The Foreign Affairs Writing Contest...with Prize: For College-Aged Children
Foreign Affairs Writing Contest
Montessori Methodology, Math, Language, Sensorial, Practical Life, Book Reviews, Homeschool...
Working with puzzle maps of countries is a great way to start learning about geography.
The best way to work with these maps is to have a control map with the names of the countries and capital cities of each country. Your child can look at the control map, work with the pieces of the map -- removing them, reassembling them on a mat out of the frame, and the putting them back into the frame.
When your child is comfortable with the countries, introduce flags and then capitals.
The control map can be a paper map that you have made yourself by tracing the pieces of the puzzle map. It can also be a regular map like the ones sold by National Geographic.
Learn more about Montessori curriculum with our newsletters and teaching binders.
Recently, researchers have identified a promising new method, called pulse oximetry, to screen all babies for heart defects. Taped briefly to a newborn’s foot, a small sensor painlessly beams red light through the foot and measures how much oxygen is in the blood. It takes about a minute. (Picture E.T. the extra-terrestrial’s finger lighting up, and you get the idea.) If the screening test is abnormal, doctors perform a confirmatory ultrasound of the heart. Last year, Norwegian doctors published one of the largest clinical trials of this strategy, and checked half of all babies born in the country.
The results were impressive. Within a few hours of birth, pulse oximetry detected three-quarters of critical heart defects that had been previously missed. For every 2,000 newborns screened with the toe light, roughly one with a critical heart defect might have been prevented from going home. The cost-benefit ratio compares favorably to current practices of newborn screening for PKU and hypothyroidism. In January, Swedish doctors published an even more methodical study of almost 40,000 newborns, and showed that oximetry entirely eliminated death from missed critical cardiac defects.
Of course, as with any screening, the technique may miss some defects and also involves some unnecessary, though benign, testing of normal children. But these false positive rates were low (only about 1 in 1000 in the Swedish study), and triggered only about two instances of extra, non-invasive testing for every serious heart defect that was picked up. Many parents and doctors caring for children with critical heart defects subscribe to some variant of the “one-percent doctrine.” If there is even a small chance of catastrophe—like the sudden death of a newborn—they feel justified to push for preemptive action, especially when it’s a harmless and inexpensive screening test.
While the screening test is not done routinely in the United States, some hospitals have adopted it, mostly in Texas and Florida, where some small trials have been conducted. But parents can ask doctors to screen their babies for heart defects using pulse oximetry. It’s essentially free since it needs no specialized equipment other than the oximeter, which is present in every hospital already. A specialized doctor isn’t needed; the test is quite simple, and a nurse can do it if the pediatrician orders it anytime after birth, but before discharge from the hospital. Hopefully they won’t mind doing it. Personally, I do think parents should request it. I did for my kids.
The Sandpaper Numerals are designed to be traced in the direction they are written. Your child uses his or her pointer and index fingers to lightly explore the configuration of each numeral.
You will see that the set includes 0 through 9 (as do the Spindle Boxes). The concept of ten and teens will be introduced in the next stage.
You can use cardstock, fine-grained sandpaper, and stencils to create DIY Sandpaper Numerals (or you can usually find a good used set online).
New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.Check out the entire article here.
A study published this month in the journal Pediatrics studied the links between recess and classroom behavior among about 11,000 children age 8 and 9. Those who had more than 15 minutes of recess a day showed better behavior in class than those who had little or none. Although disadvantaged children were more likely to be denied recess, the association between better behavior and recess time held up even after researchers controlled for a number of variables, including sex, ethnicity, public or private school and class size.
The lead researcher, Dr. Romina M. Barros, a pediatrician and an assistant clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said the findings were important because many schools did not view recess as essential to education.
“Sometimes you need data published for people at the educational level to start believing it has an impact,” she said. “We should understand that kids need that break because the brain needs that break.”
For years the hygiene hypothesis has been used to explain stark differences in asthma rates around the world. In Western countries, asthma rates are about 50 times higher than in rural Africa, for instance. The hygiene hypothesis suggests that Westerners have less exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites, altering the immune response and increasing risk for allergic diseases.
But Dr. Harold S. Nelson, professor of medicine at the asthma and allergy specialty hospital National Jewish Health in Denver, says the hygiene hypothesis doesn’t fully explain rising asthma rates in the United States and industrialized countries. The incidence of asthma has doubled in the United States since the 1980s.
