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Thinking Day

Photo Credit: Jesper Sehested from Flickr

Upon first glance, you might think this day is one that requires some deep thinking, something very intellectual and brainy. However, you might be surprised to find out that it may be a little more closely related to the heart than the mind. While your thoughts may lead to educational innovations and leading-edge technology, this day is meant for thinking of others and what we can do to help them.

The History of World Thinking Day

In 1926, the Girl Scouts of the United States held their fourth Girl Guide/Girl Scout International Conference. It was decided that they needed a day to highlight important international issues and make an extra effort to bring awareness and support to those issues. It was called “Thinking Day.

Originally, the date, February 22nd, was chosen to honor the birthdays of Scouting and Guiding founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell and his wife, Lady Olave Baden-Powell. However, it is much more than a birthday celebration, although it does typically involve parties and “gifts”.

At the seventh World Conference, delegates agreed verbal support would not always be enough and therefore, created the Thinking Day Fund. The movement asks that every member of the association donate at least one penny in support. These funds go directly to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS) to contribute to the spreading of their organization and worldwide causes.

The 30th World Conference, the name of the day and its fund was changed to World Thinking Day as a way to point out the need for global effort. Since then Guides, Scouts, their sister and even brother organizations around the world seek to change the world for the better by thinking of others and their needs, as well as giving monetary and time donations.

How to Celebrate World Thinking Day

School Children

Photo Credit: Dan Wright from Flickr

On a global scale, the organization selects a theme each year for the day. The theme for 2019 is Leadership. An activity guide and many events worldwide are then organized to go along with that theme and bring support to issues that affect over 10 million young women in over 150 countries.

Many local Guide and Scout branches hold parties and events to aid in this effort and to celebrate their organization and its history. They may find ways to connect with “sisters” overseas through radio, video chat, etc. or they may raise funds for community projects. In Auckland, New Zealand, girls hike to the top of Maungawhau (Mount Eden) where they make camp, hoist the Guide World Flag, and watch the sunrise while singing the World Song. They also make a point to discuss big and important issues and what they can do make a positive change.

Many Guides and Scouts hold a tradition of sending postcards to sisters around the world with the purpose to let them know they are not alone and are positively thought of. Another tradition is to light a candle in their window at dusk that evening. This is to remind them that they can be a positive light and bring change to the darkness in the world.

For those not directly involved in Girl Guides/Scouts, today is a good day to show your support. Offer a donation to their organization or local chapter. Buy some cookies or find a way to volunteer your time for a great cause. We can all help make a difference in the world, we just have to be willing to think of others.

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Photo of the four massive heads sculpted into Mount Rushmore look out under a blue sky.

Photo Credit: Andrew_Carter786 from Flickr

Every third Monday in the month of February is a federally observed holiday known to many as President’s Day. This day was created in memory and honor of the very first president of the United States, George Washington. His birthday is actually on February 22nd.

The History of President’s Day

This national holiday came about as a result of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968. The bill created three separate holidays to be celebrated nationally each year on Mondays, allowing federal employees an extra day off work and a three-day weekend for each. These are Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day (every last Monday in the month of May), and Veterans Day (every fourth Monday in October).

The bill also attempted to change the name of “Washington’s Birthday” to Presidents Day. However, this portion of the bill was not accepted. Therefore, the day most of us know as Presidents Day is still legally called “Washington’s Birthday.”

The term “Presidents Day” was brought about as a marketing campaign for many businesses nationwide and the idea caught on quickly. It is used by retail stores, car dealerships, various other industries as a way to draw customers in with discounts and sales.

The term Presidents Day also sticks well due to the fact that President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is also in the month of February, on the 12th. His birthday and George Washington’s were, in fact, celebrated separately as individual holidays up until 1971 when President Richard Nixon gave an executive order that all presidents’ birthdays should be celebrated on one day. This meant Lincoln’s birthday would no longer be celebrated individually nationwide and only Washington’s Birthday would be a holiday.

