My Experience: Ramadan

Ammar Abdullah is WFSU’s junior intern this summer, through the Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy. He is a rising junior in the IB Program at Rickards High School and WFSU Education Department is keeping him very busy assisting the Education Department at camps and in the office. We are so pleased that Ammar was willing to write a blog post sharing about his experience during the month of Ramadan! By the way… if you haven’t seen it already, there is a new Curious George Book available that is a great way to share the highlights of this special month with young children.

Ammar Abdullah

My name is Ammar Abdullah, I attend Rickards High School and I am a Muslim currently going through the religious month of Ramadan.

When most people think of Ramadan they probably picture Muslims just laying around not eating anything. This is a fair and semi-correct assumption, but that is not all that goes on during this month. For example, during the evening when it is time to break one’s fast, gatherings take place at the local mosques. There you can find food from different cultures (Indian, Bengali, Arabic, Etc.), bottled water, and children playing in the warm summer field. People socialize amongst each other, play games and become one large, friendly community.

Ramadan is a special designated month – it is the month when Mohammad revealed our holy book the Quran. When the sun goes down and the sky becomes dark, some Muslims gather in the mosque and read one chapter of the Quran. By the end of the month, the entirety of the Quran has been read. By the end of Ramadan, not only have you have bonded with your fellow Muslims, but you will learn lessons about working with others and being a good person.

Ammar will be featured on our ongoing American Graduate Radio Series Voices from the Classroom on July 7th. 

A Pollen-y Plan for Busy Bees (& Butterflies…& Wasps…& Hummingbirds…)


With evidence of Spring surrounding us North Floridians this time of year and PBS Kids’ Explore the Outdoors this month, we’ve had the cycles we see in nature on our brains. We had a garden craft activity in mind when we stumbled across a Wild Kratts episode that explores the various jobs of pollinators, so pairing the two seemed like a match made in early childhood educator heaven! We set out to test drive the activity with Apalachee Elementary School’s after school students, who range between Pre-K and First Grade. What follows are instructions for replicating what was an exciting Friday afternoon of learning about that sticky yellow stuff that is oh so effective at coating the windows of our cars!


  • Wild Kratts “Flight of the Pollinators” episode (can be found on PBS Learning Media, Netflix, and YouTube)
  • full sheets of construction paper
  • paper scraps (any kind – the more colors the better!)
  • glue sticks
  • scissors
  • yellow sand (pollen)
  • optional: fresh flowers (with visible stamens & pollen)

Key Words:

  • pollinator
  • pollen
  • stamen

Before playing the episode of Wild Kratts, ask your kids to share something they know about pollinators and their jobs. What are some examples of pollinators? Who knows what role that pollinator plays in our ecosystem? Why is that role important? If you have fresh flowers at your disposal, encourage participants to take a close look at them and try to guess what happens when a bee, hummingbird, or other pollinator comes along.

After the conclusion of the episode, discuss the key vocabulary. Ask your kids to share what they learned from the Kratt brothers! So, how do fig wasps spread pollen? What is a hummingbird’s favorite color? Why are bees so important? 

Now that we’ve reinforced the learning part, it’s time to craft! This activity is great because it’s entirely open-ended and really allows a wide range of age groups to get creative. Using a whole sheet of colored paper as a base, ask your gardeners to design a flower using scraps of paper. We pre-cut a ton of geometric shapes for our after school group, but feel free to make your kids do that work depending on their scissor skills! This is also an opportunity to reinforce new shapes you may have recently learned.

The bigger the group, the more diverse the garden! Depending on the age group you’re working with, you can direct them to clearly place and identify stems, petals, and stamens, or just let them go crazy and reinforce that vocabulary later.

Once your busy bees have finished gluing down their shapes, ask them to identify the logical location for the pollen. Apply glue using a glue stick to the area they pointed out and then add “pollen” by  sprinkling yellow sand over it.

Arrange the flowers to create a garden on your wall, step back, and admire the flora!

Spring Break in the Kingdom of Karts!

Are you a PBS Kids lover? Do you also love…fun? Do you love… learning stuff too?

Good news – we have an exciting game for you and your Spring Break-ers: Kart Kingdom! This educational, free, and addictive game has been hooking kids on systems thinking all over the US since its launch in March 2015.

