Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Normally on a holiday I tell everyone to have a happy one. You know...Happy Halloween, Happy New Year, Happy Mother's Day, Happy Easter. But somehow it doesn't seem right to say Happy Memorial Day,

Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have served and died in service to their country. It does not seem appropriate to enjoy it with a celebration.

Of course, Memorial Day is also considered the unofficial start of summer. Swimming pools and water parks will open. Families will be getting together for cookouts and parties.

So I will just say, enjoy your day, but remember what the holiday represents and honor it appropriately.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Congratulations Graduates

Today was our local high school's graduation ceremony. I just want to say "congratuations" to all the graduating seniors. You have completed a major accomplishment in your life. It will be one of the milestones that you remember forever. It is also the beginning of all that the future holds for you!
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Learn Before It's Too Late ~ Part 2

Yesterday I posted a Rachel Maddow video from MSNBC where she covered a brief history of American oil disasters. Today I want to post another video (May 26) where she discusses a 1979 oil leak that also occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. The video speaks for itself and is a great historical lesson. Again, will we ever learn?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Learn Before It's Too Late

On May 4th, Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, gave a brief history of American oil disasters. It is incredible to me that we continue to have these disasters, over and over, and just don't seem to learn.

I used to have a few students every year that didn't seem to learn. They would continue to make the same mistakes over and over. We usually referred them for special services.

After watching this video, I'm thinking our country might need special services. We've got to start learning before it's too late. Hopefully, it's not too late already.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Best Place for Summer

The school year is almost over. Summer vacation is almost here. With it comes lots of free time for many students. Some students can afford to go to summer camps or spend their days at pools or water parks or attend enrichment classes in their favorite subjects. Unfortunately, there are many students who do not have the kind of money it takes to keep themselves busy during the summer. These are often the students who end up getting bored and sometimes end up getting in trouble.

But there is one place where all students can go. It offers unlimited possibilities and usually has activities scheduled most days. It's also free and open to all. The public library is one of the best places to be during the hot days of summer. Visit yours and discover all it has for you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learn a New Word Everyday

The school year is almost over. Summer vacation is almost here and with it come all the wonderful activities that we've waited for all winter. Biking, swimming, hiking, camping, state fairs, festivals, and outdoor concerts are all just around the corner.

Unfortunately, there is one other thing that happens during summer vacation. It's called "summer learning loss" or "summer brain drain." This refers to the amount of material students forget over the summer. When I was teaching, I hated that I had to spend so much time in the fall reviewing material from the previous year. It always seemed like such a waste of time to teach lessons that the students should already know. And yet, the new topics couldn't be learned if students didn't remember the old ones. Some years it took almost 2 months to get the students to the point where they could attack the new concepts.

Thank goodness there are ways to help prevent this learning loss. Over the summer, I will try to give some suggestions that might help.

Today's suggestion is to learn a new word everyday. While you're doing your summer activities, look and listen for new words. For instance, I was watching a news show tonight and heard one of the announcers use the word "pusillanimous." I had never heard this word before. A quick search on the Internet showed that it is an adjective that means lacking courage or resolution, is timid, and fearful.

A student who learns a new word everyday (it helps to write them down), will know about 90 new words when school starts again in the fall. And that can only be a good thing!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Gulf Oil Disaster ~ What You Can Do

The other day one of the newscasters was discussing the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He made a comment that the gulf was a big place and gave the impression he thought nature would take care of the problem.

I started thinking that he was probably right. In maybe 30 to 50 years, nature will have cleaned it all up. (After 20 years, the oil from the Exxon Valdez still impacts Alaska's environment and after 40 years Cape Cod marshes still smell like gasoline after the barge Florida ran aground.) In the meantime, all wildlife, sea life, fishing, and tourism will have been destroyed. So what can we do? Here are a few suggestions:

1. The National Wildlife Federation has some suggestions as to how you can help.
2. Dawn has been helping to save wildlife for over 30 years.
  • When you buy a bottle of Dawn and activate your donation online, one dollar will be donated towards the International Bird Rescue Research Center and the Marine Mammal Center.
3. Matter of Trust collects hair, fur, fleece, feathers, and nylons to help absorb oil. They also accept funding. I have read, however, that authorities may not be using this method.

