Parents are highly encouraged to participate in their child’s digital play

As a recess first grade monitor, children’s first choice is outside on the playground or playing soccer though some that may be shy will sit on a bench with me until someone offers them a swing or slide. Indoor recess when the weather is poor is always in the classrooms playing in groups without technology. Those choices usually includes building Lego,Jenga mountains or cooking with silly putty in small groups.

They love traditional play times and will work hard not to lose any recess minutes. All the children have an I pad and our given breaks to play educational digital games. Both types of play are generally exciting to the boys and girls. But is one better than the other?

The Genius of Play  is a national movement to raise awareness of play’s vital role in child development, spearheaded by the Toy Association. Deeply rooted in research and facts, The Genius of Play is a leading resource on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play that serve children throughout their lives.

They released a new panel report that included child development and digital media experts convened by The Genius of Play during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January of this year.

“Kids learn and develop crucial skills through all types of play – structured and unstructured, as well as traditional and digital play,” said Ken Seiter, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of marketing communications and the panel’s moderator. “It’s important that parents understand that screen-based or online playdoes not have to be an all or nothing experience. Our panel of experts was extremely knowledgeable and shared best practices for appropriately fostering kids’ development through digital play.”

The panel, which included Sara DeWitt, vice president of PBS Kids Digital, Dr. Jodi Sherman LeVos, director of child development & learning at Mattel, and emotional dynamics expert Dr. Erik Fisher, explored the evolving nature of play in today’s world and sought to provide parents with guidance on how to incorporate all types ofplay into a child’s daily routine. The experts’ consensus: when it comes to digital play, experiences that have a clear learning intent combined with parental engagement are paramount.

INSIGHTS FROM THE PANEL:

Play exists in a variety of arenas and forms. Opportunities for play are everywhere: at home, in school, in stores, at amusement parks, etc. Kids get the most benefit when traditional and digital play exist simultaneously, in a balanced environment.

The best kind of digital play is high-quality content that’s designed with clear learning objectives. These objectives should include: improving cognitive thinking; building language skills; encouraging social skills; and/or promoting creativity.

Technology gives kids a variety of perspectives on the world. Technology supports traditional play by reinforcing key values and adding another dimension to the play experience. For instance, apps and game play can bring unique worlds to life and allow children to explore these worlds in a new way.

Technology can also help drive the benefits of play by emphasizing personalized and adaptive learning. The best kind of high-tech play involves quality engagement in short bursts that engages kids while extending their knowledge in other areas. For instance, if a system can detect a child struggling with a particular concept, offering tutorials or prompts is an area where technology can really help kids learn.

Parents are highly encouraged to participate in their child’s digital play and ask questions. Implementing this type of interaction at an early age builds on communication skills between parent and child, develops trust, and prepares children for more serious talks about internet safety as they grow.

“Why Play is the Secret Sauce for Raising the Next Generation of Digital Innovators, A Special Report by The Genius of Play”​ can be downloaded at TheGeniusOfPlay.org.

To all graduates

I love to go to graduation ceremonies

For it is one of the few events where you observe unrequited joy

And happiness

You can see it on everyone’s face

They walk taller

They step more lively

And this is all seasoned with a little tension as if to say

“Am I really going to get this?  “Am I really finished?”

Supporters reveal a vision of pride and accomplishment

And a sense of joy that only camaraderie can produce in helping others

It is one of those very few extraordinary events

Regardless of whether graduation is from pre-school, grade school, junior high, high school, college or advanced degrees

For most that receive that simple moment of congratulations

The little flame of academic confidence begins

We are so proud of you from family and friends

That beautiful bouquet of flowers is a surprise confirmation of our love

Pictures,tributes and videos on Facebook shared

Always to be a cherished memory

No matter the detours or the road blocks, you made it

And you can do it again

For that moment, hour or day you truly believe in yourself and your purpose

So do those that surround you

Some may choose to forget in time

But if we take a few minutes to remember

As the days pass

That you must hold on to your talents

And abilities in the highest regard

Without a doubt in your heart

The next mountain will beckon you

And as you move on to the next challenge

Unexpected success will be at your side

Whether it be graduating with a degree or just moving on to the next academic level,

Happy graduation to all those experiencing this wonderful day

She still smiles

Even in the end, she would smile as I played Clair de Lune though she could not dance in the arms of my Dad now. Everyone at the nursing home was quiet; contemplating their own personal memories of  love in the moonlight that Claude Debussy’s classic piece offered.

