Sunday, February 28, 2010


When young children receive immediate positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, they are more likely to repeat that behavior. Positive reinforcement is "catching" a kid doing something you want them to do and rewarding it. This is an effective way to shape a child's conduct, communication skills, and attitude. Children naturally want to earn and keep your approval.

A recent study dramatically reinforced this teaching approach. A research group at the University of Rochester conducted a three-year study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They interviewed 278 mothers of 3-year-olds and observed mothers and children playing and working together. The women and children represented all socio-economic groups.

They found that the children of parents, who were negative and controlling, verbally and physically, were "situationally" compliant. This means as soon as the parent became distracted, the child reverted to inappropriate behavior because they had not learned the correct skills. By contrast, the children of parents who use gentle guidance or positive reinforcement showed "committed compliance," which means they understood and used the correct behavior, even when their parents were not monitoring them.

Positive Reinforcement works because it gives children positive goals to work towards instead of only focusing on negative consequences to avoid. Positive reinforcement fulfills strong basic psychological needs of every child as well as setting a more positive and healthy tone for the caregiver-child relationship. Some parents find it helpful to display a note where they can see it often, reminding them to look for appropriate behavior in their children. The note might read, "notice the positive" or "catch'em doing good."

Use Verbal Praise
Always praise the behavior, not the person. Praises like good girl or good boy risk misinterpretation. If a child exhibits inappropriate behavior, they may think that they are a bad person. It's better to praise the behavior by saying, "You did a great job cleaning your room, son."

Praise Genuinely
Complimenting a child's behavior can lose its punch if you praise usual, expected behavior or if you praise too much. Don't over do it. You may want to keep a mental note of the number of times you are using praise in a day. Use eye and body contact during your delivery to reinforce your sincerity. A child can tell when you're faking it.

Use a Variety of Ways to Praise
To keep a child's attention, change the delivery of your praise. A teacher may give a pat on the head or shoulder to show approval, while a parent may give a hug or a kiss. Body language like a thumbs-up, communicates approval in a cool way. You might want to write a note praising their clean room and leave it on their pillow.

Children love behavior charts with colorful stars or stickers, because they can show visitors their accomplishments by showing them the chart. Charts are interactive and fun. Let the child help you make the chart and make daily entries.

Help your child draw a picture of his reward. Put dots around the prize about an inch apart. With each day of successful behavior, allow the child to connect a dot. When the circle is complete, the child gets his reward. They enjoy watching their own progress as they get closer and closer to finishing the circle.

Keep the time until the prize is collected short. For a toddler, use end of the hour rewards; for a preschooler use end of the day rewards; and for the school age child use end of the week rewards. In fact, for a preschool child it's best to refer to an event as the ending time such as, after dinner" or" at bedtime."

To work, a reward must be something the child likes. You can become a detective and ask some leading questions to find out what rewards a child wants. The following are examples of leading questions.

"If you could do some special things, what would they be?"
"If you could go somewhere with a friend, where would you go?'
"If you had a dollar, what would you buy?'

Make reward coupons to be redeemed when they earn a certain number of points. But remember that children need reminders. Reminders are less likely to provoke a refusal or power struggle. You might give a clue like, "Where does your plate belong?" You might want to write a list of positive behaviors or responsibilities on a poster board. You can review these lists with the child as needed.

A child who receives positive reinforcement develops high self-esteem; and a child with a high self-esteem usually exhibits self-motivation. A child who exhibits self-motivation generally becomes a successful achiever at home and at school.

There are some who say rewards can stunt creativity in children, and children should perform for the joy of the activity. But, life is full of rewards. If a person follows the rules, and works hard, they are rewarded.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Education World ® Lesson Planning: Heroes in History ABC Book

Education World ® Lesson Planning: Heroes in History ABC Book

More info on lessons for ABC books from Education World!

Teacher Laura Toffenetti challenged each of her fourth graders at the Dorothy C. Goodwin School in Storrs, Connecticut, to create an ABC book of endangered animals. The task was easier than might be expected because, the students were amazed to learn, the world has more than 6,000 species that are "endangered" due to loss of habitat, poaching, and pollution!
"Students used a variety of resources to research the animals," says Toffenetti. "Each page had to include at least four facts about the animal, a map showing where the animal lives, and a picture."
"We spent some time learning how to lay out a page in an effective way," adds Toffenetti. "We also had some mini drawing lessons to help them capture the animals' likenesses."