Systems thinking is the basic building block of science, engineering, and essentially any task that requires design as a solution to a problem. Fundamentally, it is the ability to recognize an issue and alter a system or process to effect the outcome of a function or task.

Kart Kingdom does just that! It exercises the part of the brain responsible for developing these skills while under the guise of a colorful, highly customizable and easy-to-control go-kart. Children create their carts and then zoom across all kinds of whimsical terrain all the while collecting components for creating gadgets to increase their karts functionality!

There are loads of different “quests” to complete, taking your adventurous little monster / character / PBS persona to the tip tops of mountains to the depths of the sea in the pursuit of new ways to travel and spiffy upgrades for your cart (Kart Parts). As you successfully finish your missions, you unlock new items and gradually add more options of widgets to choose from. The further you get, the more critical thinking is required. Is the Bunny gadget more effective than the Balloons for reaching the Sea Otter at the top of that tree? Do I need to go back to a previous area to get supplies I may have missed to make a Hot Air Balloon? or even… Do Sea Otters even hang out in trees?

As if all of that isn’t enough, the Kart Kingdom universe isn’t limited to an action-packed game with wonderfully jazzy background music! There is a blog feature as well that includes updates on kart costume competitions and server hangouts like a Ready Jet Go! themed Moon Party. Players can add friends and team up to help complete gadgets that others may not have all of the components for yet.


If you’re worried because you don’t have any exciting plans for Spring Break this year, never fear – WFSU/PBS Kids is here with a whole new world of adventure and learning to be had right in your own home. Visit Kart Kingdom today!

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. is such an important part of our country’s history, and he made a huge impact in American culture. He was not only a civil rights activist, but he was also brave enough to stand up for equality for all races. America has come a long way since MLK Jr., but we still have incidents in the U.S. where equality for all races are lacking. Therefore, it is so important to discuss the great things MLK did to children, that way we can raise a generation of Americans who believe in equality just like MLK. I remember growing up, having conversations and activities with my teachers at school and parents, about this holiday and its’ significance.

PBS has so many amazing resources for MLK Jr. Day and the month of January. On this link below, there are a list of books for parents to rent from the library to teach children about the holiday and the importance of learning about our history and past.

On the next link below, there is an article for our parents can talk to their children about race and what it has to do with MLK Jr. day. It is so important to have this discussion since schools and media will be discussing this holiday. This article is an amazing resource and was written for PBS.

This last link is in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s origins in the south and the changes he affected there. This is a recipe for Sweet Whole Wheat Cornbread. It’s a modern and healthier take on the satisfying and delicious side dish that is a perfect accompaniment to chili. It’s a great way to get the conversation going with your children while making memories in the kitchen.

This holiday is a very significant part of American history. Martin Luther King Jr. should be remembered, honored, and celebrated for all he did for the civil rights movement and for leading America to being the beautiful melting pot of people that we are, and were meant to be. These online PBS resources are a great way to get that conversation and important lessons to your children.

The Holidays and Christmastime are here!

December is my favorite month of the year! There is something about the holidays and Christmastime that makes everything seem so much better. Decorations can be found almost everywhere you look, people are kinder, and the weather is cooling down. When December 1st rolls around, I pull out the Christmas music and get into the Holiday spirit!

One of the best parts of the holidays is that it brings so many families together. For myself, I never truly understood how important that was until I went to college almost 8 hours away from home. It is not easy to see my family often, so the holidays are often the only time we can spend time together.

Another thing I love about the hoildays is all the traditions! Every year, I get into the Christmas spirit by crafting. There are crafts online for any age!

For younger children, I found an adorable reindeer antler craftColoured-Reindeer-Antlers online. WFSU used it at their Early Childcare Educator December workshop and the teachers LOVED it.  This craft involves printing the template, coloring, cutting, and easy assembly. After it is complete, the reindeer antlers are wearable! Visit this link to find the template and instructions.


Another tradition I love is participating in all of the holiday events my town has to offer! Holiday parades, light displays, and many more exciting things are happening minutes from your own home. In Tallahassee, there are so many events to attend – check out the WFSU Events Calendar to see what is happening this month!

The holidays are a special time of the year and I look forward to it. I love to bust out an old crazy Christmas sweater, dress my dog in Santa outfits, decorate my apartment, and more. But truly, no matter how you spend it, the best part of the holidays is being with your family and friends and making the most out of the holiday.


