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DISCOVERING CHILDREN'S HIDDEN TALENTS

July 1, 2016

DISCOVERING CHILDREN’S HIDDEN TALENTS
By
Linda M. Penn

    Are you a talent detective?  Use your investigative skills and intuition to become aware of your children’s special talents.  However, are our busy lifestyles hindering the discovery and nurturing of the kids’ creative talents?

    I sure hope you and your kiddos have been able to put aside the tech devices long enough this summer (see my suggestions in June, 2016 Blog “Teacher/Parent Relaxing Activities for Summer Break”) so you could:

Savor the times you sit and just enjoy being together.
Have conversations with the childrens, REAL CONVERSATIONS, NOT TEXTING. 
Leisurely draw, paint, make up stories, work puzzles, and other creative things with the kids.
Enjoy and study the shapes of the clouds, the nighttime skies.
Read for enjoyment – different genres of children’s books, magazines.

These  relaxation activities do not come naturally to us in today’s world, as we
seem to be enticed by all the “noise” of our phones and computers.  (Please check out Kenny Chesney’s latest video entitled “Noise,” particularly what happens at the end.)

So, if we are going to find and nurture our kids’ talents insuring they will develop into productive and creative citizens, we must make a determined effort to unleash the energy and excitement of creativity in our kids.  (Look at the articles in the June 26, 2016 Courier-Journal, pg. 4H, “Creativity: The cornerstone of education,” by Donna Hargens, and “Approaching talent gap to fuel competition,” by Kent Oyler.)

In conclusion, my two biggest suggestions for discovering our kids’ hidden talents are to TALK WITH THEM, NOT AT THEM, AND TO LISTEN TO THEM.  The talent detective in you will unlock those creative ideas for you and your children.  YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT HIDDEN TALENTS WILL BE EXPOSED THROUGH TALKING AND LISTENING TO OUR KIDS!!!!!  Your comments are always welcome!

Come back the first week of August – Blog Title “Courage vs. Fear in the New School Year.”

Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved Linda M. Penn
www.lindampenn.com
lindampenn@gmail.com

ACTIVITIES FOR SUMMER


 
TEACHER/PARENT RELAXING ACTIVITIES FOR SUMMER BREAK
BY
Linda M. Penn
 
            Congratulations!  You have successfully made it through another school year!
 
            Last summer and the year before, I concentrated in my Blogs on activities for kids.  NOT THIS YEAR!  IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU, TEACHERS AND PARENTS!
 
(If you are interested in summer activities for the kids, search my website for Blogs of June 1, 2015 “It’s Summer Finally,” July 1, 2015 “Freebies,” June 2, 2014 “Summer Activities – Reading and Writing,” and July 1, 2014 “The Value of Kids’ Magazines.)
 
            Here is a list of activities with the adult in mind:
 
1)    Get back in touch with your friends – coffee, brunch, lunch.  IN PERSON, NOT TEXT!)
2)    Summer Book Club with your friends.
3)    Plant something new.
4)    Try new recipes.
5)    Watch for adult activities at the local library.
6)    Visit independent bookstores in your area and take time to actually look for books for yourself.
7)    Movies with friends.
8)    Try a new hobby.
9)    Volunteer at a senior center (nice change of pace from the youngsters)
10)  Catch up on sleep.
11)  Walking, admiring God’s world.
 
MOST OF ALL -
12) AVOID DEPRESSING TV.  USE COMPUTER AND PHONE SPARINGLY.
 
For help with the kiddos, you might try offering to watch a neighbor or friend’s children so they will watch your kids in turn, beg your family for a little R & R, or call in a babysitter!
 
HAVE FUN! 
 
COME BACK THE FIRST WEEK OF JULY – BLOG TITLE:  “HIDDEN TALENTS”
 
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved Linda M. Penn

TIME FILLERS


 
TIME FILLERS FOR SCHOOL DAYS BETWEEN END OF TESTING AND SUMMER BREAK
By
Linda M. Penn
 
            The time between end of accountability tests and summer break was a hard time for me as a teacher – the kids were worn out, as was I.  There tended to be a let-down time and it was difficult to keep up enthusiasm for learning.  Of course, there were lots of interruptions – Ex. school assemblies, award ceremonies, field trips, and Field Day.  If someone got on a child’s nerves during the school year, it was doubled now because of looking forward to getting away from that other child for a couple of months.  The limits were being stretched and student behavior sometimes took a downturn. 
 
            Here are some ideas for you teachers to use during those last days of school.  Please adapt the ideas to your students’ ages and abilities.
 
