Monday, April 30, 2012

25 Killer Khan Academy Videos for Personal Finance Geeks: Part 1

25 Killer Khan Academy Videos for Personal Finance Geeks

April 24th, 2012 by Staff Writers

According to an article from, Khan Academy is host to more than 3,000 video lessons that touch on everything from humanities to test prep, but a particular strength of the site is its personal finance videos. Covering everything from the stock market to payday loans and estate taxes, the site has a lot to offer in the way of personal finance learning. Although some of these videos go over basic concepts, we're sure that personal finance geeks can truly enjoy the wealth of knowledge available from Khan. Here, we've hand-selected 25 of the most impressive personal finance lessons that Khan Academy has made available.  Below are suggested lessons 1-5:

1.What it means to buy a company's stock
When you invest in the stock market, do you really know what you're doing? Watch this video to better understand what it means when you buy a company's stock.

2.Payday Loans
Payday loans are an amazingly easy and dangerous way to get into serious financial trouble. This video breaks down the math of incredibly high interest rates and explains exactly how these risky loans work.

3.Personal Bankruptcy: Chapters 7 and 13
When things get really bad, bankruptcy is a difficult but valid option. Explore exactly what Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy might mean for you through this video.

4.Ponzi Schemes
We've all heard of the famous Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, but do we really know exactly how it all worked? Watch this video to understand what happens in a Ponzi scheme, and how you might avoid getting caught up in one yourself.

5.Mortgage Interest Rates
Watch this video to find out how mortgage interest rates are quoted, and how those rates impact how much you'll pay in interest, as well as how rates impact your monthly payment.

For more information go to

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kitty Allergies

According to an article in the May 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, if your kids have other allergies it will make them three to four times more prone to react to a cat allergy.  A recent European survey of nearly 6,300 people were documented in this study.  But there is a solution:

1.  None of the kitty adoters who enforced a no-cat zone in their bedrooms became allergic, compared to 5% of those who gave Fluffy free run of the house. 

2.  Adults adopting cats were 40% less likely to become allergic if they'd had one as a child.

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Child Doesn't Care About Her Grades

According to an article on, a parent asked the question for Dr. Stacie Bunning, Clinical Psychologist, about her child not caring about her grades.  Below is the article:

My daughter has no motivation to do well in school. She loves going to school and loves math and science. But when it comes to getting good grades or even completing homework, she couldn't care less.

Whenever I try to help her with her homework, she "plays dumb" and then I get frustrated and send her to her room. One example of this is when I spent an hour and a half trying to explain how to borrow for math problems. She couldn't even get the right answer for the simple subtraction parts. I finally got so mad that I sent her to her room. She came out five minutes later with all 30 problems done, with no help from me.

In first grade the school wanted to send her back to kindergarten because for the first three weeks she did not do a single assignment. I had to beg her to start doing her work. It seems like money is the only way to motivate her, but I want her to enjoy doing well and to want to do it for herself. Please help me!

Your concern is understandable. Because this seems to be a recurring problem, though, it's time to try a different approach. Start by talking with your daughter's teacher and find out if the same behaviors are showing up in the classroom. Does your daughter do her in-class work without problems, or is she failing to turn in assignments? Is she daydreaming, acting out or otherwise disengaged from learning? It's possible that your child is masking an undiagnosed learning disorder or attention disorder by simply not doing her work. If so, talk with the teacher about having her evaluated by the school psychologist, and check with your pediatrician about other possible health issues.

If your daughter is completing her work without difficulty at school, then the problem may simply be that your child has learned to manipulate you. You may have inadvertently reinforced your daughter's poor work habits by giving her too much attention. It may be that she "plays dumb" to keep you engaged. Create some firm rules for homework, review them with your daughter, and stick to them. It is her homework, not yours. Work should come before pleasure, so no TV, video games or toys until homework is completed. Provide a quiet area free of distractions and set a timer for 20-minute work periods with, if necessary, breaks in between. You can provide help when absolutely necessary, but keep it brief and then walk away. Remember that homework usually involves material already learned in the classroom, not new concepts.

Finally, be careful about rewarding grades or work completion with tangibles, such as money. If the goal is for your daughter to develop intrinsic motivation, then paying her for work can backfire. If you absolutely need to use tangibles, make them harder to earn as the weeks go by. In other words, she will need to produce more to get the same reward.

Try praising her for effort, instead of outcome. Ask her what she likes about school, as well as what she dislikes. Ask about her peer relationships and extracurricular activities. Talk about things other than her grades, and you may gain some insight into her feelings and behaviors.

If these tactics don't help, you may want to consult the school counselor or a private therapist to explore your daughter's lack of interest in school.

Dr. Stacie Bunning is a licensed clinical psychologist in the St. Louis area. She has worked with children, adolescents and their families in a variety of clinical settings for 20 years. Bunning also teaches courses in child psychology, adolescent psychology and human development at Maryville University in St. Louis.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tip #67: Single Parent Must Build a Positive Support System.

The family has changed greatly over the years. Today we have about half of the families being headed by a single parent. That brings us to tip #67.

Tip #67: Single Parent Must Build a Positive Support System.

