Category Archives: Article Library

A Custom Guide for Kids and Adults: Stamp Collecting and Philately!

The term “philately,” dates back to the mid-1860s, and is the English version of the French term “philatélie,” the technical term for the study of stamps, postal history, and other related items. It is a combination of the Greek words “philos” (fond of) and “ateles” (tax-free). What is the connection between taxes and stamps? Today, the mailer pays the postage. But years ago, the addressee paid the postage in order to receive the letter.

One major difference between philatelists and stamp collectors is that many stamp collectors simply collect or buy highly-desirable stamps and don’t necessarily study them. Philatelists take pride in studying collections and stamps, but don’t actually collect them. In order to build a valuable collection, however, the collector must have a certain amount of knowledge of what makes a stamp desirable and thus, valuable. Whether collecting stamps or studying them, stamps occupy a prominent position in the world of hobbyists.

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Custom Resource: Global Warming For Kids

We hear a lot of people talking about global warming these days, but what exactly is it? Global warming is something that has been occurring over a long time due to the release of certain gases into the atmosphere. The gases, which include carbon dioxide, cholorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and methane float up high into the atmosphere, where they are trapped. Because of this, the temperature on Earth rises and everything becomes warmer. Plant, animal and human life are very sensitive to changes in temperature and as a result, a lot of natural life has been destroyed due to global warming. Even worse, the natural habitats of many creatures, such as the North Pole, oceans and forests are slowly changing or becoming destroyed. This means that many creatures lose their homes, which causes them to gradually become extinct. If too many plants and animals completely disappear, it could have a terrible effect on human life as well! As you can now see, everything on Earth is inter-connected, so it is very important to practice environmentally-friendly habits.

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Fun With Boxes: Cardboard Arts and Crafts For The Little Ones

Cardboard is the single-biggest component of solid, municipal waste across the entire world. This alone makes it extremely important to recycle cardboard, whether it is on an individual scale at home or on a bigger scale in the form of an industrial level. It’s important that even kids start learning how to recycle cardboard as early as possible. Even though recycling can be seen as a duty or a chore, kids can use cardboard in a fun way by making things out of it. The following is a super comprehensive guide about cardboard arts and crafts for kids.

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Recycling Resource: What Can You Make From a Cardboard Box?

Recycling is a great way to protect the planet and conserve resources. The Three R’s of protecting the environment are “reduce, reuse and recycle.” Reducing means to limit or only to use what is needed. A great way to reduce water waste is to turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, or to take a shower instead of a bath. Reuse means to not throw away after just one use. Great things that can be reused are water bottles and plastic cups, just wash right after use and fill up again. Recycle means to take an old object and make it new again. Cans, glass bottles, newspaper and metals are just some of the materials that can be recycled. Leftover food, egg shells, leaves; even dog poop can be used for recycling in a compost heap. There are so many examples of how to use the three R’s, but here’s a great example.

Imagine a family with a bunch of kids in the middle of a big move to a new home. There would be toys, clothes and boxes everywhere. Once they move the toys and clothes have a place to go, but what to do with all of those boxes? Some families choose to throw them away, but every kid knows there are a ton of other options!

Not only should the boxes not be thrown away, because they are recyclable, but they should be used for fun. There are so many different ways to make a plain cardboard box into something recycled and exciting. From fun educational crafts to a creative project to an interesting activity, there are so many things to do with a cardboard box. Be sure to ask a parent’s permission and have a blast reducing, reusing and recycling!

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Stop! Recycle Those Boxes

Do you only have one garbage can in your house? If you do, it’s possible that you don’t know much about recycling. When you recycle, you can help the planet. There are a limited number of resources and when you recycle, it makes them last longer. It also cuts back the amount of garbage there is. Chances are, if you have ever driven by a dump, you certainly noticed. The more garbage there is, the more dumps there will be in the future. If you click around, you can learn exactly what recycling is, how to recycle, and play fun games in the process. There are definately fun ways to recyle. Check it out!

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Custom Advertising Resource Center

No matter where a person may look it is inevitable that they will likely see an advertisement for something. It may be a commercial on television, the newest cell phone service on a billboard sign, or sales for grocery stores in the local newspaper and often times they may not even realize it is an advertisement. Advertising is a persuasive message by a sponsor that has been paid for by a business or company in order to inform the public, existing and potential customers, of a new product or service available to them. By advertising a company can generate more traffic which in turn will help increase sales. There are many ways to advertise that has proven to be very effective.

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Thinking Outside the Box – A Guide to Problem Solving

Everyday people are faced with a number of decisions. What to eat, where to go and other decisions need to be made on a regular basis. Some decisions such as what to wear or what to do are fairly easy to make. Others, such as career and education options can be more difficult. Any decisions that are made will have an impact on both the immediate and the future of individuals involved.

When making decisions or solving problems, people need to consider as much information as possible to reach the decision. The decision maker needs to look at all sides of the situation, weigh the possible consequences of each decision and ultimately come to a conclusion. This type of decision making is utilizing critical thinking.

Critical thinking is described, according to criticalthinking.org as “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”

There are many philosophical uses for critical thinking. Critical thinking can be used for creating workable solutions to complex personal problems, deliberating as a group about what course of action to take to arrive at a workable solution, or analyzing the assumptions and the quality of the methods used in scientifically arriving at a reasonable level of confidence about a given hypothesis.

