The Fascinating World of Mammals Receives a Very Favorable Review by School Library Journal

The August 2012 issue of the School Library Journal has a very favorable review of The Fascinating World of Mammals. The review is written by a Linda Teel an Associate Professor in the Academic Library Services department at East Carolina University. The review is below:

A narrator introduces ten incredible mammals via beautiful live-action videography. Close-ups of a giraffe, moose, lion, dolphin, elephant, beaver, chimpanzee, bat kangaroo, and bear quickly engage viewers as each mammal is clearly identified by name using a subtitle. The animals are presented in their natural habitat, offering an accurate perspective of their everyday lives. For example, beavers are shown building a dam and a kangaroo boxing match is filmed. Interesting and amazing facts cover such topics as size, diet, care of young, community living, life span, and other unique features. Unfamiliar vocabulary words are shown on-screen as an age-appropriate youth presents each definition. The second part of the program provides a five-part review ranging from flash cards to multiple choice questions. A valuable acquisition for public libraries and elementary school media collections.–Linda M. Teel, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Exercise Your Brain

English: Fitness training for kids: jumping ex...
English: Fitness training for kids: jumping exercise of 2-year boy Courtesy of Alyona Loik Español: Los ejercicios físicos para niños: saltar ejercicio de niño de 2 años, consulte Vídeo Français : Exercice physique par un garçon de 2 ans: cliquez sur Video Русский: Физкультура для малышей: двухлетний мальчик репетирует прыжки с двух ног, cм. Video (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My boys need to move.  They need to move all the time and preferably outside.  I love that they don’t want to be absorbed into the television all day and that they want to be active.  I do wonder, though, if they’ll ever get to the point where they prefer less physical activities and need prompting to move and exercise.  After reading an article in the August 17th Issaquah Reporter, I’m convinced that I need to help my children find physical activities that they enjoy and will want to continue into adulthood.  The article was an interview with author Dr. John Ratey who wrote Spark:  The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.  Dr. Ratey said, “What the exercise does is that it makes learners better at learning.  It improves the attention system, it improves the motivation to stick with it.  It lowers impulsivity.  You’re less jumpy in a cognitive situation.  It reduces anxiety, and all those things make for a better learner.  For the brain, for 100 billion nerve cells, [exercise] optimizes it to grow, and that’s the only way to learn things.  That’s the way we encode information.  The brain becomes better conditioned.  Synapses get pushier, make more neurotransmitters and make more receptors.  We get our brain cells ready to learn.  If our brain cells don’t grow, we don’t learn.” I do see that Parker and Brandon’s focus and behavior is better after they have played hard.  We get them outside to run, play in the sandbox, kick the soccer ball, and climb the playground equipment as weather permits.  In poor weather, we find indoor spaces to play.  Children’s museums, bouncy house places, and mall play areas have provided many great opportunities for physical play.  We’re also starting to include more indoor equipment for our boys.  They will be playing on a trampoline, Sit ‘n Spin, and Bilibos this winter.

I also notice an increase in attention, learning and retention in my students after they have had some exercise.  Sometimes, just incorporating some kind of physical activity into a lesson is all they need to be able to fully participate. When my students are too lethargic and can’t pay attention or process information, I have them get up and move.  Some days we do jumping jacks, other days it’s a walk around the track.  Some days just moving from group to group in the classroom is enough.   Too many teachers expect students to sit still for long periods of time, listen to the lesson and complete an assignment.  If the work is not completed, teachers hold these students out of recess to take the time to finish the assignment.  I believe this is the worst thing to do for children.  Don’t take recess, PE, or other physical activities away from our children as punishment.  They need to run, swing, and play in various ways to optimize their brain’s potential and be able to learn at their optimal level.

Momma’s Bacon Reviews The Fascinating World of Mammals

Jeanna with Momma’s Bacon reviewed The Fascinating World of Mammals.  We’re thrilled that she and her daughter enjoyed it!