It is not easy raising children with two parents let alone raising a child or children by a single parent. There are some things that a single mom or dad can do to help get through the challenges of raising children alone.

1. Make sure you are mentally healthy and happy while in your singleness. A happy healthy parent is the key!
2. Never speak negatively about the absent parent. Most children will figure what each parent's contribution has truly been to their lives in time .
3. Try to get the absent parent to be a part of the child's life if possible. If not, leave it alone and move on to making it with you and your child/children.
4. Find a support system of people to help. This can be grandparents, uncles, aunt, church members, or friends. It takes a village to raise children and sometimes you will need a break.
5. Keep open communications with your child and know how they are feeling about the family's current standings.
6. Try to get as much education as you can to support you and your family.
7. Never introduce your friend into the family circle until the relationship is serious, and don't keep a revolving door of suitors coming and going. It sends the wrong message and is very confusing to a child.
8. Be involved as much as possible in your child's education and extracurricular activities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

25 Killer Khan Academy Videos for Personal Finance Geeks: Part 3

25 Killer Khan Academy Videos for Personal Finance Geeks

April 24th, 2012 by Staff Writers

According to an article from, Khan Academy is host to more than 3,000 video lessons that touch on everything from humanities to test prep, but a particular strength of the site is its personal finance videos. Covering everything from the stock market to payday loans and estate taxes, the site has a lot to offer in the way of personal finance learning. Although some of these videos go over basic concepts, we're sure that personal finance geeks can truly enjoy the wealth of knowledge available from Khan. Here, we've hand-selected 25 of the most impressive personal finance lessons that Khan Academy has made available. Below are the suggested lessons 11-15:

11.Introduction to Interest
Interest rates are an important part of finance, impacting your money each time you make a loan, or give one, even in the form of a savings account. Check out Introduction to Interest to better understand this topic, and specifically learn about the difference between simple and compound interest.

12.Term and Whole Life Insurance Policies
If you're researching your options for life insurance policies, this video can help you determine whether you should get term, whole life, or a combination of the two different policies.

13.Term and Whole Life Insurance Policies 2
A continuation of the previous video, Term and Whole Life Insurance Policies 2 discusses what exactly happens when someone dies, and it's time for a cash payout on a whole life policy.

14.Term Life Insurance and Death Probability
One of the darkest subjects in personal finance, this video discusses your chances of dying as they relate to getting term life insurance.

15.Open-Ended Mutual Funds
If you're interested in starting an investment with open-ended mutual funds, this video can provide some education, sharing the basics you need to know about mutual funds.

Tip #66: Teach Your Children the Value of Forgiveness.

It is astounding the benefits for both your body and soul forgiveness will bring. Better yet, showing your children how to forgive will be a tool they can utilize for the rest of their lives. That brings us to tip #66.

Tip #66: Teach Your Children the Value of Forgiveness.

Although there is no single path to forgiveness, here are expert guidelines to follow according to December 2009, "Good House Keeping" magazine:

1. Allow yourself to feel anger before trying to let go of the hurt and how you can protect yourself in the future.
2. Talk about it with a trusted friend or therapist. Not only can this help you sort out how you feel, it can also allow you to see alternative viewpoints.
3. Calm yourself when you start feeling upset. It can help to go for a walk or do something else to calm down. Practicing meditation helps reduce stress and enhance a person's ability to forgive.
4. Empathize with the person who hurt you. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who hurt you, or recall a time that you hurt someone and were forgiven.
5. Remind yourself that forgiveness is a gift to yourself. It is easy to think of your own self-interest rather than the interest of a person who wounded you.
6. Commit to forgiveness. Once you feel like you've reached a turning point, write it down or tell someone - a friend, your spouse, or the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is easier to hold on to if it goes beyond the privacy of your own heart.
7. Relish the release. The sense of peace feels so good.
Teach your children the value of forgiveness. It can change everyones' lives for the better.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10 Ways to be a Great Parent

According to "Positive Line" there are 10 tips ways to be a great parent.  Below are the 10 ways:

1. Be a good role model.  Your child learns from the example you set.
2.  Show respect for your child's feelings, thoughts, and suggestions.
3. Make your child feel loved with your words of praise, and your hugs and kisses.
4. Keep your word.  If you must break it, apologize and make it up to your child.
5. Encourage your child's creativity.  Ask questions to stimulate curiosity and imagination.
6. Build your child's self-esteem by showing appreciation for all genuine efforts.
7.  Stay involved.  Know what's going on in your child's life, both at school and with friends.
8. Discipline your child fairly, firmly, and with love.  Focus on the behavior, not the child.
9. Establish family traditions and make time to do fun things together.
10.  Think positively.  By expecting the best, you empower yourself and your child to solve problems and achieve goals.