4. The National Audubon Society suggests that you
  • Volunteer. But remember that untrained helpers on the front lines can pose a danger to themselves and to wildlife and actually interfere with the work being done.
  • Support full finding for Coastal Louisiana Restoration by contacting your senators and house representatives.
  • Make a donation.
  • If you don't live in the Gulf region, learn to keep a healthy habitat for wildlife at home by visiting Audubon at Home.
5. If you think you have a solution to the problem, submit your idea to the EPA.

6. Other organizations have similar suggestions for ways you can help:
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Use Care With Sunscreens

When I was a child, I played outside all summer. I never worried about suntans or sunburns or sunscreen.

In my teen years the "tan" became my great goal. Again, I never worried about sunburns or sunscreen. In fact, most of us mixed iodine with baby oil and used it to promote our tans. The darker the tan, the better. Of course, I had brown hair with a lot of red highlights, which gave me the fair skin of a redhead. The only way I was ever going to get that "tan" is if all the freckles joined hands. Only once, after a vacation in Florida, did I ever come close to a real tan. But that didn't stop me from trying.

Of course, now I wish I had been more sensible. I started being more sensible in my 30s and began using sunscreen. My skin had suffered a lot of sun damage, but I figured it was better to start protecting it late in life rather than not at all.

However, after today's report, I'm not sure what to think. This report is something every student and parent should read because the sunscreens we're using may be doing more damage than good. The first paragraph of the article reads:
Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at shich malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, according to an evaluation of those products released today.
Of the products tested by researchers at Environmental Working Group, only 39 of the 500 were considered safe and effective. The best and most effective methods for preventing sun damage are still hats, clothes, and shade.

To find how your sunscreen rates, go to

Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer - AOL News

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Family Matters

Today my family had a reunion. It was so much fun. We didn't really do anything, other than eat, and yet, just being around family makes you feel connected. I don't have a lot of aunts, uncles, or cousins, so the little family I have seems even more important. And one thing I'm sure of is that we don't spend nearly enough time together.

Amazingly, we all get along and we know that if one us ever needed help, the others would be there for us. Not all families have this. I am extremely lucky.

Families do matter. Every child deserves a happy, supportive, nurturing family. I am so grateful for mine.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Texas Rewrites History?

Today I learned that the Texas Education Agency had voted to approve a conservative textbook curriculum. I wanted to learn more so I went to the website for the Texas Education Agency. I'm assuming it's just a coincidence that the letters on the website are TEA.

Some of the changes to curriculum include:
1. Replacing Thomas Jefferson with John Calvin as an example of enlightened thinking.
2. Studying the Judeo-Christian thinking of the founding fathers rather than the ideas of separation of church and state.
3. Studying the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic" rather than "democratic."
4. Omitting information that the constitution prevents the government from promoting one religion over another.

There are quite a few other changes as well, many reflecting conservative thinking. Several members of the board, upset with proceedings, walked out, leaving the more conservative members an easy vote. And with Texas impacting textbook publishing, many of these curriculum changes may eventually be found in textbooks nationwide, although I heard that California has already introduced legislation that would keep Texas' standards and textbooks out of California.

It's not that I'm for or against a conservative agenda or a liberal one, but I believe that history is history and should be taught as facts. You can't just leave out facts because you don't like them or they don't fit your politics. Nor can you include items that aren't true because they promote your beliefs.

School boards across the nation need to take note of what happened in Texas. Personally, I don't believe public school curriculum is the place to promote conservatism or liberalism or religious beliefs or political agendas. Unfortunately, there are people who do.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Bike To Work Day

Today is Bike to Work Day. After watching all the news about the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, I'm thinking that maybe everyday should be Bike to Work Day.

