Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dr. Seuss Lives!

I like to see Dr. Seuss come back to life every year on his birthday, March 2nd.
My kids pair up and we share our stash of Dr. Seuss books. 
Then we list common traits of many Dr. Seuss characters, such as funny hats, big eyes, tiny ears, 3 fingers, long and skinny arms, colorful fur--and of course silly names.

Finally, the kids create their own "Dr. Seuss" characters.  They name them, draw them in action, and write about what they might do.

And so Dr. Seuss comes alive and he prances around in my kids' heads!  Not a bad way to spend a day, right?

[Edited to add class poster and kids' work]

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How to Beat Stress After a Test: Character Traits

How to beat stress after a test?

Here's one way: I bring the kids back to the meeting area.  I simply say, "Thank you for your good work.  Now let's shake it out of our system." They shake wildly for a few seconds.

And then we go through our Character Traits poster.  The kids show me each character face in turn.  "Show me determined...scared...nervous..." etc...

By the time we get to the last trait, they've gotten all their emotions out of their system.  They look calm, happy, and ready to move on to the next activity.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chinese New Year Fun

Gung Hay Fat Choy, everybody!

What's the most fun you can have on Chinese New Year?  Well, I'm biased!  I like to make a Chinese Dancing Dragon and take it for a spin. 

Maybe it's the big arm motions, spinning round and round or up and zig-zagging down--that gets your whole body in flight. 

Maybe it's the festive music, with crashing cymbals, simple flute melodies, and drums that thump in your chest.

Or maybe it's the sound of the dragon's tissue-paper tail fluttering like a spinning whip in figure eights.

I love to dance with a Chinese dragon, and I love to do it with 25 kids smiling all zany and comically.  It only happens once a year, on the night of the new moon...

Gung Hay Fat Choy, everybody!  Enjoy the day!!

Bone Health Supplements

Some folks swear by supplements, and some swear at them.

For bone health, you might want to consider these:

Daily Dose:

·        A good multivitamin, e.g. Doctor’s Choice 45+ Women.


·        Intake total: 1200mg, and not more than 2500 (or you risk kidney stones). 
·        Don’t take more than 500 mg at once; your body can’t absorb it.
·        Get calcium mostly from food if possible.
·        Calcium absorption is inhibited by iron supplements.  Take these 2 hours apart. 

Calcium Buddies – Take these with Calcium

·        Vitamin D  (Vitamin D3, 4000 IU; up to 5-6000 in winter or during stress)
·        You MUST balance calcium intake with Magnesium Citrate (320 mg); or you do more harm than good.  NOT magnesium oxide, which the human body does not absorb very well at all (only about 4%).  Don’t take magnesium if you have kidney problems.  Nor with antibiotics.  Use with care: It’s a powerful laxative; watch for nausea or diarrhea.
·        Vitamin K2 (100 mcg).  K2 directs the calcium to your bones instead of to your soft tissues and arteries.  This prevents the dastardly “Calcium Paradox,” where you have TOO MUCH calcium in the wrong places—causing osteoporosis AND arteriosclerosis—argh!
·        Vitamin K1 is much less expensive alternative to K2 and your body makes K2 from it, but you must take a bit extra K1 for the same result. 

Other Supplements

·        Boron (3mg a day, or you can eat prunes).
·        Potassium Citrate 99 mg (you have to be careful with this one as it regulates heartbeat; don’t overdose).

There are many “buzz” products out there.  Such as:

·        Strontium (as strontium citrate, 2 hours before/after calcium) 700-900mg. 

I tend to be wary of these, as long term studies are not in. 

When possible, I like to stick to natural food sources, with a few choice supplements that—I’m pretty sure—will do no harm.

There are no shortcuts to bone health.  As teachers, we should encourage healthy habits including weight-bearing exercise, and a sense of balance—physical as well as spiritual. 
One of my favorite songs for slow-dancing and balance-movement is this reflective Counting Backwards Song, with a soothing voice counting to a relaxing instrumental.  Kids adore it, too!

Please note:  I am not a doctor.  I am simply sharing some of my research.  I hope it will spark your quest for your own best health.

As always, I wish you the very best of health.

Osteoporosis 101

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bone Health – A Weight Vest for Teachers

A weight vest is one of the best tools for bone health—if you use it wisely.

There’s a lot of evidence that wearing a weight vest can actually reverse osteoporosis, or bone loss.  When you press down on a bone, it creates new bone.  Walking with a weight vest is much more effective than simply walking.

Start with just a little added weight (1 lb.), for a short period of time (5 minutes).  Just walk around, feel comfortable.

