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Monday, December 17, 2012

My Thoughts About Newtown Shooting

Please forgive my lengthy comments. I have been numbed, tearful and have so many emotions on what happened in CT. I cannot get these horrific events of yesterday morning out of my thought and, of course, my prayers. I look down this list
 and 14 of these babies were the same age as one of my daughters.

I cannot imagine what Christmas morning, or the last night of Hanukkah will be/was for these families. This absolutely breaks my heart in two. ...

And, I cannot help but wonder if any of them would have one day met up with my daughter as friends, or even as her intended mate, but has now been snatched forever from this world.

To my knowledge, I do not know anyone in Connecticut with children in Sandy Hook Elementary, but my heart grieves with these strangers.
My heart grieves for the kids who saw their friends die in a gruesome manner.
My heart grieves for Ryan Lanza who was initially blasted all over the internet as the killer when it was really his brother.
My heart grieves for the families and friends of the adults and the teachers who acted heroically.

I have questions, like how did this gunman get into the school? And, of course, I want to know why.

And, I realize everyone is going to grieve in their own way and no one means any harm for their knee-jerk first reactions.

I see posts responding to the tragedy blaming guns (neither bans on guns or laws for right to carry will fix this. The same day, 22 children in China were stabbed by not a gun wielding bandit, but a knife-wielding one),

blaming public schools (this isn't isolated to public schools. It happened in an Amish community, a theatre and places of employment in the past),

blaming taking prayer and God out of schools (there were teachers praying with their huddled terrified students, which may have saved their lives)

or even blaming God (God does not make evil happen, but allows it for reasons we cannot yet fully understand)

The truth is that this was an evil act committed in a less-than-perfect world filled with the need for the light of love found only in a risen savior. That's what I believe. This act of horrific violence grieves me, scares me, shakes my sense of security and feeling of safety and makes me want to wrap a blanket of peace around the survivors. And, we cannot let this man's murderous acts to win.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Draw Plus Science Book Teaches Through The Art Of Drawing

Learn Science while drawing art.  Another wonderful book in this “Draw Plus” line of books.  Draw Plus Science by Freddie Levin, published by Peel Productions, Inc.,  is a 64-page fun way to enhance science studies by using art.

My children love this hands-on approach to learning scientific facts.  And, of course, my elephant-loving daughter was drawn to the elephants.

The book is filled with more than 200 drawings and full color illustrations throughout the book.  It is intended for children age 6 and up.  My six-year-old loved it, but so did my 10 and 12 year olds.  I wish I could teach every subject like this every day

Shhhh!  Don’t tell your child they are really learning because they won’t realize the enormous amount of information that is filling their head full of knowledge while they think they are doing nothing more than creating through the art of drawing.  While your child is drawing, he or she is also learning about scientific observation and facts about classification, life cycles, seasons, measuring, recording, variety in nature, climates, inherited traits as well as characteristics of organisms. 

The book is available at area bookstores or your local library.  If it’s not there, ask for it as it would be a sweet addition to any learning collection.  Find it also online at

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book to my delight in exchange only for my honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The hottest new word game Typecrush is green and made in the USA

If you haven’t heard about this great new game, check it out!  I received a sample to try out for myself with my children in exchange for this review.  No other compensation was exchanged, just my following thoughts about the game:

Typecrush is a simple yet brilliant game that creates teachable moments in the form of a word game.  Included are round colorful cardboard disks with letters imprinted on them.  Each color represents how frequently that particular letter is used in the English alphabet.  The color coding also gives you clues to solving the hidden word games.

The rules are similar to Hangman, but that’s where your creativity is free to launch.  Play the game by your own rules.  The only official rule is that when someone guesses the word they get to choose the next word.  Also, the makers of Typecrush suggest that you play using themes and that players be at least seven years old.

We played it with making crosswords, spelling words on my daughter’s spelling list and by guessing the words that other players created.  Another way to play could be to mix up the letters like a word jumble puzzle or to play matching games, like a game of Memory.

Of course, the game would not be complete until someone spelled the word E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T!
The game is assembled in the USA and is made from recycled materials.  The entire game fits inside a canister that is very portable.