In return, it was Moms high compliments to me and my talent. Perfecting this song over the years for her in every avenue; piano contests, recitals, recordings, restaurants and finally her final home before the everlasting journey. I am sure she would take the classical rendition with her as a  reminder. A reminder that I loved her. If there was ever a compliment from a somewhat subdued mother, it was for my piano mastery of Clair De Lune.

My father had passed away when I was twelve, Mom sold the company business that was almost bankrupt, and went to work as a secretary for 35 years; a single mother with a substantial savings and healthy 401 K.

Mom passed away before the last recession fall-out and she would never understand that today, the average number of years in one position was four years. 4.5 to be exact. During my first layoff, she was still alive and felt that it was my fault. I just didn’t produce and pursue enough. If one job didn’t pay the bills, why not three? She did not understand the world of corporate layoffs. Not her generation. I think about that far too often when I think of Mom.

As I slowly poured my coffee, it was the first Sunday I wanted to stay in bed rather than go to church. It was a the beginning of fall, still warm as the trees began their dramatic demonstration of magnificent color. My favorite time of year. I had volunteered to help record the broadcast service today and really couldn’t call in sick. It was church.

As I watched  from First Congregational United Church of Christ  classroom 504 where I could view the service in full regalia and play with the audio, the pastors message caught me off guard. Since my first visit  to this church two years ago, divine guidance was displayed through his messages. That’s how God works in all of us. But this was too good to be true

Bombarded by his divine Guidance….

His words made me sit up and take notice. And, of course,he talked about what I needed to hear; breaking the dreaded cycle of the treadmill; needing more in money, goods and not trusting that we have all that we need. The old tapes of Mom…clashing for a  moment…but quickly subsiding with a sigh of relief.  The pastors closing comment Let the Jones Win ended for me with tears beginning to surface. He did it again! Exactly what I needed.

But then something else happened.  Following the message was the offertory and music  by a guest pianist who played a beautiful arrangement. Almost in a state of physical shutdown as I recognized the song….Clair De Lune.

And now the tears tumbled into sobs as I immediately recognized that this was not a message from the pastor but my Mom who confirmed his message of hope. Mom knowing that I was living the life that God wanted for me; clearly sharing her enthusiasm.

It is not about an entire career at one company. Sometimes we develop right along with the company; forming a special bond though rare today.  How many workplaces we have visited to put food on the table is not really important.  But that we have done it!

Most, important, regardless of THE PLACE, we have the opportunity to share our faith with others; how we affect their lives is our greatest accomplishment and our reward.

I know I have done my best. Now, I just have to remember.

Always a teacher

As they walk through the door

My influence will be mirrored in each of their faces

And I wonder if I can give them what they need

But when the first questions spill from their lips,

I embrace the assets I have by my side

For throughout the course of my day,

I become the expert, coach, playwright and director

I am the motivational speaker and the historian of colorful memory and experience

I am the fire-fighter extinguishing negativity, fear,

Confusion and disappointment

I am many people and exactly what I want to be

As my passion relentlessly grows for them,

So does their passion for me

I then see promising lives begin to emerge

And new opportunities expand for many who thought

Defeat their only option

I have given them a future they richly deserve

But most of all, I have designed a monument of faith,

Hope and trust between us

What more can I say…………I am a teacher.

They have hatched!

For me and my children, it began at the Museum of Science and Industry where we watched the chicks hatch in a giant incubator. Usually we would catch chicks in progress,scratching, pecking and some newly born, tired and wet.  Seeing baby chicks hatch daily has been going on since 1956.

