discovery toys blog of billie elias
Tips for parents who play with their children or who want stay-at-home income.
Toys for special need, autism, gifted and typical kids.

February 28, 2011

Free drawing for free shipping

You will be entered into my drawing for free shipping on your Discovery Toys order if you go to my website, look around at the toys and comment here about a toy you find interesting.  If your child has a favorite, you can write about what makes it so.

February 25, 2011

Sir David Frost on making a difference

"My father often used to talk about that old proverb, 'Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.'  In other words, everybody you meet has something to teach you - if you take the trouble to find it.  The most unlikely person can enlighter your life.  That's tremendously important for the self-worth of the people you meet, as well as your own.

There are all sorts of ways in which we're not equal, but we are all equal in what we can strive for.  When I interviewed Senator Robert Kennedy back in 1968 - the last interview he gave before his assassination - I asked him how he would like to be remembered.  He replied, "Well, there is a line of Albert Camus that says, 'This is a world in which children suffer."  I'd like to have made a contribution to lessening that suffering.'  Kennedy spoke a lot about making a contribution.  He used to say, "For if we do not do this, then who will do this?" It's so simple: if you have a talent, you have a duty to use it to the full.

Making a contribution and making a difference - they should be linked - is not only something that famous people can do, or that dead politicians can be quoted on.  It is something that everyone can do in their own lives...."

February 24, 2011

"King" Colin & stuttering

I'm a huge movie fan, and the Academy Awards ceremony is a must-see for me every year.   Many seem to feel that The King's Speech has a good chance of garnering many of the 12 awards for which it's been nominated.  But the folks at the Stuttering Foundation are so enamored of it that they want the film to be used as a teaching tool for those working in the speech-language pathology realm.  Read this charming interview with Jane Fraser, the president of the Stuttering Foundation.  If you're a Colin Firth fan, you'll find some great pics of him there, too.  Good luck on Sunday night, "King" Colin!

February 15, 2011

Discovery Toys Star Explorer Kit

February school break is coming soon and some families will be hitting the road and heading to camp sites in warmer climes.  If you'll be under the stars, you'll want to check out Star Explorer Kit to pinpoint and identify popular seasonal constellations. The portable light-up device with compass comes complete with 15 constellation transparencies for convenient night-time use. Additional constellation fun fact cards and seasonal star charts promote interest in science, nature, and astronomy.

February 10, 2011

"Race to Nowhere"

Last night my son's school had a screening of a most disturbing film: Vicki Abeles' "Race to Nowhere."  The documentary contains interviews with students, teachers, a dean of education at Stanford University, parents and psychologists...all addressing the current state of affairs in the education system from the earliest years through the teens.  In case you hadn't noticed, more and more our children are being taught to be good (or excellent) test-takers, as opposed to good thinkers.  There are the ERBs, the PSATs, the SATs the ACTs, the 4th grade and 8th grade standardized tests, admissions tests for specialized schools, the tests that prepare kids to take these tests and in states like New York, the Regents Exams.  Stress-levels are high, even at the pre-kindergarten level, for if you don't go to the right pre-K, you might not get into the right elementary school that will set you up for someday attending Harvard; cheating is commonplace;  teen suicides are no longer rare.  Excessive homework keeps kids up so late that many of them are sleep deprived, on top of being stressed and depressed.

One teen interviewed remarked that his life from school to tests to college and onto the workplace just seems like a "race to nowhere."  What's the point, if you're unprepared and uninspired?

There is a grassroots effort afoot to reduce homework and adjust our system to reward better teaching. The film mentions a study that demonstrated that a no-homework policy actually led students to better scores.  (Do you think less homework meant less stress?  more sleep? better conditions for test-taking?)   I think it would be great if the quality of teaching nationwide was such that a lot of learning could take place right in the classroom and aside from team projects or other long-range assignments, little or no homework be assigned.  I also feel that slower learners be separated from quick studies, so that teachers aren't forced to "teach to the middle," as one of my son's teachers in elementary school told me she did.  This would help everyone learn at their own pace, and then truly, no child would be left behind.

After our screening, we were treated to a panel discussion with a group of child psychiatrists from the NYU Child Study Center, who offered that public policy ignores well-known scientific findings....simple things like starting school later than 7 or 8 am, so that kids can get the extra sleep they need.

The film's website has a page that will help you find a screening near you.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

The 10th anniversary of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is on February 24, 2011. Can you help?

And don't forget, budding young engineers would love the Discovery Toys Qubits construction set.
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