Every few days, add a bit more weight and time.  You can use small bags of sand in a backpack.  Try to balance the same amount on either side of your body.  The weights should fit snugly, not bounce around.  You don't want to lose your balance and fall.

Weights along your back will strengthen the spine.  In a fanny pack, they help your pelvis.  Around your wrists and ankles, they benefit your arms and legs. 

The key is to maintain good posture and healthy movement.  Don’t hunch over or move carelessly while wearing weights.  That’s not good for your back—it could actually cause a fracture in your spine.   And if you’re not mindful, the weight can make your posture worse. 

I like to clasp my hands behind my back and stretch downward every once in a while, to remind myself of good posture.

Please don’t wear anything that hurts, and check with your doctor if you’re not sure this is right for you.

A weight vest is amazing!   I bought a cute, streamlined one so I could wear it in the classroom and not feel too “military.”  I figured I’m on my feet all day anyway, so I might as well maximize the benefits.   The one I got is called the Infinity Vest, a SELF Adjustable Weighted Vest, 8-Pound, Black, about $90.   It actually improves my posture.   
Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO Unisex 10-Pound Adjustable Weighted Vest for Fitness Workouts, Medium, Grey is even cooler and sleeker, but at $200, pricier. 
I splurged on the Hyper Vest for home use and I have to say, I ADORE it!  It fits like a second skin.

<a rel="nofollow" href="">Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO Unisex 10-Pound Adjustable Weighted Vest for Fitness Workouts, Medium, Grey</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
The experts recommend your vest should be no more than 10% of your body weight, but fire fighters and soldiers often train with much heavier vests.   

One more benefit: a weight vest burns calories.  It'll help you lose weight.  How cool is that?

It's true that most of us can prevent bone loss, but I've realized in doing my research that there are no shortcuts.  Most people don't think they have the time or patience—and then later, they wish they had made the time.  

I like the weight vest because it’s effortless; and a stylish vest insures I’ll actually wear it.  And, as comfy as it feels to wear, it feels even better to remove it.  I feel so light--as if I could fly.  Very cool!
Please note:  I am not a doctor!  I am simply sharing some of my research.  I hope it will spark your quest for your own best health.

As always, I wish you the very best of health.

Hyper Vest Pro Weight Vest as a Gift
Bone Health Exercise
Bone Health Food
Osteoporosis 101

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bone Health Exercise

As teachers, we’re on our feet all day, but that’s not enough to ensure bone health.  Here are some ideas for preventing osteoporosis with exercise:

·         Spend time on balance and co-ordination.  This prevents falling, which can cause bone breakage.  Try standing on one foot while you do the dishes or wait on line.
·         Lift weights.  Slow lifting is the key.  If you are lifting weights, doing strength training, be sure to rest one or two days between sessions.  This helps rebuild bones.
·         It is a good idea to change off from one type of exercise to another every few weeks (eg, dance, steps, cycling).
·         Do an exercise for about 2 weeks. Then stop doing it for 2 weeks. Why?  Osteoblasts respond to new and additional bone stress.
·         Walking a mile or more a day can add about 1% to your total bone mass each year. This is just enough to off set the annual loss of 1% of bone experienced by most persons over the age of 35 each year (Note: Women often lose from 3 - 5% of bone in the years at the end of menopause.) 
·         Add a weight vest!  You can buy one or use 1-lb sand bags, and add 1 per 2-weeks to a backpack, up to 10 lbs. 
·         Get a pedometer and add steps daily. 
·         Buy a good pair of walking shoes.

Good, but do with care:
  •      Jumping jacks, walking down stairs, tap-dancing, take 'baby steps' jogging, race walking.  All these add extra stress on bones, which is good for creating new bone mass.

·         Running, jogging, jumping rope, high impact aerobics, football, soccer, hockey, “jumping down hard” etc.  These can cause bone fracture.
·         Toe touching, bending over when weightlifting, bending forward at the waist. Spontaneous crush fractures of the spine can occur when coming back up from this position.  No one should ever bend over to lift weights, ever.  Bend at the knees instead.

Weight Vests:
·         Infinity Vest - Classroom-friendly and stylish
·         Hyper Vest Pro - Stylish, with adjustable weights

·        Lower stress, 15 minutes of sunlight daily (makes Vitamin D), good posture, fresh air at night, deep breathing.

Please note:  I am not a doctor!  I am simply sharing some of my research.  I hope it will spark your quest for your own best health.

As always, I wish you the very best of health.