After our trip, my son and daughter would steal eggs from the refrigerator trying to warm them under lamps or pillows expecting their own miracle.

However, today in my school,  first graders have it all when it comes to learning genetics. Six first grade classes have their own incubator and every year eggs that are fertilized are purchased and sit for 21 days. Students discuss the development of the embryo each day and halfwaythrough, a teacher candles each egg with a flashlight to see how they are doing.

In the past, incubators have been broken and in some classes, eggs did not hatch. Nevertheless, in my class, eight have hatched and students did understand that chicks may be sick or have other problems. Most seemed healthy and have not beaten each other up which has occurred before.

The excitement began on a Sunday which was day 20 and carried into Monday and Tuesday. At the beginning of school on day 21, two brown chicks were ready to be transferred to their makeshift fish tank of grain and water after hatching the night before.

Throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday, we watched them peck holes in the eggs, some eggs cracked all around, but, eventually, more brown and yellow joined their brothers and sisters in the fish tank. The classroom children were driven to the fish tank like a magnets some more reserved until they were called over to hold a chick while their picture was taken.

The classes had five days to watch them grow and I was surprised how they sprouted so quickly. And by the end of the week, the chickens were sent to various farms or donors.

We finally had to say goodbye, one we had already named Marvin.

School chicken hatching is an annual part of the first grade curriculum and in our class it was an exceptional experience. Even for me as I sent pictures to my own adult children responding with how cute, is that a real incubator and why didn’t we have that in school.

Times change but we can still plan a family field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. Oh…wouldn’t that be fun! We could go to the Coal mine, the fairy castle,  Yesteryear and we could get ice cream………

And, of course, the Hatchery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without the Weekly Reader

Decades of children, all ages, couldn’t wait until Fridays when the weekly newspaper was passed out in school.  Ninety years ago, the first edition of the Weekly Reader was distributed on September 21, 1928 and was an immediate success. The first edition catered to older children and a second edition to younger ones; introduced in 1929. By 1931, there were four editions complementing a variety of grades with a circulation of over a million. After a series of several owners in the last fifteen years, Scholastic no longer publishes the reader as we knew it since 2012.

A few years ago, I shared my surprise and sadness over the news of discontinuing the Weekly Reader with my cousin a few years ago who was almost as old the Readers life. We shared our fascinating stories of invention and themes of the week which included anything from safety to volunteering for others even though my experiences were younger than his.

He asked if we had to pay for the Weekly Reader and in 1934 it was approximately 20 cents a semester. In the early 1960’s, my mother always wrote a check every year for the Weekly Reader for me to read about mice going to the moon, a memorial to John F Kennedy and finally men taking that  one historical step for mankind on the moon with the Apollo landing in 1969.  Great progress and history was made as I traveled through the years with my Weekly Reader.

After researching the Weekly Reader, I found one for sale from 1935; a perfect gift for his 84th birthday that he would be celebrating along with the reader.  In January of 1935, it was time to celebrate the birthday of Ben Franklin and his ideas on thrift while articles today in 2012 focus on the similar including protecting the environment and recycling.

However, the main story of 1935 was Old and New Ways to Travel which compared the old steam engine to a new train engine that pulls cars that are streamlined and cuts through the wind. America by rail today is still available with luxury suites and trains that can exceed 300 miles per hour.  Another form of travel mentioned was the celebration of the Wright plane built in 1903 being able to stay in the air 59 seconds. And, of course, new planes had taken part in the event and some of them went three miles in a minute. What a change there has been in airplanes in 31 years.”      “What a change there has been in airplanes in 109 years,” those same individuals would say about the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the new airplane of the 21st Century. Who would have thought you could view a presentation on your computer introducing this dream in the sky.

Wig Wags, the dog, shares experiences in a designated column and children still respond enthusiastically to the little canine friends who can really talk. While another column talks about safety and the game stop and go. A boy plays a policeman with a stop-go- sign and whistle which he blows while turning the sign to stop. A girl is riding her bicycle and must stop when the police boy blows his whistle. She gets a ticket if she does not follow the rules and after three, must forfeit something she likes.