You can find the game at and order it just in time for Christmas, or it may arrive before the 8 days of Hanukkah are over.


There is a fantastic giveaway going on at Teachable ScottsTots blog.  All you have to do is comment with a creative vocabulary word (please keep it clean), and you could win your very own Typecrush game.  Once you get your hands on the game, you’ll fall in love and will be building words and creating new games like you’ve never imagined.  Before you know it, your children will be spelling words with ease and begging to play Typecrush to show you’re their newly learned skills.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Education is Busy Work

Argh!  Education has become such busy work for me that I just realized it's been September since I have posted anything on this amazing blog.

In that time, we have traveled from Wisconsin on a musical tour with my husband and kids, found a new dance studio for my daughters since their beloved dance teacher retired after teaching us for 8 years, began gymnastics class for all three kiddos and been swamped beyond belief with new writing opportunities.

All the while, I'm also homeschooling my three children.

The schedule works on ideal days.  I get up at 6, work till 10 and then begin the school portion of our day.  But, nothing is ideal and most days follow suit.  I do my best with what I have been given and find myself extremely busy just trying to play catch up and pay the bills.

Friday, September 7, 2012

New Educational Blue Orange Spot it! Games

First let me say that my kids really love these games. In a world of technology and great gaming animation effects, which my kids also enjoy, this pleasantly surprised me that they took to a card game with such enthusiasm. It truly is more fun to learn when you’re having fun learning.  Blue Orange Games just released new learning games. Spot it! For Schools now features:

  • Alphabet Numbers and Shapes
  • Basic English 
  • Spanish 
  • French 

I had the privilege of reviewing three of these game with my children thanks to the people at Blue Orange Games who sent me the games in exchange for a review.

After receiving many requests from educators, Blue Orange developed games for teachers to use for early learning.  The games are designed for three to eight year old children, but teachers may find themselves playing them behind the scenes as well. According to a recent press release from Blue Orange:

The games develop visual perception skills, while exercising cognitive speed and reaction time in a fun atmosphere. As always, there is always one and only one match between any two cards. Spot it! Alphabet and Spot it! Numbers & Shapes help children build essential skills for preschool as they learn to identify letters, numbers, colors and shapes. In the Basic Language editions, players search for matches between universal words and their corresponding pictures. While the repetition solidifies sight word recognition and builds reading confidence, the pictures support reading comprehension.

All of the School Edition games will be available on September 15, 2012 at Basic Spanish and French will be available directly on from September 15, 2012.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Freedom on the Underground Railroad: Ghost train to Freedom Book review

If you ever wanted your kids to get excited about history, you have just found your solution. I received the book, Ghost Train to Freedom An Adventure on the Underground Railroad by Faith Reese Martin, in exchange for an honest review. It is part of the JMP History Mystery Detective Agency Series.

The book weaves together a fascinating story of time-traveling teens, Jinx and Max. The adventurous girl and boy travel back in time to the 1800's when slave trading was alive and accepted in America. It was also a time of the Underground Railroad where freedom was found in secret through a dangerous series of trustworthy brave people and hiding, largely at night.

The author knows her history well. Faith Reese Martin is a former fourth and fifth grade teacher who simply desired to spark her students interest in history - a subject that is far too often presented in a dry and boring manner. The author, instead, approaches it with a fictitious story set in a time that really happened, using real facts of history woven throughout the story. The result of combining history with fiction and mystery is that you won't want to put the book down. You will find yourself pulled into the story as if you traveled through time on a time-traveling train with Jinx and Max, the main characters who guide you trough history.

If you're not intrigued yet, you will be the moment you crack open the covers of this book. From the first paragraph all the way through to the end of the 300+ pages, you will be on the edge of your seat asking yourself why you never learned this much details about this important time frame in America's history. It will lead you on a trail of further research. You will discover facts about the past that will make you want to know more.

. Here is something I learned from the book: Making it to freedom took desire, bravery, skill and complicated communication. Some of the trails to freedom were communicated through the use of Freedom Quilts which were scraps of fabric woven together to form a quilt filled with intricate designs of codes and symbols showing the road to freedom. See what you discover when you use the book for summertime reading enjoyment or weave it into a history class and lesson about American history.

