Egyptian Gods

“Social Studies is boring,” your sixth grader says. “Just stupid facts and dates.”

“Really?” you ask with a playful twinkle in your eye while clicking on the following YouTube video. “I guess you’ve never heard any myths from ancient Egypt.”

Video about the Egyptian gods

Exchanges like the above are one of the reasons I wrote, Artania: The Pharaohs’ Cry. When I taught 6th grade I found very few tie-in novels that brought both the history and mythology of ancient Egypt alive. Yet, their myths were so cool. Battles, revenge, love, sacrifice. All fodder for a roller-coaster ride into an imagined past.

Now your child can learn about the gods and history of Egypt without ever saying boring. Instead they’ll ride on skateboards with Bastet and Horus, journey through the pyramids with Osiris, and grin at Anubis shaking his tail. What are you waiting for? Magic is about to begin.

Buy ArtaniaArtania_NewCover__003.RIF

Seeing Through Another’s eyes

drama-mask-3If your children or students are having trouble with bullying, assertiveness, or empathy here is a lesson you might want to try.

Objective: The learner will increase their understanding of what other children feel through making either a bully or victim mask then pretending to be that person while wearing it.

Materials: Pencils, construction paper or paper plates, thin paper or tissue paper, craft glue, craft sticks. crayons, markers, scissors. Chart paper, white board or electronic whiteboard.  If you’d like a premade mask click on the words “Mask template”  following for a link to a reproducible:  mask template

Procedure: 1. List the four kinds of bullies on the board.

Verbal                  Physical                 Social                 Cyber         

Cruel words       Hurting bodies    Excluding          Text

Name calling      Pushing                Gossip           Social Media

Intimidation      Touching              Cliques                Email

2. Ask the children to imagine what the face of the bully looked like when he/she was bullying. Ask the children to imagine what the victim’s face looked like when he/she was being harassed.

3. Tell them that they are going to make a mask either of a bully or a victim. Encourage about half of children to be each.

4. Pass out art supplies.

5. Go over steps for masks:

Step 1: Sketch an outline of the shape you want to make, using the inside edge of the rim of a paper plate as a guide for the bottom of the face. Cut along sketch lines. Step 2: To make hair, cut paper into a rectangle about 2 or 3 inches wide and 2 to 18 inches long. Put this shape through a paper crimper if you want to make the hair even wilder. Fringe the rectangle to within 1/2 inch of the long edge. Cut the fringed rectangle into smaller pieces, and glue pieces around the top of the plate. Glue craft stick to bottom as holder. Let dry.

6. Once the masks are complete have students look through them and pretend to be the bully or the victim.

7. Keep the masks for role play. Or as an extension the children could write scripts and act them out.

Christmas Compliments


Looking for an easy Christmas project that also promotes a peaceful community? Try Christmas Compliments!

Objective: The learner will practice sentence writing by creating a paper stocking and writing compliments about four other students.

Materials: Class set of Stocking reproducible, markers, crayons, pencils, lined paper, scissors, board, chart paper or electronic whiteboard


  • Explain to students that they will be decorating a paper stocking. Hold up and show blank stocking to students. Ask for suggestions of colors, ways to decorate etc.
  • Allow students time to decorate and cut out their stockings.
  • When complete, tell the students that one of the best gifts they can give to another is the gift of being a friend. Ask them what friends do. Write responses on board.
  • Once there has been a response like, “a friend says nice things,” tell them that they are going to do just that. They are going to think of nice things to say, then write about each other.
  • Assemble the students into groups of four or five. Instruct them to think of nice things about the people in their group.
  • Review what a sentence is, that it must have a subject and a predicate or who and what they do. Also remind them about capitals and periods. If cursive is an area of focus review correct formation of some troublesome letters.
  • Instruct students to first give oral compliments to the members of their group before writing them down. Invite them to be creative and focus on the uniqueness of each person.
  • Allow time for students to write sentences.
  • Once sentences are complete the students cut them out in strips and paste them onto each other’s stocking as if a gift were spilling out.

Evaluation: Were students able to come up with compliments for each other? Were they able to write in complete sentences?

Follow up: Stockings could be displayed on wall and different compliments read by teacher or students.

Book Launched!

Are you an introverted author like me? Would you rather roll over hot

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My new novel

coals naked than do public speaking? Do you break into a cold sweat just imagining being the center of attention?  We writers are a mixed bunch, but as observers, many of us shy away from taking center stage. Well, if you’re launching a new book, waiting in the wings will not sell copies. I know, I had a field of dreams attitude when I published Artania: The Pharaohs’ Cry. Write it and they will come. Well, they didn’t. Oh, I’ve steadily sold a few books, sure. But nothing like I’d imagined.


So when it was time to publish Forest Secrets I decided to do it right. Hot coals and cold sweats be damned. This time, I’d launch with a scream instead of whisper. We’d have a party and invite everyone, their cousin, their brother and their cousin’s cousin. But first I needed a 10394552_10153068563742221_2548028625675952024_nvenue.