Ultimately, the lessons of the Weekly Reader have never lost their relevance, a treasured memory added to the scrapbook once again. However, Scholastic does publish a weekly nonfiction print and digital magazine for elementary classrooms. They use the most-taught science, social studies, and safety topics to create a multimedia curriculum

For us, the Weekly Reader exemplified more than a just a recap of current events but a cherished time for so many every Friday afternoon during rain, sleet, snow and sun when the Reader was placed in our hands to begin our weekend.

Courtesy of Ebay who offers many vintage copies of the Weekly reader.

It looks like a lilac to me

During the spring, it stood in the east outdoor corner of my childhood yard. Probably the most healthy of the plants that grew there. I couldn’t wait for my Mom to cut a large bunch, wrap them in tin foil during Springs mornings before school and give them to my favorite teachers; usually for my kindergarten, first grade and my fourth grade.

Then, I had no idea that the elegant smelling lavender lilacs would not last very long. Old Moms did not know the tricks in getting the beautiful fragrance to last more than a day.

Even when I became a Mom, I did not have a lilac bush at home so I would steal my neighbors lilacs at night. He was a great, longtime friend watching his tree dwindle but never said a word. I scattered them in vases throughout the house knowing not to send them to school with my little ones. Not because they were stolen…but knowing they would fade quickly.  My own children didn’t seem to be that interested anyway in brightening their teachers day with flowers from the garden.

My neighbor moved and I was scared to steal anymore so I  planted a lilac tree in our backyard. As it grew, my developing children pressed their noses into the tree while filling my vases inside and out.

However, I still liked my neighbors tree better; the fragrance was more overpowering reminding me of my youth. Occasionally, after many years, I will race down the street with scissors in hand when no one is watching.

Helping lilacs live longer:

If you want to give it a try, take a cutting from a healthy lilac and place the stem in a clear or amber glass or jar with 1 to 2 inches of water. Be sure to strip the leaves from the part of the stem that will be in the water to keep the cutting from rotting. Add fresh water as needed.

Though she did not know my love for lilacs, a first grader gave me one of the best handmade flower that looks like a lilac to me! That especially reminds me of the gratitude towards teachers that is still expressed and appreciated today. Thankfully those virtues remain.

I will be sure to wrap my flower carefully…maybe in tin foil….and take home from school to celebrate my summer vacation. The flower can sit beside me in a protected vase during the early months of summer while I lounge outside………under my lilac tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribute to Soap Opera Moms

“What are you watching?” I asked. It was lunch time in the small cafeteria for a company I had visited and I chose a seat near the TV.

“The Young and the Restless”, she said in a whisper as if anyone around would think her crazy for a 40+ year old woman watching soap operas.

Even though the Young and the Restless had not been one of my own personal standbys, one character graced the screen from One Life to Live; remembering him with less gray hair when I had watched him years before. He looked like me without the hair dye. I guess one serial comes to an end and the actors trade places on another just like the soap operas of life that frivolously continue on.

Ah, yes now the memories begin. We grow together regardless of the channel or year.

As I ate and watched, the quiet of home long ago and Mom when I was a child became my first thought. I clearly remembered the time I was home from school, ordered to bed sick but Mom would stroll in with the portable TV and we would watch As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Secret Storm  and The Edge of Night to name just a few.

During those early years of the 1960’s, Mom was a stay at home and sometimes would switch commitments that included soap opera, Search for Tomorrow but most of the time she never varied from her serial, Love of Life which opened in 1951. It was a time to bond, get to know my Mom by the comments and reactions to messy relationships, illness, drinking, and even murder of Another World……that too.

And the clips in my mind are filled with Tide, Ivory Soap, Camay commercials and a dish washing liquid that you could soak your fingers in for beautiful hands. If Madge said so, Palmolive it was for all to wash dishes, before dishwashers, and soften their hands.