1)    Count chocolate chips in a Big Cookie slice.
2)    Math bees, Spelling bees, Sight words bees, foreign language bees, geography bees, etc.  (I hope these are not taboo in your school!)  My students always loved them.  I generally had the activities with groups of 2 or 3 students, rather than individuals being on the “hot seat.”
3)    Make smaller words from a large, multi-syllable words.
4)    Bingo games – not just regular bingo, but cards with any subject matter.
5)    Crossword puzzles – can do in groups of 2 or 3 students.
6)    Word searches – can do in groups of 2 or 3 students.
7)    Student begins a silly story and each participant adds a sentence.
8)    Students pass a ball and say rhyming words, capital cities, etc.
9)    Bring in ads and students guess the price.
10) Nature walks, listening walks.
11) Invite parents to share about their jobs or hobbies.
12) Invite local authors to give a reading and share about being an author.
13) Invite local dignitaries (mayor, fire chief, etc.) to share about their jobs.
 
I searched “Time Fillers for Teachers” on the Internet – helpful websites galore!
 
MOST OF ALL – HAVE FUN!!!!
 
Come back the first of June – “SUMMER BREAK RELAXATION ACTIVITIES FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved Linda M. Penn

TEST TAKERS - HELP FOR THE FRIGHTENED


 
TEST TAKERS – HELP FOR THE FRIGHTENED
By
Linda M. Penn
 
            The time is arriving – no, not just Spring Break!  It’s getting time for those pesky, time-consuming, end-of-the-year accountability tests.  Was it just three months ago that I wrote about teachers and students and the crunch time for learning being upon them?  (See my Blog dated December 28, 2015 “Crunch Time – The Heat is On!”)
 
            Teachers, you and the kiddos may have about another a month or so to put the finishing touches on test-prep activities.  Parents, you have to get ready too!  Start looking for those test-anxiety symptoms in your children:  excessive sweating, headaches, throwing up, diarrhea, irritability (well…moreso than normal!), and the most famous of all – the stomachache.  So what are you going to do to help your frightened test-takers at home?
 
-       Reinforce the teacher’s efforts to prepare the students.  If you talk negatively about the teacher and testing, the student’s attitude will be flawed.
-       Calmly inquire of your child about any test preparations at school and help the child with any review work that seems necessary.
-       Practice relaxation techniques – deep breaths, counting to 10, closing eyes and focusing on a calm scene, prayer.
-       Reminding your children how proud you are of them and how you know they will try their best on tests.
-       Imparting confidence to the kids – “You have studied and practiced, so you are ready for testing!”
-       Explain it is okay to feel anxious about upcoming tests.  “You have to be brave when that sinking negative feeling comes upon you.  Refocus to something positive.”
-       Avoid any confrontation with the kids on test days - if possible!  If you can hold off with the “it’s time to get that room of yours cleaned up,” or “pick up those dirty towels – NOW,” please do so. 
 
Somehow, teachers and parents, try to keep yourself POSITIVE, so the kids
will be also!
 
 
SEE YOU AGAIN THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY – “FILLING THOSESCHOOL DAYS BETWEEN THE END-of-TESTING AND SUMMER BREAK”
 
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved Linda M. Penn

MUSIC AND BEGINING READING

February 29, 2016
 
MUSIC AND BEGINNING READING
By
Linda M. Penn
 
            Do you remember singing “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” as a youngster?  Do you remember tipping over when singing the “Little Teapot?”  Did someone sing “Rock-a-Bye Baby” to you?  I have fond memories of these times and when I sang and played records with my own kids.  Well…let’s see, I wonder how many times I sang “Wheels on the Bus?”
 
            No one ever said to me I was learning to read when I sang “Twinkle, Twinkle,” but apparently all these little songs played a part in my progression to being a fluent reader.  I never said to my kids or students that it was time for reading education, so we were going to sing, “Ole McDonald.”  And what about the ABC Song?  I hope you have positive memories of these little songs.
 
            These baby, toddler, and preschool songs and records are very important, in my opinion,to helping little ones learn about patterns, rhyming words, repetitive words and phrases, predicting lyrics, inflection and volume changes in voices, and sounds of letters.  All of these things are used in normal reading instruction.
 
            If you are a parent, grandparent, or teacher of babies, toddlers, or preschoolers,  please don’t ever think you are just filling time when you play music or sing with them.  You are not just trying to present fun activities for them.  You are providing valuable reading instruction.  The kids are learning and they don’t even know it!  How cool is that?
 
            Have fun!  Keep singing!
 
            Come back the first week of April –“HELPING FRIGHTENED TEST-TAKERS.”
 
 
COPYRIGHT 2016 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED LINDA M. PENN

"POETRY - DOES ANYONE READ IT ANYMORE?"

FEBRUARY 1, 2016

“POETRY  -  DOES ANYONE READ IT ANYMORE?”
by
Linda M. Penn

    Roses are red,
    Violets are red,
    Will you be my Valentine?
    Yes, you, you, you!

