Shake Off the Winter Blahs.

 I recently visited the Art Museum on the Princeton University campus. It was great for three reasons. First of all, it’s free. There aren’t many places of culture and enlightenment nowadays that can boast that. And, the collection has something for everyone.  There are sculptures and pottery over 4,000 years old, paintings done by ANDY WARHOL, and everything in between.

The third reason it was a great visit is because where else but an art museum provides peace, quiet, and contemplation along with some magnificent objects of beauty? Being in such an environment frees the mind and allows all sorts of creative energy to enter. Writers who are struggling with writer’s block might find inspiration looking at any painting or sculpture, and stories begin to spring into mind. WHY did the artist choose such a subject? WHAT IF the subject were alive today? WHAT would she/he have to say?  The possibilities for story are endless.

Let the kids go on a SCAVENGER HUNT, searching for specific art pieces throughout the day.  Many museums have programs geared specifically for children.

So, if you feel as if you’re in a rut and need some CHANGE to jump start the muse, visit the Princeton University Art Museum – or ANY art museum and let your imagination run wild. Take notes, snap photos and just doodle in a notebook. You never know, it may be the start of something wonderful. artmuseum.princeton.edu

Didn’t someone say “a picture is worth a thousand words?”

Home Schooling Ins and Outs: Things to Consider by Maureen Lasher Morris

Last week Maureen talked about how she came to be a home school-er with her children and grandchildren.  Today she will share her tips for what to think about if you decide Home Schooling might be for you and your family.  Here’s Maureen with part 2 of her series.

  • There is a plethora of information and support available for homeschooling families. It has become commonplace within many groups. Some home school for religious reasons, while others do not want their child going to the local school for any of a variety of reasons. Some schools offer a duel enrollment where your child attends school for certain classes and is home for others. Many districts provide enrollment in the community college paid for by the district. Some school districts are more supportive of homeschooling than others. The district I live in provides many resources for home schoolers. I would suggest that you check with your local district to see what they offer. The requirements vary from district to district also so it is a good idea to check and see what they are for your area.
  • With homeschooling, the program can be tailored to fit each individual child’s needs, abilities and interests.
  • There are many curriculum choices out there. Online schools are one way to start if you are nervous and unsure of how to begin (K-12 is a very well put together program that works within local school districts, just for an example). These programs provide ongoing support from an actual teacher. They provide the required testing for each state and also offer special education services if needed. They follow the school year and are considered a part of the school district not home school even though all the work is completed at home.
  • Many religious affiliations offer curriculum that corresponds to their specific beliefs and teachings. Some programs have a specific emphasis on science or math. The choices are many.
  • Some prefer to put their own program together. I would not recommend this but it does work for some. It is a lot of work and one thing to be aware of is the requirements that colleges and universities have regarding homeschooling. The program I used was an accredited one that was very rigorous in its materials. The accreditation is important because those schools provide a school number used in ACT and SAT testing and college applications. Without the accredited school number, the homeschooling provider needs to account for each class by giving the text used, date of text, author, etc. for high school. Hours of schooling needs to be regulated as well and documentation is important to show proof of what was taught. As a teacher, I felt that I did not need to reinvent the wheel and picked a curriculum that fit with my beliefs and standards.
  • I would recommend joining a support group both for your own help, and also for socialization for your child. These groups often provide classes, field trips, and fun activities. Colorado Springs has a very large home school presence. One of the support programs offered provided classes for specific higher level subjects such as chemistry and calculus. I took advantage of these since there were several areas of content that I was not comfortable in teaching. It so happened that Colorado Springs is home to the Air Force Academy and my son’s chemistry teacher was a retired chemistry teacher from the academy. My children also took classes in dance, puppet-making, acting, rock climbing, among others.
  • I also hired a private tutor for some of the higher-level math classes. She was very reasonable and worth every penny. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Another thing that I was able to do was trade for services. I taught sign language in return for help with physics for my son.
  • One of the most important things for me with homeschooling is keeping a schedule. We start the same time every day. The routine is helpful to both my children and myself. It gives a sense of importance to what we are doing. Another thing I feel strongly about is that my child get dressed and ready for school as if he/she were going to an actual brick and mortar school.  If they stayed in pajamas, with uncombed hair, etc.… then their schoolwork was not taken seriously.  
  • It is also good to have a designated area for school. I use my dining room which contains several bookcases, a chalkboard, a whiteboard, work table and 3 computer stations. On the rare occasion that I actually use the room for dining, the table is adjustable and works fine. Any space works fine, but try to make sure that the distractions are minimal.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
  • I also have what I called non-negotiables. These were what we did regardless of what was happening or going on that day. My non-negotiables were reading, writing and math. School is the priority but occasionally things come up at home the same way they come up at school. Many days while a teacher there were events that occurred and prevented a normal day of teaching.
  • There are many resources available online. There are also several places where you can get extra materials. Teacher stores are an excellent resource. Colorado Springs has two teacher supply stores which are filled with a variety of materials that are helpful to the home schooled family. I enjoy browsing through these and picking up colorful charts, flashcards, etc. even though the program I use sends me everything I need: books, workbooks, answer keys, science kits, even handwriting paper. Some of the online programs provide computers and a stipend for internet access.
  • Another resource that I use regularly is the library. Our library has a special program specifically for home schooled students. They offer something different each month.
  • Home schooled students are also eligible to participate in sports from the school that they would be attending if they were at school. My daughter swam for all fours years in high school and received a scholarship to swim at college. My son played baseball at the high school.
  • One of the criticisms that I often hear is the lack of socialization. This always makes me laugh because my children who home schooled were much more sociable and equally comfortable with adults as their peers than my children who attended school. They have become well-rounded adults, articulate, poised and confident in their abilities.
  • Do not be afraid to take on this challenge if you feel that this is right for your family. There is so much support available and it will be worth the hard word and challenges. It is a great way to develop close bonds with your child that will last a lifetime.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The following are some resources for homeschooling families:

A resource from PBS – http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/homeschooling/homeschooling-resource-list/

This site has resources available state by state – http://www.homeschool.com/resources/

This one is from Parents Magazine with many resources listed _ http://www.parents.com/kids/education/home-schooling/best-homeschooling-resources-online/

This site from The Pioneer Woman has links to printable materials such as flash cards and worksheets – http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeschooling/free-online-educational-resources/

 

 

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”.

 

Festive Nuts Recipe + New Years Eve Traditions From Around the World.

If you need a last minute snack or treat to bring to a party, try this EASY recipe for FESTIVE NUTS. The kids can help, since it is mostly measuring and stirring.  The spices give the nuts a nice tang, and they are not too sweet.  You can adjust the sugar to suit your own tastes as well.  Try using all kinds of nuts – I used ALMONDS and WALNUTS.

Ingredients: 2015-12-21-01-32-13FOR 8 OZ. of NUTS:

1/3 C sugar, 1/2 t. each of the following: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves.  Set aside.

IN a second bowl, combine an egg white and the nuts and stir until nuts are coated:   2015-12-21-01-36-34

 

Now toss the nuts with the sugar-spice mixture until coated.

Spread nuts on a baking sheet, separating them as much as possible.

2015-12-21-01-39-23 BAKE for 15 minutes.  Scrape up the nuts and break apart.  Return to the oven for 5 more minutes to dry them completely.

Let them cool to room temperature.  Serve with dried cherries, cranberries, or other dried fruit.

2015-12-21-01-59-04

 

While the nuts are baking – or while you’re EATING them, take a look at some of the ways people around the world celebrate NEW YEAR’S EVE..

http://www.redtedart.com/new-years-eve-traditions-around-world/

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL, and to quote a well-known Vulcan: MAY YOU LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!

We Are All Multi-sensory Learners

Today’s post is a re-blog from 2013 from a friend Gail Terp who does a fabulous job providing books, activities, games and links using a multi-sensory approach to learning.

We Are All Multisensory Learners!   by Gail Terp

How do you learn best? Would you rather to listen to an explanation? Read about the subject? Watch a demonstration? Conduct some trial-and-error experiments on your own? Perform a combination of the above? This last choice is an example of multisensory learning.

Multisensory learning is when we use visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile ways to learn and to remember what we learn. We link our visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic/tactile (movement/what we feel) pathways.

Multisensory learning works for everyone and it especially works for children. As adults, we have learned how to gather information using whatever modes are available to us. When we are presented information in just one way, such as in a book or through a lecture, we’ve figured out, more or less, how to get what we need. Children usually haven’t learned how to do that.

Multisensory teaching, providing learning experiences that combine more than one sense, is often recommended for students with learning difficulties. But really, it’s important for all learners. Why? There are several reasons. Using more than one sense:

·     helps to compensate for a weaker sense

·    is more engaging

·    helps overcome distractions (they’re everywhere!)

·    opens up more ways to gather information

·    helps build memory of what is learned

·    taps into nonverbal reasoning skills

·    is more fun

The Lexicon Reading Center  http://www.lexiconreadingcenter.org/what-is-multisensory-teaching-techniques.htmloffers many multisensory techniques that can be used to assist in learning. Here is a modified list:

To stimulate visual reasoning and learning:

·        Posters, computers or flash cards

·         Using color for highlighting, organizing information or imagery

·         Student-created art, images, text, pictures and video

Auditory techniques

·         Books on tape, paired reading (read text together, either simultaneously or taking turns) and computerized text readers

·         Video or film with accompanying audio

·         Music, song, instruments, speaking, rhymes, chants and language games

Tactile teaching methods (using the sense of touch)

·         Sand trays, raised line paper, textured objects, finger paints and puzzles to improve fine motor skills

·         Modeling materials such as clay and sculpting materials

·         Using small materials (manipulatives) to represent number values to teach math skills

Kinesthetic methods (using body movements)

·         Pair jumping rope, clapping, or other movements with counting and singing songs related to concepts.

·         Pair large movement activities (dancing, bean bag tossing), with rhythmic recall and academic competition such as quizzes, flash card races and other learning games.

 Additional resources to look at:

Reading Rockets  http://www.readingrockets.org/article/6332/

Lexicon Reading Center  http://www.lexiconreadingcenter.org/

International Dyslexia Associationhttp://www.interdys.org/

This Reading Mamahttp://thisreadingmama.com/2013/06/09/multi-sensory-activities-teaching-reading/

Heidi Songshttp://www.heidisongs.com/ (Be sure to check out free downloads)

Gail is a retired elementary teacher. She writes kids’ books and is currently working on a non-fiction series about animals and nature.   She also runs a blog for kids who hate to read.

You can visit her at: http://www.gailterp.com

                     gail photo