Osteoporosis 101
Bone Health Food
Bone Health - A Weight Vest for Teachers

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bone Health Food

We’re teachers.  We want to learn the latest on osteoporosis and food.  Not to upend our lives, but to go in with eyes wide open next time we lift a fork. 


They are: animal proteins, milk, soft drinks, any carbonated drink, caffeine, caffeinated  or decaf coffee, salt, sugar, most grains and anything with synthetic chemicals such as artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, synthetic preservatives, artificial flavors and colors.   


·        Bone loss occurs when there is excessive accumulation of acid waste in the body.  This forces our body’s calcium – most of which is stored in the bones – to be used up to correct the acid imbalance.
·        Balance acid foods with alkaline foods, 20% to 80%.
·        Don’t drink milk; it’s too acidic and defeats the purpose (bone calcium gets leeched out of the bones to correct the imbalance, and you lose more than you gain). 


·        Eat high calcium foods that are low-acid:
·        Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and collard greens
·        Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt (Some experts say no milk products are good for you)
·        Salmon
·        Sardines (with the bones)
·        Tofu
·        peanuts and almonds (potassium—prevents loss of calcium in urine)
·        walnuts, flaxseeds, fish oil (omega 3)


·        Important!  Calcium is not absorbed without magnesium.
·        A magnesium-rich diet consists of nuts, whole grains (not refined as you lose the magnesium in the refining) such as brown rice, whole wheat, and rye; and legumes including lentils, split peas, and a variety of beans.
·        Foods that are high in fiber are generally high in magnesium. Dietary sources of magnesium include legumes, whole grains, vegetables (especially broccoli, squash, and green leafy vegetables), seeds, and nuts (especially almonds). Other sources include dairy products, meats, chocolate, and coffee.


·        Most grains are acid-forming (not good), except millet and buckwheat, which are slightly alkaline (better). Sprouted seeds and grains become more alkaline in the process of sprouting. Vegetable and fruit juices are highly alkaline. The most alkaline producing foods are: figs, juices of all green vegetables and tops of carrots and beets, celery, pineapple and citrus juices, vegetable broth.
·        Turmeric spice, 10 prunes a day, apple cider vinegar as a remedy for acidity, sea salt instead of regular salt.
·        Fructooligosaccharides: FOS Bifidobacteria are considered "friendly" bacteria.  They serve as a substrate for microflora in the large intestine, promote calcium absorption.  Most people can eat 5-10 grams of FOS without gaseous discomfort, extracted from fruits and vegetables such as bananas, onions, chicory root, garlic, asparagus, barley, wheat, jicama, and leeks. Some grains and cereals, such as wheat, also contain FOS. The Jerusalem artichoke has highest concentration.

You’ll notice inconsistencies:  Coffee may be bad for bones because it’s acidic—or good because it’s got magnesium.  The experts are still piecing together this puzzle.  This is their latest, but it is not the final word.

Please note:  I am not a doctor!  I am simply sharing some of my research.  I hope it will spark your quest for your own best health.

As always, I wish you the very best of health.

For Osteoporisis 101 with my favorite links...
Bone Health - A Weight Vest For Teachers

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Osteoporosis 101

Osteoporosis is scary disease.  Teachers are on their feet all day, often walking at least 10 thousand miles.  Walking is superb, but it’s not enough. 

Poor diet, and lack of exercise, stretching, balance, and mindfulness all contribute to bone loss.

I’m going to shine a spotlight on osteoporosis to help prevent thinning bones, bone breakage, dowager’s hump and worse.

Please note:  I am not a doctor!  I am simply sharing some of my research.  I hope it will spark your quest for your own best health.

Osteoporosis Summary:

Bone loss is normal as you age.  Bone quality is more important than density.  Good bone collagen, shape, micro architecture, mineral, and flexibility are the key. 

Pharmaceuticals—prescription drugs—increase bone density by preserving “old bone” not by creating new bone.  So, you end up with brittle old bones that will still break.  And side effects, too, such as bone pain, head ache, nausea, hair loss, jaw death...and worse! 

The natural process involves losing old bone AND creating healthy new bone.  You can reverse bone loss naturally with good diet, exercise, endocrine balance and supplements. 

I will address each of these separately.  For now, I want to share some of the best sources I’ve found for information on osteoporosis:

Kate Lindemann’s website is one of the best I’ve ever seen.  I subscribe to her monthly newsletter for the latest info.

Susan E. Brown has written the bible of bone health, Better Bones, Better Body.

As always, I’m wishing you the best of health.

