development/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/why-handwriting-is-still-essential-in-the-keyboard-age/?_r=0

Information about the brain’s responses to cursive writing were taken from:

Dr. David Sortino, a psychologist and current Director of  Educational Strategies, a private consulting company catering to teachers, parents, students. Dr. Sortino is also a primary provider for the FastForWord reading Program as well as trained in Neurofeedback. 

To contact Dr. Sortino, e-mail davidsortino@comcast or 707-829-8315 or go to his blog: Santa Rosa Press Democrat – Dr. David Sortino.

 

2017: A Year to Be Kind.

According to a poll by Kindness USA, only 25 percent of Americans believe we live in a kind society.  In another survey of 10,000 teens, 4 out of 5 said their parents are more interested in achievement and personal happiness than in caring for others.  There is definitely less kindness in public life.

With so much harshness, negativity, hatred and meanness that seems to populate discourse in our society, it was very encouraging to see a recent article about BEING KIND.  The article, by Paula Spencer Scott in PARADE MAGAZINE, lists ways we can change this discourse and make kindness a priority in our lives.

1.You can join PARADE and the RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS FOUNDATION in this year’s challenge: Write 52 Thank You Notes – one each week to a different person for a year.  Besides bringing kindness and joy to the recipient, this gratitude boosts happiness and well-being in the “doer” as well.  You can find a template for a simple thank you  note at: http://www.Parade.com/note.

2. Read Orly Wahba’s KINDNESS BOMERANG: HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD (AND YOURSELF) THROUGH 365 DAILY ACTS for simple suggestions on how to pass on kindness such as sharing a cup of tea with grandma and reminiscing about times shared.

3. TEACHERS can find downloadable lesson plans on teaching kindness at: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org

4. Looking for a way to acknowledge good deeds or inspire someone to “pay it forward”? Go to: http://www.Parade.com/cards    to print out free kindness cards to pass out to those who do good deeds.

Even the folks at SESAME STREET know the importance of kindness.  It needs to be taught and modeled. The new – 47th – season of the program will focus on modeling kind behaviors and explicitly labeling kindness when it happens.

If you need more of an incentive to practice kindness on a daily basis, here are some proven benefits:

Being kind feels good.  Not only do you and the other person get a lift, but so do witnesses.  Each person involved is then motivated to “Pass on the kindness”.

Kindness leads to a less isolated, more connected world.

Strong social-emotional skills in young people predict success later in life better than IQ scores.  It is also seen as a key to anti-bullying programs.  To learn more about these programs visit the Girls Scouts of the USA BE A FRIEND PROGRAM, Lady Gaga’s BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION, and the KIND CAMPAIGN started by 2 graduates of Pepperdine University.

To see how cities across America are spreading kindness, visit: http://www.cityofkindness.org

Kindness is one condition worth spreading and sharing with the world. What acts of kindness will you do today, tomorrow and throughout the year?  I’ll be checking back here periodically with an update on my own “kindness project”.

 

More Book Winners & Celebrate Winter

Congratulations to all the winners! Linda please forward you re-mail so I can send you your book!

Writing and Illustrating

Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner – Deliver Her by Patricia Perry Donovan
Donna Cangelosi – Normal Norman by Tara Lazar
Linda Mitchell – Wheels of Change by Darlene Beck Jacobson
Teresa Robeson – The Legend of Glass by Trinka Hakes Noble
Leila Nabih – Land Sharks by Beth Ferry

martha-aanimals_postcard_back_wtWatching the snow come down inspired adding this snowy illustration by Martha Aviles. She  studied graphic design at the University of Mexico, and has worked as a full-time illustrator since 1991, when she published her first Children’s Book. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

A DOZEN WAYS TO CELEBRATE WINTER

by Eileen Spinelli

  1. Make snow angels. No Snow? Make paper angels.
  2. Bring a basket of socks, gloves and scarves to a shelter.
  3. Invite a friend in for hot chocolate and cookies.
  4. Treat yourself to a pair of new pajamas.
  5. Cozy up with a book of poetry. Read one aloud.
  6. Play a board game…

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Keeping Winter Bugs at Bay.

Now that the holiday season is over, many of us tend to hibernate or stay close to home during the coldest months of winter.  So do the germs that cause colds and flu.  With a few simple steps, you can protect yourself against these infections.

Contrary to popular belief, YOU CANNOT CATCH A COLD OR FLU FROM BEING OUTDOORS IN THE COLD WEATHER.  While you may get chilled or overheated, it is GERMS that cause these conditions.  Because we spend more time indoors in winter, so do the bugs that plague us.  Here are ways to AVOID a bad cold:

  1. Wash your hands frequently with SOAP AND WATER.  Soap and water is just as effective as anti-bacteria cleaners.  And, you don’t run the risk of creating super-bugs from overuse of antibiotics.   How long should you wash?  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 20 seconds of hand washing – the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. Wipe down remotes, phones, laptops, mouses, doorknobs, and anything else sick people at home may touch.
  4. Avoid sharing cups and glasses with those who are sick and be sure to properly wash these items after use.
  5. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, rather than your hand.  Avoid shaking hands with those who are sick as well.
  6. Stay home if you are not feeling well.  Work will always be there, but if you get run down, you could compromise your immunity and ability to fight off infection.
  7. EXERCISE helps prevent colds and flu when practiced in moderation.  Walking, biking, ice skating and moderate aerobic activity help boost immunity. Turn on some music and dance…great fun AND exercise for all ages.
  8. Studies have shown that ELDERBERRY SYRUP EXTRACT can be taken daily to prevent colds and flu, and to reduce symptoms of you are already infected.  ZINC and VITAMIN C serve a similar purpose.  (Note: Check with your doctor before taking any supplements).
  9. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables often.  These vitamin-rich foods have natural anti-inflammatory properties that keep our immune systems functioning properly.

Enjoy a happy, healthy New Year!