I’d remembered that the owner of Toy Zoo: Anything Educational, Marc Canigiula, had suggested hosting an event at his bookstore when I told him I was publishing a new book. I  was scared to  ask but figured the worst he could say is no. So I headed over, marched inside, and with a gulp asked him if he’d like to host my book launch. My jaw dropped to the floor when he said yes. Not  only that, he’d help me organize the event.

I was flabbergasted and, I’ll admit it, overwhelmed. But I scooped my jaw off the floor and got to work. And the results? A resounding success. I had 75 people attend and sold close to 50 books.

If you are planning your own book launch, here are a few tips:

  1. Start early. Post the upcoming publication on your social media sites. Get over your author humility and brag a little.
  2. Print up invitations. I use Vista Print for quality and value, but there are reasonably priced printers everywhere. Make it look as professional as you can afford, Here’s mine:
  3. previewHave a theme with activities for the attendees. Since most of Forest Secrets  takes place in the woods with mystical creatures, I had leaf coloring, green tape leading kids on a scavenger hu1052nt throughout the store, and mask making.1062
  4. Decorate your book signing table according to your theme. Here’s how I did mine.
  5. 1012Send out notices to local publications. Don’t just focus on newspapers. Be creative. Our school district newsletter did a write up that went out to thousands of employees.
  6. But most of all, have fun! It’s your moment. Enjoy it.

Cyberbullying’s Silent Wounds

It’s just a text. Or a post. Only a few words. It’s not like I punched or kicked someone. No biggie.

Or is it? Just how big is cyberbullying to a victim?

  1. 25 percent of teenagers report that they have experienced repeated bullying via their cell phone or on the internet.
  2. Over half (52 percent) off young people report being cyberbullied.
  3. Embarrassing or damaging photographs taken without the knowledge or consent of the subject has been reported by 11 percent of adolescents and teens.
  4. Of the young people who reported cyberbullying incidents against them, one-third (33 percent) of them reported that their bullies issued online threats.
  5. Often, both bullies and cyberbullies turn to hate speech to victimize their target. One-tenth of all middle school and high school students have been on the receiving end of ‘hate terms’ hurled against them.
  6. Over half, (55 percent) of all teens who use social media have witnessed outright bullying via that medium.
  7. An astounding 95 percent of teens who witnessed bullying on social media report that others, like them, have ignored the behavior.
  8. Unfortunately, victims of cyber bullying sometimes, in an attempt to fight back, can shift roles, becoming the aggressor. Often, this happens as a sort of back-and-forth between victim and aggressor which tends to continue the behavior.
  9. More than half of young people surveyed say that they never confide in their parents when cyber bullying happens to them.
  10. Only one out of every six parents of adolescents and teens are even aware of the scope and intensity involved with cyber bullying.
  11. More than 80 percent of teens regularly use cell phones, making them the most popular form of technology and, therefore, a common medium for cyber bullying
  12. About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying; among them, between 10 and 20 percent experience cyber bullying regularly.
  13. The most common types of cyberbullying tactics reported are mean, hurtful comments as posts.
It’s important to let children know that they can speak up against cyberbullying. If we educate them and have them stand up with assertive language the victims will become empowered. At the same time, adults need to monitor their child’s social media sites for predation and bullying.
Every child deserves to see their own wonder. Let’s not let cyberbullies rob them of that.

Teach Kindness With Cursive

“If you build it, he will come,”  a voice in a cornfield whispers to Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.  And he does. And they do.

We all have fields of dreams. Mine is to see children create peace.

One way for them to do this is affirming it. With words. With art. With deeds.

Or with cursive. Why not teach  cursive writing while affirming peace? The book Cursive Writing Practice: Inspiring Quotes by Jane Lierman does just that.  With quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi, she helps children visualize a better world.


If you want to do the same, you could buy her book on Amazon or create your own quotes with the following lesson. Either way, you will be instilling character and kindness in your students.

And that is what teaching is all about.

Objective: The learner will practice proper letter formation in cursive by writing kind sentences.

Materials: Class set of cursive reproducible, pencils, lined paper, board, chart paper or electronic whiteboard.


  1. This lesson should be done after the students have already learned the alphabet and how to connect letters.
  2. Review formation of some troublesome letters such as g & q or s.
  3. images (4)
  4. Pass out worksheets. Have students read the kind sentences.
  5. Model how to write sentences.
  6. Allow students time to complete worksheets.

While the students write, watch them mumble the quotes. Knowing that they are internalizing positive sayings.

The following day, have students could invent their own kind sentences.    You’ll be amazed at what they come up with.

10 Ways to Use Art to Promote Peace

I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want creatively. Here are ten ideas to begin the change.


1. Make Peace Cards.


2. Make an anti-bully poster.

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3. Draw cartoons dealing a bully.


4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.


5. Create a Love the Earth card.


6. Make a dream board.


7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.


8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.


9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

10. Paint a self-portrait.


Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

Compassion Circle

circleHave you ever had a day that rocks you to the core? A day that makes you believe in humanity? Have you ever witnessed such powerful love you can’t help but cry? I have and it was in my fifth grade classroom. During a class meeting my students opened up and supported each other in ways that would soften the most hardened heart.

