Inspiring Children to be the Best That They Can Be

For: Primary Educators, Parents, and Kids Inspiring Children To Love Learning And Be The Best They Can Be

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Historic Shad; Brain Focus Versus Multitasking; Ducklings Galore. . . and More

Time To Explore

      I first found shad on a menu in Virginia several years ago. I haven’t seen it since. . . until this past week.  It was listed as a species found in Claytor Lake State Park, Virginia - where I was visiting.  
      I learned that shad once migrated annually (they spawn in fresh water) up rivers along the Atlantic coast and were a major food for American Indians, early settlers . . . and once saved Washington’s troops from starvation.  Over time, dams blocked their annual migration and their population steadily declined. 
     Currently, fish passages at dams have been created and fish hatcheries are used in an effort to restore these fish.  Maybe someday we will be able to find shad on menus once again. 

Increasing Our Brain Power

     Multitasking. .  is managed by mental executive functions in the brain.  These functions control when and in what order tasks will be performed. Researchers, Meyer, Evans, and Rubinstein, recognize two stages.  The first is goal shifting - we decide to do one thing rather than another.  The second is role activation - we change the roles from a prior task to a new one. This time switching may only be a fraction of a second, but it can make the difference between productivity, quality, - and even safety (as evidenced by the current rate of accidents caused by cell phones).  On a lighter note, our dog, Jasmine, can't complete her 'business' if she is distracted at all.
     We can learn to focus on one task at a time and improve concentration -  by practice.  It is documented that we can get more done, have less stress,  and more energy.  I have included games that I believe can improve our focus and concentration in the following Odyssey Game Connection section.  I also suggest jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Suduko, etc.

The Odyssey Game Connection

Bend-It   (7 and up)  60 puzzle challenges give lots of practice in improving concentration!  Bend and twist hinged pieces into a grid to solve puzzle solution.  $15.50

Katamino   (5 and up)  This multi-award winning puzzle challenges the player to use spatial perception and observation skills to fit oddly shaped colored blocks into a predetermined space. Start out with a small space in which to fit three blocks and increase the level of difficulty by adding more blocks and increasing the space.  It requires sharp focus and concentration - and is a bit addictive.  $34.99

IQ Twist (6 and up)  'Twist' your brain to fit the pieces around pegs to solve this logic game. 120 challenges.  Compact to go where.  $9.99  IQ Links is also available.

Book Reviews for Kids

Blink & Gollie  Best Friends Forever    
             By Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
     Who can forget DiCamillo's first novel, Because of Winn Dixie? This new award winning series is geared to beginning chapter book readers.  Two outrageously funny girls (one tiny, one tall) find plenty of adventures in their own neighborhood.  This is the third of the series, each containing 3 comical stories. The illustrations are clever and the story themes are humorous.  

The Cabin Creek Mysteries  The Phantom of Hidden Horse Ranch #7
        by Kristinia Gregory   (Early Chapter: 2nd - 5th)
     Cabin Creek is a town with many hidden secrets.  Each book oozes danger, peculiar characters, exciting plots, and classic boy appeal as supersleuth cousins, Jeff, David, and Claire solve the mysteries.  The latest of the series finds the cousins at their grandparent's ranch during summer vacation where they discover a thief.

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci  

      Theodora doesn't fly south in the winter - in fact, she never flies.  She swims with a teacup balanced on her head and likes her routine life.  When a new duck, Chad, moves in next door, she finds him messy- and 'odd', but then discovers they like many of the same 'different' things.  Eventually, they accuse one another of being the 'odd' duck.  In the end, discover they like being friends with someone who sees the world a little differently.  

In My Backyard

     It is baby duck season here.  We are blessed that mama is on her second brood, so there are times when the 'adolescents' are on one side of the house, and she is on the other with the babies.  She doesn't run off as she did last year - just kind of waddles off with the babies when she sees Jasmine come out.  
     My sister, Janet, was here last year when mama duck and ten babies made their appearance.  Mama was so nervous that she shooed them away if we stood near the window inside.  How times have changed.  
      Last year we had one lonely duck that stayed at the pond.  It inspired this short poem.

Lonely Little Duck
                                                                                     by Joan Bock

Little brown duck on the pond all alone.
The other ducks have long ago flown.
He dives so far down -
I just hope he won't drown.

But then, up he will pop,
And dart away fast on top.
No others come as he swims away.
But he is here on the very next day.

If he could speak he might say,
I need my mother to show me the way.
Where can she be?  I do not know.
I'm all alone and I miss her so.  

Until next time. . . . 

Be Creative!        Inspire Others!     Enjoy Life!