Conduction Lesson with Ice Cubes

This is such an easy lesson. A preschooler can understand it, but it would be valuable for even a college student. You appreciate short blogs, right? Here it is:

Make a tray of ice cubes. Put density blocks on top. Within seconds, you can feel that the metal ones got cold. These ones “conducted” cold and the wood and plastic ones did not.

You can ask the student to then remove the very coldest block, then the next coldest, etc, showing gradation. You can feel the block after several minutes of being removed and feel the metal ones are still cold. When placed on the ice, the metal blocks melt the ice instantly.

This is basically the perfect lesson. It’s hand-on; it’s easy; and highly relevant to most people’s lives. Vut more do you vant?

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Healthy Emotional Management

What is emotional health is something that is difficult to pin down. I read countless books on parenting and emotions and it was difficult for me. Especially difficult is when some of the books proved to make my situation worse (did I not understand the advice? was it wrong?)

But lately I’ve been killing it when it comes to emotional health. What I’ve learned and how I’ve *had* to apply it has helped me in what is probably the most trying time of my life. We recently moved to a city, while I was pregnant, and I deal with a number of health problems. Being able to deal with big emotions, frustrations, worry about the future, and of course, my 3 children, has given me new insight. I will still preface this with this is my growth so far.

I would define emotional health as such: An ability to identify what you are feeling, an ability to express it in a non-aggressive way, congruent to the intensity of the feeling, and to embrace it as valid and right–except when the feeling you are feeling is to lash out in some way. This is still a valid feeling, but in this situation, your job as the responsible adult is to calm the feeling down such that you hurt no one.

The skill of all skills to have is an ability to identify your feelings. This is so crucial–and yet, so many have been educated out of having feelings, often being told to always just be happy. I read once that people who were verbally abused cannot differentiate the painful feelings inside of them. Guilt, fear, pain, worry, embarrassment all just bubble up into one big terrible emotion, whose end result is crippling self doubt. Being able to surf these big emotions allows you to deal with them–most of all, to take the sting out of them.

I would recommend Dr. Tsabary’s work as the best work for understanding emotional health. I read The Awakened Family. The main point of her book is to become conscious of your emotion whenever you feel triggered or want to lash out. Just becoming conscious of what it is allows you to handle any situation better. I once went to yell at my son, who attacked my daughter, over a toy dispute. Yelling is a form of lashing out–and not how I want to be as a parent. I asked myself what I was feeling. It was “A preschool would have this under control. I am failing as a home school mom.” My thought was not true; fights still break out in schools. But just identifying my emotion of guilt allowed me to handle the situation better. I asked if that was the emotion I wanted to operate on. The answer was no. I handled that situation like a pro. I’ve handled many, many other situations since then like a pro, even with 3 children, always by simply asking, “what am I feeling? is that emotion the one I want to operate on?”

Dr. Tsabary differentiates feelings from emotions. A feeling is something you feel and you just sit with. An emotion (“motion”) is something that drives you to act.

Dr. Gordon is the author of Parent Effectiveness Training. He describes a model within families that is negotiation based rather than authoritarian based, which has jaw dropping results. He describes how when you have a problem, you should bring it up with a well constructed 3-part I statement, stating 1) the offending behavior 2) how you feel about it 3) why.

However, Dr. Gordon makes an exception for anger. He says you should not express anger, because stating, “I feel angry” comes across always as “You are making me angry.” I would propose that this fits in well with my statement above about emotional health. Except, instead of “anger,” I would say it is any emotion at all that might drive you to lash out. Any time you want to hurt anyone, you should pause. Some examples might include wanting to yell or even hit someone, such as your children; a desire to break off a relationship, especially a committed one that you are in; a desire to insult or hurt someone with words. In these times, it is time for self reflection, before speaking.

Dr. Gordon says there is usually a feeling underneath anger. The Gottman Institute says this too, and has published a popular meme of an iceberg about it. When your child comes home late, you get angry at the child, but the underlying emotion is actually worry. How much more effective it is to say, “You made me so worried when you were out late!” The goal is to get to the underlying emotion.

I have actually learned to love this underlying feeling. When I have terrible feelings of anger or frustration–which happen when you’ve had night after night of interrupted and limited sleep while dealing with small children–I make myself sit with the feeling. I find that the underlying feeling is often one of sadness, worry, or sometimes guilt. It is entirely possible that the feeling is just one of physical drain of some sort. Whatever it is; identifying it is powerful. Psychologists, such as Dr. Siegel, call it “Name it to tame it.” When I realize that it’s just sadness, I let myself be sad. Sadness calls on us to slow down, think, connect. It’s nice to admit you are sad and to say to someone, “I’m sad.” Now you can work towards solving it. It’s nice to do this while having a cup of coffee or embraced in a hug. Name it to tame it takes the sting out of it. I have also learned that these feelings will pass.

All of this has such enormous application in many other areas. This is the model I use to emotion coach my kids. I could not be more proud of how they handle conflict.

