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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kindness and the Emoto Rice Experiment

Let me start with two disclaimers here: (1) I have not yet tried this experiment with a class, so if you try it, please leave comments with your result. I would love to know how this works in a classroom setting but have been out of the classroom this year. (2) This is not, strictly speaking, a scientific experiment. There were no controls in place and I have not yet repeated the experiment.

In February, I received a Facebook message from a family member, asking if I had tried this experiment before. I had not heard of it but was very intrigued by it. This experiment, as well as a similar experiment with water, was first conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto to prove the "magical power of positive thinking." In essence, it is meant to show that our thoughts and intentions can alter physical reality. I found that the experiment worked exactly as it was reported to work.

On February 27, 2014, I cooked some regular white rice according to package directions. When the rice was mostly cooled, I placed half in a jar labeled "I hate you." and half in a jar labeled "Thank you. I love you.". I put a loose lid  on each jar and placed them side by side on a counter so that they weren't obtrusive but where I would see them each time I walked by. The next step was to speak to each jar in the manner and with the words on the label of that jar.

Each time I walked past the jars for the next two weeks, I spoke to each jar. I spoke to the "Thank you" jar in a kind voice, telling it that it was good, that I loved it, and, even on occasion, patting the lid. The other jar, I spoke to harshly, told it that it was bad and that I hated it. By day 6, the "I hate you" rice had started to mold while the other rice remained clean.

I continued speaking to the jars in the same manner for a total of 12 days. By that time, the mold was spreading in the "hate' jar but there was still no mold in the "love" jar. At that time, I decided to just ignore both jars for the next few days. By day 15, both jars were growing mold but the mold in the "hate" jar was considerably more colorful and smelly.

The conclusion that I drew from this experiment is that thoughts and actions can, in fact, alter physical reality. I think this would be an excellent experiment to use in the classroom to demonstrate the effect that our negative words have, not only on our environment, but on each other.  In a blog by Corkboard Connections, I read that 1 put-down requires 10 positive comments to counter-act the damage done. While we cannot tell our children how to think, we can show them that while thoughts may be private, behavior is public and can cause pain to others. I think that even young children would be able to understand and participate in this experiment.

Please let me know how this experiments works in your classroom! Remember: Kindness matters!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Confessions of a Failed Doggy Momma