“This Innovative Series Builds Confidence in Science through Fun and Interesting Content

The Fascinating World of…..Series has just begun to produce high quality science DVDs that children will relate to such as insects, birds and mammals.  I was more interested in reviewing the mammals DVD since Brooke is all about animals like bears, kangaroos, elephants – well, pretty much any mammal you can find at our local zoo.  I knew she would love to hear and see more about the mammal’s natural habitat and see the various continents in which these animals originate (Africa and Asia to name a few).

The Fascinating World of Mammals DVD is a useful and interesting guide for children and adults alike and is the perfect video for home education or home schooling.  Many items are said over many times for repetitive learning and similarities are talked about between the different mammals.  Interesting facts are injected throughout the video including how a beaver builds a dam and which mammal is the only flying mammal.  The website talks about this being a perfect review before your family checks out a zoo or wildlife park. It is a very useful guide and one that you will want to watch again and again which has been Brooke’s request.  Oh, one thing I love and had to mention is that it isn’t a mind-numbing hours long DVD.  It’s a great length for young children and enough time to get a special dinner ready without little ones stepping underfoot.  Highly recommended!”

Baby Sign Language

It’s so important to teach our children how to communicate with us even before they use real words.  We taught both of our boys sign language.  Giving them a means to meet their needs without crying and frustration made a world of difference in our children’s development.  As a special education teacher, I have used sign language in my classroom, therefore already knew several signs that would be appropriate.  I taught my husband and many basic and most used signs because kids need consistent repetitive modeling in order to learn the signs quickly.  We use the signs more, all done, sleep, bath, milk, eat, drink, play, music, stop, go, help, mommy and daddy the most.  It is so rewarding as a parent to see the smile on my baby’s face when he signs more and gets more of what he wants.

There are several resources (books, video, websites) available to teach yourself and your child baby sign language.  We have the DVD Baby Einstein:  My First Signs and would watch it with our boys to aid in their instruction.  There is also a website called Baby Sign Language that provides online learning as well as free reproducibles for home use.  They also provide some research information explaining the benefits of teaching our children sign language at an early age.  In fact, the site states that in an NIH study

Sign language L
Sign language L (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

, children’s IQ scores at age 8 were 12 points higher if they received sign language instruction in comparison to children who did not receive sign language instruction.

We are thankful we taught our boys how to use sign language to “speak” with us while their expressive language was developing. It allowed them to tell us what they wanted without us having to guess and it created much less frustration for our children and for us.

Math Can Be Fun

Mathematics (Photo credit: Terriko)

“Show kids that puzzling through problems can be as cozy as reading Goodnight Moon … they may never decide that math is no fun.” This sentence in an NPR report about a website called Bedtime Math that was started by a mom who gave her kids math problems to solve at bedtime strongly caught my attention.  I thought that this was a fantastic way of describing how my husband and I feel about teaching our kids math and when it is appropriate to start.  How many of us grew up thinking we’re “no good at math?”  We don’t want our boys to ever think that about themselves.  We feel that, starting from a very young age, exposing our kids to math concepts only gives them an advantage.  We count stairs as we walk up or down, decide how many avocados to buy at the grocery store, talk about money, and discuss whether we want more or less ice cream.  So many people, including numerous teachers, believe various age groups should be taught only certain math skills because they are deemed developmentally appropriate for that group.  Peg Tyre wrote in The Good School, “But now research suggests that children often don’t know math at an early age not because they are not developmentally ready for it but because they haven’t been exposed to it.  What children are “ready for” is largely contingent on prior opportunities to learn.  In general, early experience with numbers and quantity at home builds into early math learning, which sets the stage for more math.”  What it comes down to is background knowledge.  Children need a solid background knowledge to be successful in not just reading, but in math as well.  We hope to provide that for our own boys in order to allow as many doors of opportunity to open for them as possible.