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July 2014

Vol. 15 No. 11

Summer Tasks

This summer is challenging us all with the heat and the general mugginess of summer in Atlanta. One of the parents gave me a “cool wrap”—a bandana that you tie around your neck to help you stay cool, but first you put it in the refrigerator overnight. It works great, but I keep forgetting to put it back in the refrigerator!  It’s like the cell phone—works great, but must be charged every other day. The car works fine, but I have to check the coolant weekly when it’s this hot. It feels like we have more and more “stuff” that requires more and more maintenance. On one of the organization blogs, they say to keep a checklist of that kind of thing in your kitchen and in your car to peruse daily to help remember all of these tasks. This is why we have vacations!  We need a break from maintaining and organizing and remembering—just a glass of iced tea and a good mystery are all I need to “zone out” or rest my brain for a little while.

Now, I’m back at school, moving furniture around and setting up for the new school year. It’s kind of a relief to be back—I’m so excited about the new school year that I just want to work on it non-stop.  Applications are coming in and I’m getting ready to order workbooks and some new toys. One thing that has happened as I sort through materials, I’m finding all kinds of stuff that was in storage last year that can be useful here in Tucker. The other thing that is happening is I’m finally doing what Miss Kate (elementary teacher) kept advising last year—I’m throwing things away!  I’ve been teaching for so many years that some of the textbooks and resource materials I have been carrying from school to school were written before computers were in the classroom!  There are still some lovely ideas in some of them and I’m cutting them up and filing ideas that I want to save, but on the whole, I’m getting my money’s worth from DeKalb County Recycling.

I’m beginning to set up the relationships with folks in the community for the fall. I don’t know what families will want to try for enrichment activities, but I have some ideas further down in this newsletter. Because we are a school for gifted students, we always like to see them stretch the envelope a little and try new things to satisfy the parts of themselves that don’t get enough time in school. If your family would like to see something that isn’t on the list, please let me know about it. Because we have the bus, we can easily drop students off at their activities, if parents would like us to do that. In the past, we’ve had Kung Fu, art, dance, horse-back riding, and cheer-leading drop-offs and one year, we had a middle schooler who was interning at a theater and we dropped her off there. Of course, there are always some Scouts that need to be delivered.  I’m planning to take a Yoga class—then I won’t need a vacation to rest.

Beat the Heat

I’ve been experimenting with the air conditioning this year—I want low bills but still want to be comfortable enough to work. So, every time I see a tip for staying cool, I take notice.  Here’s what I’ve collected so far:

  • Try using cucumbers in new and different ways, even floating around in a glass of soda water, they taste so cool!
  • Wear natural fibers—cottons and even bamboo fabric seems to keep me a bit cooler and I try to stay away from fitted clothing in the summer.
  • I’m turning down the thermostat in small amounts at home and I’m finding that once the humidity is lower in the house, I can handle 79 degrees. I’m also using ceiling fans to move the air around.
  • These “cool wraps” are wonderful if your car a/c doesn’t work so well. They are filled with polymer crystals that hold the coolness for a long time.
  • I’m not going out without my hat. I splurged and bought one at REI made in Australia out of UV protective cloth and it’s great to keep the sun off of my face. I have a cowboy hat, too, but this Australian thing works better.
  • I’ll park far from the door of the store, if I can park in the shade. Coming back to a roasting hot car makes me miserable.
  • I have mapped out ways to get to my most common destinations on SHADY STREETS. That sounds silly, but sometimes the street that is parallel to the one I usually use is shady and cooler.
  • I’m walking with my dogs much earlier in the a.m. than I usually do—around 6:00 and much later in the evening, around 8:30 or 9:00. Avoiding the sunny heat makes the walking go faster and I don’t worry about my dogs’ feet getting burned on hot pavement.
  • Last, I carefully hunt through the Sunday paper to find ice cream coupons. Without ice cream, why even have summer??

Summer Movies—
cheap, cool fun


We are going to Carmike Cinema over on Scenic Highway this summer. The theatre is clean and for a $4 ticket, we get a popcorn and drink and a pretty good kid’s movie. We love working with them—they are really nice to us and deserve a thank you at the end of the summer. This week we are going to see The Nut Job and then in a couple weeks, Rio and Rio 2.  We can’t wait!

What is Human Scale Education?


That’s one of our taglines for Kingfisher, Human Scale Education, and many folks don’t know what that means.

E.F. Schumacher wrote a book that was popular for a time and that comes back into vogue every couple years: Small is Beautiful. Schumacher was an economist who challenged the American notion of bigger is better. One example of this is the “Super Wal-mart” that became popular a couple of years ago. Schumacher says that institutions can grow so much that they lose something key to their vitality—their ability to operate for the people they serve.  Out of his book and his lectures came a movement toward re-examining whether growth is always a good thing and while our entire economy is based on buying and selling, sometimes we have to think about the concept of “enough”.

Ace Hardware is capitalizing on this in their current commercials—“You shouldn’t need a GPS to find the hammers and nails”. This is how we feel at Kingfisher—we want to really know the children we work with and the families we serve. We want them to know what we are up to, as well.