Monday, April 23, 2012

10 Ways To Raise A Reader

According to "The Positive Line", there are 10 tips to raise a reader.  Below are the 10 tips:

1. Read to your child every day.  It's never too early to start and even newborns respond to hearing you read.
2.  Continue reading together even after your child learns to read.  Older children still enjoy listening to others read.
3.  Make stories come alive for your child when you read.  Be animated and use different voices.
4.  Be patient and let your child read aloud at his or her own pace.  Offer help only when needed.
5.  Discuss what you read together.  Ask questions, and listen attentively to your child's answers.
6.  Make reading time special.  Cuddle up in a quiet comfortable spot.  Your child will associate reading with feeling secure, relaxed and loved.
7.  Encourage your child to read at least 15 minutes a day, either to your or independently.
8.  Take along your child's favorite books wherever you go.  Read on the bus, in line at the store, or in waiting rooms.
9.  Take your child to the library often and check out a variety of age-appropriate reading materials.
10. Be a role model and read on your own.  By seeing how much you enjoy reading, your child will learn that it's a great source of information and fun.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Back Pain

According to an article in the April 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping, if the back pain won't quit, consider an alternative therapy.  Recent studies from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle found that both Swedish massage and yoga significantly relieved chronic back pain.  After 10 treatments, of the 401 patients in the massage study, over 35% reported their pain was "gone"or "much better," compared with only 4% of those who continued with usual care.  Want a hand-off fix?  In another study, 12 yoga classes also brought relief, with 60% of patients reporting significant improvement.  Seek out a skilled practitioner or instructor, says senior investigator Daniel Cherkin, Ph.D.  For massage, try  With yoga, find a teacher who will make adjustments to help prevent injuries.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fruit: Cut-and-Dried Facts

According to an article in the April 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine, dried fruit can be handy stand-in for fresh on your morning cereal or in salads.  But just as the fruit shrinks when it's dried, so should your portion:  If your follow the government's standard serving size, calories go way up.  Vitamin C, however, which is sensitive to heat, drops.  Fiber can go up or down.  Our advice: Enjoy dried fruit as a condiment or snack, but keep your fresh fruit bowl full too.

Serving                      Calories            Fiber           Vitamin C
1 small apple                  77                  4                    12%
1/2 c. dried apple           104                4                      3%
3 medium plums              91                 3                     31%
9 dried plums                 205                6                       1%
3 medium figs                 110                4                       5%
9 dried figs                     188                7                       2%
1 c. grapes                     104                1                      26%
1/2 c. raisins                   217                3                       3%
4 fresh apricots                67                 3                      23%
1/2 c. dried apricots       157                 5                        1%

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tip #65: If Your Child Shows Signs of Depression, Get Professional Help.

Years ago, depression was thought to be for adults only. Dr. David Brent, a professor of child psychiatry at the University of Pittsburg, states,"If you become depressed at 25, you have coping skills. But at age 11, there's a lot you need to learn, and you may never learn it." That brings us to tip #65.

Tip #65: If Your Child Shows Signs of Depression, Get Professional Help.

The dramatic social and biological changes that occur during adolescence are enough to cause even the healthiest teen to go over the edge, but when moodiness interferes with daily activities, it can be an early sign of depression. Warning sign for teen depression according to Ronald Dahu M.d. If five or more of these symptoms persist for two or more weeks, they may indicate teen depression:

1. Vague physical complaints, such as headaches

2. Frequent absences from school or drop in grades

3. Bouts of shouting or crying

4. Reckless behavior

5. Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure

6. Loss of interest in friends

Depression rates jump after puberty, especially in girls. Up to 7% of severely depressed teens commit suicide. This is why it is important to recognize teen depression and get help for those who suffer with it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tip #64: Teach Your Children How to Have a Healthy Lifestyle By Living a Healthy Lifestyle.

According to an article written by editorial staff, part of a parent's responsibility is to teach your children how to lead healthy lives. That brings us to tip #64.

Tip #64: Teach Your Children How to Have a Healthy Lifestyle By Living a Healthy Lifestyle.

The best time to start teaching these lessons to your children is when they are young, before unhealthy choices become lifelong bad habits. When you want to pass on healthy habits to your kids, it's important to practice what you preach. Just telling your kids what to do won't necessarily work. They need to see you choosing healthy behaviors too.

What can I do?
1. Pay attention to the kinds of food you buy and limit the amount of "junk food" your kids eat.

2. Serve a variety of healthy foods and use appropriate portion sizes.

3. Encourage your children to drink plenty of water or milk, instead of fruit or sugar drinks.

4. Limit the amount of time your children spend watching television, computer, or video games to a maximum of 2 hours or less a day.

5. Eat meals and snacks together, as a family, at the table and not in front of the television.

6. Make physical activity part of your family's routine. Take a walk, visit the community pool, or go for a bike ride together.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Be a Travel Agent: High Schooler

Be a Travel Agent: High Schooler

How you can help at home: Have your child plan a real or virtual trip - budget and all.
By Tonya Breland, Consulting Educator

Many families dream of spending part of their summer vacation traveling to places far and near. Whether your family makes traveling a reality this summer or simply dreams about it, you can ask your teen to be your travel agent and come up with family vacation options.

This activity incorporates a number of skills, including researching, understanding money, writing, and reading comprehension. It reinforces map skills and can broaden your child's knowledge of history. Your child will get to practice math by budgeting, measuring distance and time, and converting temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit. He'll even get a chance to hone his technology and artistic skills.