For the letter A, you might create a book called The Ancient Civilization Alphabet Book. The opening pages of that book -- the pages for the letters A to E -- might include illustrations and text related to
· A -- Alexander the Great, the Aztecs, Athens, the Aeneid, or Aristotle;
· B -- Buddha, Babylon, or the Byzantine Empire;
· C -- Confucius, Code of Hamurabi, Cheops' Great Pyramid, clay tablets, Crete, Caesar, or Cleopatra;
· D -- democracy;
· E -- Egypt, Elba, Euphrates, Etruscans, or Euripedes ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter A: aviation, agriculture, Africa, art history and artists, American authors, architecture, astronomy, automobiles, or Australia.
For the letter B, you might create The Biology Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· amoeba, arachnids, or algae;
· bacteria or biomes;
· cells or crustacean;
· Darwin;
· ecology or evolution ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter B: baseball, biographies, the human body, birds, Brazil, or famous buildings.
For the letter C, you might create The Citizenship Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
A good citizen
· acts responsibly;
· doesn't bully;
· cares for people and other living things;
· takes part in community debates;
· votes in elections ...
For the letter E, you might create The Economics Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· automated teller machine (ATM);
· banks, bull market, or budget;
· credit cards, child labor, or consumerism;
· depression or dollar;
· European Community ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter E: Earth, ecology and the environment, Thomas Edison, Eskimos, education, Egypt, elections, Europe, electricity, endangered species, science experiments, exploration, energy, or England.
For the letter F, you might create The Food Around the World Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· artsoppa (Scandanavia) or anitpasto (Italy);
· babka (Poland), blini (Russia), bubble and squeak (England), or baklava (Armenia, Greece);
· challah (Israel), curry (India), crumpets (England), or chow mein (China);
· Danish pastries (called wienerbrot, or "Vienna bread," in Denmark) or dumplings (Germany);
· edible seaweed (Japan) ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter F: family, farms and farming, fish, flags, forests, or flowers.
For the letter G, you might create The Geography Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Arctic, altitude, archipelago, atoll, axis, or Atlantic Ocean;
· bay or butte;
· cities, cape, canyon, continental shelf, or climate;
· delta, (continental) divide, or dune;
· elevation, erg, estuary, or equator ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter G: games, gardens, Greece, or geology.
For the letter H, you might create The Holidays Around the World Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Arbor Day and Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (U.S.), Australia Day (Australia), or April Fools' Day (many countries);
· Bolivar's Birthday (South America) or Bastille Day (France);
· Christmas (many countries), Confucius' Birthday (China), Columbus Day (U.S.), Constitution Day (Japan), Candlemas Day (Scotland), or Canada Day (Canada);
· Day of the Race (Latin America) or Dragon Boat Festival (China);
· Empire Day (also called Commonwealth Day, Great Britain) or Easter (many countries) ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter H: Hawaii, the home, healthful habits, the Holocaust, herbs, Hispanic Americans, and hobbies.
For the letter I, you might create The Important People in American History Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Susan B. Anthony or John Quincy Adams;
· Aaron Burr, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, or Buffalo Bill;
· George Washington Carver, Henry Clay, Andrew Carnegie, or Calvin Coolidge;
· Frederick Douglass;
· Dwight D. Eisenhower ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter I: India, the Ice Age, inventions, immigration, Illinois, ice-skating, American Indians, the Industrial Revolution, or insects.
For the letter J, you might create The Jobs Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· anthropologist, animator, airplane pilot, auto repairperson, or architect;
· baker, butcher, ballet dancer, basketball player, bulldozer operator, bus driver, or businesswoman;
· chemist, cook, cable TV installer, chaplain, carpenter, cashier, or computer technician;
· divorce lawyer, dentist, doctor, director, disc jockey, dietition, or dress designer;
· editor, economist, engineer, electrician, EMT, or eye doctor ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter J: jungles, Jamestown, jazz, or Japan.
For the letter K, you might create The Martin Luther King Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Atlanta (King's birthplace);
· Birmingham or bus boycott (Montgomery) ;
· Coretta Scott King or Civil Rights Act of 1964;
· Dexter Avenue Baptist Church or "I have a dream ..." speech;
· Ebeneezer Baptist Church or equality ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter K: the Korean War, knights and knighthood, or Kansas.
For the letter L, you might create The Language Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· alphabet, apostrophe, adjective, abbreviation, or address;
· books and book titles;
· colon, compound words, compositions, comma, or cliche;
· debates, diaries, or dialogue;
· editing, e.g., or exclamation ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter L: Abraham Lincoln, the Labor Movement, London, Los Angeles, great literature, or lumber and lumbering.
For the letter M, you might create The Mathematics Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· algebra, arithmetic, or abacus;
· budgets or Bernoulli;
· calendar, complex fractions, or computers;
· decimals or Descartes;
· Einstein or equivalencies ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter M: mammals, Mexico, the Middle Ages, Mars, minerals, the Middle East, mountains and mountain climbing, multiculturalism, music, mythology.
For the letter N, you might create The National Parks Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Acadia National Park, Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities, Arches National Park, or Appalachian National Scenic Trail;
· Badlands National Park, Big Bend National Park, Biscayne National Park, or Bryce Canyon National Park;
· Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Channel Islands National Park, Crater Lake National Park, or Carlsbad Caverns National Park;
· Death Valley National Park, Denali National Park, Department of the Interior, or Dry Tortugas National Park;
· Everglades National Park ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter N: people's names, North America, nature, nursery rhymes, nutrition, newspapers, or New York City.
For the letter O, you might create The Olympic Games Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Athens, archery, or alpine skiing;
· Baron Pierre de Coubertin, boxing, basketball, bobsledding, Bonnie Blair, biathlon, or bronze medal;
· cross-country skiing, Nadia Comaneci, or cycling;
· discus throw or Babe Didrikson;
· equestrian events ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter O: oceans, Oklahoma, or the orchestra.
For the letter P, you might create The Let's Get Physical Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· archery;
· badminton, bodybuilding, or bicycling;
· canoeing, curling, or cheerleading;
· darts or diving;
· equestrian events ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter P: the Pacific Ocean, famous painters and paintings, prehistoric animals, presidents and the presidency, Puerto Rico, phobias, pets and pet care, pioneer life, plants, or Pennsylvania.
For the letter Q, you might create The Famous Quotations Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include:
· Aesop: "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched."
· P. T. Barnum: "There's a sucker born every minute."
· Confucius: "Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors."
· Leo Durocher: "Nice guys finish last."
· Thomas Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter Q: queen bees and other insects, science questions, Quebec, or quizzes.
For the letter R, you might create The Railroad Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Amtrak, articulated locomotive, angle bars, or Horatio Allen;
· boxcar, Baltimore & Ohio, "Big Boys," ballast, baggage car, Matthias Baldwin, or Blucher;
· catenary, cog railroad, crossties, coach, covered hopper, caboose, classification yard, Peter Cooper, or Conrail;
· diesel locomotive, driving wheels, or dining car;
· Eurostar or electric locomotive ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter R: racism, the rain forest, Reconstruction, religions of the world, reptiles, the Revolutionary War, rivers, recreation, the Renaissance, rocks, ancient Rome, or Russia.
For the letter S, you might create The Space Exploration Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Neil Armstrong or astronomy;
· black holes or Tycho Brahe;
· comets, constellations, or Copernicus;
· space shuttle;
· eclipse ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter S: safety rules, San Francisco, Scandanavia, South America, the four seasons, stars in the sky, the sun, sharks and other sea animals, slavery, the Supreme Court, snakes, the solar system, or superstitions.
For the letter T, you might create The Technology Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· aerodynamics or automation;
· Alexander Graham Bell;
· computers;
· Sir Humphrey Davy;
· electron microscope ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter T: transportation, television, Texas, Thanksgiving, trees, the thirteen colonies, the tundra, or theater.
For the letter U, you might create The United States Government Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· act of Congress, authorization bills, appellate court, associate justice, or appropriations bills;
· Bill of Rights or bills;
· the president's Cabinet, Congress, the U.S. Capitol, the CIA, the Constitution, checks and balances, chief justice, commander in chief, Congressional Budget Office, or the Supreme Court;
· democracy, division of powers, district court, diplomats, or the Declaration of Independence;
· elections, executive branch, or the Electoral College ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter U: U.S. history, undersea exploration, U.S. landmarks and attractions, or the universe.
For the letter V, you might create The Vegetables and Fruits Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· artichoke, asparagus, or apple;
· beet, broccoli, berries, or banana;
· cabbage, celery, carrot, cauliflower, corn, or cucumber;
· date;
· eggplant ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter V: the Vikings, Venezuela, the vice presidency, or the Vietnam War.
For the letter W, you might create The World War II Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Axis Powers, Allied Forces, Afrika Korps, Anti-Comintern Pact, American Flying Fortress, Anschluss, Anzio, or Antwerp;
· blitz, Battle of Britain, Plan Barbarossa, Bismarck, Battle of the Bulge, Bataan, or B-29;
· Georges Clemenseau, Covenant of the League of Nations, Cherbourg, Casablanca Conference, or Winston Churchill;
· Dunkirk, Deutcshland, Colonel James H. Doolittle, or D-Day;
· Enterprise, Emperor Hirohito, Essex, ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter W: wetlands, Washington (D.C.), weather, the Westward movement, whales and whaling, George Washington, water, the White House, the women's rights movement, World War I, or American writers.
For the letter X, you might create The X-Rays and Other Medical Terms Alphabet Book. Another possible topic for an alphabet book that begins with the letter X: Xmas around the world.
For the letter Y, you might create The Yukon Territory (Canada) Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· Arctic Ocean, Aishihik, or Alaska Highway;
· Beaufort Sea, British Mountains, bear, John Bell, or Bonanza Creek;
· caribou, common raven, George Washington Carmack, Cyprus-Anvil mine, coat of arms, or Robert Campbell;
· Dawson City or Dempster Highway;
· Eskimo or Elsa-Mayo ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter Y: Yellowstone National Park or Yugoslavia.
For the letter Z, you might create The Zoo Animals Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include
· armadillo or American bison;
· brown bear, beaver, bobcat, black rhinoceros, or baboon;
· caribou, cheetah, cougar, crocodile, camel, chimpanzee, or coyote;
· deer;
· elephant (African), elephant (Asian), or elk ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter Z: Zaire, zeppelins and other aircraft, Zambia, or zoos and zoology.

