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Girl Studying a Book

Photo Credit: The Benefits of Literacy Circles

Few classroom instructions are as impactful as a literacy circle. These small groups of students reading together and discussing their text offer experiences for children that are not only educational but extremely beneficial to emotional development and their overall success. The main reason for this success is that literacy circles get kids to talk. Let’s see how this is done.

Student Choice

Choice is often something few students have when it comes to their education. However, in literacy circles, students are typically given the choice of what books they read as well as what other students are in their group. While these choices may seem small, giving children just a little bit of say in their education makes them connect to it more. They suddenly seem to have more intrinsic motivation and a deeper engagement with what they are learning. They are more willing to get involved with conversation as a result.

Teaches Cooperative Learning

As kids sit in a group of their peers and discuss characters, plots, and the meaning of their texts, students learn to hear other opinions and to make sense of them. Lit circles teach students to help each other figure it out and be taught by one another. They learn to value this help from their peers and see others as resources of knowledge, all while making independent choices.

Fun and Social

Boy Student Studying a book

Photo Credit: Fun and Social

Most of a child’s day is spent listening to instruction or completing projects and assignments where they are expected to remain, for the most part, quiet. Literacy circles, on the other hand, require each student to speak their mind, to voice their opinions, and to even argue those ideas. They allow students to be social and talk a lot, bringing their own experiences with the text to life and making reading fun.

This in turn, helps them feel more connected, not only to their peers, but to the school itself. They begin to associate school and reading with joy and fun. This has a huge impact on the drop out rates in most schools. Kids tend to disengage when they don’t feel connected, whether it’s with the people, place, or their education. Lit circles allow all three to be touched in a positive way and reinforce a personal connection.

Opportunities for Struggling Readers

Because they are fun experiences that allow for cooperative learning and students to make choices, these circles often provide the most opportunities for those who may be a little more reluctant when it comes to reading. This type of instruction allows for children to be grouped at different levels and then to choose reading selections based on that level, instead of having to read the same book as the rest of the class and not always being able to understand it.

Students should also be allowed to choose from a wide variety of genres and topics. Not all books need to be fiction. In fact, many struggling readers prefer to read non-fiction, as it often can be related to real life more.

For more ways to involve your students in reading click here.

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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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Ice Skaters

Photo Credit: Henry Hemming from Flickr

Winter can be a trying time for school-age children and parents alike. The weather is colder and there just doesn’t seem to be as many fun options for time or energy to be spent. We often find ourselves stuck in the same routines, and to be honest, they are boring. The winter blues are knocking on the door and so is cold and flu season. But don’t despair. There are ways to keep both away with these fun and healthy tips for your home and family besides just remembering to wash your hands.

Healthy breakfast

Breakfast has long been known as the most important meal of the day. And for kids in school, it's even more essential. However, just as important as eating is what they are eating. Sugar filled pop-tarts and cocoa puffs will not sustain them until lunchtime and are sure to create the wrong kind of energy need for their demanding day.

Instead, whip up some eggs or, for days when you are running a little late, make sure to have some hardboiled ones in the fridge already. Yogurt topped with fruit, or on the side, is another great source of vitamins and proteins. Add some whole grains or cottage cheese and they are good to go for a full day of learning.

Exercise

Just because its colder outside doesn’t mean your child has an excuse to sit in front of a screen for long hours. Exercise is still a crucial part of their health and well-being. Not only does it keep them physically healthy but, according to many studies, has a very positive outlook on their emotional well-being and brain development.

Don’t be afraid to let your little ones enjoy the cold air outdoors. Spending time in nature, as long as they are bundled up, helps to prevent sleep deprivation, allows them to de-stress, and keeps up their immune system. A quick pre-dinner walk, ice skating, sledding, or a short trip to the park are all fun and safe outdoor activities for kiddos who need a little natural daylight and exercise.

Change up the lunches

School Children Lunch Box

Photo Credit: Melissa from Flickr

At this point in the school year, it's common to find that your child is only eating about half of their lunches each day at school. This is most likely just because they are bored with their choices. If this is the case in your home, it may be time to switch some things up a bit. Instead of the normal PB&J, try some crackers with ham and cheese. Add in some healthy fruits and veggies and maybe a small treat for a well-rounded meal.

Kids also seem to love compartmentalized meals. This allows them to create their own sandwiches from choices you send or instead of being overwhelmed by one or two large objects, they are presented with five or six smaller items such as carrots, celery, yogurt, and even a cookie.

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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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Mother hepls her child in homework

Time management can be stressful for any adult, especially if you have children. Think about it. How often do you have to ask your child what is taking them so long or tell them to hurry up? If you are anything like most of us, its pretty often. However, you can help gain some of your sanity back by teaching them some basic time management skills.