Disclaimer: This note is not about teaching but in a way it is. Enjoy

Confessions of a Failed Doggy Momma
Okay, dog lovers, let me just say up front that I have nothing against dogs. I just have never wanted one and, now that I have one, find that I am not cut out to care for one. However, more than that, I do NOT like to fail so I’m doing my best. I do love this little fur ball but he is more than I can handle! This all goes back to my childhood, I’m sure.
I never had a dog of my own. My mother had had some dogs growing up but they were hit by cars and she was fairly traumatized herself. We had dogs living on either side of us. Spartan was a mutt of some sort and Pug was, well, a pug. Both dogs ran free and chased me and my friends through my yard many times.  More than once they chased us up one of the two climbable trees in the yard. They were constantly barking and snapping. My poor grandmother, who was always sweet and mild- mannered, was bitten by each dog at least once. Her only crime was getting out of her car and showing her fear of the dogs. Needless to say, my experience growing up was not the best when it came to dogs. My only other close encounter with a dog came when I was pregnant with my second child. I sat down at the breakfast table at my in-laws’ house in my robe and slippers and crossed my legs. I hadn’t noticed the dog under the table and apparently my foot touched her and startled her so she turned and bit me. Despite the fact that I had to go get a tetanus shot, everyone present wanted to know what I had done to cause the dog to bite me. So, I never had become a big fan of dogs.
My daughter, on the other hand, has wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. I think she has asked for one every birthday since she was five. Her dad always promised he would get her one when he could be home more and we could fence in the yard. I continued to find reasons why we didn’t need one. First and foremost, was that I felt that after the children were potty trained, I had no intention of picking up the poop of anything I didn’t give birth to. I also knew who would be saddled with the majority of the doggy care and that just did not appeal to me.
It happens that my daughter’s birthday falls on Christmas day due to my poor calculating skills. I have always felt some small measure of guilt over this (although I don’t think she has ever been short-changed in the gift department). But this year was her 21st birthday and I really did want to give her the gift she wanted most. So… I Caved!
From the start my husband and my daughter insisted that we needed a manly dog, thus ruling out anything with poo or doodle in its name. I, on the other hand, imagined a quiet, non-shedding, low maintenance lap dog. FYI, Dooley is not that! He is a most adorable bundle of energetic fur and has the most beautiful blue eyes. What’s not to love? And he does love to lick my face. Actually, I’ve kind of learned to enjoy the doggy kisses.
 His barking, chewing, mania and messing were much more tolerable when there were other people living here with me. But now both kids are back at college and my husband is working out of town long term. So it’s just me and Dooley. It has been 5 weeks since I could sit and read or sit and knit or just sit. If he doesn’t want to play, he is asleep at my feet but if I move at all, he wakes up and wants to play.
He barks at the vacuum, the broom, a bag of garbage by the door, my bag for school or anything else that he just noticed. He barks at the rocker that has been in the same place since he came to live with us. It seems that he only just now realized that it moves, especially if he touches it. He can bark at it for a solid hour. He barks at anyone new he sees, even he sees them every day. He just noticed the birds, chipmunks and insects outside and now he stands at the window and barks at them. He barks!
He recently decided that he prefers to use the bathroom inside rather than outside. I had thought that was settled by the time he had been here a few weeks. He also decided that sleeping through the night does not appeal to him.
AND HE CHEWS things. He chews all tissues and paper towels left in his range, he chews his beds (3 so far), the baseboards, leashes (he has chewed through 5 of those while he is wearing them), socks, garbage, and, mostly recently, my brand new Lace Toms Shoe! That sent me over the edge.
If I’m not hyper-vigilant, he runs away. And I’m not talking about leaving the door open. Remember when I said he chewed through leashes. Yeah, while I’m standing right there holding the other end. I’m sure the neighbors get a kick out of watching me chase him through their yards. Me…I don’t enjoy it much.
I try to be a good doggie momma but I tend to try to buy his good behavior with treats. Apparently that is not a good dog training plan.  But that’s not too far removed from my parenting style, I’ve been told.  I clean the poop and play Dooley ball in the yard for at least 30 minutes any day that it isn’t raining, make sure he has food and water, bathe him, give him his heart worm medication and flea treatments and I cuddle him and talk nice most of the time.
Oh, let me explain Dooley ball to you. It is a game involving 2 old soccer balls and a Frisbee. It is part dodge ball, part keep away, and part chase. I throw the Frisbee or kick the ball and he chases them or grabs them in his mouth and will not give them back until I wrestle them away from him. If he has the Frisbee in his mouth, he herds the balls together so I can’t get any of them but if I dare go inside, he drops them all and sits just inside the door whimpering until I come back.
I’m just stressed. I never imagined that I would be the 24/7 dog person and hopefully soon I will have him fully trained for his real mommy!  Oops there I go spoiling her again! I love him, I really do! This week, we are going to see what happens when he is neutered. Rumor has it that this may calm him down. I’m not holding my breath. After that, it’s training or maybe even doggy boot camp. That costs $800, but as I said, I Do Not like to fail! I WILL conquer this little bugger! But my next dog will definitely be a sissy lap-dog!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thinking "Inside" the Box


     Last week, we read some new books in Preschool and tried a few new activities. One day we read the book Press Here by Herve Tullet and did a number of activities with just a few packs of Dollar Tree dot stickers. You can find all of the activities on my blog post about the book from last year. We also read the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds about a child who learns to have confidence in her abilities to draw if she just starts. Using some white dots, we asked the children to draw a picture starting with the dot. We got some beautiful colorful pictures that the children were really proud of. My favorite of the new books by far, however, was Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. This is a simply drawn book about a cardboard box that is NOT box.
 I provided 10 cardboard boxes of various sizes. The only rules were that the largest box needed to be shared with anyone who wanted to get inside of it. After all, it was a perfect place for hide and seek. Also they couldn't dump all the other classroom toys into the boxes. Otherwise, they could use their imaginations and whatever supplies we had on hand in the classroom to make them into whatever they wanted.

