Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Activities to Keep Kids' Brains Active during School Holidays: by Cara Bafile Education World®

Amuse and entertain your kids and hope for the best for your students, keep their minds working all holiday long! : Activities to fight holiday boredom and build thinking skills.

It's holidays -- Teachers have bid farewell to students, hoping their gleefully escaping charges don't forget everything they've learned during the school year. It's also the time of year when nervous parents take on the challenge of keeping their children physically busy and mentally active during the long holidays.
To help those efforts, the ideas offered will not only reinforce skills taught during the year, but also entertain students through the holidays. Hope parents and their children make the most of the lazy, hazy days!
• Teach kids to cook with the step-by-step lessons and recipes at Cooking With Kids from The site also includes measurement reminders, safety tips, and suggestions for involving kids in the cooking process.
• Create musical instruments from materials found around the house. Need help? Enchanted Learning provides instructions for such Musical Instruments as a rattle, box guitar, maraca, and rain stick.
• Cool down by making Ice Cream in a Bag. The simple technique produces delicious ice cream in about 5 minutes. What ice cream varieties will you and your child concoct?
• Plan with your child a family activity day. Decide how much money to spend, and help your child research events and activities in your area and choose an affordable activity the whole family can enjoy. Remind your child to be sure to allow enough time for the activity, and to remember to include food in the day's plan. (Don't forget to bring a camera and take lots of pictures. Your child can mount and label each photo and create a family scrapbook of your special day. You might provide the questions below to help guide your child's thoughts as they plan this special day.
1. Describe the event or activity your family will attend.
2. Will everyone in the family enjoy this activity? Why do you think so?
3. What do you need to arrange ahead of time? Will you need to purchase tickets? Pack a lunch? Make reservations?
4. What supplies or materials will you need?
5. What costs will be involved?
• Kids rarely have the opportunity to design their own rooms to best suit their individual needs. Invite your child to devote some thought to ways to improve his or her living space. Explore with your child Kids' Room Decorating Ideas and Creative Kid's Rooms to find ways your child might individualize his or her room without spending a great deal of money. Then have the child draw the layout of their "new" room. The following questions might guide kids as they consider the possibilities:
1. Other than sleeping, what do you do most often in your room? Play games? Work on a computer? Listen to music? Do homework? Entertain guests?
2. What furniture or other items do you use most often? What do you use least often?
3. What kind of storage do you need? A dresser? A bookcase? A clothes hamper? A desk?
4. What do you like best about your room? What do you like least?
5. How do you want to change your room?
• Put old wallpaper and magazine scraps to good use by using them to create Recycled Paper Beads. This easy activity requires very few common materials and keeps kids very busy on rainy days. When they're finished, children can string their beads and give them as gifts or wear them for fun.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Doing the Right Thing; Dr. Bruce Weinstein, Education World®

How often do we ask ourselves, "What is the right thing to do?" and wonder if we are forcing our sense of what is right on other people? Nationally-known ethicist Bruce Weinstein offers five principles everyone can use in ethical decision-making.

Every day, people confront situations -- ethical dilemmas of sorts -- that prompt them to ask themselves, "What should I do?" or "What is the right thing to do?" before acting. Ethical decision-making becomes easier if you follow certain life principles.

Life Principles: Feeling Good by Doing Good .

Dr. Weinstein suggests everyone use these five principles to guide them in ethical decision-making:

  • Do no harm
  • Make things better
  • Respect others
  • Be fair
  • Be loving

By putting these ideas into practice, readers can learn to make better decisions that affect their relationships, their careers, and their overall quality of life, according to Dr. Weinstein. Teachers are in a position to help students understand how often they face ethical decisions and learn the best way to address them.

Dr. Weinstein recently talked with Education World about the Life Principles and helping children learn to make decisions ethically.

Education World: What are some ways to engage kids in ethical thinking?

Weinstein: The first step is to help students understand that any time we ask, "What should I do?" and the rights or wellbeing of another person are at stake, we are asking an ethical question. In other words, ethical issues are everywhere! The quiz format is a great way to break the ice and create a lively debate about right and wrong conduct.

EW: How can teachers -- if you think it is their role -- explain to students who see people making bad choices all the time the value of doing the right thing?

Weinstein: When we do the right thing, as opposed to the easy thing, we not only enhance the lives of others; we enhance our own lives. If a student sees a peer cheating on a test and does nothing -- the easy thing to do -- the student knows -- or should know -- that he or she is letting an injustice occur and must thus bear some responsibility for the outcome. If the class is being graded on a curve, for example, the observer of wrongdoing is to some degree guilty for the fact that the cheater has hurt all of the students. Only by taking action -- ideally, notifying the teacher -- can this injustice be dealt with appropriately. There is a sense of satisfaction that flows from doing the right thing, even if one has to find the courage for this to happen. Perhaps it is through discovering that we have the mettle to rise to the challenge that makes us feel good.

Ultimately, it is up to us to decide what kind of life we want to live. We can take the low road and think primarily or exclusively about our own needs and desires. We can steal when no one is looking, cheat whenever we are able, lie when it is convenient, or break promises when something better comes along. We can resolve conflict with force rather than persuasion, because in the short run at least, it is always possible to conquer with violence, but peaceable solutions take time and effort.

If we were lucky, these principles were taught to us by loving parents and concerned teachers as we grew up. In every interaction we can take a moment to think about how our words and deeds may affect other people, particularly the people we care the most about, and make our choices accordingly. We can realize that, yes, we are better off by living a moral life, but the main reason to do so is not for the personal gain but simply because it is the right thing to do.