Here is what your child can do:
•Get travel brochures and/or search the Internet for exciting places for your family to visit.

•Decide where you'd like to travel: domestic or international. Research fun places and choose one or more to compare.

•Find out how far away it is and how long it would take to get there. What routes would you take? Map it out.

•Research the best way to travel, by car, plane, or boat — and the ticket prices and journey lengths for each.

•Where will you stay? Hotel, cabin, tent, resort, house, or villa?
What do each of these cost per night, including fees and local taxes?

•What will you do when you get to your destination? What activities do mom/dad want to do? What fun stuff would kids want to do? What about the grandparents (if traveling with you)? Are there historical sites or other educational opportunities to take advantage of while you're there? What will these activities cost, including transit?

•Create an itinerary. When are you leaving and returning? What will you do first, next?

•What will you need to take on the trip? Plan for the weather, account for any new gear or gadgets you'll need to purchase or rent, and convert temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit (here's the formula: °C x 9/5 + 32 = °F) when necessary.

•Decide how much money you can spend. Create a budget that includes the cost of:





5.Does your budget cover every activity the family wants to do?

6.Where can you cut costs to make the money go further?

With all this information accumulated, ask your child to find a creative way to present the complete package of information to the family. Your teen may want to make a multimedia presentation, create a brochure, or use excel spreadsheets to show where costs could fluctuate. Plan trips for other family members, friends, and neighbors, too.

Enjoy your trip, whether it's real or virtual!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Undercover Math: Middle Schoolers

Undercover Math: The Tweener's Dream House

In this math activity, your child draws his bedroom to scale and creates his fantasy home.
By GreatSchools Staff

Suggesting that your middle-schooler exercise his math muscles at home may not produce the rousing "Great idea — right after I take out the trash and reorganize the linen closet" you might hope. But this activity sneakily disguises hardcore academics in a kid-friendly fantasy of cool stuff, extravagant inventions, and a lifestyle without parental constrictions.

When you and your child share some idle hour, prompt him to design his own dream home. Encourage him not simply to design a nice or big house — but a home ideally tailored to his middle school imagination. Is there a water slide running from the rooftop pool to the duck pond? A fireman's pole instead of a staircase? How about a secret passageway between the kids bedrooms for late-night spying missions? Whatever his interests or hobbies, suggest your child incorporate what he loves into his fantasy dwelling.

The key to success with this project is that you give your child the graduated steps to build on his math facts and know-how. This gradual process will help him understand how math has practical applications, which, when seasoned with creativity, can produce unadulterated fun.

What you'll need

Pen or pencil

Ruler or tape measure

Graph paper, preferably with one-inch squares

Colored pencils

Get it done
Step one: Brainstorm the dream house and its components. Make a final list of what the house has.

Step two: As a drafting warm-up, discuss how an architect uses math to draw up plans for a house. Explain that the plans need to be "to scale." Have your child measure his bedroom and make a smaller version of it on paper. After measuring the length and width of the room in feet, he can use a scale of one inch to one foot and draw the perimeter of the bedroom to scale on graph paper.

Step three: Show your child some examples of drafting such as these floor plans from Math-Kitecture, a website with architecture activities for kids.

Step four: Have your child map out the biggest and most central rooms first. Ask him how large certain rooms are, how one enters from one room to another, and where the windows are placed. If the house is multilevel, make him create a drawing of each floor — from roof deck to basement video-game lounge! By the end of the project, he should be about to tell you the square footage of each room as well as the home's total square footage. (If he designs round or triangular rooms, you may need to refresh your basic formulas for areas of different shapes!)

Step five: Put the drawing of the dream house on the refrigerator, and share the ideas with family and friends, encouraging your child to explain how he went about inventing and drawing his house to scale.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sock Probability: Fifth Graders

Sock Probability: Fifth Graders

How you can help at home: Have your child explore probability with socks.
By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

In this math activity your child explores prediction and probability using different colored socks.
What You'll Need

•Pen or pencil

•10 socks in various colors

Here's How to Do It
Talk with your child about probability, the chance or likelihood of a certain event occurring. Explain that probability can be expressed as a ratio of the number of specific events or outcomes to the total number of possible events or outcomes. Go over examples of probability with your child, such as the probability of a coin being tossed heads up (1/2 ). What is the probability of rolling an odd number on a die? (3/6) or (1/2).

Have your child grab 10 socks from his sock drawer, making sure they are different colors. Have your child go through each color and write down the probability of picking each sock. For example if there are three white socks the probability is 3/10 for white. Put the socks in a bag and have your child predict which color sock he will pull out. After he has chosen a sock, have him write down the color chosen and put the sock back in the bag. Have him continue this nine more times. When he is done have him compare the probability to the outcomes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Act Like an Architect: Fourth Graders

Act Like an Architect: Draw Your Bedroom

How you can help at home: In this math activity, your child draws his bedroom to scale.
By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

Have your child explore measurement by drawing his bedroom to scale.
What you'll need

