The little engine that could

I think I can….I can…I can. The values of today as well as yesteryear have not changed. Because the boys and girls are still reading the little engine that could. Some are still reading the original that was published in 1930 stressing optimism and hard work.

This was also a book that encouraged me to become a better reader. Reading was a struggle in first and second grades but it was the little engine that could that told me I could do this too. And I did…I did.

I began to think about the little engine while watching a student in my class follow the words being read out loud on his starfall iPad reading app. But this was a tale of two little engines that together, they could do it. The book talks about the  little red engine who trys and trys while a similar blue little engine helps push the cars of toys over the mountain. Other engines also pass them by.  This version focuses on true teamwork.

The student was excited about the story adding the types of childhood inflection repeating words as I did decades ago. He read it over and over in class. The same week that I noticed him become entranced in little engines, another student selected a book from the wide variety in the classroom. The original Little Engine that could.

And she did the same with the small, hard copy book. She decided to read it outloud while others listened. Later that day we had an assembly with a few members from the Kane county cougar team supporting are reading program.  Once again, one baseball player said that his favorite book was …guess what? Three times. … a charm.

So, of course, after school that same day, I went to the community library. I had saved many of my childhood favorites in a bookcase at home but not this one. There were many editions of the book as I discovered through the digital card catalog  including , a DVD, and a movie. But copies were checked out and the librarian said that it was always like that with The Little Engine That Could. Would I like The Little Engine That Could Gets a Check Up?

No, that is fine. I will just have the students read to me the copies at the school I assist,  whenever I need to be reminded of my childhood..my beginnings of academic success. Whenever I need to know,today, that I still can!

 

 

 

 

 

Back to school

I don’t remember the beginnings of kindergarten though I do remember that my teacher, Mrs O’Brien, at Hoyne School on the South Side of Chicago. She was kind, patient and always encouraging. I had a favorite friend that she would let me sit next to while we sang songs. I loved to watch her play piano and she said I had the hands of a musician. She would tell me that when I would become frustrated with writing. Yes, Mrs. Obrien, I taught and played piano for many years probably because of you.

I do remember beginning first grade because it was at a brand new school that had just been built in 1962 because of overcrowding at Hoyne.  We were the first class at Kate Sturgis Buckingham school; in the second picture (currently closed because of just the opposite problem).

The school was to offer kindergarten through fifth grade. I remember sitting only two rows in the back from the four long windows on my left that hung over the built-in bookcases and heating vents. I remember watching the new playground being built and my teacher Mrs. Fox who invited her entire class to her wedding at St Marys in Chicago. After, she was called Ms. Boz and though I liked her, I was scared in first grade.

In the early 1990’s, when the school bus came to pick up my son in Downers Grove for kindergarten at Indian Trail School, he got on but cried… seated in the first seat. My husband put him on because I was too busy crying too. And my daughter who was next in line, could not wait for the bus to arrive on the same spot to take her to school.

Currently, I am assisting in a new kindergarten classroom. Parent and student orientation was on Tuesday morning and how wonderful it is when parents and students from previous year come to find out what class you are in. So many families found me; telling them how they missed me over the summer, sharing their fears and concerns for a new school year.

Wednesday was the first day of school without Mom and Dad. And I wait by the main door to help monitor bus and parent drop off. That is when amazing things begin to happen. As soon as they exit the bus, many come running and that’s when I hear my name called out like never before. There are several ready to give me my hug for the day; sometimes I have one on either side excited to know that I am here for them anytime, any day and any year. Today, I had parents snapping pictures on their cell phones of little ones beginning kindergarten for the first time and asking me to stand with them. How proud it made me feel!

As teachers, administrators, assistants and all staff within a school environment, we inspire hope, establish trust, ignite imaginations and establish a passion for learning. But most of all, we demonstrate love… genuine love for the children, families and the staff that surrounds us.

And when we stumble out the main door at the end of the day, bleary eyed, muscles aching, voices and thoughts strained after the struggles we will encounter as the year progresses, we can never forget those first days we celebrated on the playground.

And that is why we do what we do!

 

 

 

What are your children doing this summer?

As a child, with the exception of weekend trips, summer vacation was not always fun for me. Reading alone was difficult and I did receive help when in school but I envied those that enjoyed sitting down on a rainy afternoon with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. I also missed my best friend who went to summer day camp. It wasn’t fair and to this day, I am not sure why I couldn’t go with her. Sadly, I would wait on the sidewalk for the bus to drop her off. Some days were long….very long for me, my dolls and my swing set.

When my own children were growing up, many summers I worked, but I always tried to make every vacation or field trip a true learning opportunity. We always visited museums and trips would focus on their interests. For example, my son loved trains so there was always visits, to unique train shops, museums, and of course, rides on the Chicago Metra. My daughter loved photography and she spent a few days with a photographer to learn more about the working world of that profession; exposing her to possible career choices in the future.

Dr. Pam Roggeman is a proven academic leader familiar with and passionate about technology in progressive education and has extensive experience designing curriculum; preparing teachers in a university setting. She currently serves as the Academic Dean for the College of Education at University of Phoenix. Below, she provides wonderful suggestions for a summer filled with fun, learning, self-improvement skills and essential family time.