They used crayons, markers, magazines and tape (lots of tape). This kept the entire group quiet for a full 15 minutes as they turned the boxes into new creations. What did they make?
It's a place to hide in or....

a place to hide under!

It's a hat!

It's a race car!

It's a baby bath!

They are bumper cars! Um...okay.

It's a lego holder. Clearly someone did not hear the rules!

We offered the children the opportunity to draw pictures like the ones in the book but only a couple of the girls took us up on the offer.

It's a girl using a stack of boxes to climb up the mountain! Why, yes, it is!

Each child was allowed to take home a box if they wanted to. Everyone wanted to and no one really cared which box they took. As they got into their cars after school with A BOX most parents said something along the lines of  "Oh, I see you have a box!" and the answer was "No, it's a ____________." One wise parent asked "What did you make?" The answer, "It's a Not A Box!" Of course!



Monday, January 21, 2013

One Person's Trash...

Happy New Year! It has been quite a while since I posted. My last few attempts ended in disaster with my old laptop crashing twice and considerable time in between for repairs and finally replacement. I'm back for good now, I hope!

We have all heard the saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure!" When you are a preschool teacher, that saying is particularly true. I will take fabric scraps, plastic containers, previously used bulletin board decorations, or just about anything else you can imagine. Last week, in my director's office, I found several boxes of empty cardboard examination table paper rolls and a bag of rubber balls that someone probably ordered from Oriental Trading once and found that they didn't need. As it turned out, I had found a gold mine, a real treasure, an entire rainy week's worth of entertainment for a room full of busy boys and girls.

I brought in one box of the cardboard rolls and about a dozen rubber balls. I placed them in the center of the rug to see what they would do with them. Immediately, they started to try to build ball runs and see if they could get the balls to go through several tubes laid end to end. If they continued to quickly roll balls in, some would eventually be pushed out the other end. They were sort of losing interest by that time, so I suggested that they see what would happen if they used some blocks. Voila! Someone discovered that by raising the first tube up on a stack of blocks, the balls would roll faster and harder through the tubes. Sometimes the tubes would roll off the blocks or out of line. Someone else found that  you could make trays or railings for the tubes with more blocks. By then, they were hooked! For the entire week, we built new and different tracks and played with them nonstop. For this week, at least, the other toys were just props and filler to make the ball runs more interesting.

By the end of the week, some children got even more creative with the tubes or tired of building the runs. A few tried using them as weapons, but when threatened with losing the tubes entirely, found more "educational" ways of using them. One little boy put several balls into a tube, using sort of like a rainstick. A few others turned some of the tubes into instruments such as horns and drums and made some music for their classmates to dance to.  

As of Friday, they had not yet tired of these new "toys" so I will bring them out again this week and see what happens. When the newness wears off, I'll have to decide whether to find a place to store them until a later date or dispose of them altogether. My teacher/hoarder mentality thinks that would be a shame. For now, we will just enjoy this treasure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

This week in Preschool, we celebrated American Heroes! We had a visit from a local police officer, we made Flat Stanley letters to send to soldiers and had an American Heroes Parade with some real American Heroes, dads and grandpas who are or have been soldiers! We made Yankee Doodle hats complete with feathers and tambourines from paper plates. In honor of our country, we even did a red, white and blue science experiment. I found this experiment on the internet at 

 We created a density stack by pouring liquids of different densities together to see if they would mix. What we got was a red, blue and whitish (ok, it was yellow) stack. 
For this experiment, you will need:
 A clear jar or vase. I used a Dollar Tree vase. 
1 cup of light or clear corn syrup mixed with red food coloring.
1 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of water mixed with blue food coloring
1/2 cup of bleach

 First I showed the children how thick the corn syrup was and then poured it in the vase. Next I added the vegetable oil. As you can see, it stayed on top of the corn syrup. Next, I poured in the blue water.
It went through the oil but still stayed on top of the corn syrup. There we had our density stack. To take our experiment a step further, we then poured in the bleach to see what would happen. We discussed that bleach is something that the children should never touch and that it would make you sick if you drank it and takes color out of things.