•Pen or pencil

•Ruler or tape measure

•Graph paper preferably with one-inch squares

How to do it
Discuss how an architect uses math to draw up plans for a house. Explain that the plans need to be to scale. Tell your child he is going to take measurements of his bedroom and make a smaller scale of his room on paper. Have your child measure the length and width of the room in feet. Then have him measure two pieces of furniture, such as his bed and dresser, in feet. He does not need to measure every item in the room as this may be too overwhelming a task. Have him write the measurements on paper. Using a scale of one inch to one foot have him draw the bedroom to scale on graph paper. Talk about how he could rearrange the furniture in his bedroom by using the scale drawing to see how things would fit before physically moving the furniture. Discuss other reasons and jobs, such as an interior design or mapmaking, in which scale models are used.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weather Graph: Third Graders

Weather Graph: Third Graders

How you can help at home: In this activity your child observes the weather and makes a bar graph.
By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

Have your child observe the weather and make a bar graph of the results. This activity combines math and science to build your child's graphing and observation skills. Your child will observe the weather for a week or more, keep track of weather patterns on a chart and then display the results in a bar graph.

What you'll need:

•Pen or pencil

•Graph paper or lined paper for making the bar graph

•Colored markers or crayons

Here's how to do it
Discuss with your child the weather patterns where you live. Talk about the weather at different times of the year and the changes in the weather on a weekly basis. Come up with a list of the types of weather with your child such as sunny, cloudy, snowy and rainy. Have your child make a chart with the types of weather listed on the left with room on the right to tally the weather type. Designate a period of time that your child will tally the weather, such as a week or a month. Each day at about the same time, have your child record the weather. When the designated time is up, have your child tally each weather type.

Review bar graphs with your child. Then have her make a graph to display the weather information. Have her draw a large L. On the vertical line have her write the number of days and write a label such as "Number of Days." On the horizontal line have her write the types of weather and a label such as "Types of Weather." Have her fill in the bars with different colors. Then come up with a title for the graph such as "Daily Weather." Discuss the data with her, asking questions such as, "What type of weather did we see the most and the least? "Is the information easier to read in the bar graph or the tally sheet?"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beach Ball Math: Second Graders

Beach Ball Math: Second Graders

How you can help at home: Try this game to help your child with basic addition and subtraction facts.
By Linda Eisenger, Consulting Educator

This game reinforces the skill of quickly recalling basic addition and subtraction facts.

What You'll Need:
•An inflated beach ball

•Permanent marker (black or dark blue)

Here's How to Do It

Divide the ball into large sections with the permanent marker. In each section write a numeral. Toss the ball to another player or up in the air and catch. Locate the sections in which the player's thumb has landed, and remember the numeral. Toss the ball again and note where the catcher's thumb lands. Add or subtract these numerals. Keep playing!

Extensions of the game
Increase the difficulty by using larger numbers to add and subtract, or by multiplying the numbers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Numbers Sense: First Graders

Numbers Sense: First Graders

How you can help at home: This number-sense game played with dice helps your first grader build math concepts such as greater than and less than.

By Nicola Salvatico, Consulting Teacher

This game reinforces number sense, one-to-one correspondence, graphing, the concepts of "greater" and "less than," and simple addition.

First grade is a year of problem solving, which can be done cooperatively in a group or individually. It is important that the first grader becomes a student who is willing to take a risk in a non-threatening environment to further her learning.

What you'll need:
•Two dice-preferably two different colors

•Graph paper with one-inch squares

•Pencil or crayon


Here's how to do it

Your child can play this game on her own, with you or in a group. Ask your child to roll the dice. Have her add the two dice together and write the two numbers and the total (sum) on the piece of paper. Using graph paper with big squares will keep the number sentences organized (For example: 2 + 3= 5).

Next, you roll your turn and do the same. The person who gets the highest number wins. That person can highlight her number sentence with a yellow highlighter or crayon to show the win. But, if someone rolls "Alien Eyes," or 1 and 1, then that person is automatically out and must begin again.

Extension of the game

Tally the amount of wins each player gets to keep a running total. (But if one gets alien eyes, the player's tally goes to zero.) Graph the sums for each person as you take a turn; then see the overall "greater than" or "less than" number. (For example: If I roll a total of five, then I can color in five squares on my graph. Continue that pattern until the first person to fill her entire graph is finished).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Math for Young Kids: Four Games to Play With Your Child

Math for Young Kids: Four Games to Play With Your Child

Four ways to improve your child's math skills
By the College Bound team

To help your kindergartner improve math skills, here are some easy games to play:

Sorting beans
What this teaches: Sorting, counting, and patterns

What you need: A mixed cup of dried beans

Math activities: Have your child

1) sort the cup of mixed bean into piles by color,

2) count each pile of beans, and then

3) mix the piles together and make a row of patterns using the different colors (like: pinto, black, black, navy; pinto, black, black, navy).

Counting coins
What this teaches: Counting, coin values

What you need: A pile of mixed coins

Math activities: Have your child

1) separate pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters into separate piles,

2) tell you what each coin is worth (or listen while you explain),

3) add up the total value of pennies, nickels, and dimes, and then

3) count the pennies by ones (1, 2, 3 . . .), the nickels by fives (5, 10, 15 . . .), and the dimes by tens (10, 20, 30 . . .).

Shape walk
What this teaches: Counting, coin values

What you need: A sharp eye!