You can find the book at I was provided with websites on the information I received, however when I visit the sites I get error messages that will not allow me to proceed. Hopefully, they will be up and running soon for you to discover more. Here are the sites:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Say This, NOT That to Your Professor Book Review

I know, the cover of this book alone is enough to brighten your day. I recently had the pleasure of reviewing a book that was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for only an honest review. Well, the book is amazing and a must-have for every college student. Actually, it's a must-have for anyone who ever deals with any other human being ever in their lives. Though, it is focused on dealing with college professors.

The book by Ellen Bremen, M.A., is Say This, NOT That to Your Professor. It walks you through more than 35 scenarios of what you might feel like saying to your professor, and better ways to phrase it so the professor responds favorably. As a professor, the author has personal experience to draw from and expresses helpful advice in an easy-to-understand format.

What you say, and what the professor hears can be drastically different. It can mean the difference of passing a class with joy and ease or having a miserable time throughout. For instance, if you missed a class and want to find out if you missed something important, there are ways to approach your instructor so he or she does not interpret what you say as meaning that you do not find the class important. The book is very conversational and easy to read with practical advice every student will value.

If you've ever been a student or a teacher, chances are you will relate to at least a handful of the scenarios in the book. It is a must-read for any student headed off to college in the fall or taking a summer session. You can find out more information about the author and where to buy the book at her site,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11

Teacher Appreciation Week this year (2012) is this week (May 7 to 11).

It's a great time to thank a great teacher for all he or she has done.

It's also a great time to be a teacher.  Many businesses offer Teacher Appreciation Week savings.  Some of these businesses are nationwide.  However, many are local.  So, look around and see who is offering teacher specials this week in your area.

And, THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for a job well done.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Create Custom Lesson Plans With New TED-Ed Videos

This new site is amazing!  It allows teachers to customize lesson plans and use videos and slides from this site - TED-Ed .

There is something for almost every subject.  I just looked at it to check it out and have not delved deeper.  However, I saw lessons on science, art, Business, health, math and more.

Check out this lesson plan and video on the size of an atom:

TED-Ed | Just How Small Is an Atom?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Great Math Site for Finding Mean, Median, Mode, and Range

Do you find yourself inside a personal complex math problem when trying to decipher the definitions of mathematical terms?  If so, I ran across an amazing site that clearly explains the differences between Mean, Median, Mode and Range.  It's called Purple Math:

Mean, Median, Mode, and Range

When you're done reading this you will no longer find the average to be a "Big Blue Meanie" and may even find yourself singing, "Home home on the RANGE".  OK, enough of corny humor and onto figure out numbers at Purple

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What is Education Worth?

I do not want to stir up Wisconsin-style protests, but I see the news reports that banter about teacher salaries and what education is really worth.  And, it makes me sad that teachers, like home-makers, are de-valued in our society.

Investing knowledge into the next generation is worth far more than we spend.

A good teacher is worth his or her weight in gold.

It's time to take educating our youth and aging population seriously and to give it value.  True, we have public education and private education systems in place.  However, the value goes beyond money and is more than words can express.

If you are a teacher or educator in any form - Your value is priceless!

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Holiday Learning

It's almost time for the wearing of the green.  St. Patrick's Day is March 17, and it is a holiday that takes history and transforms it into fun.

This article explains some of the common symbols of St. Patrick's Day and provides helpful tips to enjoy with your children:

St. Patrick's Day Symbols and Activities for Kids

Monday, March 12, 2012

Take The Toyota - Heads Up! Challenge on Discovery Education

Attention parents of new teen drivers!

The Discovery Education website has a helpful online game that helps teens learn about driving and potential risks.  Read all about it and play online here:

Toyota - Heads Up!

They have a course for left and right-handed drivers.  When you complete the game, there are helpful real-life driving stats.

