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Tangrams and Water Towers

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What do these two things have in common?  Monique is resourcing our daughter who is home-schooling her children this year. Some of the supplies and practice sheets were on a unit of study utilizing “tangrams” and “pattern blocks.”  What do the use of manipulatives like these teach a child? We might need to ask first of all, what is a “tangram?” Image Credit: tangram.template.ALSCBlog A tangram is a Chinese geometric puzzle that uses seven polygons, called tans, to form shapes: 5 triangles (2 large, a medium and 2 small), a square and a parallelogram. The objective is to replicate a pattern usually from a puzzle book. All seven tans must be used and kept flat at all times, although they may be rotated or flipped when necessary to complete the shape.  This deceptively easy exercise builds skills in puzzling, problem solving and understanding "window spatial" relationships. Some believe it also enhances student performance in mathematics and engineering! I had a most engaging as

Humming While at Work!

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I had a delightful experience this week standing at my front door and looking at the pots of petunias that I had planted back in the spring. They were doing fairly well even after the stresses of this summer's dry spells. While enjoying the vibrancy of their assorted colors, I looked more closely at the dozens of blooms and immediately noticed a hummingbird busily working to harvest the abundance of nectar. It was an amazing lesson in productivity! Image Credit: unspash.com Did you know that there are over three hundred and sixty species of hummingbirds in North America? These ambitious little creatures are known for their intelligence, spatial memory, geographic predictability, and even social interactions with humans. With skill and dexterity, they hover over and alongside the trumpet and tubular-shaped flowers of our neighborhoods while using their elongated beaks to draw out nectar and small insects as a food source. In addition to resourcing the flowers for food, they are also

The Talk Behind Our Backs!

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During our recent Texas vacation to visit family, we took a day trip northwest of Austin to Marble Falls. This attractive little community of 6,000 is situated on the Colorado River and attracts visitors and prospective residents seeking the slower pace of hill country living. The shelf of limestone cutting diagonally across the town's lake has a brownish exterior on its upper layer that could easily be mistaken for marble. Back in the days before the damming of the river, this waterway created a natural waterfall giving the town its distinctive name, Marble Falls. After passing through the downtown area with its restaurants, shops and art galleries, we drove up to Lakeside Park where we stopped, got out of our car and walked around to take it all in. Standing just above the beach of Lake Marble Falls, we looked out at a modern bridge spanning the bluffs in the distance. While standing there, Marc, our son who is a graphic design artist at his core, loves to capture moments using

Making Sense of Information

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I grew up in a small rural town culture where raccoons were hunted for sport. My dad and our next door neighbor, Jim, had highly trained dogs that were bred to detect the scent and movements of raccoons. The guys and their hounds would hunt their prey in the evening hours throughout river bottoms, fields and creeks, and heavily wooded areas around Vandalia. As an adolescent, I was fascinated by the whole matter and wanted to accompany the hunters each time I could. But what I loved even more was the gathering the next morning at the local eatery, affectionately known as “Road Kill.” Photo Credit: Alan Alquist unsplash.com I relished hearing the morning recap of the night's events in that setting! The laughter was captivating along with the good-natured bantering. I leaned forward to take in every detail and description of the dogs competing to pick up the scent and follow the trail as their owners trudged over “hill and dale” to keep up with them!   The incredible stories shared at

Long Line Lessons in Patience

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Can you imagine siting in your car for 30 to 45 minutes behind a line of 50 cars stretching several blocks and winding around streets? Add in another 30 pedestrians who had parked nearby and were now lined up outside of this business where a competition has obviously emerged between foot and motorized traffic during peak hours. What was this all about? This was a typical weekend exercise in patience as patrons waited for their World Famous Round Rock Donuts! Our son and daughter-in-law were on the “donut run” this particular Sunday morning at 8:00am all in an effort to retrieve a special treat for the “visiting old folks” and themselves. The treat was none other than a dozen of the quintessential fresh-hot, absolutely delectable and of course, well-storied (This is Texas!) and carefully packaged glazed donuts! Round Rock, Texas I had a lesson in patience years ago at a DQ in Calvert, Texas! I had just attended a denominational meeting in Fort Worth and was on my way back home to Southw

Front Yard Encounters

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Prayer on our home driveway. Extended conversations about family, health and life issues. Connecting, affirming, and showing loving concern for neighbors. This is a brief list of things I have recently undertaken in the front yard of our house. You could call them “front yard encounters.” Have you noticed how most front yards are relationally underutilized?   I realize this may be a misperception. There are some houses that have beautiful, wrap-around porches extending from the front door area. Many of these have porch swings and big wood rocking chairs that make a relaxing setting for home owners to look out to the street and the surrounding neighborhood. Beth's Turquoise Table Granbury, Texas Yet, in too many instances, we tend to retreat to the backyard to host our connecting events. It is here in this often out-of-sight setting that we have cookouts, swim parties and gatherings on the patio or deck. It is true that we have to mow the grass and tend to the flowers and shrubs at

Dealing With the Twisties!

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During the summer games of the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, we heard a lot about a condition some athletes deal with that is appropriately designated as the "twisties" or being "lost in space." There are an incredible number of rolls, spins and twists that precision divers undertake jumping off the platforms in the aquatic competitions. Equally skilled and gifted women gymnasts also execute these in their routines on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and in the floor exercises. I can certainly understand how they could lose their sense of spatial orientation and put themselves in considerable danger of serious injury during entry into the water or by a missed landing on a hard surface. Image Credit: flickr.com Sports' specialists across the spectrum, including basketball players and golfers, say that the ability to keep the mind and body in sync is crucial to success. They speak of "muscle memory" and the ability to instantly recall skills and maneuver