How to Celebrate President’s Day

Washington's Mount Vernon Mansion

Photo Credit: Troy from Flickr

While this is a federal holiday, each state remains in control of the which holidays they will choose to observe or not observe. For example, before 1971, when Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated on its own, many southern states chose to not observe this day as a result of the civil war. Instead, they memorialized a day for Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate State of America during that war.

Most states now choose to honor President’s Day with local government and schools being closed for the day. In states that do not observe the day with school closings, most teachers still recognize the importance of the day and dedicate a lesson, discussion, or class activity to our presidents and the great things they accomplished for the nation.

To celebrate the day for yourself, check out a book about the life and events of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or another president of the United States. There are also many movies or documentaries created on these great men.

You could also choose to take a road trip to one of their homes, such as Lincoln’s childhood home in Illinois or Washington’s estate in Virginia. A trip to such historical places will teach you a lot about the life and times of the some of our early and greatest leaders.

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School Students Education Teaching

Photo Credit: KasparLunt from Pixabay

To determine if this is an efficient and effective learning process, we first must understand just what it is and how it does or doesn’t work.

What is TPS?

TPS is a collaborative learning strategy where students work together to solve a problem or answer a question. This requires students to:

  • Firstly, students are asked to think through the problem or topic individually. This may include answering a specific question or coming up with an example or prompt.
  • Secondly, students will pair up or join a small group of their peers to discuss their thoughts and work through the problem more in depth.
  • Lastly, each group or pair of students will present or share their findings with the class and/or a larger group.

What is So Special About it?

Idea innovation imagination

Photo Credit: KasparLunt from Pixabay

Recent studies have found that students are able to learn more when they are allowed to discuss ideas and elaborate on them through communication with others. Think, Pair, Share enables those opportunities to talk in an environment that encourages learning and requires participation from all class members and not just those who are typically more outspoken.

This type of learning also helps to build confidence in students that may feel a little uncomfortable talking or presenting to large groups or classes. When they are able to be supported by a partner or several of them, they are much more at ease and willing to share their real thoughts and opinions.

With the use of TPS, students learn to collaborate with others and to value each other’s opinions on a wide variety of topics. They can begin to think of their peers as resources with a wealth of knowledge. Students, as a result, come to respect each other more and can understand ideas and concepts that may be far from the norm given their background or upbringing.

How to Use it?

The process is easy to use in just about any classroom setting and for all ages. PreK through Kindergarten students, for example, can’t be expected to write their thoughts or answers as well as older students. However, they can draw out their ideas and still discuss them with other students and the class.

Some of the most common ways this valuable tool is used is to gauge students’ reactions and thoughts about a certain lesson or material, such a film you just watched or a text that was recently read. You can also use this as an introduction to new materials or assignments. Doing this before a new lesson allows students to tap into any prior knowledge of the topic or to gather ideas and get a game plan together for a new project or assignment.

You can also use this to strengthen your classes listening skills. During the “share” portion, each student can be asked to present their partner’s ideas instead of their own.

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English Letters

Photo Credit: Jason Leung on Unsplash

We all want our children to enjoy their education. Of course, there are also lots of critical life skills we need them to learn, whether they enjoy it or not. However, nothing has to be boring. Children are wired to have fun. By approaching basic skills like reading as an opportunity to explore the world and have fun at the same time, we can invite our children to be excited about learning new things.

At its most basic, reading is just recognizing the words we see and being able to say them out loud. There are opportunities to practice this everywhere we go. A great way to make reading fun and challenge children to learn new words is to incorporate it into their favorite activities. If you think about it, you do lots of reading for your children whenever you are interacting with them. You read for them at the grocery story, when looking at the tv guide, even when picking out their clothing. These are all activities your children would love to be more involved in.

For example, if you take your child to the grocery store, you can let them help you pick out the products you need by reading the labels on the package. This doesn’t have to mean reading complicated ingredient lists. It could be as simple as “Which package of pudding is plain and which is vanilla?” Or you can make a game where your child gets to buy any one snack they want if they can read the words on the package. The idea is to teach your child that being good at reading has rewards.