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Monday, February 22, 2010


Instead of sitting in front of the television for hours, why not have your children learn as they have fun? Check out these enchanting websites for hours of interactive exploration in learning.

Starfall K-2-Very interactive!
Have fun while learning to read!

Between the Lines K-2-Turn pages in “book” and read independently. Includes a “word helper”.

Reading Planet K-2-Read along with stories and songs!! (some in Spanish)Ex. “Caterpillar, Caterpillar”

Cartoon Factory All kids-Fun!! Select a picture and then write text to create cartoon. (You can print what you make.)

Literacy Center K-1-Activities using color, shapes, words, numbers and the alphabet.

Wacky Web Tales 3-5-Practice parts of speech by creating a wacky web tale and/or song.

Wordplay All-Click on a word and watch it play! Great visual for verbs!!

ABC-Lots of games to reinforce alphabet and simple vocabulary words.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010


Thanks for those who stopped by to see my Creative Blogger Award. Thanks to everyone who tried to guess which statement was true. A GREAT BIG THANKS to those of you who guessed that I was a professional dancer when younger. I sure danced alot, but I never got paid for it. I did get paid to teach others to dance and I even got paid to choreograph some dances over the years.

The answer is.... #5 I fell off the stage in High School. As a finalist in the Senior Costume Day Contest, I was wearing a costume which made it impossible to see. I was Anne Bolyn with my neck above my real head. I had green velvet curtains as a cape which had tiny slits for me to see through. I was holding my severed head in my hands. The teachers kept asking us to move down, and of course, I obeyed. When I fell off the stage, my bloody head went rolling down the choir steps. I landed in a hole and when a teacher came to help me, I didn't want to get out. I didn't even win the contest!!! Fortunately I was captain of the cheerleaders and pretty popular so no one teased me about it. I would have been scared for life!

Congrats to Lea and Cher who guessed the right answer!


"If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both-you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." Ray Bradbury

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Saturday, February 20, 2010


Way too cool! Donna Shepherd honored me and five others with the Creative Writer Blogger Award. But wait...there's a catch. Read on.

First the rules:

1: Thank the person who gave you the award and link to them.
2: Add the award to your blog
3: Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and One Truth.
4: Nominate six creative liars... I mean writers and post links to them.
5: Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.

Ha! Six lies and one truth? goes and let's see if you can guess which one is the truth:
1- I love to cook!
2- I used to be a professional dancer.
3- I have 36 first cousins.
4- I'm an excellent rock climber.
5- I fell off the stage in high school.
6- I've had four husbands.
7- I was on the New York Times bestseller list in 2006!

