In The News                     December 2007   Vol. 10-12

President’s Message

Can you feel the wonder in the air!  The tree is up, the lights sparkle, the gifts begin to grow, friends and family gather, there is a hurry in the steps we take.  Frowns turn to smiles, music fills the air.   What a magical time of year it is!  It is the simple things that make this time so bright.  When all is faded we will recall little things that warm our hearts and make us glow....the glint in the eye of a child, the note of a song, the smell of pine, the taste of a cookie.  May all our days be festive and bright.  The memories of this season and those past  will remain and lift our spirits for a lifetime.   

There are many stories that are shared and told and retold during this time of year.  Those that include our children, families and friends are the dearest of all.  During this season as you read those favorite stories, make an effort to include your children in the story.  You will find they remember the story and will often want you to repeat it.  Soon, they will be able to help you in creating their own story of the season. 

Wishing you all the joys of the season. 

Happy Holidays!    


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Nothing of worth or weight can be achieved with half a mind, with a faint heart, with a lame endeavor.....

Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) Mathematician and Theologian

Learning with e-Tutor


Scheduling for e-Tutor:

Learning at home is different than learning at school.  It takes self-discipline and hard work.  The hardest part is making sure to set aside time for your in home learning.  These are tips from the booklet we send to each new subscriber of the e-Tutor program.

  •  Develop a weekly calendar for your e-Tutor Program. 
  • Enter important dates for your social/family life and holidays during the week. 
  • Mark Monday – Friday as study days with e-Tutor.
  • Each week develop a daily schedule that includes routines and e-Tutor study time.
  • Remember you should be spending about 4 ½ hours each day using the e-Tutor Program. 
  • Post this schedule in your study area.   Use your schedule to refer to, to review, and to mark your progress. 
  • Each evening develop the next day’s schedule.  This will help you organize for the next day; include study time, routines, and important appointments. 
  • Review each day's schedule in the morning before you start e-Tutor.

Thirty-one New Lesson Modules  
were added to the 
e-Tutor Lesson Library this month!

Join the e-Tutor world of learning today to view the Lesson Library.

Join the Writer's Circle

The Writer's Circle is growing!  Again this month we have welcomed many new writers.  We are pleased that so many have shown an interest.  Writers from all over the United States and Canada continue to provide lesson modules that create a rich and varied curriculum for e-Tutor students.  

If you are interested in writing lesson modules for the e-Tutor program, please send an email to  We will send you information on how you can participate in this exciting endeavor and earn money at the same time. 


   The Book Case

              Santa Mouse Where Are You?

              Michael Brown 
              Ages: Preschool - Primary

This book was a favorite of my children when they were young.  As they grew I continued to read to my young students.  As an art project we made little mice ornaments out of walnut shells to hang on the Christmas tree.  The book went out of print for awhile, but thankfully this charming story is back in print.  Silly as it may sound, I find myself putting a special light on the Christmas tree each year for Santa Mouse.  It is a memorable story that I think you will find enchanting. 

Each Christmas, Santa Mouse becomes Santa's little helper. A special light is placed up high upon the Christmas tree so that Santa Mouse can see when he's placing those very special mouse-sized presents on the limbs of the tree. Santa's ready to take off in his sleigh, and Santa Mouse scurries onto his shoulder, only to fall off into the deep, dark, snowy ground below. How will he ever find Santa and help deliver presents to the children?

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Giving presents is a talent; to know what a person wants, to know when and how to get it, to give it lovingly, and well. .  

Pamela Wyndham Glenconner (1871-1928) Writer

Saving the Family Meal
What to Do When You Get Them There

This is the final part of a three part series we started in October.  Family meals are important occasions.  But it has become increasingly difficult to get a meal on the table.....and to get the family to the table.  Okay, now you have everyone at the table, now what do you do. Here's help.    

Maintain a division of responsibility in feeding.  Parents should determine what and kids should determine how much and even whether.  Your job is to plan the menu, get the food on the table and preserve a pleasant mealtime.  The children's job is to eat....or to choose not to eat.  Children actually eat better when you present food to them in this neutral fashion and avoid pressuring, cajoling, or bribing them to eat.  

Expose your children to a variety of foods.  Even if they don't eat certain foods at first, they will be getting used to them, and eventually they will eat them.  In the meantime, they won't starve if you present a variety of foods, make sure there is bread on the table, and let the kids pick and choose from what's available.