Measuring VS Telling Time

This is teaching them to tell time, this showing them how to measure it. Even if they already know how to tell time, most kids struggle with measuring how much time certain tasks take. This why there is such exaggeration among youngsters when it comes to this topic. Set a timer during a math project or task they are working on. Or keep an eye on the clock and give them a countdown as they work. This helps them to get a better feel of what one hour or even one minute actually feels like. As they get better adjusted, you will be able to say things like “We are leaving in 15 minutes,” and they will understand that they don’t have time to watch TV, get a snack, and take a shower first.

Make A Calendar

This is a great way to teach children about what it takes to schedule your week and your day. While this can be family fun, art activity, it also teaches each child about what other members of the family have going on. It also gives them an idea of how they need to prioritize their time to make sure everything and everyone can work together. In addition to a calendar for the whole family, having one for each specific child or member of the family is a great idea. This allows a child to be even more creative with their schedule. Work with them to list daily activities, chores, and homework and prioritize them accordingly.

Don’t Be Too Busy

A common mistake for many households is that they feel the need to be involved in everything at once. This leads to double booking, miscommunication, and a constantly revolving door. Children quickly get worn out and frustrated if all they do is go, go, go. While this does teach them to watch the clock, it doesn’t give them the opportunity to learn time management skills the right way. Instead, make sure to not overbook your kids’ schedules. One of the best learning tools for children is free time and free play. So, make sure to schedule down time into your week and day. This enables the child to focus on more than just the ticking clock.

It Has To Be Fun

Time management for a child is not just about a clock and learning to tell time. Its learning to prioritize activities, free time, homework and much more. The best way to get them to understand it is to make it fun for them to do. Use kid friendly tools like colorful magnetic calendars, a bright and cheerful to do list that they can color and design themselves, or apps that are geared for children for those that love technology. Use stickers, make tasks a game, try to beat the clock. The more fun they have completing tasks, the more likely they are to learn the importance of time management and be able to utilize it.

For more tips and tricks click here.

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lemon-shark-displays-wolverine-like-self-healing-skills

Lemon Sharks were first seen in the shallow subtropical waters on December of 2014. It was found that these species have been in existence for thousands of years and can live up to 400 years. Lemon sharks are the most predominant species with incredible survival mechanism. They have healing power like Wolverine, and their bodies are coved tough pore-like stainless steel.

This amazing discovery about the lemon sharks' ability to heal by themselves and their defense mechanism was noticed by Joanne Fraser during her regular shark feed dive in Florida. She noticed a lemon shark with a metal-like piece struck into its body. Having experience working with maritime experts in Florida, she quickly captured the unusual sight with her digital camera.

Fraser had so many encounters with the fish after that instance. She has documented every encounter with the fish with photographs and she found that the steel thing coming out from the lemon shark's body was a fish stringer. It is a steel device like a loop used by fishermen to hold the fish during their hunt.

During her last encounter with the shark, Fraser noticed that the shark had pushed the steel loop out from its body and healed itself with only proving a scar as an evidence of the incident.

Fraser sent her documentation and her experience with a lemon shark to Dr. Steven Kessel who is the Director of Maritime Exploration at Chicago Shedd Aquarium.

Dr. Kessel quickly started investigating the incident with the photographs and videos provided by Fraser, and published a report in the journal Marine and Freshwater Exploration on July 13, 2017. In his report, he said that there is no evidence of the entrance and no evidence that the shark has been stabbed on its outer body by a fisherman. Dr. Kessel also reported that the shark may have swallowed the fish stringer while consuming its prey. But he said the most astonishing thing was the size of the stringer it had swallowed. He said that the sharks have the ability to expel the foreign objects and undigested objects from their stomach.

The lemon shark expelling the fish stringer from its body shows the life sustaining ability of the wild oceans. With the documented evidence it was noticed that the lemon shark lived the stringer for 435 days. The shark was carrying a big stomach during the documentation indicating the destruction caused by the stringer has been pushed out from its body around February of 2016.

Marine scientists are positive about the regenerating damaged tissues in sharks. They think that microorganism may be playing a role during the shark's self-healing process.

However, the final document about the lemon shark was made on December 14, 2016. Showing the fish stringer was pushed out from the body and the wounds made by the metal were properly healed.

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halloween-day

Did you get your costume ready? It’s time to get your Halloween costume ready and prepare yourself with loads of chocolates to celebrate Halloween on October 31st, 2017. Halloween is celebrated the day before All Saints' Day. It’s a beautiful time for every kid to get dressed up in their favorite costume, carve the pumpkin, play pranks, and go trick or treating.

But where did Halloween come from and why do we celebrate it?

Halloween means "holy evening" or "hallowed evening." It is believed that Halloween is derived from ancient Celtic harvest festival of Samhain. The pre-medieval Celtics divided their year into two parts. One is “the light half” which this period consists of summer and spring where daylight is long and short night time. The second is “the dark half” which consists of winter and autumn where daylight is shorter and nights are longer. Celtics celebrated Samhain at the end of the first half of the year. But some people say that Halloween is an independent Christian festival.