Another option is to put your young reader in charge of information about her activities. When coaches and teachers send home information about games and field trips, tell your child that she needs to read it to you so that you know what it says. Chances are she will already know what it is about and be excited to share it with you. This is the perfect opportunity to motivate her to sound out words and really make an effort. She knows that when she gets the words right, you’ll sign and she can go on the field trip.

Finally, keep an open mind about the kinds of things your child enjoys reading in the beginning. Children don’t start out reading whole books. It may be street signs or cereal boxes that they get excited to sound out. Keep an eye out for what they gravitate to and encourage this behavior. When you know what piques their interest, you can provide additional opportunities for them to challenge themselves.

The key is to remember that reading doesn’t have to be a grind. Children will be excited to learn new things. If you encourage that excitement by providing fun opportunities to practice, you can raise children who see reading as a passport to new and expanding adventures, rather than a chore.

For more information on encouraging good reading habits, or for support with reading instruction, contact Best Brains at (847) 485-000 or visit www.bestbranis.com

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Kid Inventors’ Day

Every January 17th we have the opportunity to celebrate the children in our lives and the accomplishments they have and will make. This includes inventions and extraordinary innovations. Children, unlike adults, have a unique ability to look at the world differently. They do not understand many aspects of life and the difficulty it holds.

Some would believe this makes them ineligible for such tasks. On the contrary, the fact that they are not bogged down by life’s complexities and hardships most often allows them to create without limitations or boundaries. They are able to see solutions on a different level than most adults.

There are many things we use on a daily basis that were, in fact, created by children or teenagers, such as the trampoline, popsicles, ear muffs.

The History of Kid Inventors’ Day

One of the first known child inventors was Benjamin Franklin. Most of us are familiar with his creations of all sorts of useful items such as bifocals, the lightning rod, the Franklin stove, and the glass harmonica just to name a few. However, he started inventing when he was just a child. At age 12 he created the first swim flippers. It for this reason that we celebrate Kid Inventors’ Day on his birthday, January 17th.

History continues to prove that children can and do invent some very impressive and helpful things. Some are born from mere accidents, such as the popsicle, while others take several years to create and are much more complex. One of the most extensive creations of a child is the language of the blind, yes, Braille. It was created by a French child in Paris named Louis Braille after he was involved in a serious accident that took his sight from him.

American Sign Language also has a great contribution made by a child. Ryan Patterson, a teenager, invented special gloves with sensors to translate hand motions of ASL into written words for children and adults alike with various disabilities.

Kid Inventors’ Day

Photo Credit: Internet Archive Book Images by Flickr

How to Celebrate Kid Inventors’ Day

This day is proof that children of any age are living, breathing inventors with extraordinary minds. Never take those precious thoughts for granted, even if they seem a little unsophisticated and silly to you. after all, these children are our future. Today is a day for no limits, to believe the impossible. Sometimes that is what it takes to makes dreams and inventions of the future come to life.

Take a child to a museum, a park, or even the kitchen. Create an environment where they can learn about inventions from the past and experience inspiration. It can come from just about anywhere, from simple crafts and games to large airplanes and spaceships. No matter what you do, make sure to encourage their dreams, even if seems outrageous and impossible. You never know when the next Benjamin Franklin could be sitting in your living room.

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Trivial Pursuit

Photo Credit: Letica Ayuso from Flickr

You know all that seemingly useless information in your head that never gets used or you think no one else cares about? Today is the day to finally use it. January 4th is Trivia Day. They may be silly insignificant facts, little-known oddities, or just random information but on Trivia day they can be used to impress your family and friends and possibly even cause a few laughs.

The History of Trivia Day

The history of Trivia Day begins with a few missing pieces to a scrabble board game. In Montreal, Canada in 1979, friends Scott Abbott and Chris Haney were getting frustrated with their scrabble game that had some missing pieces. However, it did not stop them from having a bit of fun.