Well, there you have them; my six lies and one truth. Can you pick it off? You think? Go ahead, make my day. Choose which one you think is the truth and comment.

So now the last part of the award is for me to nominate some peers - 6 actually. Let's see, who has a sense of humor?

Nancy Famolari
Peggy Fieland
Terri Forehand

These are my top three recipients. Check out their blogs.

Don't forget to guess which one of my statements is true!!

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Friday, February 19, 2010


Women's Downhill
Women's Slalom
Women's Giant Slalom
Women's Super-G
Women's Super-Combined

Reigning queen of Alpine
Vonn has already surpassed her childhood heroine's career performance on several levels. Vonn's two overall World Cup titles (2008, 2009), two world championship titles (downhill, super-G) in 2009 and 25 World Cup victories heading into the Olympic season are tops all-time among all U.S. female Alpine skiers. She also became the first U.S. skier since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the Skieur d'Or (Golden Skier) award as the skier of the year, male or female. What is astonishing is that she remains practically unknown in the United States. Already a huge celebrity in most of Europe, her casual charm, media-friendliness and attractive appearance add to what could be a meteoric rise to notoriety and stardom in the U.S. in the coming months and years. LINDSEY HAS WON A GOLD MEDAL IN THIS OLYMPIC GAMES SO FAR.

Women's Downhill
Women's Giant Slalom
Women's Super-G
Women's Super-Combined

Lucky charms
At the 2006 Games, Mancuso caught the attention of fans when she wore a tiara on her ski helmet for the slalom portion of the women's combined event. What started out as a gag gift from her coach became a good luck charm that she always took out with her on the course, for all to see. She did not don the tiara for the giant slalom - which she won - but wore it at the medal ceremony that evening, providing images of a ski queen with her gold. Today, the tiara - or any extraneous objects -- is not allowed, so she has one painted on her helmet. The original tiara, she keeps at home. "It's very valuable," she says. "I'm keeping it as a good luck charm and bringing it to Vancouver." Other lucky charms include a blanket "that she takes everywhere", her charm pouch with good energy crystals and random stones and shells from beaches she has been to.

Julia's Gold
When Mancuso returned to Squaw Valley after the Games, her hometown welcomed her with a celebration, presented her with a lifetime ski pass and named a run, Julia's Gold, at the resort after her. Three years later, she recalled the good feeling she gained from the scene: "It was really cool. You just feel so much support from your community. I go to the Olympics not just for me, but mostly for everyone else, to be able to bring smiles and motivation to everyone else." JULIA HAS WON TWO SILVER MEDALS IN THIS OLYMPIC GAMES SO FAR.

Hannah Kearney

Four years ago, Hannah Kearney entered the Torino Games as the reigning world champion in women's moguls, but after a disappointing 22nd-place finish and two subsequent seasons stalled by injury, the Vermont native comes to Vancouver seeking redemption... Winner of the World Cup moguls title in 2008-09, Kearney is making her second Olympic appearance in 2010. HANNAH HAS WON A GOLD MEDAL IN THIS OLYMPIC GAMES SO FAR.

Hannah Teter
Women's Halfpipe

At the 2006 Games in Torino, Vermont native Hannah Teter, then 19 years old, won gold in women's halfpipe... And in the wake of that victory, she proceeded to launch an endeavor far beyond her years... Through her charity, Hannah's Gold, all of her prize money from snowboarding events and proceeds from maple syrup sales go toward supporting an impoverished village in Kenya. HANNAH HAS WON A SILVER MEDAL AT THIS OLYMPIC GAMES SO FAR.


1998 Olympic gold medalist, 2002 silver medalist and 2006 bronze medalist... Defenseman has the record for most games played for the U.S. national team, playing in more than 200 games for Team USA since 1997... Played four years at Harvard and finished with 234 points... Is working toward her master's degree in sports management... Plans to retire from the national team after Vancouver. USA WOMEN'S TEAM TOOK THE BRONZE MEDAL!

Catherine Raney
Women's 3000m
Women's Team Pursuit

Competing in her fourth Olympics in Vancouver... Six-time U.S. allround champion... Married Doug Norman in September 2008... Lives in the mountains outside Salt Lake City, with the house accessible only by snowmobile in the winter... Trained in Calgary until 2006 when foreign athletes were prohibited from training in Canada.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle: Ideas for the classroom

•Submitted by Dave Smith
As the guidance counselor for 200 K-2 students, I teach weekly classroom guidance lessons. For the first lesson each September and the last lesson each June I read A House for Hermit Crab to every class. I ask them how Hermit Crab felt the first time he stepped out onto the ocean floor, how he felt the second time, and why he was no longer scared. I urge them to view their transition from grade to grade, or preschool to kindergarten, as an exciting opportunity while acknowledging that for some it produces anxiety.

More important, though, I stress that Hermit Crab is an expert at making and keeping friends: he flatters the new sea creatures he meets and then asks them if they would help him. I stress that if the students will treat each other in the same way then they will make more friends, and be more excited, themselves. Throughout the school year I refer back to Hermit Crab as an expert in making friends. This seems to resonate with the children.

Taking it one step further, our local PTO provides the funds so I can buy a copy of the small board book version of A House for Hermit Crab to give to each student that transfers out of our schools. The teachers have their classmates sign a small card which gets pasted inside the front cover. My goal is not only to help the student leaving to feel better about their coming transition, but also to help the students “left behind” to feel a little more connection to others, in the hope of reducing the risk of violence that often comes from those who feel isolated or unconnected.

