Exercise: Food For the Brain!

Note:  This information is taken from an article written by W. Douglas Tynan, director of Integrated Health for the American Psychological Association.  It is paraphrased from the Sunday October 26,2014 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. You can find more on this topic and other health topics on his website about healthy kids at: http://www.Philly.com

We all know that exercise is good for the heart and body.  Staying fit with regular exercise helps children grow stronger and ward off obesity.  But there are several studies that have found exercise to be EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL to children’s developing brains.

Charles Hillman from the University of Illinois found that kids who participated in regular physical activity – 60 minutes per day – enhanced cognitive performance and brain function. The study measured  one hour of vigorous exercise followed by 45 minutes of a less vigorous skills game for a total of two hours every day after school for 150 days of the school year.  On measures of concentration, attention, impulse control, flexible thinking and brain activity (measured by scalp electrodes), the 8-9 year old studied, did much better overall than their sedentary peers.

A second study by Catherine Davis at the University of Georgia, with older children who were overweight and did low level (20 minutes per day) and high level (40 minutes per day), for only 15 weeks had the same results, along with better scores in concentration, math and impulse control.  If a prescription medication showed the same results, people would be lining up to buy it.  If there was a curriculum that showed this benefit, school districts would be signing up in droves. 

But, it is NOT a product, but rather a lifestyle to be taught at home and in school. The best way to get children to do their best in school is to GET THEM TO MOVE! Instead of eliminating physical education programs, we should be expanding them.  The most intriguing part of these studies was the gain in impulse control.  Is it my imagination, or were there fewer children with ADHD 50 years ago when recess and backyard play were popular staples of every neighborhood? I’d love to hear your views on this interesting topic.

Pre-PiBo Day 1: Let’s Get Busy with Matthew Winner (plus prizes!)

For anyone interested in PB’s or WRITING them, Check out this post from Tara Lazar, Picture Book writer and host of the popular PiBoIdMo.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

MWinnerby Matthew Winner

I think picture books rock.

Except for the ones that aren’t good and, as a parent, you dread reading even a second night in a row to your kid. And you try to sneak the book from his bedside stack and back into the library bag, but somehow he keeps pulling the book back out because heaven forbid our bedtime routine goes one night without a digger book. Oh, the digger book! With its droning text that stretches on and on without ever really saying a single thing. And is my kid actually paying attention to the words? Of course not! He’s looking at the pictures of the cool diggers. Yet we can’t skip a line of text because if there’s words then he wants to know what they say. Is it wrong for me to change the words on the page? What if I change the…

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A Library Visit…And My Appreciation.

I couple weeks ago while on vacation in western Pennsylvania, I had the pleasure of spending some time in the quaint, historic town of Bedford, PA.  Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, this lovely town is the perfect place for a stop off the famed “LINCOLN HIGHWAY” AKA Route 30. While in Bedford, I stopped in the local library and was thrilled to see how much thought, care and attention was given to the children’s section of the

Teen section of the library.

Teen section of the library.

library.   Not only did they have a separate room for kids, there was another room, artistically decorated, for teens.  As a child, I was always spending time at my local library with it’s stiff-backed chairs and worn tables. This modern, comfortable and welcoming place would have made it so much more inviting, I would have had a hard time leaving!

Children's section of the Bedford County Library

Children’s section of the Bedford County Library


The next time you’re in western PA, stop by the town and maybe even visit the library.  Support your own local libraries. Where would we writers…and readers be without their support?  Three Cheers for Libraries!

And…three cheers for all the wonderful writers and bloggers who took part in my WHEELS OF CHANGE  Blog Tour, which officially ends today.  I really enjoyed being your guest and appreciate your helping me spread the word about the book.  You helped make the launch a success, and for that I am truly grateful!  If you’d like to check out the last stop on the tour, here it is: http://www.tmwallace.com

Free Fall Friday – Book-Give-a-Way: Karen Romagna

Big Congratulations to fellow NJSCBWI member, illustrator Karen Romagna for her new Picture Book.

Writing and Illustrating

Here is your chance to win a copy of Karen Romagna’s new book, VOYAGE. All you have to do is leave a comment and be willing to write a short review of the book if you win. The review can be on your blog, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Facebook, or Goodreads. (See more at bottom of this post.)

Voyage Covercropped

Karen Romagna has just finished illustrating her first picture book. Voyage launched at The National Book Festival in Washington, DC on August 30, 2014 and is available in bookstores October 1, 2014. Written by former US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, Voyage is the tale of a young boy setting off for an adventure on the open sea. Karen used the softness of watercolor in illustrating this wonderful dreamlike tale.

Romagna, Karen Headshot cropped

Karen is a traditional painter. Her illustrations are primarily done in watercolor However, she also loves painting in oil.

Karen grew up surrounded by…

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Easy, Last-Minute Costume Ideas For Kids Big and Small.

I came across some great sights for unique, easy costume ideas for kids for Halloween.  The first site Surf Net, has costumes for toddlers and school aged children. using items found around most houses.  Check out their ideas at:


 One of my favorite sites for kid-friendly crafts, and holiday decorations as well as costumes is one I’ve mentioned before on this blog: Red Ted Art.  While looking for costume ideas, you might also check out the 20 Apple Crafts, 20 Pumpkin Ideas, and the Bat Crafts as well.  http://www.redtedart.com


picnic table costume

picnic table costume

Don’t forget, you can also have your child be his or her favorite Literary Character from a book by taking something unique from each character as the focus. One example would be to paint a lightning bolt on your son’s forehead and give him a pointed hat and he’s good to go as Harry Potter.  A pointed hat, green face paint and a long black scarf that doubles as a cape makes a pretty acceptable witch.  Dress your child in black turtleneck and tights and tie a sash around her middle and she’s an Oreo cookie.   You your imagination and you won’t have to break the bank to be original.