And as far as my soap opera guests, they always looked untouched through the greatest drama, their homes fashionable, their nurses uniforms crisp and spotless even in black and white.

And then one day, I became a Mom at home and I switched TV addictions, a difficult journey to re-route. But for my family beginnings, I chose All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital. And I didn’t have to change networks either. And I didn’t have to change my college friends since they were talking about the same characters and we all shared phone calls of the drama abound as our little ones napped.

Here was Erika who always got her way in AMC and Brooke who I actually grew with  from a snotty teenager to a sophisticated editor, the tragic death of Megan in OLTL, who chose Dancing in the Streets as her funeral music and message to live on, Vickie and multiple Vickies and of course, the wedding of all time, Luke and Laura in General Hospital. We laughed, we predicted on Fridays what Mondays would bring, we cried when we lost our favorites. Even now, as I smile, they are still with us; the moments of sharing. Even working Moms could tape their reasons for escape.

I visited this company another time and the lunch room was empty. The TV silent as I found the remote. I sat down and tuned into the Young and the Restless; mesmerized that Robert Scorpio had showed up on this one who had entertained me in the past on General Hospital.

Another lady sat at the table and commented. “Wow, that reminds me of me and Mom; home from school and watching the soaps together.” A slight tear in her eye as she glanced again at the projection on the TV.

Thanks for the memories, Mom. Thanks to all of you who can wait to watch you favorite soaps. I never realized how melodramatic episodes that span decades can offer such peace . Once noted, daytime television was coined by Time magazine as TV’s richest market.

They had no idea!

Fifty one years ago: The horrific Illinois tornadoes

For me, it was in the late afternoon after school and I was playing outside at a friends. We were planning our weekend and the weather had been beautiful for April with high temperatures in the 70’s.

It was a time of no cell phones or computers on April 21st, 1967. But Father called from the front porch after getting home from work early, that I needed to get home. Strange, it was not dinner time when the usual call from Mom went out.  My own home was about a half a block west from where I had been playing and I was shocked as I glanced at the western sky.

I suddenly noticed that the trees, the birds were quiet for April and the sky was a heavy gray, tinged with a smudge of green.  Like the massive snowstorm months before, Chicago’s weather was about to change.  Something in my heart told me that the call to home was not a good one and I raced to the front porch, my Dad sat in his chair.

He loved storms and that was his spot regardless of the severity but this time he told me and Mother, who was standing inside the front door, that we needed to be in the basement immediately. At no other time in my short life, do I remember that command. Mom and I headed for the basement, me first but Mom kept trying to get him to come in as she stood on the basement stairs, scared.

The first tornado, better known as the Belvidere tornado, struck approximately at a little before 4 pm where the Chrysler plant near 1-90 witnessed the destruction of over 400 cars. Then, the destruction continued to the town of Belvidere where hundreds of homes were damaged but it was just at the time that school was getting out and buses were being loaded at the high school.

Elementary students were already on the buses but over 1,200 high students were dismissed and tried to get back into the building. According to sources, twelve buses were rolled over and students were flung like leaves into the field. Thirteen of the 24 fatalities and 300 of the 500 injuries in this tornado occurred at the high school.

At 5:03, Lake Zurich and surrounding suburbs felt the effects of their own tornado where over 75 homes were completely destroyed. Moving rapidly with no warning as had been described by many residents that there was no noticeable roar until upon them. It ripped through Seth Paine Elementary School, tearing down thick brick walls but leaving clocks showing 5:05 pm.  Many people were caught in their autos as they were returning home from work.

But it was the Oaklawn tornado that was on its way to my neighborhood in Calumet Park and according to meteorologists, the worst storm of the day. According to sources, at 5:15 an off duty Weather Bureau employee saw a rotating cloud mass over his house in Romeoville. Windows were blow out at a restaurant at at McCarthy Road and 127th and an observer at the Little Red School House at 99th and Willow Springs Road saw a funnel.