It’s just a super book for all of these purposes. Even though I've read it to classes over a hundred times, the kids still notice details I hadn't noticed before. Sometimes I have a class act out the lines. Often in June, especially with the second graders (who are going on to a new school the following year), I adapt the text to talk about students going to a new school and having to leave their teachers and staff behind in the care of the younger students. They frequently complain that they prefer the original text, but I know that they get my point, and that is that they should feel the same way as Hermit Crab and I do about each new year: We can't wait to get started!

•Submitted by Nicole<
We read the book A House for Hermit Crab when learning about sea creatures. I use this idea with 3 to 5 year old children. When we are done reading the story we make hermit crabs out of construction paper. I put out sea shells, sequins, glitter, and assorted construction paper cutouts and the children decorate their crabs.

•Submitted by Kim Quinell
After reading this story, we talk about what the hermit crab might decorate his new shell with. I then give each child a little envelope. Inside they find paper pennies from our math book. I explain that we are each going to decorate a hermit crab, and they can use their pennies at my collage store. I also tell them that they can earn 5 extra pennies if they color the head and legs of the hermit crab red. I sit at the collage box table and call tables one at a time. (This is a good chance for the others to work on coloring their crabs). Children spend their pennies on materials they would like their hermit crab to be decorated with. The price of materials depends on how “cool” they are. Jewels are the most expensive at 3 cents each. Feathers we let go for 2 cents, and mosaic paper tiles are 1 cent each. Children purchase their supplies and work independently at their tables, coming back for more supplies if they have money left. They earn their extra 5 pennies when they show me that their hermit crab is colored AND cut out. A lot of kids are so excited about gluing their craft supplies on that they forget to cut. The crabs are left on the table to dry.

•Submitted by Amanda Dickinson
I have found that this idea works well with preschool through second grade students, especially with those who find it difficult to sit still during story time. On a sheet of 11 x 8 inch construction paper, I glue a large paper sea shell and a small paper crab, and give one to each student. I also pre-make each of Hermit Crab’s “friends” for each child, and as we meet each character, the students glue the creature onto their shell. The children are extremely attentive to the story, anxiously waiting to find out which friend to glue on next. In the end, each child has recreated Hermit Crab’s house. I have them use their picture to summarize the story, either verbally or in writing. The children are able to remember the story by looking at their pictures.

•Submitted by Diane R. Wilson
After reading A House for Hermit Crab, my Kindergarten class made their own hermit crabs from small paper plates. They used stamps and markers to decorate the shells Then they cut out crab heads and crab claws to staple to their shell. They also added eyes and signed their names to the crabs. This was a fun activity for all. You can decorate a bulletin board with all the great individual crabs. We also observed a real hermit crab for a day and then got one for a class pet. What an easy pet for Kindergarten.

•Submitted by Jeanne Riley
I’m a schoolwide Reading Teacher at Lihikai School in Kahului Maui, Hawaii. I combined crab puppets with my flannel board to introduce the characters and the setting from the book A House for Hermit Crab. By gluing pieces of velcro onto a small puppet, I was able to attach each creature to the crab as I read the book. At the end, when the crab moves to a bigger shell, I bring out a larger puppet...SURPRISE! It’s such a good story about growing up!

•Submitted by Carrie Milliard Blackmar
My kindergarten students love to role play the stories we share. To role play A House for Hermit Crab, I found a medium-sized, square cardboard box to use as our “very plain shell.” I cut off all but 3 of the box flaps, cut 2 arm holes on the sides (leaving the remaining flap hanging in the back), and cut out a half circle for a neck rest. After the initial read-aloud, the children and I retold the book together. As we met each of Hermit Crab’s friends, I cut out the sea creature shape from colored paper, giving one to each child. At the end of the retelling, one child donned the plain shell and then visited the other children in the circle. Each child taped their paper sea creature onto the sides of the shell. At the end, the hermit crab wiggled out of his now “too small” shell and gave his house and friends to another child in the circle.

•Submitted by Amy Talbot
I do an art lesson each year with A House for Hermit Crab. Using a large duplicated shell picture, we decorate it with anything and everything I happen to have in the closet: macaroni, buttons, glitter, yarn, tissue paper, confetti, beans, etc. I really enjoy my author unit on Eric Carle and the students do, too.

•Submitted by Robin Shank
After reading A House for Hermit Crab, my Kindergartners made their own hermit crab houses. We used clay for the shell and various other items for the visitors of the shell such as noodles, sequins, beads, construction paper, pipe cleaners, anything goes. We then created our own bottom of the ocean out of paper and tissue paper to display the hermit crabs. We wrote stories about our crabs. We also had two hermit crabs visit our classroom for a couple weeks and took a trip to the tide pools to look for hermit crabs. What a nice way to start a thematic unit on oceans!

•Submitted by Pat Ammons
I have used A House for Hermit Crab as a June reading for a number of years in my Kindergarten to ease fears of moving up to First Grade. Last year I made up a songfest type play using different songs from each month and tying it in with the little hermit crab. We made large tag board shells for each child. They decorated them with markers and construction paper ideas from their birthday month. We wore tie dyed shirts that looked like the ocean floor and red headbands with black pipe cleaner antenna. Here is a poem I wrote to tie it together:

I’m a little like that hermit crab I’m growing in my shell;
Soon enough I’ll move along saying goodbye to Kindergarten’s bell.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, I need the safety of my shell.
Yet every month I’m bigger, the length of my clothes will tell.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, this school is my ocean floor.
There are endless possibilities, so much world to be explored.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, I’m stepping out real soon.
Please applaud my courage, even small bells ring a tune.
I’m a little like that hermit crab, and though it’s sad to be parted;
I know the world awaits me- and I can’t wait to get started!

•Submitted by Ellen Short
I teach first grade. My students have always loved A House for Hermit Crab. We draw and color the sea animals in the sequence they are met and then do a blue paint wash over the pictures. The pictures have to be colored very dark.