    Do you remember those cute little Valentine’s Day cards and how you searched through the whole package of cards to find the one for that special someone in your class?  I remember my daughters’ excitement when we shopped for their Valentine’s Day cards to give out – should they be Scooby Doo, Barbi, or Wonder Woman? 

    As a teacher, I remember I planned a Language Arts Unit on Poetry for January and February.  We started with a study of nursery rhymes and ended the unit with the students writing their own Valentine’s Day card for a special someone plus writing a poem on winter.

    I have to admit I bought very few poetry books for my own kids EXCEPT when they were babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.  They loved the rhymes of Dr. Seuss and the cute pictures.  I give credit to these types of books for helping my kids learn to read, as well as the little ones I taught in grades K, 1, and 2. 

    And today?  I know Dr. Seuss books are still very popular with little ones, not sure about the use of poetry in upper elementary, middle, or high schools.  Sure hope they study famous poets like Keats, Shakespeare, Poe.  (TEACHERS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT PLACE POETRY IS PLAYING IN YOUR CURRICULUM TODAY, THANKS.)

    If you are a teacher or parent and wish to have your kids experience more poetry, I found two websites that you might find helpful.

www.poetryteachers.com
www.poetry4kids.com

    These sites have lists of rhyming words by categories.  Also, you can type in a word and you get rhyming words for that word by syllable count.  (Wish I knew about these sites when I was teaching!)

    In closing, put excitement into the kids (AND YOU) about poetry.  Find ones that are relatable to their interests, read them aloud with various accents, do group reading, use appropriate gestures, act them out, AND ALLOW THEM TO GIGGLE AND LAUGH!  Keep it simple but fun.
    Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and happy reading and writing!  Challenge yourself and your kids to write personal Valentine’s Day cards.  Love to all, God bless.

NEXT MONTH – “MUSIC AND READING”

COPYRIGHT 2016 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED LINDA M. PENN
www.lindampenn.com
lindampenn@gmail.com

"LEARNING CRUNCH TIME - THE HEAT IS ON"

DECEMBER 28, 2015

“LEARNING CRUNCH TIME -THE HEAT IS ON”
by
Linda M. Penn

    The presents have been given, the wrapping paper and ornaments boxed up for next year.  You are saying, “Happy New Year” to friends and family.  SORRY, but it’s time to face facts – the kids are going back to school, and you parents and teachers, back to work.  THE HEAT IS ON – IT’S CRUNCH TIME FOR INTENSE LEARNING – TESTING TIME IS AROUND THE CORNER!

    If you are a teacher, you know exactly what I mean.  Testing time comes in the spring and although the calendar says it is a long way off, we teachers know it is the time to feel the crunch to get all appropriate material covered before testing.

    The return to school after the Winter Break was always stressful for me.  I felt the pressure to get the kiddos prepared for the spring testing.  Although it was always exciting to be around the kids again, it was hard to enjoy my work when it seemed all I was doing was teaching to the test.

    I recently heard in the news that the President was advocating for less time spent in American classrooms on testing.  I clapped my hands, did a dance like I had just scored a touchdown, and yelled out, “YES!” 

    To you parents trying to soothe your kids through the intensity of the expected learning, you might want to review my October 1, 2015 Blog entitled  “Time Management for Stressed-out Students.”

    To you teachers, here’s some encouragement:

Take time to ENJOY something each day with the students.
Look to the POSITIVE – find something to be THANKFUL for each day.
SMILE and LAUGH with the kids each day.
Have everyone in the class stand up, take DEEP BREATHS, COUNT TO 10, do 10 JUMPING JACKS.
Do your BEST everyday and take PRIDE in your efforts.

Hope you all have a great 2016!  Come back the first week in February for my Blog – “POETRY – DOES ANYONE READ IT ANYMORE?”

COPYRIGHT 2015 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED LINDA M PENN
www.lindampenn.com
lindampenn@gmail.com

MANNERS,AND MORE MANNERS

November 23, 2015

MANNERS, MANNERS, AND MORE MANNERS DURING THE HOLIDAYS!
BY
Linda M. Penn

    You’ll notice this Blog is a week early, as I usually post the first week of the month.  However, I wanted to give some encouragement for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, not just the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  WARNING!  I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but I just have to address an issue that keeps blaring at me and hits me between my eyes.  Okay – here goes!

    The next time I go to a restaurant or a family gathering and I see the adults and/or children using their cell phones texting, emailing, playing games, or whatever, I think I will yell, “MANNERS, WHERE DID YOU GO?”

    As we sit down to eat with family and friends this holiday season, could we try to do something that seems to have become ancient – actual face-to-face conversation?  (And I don’t mean texting a picture of yourself!)  My daughter likes to use the term “quality time.”  She recently sent me a cartoon showing Mom, Dad, and Junior at a campground and Junior is happily using the term “quality time.”