Create a “matching agreement.” For every hour spent in front of a screen entertaining themselves, have your child match that time in with a learning activity. Most book stores or a quick online search will have workbooks for math, reading and writing to practice skills. Have your kids do work like this to “earn and accumulate” time they can bank for screen time.

Set “learning self-improvement goals” such as a number of books read, minutes of math tutorials a day, or pages written and then agree on a fun reward for goals attained. Make it more meaningful to your kids by allowing them to decide what they’d like to learn and study. Make it even more meaningful by creating rewards for attaining the goals. These rewards don’t have to cost you anything – maybe they can earn sleepovers with friends, breakfast in bed or “owning” the TV remote for a night.

Summer reading can be essential for students to maintain and continue building their reading skills. This summer, help your children find books that will make the child think on a much larger level. Together, explore your child’s interests and find books that feed those interests.

Encourage your children to keep a journal to regularly document their activities throughout the summer. This is key because kids will start to see their accomplishments on paper. This can be a conversation starter at the dinner table, “what did you do today that will make it into your journal?” When they go back to school and the teacher asks, “What did you do all summer?” they will have the best answer in class!

Look for educational camps and structured social activitiesthat parents can in participate with their children. Make every vacation an opportunity to have the whole family grow and learn together. Maybe visit a different museum in a town nearby that would make a great day trip, or when you take that drive to the local national or state park, take the time to read the information about its origin and why it was established. Be the parent who researches and does the leg work to find the fun, educational activities at your local community center and invite your child’s best friend to attend.

Use the summer to do the kind of learning you don’t have time to do during the school year.

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

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spirit world is strong these days

My friend received a text message from her deceased husband’s old retired cell phone. Same night she woke up in a panic…it was 3 am. She was dreaming that she was running through a house engulfed in smoke. She was heading for the stairway but was trying to get someone out. She began choking. This dream stayed with her. It was disturbing and vivid. She called her brother in New Mexico early in the morning only to find out exactly at the time of her dream, he woke up choking on smoke from his fireplace. A huge windstorm hit and pushed the smoke down through the house.

She also said that Jupiter entered Scorpio for 13 months with the Sun there as well. Potent time for just these issues.  Death, the spirit world….the dark and the light. Ultimately, a time of purging old wounds.

And what about me and my feelings of spirits? Actually, I wrote a book filled with those stories of dreams and premonitions since as a young girl, I have had a connection, gift, and sometimes a curse.

The answer has been simple for me as far as ghosts, spirits or messages and premonitions. The closer we become to God, the more we are able to see, help others and move on from our own obstacles.

Generally, my premonitions or lessons have not been in the form of dreams, but just recently, I, too, had a dream that represented a message or lesson learned.

I was in a huge building, one floor that looked like a warehouse. And all these people that I had worked for in various jobs, throughout the years, were sitting in front of computer screens, one long cubicle that would house six or seven people at a time.  It didn’t matter what job it was whether they were teachers, or in a more active position, they were jammed up against these screens. They were individuals that I had known in real life that were not happy, had insulted and talked about others, and several were bosses that I had experienced through several lay offs. They were being forced and strained while I was standing by the front door watching. Nobody was walking around, nobody was paying attention to me and I turned and looked outside the glass plate window of the door. There was a beautiful path that lead to a mountain and trees of color. I looked back for only a second, smiled while I walked out the door and into the beauty of life.

I have been employed in several positions and have always wished that I could have stayed in one position with a number of years of stability behind me.  And, finally I was able to let go of that unrealistic expectation . In fact, the job as a free-lance writer and elementary education teacher today is the most full-filling I have ever known.

I leave those real glass doors of the school everyday looking at the same beautiful sky and feel like a hero helping the little ones grow and experience love.  It is not a dream. Then, I come home to write about the dreams of others and my own.

That is what God wants for all of us at the end of the day. To truly realize who we are and what we deserve. Some feel that until you do, happiness cannot come to you.

Concentration on not having enough or how much we make, or how much time left to build that retirement nest, never works.  It may take a lifetime but we must realize that when one door closes and we have done the job faithfully, it is truly closing for our benefit.

Hope’s Front Door has assisted over 1,100 children in one year

By Janell Robinson, Executive Director

In DuPage County, nearly 100,000 families struggle to get enough to eat, or the right kinds of food to eat, because they lack money or other resources. Hope’s Front Door often sees families like these at our sessions.

For Gina’s family, a Hope’s Front Door food voucher serves as a lifeline and a source of hope.

“Going to the grocery store is hell for me; it’s pure torture. It fills me with anxiety every time I pull into the store parking lot. I spend a lot of time in the grocery store deciding what to purchase on sale and putting things in my cart, but before I leave, I go back through the store pulling almost half of the items out of my shopping cart because I am scared to spend money my family may need on some other necessities or emergency. Right now, I don’t even think about taking my three kids to the grocery store with me . . . ever. It’s not that I am worried about bad behavior or them constantly asking me for things. It’s when they ask me for reasonable things, things that I think most parents can provide, like fruit, that I feel like my husband and I are failures.”