But can we ever be free of our reliance on oil? After looking at a list of petroleum-based products and learning that there are over 3000 oil platforms in the Gulf, I think we are probably facing a future where oil and the products made from it, will always be with us and so will the environmental hazards.

The Gulf disaster is not just the fault of BP, Transocean, or Halliburton, but lies with all of us. If you've ever driven a gasoline car, drank from a plastic water bottle, wore clothing made from a synthetic fabric, used waxed paper, or even taken an aspirin, you're using a petroleum product.

Until we can reduce our use of all petroleum products, we will have to suffer the consequences when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, when something goes wrong, an entire ecosystem and economy can be destroyed.

Petroleum Based Products: A Long List: Save and Conserve

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kids and Race

Researchers have repeated a 1947 study on children's attitudes about race. After all these years, it seems that both white and black children are still biased toward lighter skin.

This video shows some of the children's responses. It seems we still have a long way to go.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teachers Not Taking It Anymore

These are the teachers at Bloomingdale High School in Valrico, Florida. I think they may have had it with the behavior of their students. Whether you think the video is good or bad, I think they get their point across.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Turn In That Work!

The end of the school year is in sight. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Now is the time to check with all your teachers to make sure you've turned in all your work and met all the requirements for passing the class. If you haven't, ask your teacher what you need to do. If you're sincere, they will almost always go out of their way to help. Really, they will.

Monday, May 17, 2010

ADHD Linked to Pesticides

I remember, years ago, a coworker told me a story about her daughter. When the girl was a baby, she was always crying and as she got a little older, her behavior got worse. The mother was sure something was wrong because her older child had never had any problems.

This mother had taken the girl to several different doctors, but they found nothing. Finally, she started her own experiment to discover a solution. Mom suspected the problem was in the food she was giving her. First, she went organic. That helped, but didn't completely solve the problem. The entire family was already vegetarian, so that was take care of. Next she started eliminating foods. She soon discovered that when she eliminated dairy products, the girl's behavior improved, and when she eliminated wheat products, all the bad behaviors went away.

Now, what the mother did was not scientific, but as long as her daughter avoided dairy and wheat, the child was well-behaved and eventually excelled in school and has become an extremely successful adult.

Several times during my teaching career, I heard similar stories. Most of them involved parents using special diets to help control behavior.

It's not surprising to me, then, that a scientific study has linked ADHD with exposure to pesticides found in fruits and vegetables. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, tested the urine of over 1100 children for organophosphates, and found that those with higher levels were twice as likely to exhibit symptoms of ADHD.

Organophosphates are designed to affect the nervous systems of pests, and it appears that they may be having an affect on humans, also.

Unfortunately, children need fruits and vegetables, so experts have some recommendations. These include eating organic whenever possible. Eat produce in season and choose items that are locally grown because even if these aren't organic, they tend to have lower pesticide levels. It's also a good idea to wash all produce and peel any fruits or vegetables that can be peeled. A varied diet can also help.

For more information

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clown Class

I just saw an ad on television for an 8-week Clown Class that will be offered in a nearby city this summer. What a fun activity for those who want to do something a little different. A little research on the Internet shows that these courses are offered across the United States and in some other countries as well.

Instruction includes all the typical clown skills such as juggling, hula hoops, make-up application, mime, tumbling, character development, and much more.

So if you're interested in learning something unique, where being the class clown is a good thing, then put on a big red nose and follow it to Clown Class.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

5 Activities for Frost-Free Day

VermicompostImage via Wikipedia

In southeastern Iowa, May 15 is considered to be the frost-free date. What a perfect time to teach children a little agriculture.

1. Explain weather patterns and discuss why different places have different frost-free dates.

2. Plant a small garden with some herbs, vegetables, or flowers.

3. Visit a local nursery, greenhouse, or farm. If possible, have the owner explain a typical day during the different seasons.