The tornado touched down just east of 88th Avenue between 105th and 106th Streets at 5:24 pM, 24 minutes after the tornado warning was issued for Cook County.  But it continued hitting homes and crossed the Tri-State Tollway, hitting a drive-in movie near Chicago Ridge finally moving to the heart of Oak Lawn. It was here that many homes were leveled. It was here that one of my parents best friend was paralyzed.

As we later learned, Tony was sitting in traffic at the intersection of 95th Street and Southwest Highway where a light pole smashed into the top of his car crushing him as he was heading to pick up his daughter at the Oaklawn Roller Rink. The greatest total of life took place there. Between 25 and 40 automobiles, halted at this intersection for a traffic light, were thrown in all directions, some carried northeast at least a block and set down on the Oak Lawn athletic field.

The Oak Lawn Roller Rink was completely destroyed but his daughter had left early and was safe from the destruction. Four were killed at the rink.  Fortunately, as the tornado passed over the Dan Ryan Expressway and headed our way, it began to dissipate causing lighter damage to vegetation, roofs and garages. According to sources, it finally moved offshore as a waterspout at Rainbow Beach, where we swam as kids.

My father summoned us out of the basement as he had watched the storm pass over from the front porch. Though the clouds were high then, he knew the damage west had been serious. It was the next morning he received the call about one of his closest friends in critical condition.

At least 10 tornadoes raked northeast Illinois, three of which were violent, F4 tornadoes. In the wake of the twisters, 58 were dead, more than 1000 were injured, and there was nearly half a billion in damage costs.

 

Old Town then and now

It was approximately 1749 North Wells which is now an apartment building but was a quaint stone building with a court yard built in the early 1930s. And not only home to my Aunt and Uncles apartment but Van Sydow Moving Company, where my uncle was a supervisor.

I was only about five when he passed away in 1960 and my Aunt moved to an apartment in the suburbs. But I remember the great windows of their large apartment that looked out over the exquisite tree-lined Wells street. I remember the enchanting courtyard where I would chase fairies and the first remote control that changed the channels on their console television.

I remember my Aunt hating God when my Uncle died. She met a new man a few years later just as special but we returned to Wells street many times to talk about her memories of Old Town as well as create new memories for me.

Many have commented that rents had plummeted in the 1960’s and Old Town was the most populated hippy neighborhood in the Midwest. It was the 1960’s that I remember bits and pieces of the Old Town Art Fair which I have enjoyed over the years. On an average, over 200 artists still display their creative work in June every year.

And after the fair or just spending a weekend in Old Town,  it was the Pickle Barrel restaurant that opened in 1960 on Wells that I went to several times where I remember being greeted with a barrel of kosher dill pickles and popcorn  for snacking. The walls displayed a variety of antiques and tables/chairs did not match.

The first Crate and Barrel store opened on Wells street in 1962 filled with European pottery and glass in. And another all time favorite for me was the original Pipers Alley, a cobblestone passageway that housed several eclectic shops and theater at 1608 Wells street.  The alley lent itself to original Victorian architecture.  A huge Tiffany lamp fixture hung over the the trip down the alley that included an old fashioned candy store,  poster shops, a candle shop, and even a pizza place.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Old Town became the center of Chicago folk music which was experiencing a revival at the time.

In 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music opened at 333 West North Avenue and stayed at that address until 1968, when the school moved to 909 West Armitage Avenue. It has retained the name, although it is no longer located within Old Town. Singer-songwriters such as Bob Gibson, Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, and John Prine played at several clubs on Wells Street, such as The Earl of Old Town.

According to Wikipedia, The Old Town School of Folk Music was closely associated with these artists and clubs. One large and successful folk club was Mother Blues, which featured nationally known artists and groups such as Jose Feliciano, Odetta, Oscar Brown Jr., Josh White, and Chad Mitchell. It also presented comedian George Carlin, Sergio Mendez, Brazil ’66, and The Jefferson Airplane.

In later years and today, I still walk the streets of Old Town enjoying the great shopping and entertainment such as Second City, The Chicago History Museum and O’Briens restaurant.