Math activities: Do a shape-hunting game in the house or outdoors, looking for squares (bathroom tiles, windowpanes, sidewalk squares), rectangles (doors, refrigerators, trucks), circles (round kitchen tables, door knobs, round traffic lights), octagons (stop signs).

Fruit fractions
What this teaches: Fractions

What you need: An apple

How it works: Your kindergartner won’t be learning about fractions in school yet, but you can give her a head start by helping her understand them now. In the kitchen, take an apple and show your child that it’s one apple. Then cut it in half. Show her that now you have two halves. Have your child put the two halves together to make a whole. Then have her take it apart again for the two halves. This shows your child that two halves make a whole. Once she gets that concept, you can cut each half in two, and talk about quarters.

Make kitchen music
What this teaches: Counting and patterns

What you need: Kitchen “instruments” like pots, pans, and spoons

How it works: Beat and rhythm teach about counting and patterns, so put together a kitchen band with your child. Put on some music with a strong, steady beat and play with your child to find the beat.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Learning to Love Math: Preschoolers

Laundry Sort

How you can help at home: Make doing laundry with your child fun and educational!
By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

Teach your preschooler early math skills by having him/her help you sort laundry. He'll be using color recognition, categorizing and counting skills.

What you'll need
•Dirty laundry of various colors

Here's how to do it

Before you put the laundry in the washer have your child help you sort the whites from the darks. Explain why mixing white and dark colored clothing can cause the dark colors to come off on the white colors. You could even make this more fun by sorting more colors (blues, reds, etc.)

When the laundry is clean have your child focus on a particular task. You might ask him to make a pile of shirts, pants or socks. You could also have him count the number of shirts in the pile. Another time you can have your child sort the socks by color or size. Who knew doing the laundry could be so fun!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

I truly hope you are all blessed on this Easter Day.  My wish for each of you is that every child in your reach will get the "Best Education Possible" and you live in peace, health, and prosperity!  Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

From: Best Education Possible, LLC
Debra West

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Take a Nap

Take a Nap

According to an article in the April 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, to resist temptation researchers from McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, hooked people up to functional-MRI machines and showed them pictures of high calorie goodies (like chocolate cake).  Those who had earlier reported daytime sleepiness had lower activity in "willpower-regulating" areas of the brain than when they viewed salad or fruit photos.  If you zzzz's get cut short, a siesta may help strengthen your resolve, says lead author William D.S. Killgore, Ph.D.

Friday, April 6, 2012

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education: Part 4

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education
Part 4
November 22, 2010 by Sarah Kessler

6. Storytelling and Multimedia

Knezek recently saw a video that was produced by a group of elementary students about Bernoulli’s Principle. In the video, the students demonstrated the principle that makes flight possible by taking two candles and putting them close together, showing that blowing between them brings the flames closer together. For another example, they hung ping pong balls from the ceiling and they pulled together.

“With a simple assignment and access to technology, researching and also producing a product that would communicate, they were able to do deep learning on a concept that wasn’t even addressed in their textbook, and allow other people to view it and learn from it,” Knezek says.

Asking children to learn through multimedia projects is not only an excellent form of project-based learning that teaches teamwork, but it’s also a good way to motivate students who are excited to create something that their peers will see. In addition, it makes sense to incorporate a component of technology that has become so integral to the world outside of the classroom.

“It’s no longer the verbal logic or the spoken or written word that causes people to make decisions,” Knezek says. “Where you go on vacations, who you vote for, what kind of car you buy, all of those things are done now with multimedia that engage all of the senses and cause responses.”

7. E-books
Despite students’ apparent preference for paper textbooks, proponents like Daytona College and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are ready to switch to digital. And electronic textbook vendors like CourseSmart are launching to help them.

E-books hold an unimaginable potential for innovating education, though as some schools have already discovered, not all of that potential has been realized yet.

“A digital textbook that is merely a PDF on a tablet that students can carry around might be missing out on huge possibilities like models and simulations or visualizations,” Dorsey says. “It takes time and it really takes some real thought to develop those things, and so it would be easy for us as a society to miss out on those kinds of opportunities by saying, ‘Hey look, we’re not carrying around five textbooks anymore. It’s all on your iPad, isn’t that great?’”

8. Epistemic Games
Epistemic games put students in roles like city planner, journalist, or engineer and ask them to solve real-world problems. The Epistemic Games Group has provided several examples of how immersing students in the adult world through commercial game-like simulations can help students learn important concepts.

In one game, students are cast as high-powered negotiators who need to decide the fate of a real medical controversy. In another, they must become graphical artists in order to create an exhibit of mathematical art in the style of M.C. Escher. Urban Science, the game featured in the above video, assigns students the task of redesigning Madison, Wisconsin.

“Creative professionals learn innovative thinking through training that is very different from traditional academic classrooms because innovative thinking means more than just knowing the right answers on a test,” explains The Epistemic Games Group’s website. “It also means having real-world skills, high standards and professional values, and a particular way of thinking about problems and justifying solutions. Epistemic games are about learning these fundamental ways of thinking for the digital age."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education: Part 3

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education
Part 3
November 22, 2010 by Sarah Kessler

5. More Efficient Assessment

Models and simulations, beyond being a powerful tool for teaching concepts, can also give teachers a much richer picture of how students understand them.

