Archive | Encouragement RSS for this section

We are creating memories as well as mental abilities

I remember very little from my elementary education years, if you figure that there were about 1000 days in K-5, and I probably remember maybe 200 individual days or events.  I do have some knowledge of the things I learned (I remember the ABC’s, how to count, and that the united states has 50 of them – so don’t get discouraged teachers.  It IS sinking in.)

But the day to day stuff is pretty much lost to me, except for some very specific memories –

– asking a girl to be my girlfriend (she declined)

– Any time I was made fun of or embarrased

– Meeting friends for the first time

– The talent show in 5th grade

– Mrs. Phillips singing “Peanut Butter and Jelly”

– and on and on (that’s maybe another blog post – “elementary memories”

The point is, memories are made each day in our classrooms, and we don’t even know it.  We usually don’t even know it when they happen (like the girl I heard talking to a boy yesterday, asking “if you could go out with anyone in the class, who would it be?” with a hopeful tone to her voice (he was WAY too young to know how to respond to that).

Next time someone asks you what it is you do, if you’re a parent or teacher or mentor or friend, tell them you’re a MEMORY MAKER.

Now, excuse me.  I have a few memories to make myself.

check out for more exciting adventures, and follow @MisterEdie on the twitter

Everyone is a Hero in their own Way


When you go out in the morning, do you see yourself as the hero or villian in your story?  I’m willing to bet almost everyone sees themselves as the Batman in their story (or Superman, or Wonder Woman…).  And the people that are the challenges in your life, they are the bad guys – the Jokers, Lex Luthors, and…whomever Wonder Woman fights.

What we need is new thinking.  We need a realization that EVERYONE is the hero in their story.  To Apollo, Rocky was some upstart young guy who didn’t pay his dues who was getting into the big leagues and trying to steal his thunder and his paycheck.  This guy needed taken down a peg, and it was up to the hero – Apollo Creed – to do it. 

When you come up against your nemisis (like the lady at the coffee shop that always ruins your order, or the co worker who is passive agressive and always talks behind your back, or the boss who yells a lot for no reason) or just someone who is making your life difficult (like that kid who just won’t stop talking about his summer vacation, or the one who always whines when he loses at checkers) try to remember that they aren’t the villain.  They’re the hero of their story, and it’s up to you to meet them with respect – like Batman and Superman do.  They may not agree all the time.  They may believe THEY are the right hero for the job.  But they aknowldege they are both heroes, just trying to do good in this crazy little world.  And they respect each other.

Respect each other today, and believe like I believe – people are just trying to do the right thing (even if they don’t always do it the right way!).

check out  or to hear about my own little life’s heroes.

Artists in Everyone – Top 4 ideas

My top 4 (not 5?  Not 10?  No, I don’t need to be pingenholed by a specific round number.) Art activities.  Ready?

Art is dead.  Isn’t it?  It seems so sometimes in public schools that artistic endeavors tend to go the way of the dodo.  It’s hard to find time in the day to do art education when you don’t have a test forcing you to cover the material.

In our state, we have yearly art assessments we give, but they really aren’t graded.  Our scores aren’t printed and made public.  Parents don’t come to you and pound on your door, demanding why their child earned below average on their art assessment.  It just isn’t a priority in our leaving children behind age.

Of course, I may be biased because I have a theatre background, but I truly believe that keeping a foot in the artistic world helps you be a more rounded person, and the research shows that artistic activities help you access more of your brain function.  Kids who have an opportunity to have art experiences, do better in many subjects.

Of course, where do you get the time?  The answer is simple – you’ve got to do it during reading, or history, or math…slip it into the lesson without them even knowing it.  Sometimes they look at me with a puzzled expression – “wait a minute Mr. E….is this Art?”

Nope.  It’s math…with a dash of art thrown in for good measure.

So, how do you do it?  “What if I don’t know anything about art?” you say.  “What if I’m a terrible artist?”

Funny enough, most of the teachers out there are great artists, they just don’t think of themselves that way.  I’m terrible at putting together a nice collage or bulletin, but a lot of my peers put me to shame in that category.  I’m not any great shakes at classic drawing art anyway.  I’m more of a writing, photography, abstract paper mache kind of guy.  But we don’t need to be locked into “art” as “pictures”.  Art is just expression.