“My husband and I both experienced layoffs and are now working part-time jobs. The decreased income makes it difficult to decide how to pay every bill and what need is just going to go unmet, like food. Our decision-making was made that much more difficult when my daughter’s doctor said that the reason she was ill and missing so many days of school was because of food intolerance’s and allergies. So, we received a long list of items that my daughter, April, should avoid and items she should be eating. ”

“Hope’s Front Door saved us when April was first diagnosed. Without the food vouchers from Hope’s Front Door, I am not sure if my family would have been able to get her the alternative foods like soy and different types of flours. Hope’s Front Door not only helped us with vouchers to go to the store, but gave us information about other community resources that I did not realize could help us get the food we needed.”

“For me, Hope’s Front Door’s food vouchers are a lifeline and provide a sense that all is not hopeless. I am so tired of being anxious. I am now looking at entering Hope’s Front Door’s budgeting program and I receive the job list each week with information about their recruitment events. Hope’s Front Door is giving me the tools and contacts so that I don’t have to be so scared anymore about life for my family.”

Hope’s Front Door has seen a spike in the number of families needing food assistance. Last year, we assisted 1100 children and have seen an upswing in the number of families needing food assistance this year by an increase of 8%. We hope you will join us help families like Gina’s.

All it takes is $47.70 to provide one week’s worth of low cost meals to area children. Please consider taking part in THE #GivingTuesday Movement for $47.70 and provide nutritional meals to children in our area.

From now until November 29th, for every donation to Hope’s Front Door of $47.70 which provides a week’s worth of meals, you will be entered IN A DRAWING to win four (4) tickets to a Chicago Blackhawks’ game plus parking.

If you would like to donate in someone’s name, go to http://www.hopesfrontdoor.org, and that person will receive an acknowledgement including a poem written by Epiphany, an 11 year old client!

We hope you can help

Experience British Adventures with the Iconic ‘The Famous Five’ with a New App by Kuato Studios

London based Kuato Studios partners with Enid Blyton Entertainment to recreate the adventures of The Famous Five in a downloadable children’s app

Children can immerse themselves in a good old-fashioned English adventure with the launch of a new Famous Five mystery game on the App Store by award-winning app developer, Kuato Studios. The launch of the new app coincides with this year’s 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, a beloved British book series. The Famous Five app will be available in the iOS app store beginning October 25, 2017 for $2.99

Regarded as one of her most popular series, renowned British author, Enid Blyton originally planned to write just six Famous Five books but extended the series to 21, owing to reader demand. Now these much loved characters will enter the digital world with Kuato Studios’ new app!

The Famous Five app has been designed with all the positive values associated with the books in mind, including friendship, heroism, adventure, love of the outdoors and daring.  As with all Kuato games in the Tales Maker series, the app nurtures inquisitive minds and develops literacy skills through storytelling and engaging game play.

The app allows children to explore the iconic world of The Famous Five, a world packed full of English adventure, mystery and intrigue!  Each mystery features unique characters and iconic locations throughout England found in the books, such as the castle ruins of Kirrin Island and Tapper’s Travelling Fair.

The new Kuato game will enthrall Famous Five enthusiasts and those new to the as now, not only can they read about the adventures, but they can also help Julian, Dick, Anne, George and their friendly dog Timmy search for clues, question suspects and solve the mysteries they encounter! With multiple solutions and plot combinations, no single story will ever be repeated and once the mystery has been solved, children can enjoy reading their personalized adventures back in their own game generated storybook!

For Dyslexic readers, there is a section within the Parents Corner where users can choose from accessibility options, including, Open Dyslexic font and color overlays to help readability.

The Famous Five app will be available in the iOS app store beginning October 25, 2017 for $2.99

About Kuato Studios

Backed by Horizons Ventures, Kuato Studios was formed in early 2012 with talent from world-renowned games studios, award-winning education experts and specialists in artificial intelligence. The studio currently has a number of educational game titles: Code Warriors, a coding game for 9-14 year old; and Dino Tales and Safari Tales which were launched in 2015 and focus on literacy skills for 4-10 year olds. The Tales titles have consistently reached #1 in both the Kids and Education charts on the App Store across the world.

About Enid Blyton:

Enid Blyton is one of the world’s best-selling children’s authors. Sales of her books are in excess of 500 million copies, and they have been translated into over 40 languages. Enid Blyton began her career as a school teacher before becoming a bestselling children’s book author, writing over 800 books. In the UK she still sells more than one book a minute and many of her books have been adapted into films and TV series. As well as being regularly voted the UK’s best-loved author, Enid Blyton is the most translated children’s author in the world, according to UNESCO. Her most popular works include: The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Naughtiest Girl, The Adventure Series, The Faraway Tree, Twins at St Clare’s and Malory Towers. In 2012, Hachette acquired the intellectual property of the whole of Enid Blyton’s estate (excluding Noddy). In April 2016 Enid Blyton Entertainment was created to represent the fully immersive Entertainment entity.@BlytonOfficial