Read about all the details at the above link to find out how your teen could win $1,000 just by playing online till May 7, 2012.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Learning About Idaho For Kids

Teaching kids about states - This is a great place to start (for lack of any kind of alphabetic or first to last state order).  If you like potatoes, you might be fond of this one:

Idaho: One State Among 50 That Offers a Fun Lesson for Summertime Learning

If Idaho is too far for you to visit, take a virtual field trip.  Get out a map of the state and let your child run his or her finger along the roads and rivers.  Get a miniature doll or car and roll it over the map.  If you like, make a 3D version of the state.  Study the hills, mountains, valleys, etc. and recreate it with clay or other crafting materials.

Use your imagination and make learning come alive for your child.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kids Learn, Move and Stay Fit: PE Is Not The Only Place To Move

I saw a news report tonight that showed a school who is taking a proactive approach to childhood obesity.  They are incorporating exercise in with their learning.  For instance, no more just sitting at your desk with hands crossed while quietly listening.  Instead, they may learn the names of the months of the year by putting them to rhythm and dance.  They line up in the hallway and do pushups to warm up.  Other methods they use include sitting on workout balls, or bounding off of a workout balance ball.  It got me thinking of other ways to teach facts while moving and staying fit.

  • Count 1-10 with situps
  • I love the exercise ball as kids seems to have trouble sitting still as it is.  Why not put their energy to good use.
  • Use good old line dances to teach facts.  The Macarena is one that can be multi-purposely used.  Put the facts to rhythm as you dance.
  • Raise your hands, or raise your foot to answer a question.
  • ABC jump - Jump after singing each pair of 3 letters.  Like this:  ABC - Jump - DEF  - Jump - GHI - Jump and Spin - JKL - Jump - MNO - Jump PQR - Jump and Spin - STU - Jump - VW and - Jump XYZ - Jump and Spin!
Use your imagination.  The sky is the limit to how much learning can take place while getting little bodies into shape and preventing childhood obesity.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Free today on Amazon: An eBay Seller's Secrets: 20 Essential Household Items

I did it!  I publishsed my very first e-book on Amazon, available for download on Kindle readers (or, you can download the Kindle for your PC for free as well and read it on your computer).

The book includes 20 essential household items I have found useful for cleaning, repairing, removing stains, and repurposing items for resale on eBay.

Today only - The book is being offered as a free download.  Get your free copy here!

The process was not overly diffiult, but does require some amount of education in writing, formatting, and uploading for publication - Not to mention designing the cover (which I changed from the original, but the changes have not yet shown up publicly for some reason.  I'm hoping they show up soon.)  I must admit that I am looking at this book as my training wheels book to help me learn the ropes of publishing.  I thoroughly proofed it, and carefully uploaded it only to find some places I would like to tweak and edit.  However, overall I'm happy with the result of my first published e-book.  And, thanks for reading it.  I hope you enjoy the read.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Growing Interest in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Girls in STEM

Female workers make up half of the workforce. But, when STEM programs began, they made up less than 25% of careers workers in science, technology, engineering, or math fields. The US has lost ground with other progressively-moving countries in the fields of Science and math. While these subjects are taught in school, little progress seemed to have been made. That's where after school programs stepped in. These programs make learning subjects like science, technology, engineering, and math fun. Not only fun, but promising. With the downturned economy, careers in IT technology have remained a viable option. However, without the training, these jobs are difficult to land.
Started out of an effort to draw girls, in particular minority girls, into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), after school programs were started. Today, interest in the programs soar. Read more at:

Out-of-School Time Drawing Girls Into STEM

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Snow-Making Science Project

"Is it snowing yet?  Snow, will we get snow?  Snow, tomorrow?  Why didn't we get a white Christmas?"  These are all questions my 9 year old asked this year as we continue to experience an unseasonably warm winter so far.

If you were lucky enough to have a white Christmas, you may not need (or want) to produce your own snow.  For the rest of us (who rung in the new year at 60 degrees), you just might want to experiment by making your own pretend snow.

Try this experiment from the folks at Kinder

All you need are a few items (mostly found in your kitchen or bath room).  You might not be able to build a snowman, fort, or have a snowball fight with your home-made snow.  However, it will be a fun learning experiment.