So, a few ways to incorporate art into the curriculum, for those teachers, homeschoolers, moms and dads and caregivers out there in this crazy old world of hours:  My top 5…

1) In history, check out a few classic scuptures.  Greek, Roman – probably nothing too revealing for the younger kids, but there’s some good stuff out there.  You could even do the acropolis or the pyramids – some example of classic art or architecture.  Get a pic from google, and give everyone a copy.  Obviously talk about the time period – who the egyptians were, where Greece is today, etc…

Then have them sketch their own example of the work.  Depending on age, they might take 5 minutes or an hour on it.  We did this with a local sculpture, and some did a slow, methodical job and some flew through.  It’s all good (See Kassy’s pic above)

2) Math Problem solving – For some reason my kids never want to draw a picture when they have a word problem.  For me, it always helps me to help them visualize the story problem.  So, sometimes I’ll make it a requirement – you HAVE to draw the story out.  Or maybe have to do it with magazine clippings, and make a story problem answer collage.

For example, if the question was – “Dan wants to buy a sandwich and soda for lunch.  He can get a roast beef or a turkey sandwich, and he can get lemonaid, sprite, or coke to drink.  What are all the ways he can have lunch?” – they’d have to actually draw all the turkey sandwiches with color, or cut out foods from a magazine (or find pics online for younger ones who need technology practice!)

3) Color science – this is a simple and always fun lesson on light absorption.  Just get some paints together and experiment what the blends will come out as.  Have them make a hypothesis, then test it.  Remember, when you see purple paint, really what the paint is doing is absorbing all the other spectrums of light EXCEPT the blue and the red, which is bouncing back to your eye.  So if you mix red and blue, you’ll get purple.

4) Snowy day? (like today) – Make snow sculptures inside.  Then watch them melt to discuss forms of matter, molecular movement to make those forms of matter, what matter is…go crazy.  Hey…why didn’t the rocks on my snowman’s face melt when the snow did?

I’m sure I could think up 3 more, but that’s all for now. 🙂 Have a great day – go out and learn something!

Check out for a little more info.  See ya!


Kassy’s conductor pic – 4th grade

Double Duty
I love when you can kill two birds with one stone.
Sometimes when you’re teaching kids you lose yourself in the process. In fact, focusing on the objective at hand is extremely important. However, if you can combine objectives – if you can do two things at once – that’s even better.
100 years ago it was pretty good if you could just read and write. But as we learn more an more about our earth, there’s more and more we have to teach. I can’t imagine what the state standards are going to look like another 100 years from now!
But with all that to teach, there’s not enough time to do it one by one. You have to get creative.
Recently we did gingerbread houses with crackers and frosting. It was great, because we could talk about nutrition, and also about communities and construciton. We talked about squares, rectangles, triangles. We talked about weight and load bearing, and why roofs should be peaked.
And in the end, we had a snack. That’s killing two birds with one stone!
check out for more fun ideas to do with the students (or your own kids), and check out the instant plans section if you’ve got a sub day coming up.

First Day of School!

As always, it seems like only yesterday the kids were all packed up and ready to leave at the end of school in June.  Now we’re back and filling up the desks and lockers again.

It’s important, I think, for kids, parents, and educators all to remember as school begins what it is we’re accomplishing.  Why it’s important to lace up the old dress shoes again.  Why do we do it?

Summer is awesome.  Probably my favorite time of the year, and not just because I get more vacation time.  Summer is great.

But kids, if we didn’t go back to school…you’d never get the chance to save the world.  Educating the youth of today ensures our survival on this planet tomorrow.  We’re going to need more doctors.  We’re going to need more accountants.  We’re going to need engineers and scientists to figure out how to increase our energy supplies.  We’re going to need police men and fire fighters.  And I don’t want anyone saving me from a burning building that can’t read the exit signs, and I don’t want

Childrens Book – Bubba’s Knees

Finished my first attempt at a childrens book. Go to and click the “self published books” link to the right. It’s a ppt. (that’s powerpoint for the layman). Check it out, let me know what you think. It’s a highbrow work of realistic fiction (insert sarcasm as needed).