Now I work in a community with gangs, poverty, and drug abuse. And like many teachers I don’t want to know every sad story. Some are so heartbreaking it makes it hard to teach. But this one year I had students facing extreme challenges that were affecting everyone. One little girl had gone from Student of the Month to a taunting bully. Another kept stirring up girl drama while ignoring her schoolwork. Soon she was two years behind.

I wondered why?

The school counselor and their parents soon told me. The bully had recently walked in and found a cousin hanging from a rope, the victim of suicide. That, compounded with a single parent household and relatives in gangs, made her so angry she lashed out at whoever was nearby.

The second girl had a father who’d been arrested for gang activity in a loud raid on her home. His arrest was in the papers and she was so ashamed that she could barely focus in school. She often started to cry in the middle of class and asked to be excused. I tried my best to comfort her or distract her with a joke or interesting work. But when a child is missing her Daddy there is little a teacher can do.

Neither of these girls shared their pain with their classmates. Both were too ashamed.

One day the tension felt so high I called a class meeting. I cautioned the kids about the rules saying that this was private, not something to gossip about. We could share with our parents but not on the playground. Then like I often do, I started it off with acknowledging how proud I was to be their teacher, how honored I was to be part of their lives, and how much they meant to me.

I smiled at the girl whose father had been arrested and passed her the talking stick. She whispered in my ear, “I want to share about my dad. What do you think?” I told her it was her choice.

She turned the talking stick over in her hands as she spoke. “I know I’ve been fighting with some of you guys. I’m sorry. But it’s because I’ve had hard stuff to deal with. My dad got arrested. And I don’t know when he’s coming home.”

As she started to cry in the arms of the child next to her, we all chanted, “Thank you for sharing.”

I acknowledged her for being so brave and once again cautioned the students about the rules.

Next was the bully’s turn. She looked at her sobbing friend with wide eyes and shared. “I haven’t been acting great either. But it’s because I had a loss. Of my cousin.”

The kids stared at her with wide eyes. And compassion.

What happened next gave me chills. Along with the usual please-be-quieter-so-I-can- work, a couple of kids tearfully shared their parents’ divorce and how lonely it made them feel. Then two more children said they had a parent in jail and how that loss haunted them.  But between each difficult sharing was such empathy! Time and again I heard both boys and girls say, “I’m sorry for your loss and I’m here for you.”

We passed the talking stick around the circle multiple times that day and each time we did a new child revealed loss or pain. Yet every heartrending story was tempered with classmates speaking up with loving affirmations.

And when we were finally done I held the talking stick and said, “We’ve discovered something very special today. That we all have sad things to deal with. Things that are out of our control. But we also have this amazing community of support to help us. I am so proud of how brave and kind all of you were. When you’re sad, remember this and it will comfort you. We are so lucky to have each other.”

36 children. A talking stick. And a room vibrating in love.

I couldn’t help but cry.


images friendIf you’d like your students to see others’ strengths and those well as their own, try this writing lesson.  By focusing on the positive, children gain greater understanding and empathy. At the same time they are learning the common core standard of how to write a compare and contrast essay.

Objective: The learner will practice compare & contrast writing by creating an essay which illustrates how they are similar and different from their best friend.

Materials: Paper, pencils, white board or electronic whiteboard, lists of compare and contrast vocabulary.


  1. Go over the parts of a paragraph:
    1. Topic Sentence: Tells what the entire paragraph is about.
    2. Supporting Details: Sentences that support/prove the topic.
    3. Conclusion: a creative sentence at the end that adds up all ideas.
    4. Tell the students that they are going to write a special kind of paragraph, called Compare and Contrast which shows how two things are the same and different.
    5. Display lists of compare/contrast vocabulary. (See below.)
    6. Tell the students that they are going to write their own compare/contrast paragraph comparing themselves to a best friend.

If desired the following Venn diagram could be used:Venn-Diagram[2]


  1. List of compare/contrast words and phrases for board: different, same, similar to, in comparison, in contrast, in common, one difference, on the other hand, however, thus.
  2. Go over how to begin multi-paragraph essays with an opening paragraph with a thesis statement, body paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting details, and a closing paragraph with a conclusion.
  3. Use the graphic organizer to guide students to write an essay. A sample frame might be as follows:

      Are you like your best friend? Have you ever compared and contrasted yourself with your best friend? Do you like finding the similarities and differences with him/her? My best friend, ___and I are both alike and different in many ways.

      ________ and I have many things in common. We both____ In addition, we share the characteristic of _________He/she enjoys ___________just like me

      My best friend and I are different too. On the one hand __________likes________but I enjoy_________. Another difference is that I____but___does not.

      Lots of people notice how that they are the same and different from their best friends. Although ______and I share some things but not others, we both love to hang out. It is awesome being his/her friend.

  1. Students write essay, remembering to indent, capitalize, and put in end


Evaluation: Were students able to complete the essay with correct compare/contrast vocabulary?

I’ve had students then read their essays to the class. The pride of sharing that finished product shines on their faces!