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Packing Up and Heading West: The History of Covered Wagons

Many pioneers joined in the massive move westward that took place in the 1800s. There were a variety of reasons why families made this momentous decision. For instance, some families moved west in search of a better quality of life that included more farmland at a lower price than in the eastern part of the United States. Some people moved in pursuit of a lucrative new way to earn a living in frontier territory. The Gold Rush of 1848 in California also enticed folks to move westward in search of a fortune. In short, promises of new opportunity persuaded many families to commit to the long, treacherous journey westward.

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Thinking Outside the Box – A Creative Thinking Guide

Creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas. Creative people may come up with new concepts that will help solve a problem, or they may focus on creating art that will help the world see things differently. Creative people tend to be problem solvers, because they continue to look for a new solution after the traditional ones have been tried. Many of the most creative people have gone down in history because they explored new ideas and invented things as a result of their creativity.

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A Teacher’s Guide to Elkonin Boxes

Elkonin boxes (also known as ‘sound boxes’) refer to a method of instruction used to build phonemic awareness in early elementary grade students. Elkonin boxes help to increase reading skills by challenging students to segment words into their individual sounds and syllables. Boxes are drawn on a piece of paper, dry-erase board, or chalkboard and students are asked to listen to a word and mark a single box for each phoneme heard. Elkonin boxes were first used by Russian psychologist D.B. El’konin in the 1960s. El’konin studied young children (5 to 6 years old) and created the method of using boxes to segment words into individual sounds, which proved to be an effective strategy in improving reading capabilities.

  • Elkonin Boxes: This website for parents and teachers explains how to use Elkonin Boxes to help kids with their pronunciation of words.
  • Increasing Fluency: This page outlines a study from UCDavis to improve first grader fluency by using Elkonin Boxes.
  • Sorting Sounds For Learners: This page describes in detail how Elkonin Boxes can be used to improve fluency and also suggests using Scrabble tiles to add some variety.
  • Daniil El’konin: Links related to the works of El’konin, the Russian pioneer of the Elkonin box.
  • What is Phonemic Awareness?: Learn more about phonemic awareness and how it can be determined.
  • An Introduction to Phonemic Awareness: Basic information and resources regarding phonemic awareness and how it applies to reading.

Phonological awareness can be created by identifying, separating, comparing, and generating sounds. The development of phonological awareness is similar across various languages and it progresses from large to small units of sounds (from words to phonemes and syllables), and the tasks which are used to improve phonological awareness follow specific sequences to enable young minds to identify various sounds. Using Elkonin boxes helps to specifically increase children’s understanding of phonemes. Each square in an Elkonin box represents a phoneme or sound in that word. For example, the word “sheep” has five letters, and can be segmented into three sounds – /sh/, /ee/, and /p/. In this example, children would mark off three boxes.

Teachers can start off an Elkonin boxes lesson by having students stretch a few words out into their different sounds. Students can then be asked to try to spell the given word. Next, students can be asked to listen carefully to each word again and move a token into each box for each phoneme in the word. As a variation, the teacher can give a word to students and challenge them to mark the box(es) corresponding to a specific phoneme. For instance, the teacher says a word which has a particular sound either at the start, in the middle, or at the end of the word. The children will listen to the sound (/m/) and place a marker in the box where they hear the sound (in the word ‘ham’, students would segment /h/ /a/ /m/ and mark the third box, which has the /m/ sound).

  • The Letterbox Lesson: A lesson plan that outlines how to use Elkonin boxes effectively in the classroom.
  • Phonemic Segmentation: Teach students how to manipulate sounds with Elkonin Boxes by following this comprehensive lesson plan.
  • Games & Activities: (PDF) Turn using Elkonin Boxes into a game, and teach kids phonemes with other activities too.
  • Segmenting & Blending Words: Help Kindergarteners identify the sounds in words and blend them into pronunciation using Elkonin Boxes.
  • Reading Strategy: (PDF) Improve the phonemic awareness of first graders by using Elkonin Boxes to teach them how vowels can make different sounds based on the other letters in the word.
  • Templates: (PDF) Segmenting words in Elkonin Boxes can help children with phoneme awareness. Check out some templates to get your child or classroom started.
  • Teaching Phonics: (PDF) This article includes directions for several phonics workshops and includes a guide for how to use Elkonin Boxes and some suggestions for activities.
  • Using Elkonin Boxes: This is the procedure for children’s use of Elkonin Boxes.
  • Lesson Example: (PDF) An example for how to introduce Elkonin Boxes into the classroom and have young students gradually work more independently.
  • Classroom Activities: (PDF) Promote early literacy with Elkonin Boxes and the other activities listed on this site.
  • Elkonin Picture Cards: (PDF) This article provides Elkonin Boxes to print and use for an activity called Phoneme Split and Say.
  • Elkonin Word Boxes: (PDF) Step-by-step instructions on how to use Elkonin boxes to improve spelling, decoding and alphabetic principle.
  • Elkonin Boxes: (PDF) One more lesson plan to be applied to Elkonin Boxes. There are several variations of this one including the use of a puppet.

The Elkonin boxes technique is considered to be incredibly valuable for teachers who teach reading because it helps to fix the phoneme-grapheme structure in the minds of children. In this way, children will improve their spelling, writing, and reading skills. Though it is simple to use, the Elkonin method provides a lifetime benefit to children who might otherwise struggle with acquiring phonological awareness.