Maintain structured and regular meals and snacks, forbid between-times panhandling for food handouts, and don't let the kids raid the refrigerator just before or just after a meal.  Let them know if they don't eat their dinner, they will have to wait to eat until the next meal or snack time.  Then let them decide what they will do about eating. 

Holding the line on the family meal is a parenting issue as well as a nutritional issue.  It's all part of doing a good job as a parent.  Hang in there, and bon appetite.

Adapted from Ellen Satter, How to Get Your Kid to Eat....But Not Too Much

Laugh, Dance, and Sing Together

A nurturing home is a place where parents and children can relax and unwind from the pressures of the day.  Laughing, singing, and dancing are the fastest ways to transform worries into celebration.  Having fun together will strengthen your family and foster, easy, honest relationships among all of you.  And as your children grow they are much more likely to enjoy being with the family if everyone is having a good time.

A home filled with music is an exciting place to be.  Begin when the children are young by sharing lullabies from your childhood.  Create personalized versions of favorite tunes.  Encourage your children to teach you songs they've learned, and let them check out tapes from the library.  Play music when you're doing the dishes; do a little jig when you're shaking up the orange juice.  Your kids will get a kick out of it and you'll contribute to a pleasant home life that includes good-natured fun; but, more important, you're creating an atmosphere where family members can be easygoing with each other, which is critical to open communication, especially with teens. 

Introduce your children to all kinds of music; there's nothing like it for pleasure and relaxation, and it is so easily shared.  Some studies indicate that babies respond to soothing music even before they are born.  

Laughter serves as a bridge between you and your child, bringing you closer.  Laugh often; tell little jokes without poking fun or teasing.  Look at the humorous side of life.  When laughter and music are common threads running through your encounters with your child, family life is more exciting, and precious memories are made.  Have a song in your heart.  Be free with your laughter, spontaneous with your dance, and your children will think of you with a twinkle in their eye. 

Adapted from Wonderful Ways to Love a Child, Judy Ford

The Grass is Not Greener

Shortly after the turn of the century a noted educator, Dr. Russell Conwell, delivered a lecture, so inspiring he was invited to repeat it over 5,000 times.  Its title, ACRES OF DIAMONDS, has become a familiar phrase to describe the unseen opportunity in any environment. 

Dr. Conwell would visit a town arriving early enough to visit with the people trying to gain an insight into the local opportunities available and ways in which the people had failed to grasp these opportunities.  He would then give his lecture talking to the people in terms of their own locality.

The lecture itself started out by the story of an ancient Persian farmer, contented and prosperous, who learned of diamonds and the power that could be gotten through owning a diamond mine.  He sold his farm and started his search for diamonds.  He wandered through the east on into Europe and ended up, wretched and poor drowning himself on a seashore in Spain. 

Ironically, the man who bought the farm was watering his camel one day and noticed a shimmering object in the stream.  It turned out to be a diamond.  Further search produced virtually "acres of diamonds."

Other examples were given of individuals who left their environment because of discontent, riches were subsequently discovered in the very spot where they had been.  The point became quite clear.  Every person has the opportunity to become more successful right where on is with one's own skill, energy, and natural ability.  The truth of the lesson cannot be denied. 

It is true for you!  Right within your present environment is the opportunity for you to "mine diamonds".....become richer in money, satisfaction, recognition, and achievement. 

Adapted from Public School Administrator

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We must be purposely kind and generous or we miss the best part of life's existence. 

Horace Mann (1769-1859) Educator and Politician


Visualization is the process of forming mental pictures or images based on what has been read.  You can use this instructional technique to increase reading comprehension.  The practice of visualization helps children concentrate on a selection and focus on detail.  The ability to create rich mental images also serves to improve memory.  As children form images, they integrate familiar pictures based on their prior knowledge and experience with the new images gained from their reading. 

Reinforcing visualization encourages children to identify the words and phrases authors use to help readers have sensory experiences (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste).  Select an author's descriptions of a story's setting and characterization to introduce your child to visualization.  This is an ideal time of year to practice the technique.

  1. Read a story aloud to your child, while he reads silently.  Before reading, explain that authors describe people, places and things to help readers make pictures in their minds so that they will enjoy the story more.  

