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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Teaching with children’s literature

The current issue of another of my publications, Wiser Now Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Tips, recommends a variety of books about older adults that are fun for people of all ages and abilities to read. That brings to mind the delightful books by Fred Gwynne, including A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, one of several he wrote and illustrated on how children misunderstand what adults say. (As an aside, I urge you to read up a bit on Fred Gwynne. Though best remembered as TV’s Herman Munster, he was a man of wide-ranging talents. Check out http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=9542215.)

I have long felt that children’s books, in addition to being a delightful way to connect with children, provide a great way to connect with adults. First, when adults share children’s books, many of which are written with humor, they are often sharing laughs. If an excuse is needed, it can be to:

  • learn what today’s children are reading

  • choose a book or two for a grandchild’s birthday

  • pick out books to donate to the local library or children’s daycare

Second, children’s books are often a light-hearted way to provide life lessons. (Indeed, that’s frequently their purpose for children, too.) In the case of Chocolate Moose, the lesson is how even when we think we are making ourselves clear, we need to check that people heard what we thought we said. The little girl in Fred Gwynne’s story imagines “a toast to Daddy” puts him in a toaster, lions “praying” on animals has them on their knees with paws together on zebras’ backs, and car pools are swimming pools for cars.

To order A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, click here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What’s My Line?

February 2, 1950 marked the premier of the long-running and popular TV show “What’s My Line?” which charged a panel of celebrities with the task of guessing the occupation of contestants by asking only questions that could be answered “yes” or “no.” Contestants won a whopping $50 if the panel failed to guess correctly. The sophisticated panelists, dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns, were all known for their wit as they tried to identify the jobs of people who were, for example, pool table repairers, pretzel benders, tea tasters, chicken pluckers, wig fitters, and a flea raiser (for the Agricultural Department).

Each week also featured a celebrity guest which included literally hundreds of Hollywood, Broadway and TV stars, sports figures and at least three U.S. Presidents (although none while they were serving in that role).

Curious? You can learn more at: http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/ and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042168/

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just a bite Weekly Digest

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

A man is incomplete until he is married. After that he is finished.
-- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Resources to bite into
Valentines, Flirting, and Famous Couples *
Much of the current issue of HUBrain Aerobics WeeklyU focuses on topics related to love – both the cynic’s view (as evidenced by the Zsa Zsa Gabor quote above and the romantic side as in our famous couples quiz. If you look up “famous couples” on the Internet, you will find many obviously imperfect alliances, but among those that survived, I am always delighted to see a sense of humor. Here is Lyndon Johnson on life with Ladybird: Only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. One is to let her think she is having her own way, the other, to let her have it.

Speaking of humor *
I have resisted the urge for several months now in UBrain Aerobics WeeklyU to create a punny word quiz, but this week gave into temptation. This is, after all, the week when we celebrate “Love may make the world go round, but laughter keeps us from getting dizzy.” Here are a few puns that didn’t make it into the quiz:•It was an emotional wedding. Even the cake was in tiers. •An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either. •She was the apple of his eye and he liked to sit down be cider. (Let my websites become the apple of YOUR eye.)
Heart Month *
On a more serious side, it is also Heart Month, with a special emphasis on women’s health because many more women than men die each year from heart ailments. Our hearts are perhaps the hardest working organ in our bodies. Did you know?•Our bodies have about 5.6 liters (6 quarts) of blood, which circulates through the body three times every minute. In one day, the blood travels a total of 19,000 km (12,000 miles)—that's four times the distance across the US from coast to coast.Find out more from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/eheart/facts.html.
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