Sports Authority The short kid is almost

Sports Authority
The short kid is almost always picked last for basketball. And really, I don’t blame them. If I can get it to the hoop at all, it’s a miracle. I fared a little better in High School, but I was never the superstar jock (I did date a cheerleader though – later to become my wife… 🙂
But I always went out for sports, even if I wasn’t making all the touchdowns or hitting home runs. Mostly because it was important to be a part of something. Maybe I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was learning to stick with something, to tough it out if it was hard, and to suck it up if I didn’t like what the coaches said. Really, I was learning to be a hard worker. In a lot of ways, organized sports closer mimics the work environment more than the classroom. Teachers are like parents. Coaches are more like bosses.
So it’s good to get the kids out there in something, even if they aren’t the next Ichiro. I, for one, am not really a fan of interrupting my day, after working 10 hrs., to go see a little league game. But, it’s important for the kids. So… as one of my coaches might’ve said – “Suck it up! Get out there, Edie!” You got it, coach.

Waterparks – a modern gift for parents O

Waterparks – a modern gift for parents
One of the things we like to do a few times each summer is take the kids to the waterpark. We don’t have money for something big, like Disneyland or even Silverwood – besides the travel time, it costs more for each kid to get in than it would to buy them a new winter coat! – – and its better than just taking them to the park or the movies. We do plenty of that too, but the waterpark is something special (and to them, it’s just as special as an amusement park – all they know is it’s a fun thing that’s new and different – the size difference doesn’t seem to register yet (thank goodness!)
So the waterpark is perfect – I come off looking like an awesome dad, and don’t have to spend much (it cost about 20 bucks for the whole family of six).
One thing that is great about the waterpark is the opportunity for the kids to stretch their boundaries. We started the day with the littlest one not wanting to dip his feet in, and ended the day with him begging me to take him out to the farthest spot of the wave pool. The 5 year old got to experience the slides for the first time, and spent the day jumping headfirst into waves (something he never would have done at the beginning of the summer).
So, the waterpark is a cheap and easy lesson in courage. Good times for all. And mom gets to relax and work on the tan. Win, win.

Bikin’ – If trains are a cool fun way t

Bikin’ – If trains are a cool fun way to get kids interested in science, I think they got nothin’ on bikes!
The great thing about bikes is that most kids can relate to them, understand them, have them….boys and girls all learn to travel faster than running with bikes first. It’s really their introduction to driving. You start crawling, then walking, then learn to ride with training wheels, then without, and then it’s drivers license time! Bicycles are the step in between crawling and driving yourself on a date for the first time. This is big stuff people!
Honestly though, bikes are an awesome introduction to mechanics and physics. Bring your bike in to school – or even better see how many parents will bring their kids bikes in for the day. Some kids even bike to school anyway! The wheels themselves are simple machines – the most important cave man invention ever! 🙂 But the gears are the real wonder. They enable you to turn the pedals once, and with the larger sprocket on the front (the pedal side), it causes that smaller sprocket (on the wheel) to turn more, and to turn faster, than you had to pedal. That’s why you can go faster than you can actually run (or move your feet around in a circle!) In the end, it’s a good intro to the idea of an engine – basically a car works the same way. You’re the engine in this scenario, and your gasoline makes the crankshaft turn, causing the wheels to move.
Weve done this at school, and also at home, and the bike ride was a great time, and all kids involved had fun and were ENGAGED in the lesson. Fun stuff. Keep on learnin’!

There’s nothing some boys like better t

There’s nothing some boys like better than trains. They seem larger than life. They’re like cars, but something special they don’t see all the time. They have this snake-like quality. And you can add to it – like a charm bracelet for a male mentality. Trains are great! And they’re windows into teaching quite a few things. Steam and coal are two ways trains powered their engines. Get the kids talking about energy and motion through trains. On the same vein, how about energy transferrance (a big MSP science topic) where the power of the steam is converted to kinetic energy that moves the train. Then there’s the history aspect of it. The history of the train is the history of our expansion west. Many towns (including mine) were direct results of train construction. Draw a train. Go see a train at a museum or local station. Play with a train set. Then let that fun translate to knowlege! (how do I do that? you ask? It’s as easy as talking and asking what they don’t understand. The more you converse (not lecture) the more they learn.)