4. Take a walk through a park. Try to identify the different plants.

5. Visit the library. Use the references there to decide which plants have to be planted after the frost-free date, which can be planted in the early spring, and which can be planted in the fall.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

The Future of Math Instruction

The following is an interesting video that will make teachers stop and think about how to make their students stop and think.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Take Care and Think Ahead

My family and friends are always getting on me about worrying too much. I tell them that I don't really worry, but that I know every action causes a reaction. Sometimes those reactions are good and some aren't. I can watch what someone is doing and predict a number of possible outcomes, some of which cause me to speak out, therefore making it look like I worry.

For instance, years ago when my husband put the barbecue grill in the back of a truck, I told him that he should tie it down. He didn't. And yes, the barbecue grill flew out the back of the truck on the first turn he made. I could see it happening ahead of time, but I was labeled the "worrier."

When my nieces and nephews were toddlers, they would crawl up on kitchen stools. It would make me sick to my stomach, but didn't seem to bother anyone else. I could envision them falling onto the floor, hitting their heads, or worse. Only after I would say something, would their parents tell them to get down. Again, everyone thought I worried too much. I thought they didn't worry enough.

The truth is, I don't think I worry too much. But I can visualize the possible results of actions.

I see people all the time doing things that have the potential to be problems. People are driving while talking on cell phones. They're in cars without wearing their seat belts. They ride motorcycles without helmets. They sunbathe without sunscreen. And this is just the mild everyday behavior, certainly not the extreme risk-taking type.

Truth is, I have no problem with risk-taking behaviors if the people know the risks and take all safety precautions. They have the ability to foresee problems before they occur and limit their risk through foresight. What bothers me is the number of people who take multitudes of risks, never thinking about consequences, or that anything could actually happen to them.

And yet every year hundreds of people are injured or worse through careless behaviors. Students need to be especially careful because, while they're most likely to take chances, they're the least experienced to handle them. It is even more important this time of year with proms and graduations.

So be safe, be careful, and think ahead.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Teachers May Need Help Too

Today on the news I saw a video of a teacher who snapped and started beating on one of her students. My mother happened to be visiting when the video was showing. Her first reaction was, "Did you ever do that?"

I just looked at her and finally said that if I had ever done anything like that, I wouldn't have had a job. As it turns out, the teacher on the video doesn't have a job either.

Every teacher will run into a student that pushes them to the edge. The teacher has to make sure that the student doesn't push them over that edge. Every teacher needs to remember that a school is a miniature representation of our society. There are good guys and bad guys. Some students will go on to great things and some will become criminals (if they aren't already). But regardless of what they do or say, it is the teacher's job to remain professional.

Usually when a student has pushed a teacher to the edge, it is the result of a series of events that have taken place over a period of time. It's not usually just the one thing the student did. When a teacher sees this taking place, he or she should get help. Contact the child's parents, the principals, the counselors, and the student's other teachers. Take care of the problem, before it reaches the point where any kind of physical violence takes place. It may be that the teacher actually needs counseling, mentoring, or refresher courses in discipline. Remaining professional means getting help when you need it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Waiting for Technology

Today I was reading an article titled Video Phones Are Coming. And This Time It's for Real - BusinessWeek. The article gave a brief history of the video phone from Dick Tracy's 2-way wrist TV to the Apple prototype recently left in a bar (that could possibly include a video phone). It's anticipated that Apple or Skype or some other company will have something by the end of this year.

When I was a kid my parents took me to Chicago one summer. We saw all the sights and I remember visiting The Museum of Science and Industry. One of the displays that caught my attention was a telephone connected to a television screen. If I remember right, the people who produced the display predicted the technology would be available in ten years or so.

Well, I waited and waited and that technology never happened. That vacation to Chicago took place at least 50 years ago and I still don't have my video phone. I'm not even sure I want one anymore.

But the point here is how uneven technological progress has been. With most technology, I've given up trying to keep up. We put a man on the moon 41 years ago, but still haven't found cures for most diseases. We have to update phones, computers, TVs, cameras, and software every two years or so and yet we still don't have video phones. I have a record player, 8-tracks, cassettes, and CDs that I never use because all my music is now downloaded to my computer. I have all this technology, but I still don't understand how a radio works.