  2. After reading, model the visualization process by describing the mental picture you envisioned when reading the author's description.  Then ask your child to describe the setting or character he pictured, using as many details as possible.  Remind your child to keep referring to the picture he created in his mind as he was reading.  Sometimes it takes time to develop the images.

  3. Have your child skim the story to locate words or phrases that help him visualize the setting or a character.  Ask such questions as, "Where did you find out what the family's cabin looked like?" or "What words did the author use to help you hear the sound of trees being chopped down?"  Ask your child to read the passages to you and describe the image he believed the author intended. 

  4. To sharpen your child's visualized images, ask him to share any visual associations he may have added to his images that the author did not provide.  The author may not have included details about the family's log cabin, but your child may be able to describe it based on prior knowledge or experience. To encourage more awareness of the visualization process, ask your child to consider where his images came from.  Ask your child to explain why his image of the cabin probably will be slightly different than yours. 

Adapted from Silver Burdett and Ginn 

To have a true friendship, you have to do more than exchange Christmas cards or call each other once a year.  There has to be some continued support and attention; otherwise the relationship is a sentimental attachment rather than a true friendship. 

Dolores Kreisman, Educator

Winter Holiday Activities

While your children may be occupied with gifts during this season, it has been my experience that there is a point when they need something different.  Here are some activities that will keep them occupied and teach them at the same time. They are adapted from Newspapers in Education (NIE), a nationwide program that uses the newspaper as a teaching tool. 

  • In the weather report, have your child find the highest and lowest temperatures in your home state.  Subtract the lowest from the highest to find the difference.
  • Find a news story that contains two different viewpoints.  Defend one of the positions while your child defends the other. 
  • Read a short news story to your child and have your child tell you the who, what, when, where, why and how. 
  • From the ads, have your child cut pictures of animals, food, clothing, and toys.  Paste them on construction paper, and label them with the specific name of the pictured object. 
  • Have your child cut out all the titles of the comic strips in the newspaper.  Then help your child paste them on a sheet of paper in alphabetical order. 
  • Organize a newspaper scavenger hunt.  Before the hunt begins, prepare a list of 15-20 items.  Have your child find eight to 10 of the items, which they then cut out and paste on a sheet of paper.  Hunt items could include a picture of a political leader or movie star, a word with more than five letters, the name of the president, a specific number, or a word that starts with a certain letter.  The possibilities are endless, and more items can be added for later hunts. 

Adapted from Wisconsin Dept. of Education

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Blessed are the joy makers. 

Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806-1867) Writer

Dynamic December Links:

Fin, Fur and Feather Bureau of Investigation (FFFBI) Headquarters:  The site uses interactive stories and original thinking games to get kids to solve mysteries and learn crucial skills such as using the Internet for research and investigation, reading, and writing.  The project encourages exploration of a wide range of subjects from math and science to geography, genetics and history.  There is a section for teachers which helps explain what's going on.

Cybersense and Nonsense:  In this sequel to Privacy Playground, for ages 9-12, the three CyberPigs learn some important lessons about authenticating online information and observing rules of netiquette. They also learn how to distinguish between fact and opinion and how to recognize bias and harmful stereotyping in online content. As Les, Mo and Lil discover, "just because it's on the Internet, doesn't mean it's true."  There is a teacher guide, as well.

Miscositas:  This site is dedicated to teaching, learning or living more than one language.  A collection of over 40 virtual picture books in English, French and Spanish, including games, curricular suggestions for teaching and learning these languages, and links to more resources.  Illustrated throughout with colorful drawings including entries in the large pop-up glossary.

Walking with Prehistoric Beasts:  Welcome to the last 65 million years on Earth, which ushered in the rise of mammals, the freezing of the climate and the arrival of humans.  Learn about the players (creatures from the Cenozoic Era),  their habitat and the science behind these discoveries.  Interactive features on this site allow students to Build a Beast from skeletal remains, view the changing environment of the creatures, and e-mail a scientist with unresolved questions.

Geography For Kids:  This and other 4Kids sites (Chem and Biology) bring science basics to the level of elementary or middle school students.  One great feature of this site is the virtual reality shots of geography landforms.  Check out the Examples, where students can click on a link in an index to get an image of the object described.

Navajo Code Talkers:  World War II Fact Sheet:  Navajo code talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945, transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language....a code that the Japanese never broke.  This is a great example of language skills that played a role in history.

Wishing you joy and peace!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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