These two fellows decided to create a new game with the pieces they had. The game became an instantaneous hit and its popularity is spread worldwide. The game is Trivial Pursuit and it is thought to have sparked a seemingly endless fascination with odd or little-known facts on a wide variety of topics.

Since that day, many more trivia inspired games have been dreamed up and made their way into homes throughout the world. This day was created to remember that day and the efforts of the two men determined to have some fun. It’s also a day to make use of that random information in your head that usually has no specific purpose.

Trivial Pursuit Game

Photo Credit: Paolo Soro from Flickr

How to Celebrate Trivia Day

Trivia Day is best spent playing trivia games with your favorite comrades and family. There are a great number of trivia games to choose from in this day and age. Some are comprised of large boards, many pieces, and quite a few complex rules, whiles others are much simpler and can be played on a computer or smartphone. The subjects these tidbits of knowledge come from span every concept imaginable from the shoes on your feet to the stars in the sky. If you can think of it, there is a question about it.

However, don’t assume that prior knowledge of these subjects is required. Half of the fun is not knowing and learning tons of new information and trivia along the way. These are games young kids and adults alike can really get into. And if you don’t have any trivia games at home or the place you will be spending most of today, try making up your own. Continue the legacy of this day by having some fun and using all that knowledge in your head to make the world a happier place.

Here are a few random trivia facts to get you in the mood:

  • On Venus, it snows metal.
  • Spain means “the land of rabbits.”
  • Only female mosquitoes bite.
  • Saudi Arabia has no rivers.
  • The only Caribbean island with a railroad is Cuba.

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Rounded colorful Pencils

Photo Credit : salvatore ventura on Unsplash

These days kids have access to all kinds of activities. If they wanted to, children could have a full-time job just doing all the extra-curricular activities available to them. Of course, there isn’t enough time for kids to participate in all the things they might like to do. So how do you and your kids decide which activities and clubs are best? Here are some ideas for choosing activities that will help your child develop a well-rounded personality.

Get Physical

Some children love physical activity and would love to play all the sports. Others have no interest in running or jumping. In either case, physical activity is an important part of our overall health. You should encourage a child who is looking for a new pastime to explore a sport or other physical skill. Children can play sports, do yoga, take dance lessons, or do any number of other activities to get moving and make friends. Best of all, they’ll learn valuable lessons about building a strong healthy body and the importance of taking physical care of themselves.

Be Creative

If your child is already involved in a sport and wants to be more active, you can encourage them to explore a creative outlet. Perhaps their school has an art club. Or maybe there are painting classes at the local library. In many cases, young people have creative interests that they can pursue on their own. For instance, if your son has expressed an interest in learning to sew, encourage him to check out some YouTube videos or online tutorials for beginners. If your daughter wants to learn to draw, there are lots of resources online that she can use to build her skills in her spare time. Because creative activities use different parts of the brain than typical intellectual activities, you’ll be building your children’s capacity to think in new and interesting ways.

Think Outside the Classroom

Students spend plenty of time doing science, math, and history in school. However, for students who have a special interest in these subjects, there are additional opportunities to pursue their intellectual passions. Debate club and Model U.N. are ideal activities for students who love to think and engage deeply on serious questions. Math and science clubs are great places to explore an interest in space or chemistry. Perhaps your child’s school has a robotics club where they can learn to build machines and even participate in competitions. Learning doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom.

The trick is to mix and match activities so that children are exposed to lots of different skills and possibilities. Often, young people don’t know what they’ll love until they try it. You’ll never know if your son loves painting until he picks up a paintbrush. The more you can expose young people to, the better chance they’ll have to uncover what they truly love. And along the way, they’ll learn to appreciate all the different passions they possess.