    Okay, before you delete the rest of this Blog, think about how happy and excited Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Susie, and Uncle Jack will be when they see our smiling faces and hear us actually talking WITH them.  Surely you and the fam can think of some interesting experiences to ask them about – their childhood, schools, chores, friends, holiday traditions, etc.  You could even ask Aunt Susie and Uncle Jack how they met.  You may be pleasantly surprised that you actually are enjoying listening to their stories.

    FINAL ADVICE FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON:  

    Have a family meeting (yes, actual face-to-face meeting).  Recognize each other’s negative feelings about going to see the relatives.  Good , got that out of the way.  You might feel better already.  Then discuss positive ways to spend the time with the relatives.  AND PLEASE, put away the cell phones for a pre-designated time period.  Is going phoneless for an hour or two so hard considering you will cause warm and fuzzy feelings in your family members?  (AND YOURSELF!)

    See you on January 1.  Keep Smiling!  NEXT BLOG:  THE HEAT IS ON!  CRUNCH TIME FOR LEARNING!

Copyright 2015 Linda M. Penn All Rights Reserved
www.lindampenn.com
lindampenn@gmail.com


READING HISTORY REALLY IS FUN

READING HISTORY REALLY IS FUN!
By
Linda M. Penn
November 1, 2015

As you go about helping your kids or students to pick books to support their studies in school about historical events, you and/or the children may need an attitude adjustment!  There seems to be a lot of negativity about the study of history, as there is a tendency to think it is boring.  It doesn’t have to be!  Here is a list of ideas to help you out:

Try to engage the kids’ feelings about the events.  For example, make up a play or do role playing. 
Ask questions about how they might have felt had they lived during that time.  What would you have done differently?  If the events being studied took place during your lifetime, relay to them your feelings about the occurrences.  We may think kids are not interested in our stories of “back when,” but I have found kids generally loved to hear about growing up with few of the modern conveniences.   For example, they were particularly engaged when I talked about the days of only two channels on the black and white TV, no telephone, and even worse, no Internet!
Have the children talk to grandparents, relatives, friends about historical events and get their viewpoints.
Historical fiction books are more interesting to kids than textbooks.  Also, books with lots of pictures invite the kids to be more engaged in the event themselves.
Research about the music, dress, etc. during the time period they are studying.
Try to make a connection to today’s world events.  If this hadn’t happened in history, how would our world today be different?
Take a trip to museums, re-enactments, pioneer days’ festivals, etc. to stimulate their interests.
Be upfront about the “good, bad, and ugly” of historical events.  Avoid sugar-coating the negative.  Move on by asking the kids what they think we can learn from the occurrences.

Most of all, let them see and feel your enthusiasm for history.  Have fun!

SEE YOU BACK THE FIRST WEEK IN DECEMBER – “MANNERS, MANNERS, AND MORE MANNERS DURING THE HOLIDAYS!”
Copyright 2015 Linda M. Penn All Rights Reserved
www.lindampenn.com
lindampenn@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/Linda-M-Penn-Author-202527643213378/


TIME MANAGEMENT FOR STRESSED OUT STUDENTS

TIME MANAGEMENT FOR STRESSED OUT STUDENTS
By
Linda M. Penn
October 1, 2015

    Not much worse than stressed out kids and parents.  Here are a few suggestions:

Have a daily/monthly planner.  Use different color codes for the absolutely “must attend events,” test or school project due dates.

Organize, organize, organize!  Have all the books, notebooks, pencils, etc. in a certain place so your children can begin homework promptly when the homework time begins.  Have a specified place at home to do homework.  Oversee your child’s daily cleaning out of the backpack.

Stay focused.  When time is tight, the kids (and you) need to stay on task.  Sure, the children might want to watch TV or play video games, etc.  but what is the most important thing to get done now?

Avoid over-scheduling activities.  Yes, Mom and Dad, you may be so proud of your ballerina, football player, choir soloist, but if grades are sliding downhill, it’s probably the time to reassess the after school activities.

Make out a daily schedule.  Stick to it.  Each kiddo and adult in the household needs to work as a team member.  Who is going to fix dinner?  Who is driving your child to karate?  Who is feeding the dog?  Who is checking the children’s homework?

Laugh, smile!  Enjoy the moment.  Take a walk with the kids, play a board game with the kids, read for pleasure with the kids, shoot hoops with the kids.  So very soon, your child will be grown and you will remember these days and think about how time flies.

Avoid family squabbles.  When it becomes evident that the kids or you are overly stressed daily, it’s time for a family “team meeting” to iron out the issues.

Keep smiling!!!!!!!!!!

COME BACK THE FIRST WEEK IN NOVEMBER:  “READING HISTORY REALLY IS FUN!”
Copyright 2015 Linda M. Penn All Rights Reserved
www.lindampenn.com
lindampenn@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/Linda-M-Penn-Author-202527643213378/timeline/