•Submitted by Lori DeNicola
To help students learn the months of the year, read A House for Hermit Crab. Then take a large piece of drawing paper and divide it into twelve sections by folding it and then opening it. In the top of each section the student writes the names of the months, one in each section in order. Under the name of the month the student may make their own illustration of something from the story that happened in that month. We used Mr. Carle’s artwork as our reference. They may also include a summary sentence or phrase if you like. We did this over the course of about two weeks, completing one section of the paper at a time, following a reading of the story from the book or a retelling using the student’s drawings. We also recited the months of the year each time we did this.

•Submitted by Lisa Loughlin
One idea that a group of children that I work with had, was making their own hermit crabs out of construction paper and decorate them with different materials that they have collected. Some of them wanted to write their own story on how the crab came across all of the objects that were on their shell.

•Submitted by Mindy
I teach preschool-ages 4 and 5. In my classroom we have 3 hermit crabs. We have been working on a project based on these animals for a couple of months now. Some activities we have done are:
1. Reading crab stories including A House for Hermit Crab.
2. Drawing the crabs in their cage.
3. Touching and holding the crabs.
4. Diagraming what a crab really looks like. (Yes four year olds can diagram with the help of a skilled artist.)
5. Painting pictures of crabs.
6. Writing our own stories and illustrating them.
7. Singing a song “Oh Mr.Crab” to the tune of Mr.Sun.
We will probably create a large sculpture of a crab and write a play about hermit crabs. The children are extremely interested and engrossed in this project.

•Submitted by Rachel Harken
I am a second grader at Bluegrass Elementary and I have a fun thing I like to do. At our school we have several things we like to do to make our hermit crabs feel special. What we do is:
1) Cut off about a quarter from the end of a coconut and drain off the juice so the crabs can retreat, and when hungry, have a snack
2) We take a whole ball of iceberg lettuce, or head lettuce, and cut out the core, and like the first idea they can climb all over and eat when hungry, or retreat into the hole where the core was and have safety and a great place to snack when hungry, and
3) Build a small house out of crackers, using peanut butter to hold the walls and roof together, and then put extra peanut butter on the walls and roof for them to also snack on. The best part of this is when there are multiple hermit crabs, to watch over the course of the week as they slowly devour the house. We have lots of fun, I hope you will too.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010


Click on the image of the zebra to get a larger coloring page. Just print it out!

1. Listen for the "Z z" sound in these words. Tell if you hear it at the beginning, middle or the end of each word.

Ziggy, lazy, gauze, buzz, zany, zero, crazy, chimpanzee, zeal
magazine, fizz, gazette, Zanzibar, frozen, hazy, fuzz, hazard,
pizza, Zeus, gaze, zeppelin, gizzard, zither, zigzag, zucchini, zone

2. Which words in these sentences have the "Z z" sound? Say where you hear the "Z z" sound: at the beginning, middle or end of the word.

a. Zachary zoomed around the yard like a crazy rocket.
b. Azaleas and zinnias grow in my garden.
c. You might see zebras and gazelles grazing in Zambia.
d. Zita won a prize at the pet show for her lizard.

3. Play a Word Guessing game. All of your guesses should begin with the "Z z" sound.

a. The number that comes before one is ________. (zero)
b. I like to see the wild animals in the ______. (zoo)
c. My favorite jacket doesn't have buttons, it has a ________. (zipper)
d. An animal that looks like a black and white striped horse is a _____. (zebra)
e. Another word for crazy is _______. (zany)

4. Sing a song called "Zany Z's" sung to the tune of "London Bridge."

Zany Z's are zipping by, Zipping by, zipping by.
Zany Z's are zipping by, Zip! Zap! Zoom!

Zany zebras are zipping by, Zipping by, zipping by.
Zany zebras are zipping by, Zip! Zap! Zoom!

Add more verses substituting other "Z z" words for the word "zebras."

5. Make some zipper rubbings. You'll need different colored crayons, a piece of white paper and a variety of zippers from jackets, duffle bags, jeans, purses, etc. Lay the zipper as flat as you can on a table. Place the paper on top of the zipper then using the side of a crayon, rub it over the zipper. Do this with different kinds of zippers in different colors all over the paper.

6. Show your child how to write "Z z" like this:

Z: Make a line from left to right on the top line then make another line from left to right on the bottom line. Make a sliding board from the top right line to the bottom left line.

z: Same as above only use the middle line and bottom line.

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Friday, February 12, 2010


OBJECTIVE: This activity promotes basic description and argumentation.

Alien Report

You are a delegate from an alien planet, Xyxm, and your mission is to travel the galaxy and explore other planets. After visiting the planet Earth, you must report on one custom/behavior or item (e.g., baseball, shopping malls, or vacuum cleaners) that Earth has and Xyxm lacks. You must inform your superiors as to why it exists, what purpose it serves, and why (or why not) Xyxm should adopt or import the custom/behavior or item. Be specific, and explain fully the need for and the benefits or drawbacks of you chosen topic.


· List five things that are characteristic of American culture and five things characteristic of non-American culture (e.g., hot dogs and sushi)
· List five holidays, celebrations, etc. characteristic of some Earth culture (you may chose from various cultures)
· List five places that one can visit and that might have significant meaning to someone (anywhere in the world)
· Chose at least two of these things from your list, make two columns: Pro's and Con's. Then, briefly list points for each.
· Chose one the one that you feel has the most potential, and begin your first draft.


First draft

Your first draft needs to be three to four pages long, double-spaced, in 12 pt Times New Roman with standard one-inch margins. Be sure to clearly outline your reasoning and give enough background on the aspect you are discussing. Remember, your audience (your superiors on Xyxm) have never been to Earth and know only vaguely of its inhabitants and customs. Explain why Earthlings have this item and what adopting it might mean for Xyxmians. Be sure to keep the tone formal, informative, and direct.
Have fun. Be creative. And, as always, ask if you have any questions about your topic.

