The Cactus Who Wanted to Be a Christmas Tree

Katie loves Christmastime. Getting presents is nice, and playing in the snow with her friends is fun, but what she likes best are all the pretty decorations...

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The Boy Who Could Wiggle His Ears

Learning how to wiggle your ears is really hard. But you can do it if you keep trying. And if you learn to keep trying, no problem is too big. So if you can wiggle your ears, you can do anything!

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Some Poems About Life

(30 Actually) Gems of Wit & Wisdom

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Some History Quotes

I never got to be a full-time social studies teacher. But if I’d had, I would’ve used quotes to help put things in perspective. Here are some of my favorites — “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”  —  Napoleon Bonaparte “History will be kind to me for

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On the Academy Awards

I’m not a big movie fan myself, but it’s almost impossible to tune out the Academy Awards this weekend.  One of the most informative sources I’ve run across is American Public Media’s “Marketplace” radio business program.  Last week they did a series of stories on the Oscars, focusing on the less glamourous aspects of movie-making,

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Scrubbing the Gene Pool

Have you ever heard of the Darwin Awards?  As the website www.darwinawards.com explains: “The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it… For example, one of the 2014 awards was a double for two men who tried to take a selfie with a wild elephant

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Word of the Day — Distaff

Previously I’d mentioned the importance of learning new words.  And the fascinating thing about language is it’s always evolving.  New words are created, meanings change, and new meanings are added.  How many words in English have only one meaning?  Not many, I would guess. My favorite example of how a word’s meaning can change is

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Zombies Around Us

Have you ever felt you were being controlled by someone else? Be glad you’re not a ladybug. These little aphid predators can fall victim themselves to a parasitic wasp in a particularly gruesome way.  These wasps sting ladybugs, leaving one egg inside. When the egg hatches, the larva eats its host from the inside out.

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The Magic Book

I’ve mentioned earlier about encouraging students to use a dictionary.  February 1st was the anniversary of publication of the first part of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1884. According to the February 1, 2015 email from The Writer’s Almanac,  It covered from “A” to “Ant.” The Philological Society of London had conceived the

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Some Thoughts on Travel

Some time ago, I decided my life’s ambition should be to become so important that I would never have to wait on anyone again. Boy, do I have a long way to go. Actually, my President’s Weekend trip to Southern California for the Disneyana Fan Club Expo went pretty smoothly. And the 80+-degree temperature upon

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Why is Tomato Ketchup Two Words?

I’ll admit I’d never thought of this before. but the “Verbal Energy” column in the Feb. 9, 2015 issue of the Christian Science Monitor takes this on. It seems the word “ketchup” comes from Chinese, or more specifically Hokkien, which is the language of southern Fujian and Taiwan.  Ke means “preserved fish” and tschup means

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Word of the Day: Oobleck

When I started teaching, I told the kids they had the hard part — I expected them to make me feel young(er).  I got a good example today which serving as an aide in 8th grade science class. Have you ever heard of an Oobleck?  It’s a non-Newtonian fluid that was the creation of Dr.

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