Monday, December 13, 2010

‘Food for Thought:
Eating Well on a Budget’

Leave it to Elmo!

The gang at Sesame Street introduced some new characters last week. In the December 8 episode, the Super Foods Super Heroes team helped convince Elmo and Grover to try their first bite of a kiwi with this rousing lyric:

        There’s so many tasty foods, it’s true,
        But trying something new can be so hard to do.
        You may not love it at first sight,
        But to know for sure, you’ve got to take a bite.
        (Listen to the entire song…)

Last week’s Super Foods episode was the official kickoff of a new program from the nonprofit Sesame Workshop. Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget is the organization’s response to the fact that 17 million U.S. children -- nearly one in four -- are food insecure, which means they don’t receive food that meets basic nutritional needs due to financial instability. The bilingual (English-Spanish) program provides families with video and other resources, including a caregiver’s guide, recipe cards, and a printable shopping list for children and caregivers.


The Food for Thought program also includes resources for schools and other providers who work directly with families. The program's Provider’s Guide presents tips for leading discussions about good foods as well as all the tools needed to offer parent workshops on topics such as “Trying New Foods,” “Spending Time Together [at Mealtime],” and “Anytime Snacks.” The kit also includes handouts, student coloring pages, and more.


Sesame Workshop laid the foundation for this project beginning in 2004 with Healthy Habits for Life, a multi-year initiative that aims to teach parents and children that health and well-being is just as crucial to child development as learning how to read and write.

“Our sole mission is to help children reach their highest potential,” said Gary E. Knell, president and chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop. “Food for Thought is essential in helping children learn the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritional food despite a low or reduced income and helping them succeed in school…and in life.”

Partners in the Food for Thought effort include UnitedHealthcare® and The Merck Company Foundation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is Your Holiday Shopping Done?

The weeks leading up to December’s holiday break are always busy ones -- full of holiday concerts, parties, and more. For many of us, ’tis the season of holiday shopping, too.

If you’re searching for a unique gift for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) has an idea for you: check out the NAESP Foundation's online Holiday Auction, now through December 16. Search the NAESP Foundation Holiday Auction Web site for a wide variety of auction items, including sports collectibles, clothing and accessories, tools, and much more.

New items are posted every day. This is a great opportunity to pick up a bargain -- and to benefit a good cause: the NAESP Foundation.

It’s a great way to avoid fighting traffic jams at the shopping mall, too!

The NAESP auction is powered by My School Auctions.


If you’re looking for a great fundraising idea and a terrific learning experience for students, you might do what music teacher Allysa Anderson did this year with her students at Camden-Rockport (Maine) Middle School. Supported by a grant from Youth Arts, a local non-profit arts agency, Anderson and 185 students in grades 5 to 8 created a “Simple Gifts Holiday Songs” CD.

The project that resulted in this CD belies its title; it wasn’t just a "simple" project. Besides creating quality music, Anderson’s students also learned about the production and business ends of the music industry. They toured professional studios -- including those at Main Street Music Studios where the CD was produced -- and learned the ins and outs of marketing a quality product.

Proceeds from the sale of the CD will go back into the school’s music program. But Anderson said the project’s principal intent was to expose students to the music business. “It’s a way to enhance the curriculum, to raise the bar, and raise the rigor,” Anderson told the Bangor Daily News [read the article]. “This has really all been inspired by the children. They are a great group of kids. They’re not only very motivated, they are also very musical.”

Learn more. Read Main Street Music Studios Recording Camden-Rockport Chorus, a blog entry about the holiday CD project.


If you’re “puzzled” about what to give the puzzle lover on your gift list or looking for the perfect grab-bag gift for the school holiday party, Banana-Grams might be the answer. This month, 10-Minute Banana-Grams! debuts in bookstores everywhere. Based on the bestselling Bananagrams® game, 10-Minute Banana-Grams! joins another popular favorite, Bananagrams! for Kids. Bananagrams! puzzle books provide hours of entertainment as they strengthen confidence and build brain power and thinking skills.

The Bananagrams brand has seen incredible success. Created by a word game-obsessed family of three generations, Bananagrams is a labor of love that that has quickly become an international phenomenon. There are more 3 million copies of the game in print, which has also launched in Spanish, French, Norwegian, and German.

And while we’re in the gift-giving spirit, here is a gift for you -- two free sample pages from the folks at Banana-Grams!
--- Click for a sample page from 10-Minute Banana-Grams!
--- Click for a sample page from Banana-Grams! for Kids