Saturday, July 26, 2008

Straws & Connectors

With kinesthetic learners in mind, one purchase that was a big hit this year with the kids I work with was a box of Straws & Connectors. This set consists of plastic straws and little plastic connectors that look like jacks. Whether working individually, in pairs or small groups, kids can build all sorts of things with these straws - from simple to very complex. All the kids who used them were very energized and excited by them.

There's something about building things that most kids seem to really love... and I've seen these simple building materials help many kids, even kids with low self-esteem, develop an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment after completing their creations. Anne LaBossiere, the other school counselor I work with, is actually the one who suggested we add a set of "Straws & Connectors" to our shelves last year - so I have to give her credit. Thanks, Anne!

The Dot... dotted...

I meant to mention in my last post that Peter H. Reynolds' book The Dot is also available in braille through BrailleInk. What's great about BrailleInk.'s books is they include the original printed text and illustrations, along with the braille text. This allows for the book to be simultaneously enjoyed by both sighted readers, and braille readers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dot and Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

I added an ongoing book list to the right side of this blog... books that embrace, embody, encourage, inspire a can-do attitude and spirit. Actually, I'll probably have two lists - children's books, and books for adults - though most of the children's books will be for adults too.

The first on the list are the children's books The Dot and Ish, written and illustrated by my very good friend, Peter H. Reynolds. Peter and I have collaborated on many projects, and he even created the art for the Can Do! Web site. His books, The Dot and Ish, are about overcoming the "can'ts" - "I can't draw" or "I can't draw well." While both stories focus on creativity and art, they are inspiration for overcoming any type of "can't." They're stories about daring to do it anyway - doing it because you want to, no matter what anyone else thinks, no matter how well (or not well) you can do it, but because it's something you enjoy, and want to do, and can do.

By the way, if you want to add The Dot or Ish (or any of Peter H. Reynolds' books) to your own collection, I'd recommend ordering them from Peter's family's book store, The Blue Bunny. If you order any of Peter's books from The Blue Bunny, they'll arrive signed by Peter! Pretty cool, eh?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Planting the Seeds of Peace

Today the second session of the Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield, Maine began with a flag raising ceremony. This is Seeds of Peace's 16th year - and its mission and accomplishments are an amazing testament to the belief that peace in our world IS very possible. The camp hosts teenagers from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and America... helping them develop empathy, respect and confidence, along with leadership, communication and negotiation skills. Over 150 campers will be attending this second session, as they spend the next three weeks playing, talking, learning and trying to better understand each other - with the hope of walking away as friends, and as the next generation of peacemakers.

You Can Do It!

The other day, when I was trying to come up with a name for this blog, I Googled "You Can Do It." I half expected to get a bunch of hits for Rosie the Riveter/"We Can Do It!" images, but instead was led to the book "You Can Do It: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-up Girls" by Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas. I've never read this book... I've never even held it in my hands... but I love the book's concept, and I love the cover - the design, the title, and the sub-sub-title: "Dare to Dream, Learn Something New, Do Something Just for You!"

Sadly, Lauren was killed on United Flight 93, on 9/11. Her book was published posthumously. In life, she clearly had a can-do spirit, and wanted to inspire that spirit in others. It's wonderful that she's still able to do so, even in death.

I'm going to try and find this book in my local library - I'm eager to give it a look (it's bringing back memories of my Brownie/Girl Scout days, too!). If I find it, I'll be sure to let you know...

UPDATE (8/15/08): I just picked up a copy of "You Can Do It!" from my local library, and I'm happy to report that I think it's a great book. It's certainly a very motivating book - with a lot of practical suggestions for how get started in making your dreams and goals come true - even tips/exercises to help you figure out what your big dream is. The book is broken down into sections, and chapters/badges within those sections. Each chapter is then broken down into tips for getting started, getting motivated, advice from a mentor, "badge steps," and a list of additional resources (books, organizations, web sites). There are also 60 badge stickers in the back of the book. All in all it's a book that makes it very hard to say "I can't" when it comes to something you really want to do. A very can-do book indeed!

CanDoozle has arrived...

Just when it seemed the world had enough blogs... yes... I'm tossing my hat into ring! Announcing the launch of CanDoozle - the official blog of the Can Do! Web site. Welcome!