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They’re everywhere.  Fidget toys are trending, but why?  Studies have shown that these self-regulation tools help people of all ages reduce restlessness, stress and improve focus.  By directing antsy behaviors toward a device, a person is less likely to disrupt the classroom or workplace to relieve their anxiety.  Despite recent toy demands, fidgeting itself isn’t a new concept; common fidgeting behaviors include finger tapping, knuckle cracking, hair twirling and pencil chewing.  Those outlets for restlessness though may soon be a thing of the past.

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March 20, 2017
Saleel Menon

The Truth About Fine Arts Programs: Benefits Beyond Academics

Music Education, Kids And Creativity, Creativity, STEAM

Want to score better on your SAT’s or standardized tests? – Join fine arts! This is an argument widely used by fine arts teachers to recruit for their programs, or sell their craft to young students and parents. Research studies by the hundreds substantiate claims that fine arts – particularly music education – help develop skills needed to think critically, problem solve, and analyze data which all lead to an on average elevated standardized testing experience. While some can view this as an amazing advocacy of music education, I think it perpetuates an ideology that is fundamentally wrong with the way we approach the arts, specifically in education. These statistics serve to quantify the importance of arts in an objective way, which is important in its own right, but art is subjective and has unique importance aside from its auxiliary interdisciplinary benefits.

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March 13, 2017
R. Elaine L. Smith

"At-Risk" Brains and Games

Kids And Creativity, STEM Education / Play, Learning Through Play

Mary and I are two teachers, who have been teaching science in some form or another since dinosaurs roamed the earth (at least that is what we tell our students).  Personal communications changed dramatically with the advent of an affordable personal computer.  Social media, such as Myspace, appeared facilitating communication across long distances, classrooms, age and gender gaps.  At the same time, cell phones became cheap and available.  Now there is opportunity for constant communication from a variety of platforms ranging from Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat. During this time period, we have observed that social communication has become a premier driver of the adolescent brain at the same time that the focus and effort required for academic success has been diminishing.

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March 06, 2017
Alana Hackes

Imagination Appreciation: The Power of Playing Pretend

Kids And Creativity, Creativity, Learning Through Play

I grew up with seven boys—three of them were my brothers, two of them my step brothers, and the other two were my next door neighbors. We were all around the same age—the greatest age difference between the oldest and the youngest was six years—so we spent a lot of time outside playing games together. One of our favorite games to play was called “Be Whoever You Wanna Be,” which was just a really long name for playing pretend. Sometimes we would pretend to be characters from our favorite show or sometimes we would pretend to be warriors from a made-up race. The possibilities—and the hours we spent playing these various types of pretend games—seemed endless.

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February 13, 2017
Carol Tang

Finding the Time to Play

Kids And Creativity, Creativity, STEM Education / Play, Learning at Home, Learning Through Play, STEM, STEAM

Dr. Carol Tang is the Executive Director of the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco. She is on the Board of Directors for the National Afterschool Association, the How Kids Learn Foundation, and Artists United as well as a reviewer for the academic journal, Afterschool Matters. She previously was employed as the team lead for out-of-school time grant making portfolio at the S.D. Becthel, Jr. Foundation, the director of the Coalition for Science After School, and head of exhibitions and public programs at the California Academy of Sciences. Carol has a Ph.D. in paleontology and is the author of the Jurassic articles in the Encylopaedia Britanica Online. You can reach her on Twitter at @CarolTang1.

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February 11, 2017
Rachael Rufino

5 Education Trends Your Child Wants to be a Part of

Music Education, Kids And Creativity, Creativity, STEM Education / Play, Learning Through Play, STEM, STEAM

Education methods have always aimed to ensure future generations are fully prepared to contribute to the working force as adults.  But what about preparing children to also function as social members of society?  More recent approaches to education are now focusing on developing wholesome, happy children with the ability to develop healthy relationships and persevere through the trails of life.

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February 04, 2017
Kacey Templin

Beyond Different: Defining Gifted Education

Kids And Creativity, STEM, STEAM

These days, nearly everyone with grade school-aged children has heard about gifted education. It could be that your child has been identified, or a child that you know personally. Perhaps you yourself were once labeled as a gifted learner. If identified in elementary school, these children are often removed from regular classes routinely during the week to be amongst their gifted peers in special classrooms. When these children head into middle and high school, gifted classrooms turn into advanced placement courses. Many people assume the label “gifted” simply means that students have a high IQ score, but gifted education means so much more than that. But what is the true definition of gifted learning? And why do so many not know what being gifted means? To answer these questions, we must take a look at the students themselves.
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