All in all, it's difficult to predict which technology will be successful. At one time the future of video was expected to be the video disc, which looked like an LP record. As it turned out, VHS tapes won out.

And with all the technology we have, we can't figure out how to contain the oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

And this is why education is so important. Technology and problem solving go hand in hand. A broad education is needed to do the kind of problem solving that new technologies require. An education that is focused in just one area won't do. To solve the oil spill takes people educated in geology, chemistry, mechanical engineering, oceanography, the environment, and more. To build a video phone, we've had to create powerful microprocessors, perfect screen technology, and set up worldwide cellular networks. It takes people who are educated in science, math, technology, and engineering.

We can barely imagine what technologies, problems, and jobs will face us in the future. But I do know a good, well-rounded, broad education will be the key to having a job, solving problems, creating new technologies, and imagining what the next great technology will be or having the solution to the next great problem.

Monday, May 10, 2010

5 Places to Get Lesson Plans

As the school year winds down, most teachers are scrambling to finish their curriculum. But there may be some who are looking for ideas for lesson plans to finish out the year. Here are a few sites that provide pre-made lessons on a variety of subjects.

1. The Learning Network is a blog provided by The New York Times. Lesson plans cover a variety of subjects and include an overview, materials, procedures, activities, related resources, and discussion questions.

2. Texas Instruments offers a variety of activities on their website, most featuring a calculator activity.

3. USA TODAY Lesson Library offers lessons in many subjects and often includes reprints of related news articles. The library includes separate printables for teachers and students.

4. is CNN's resource for teachers written by former teachers that includes "video, background stories, Internet links, and more."

5. Microsoft has lesson plans on subjects ranging from arts and design to music, history, mathematics, and more. Again there are teaching guides, procedures, activities, and lists of materials.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quotes to Think About

A friend on Facebook wrote on his status that the the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico reminded him of a quote he had read a long time ago:


Reading this quote reminded me of a another quote, this one from the character Agent Smith in the movie "The Matrix."

Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure.

As I was researching the above quotes to get the wording right, I found another that I think bears repeating:

It wasn't the Exxon Valdez captain's driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill. It was yours. ~Greenpeace advertisement, New York Times, 25 February 1990

I think we can do better that we've been doing. We really don't have a choice if we plan to continue to live on this planet. So far, it's the only one we have. We don't need to be a destroyer. We don't need to be a virus. We can use our reason and our power to create in order to develop a natural equilibrium with our environment. We just have to make the choice.


Friday, May 7, 2010

It's Easier to Keep Up

When I was teaching, there were several bad habits students had that annoyed me. One of them was not turning in their work on time.

I don't know how many times I would ask a student why they weren't turning in their assignments. Of course there were a variety of excuses, but one that happened way more often than it should have was that they simply weren't done with it. Some of these students would have one or two weeks worth of assignments stuffed in their notebooks, none of them finished. The students had started every assignment (many were almost complete), but the students didn't want to turn it in until they were completely done with it. So there they were, with five to ten assignments all in various stages of completion, with no credit for any of it because it had never been turned in.

Well, this week, I have been doing the same thing. I have started writing blog posts everyday all week, but I didn't finish any of them. I always expected my students to turn their assignments in on time, finished or not. I should follow the same advice for myself. I will try to do better in the future.

By the way, they are all published now. My advice to students (and to myself) ... it's much easier to keep up than catch up.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Avatar" Lessons Revisited

A few days ago I bought the movie Avatar. I had seen it in the theater in 3D back in December and I knew then I would have to buy it when it was released on DVD. It is one of those movies that can be watched over and over.

Today, my husband came home early from work, sick with a cold. So we spent the afternoon watching it. Again, I was struck by the beauty of the film and the message of the story, perhaps more-so this time than before. Today it somehow seemed more personal, perhaps because I was at home and not in a theater with a hundred other people.