“You can ask students questions, and multiple choice questions do a good job of assessing how well students have picked up vocabulary,” Dorsey explains. “But the fact that you can describe the definition [of] a chromosome … doesn’t mean that you understand genetics any better … it might mean that you know how to learn a definition. But how do we understand how well you know a concept?”

In Geniverse, a program the Concord Consortium developed to help students understand genetics by “breeding” dragons, teachers can give students a problem that is much more like a performance assessment. The students are asked to create a specific dragon. Teachers can see what each student did to reach his or her end result and thereby understand whether trial-and-error or actual knowledge of genetics leads to a correct answer.

The organization is also developing a program that will help teachers collect real-time assessment data from their students. When the teacher gives out an assignment, she can watch how far along students are, how much time each a spends on each question, and whether their answers are correct. With this information, she can decide what concepts students are struggling with and can pull up examples of students’ work on a projector for discussion.

“What they would have done in the past is students would make a lab report, they’d turn it in, the teacher would take a couple of days to grade it, they’d get it back a couple of days later, and two to three days later they’d talk about it,” Dorsey says. “But they’ve probably done a couple of lessons in between then, [and] they haven’t had time to guide the students immediately as they learn it."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education: Part 2

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education
Part 2
November 22, 2010 by Sarah Kessler

2. Global Learning
At sites like, students can set up language lessons with a native speaker who lives in another country and attend the lessons via videoconferencing. Learning from a native speaker, learning through social interaction, and being exposed to another culture’s perspective are all incredible educational advantages that were once only available to those who could foot a travel bill. Now, setting up a language exchange is as easy as making a videoconferencing call.

3. Virtual Manipulatives
Let’s say you’re learning about the relationship between fractions, percents and decimals. Your teacher could have you draw graphs or do a series of problems that changes just one variable in the same equation. Or he could give you a “virtual manipulative” like the one above and let you experiment with equations to reach an understanding of the relationship. The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, run by a team at Utah State University, has been building its database of these tools since 1999.

“You used to count blocks or beads,” says Lynne Schrum, who has written three books on the topic of schools and technology. “Manipulating those are a little bit more difficult. Now there are virtual manipulative sites where students can play with the idea of numbers and what numbers mean, and if I change values and I move things around, what happens.”

4. Probes and Sensors
About 15 years ago, the founders of the Concord Consortium took the auto focus sensor from a Polaroid camera and hooked it up to a computer graph program, thereby creating the ability to graph motion in real time. Today there are classrooms all over the world that use ultrasonic motion detectors to demonstrate concepts.

“I’ve taught physics before, and you spend a lot of time getting these ideas of position, and what is velocity, and what does motion really mean and how do you define it,” says Chad Dorsey, the president and CEO of the Concord Consortium. “And you end up spending a lot of time doing these things and trying to translate them into graphs. You could spend a whole period creating a graph for an experiment that you did, and it loses a lot of meaning in that process. By hooking up this ultrasonic motion detector to a graph right away…it gives you a specific real-time feel for what it means to move at faster rates or slower rates or increasing in speed or decreasing in speed and a much more foundational understanding of the topic than you could ever get by just drawing the graph by hand.”

Collecting real-time data through probes and sensors has a wide range of educational applications. Students can compute dew point with a temperature sensor, test pH with a pH probe, observe the effect of pH on an MnO3 reduction with a light probe, or note the chemical changes in photosynthesis using pH and nitrate sensors.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education: Part 1

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education
Part 1

November 22, 2010 by Sarah Kessler
Don Knezek, the CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, compares education without technology to the medical profession without technology.

“If in 1970 you had knee surgery, you got a huge scar,” he says. “Now, if you have knee surgery you have two little dots.”

Technology is helping teachers to expand beyond linear, text-based learning and to engage students who learn best in other ways. Its role in schools has evolved from a contained “computer class” into a versatile learning tool that could change how we demonstrate concepts, assign projects and assess progress.

Despite these opportunities, adoption of technology by schools is still anything but ubiquitous. Knezek says that U.S. schools are still asking if they should incorporate more technology, while other countries are asking how. But in the following eight areas, technology has shown its potential for improving education.

1. Better Simulations and Models

While a tuning fork is a perfectly acceptable way to demonstrate how vibrations make sound, it’s harder to show students what evolution is, how molecules behave in different situations, or exactly why mixing two particular chemicals is dangerous.

Digital simulations and models can help teachers explain concepts that are too big or too small, or processes that happen too quickly or too slowly to demonstrate in a physical classroom.

The Concord Consortium, a non-profit organization that develops technologies for math, science and engineering education, has been a leader in developing free, open source software that teachers can use to model concepts. One of their most extensive projects is the Molecular Workbench, which provides science teachers with simulations on topics like gas laws, fluid mechanics and chemical bonding. Teachers who are trained in the system can create activities with text, models and interactive controls. One participant referred to the project as “[Microsoft] Word for molecules.”