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“Child of the World” Takeaways

I read Child of the World by Susan Mayclin Stephenson. It’s about a Montessori education from 3 – 6 and also 6 – 12. I am new to the 6 – 12 age so I wanted a generic overview of it. I think I did get that from this book.

I’ll get “the bad” out of the way. There was a lot positive in this book, which I will list below. But I think I can illustrate a point by talking about the bad in this book, which was a somewhat judgmental tone.

Somebody once said to me, “What if your most cherished assumptions are the ones holding you back?” I think cherished assumptions that demonize anything are the highest risks to holding you back. In this book, the author is a bit judgmental about things. She says she never allows screen time for a child and never asks the child (under 6) to read aloud and she is most definitely opposed to counting bears.

I can see that there might be good reasons to minimize screen time, as well as the other points. But I have found enormous benefit in iPad apps. I think they deserve a look and I think the author holds herself back by cutting them out altogether.

I believe there are healthy and un healthy ways to raise a child. However, I am to the point in my growth where I think the attitude should more be, “To the best of my knowledge, doing this is healthy for these reasons and doing this other thing is not healthy for these reasons,” and to remain open to the potential in some of these things that the author otherwise says she never does.

Compare this more judgmental tone to some of the authors who write about the more emotional part of parenting. Dr. Tsabary, who says things like to meet every new person as if they might take you on an exciting ride, is one who has a most opposite view of this. It is a view I have appreciated and has helped grow me. For instance, Dr. Tsabary says about screen time to not see it as “bad,” but that the child needs balance and to offer things that are not screen time to the child if you think their education has become unbalanced.

That said; I absolutely got things out of this book. Here they are:

Tell children stories about other children

This is the most insightful thing I personally got out of this book, which was new to me. I started to be very liberal with telling my children about my childhood. You can see some of my stories over at my facebook page, The Observant Mom.

The Montessori Great Lessons

This is what I wanted to read more about. In an elementary Montessori education, a broad overview of the history of the earth is presented to the child. I still want more information about this. But I liked how the author said this is not a one time deal. You give the lesson over and over again, at least once every year. I did it with my son and I found he was pretty fascinated by it. He himself initiated an activity where he took pictures of the events and put them in sequence. I will always have extra large pictures like this to put in sequence when we do these lessons from now on. My son is only 4 1/2 and while I liked the lesson, I think some of the hands on activities might be better for his age.

The materials don’t necessarily matter

So many people get hung up on the Montessori materials themselves. I don’t think the exact materials matter so much as the principles and knowledge of teaching. The author shows a picture of children in another country playing with twigs, which were used for the lessons, and they worked just as well.

Ease up on reading lessons

I had been doing reading lessons with my son when I started this book. We were chugging through beginner books. I admit these are sometimes stressful, because he doesn’t want to read one per night. I have always honored this, but night after night of refusal to read can be frustrating. I channeled my energy more towards the typical Montessori 3 part lessons. I try to find ways to build his reading vocabulary. Every other non-reading lesson I do now has a word printed about what we are discussing. I might do away with the beginner books for my next children–though my son enjoyed the stories themselves. A pity, because they were pricey.

Instruction is necessary

Too often I see memes on facebook or such that children just need to be out in the mud playing or they need “process” art. I agree with this to a large extent, but, like the author says, these open ended activities work well when simple instructions are first given. When painting, the child should be shown how to use the paint brush and clean it. When I made salt dough ornaments with my kids, I made sure to show them a few ideas they could use when making them. Then, yes, turn them loose and don’t correct them for being “wrong.”

Introduce the child to cultures of the world

I am going to look for opportunities to expose my children to cultures of the world. The first one I did was to place Disney characters on a map to show where they are form, as a first and very relatable exposure to different cultures.

Some other points:

  • Don’t talk when demonstrating but also don’t demonstrate while talking! Research suggests children cannot process both at the same time.
  • Flags are interesting to a child around 5 years old. I bought a game like this where flags get matched (“Flag Frenzy”) and my son really liked it.
  • Avoid zoos, which show caged animals. A bird feeder is nice as it lets a child see an animal in its element where the child is taught not to disturb it.
  • Try a rock collection with small children
  • Try an art book
  • Children age 6 – 12 can take more responsibility over their school work, doing their own research
  • If the child isn’t doing work, try a daily activity journal to gently bring their attention to this.
  • The child over seven is intensely interested in morals and heroes. Mythology provides a wealth of material for this exploration, and inspires discussion that will encompass behavior in everyday life, in the family, the class, and society.
  • Have the child keep their own dictionary of words they don’t know
  • The Italic script is very beautiful and a link between cursive and print. I have seen a child’s cursive writing improve dramatically as he casually worked through a set of Italic workbooks over a period of months.


“One of the most important attitudes to nurture is to see each child as a new being each day, forgetting the past and seeing only the potential for greatness.”
Child of the World, Susan Mayclin Stephenson