Celtics believed that the boundary between the dead and living will be blurred on the night before the New Year. People celebrated this festival by wearing animal skins, animal heads, and telling the stories of their fortunes. Roman Empire has conquered most of Celtics regions and in the later years, they combine Celtics festivals with their festivals.

The pope announced that November 1 is the day Christians honor saints and martyrs and later it becomes a popular holiday, All Saints' Day. Following this holiday is All Souls' Day where the dead are remembered and people pray for the dead.

In the later years, Halloween becomes secular festival and one of the favorite festivals for kids. People visit their neighborhoods and ask for food and make it a tradition called “trick or treating”. Halloween is observed by most people in the world.

Some of the important facts about Halloween:

jack-O-lanterns

Masks: People wear masks during Halloween, pagans used to wear a mask to scare evils and it is combined with Halloween tradition. It was believed by pagans by wearing animal heads wandering spirits assume that they are also spirits and let them go free.

Jack O’ Lantern: this tradition brought to America by Irish immigrants. People originally used to carve scary faces on turnips. Later, they started carving on pumpkins, because of the lesser price of pumpkins.

Baking Halloween cake: Bakers try to keep a lot of details in the Halloween cakes. The prominent detail is a thimble, which is a sign of bad luck.

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Hiding knives: People in Germany hid knives in fear because they thought that the spirits may injure them with the knives.

Beans of the Dead:   It’s a favorite Halloween recipe for Italians called Fave de Morti. It’s a macaroon, cookies.

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national-fossil-day

National Fossil Day is created to bring scientific and educational awareness to people and is celebrated on the second Wednesday of October.

National Fossil Day is celebrated nationwide and was first held on October 13th, 2010, during Earth Science Week. Within this week National Park Service and over 270 partners, including scientific institutions, organizations, museums and other groups hosted events across the United States allowing the public prospects to learn more about the world’s fossil heritage. Many parks, universities and non-profit organizations also take part in the events.

A new National Fossil Day logo is created each year depicting a prehistoric organism. This logo helps to promote National Fossil Day and provide educational institutions an opportunity to share more information about fossils.   The original National Fossil Day logo was created in the year 2010 and presented a fossil mammal known as the Titan. But, in the year 2011, a marine reptile known as the mosasaur was used as the National Fossil Day logo. In the mammoth was featured in the annual logo. A Paleozoic invertebrate known as the eurypterid was highlighted in the annual logo for the year 2013.

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In 2015 the National Fossil Day's artwork features a prehistoric mammal known as a Chalicothere, portrayed in a Miocene prairie grassland. For the National Fossil Day's artwork in the year 2016 it featured a saber-toothed cat, long-horned bison, and a condor, all Pleistocene (ice age) animals, logos in the year 2016.

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How to celebrate this Day

Visit any local museum or gather your friends to do some research about fossils.

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The autumnal equinox or September equinox falls on September 22nd, 2017, on this day the day night will be almost equal in most locations. Here are some facts we all need to know about the equinox and signs of the equinox in nature and the first day of astronomical fall (autumn) in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are two types of equinoxes each year – one falls in September and the other in March. This happens when the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are nearly same. However, the autumnal fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is known as spring vernal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa.

Facts

The September equinox is on or around September 22nd. Sometimes it may fall on the 23rd or 24th, while the first equinox of the year falls on March, it takes place on or around March 21st every year. During these two equinoxes the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is almost nearly equal – but not exactly.

Did you know that the September equinox marks the second the sun crosses the celestial equator? The slightly imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator is seen from North to South and vice versa in March.

Equinoxes and solstices

In the above picture, you can see the equinoxes and solstices that mark the start of astronomical seasons. While the equinoxes start in spring and fall, solstices start astronomical summer and winter.

Earth's Axial Tilt

The Earth's axis is slanted at an angle of about 23.4° this is in relation to the ecliptic, which is the imagined plane created by Earth's path around the Sun. However, on any other day of the year, both the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere tilts a little towards the Sun. Then on the two equinoxes, the tilt of Earth's axis will be perpendicular to the Sun's rays, like the above illustrations show.

Why is it Called "Equinox"?

On the day of the equinox, both night and day are nearly closely the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. That is the reason it's called an "equinox," the word is derived from a Latin aequus which means equal and nox meaning night.

However, even if this is usually accepted, it isn't entirely true. In reality, equinoxes don't have accurately 12 hours of daylight.

Why is it called the First Day of Fall?

While in the Northern Hemisphere, the fall equinox marks the first day of fall - autumn is what it is known as in astronomical seasons. There is also another, and more common definition of when the season’s start, specifically meteorological definitions, which are based on typical temperatures rather that astronomical events.

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