Thursday, November 11, 2010

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks. Yes, it's only a couple of weeks until Thanksgiving is here in the US once more. This holiday seems to get lost in a muddle of things. Christmas, shopping, football, food, family, deer hunting (here in Wisconsin) all seem to drown out the meaning of the day. We gather together, feast and watch football. Is that what the day is really about? Oh, we get the day off too. Perhaps, as this day approaches, we should take a moment and review the history behind the celebration.

We all point back to the Pilgrims in 1621, after they left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. They traveled by sea for over two months. In late November the 102 passengers arrived in Massachusetts ill-prepared to brave the harsh elements that first winter, the Pilgrims prayed and began building hasty shelters. Nearly half died before spring. Yet, with firm reliance on divine intervention, and assisted by helpful Indians, they had a full harvest the following summer.

Grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends.

In 1789 George Washington issued the first official proclamation of thanksgiving for the United States of America. It would do us all well to read those words and see where the thanks was being offered.

Then, in 1863 Abraham Lincoln, "In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity," offered this proclamation of thanksgiving.

One thing I notice is that thanksgiving is about thanks. Thanks for something extraordinary and thanks to Someone extraordinary. Let's not lose that in the midst of everything else this year.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Frog in the Car

Time does fly when you're having fun. That's what the proverbial cliche says -- and I think its a true statement. It seems like the summer just got started and here we are sending our children off to school for another year.

I hope you all took some time to enjoy the time with your children. It's far too easy to get busy with hobbies and business and yard-work and house repairs and, However important some of that stuff may seem (and it all has a certain priority in our lives), it needs to take second stage to the relationships in each of our lives. I read a great quote from an interview with Micheal J. Fox. The writer asked him to share some advice on parenting that begins "Always ..." "Always", said Fox, "be available to your kids ... I've never gotten up to see something one of my kids wanted to show me and not been rewarded." True enough.

Children require a lot of time -- both quality and quantity. So of course go to those football and basketball games to cheer on your kids, but don't neglect getting involved in their interests. Growing up, my Dad loved to go fishing. He'd wake my brother and I up at 4 AM so we could load up the boat and get to the lake or river by dawn. Frankly, I never loved getting up at 4 in the morning, and I never developed a deep and abiding love of fishing (at least not cleaning them). I did love frogs and turtles and that sort of thing though. I will never forget my Dad forgoing the fishing and asking me to go catch bull frogs and turtles with him. Not to eat, just for the fun of it. That was a fun day. Getting up at 4 AM wasn't hard that day, and paddling our canoe up the river wasn't a hardship. We slipped in behind bullfrog after bullfrog and caught a whole bunch that day. Even a couple turtles came home with us.

Somewhere along the way home in the car, the frogs got loose. The picture of my Dad driving and a bullfrog sitting next to him on the seat is one I will never forget. After we released them into our pond at home, we'd hear them mooing in low tones that whole summer. And it made a very fond memory and bonding experience. Why? Because my Dad took time to get into my world and enjoy the day.

We never know what memories will stick in our child's mind. It could be the hours spent cheering them on at a ball game or it could just be ...the frog in the car.

Monday, June 7, 2010

School's Out Assembly Program

That's actually 2 different topics. School is out for the summer -- Unless you happen to be a school administrator. Then you'll be working pretty much right on through the month. But still, the daily pressure is eased quite a bit. So, go ahead, breathe that sigh of relief. . . That felt good, didn't it?

Now, it's time to get to work. As you wrap up this year, you can't help but think about the next. What areas would you like to improve upon? What do you want to put on the top of the 'pile' for next year's budget dollars? Are there any particular classes or areas of study that need tweaking? Only you can answer that.

I'd love to help in any way I can. And the best way I know how is to put together programs that really meet the needs of schools and the students. So, I'm going to straight out ask. If you are a teacher or an administrator, are there areas that could use a creative kick in the proverbial pants? What type of assembly program would you just love to see next year in your school?

I'm a problem solver, an information provider, and an educator -- and I do it with an eye toward creatively presenting a solution. So contact me this year. Let me know what issues are top of mind for you and your school.

Visit my website. You can contact me from there. See you in the Fall!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Geography School Assemblies

I've been presenting a geography based program for elementary school students for the past 3 years now. It is a popular program, and I do notice that schools are taking notice of the need for things like this. In the US, the average student can't locate Florida on a map. Many can't point to France, or tell the difference between Europe and Asia. And merely locating places on a map is only a part of learning about geography. There is the history of the people, the industry, the agriculture -- basically everything that defines an area.

Schools are doing a better job teaching these things in recent years. That's why I put my "Clue Into Your World" program together. I wanted a fun way to emphasize the vastness of the world we live on. Kids need to understand that there is a rich history beneath every square inch of earth that's been trod upon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Season Ahead

Yes! Winter has been beaten back for another year--finally. Don't get me wrong, I like some snow and a little brisk weather. Fresh fallen snow blanketing the countryside is a beautiful site. This year though, I'm really looking forward to spring and summer.

I've been busy putting together a new show which I'll be revealing in libraries throughout Wisconsin and Illinois this summer. It's a fun show that, as always, emphasizes reading. It's called "Goin' Fiction -- Get Hooked on Books" . Think of it as an educational variety show. Magic, music, a game, ventriloquism and plenty of fun. I'm looking forward to the new season. Can you tell?

Get ready, 'cause here I come.