Second draft

You will be put into small groups and will read through one another's' papers, making comments and sharing ideas. After doing this, you will need to work on your second draft. This draft needs to be five to seven pages long, and should follow the same formatting guidelines as mentioned above.

Note to teacher:

Other options for group/class work:
(1) Have them present to the class, as though some were delegates sent to Earth and others were their commanding officers on Xyxm. Have the 'Commanders' ask the 'Explorers' questions and vote on whether or not they will accept the new custom/item or whether they will not. Make sure they explain their decision.

(2) Using the web board, have them "report" to their commanders, describing some of the things they have seen on Earth, where they have been, what they have experienced. Then, have them respond to at least two of their classmates, pretending that they are the commanding, Xyxmian-based officer. They should ask question about the report and point out aspects of it that seem interesting and that could use further explanation.

(3) Have them send an e-mail to you, reporting as they might in (2). You will be the commanding officer and will try to guide them to picking out an interesting topic.

Sara Dutcher

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In honor of Black History month I'd like to share some great African children's games that you can play with your kids. The people of Africa are gifted with rhythm. So we find many of their games accompanied by chanting, hand clapping, stamping of the feet, or all three. The players are frequently more interested in the rhythm of the game than they are in competing to win.


The song leader, the teacher, asks a question and the chorus (children) answer. Kids stomp around the room and act like the animals.

LEADER: What is big?
CHORUS: Elephants are big.
LEADER: What is big?
CHORUS: Elephants are big.
LEADER: Amoung all animals of the world Elephants are larger.

LEADER: What runs fast?
CHORUS: Cheetahs run fast.
LEADER: What runs fast?
CHORUS: Cheetahs run fast.
LEADER: Amoung all the animals of the world Cheetahs are faster.

LEADER: Who can swim?
CHORUS: Hippos can swim.
LEADER: Who can swim?
CHORUS: Hippos can swim.
LEADER: Amoung all the animals of the world Hippos can swim.

LEADER: Who can change?
CHORUS: Chameleons can change.
LEADER: Who can change?
CHORUS: Chameleons can change.
LEADER: Amoung all the animals of the world Chameleons can change.

LEADER: Who is king?
CHORUS: Lions are king.
LEADER: Who is king?
CHORUS: Lions are king.
LEADER: Amoung all the animals of the world Lions are king.


Children march around the room to African instrumental music. If your kids are old enough you can vary your march to stomp right, step right, stomp left, step left. When the teacher calls out a number kids join hands with others to make that number. Say the number is two. Everyone has to find a partner and continue to do the stomp, step until the next number is called.

P.S. Tour with VBT-Writers on the Move through February. New and famous authors, plus useful information.

Kathy Stemke's websites:
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Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm honored to have my book, Moving Through All Seven Days reviewed by an excellent author and teacher, Nancy Sanders. She has authored over 75 children's books. Her most recent book is America's Black Founders: Revolutionary Heroes and Early Leaders with 21 Activities.

Here's my review of her book:America's Black Founders

5 stars!

This book, America's Black Founders, is chock full of information presented through personal stories that will appeal to kids. Nancy Sanders relates the accomplishments of great African Americans in a logical, organized and interesting way. I loved it!

Kathy Stemke

Here's Ms. Sanders review of my book: Moving Through all Seven Days
5 stars!

This delightful picture book has ingredients kids will love! Bright colors, catchy rhythmic text, and fun, fun, fun! Parents and teachers will love it too because it encourages movement while teaching the days of the week. Plus, there are suggested activities, worksheets, and even a mini-book included in the back.

-Nancy I. Sanders

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Sunday, February 7, 2010


Tim Link is an author, writer, speaker, and full-time animal communicator. As part of his passion for helping animals, Tim has also mastered Reiki - an ancient art of energy healing - which he uses on animals.

Tim has recently been featured in numerous newspaper, television and radio shows including the Associated Press (reaching more than 115 different media sites across the nation and internationally including,,,,,,, etc.), “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet,” “Good Day Atlanta,” Forsyth County News, The Bronx Times, Species Link, “Live Your Legacy”, “Cumming Home”, The Palladium-Item, The Other Paper, Woman 2 Woman Business, Atlanta magazine, “EveryDay with Marcus & Lisa”, Shirley MacLaine's Independent Expression Internet radio show, Aquarius, "Mornings with Lorri & Larry", "FOX & Friends", "Good Day Columbus", Gwinnett Daily Post, "Good Morning Texas", "Good Day Colorado", "Colorado & Company", The Detroit Free Press, "The Pat McMahon Show", "Sonoran Living", "Good Morning Arizona", "Arizona Midday", "San Diego Living", Tails, "More at Midday", Animal Fair, "Tennessee Mornings", "Better Mornings Atlanta", Dog Sport, and remains a regular guest on two Internet radio shows. Since May 2008, Tim has been a featured AJCpets expert for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Wagging Tales: Every Animal Has a Tale is a delightful read that introduces the reader to 32 stories about animals and the scenarios that prompted their human companions to consult with Tim. Each tale, which explores the thoughts and actions of each animal, and gives you insight into the daily world of what Tim does as an animal communicator. This book is appropriate for all ages who are curious about what goes on in the minds of animals just like yours.


“In my long career of working with domestic animals, pets, and wild animals; they never cease to amaze me! Whether it is their impressive strength, adaptability to new circumstances, social skills or their ability to communicate—they continue to re-define the term ‘animal’. Perhaps what we don’t know about animals will be the most incredible finding yet! Tim Link’s accounts in Wagging Tales will make you start thinking…”

Jack Hanna
Director Emeritus, Columbus Zoo
Host, TV’s “Into the Wild”

"Tim Link delights us with enlightening true stories that clearly illustrate the powerful process and results of telepathic communication with animals. The author is also refreshingly realistic about the limitations of his animal communication work. An entertaining and educational book!"