Small schools with small class sizes mean more than just individual attention. It means that every student is an important part of the school.  Kingfisher is small and every student has a job in the running of the school—sweeping the porches, cleaning the sinks, emptying the trash, sorting the recycling, etc.  These children are part of something important and are learning a concept that will follow them throughout their school career: every person is valuable and important. Every talent we bring to the table is worth emphasizing. We have time and space to talk about character development at Kingfisher. We are small enough to re-vamp our schedule for special events and to be flexible when a student wants to dig deeply into an interest. As Atlanta City schools and DeKalb County combine schools to save money, we serve a niche market—bright kids from smart families that want their child to be more than a number. They want their children to be an individual and to be treated as a person of value.

Start thinking about the concept of Human Scale when you go into a store—sometimes you pay a little more at a locally owned gift shop, but you get a store owner that cares what you want and sometimes even helps you look for the right item.  When I was little, the gas stations were locally owned and sometimes the gas pumper would wash your windows and remind you that your tires need rotating and CALL YOU BY NAME when he finished filling it up!  I know we don’t live in Mayberry, but thinking Human Scale is a step toward that kind of life. Think about the local food movement—know your farmer? Who talked that way 15 years ago? Now, it’s all over the newspaper. Tomatoes might cost a little more at the Thursday Farmer’s Market in Tucker, but they taste so much better. Human Scale better.

 

Ideas for Afterschool Enrichment Courses—


We can deliver kids to their Scout Groups—even if they are meeting at a public school nearby. The Scouts cover all kinds of enriching activities and the kids earn badges and awards.

Tucker Rec has gymnastics classes and many of those things start around 3:30, so we can structure our bus route to work that into the schedule.

Engineering Club will begin in September!! This will happen on Mondays or Tuesdays, depending on their teacher. We believe it will be the beginning of STEM activities that we have wanted to try for a long time. This requires a membership fee from each student and the club sessions last six weeks.

American Karate across from Bikeways is offering an afterschool class and we are willing to drop off on the bus. We’ll have a flyer from him ready to hand out in the next week or so.  

We will continue our relationship with Forefront Arts, with drama classes on Wednesdays, probably during the last hour of the day.

Of course, with the piano here, we will have piano lessons offered once or twice a week. We are talking to the piano teacher at the rec center and also the Music School in Tucker.

I want to continue our relationship with Northlake Children’s Chorus but in a different way. Miss Beverly and I are making plans.


The Tucker Library is starting a children’s Chess Club. Anyone is able to join—beginners, too. This looks like a fun way to make friends with kids from other schools and gain a little knowledge about chess and logic.  I hope we can put together a chess team this year.

Spatial Intelligence


Children who favor a spatial intelligence tend to learn through visual aids and images and individuals with strong spatial intelligence will gravitate towards artistic forms of communication. Here are some fun activities to strengthen this kind of intelligence:
  • Narrate a story for someone who cannot see the story. How would you describe the scenes, events, characters of your story?
  • Listen to a book and tape and draw pictures to illustrate the story.
  • Write words with each syllable in a different color or even each letter. (Great way to learn to write your name and/or street)
  • Play the “what if” game with a friend (e.g. “what if your teacher turned into a shoe?” or “what if I woke up with wings?”
  • Draw a word in the shape of what it spells—for example, the word snake in the shape of a snake.
  • Cut out words from magazines to write a letter or to caption a piece of art.
  • Hide a treasure somewhere in  your house and create a map to it and give it to a friend to use to find the treasure.
  • Older kids might like to try geocaching at one of the parks in DeKalb County
  • Bake cookies and decorate them in a secret code with the icing.

Summer reading List

Kindergarten and First Grade: The Arthur Books are fun to read and the simple chapter books are fun to read with a parent. Also, the Leo Leonni books have simple text and is readable by a beginning reader with some help. Arnold Lobel has written a lot of short books about Frog and Toad that are funny and easy to read.  More advanced readers might enjoy Ivy and Bean or some of the Nate the Great books or the Junie B. Jones series.

Second Grade: The Cam Jansen mysteries are popular with second graders along with Sneakers the Seaside Cat. Another series that the second graders like is the Magic Tree House series and it ranges from second grade reading level on up to fourth.

Third Grade: They like the Goose Bump books, but sometimes they are a bit scary.
The Wayside School series is funny and lots of third graders like them. Advanced third and fourth graders might begin reading some of the Raold Dahl books—Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach.etc.

Fourth Grade: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Walks Two Moons are both books a fourth grader might like. Some realistic fiction like Where the Red Fern Grows might hit the spot for a fourth grader along with some of the horse books like Misty of Chincoteague.   Also, I hear the Warrior Series is popular and fun to read.

Fifth Grade: These guys might be ready for some of the beginning Harry Potter books, but sometimes the themes are scary and even though 5th graders can read the words easily, sometimes the underlying messages are difficult to take in. Both of my kids read these at different ages and the older they were, the more the books delighted and entertained.  Some more serious fifth graders want realistic fiction like Lois Lowry’s books and some want adventure. One of our fifth graders read The Land that Time Forgot over the summer one year.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth graders seem to love books that have been made into movies so they can agonize over what was left out. These are the Harry Potter lovers and the Narnia lovers. Lord of the Rings is popular with 13, 14, 15 year old boys and sometimes girls will read A Secret Garden or A Wrinkle in Time over and over. Madeleine L’Engle does adventure books that have a science/space background and they are always well liked.

One of the kids sent me an e-mail to remind me about Wayside School books, which he found hilarious. Also, my daughter reminded me of the Lemony Snickett books, which she enjoyed as a pre-teen.
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