Other simulations the organization is developing include a software that allows students to experiment with virtual greenhouses in order to understand evolution, a software that helps students understand the physics of energy efficiency by designing a model house, and simulations of how electrons interact with matter.

Monday, April 2, 2012

As More Autism Reported, Doctors Say Check Early

As More Autism Reported, Doctors Say Check Early


 At 18 months, Cristina Astacio spoke only a few words, wouldn't respond to her name and shunned other kids in her day care group. Last October, her worried parents found out why.

She has a mild form of autism, a diagnosis being given to more U.S. children than ever before, largely because of more awareness and better diagnosis.

According to new government statistics, the rate is about 1 in 88. That means autism is nearly twice as common as it appeared in data the government gathered 10 years ago. The largest increases are in Hispanic kids like Cristina.

The definition of autism has changed over the years, and Cristina might not have been considered autistic two decades ago.

But experts say kids like her are lucky in a way, because her parents recognized early that something was wrong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report issued Thursday found that 40 percent of kids weren't diagnosed until after age 4. Evidence shows that children who are identified early and get help have the best chance for reaching their potential, said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends autism screening for all children at age 18 months and 2 years.

Diagnosing the developmental disorder relies on observing behavior. Autism can't be cured, but treatment including intensive behavior therapy can help many kids function better.
The academy's Dr. Susan Hyman said many children who aren't making eye contact and aren't talking "may have autism, but they may have other things." She said it's important for parents to be persistent about their concerns with their doctor so their kids can be evaluated.

Kristy Batesole, of Atascadero, Calif., says she suspected something was wrong with her son, Keegan, even when he was a hard-to-calm overly fussy baby. He learned words, but by age 2 stopped talking, would spend hours opening and closing doors and sometimes bang his head on the ground.

Though he started getting special help in preschool in Nevada, he wasn't formally diagnosed with autism until last year, at age 6, after the family moved to California, where there are more autism specialists.

Cristina Astacio gets two hours of behavior therapy six days a week. Her mom, Charisse, says the little girl now responds to commands and speaks about 50 words. The most special are two words Cristina never said before. "Now she says 'mommy' and 'daddy,'" Astacio said. "It's wonderful."
Christina's dad, Christopher, is a special-education teacher in the New York City; most of the kids in his class are Hispanic and many have autism.

"I remember back in the past, a few kids here and there had autism, not like the way it is now," Astacio said. "I'm really curious why so many kids are being diagnosed."

Experts, including CDC researchers, think broader screening and better diagnosis have largely contributed to that. But autism's cause remains a mystery, and government researchers are seeking answers.

The latest numbers are based on 2008 data from 14 states. The new rate is nearly two times higher than data suggested in 2002, roughly 1 in 150 kids. And it's 23 percent higher than a later estimate of 1 in 110 based on 2006 data. Rates are highest in boys and white children. But the biggest rate increase was among Hispanics, from 1 in 270 in 2002 to about 1 in 125 in 2008.

That rate increase also is likely due to better awareness. The CDC report says there's no strong evidence of any racial or ethnic difference in risk factors for autism and that it's likely the condition is underdiagnosed in blacks and Hispanics.

Melissa Miller, a St. Petersburg, Fla., mom whose daughter, Chelsea, was diagnosed last year at age 2, said many people still misunderstand the disorder.
"I think many people hear 'autism' and think 'Rain Man,'" she said, referring to the 1988 movie featuring Dustin Hoffman as the mathematically brilliant but socially impaired autistic savant.

"The autism spectrum is so vast, and all of our children are different. Many of them don't rock back and forth or have savant skills. They are sweet, affectionate, intelligent, goofy — and exhausting — kids," Miller said.
Proposed revisions in the manual that doctors use to diagnose mental illness would streamline autism criteria. Critics contend the suggested changes would be too narrow and exclude children who need educational and behavioral services.

Hyman noted that since the manual's last revision, in 1994, much has been learned about autism. "There's a real possibility the new definition will be better for children," she said Thursday at a CDC news conference.

CDC officials say research into causes of autism will help determine if there's been a true increase or just better diagnosis.

Genetics is believed to play a role. Studies have found no connection with childhood vaccines, but other factors under investigation include mothers' illnesses or medication during pregnancy. First results from the CDC study are expected next year.

Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for the advocacy group Autism Speaks, said the new figures indicate "a public health emergency that demands immediate attention."

Her group estimates that U.S. autism costs total $126 billion each year, including costs related to diagnosis and treatment. That estimate also includes treatment for severely affected adults and lost wages.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sugar Needs A Warning Labels

Health report says sugar needs its own scary warning labels

Capping off a week of mind-bending health news, a "60 Minutes" report airing on April 1 sets its sights on the toxicity of sugar. On the heels of stories on how chocolate keeps us slim and mummy poop may solve the obesity damage done by chlorinated water and antibiotics, "60 Minutes" is reporting that sugar is no better than high-fructose corn syrup, contributing to heart disease, diabetes and even helping cancer tumors grow due to increased insulin production. Dr. Robert Lustig calls it a "public health crisis" and suggests that sugar should be regulated and include warning labels similar to those used for tobacco and alcohol.

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