In a recent talk at National Jewish Health’s annual Pulmonary and Allergy Update conference, Dr. Nelson noted that lower levels of vitamin D, exposure to spray cleaning compounds, and a wider use of acetaminophen in place of aspirin have contributed to the asthma epidemic.
The concern with household cleaners is that the spray mist can be inhaled and irritate the lungs, increasing risk for asthma. The biggest culprits appear to be glass cleaners and air fresheners. A major European study of cleaning product use in 10 countries found that people who used the cleaners four days a week faced double the risk of adult asthma. Weekly use increased risk by 50 percent. Australian researchers have also found a link with household cleaning sprays and asthma in children.
"The rules are simple: Fill the grid with digits so as not to repeat a digit within any row or column, and so the digits within each heavily outlined box (called a cage) go together using the arithmetic operation shown to make the target number indicated.
Two new KenKen puzzles will be presented in The Times each day from Monday through Saturday. The first is a four-by-four-square puzzle that increases in difficulty from easy to medium as the week progresses. The second is a six-by-six-square puzzle that goes from medium to hard.
KenKen was invented in 2004 by the Japanese educator Tetsuya Miyamoto, who founded and teaches at the Miyamoto Math Classroom in Tokyo. Students attend his class on weekends to improve their math and thinking skills. Mr. Miyamoto said he believes in “the art of teaching without teaching.”
He provides the tools for students to learn at their own pace using their own trial-and-error methods. If these tools are engaging enough, he said, students are more motivated and learn better than they would through formal instruction.
About 90 minutes of class time each week is set aside for solving puzzles, usually designed by Mr. Miyamoto. The most popular one has been KenKen."
"In the same way we give prizes to school children. And ... the fear of not achieving promotion, withholds the clerk from running away, and binds him to his monotonous work, even as the fear of not passing into the next class drives the pupil to his book. The reproof of the superior is in every way similar to the scolding of the teacher. The correction of badly executed clerical work is equivalent to the bad mark placed by the teacher upon the scholar's poor composition. The parallel is almost perfect."Remember that telling your child "please" or "thank you" or "I love you" is not praise or a prize! We encourage these three simple phrases!
But now, with physicists across the country pushing for universities to do a better job of teaching science, M.I.T. has made a striking change.
The physics department has replaced the traditional large introductory lecture with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive, collaborative learning. Last fall, after years of experimentation and debate and resistance from students, who initially petitioned against it, the department made the change permanent. Already, attendance is up and the failure rate has dropped by more than 50 percent.
Dr. Barbara Howard, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an expert on behavior and development, told me that a child’s manners were a perfectly appropriate topic to raise at a pediatric visit.
“It has a huge impact on people’s lives — why wouldn’t you bring it up?” she said. “Do they look you in the eye? If you stick your hand out do they shake it? How do they interact with the parents; do they interrupt, do they ask for things, do they open Mommy’s purse and take things out?”
Dr. Howard suggested that the whole “manners” concept might seem a little out of date — until you recast it as “social skills,” a very hot term these days. Social skills are necessary for school success, she pointed out; they affect how you do on the playground, in the classroom, in the workplace.
We also think of social skills as a profound set of challenges that complicate the lives of children — and adults — on what is now called the autism spectrum. Children with autism, whether mild or severe, have great difficulty learning social codes, deciphering subtle body language or tone of voice, and catching on to the rules of the game.
Therapy for these children can include systematic training in social skills, sometimes using scripts for common human interactions. And one lesson, Dr. Howard said, “is that you can teach this stuff, and we maybe aren’t teaching it as well as we should be to children who are developing normally.”
And of course, one of the long-term consequences of being a rude child is being a rude adult — even a rude doctor. There are bullies on the playground and bullies in the workplace; it can be quite disconcerting to encounter a mature adult with 20 or so years of education under his belt who still sees the world only in terms of his own wants, needs and emotions: I want that so give it to me; I am angry so I need to hit; I am wounded so I must howl.
...In one study by researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University, nearly 600 children from kindergarten to sixth grade took part in a nutrition curriculum. In addition to the regular lessons about healthful eating, some of them took part in cooking workshops.
Their role in cooking appeared to make them less picky eaters. When children were involved in cooking their own foods, they were more likely to eat those foods in the cafeteria, and even ask for seconds, than children who had not had the cooking class.