The children watched in awe as the bleach went through the oil and the color disappeared from the water but the red corn syrup didn't change.

 Next, one of the teachers asked what would happen if we put blue food coloring in the vegetable oil instead of the water. I hadn't thought of that and wasn't sure what would happen so we tried it. I put a small amount of vegetable oil in a cup and added a few drops of blue food coloring. The food coloring did not mix with the oil even when we stirred it. Then I poured it on top of the density stack we had already made.

 This time the oil stayed with oil but the food color went through to the water. Ah, but we had previously put bleach in that water, so guess what happened to the blue food coloring again! Yes, it disappeared, too.
We had a great time celebrating the Red, White and Blue and our American Heroes! And our first science experiment of the year was a huge success! Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

Friday, September 7, 2012

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" file ~ Back to School

We have been back in Preschool seven whole days and what a seven days it has been! Last year, I frequently commented that I had the class of a lifetime. It was not because the children were much different individually from any other 4 year olds. It was just the particular blend of personalities and skills that came together just right. This year I have a NORMAL 4 year old class! We have a wide range of ages. Trust me, when they are four, several months can make a major difference in abilities and maturity. We also have a few that have never been in school before. And then there's the girl who refuses to sit on the chairs because they are "dirty". She just props on the edge. Yep, we have our fair share of challenges this year. Luckily they are REALLY cute!

So... for incidents from THE FILE. On day one I realized that I had made a major error when typing up our daily schedule and we almost missed our assigned playground time. In circle time after playground, when I asked the children if they remembered the teachers' names, one young man spoke up and said "You're [boaf] Idiots." Fortunately, the other children immediately recognized that as one of the words we don't say in preschool and called him out on it. He responded, "Well, Captain Hook said it in Peter Pan and you almost made us miss playground." Can't argue with that!

At lunch the same day, one fellow said "School is way harder this year!" When I asked what we had done that was so much harder than his 3 year old class, he said "Well, it's much harder to poke your friends and not get caught." Hmmm. Maybe I am doing something right!

The rest of week one and most of week two went along fairly smoothly after that rocky beginning. Day seven, however, was another thing altogether! Thankfully, we end an hour earlier on Fridays and today, it was not a minute too soon!

When we first arrive each day, we say a prayer and  the Pledge of Allegiance. I love working in a religious environment! However, one little guy didn't want to stand up. When I asked him what was wrong he said, "My feet feel like flat tires so I can't stand up." Really? I feel that way sometimes at the END of the day but even I can make it through the prayer and pledge. In circle time, the same character piped up and said "I don't want to end the song with cha cha cha. That's for old people. I want to end with "boom boom sshhh". Did I mention that he is a character?

I had a dad stop by to drop something off for his son. He told me that his son answered every question he asked about school with "I don't know." Later, said son is repeating the story we listened to yesterday verbatim so I asked him why he always told his dad he didn't know when dad asked about school. His response, "I don't know!" However a helpful friend said, "I say I don't know to my mom 'cause I don't want to 'splain about it."

When I stepped out of the classroom for a minute to get something copied, my co-teacher heard giggling in the bathroom. When she looked in, there were 3 little boys sharing the toilet. Two got to go home in their extra clothes. One decorated the wall. When I explained the change of clothes to one grandmother, little guy said "It's not my fault. That is a baby toilet and I couldn't hit it. You need to get a bigger toilet by next week!" I think Grandma will be handling that one this afternoon!

On the playground, I walked to up to a sweet little guy who had his fingers in his mouth and said "Those look like really tasty fingers. I think maybe I should eat one, too." He looked at me with great big eyes and said "You will have to chew your own fingernails. I need these for when I woowwy!" (worry) Ewww! Never mind!

Seriously, you really can't make this stuff up! And yes, it's a good thing they're cute! I'm tired and my feet feel like flat tires!