For more on Osteoporosis Food...
Bone Health - A Weight Vest for Teachers

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Best Chocolate Ever!

What better time to think about chocolate than on Valentine's Day?
Here are some of the best gourmet chocolates:

Endangered Species Wolf, Natural Dark Chocolate (72%) with Cranberries & Almonds, 3-Ounce Bars (Pack of 12)

 Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate Bars, 3.5-Ounces (Pack of 12)

Both have a touch of chocolate liquor, and are amazingly rich--and not overly sweet.

Theo Classics 85% Dark Chocolate, 3-Ounce (Pack of 6)

If you think this sounds divine, you're right, it really is:  Stone ground, Dark Organic Chocolate with Coconut:
Taza Chocolate Organic Dark Chocolate Coco Besos Coconut Bar, 2.5 Ounce -- 10 per case.
And if you happen to live in New York City, Kee's Chocolates are some of the best anywhere.  I passed by this tiny hole-in-the-wall store front dozens of times before I noticed it.

Brooklynites swear by Mast Brothers in Williamsburg.

Some more wonders:

Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate Raw 70%, 1.76-Ounce (Pack of 5)  

Amano Chuao Chocolate Bar  

Chocolat Bonnat Chuao 75% Dark Chocolate Bar 

There's no doubt that a little dark chocolate, in moderation, is very, very good for body and soul.  Have a lovely Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Is George Washington Smiling?

Washington is smiling!  He's really smiling!

And all my kids smile, too--when they see this--even the foreign kids who don't speak a word of English.

The joke is universal.  Nothing need be said.

Of course, we can launch a discussion about why George Washington might smile.  After all, he won the American Revolution, he became our First President, and Father of our Country.

We can mention that he really had no teeth.  He had fake teeth made of hippopotamus ivory.

We can talk about why things make us laugh--the unexpected twists, unusual images, and unnatural juxtapositions.

Or we can just look and laugh, which is one of the great delights of life.  Which is why I hang this on my classroom wall every February.

And why I took this picture of my kids in Lincoln and Washington masks:

...And then posted it on our Smartboard during our Morning Talk.  I love a good smile.    

Monday, February 9, 2015

Abe Lincoln Puppet--and a Washington Puppet, Too

An Abe Lincoln puppet for all seasons.  Beyond adorable.  It's a bobble-head Lincoln.

It's a break-dancing Lincoln, or a time-traveling Lincoln--surprised at what he sees.  A talking Lincoln, telling what he thinks.

Any way you look at it, he's a must-have for kids learning about Lincoln. 

Trouble is, I'm not sure if I can settle for just Lincoln.  I might have to have the next guy, too...

If you have to have a Lincoln and Washington Puppet fix, no worries--I've got you covered!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lincoln and Washington Masks - and a Math Graph

Who wants to look like Abe Lincoln?  George Washington, anybody? 

For a math lesson, count how many kids chose each.  Then print out that number of Lincoln and Washington masks.  Kids can color, cut, and wear their Lincoln and Washington masks--and create a human graph. 

It’s fun beyond words, and kids get to keep a new sort of super-hero mask!


Abe Lincoln Mask for Kids

Yes, Abe Lincoln can come back to life!

...25 of them!  How fun is this?  You decide.

I like for kids to make Abe Lincoln masks, to launch or culminate Presidents’ Day.  Once they know more about Lincoln, it’s charming to take on his persona. 

My favorite Lincoln book, hands down, is Just Like Abraham Lincoln, by Bernard Waber.

Mr. Potts lives next door.  He looks—and acts—just like Lincoln.  He’s kind, fun, thoughtful, generous, nature-loving, story-telling…just like Abraham Lincoln.  And at the end of the story, he’s moving away.

I admit I always get a little lump in my throat at the end.  And then I get a hearty laugh when I see my class all in Abe Lincoln masks.  It’s the cure for—well, for almost anything.

Lincoln’s Log Cabin Craft

Lincoln’s Log Cabin craft is fun to make. 

It also doubles as a doll house, which is a huge plus!

 Best of all, it can spark a great conversation.  Where was Lincoln born?  In a one-room log cabin in Kentucky!  Some people think this is the actual cabin: actually isn't.  Lincoln's cabin was destroyed in a fire, but this one is similar, from the same place and time.

How did a poor boy from Kentucky become the 16th President of the United States?

Whose face is on a penny?  Hint: There’s a penny in the window of this cabin.  How many pennies make a dollar?  How many pennies do you need to buy something special?

What kind of person was Abe Lincoln?  How can I celebrate Lincoln and Washington?