Zentangles

Take a quick time-out, renew your spirit and make a beautiful piece of mini-art using ideas from Zentangle.com. Read the theory page, browse through galleries and just do it. Make a small square of paper, delineate a border and make a few marks (or even a letter; try your first initial) to create regions within your square for your various patterns. Enjoy how it feels to doodle with full attention.

Help the Monarch Butterfly

Live Monarch is an organization devoted to keeping the skies filled with Monarch butterflies. I received an email from them recently that offered interested educators opportunities to get their students involved with Monarch Butterfly populations in numerous ways.

Interesting facts (from www.livemonarch.org):

  • Monarch butterflies from around North America begin a Southern migration down to Mexico for the winter and return in February in March.
  • With the exception of the Monarchs who migrate to Mexico for the winter, the life span of an adult Monarch is 4-8 weeks. The migratory individuals can live from 8-9 months.
  • Monarchs eat only milkweed, which is rapidly disappearing due to human development, which is why livemonarch.org sells milkweed plants and will send any takers milkweed seeds for free.

Go to www.livemonarch.org for a variety of ways that you (educator, parent, student, or just interested party) can help the Monarch Butterfly.

Juneteenth

It was 89 years after the Declaration of Indepence and 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation (while you’re there, check out Jackie Robinson’s letter to President Eisenhower) that the last American slaves learned they were free, on June 19, 1865. This past Saturday Massachusetts’ first African American Governor, Deval Patrick, made his the 25th state calling for recognition of “Juneteenth” as a national holiday. Learn more at Voice of America or find a celebration near you at Juneteenth.com

Feeling bad? Get outside!

Yet another reason to connect with Nature:

In a couple of studies about mild depression, researchers at Britain’s Essex University found that upwards of 90% of people who went outside to walk, cycle or just work on environmental conservation felt better, whereas less than half of those who took a walk in a shopping mall felt better and nearly half felt worse! Enjoy some “ecotherapy” today!

Source:
“Nature as a form of therapy.” 2007. The Week, June 15, p. 20.

Babies born to be Bilingual

Wow! Apparently babies study facial movements associated with speaking, and for their first six months, pay closer attention when the face on a soundless video is speaking a different language. By eight months of age,  babies in monolingual families lose the ability to tell the difference. You can read more about Whitney Weikum and Janet Werker’s (with others) research on this topic at ScienceNews.org. While you’re there you might like to check out the Science News for Kids page.

Online Games for kids with attention and learning differences

SparkTop claims to foster skills and self-esteem for kids with attention and learning differences. I wish the games gave more information about exactly what skills each promotes. I couldn’t find it when I scanned the sections for parents or teachers either. Anyway, I really enjoyed CarnyChase though my car got chopped up several times each lap. This game requires attending to small details like where the bumpers are, making incremental adjustments to your strategy, and also figuring out your character’s perspective since you have to use the movement arrows from their perspective, not yours.

In addition to games, the site features three different expert opinions on various questions about living and learning with a possibly unusual brain–though the premise of the site is that every brain is different.

Spy Math

You might have seen lots of movies about the kind of cloak-and-dagger spies who boldly collect competitors’ information, but how often do you think about the “shadow” spies back home who interpret it? Making and breaking codes are great ways to learn a huge amount of math and study patterns of language, and the largest spy agency in the world (at least according to the International Spy Museum) offers these “CryptoKids” games to help kids learn to do just that!