Penelope Smith, author of Animal Talk, When Animals Speak, Animals in Spirit
and editor of Species Link magazine

"Tim Link guides readers into the world of animal communication with his experiences, photos, and practical tips. He makes us aware how human decisions affect pets -- what kinds of candles cats don't like, how work schedules and changes upset pets, which pets don't want to share their toys. This is a delightful and helpful book that shows the utmost respect for sensient beings with whom we share our homes. Read it and become wise to the ways of animals."

--Allen and Linda Anderson, authors of Angel Cats, Angel Dogs, Angel Horses, and other books in a series published by New World Library,

For more information about Tim Link, his books, speaking tours, or great information about understanding and communicating with your animals go to his website:

Now...I hope you'll visit the next site on the blog chain sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center. That site is For a list of all the links on the chain, go to

P.S. Tour with VBT-Writers on the Move through February. New and famous authors, plus useful information.

Kathy Stemke's websites:
Moving Through all Seven Days link:
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Friday, February 5, 2010


The first issue of the new interactive ezine Guardian Angel Kids is now available online. Children will the love the mascot, an adorable angel gecko named GAK. Stories, games, puzzles, activities, videos and more to entertain and delight your youngsters. This is a site you and your children will want to return to again and again.

This angel gecko, GAK, is drawn by Kim Sponaugle.

This first issue contains one of the stories from the book The Misadventures of Rooter and Snuffle for you to read. Listen to The Sister Exchange or read Tracking the Twitchy Itch. There are drawing instructions and drawing boards where you can draw your own pictures.

Oh yes, you will also find articles for parents and teachers.

This is only the first issue and it promises to get better and better and better.

Now...I hope you'll visit the next site on the blog chain sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center. That site is For a list of all the links on the chain, go to

Kathy Stemke's websites:
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Please welcome my guest author for February. Dana E. Donovan is the author of the Tony Marcella detective series including The Witch’s Ladder, Eye of the Witch, The Witch’s Key, Bones of a Witch and Witch House. He has also penned the novels: Abandoned, Skinny, Resurrection, Death & other Little Inconveniences and A Talisman’s Tale, available in trade paperback and ebook at Lulu and Smashwords respectively.

Besides being an accomplished author, Dana is also an excellent photographer. He makes all his own book covers with the help of Photoshop. I asked him to tell us how he put some of his covers together.

I love taking photos, and using them for my book covers. Abandoned is about a boy who supposedly drowned in a river and I thought that this picture captured the feel, what with that weird cloud rising in front of the sun. I shot it right outside my back door.

Excerpt from Abandoned
Dana E. Donovan © 2004

The three of us found a seat, two on the sofa and one in the chair. Charlie
favored Rodriquez over me and even took up company by his side, curling up
at his feet like a common defector. I gave Charlie a dirty look but he only
snubbed me and turned away.

“Mr. Riley, you don’t remember me, do you?” Marcella said.
I looked at him and shook my head. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t. Should I?”
“Oh, I don’t suppose so. You were pretty young when last we met. I was
still a street cop and you had just lost your brother.”

“Oh, right, Marcella, of course. I’m sorry the name escaped me for a

He smiled. “That’s all right. Trust me. Considering the circumstances that
brought us together, I’m surprised you have any recollection at all. That kind
of trauma can make a young boy forget all kinds of things.”

I smiled back and nodded, but my eyes broke away and drifted down
toward the floor. “You would think,” I said to him. “But strangely, I
remember everything about that day. It was Friday the thirteenth. It rained that
morning but the skies were trying to clear. You pulled up in your squad car
riding shotgun with Officer Greene. You had a bandage on your thumb, your
left I believe. I heard you tell Fireman Reynolds you slammed it in the car
door the night before. He joked how your swollen thumb now matched your
inflated ego. You both laughed at that until you saw the nine-year-old brother
of the missing boy.”

“You.” said Marcella.

I nodded.
“I’m sorry about that. I meant to apologize.”

Other book covers created by Dana:

The image for Skinny was shot on the road I now live on.

Resurrection is about zombies and witchcraft. I wanted something voodoo like and even played with the idea of making a voodoo doll for the cover, but that didn’t work. I ended up staging the props for the shoot in my garage.

My favorite is Bones of a Witch. I bought the rights to use that picture because I thought it was perfect, so I did not have to do much else with it.

The cover for Witch House, my latest book is really a shot of my swimming pool. If you look closely you can see the shadow from the handrail.

Another favorite of mine is the cover for Death & Other little Inconveniences. Everyone on the front & back cover is dead. Some I knew. Some I didn’t. I just thought it would be cool do use the photos of dead people for a book called Death & Other Little Inconveniences.

If you still have time after reading this, learn more about Dana Donovan and what he’s up to at

Now...I hope you'll visit the next site on the blog chain sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center. That site is; For a list of all the links on the chain, go to

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VISUAL DANCE POETRY! Author/Photographer Kathy Stemke

I'm just putting the finishing touches on my new photography/poetry book titled, Visual Dance Poetry. It is a dream come true for me. With my graduate work and experience in Communication Arts, Television Production, and my graduate work in dance education I have finally put together a book which features my poetry and photography. This book, which should be released in 2011, covers many subjects through the eyes of a dancer.

Table of contents:

16. SNOW

Here’s an example of my poetry.



I live, I breath, I krump

War drums pump my stomp

Punch the air, arm swings

Sweat pours out like tears


Urban giants flex muscles, hard

Pound this chest, this angry heart

Vicious pops, scars open, bleed

Cramped life, drug merchants, feel


Frustration feeds tribal kings

With beasty moves that kill

Attitudes, prison chains, and freaks

While I keep krumping free

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