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Homemade Gifts for Teachers

Many children want to give their teacher a gift for the holidays. While this is a great idea and one that should be encouraged, a “World’s Best Teacher” mug or glass is not always the best choice. Just about every teacher will tell you that they already have several of these. So, what should you give them to show your appreciation for all their hard work? The options may be a little closer to the heart for most.

Gift cards

Starbucks Gift Card

It's hard to go wrong with a gift card. These can be purchased at local grocery stores for just about dollar amount imaginable. And getting one from their favorite stores, coffee shops, or teacher supply outlets will go a long way to show that you care.

Homemade gifts and cards

We have found that many teachers love to receive anything homemade or crafted by their students. Your child’s artwork, a handwritten card, or a crafted Christmas ornament with your child’s name and the year on it are items that teachers can keep year after year to remember their students and all the lives they have touched along the way.

School supplies for all

Another great idea is to get them much-needed school supplies. Many teachers pay for classroom materials like lined paper, pencils, sticky notes, pens, erasers, and much more themselves. So, gifts of this nature are often much needed and will always be appreciated. If you don’t know what to get exactly a gift card to bookstores and teacher supply stores is a great place to start.

Donations in their name

For schools or teachers who aren’t in need of such items for their classrooms, they often suggest giving donations in their name instead. Find out what causes your teacher supports or cares about and donate either time, money, or specific items to that cause using your teacher’s name. This will show your teacher that you care and are willing to help others who may be less fortunate and also gives that teacher an opportunity to be a part of that giving.

Thank you letters or notes

Sometimes the simplest of gifts can be the most precious. The job of a teacher can often be a thankless one that is taken for granted. Writing a letter or short note can be just the thing to brighten their day and make all their hard work this year worth it. A heartfelt “thank you” can say much more even the most expensive gift.

Ask just about any experienced teacher what their favorite gifts over the years have been and they will tell you about ones that came from the heart. The ones that really mean something are ones that were well thought out, painstakingly constructed by little hands, and given out of honor and a heart of appreciation, not from obligation. This year, instead of another coffee mug, give your teacher something that matters a little more.

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Wright Flyer Aircraft model

On this day, December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright took their first or maiden flight in an aircraft they had designed together. And while it is unknown if this was the first actual flight ever made in history, it was done in the first ever patented aircraft, the Wright Flyer. The brothers went on to make further inventions and additions to aviation technology, leading the way for all future aviators.

History of Wright Brothers’ Day

President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the one responsible for creating this codified holiday. As such, it is commemorated each year and marked on government calendars but is not classified an actual government holiday. President Eisenhower declared on September 24, 1959, that December 17th should forevermore be celebrated, honoring the experiments of the Wright brothers and all others who have contributed to aviation history and technology.

How to Celebrate Wright Brothers’ Day

Wright Brother’s inventions

Since that time, every U. S. President has made an annual proclamation, honoring the Wright brothers and their endeavors in flight as well as inviting all Americans to do the same. Furthermore, Washington D. C. holds the Wright Brothers Dinner each year where the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy is awarded

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where that maiden flight was taken also celebrates the day with similar festivities, as does Dayton, Ohio, the brothers’ hometown. Many schools are known are to hold special activities that focus on aviation and its history, some even take field trips to the closest aviation museums. Other institutions or programs hold various luncheons and dinners to honor these pioneers of flight.

Individually, many decide to celebrate in their own way by going to museums that focus on aviation, going to the airport, attending air shows, taking a flight, or even taking flight lessons. It may seem to you that this old looking plane the Wright brothers flew wasn’t all that great, especially compared to what airplanes and crafts that are flown nowadays. However, you have to remember that at the time, there was nothing else like this. This was the cutting edge of technology, a dream of the future at the time.

Can you imagine what aviation would look like today if these two brothers hadn’t created the Wright Flyer and made that flight? While their craft is not the only kind that was manufactured, nor were they the only ones experimenting with such technology, their efforts led the way for inventions and aviation leaders all over the globe. This day is meant to remember and honor those efforts, understanding that actions and discoveries made today will someday be a part of history.

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