“It’s the act of being involved in the cooking of it that is both engaging and a little more intense than just being told about it,” said Isobel Contento, nutrition education professor at Teachers College and a co-author of the study. “It definitely improved their eating patterns.”
Harriet Worobey, director of the Rutgers University Nutritional Sciences Preschool in New Brunswick, N.J., has seen firsthand how involving a child in food preparation helps overcome fussy eating habits.
In her classrooms, the children use picture-based recipes to make simple foods like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sandwiches and snowman crackers. Because parents tend to focus on dessert-oriented cooking, she said, they do not realize how much their children (even middle-schoolers and teenagers) want to be in the kitchen helping prepare a family meal.
“Kids love doing things in the kitchen — you don’t have to twist their arms,” Ms. Worobey said. “If you teach your child to cook at an early age, guess what? They’re eventually going to cook dinner for you.”
Ms. Worobey points out that cooking also helps children achieve many developmental milestones. They learn to follow directions in the right order, complete an activity and see how tasks can be broken down into small parts. They also develop patience as they wait for food to cook, and get quick gratification when they taste a food.
“It’s going to stimulate all their senses,” she said. “And it also utilizes math skills and reading skills.”...
We need your help to save handmade toys in the US, Europe and Canada from the CPSIA.
We interrupt the tidings of comfort and joy to bring you some heartbreaking news.
Of course we're all for strengthening the safety standards of mass-produced toys made in China, and banning toxins like phthalates and lead. But this year, the CPSC passed the ill-conceived Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act which goes into effect in two months and will absolutely decimate the small toy manufacturers, independent artisans, and crafters who have already earned the public trust. The very same ones that we often feature here and in our Safer Toy Guide.
They will all go out of business. Period.
Moms who sew beautiful handmade waldorf dolls out of home, artists who have spent decades hand-carving trucks and cars out of natural woods, that guy at the craft show who sold you the cute handmade puzzle--even larger US companies who employ local workers and have not once had any sort of safety issue will no longer be able to sell their toys. Not without investing tens of thousands of dollars into third-party testing and labeling, just to prove that toys that never had a single chemical in them still don't have a single chemical in them.
In other words, handmade toys will now be illegal.
So many of our past reviewees are pleading for your help. Here's what you can do:
-Find your congress person and senators and write a letter like the sample here, particularly if they serve on the consumer protection subcommittee.
-Send a letter directly to the CPSC.
-Join the Handmade Toy Alliance and check out their proposed changes to the act which make a whole lot of sense.
-Spread the word to everyone you know who cares about helping the little guy, particular in today's economy.
“Chocolate milk, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate chip pancakes — it was unbelievable,” said Ms. Worobey, director of the Rutgers University Nutritional Sciences Preschool in New Brunswick, N.J. “His mother just thought, ‘That’s what he wants, so that’s what I’m going to do.’ ”And, for those of you who worry about your child eating something, anything at all, here is another thought:
“I think parents feel like it’s their job to just make their children eat something,” Ms. Worobey said. “But it’s really their job to serve a variety of healthy foods and get their children exposed to foods.”
“When I saw the organic at Publix, I bought it, no questions asked,” said Ms. Chase, a self-described “yoga mom” in Atlanta.
“I would be very concerned about this as a pediatrician,” said Dr. Benjamin Caballero, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an expert in risk factors for childhood obesity. “The issue is that sweet tastes tend to encourage consumption of excessive amounts,” Dr. Caballero said. Evidence shows that babies and children will always show a preference for the sweetest food available, he said, and they will eat more of it than they would of less-sweet food.
All infant formulas contain added sugars, which babies need to digest the proteins in cow’s milk or soy. Other organic formulas, like Earth’s Best and Parent’s Choice, use organic lactose as the added sugar. Organic lactose must be extracted from organic milk, the global supplies of which have been severely stretched in the last three years, driving up the price of the lactose.
"Ten wooden cubes colored pink. The sides of the cubes diminish from ten centimeters to one centimeter.
With these cubes the child builds a tower, first laying on the ground (upon a carpet) the largest cube, and then placing on the top of it all the others in their order of size to the very smallest.
As soon as he has built the tower, the child, with a blow of his hand, knocks it down, so that the cubes are scattered on the carpet, and then he builds it up again. " (p. 72)