Back in December, I wrote a blog post titled "Avatar" Lessons. Now that the DVD is out, teachers might want to take another look at some of the suggestions for lesson plans I posted. Since then, there is another blog that also has some great ideas for teachers and parents. It is called "Avatar with Kids: A Discussion Guide."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


A few days ago I was reading a blog called Free Technology For Teachers. The authors were discussing a new website called Mashpedia. It is called "the real-time encyclopedia" and, although it is not a typical search engine, it will give a variety of results for the subject of your search.

Of course, I had to try it out. Since today is Cinco de Mayo, I went to Mashpedia and typed in "cinco de mayo." Oh my, it is truly an amazing website. The page resulted in video from YouTube, information from Wikipedia, stories from Digg, tweets from Twitter, images from Flickr, news articles from variety of sources, blog articles, more images, and a selection of books and websites. I had all these links and all this information on one web page right at my fingertips.

A few hours later I did the same search. Some of the information was the same, but much had changed. New blogs had been posted and new tweets had been written, and the information is constantly updated.

I was thinking how wonderful this would be for students doing research. To have all these sources with just one search is like a researchers dreams come true.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Day

The first Tuesday in May is Teacher Appreciation Day. Often times students will give their teachers a little something to show their appreciation, but students should be careful what they give.

Make sure the gift is inexpensive. While this is not usually a problem, a teacher will feel very awkward accepting anything expensive. It may even be illegal or at least unethical for them to take such gifts. Check with the school first.

Do not give a gift of food. As a teacher, I would receive homemade cookies or cupcakes or candies as a gift. I always took them, thanked the student, and then after school I would take them home and throw them away. I hated to do this, and I hate to admit to this, but I wouldn't trust eating the items. Perhaps I was neurotic, but I just never knew if the items were safe or not. I always felt bad about his and would have preferred the students just not give food items as gifts.

I believe the best gift for any student to give his or her teacher is just a simple "Thank You" card. It can be store-bought or hand-made, but it will convey your thoughts better than any other item. They're safe and teachers love them, especially for their scrapbooks.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week

May 3 - 7 is Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States. It's not a day you hear much about because there's not a lot of advertising about it, but believe me, to a teacher, it's special.

I truly believe that most teachers feel under-appreciated. But just some little thing can make all the difference.

I remember one year when the students put a gift in each teacher's mailbox each day for the entire week. The gifts weren't much. One day was a pencil, one day a pad of post-it notes, a apple, a cupcake paper filled with little candies. It wasn't the quality of the gift, but the fact that the students had taken the time to do just that little extra something for their teachers. It made all the difference in the world.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

I'm This Many

Today is my husband's birthday. He probably wouldn't appreciate me letting everyone know how old he is, but let's just say he'd have to use all his fingers and toes, plus the fingers and toes of a couple other people.

It's always so cute when you ask little kids how old they are and they hold up three or four fingers. They're so proud of their age and that they know how many fingers to hold up.

One you get to my husband's age, it's just not cute any more. How many times did he hold up all ten fingers? I'm afraid I lost count.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

May 1st is May Day. I remember when I was little, we used to make little baskets out of construction paper. We'd roll the paper up into a funnel shape and use tape or glue to hold it. Then we'd attach a handle made from the same construction paper.

Once we had the basket finished, we would go out side and pick flowers. The only flowers growing that early in Iowa were violets and dandelions, but they were perfect. We'd pick them and fill our baskets.

Then for the fun.

We would take them around the neighborhood and hang one on each neighbor's front doorknob. We would knock on the door and then run. The whole point was to give the gift anonymously.

It's funny...I don't know if anyone enjoyed getting those little May Day baskets or not, but we had a great time giving them. There was nothing special about their construction or the flowers in them, but each one was special to us. They made us happy and we always hoped we had made a few other people happy, too. The power of giving a gift almost always has a two-way benefit. How wonderful it would be if all children learned the joy of giving, not just receiving.