WFSU Intern, Kassie with her dog on Christmas Day last year!


Hannukka Reflections…

GJacob and familyrowing up and still today, I believe that celebrating Hannukka and being Jewish is special! (By the way… there is not an “official” way to spell Hannukka – the main thing is spell it as it sounds but make sure it has 8 letters, one for each night of the celebration.) Throughout my childhood, when my friends would talk to me about getting gifts from Santa, I would sit back, listen quietly and gladly play with all the new toys my friends would receive, for me, it was a win-win!
Hannukka, the Festival of Lights, was my favorite holiday growing up, and it wasn’t because of the eight nights of gifts. Gifts were never very big in my family, my mom focused – and still does, more on the traditions of the holiday and how it brings my family and friends together. While most of my friends were opening their gifts under their Christmas tree, I was eating Latkes (potato pancakes), playing dreidel, and singing and dancing to the holiday songs. I can still remember sitting on the kitchen floor with my friends, both Jewish and Christian, spinning the dreidel and trying not to eat all of my gelt (chocolate coins). We would always host a Hannukka party with whoever wanted to come over. This is one of the reasons I really appreciate about being Jewish, it doesn’t matter what religion you practice because everyone is welcome, it is all about being together and having fun. One thing we would always do is make edible dreidels. There are lots of recipes, but this one is my favorite and is easy to make: a marshmallow for the body, a Hershey kiss for the bottom, a pretzel stick for the top and some peanut butter to stick it all together. The toughest part is not eating it all before you had the chance to see if it could actually spin. A special treat for your ears on this year’s 1st night of Hannuka will happen December 6th, 91.5 FM Showcase will be broadcasting a block party celebrating the miracle of Hannukka. Enjoy the joyous music celebrating the brave Maccabees, the war they fought that they weren’t supposed to win and how the small bit of oil scraped together thousands of years ago to re-consecrate the ransacked temple’s eternal flame, lasted a miraculous eight days and eight nights.
– Jacob Suberman

Special Thanks to Jacob for writing this blog post for us! We are also very thankful for Jacob and will miss him much as he leaves for adventures in banking with a position in Wells Fargo offices located in Orlando. He has contributed so much in the two years that he has been with WFSU Education any many children will miss his monthly visits, storytelling and assistance! Come and visit us anytime Jacob – and Happy Chanukah!

TED Talks Education: Personal Grit as Key to Success

Cropped Ted TalkWhat’s the best predictor of success in a person’s life, including success in education? When it comes to predicting the latter, psychologist and former educator Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth says we need to better understand students and learning from a motivational and psychological perspective.

“In education, the one thing we know how to measure best is IQ,” says. “But what if doing well in school and in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily?”

Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, studies non-IQ competencies, including self-control and grit that predict success both academically and professionally. Over the course of her research, she says one characteristic emerged as the key predictor of success – GRIT. So what exactly is grit? Click the image above and find out in her TED Talk.

PBS Online Science Resources for Parents

My best memory of science is winning my Elementary school science fair in my class and getting the chance to present my project to the entire school on stage! My winning project was finding out which grape type was the juiciest. I tested both green grapes and red grapes by using a garlic presser and measuring the juice in a medicine measuring cup. It is a memory I will have forever and was the first time as a child I could say I enjoyed science . My whole family helped me put the project together and it was a bonding experience as well as a learning experience.

Nowadays, science experiments for children are not limited to the Sid-the-science-kidclassroom. There are a plethora of science resources and interactive games kids can learn from right on the PBS Kids website. Sid the Science Kid is a great resource and can be visited at this link  Our favorites? The “Collection Jar” which introduces science tools and “Kitchen Magician” which explores heat energy.

Science education can be integral in making girls feel comfortable and empowered in the classroom and in their future professional lives. Statistically, science is a male dominated field, but PBS is seeking to change thsci girlse status quo. That is why I love the SciGirls Series on PBS Kids. Don’t be fooled by the name – all children can enjoy the series and interactive website, where kids can explore, play games and watch full episodes. Want even more SciGirls? Some schools in the Tallahassee area now have SciGirls clubs afterschool, and the MagLab offers a SciGirls summer camp for Middle School girls! If your school is interested in hosting a SciGirls club, contact our education department.

Science is an integral part of our daily lives, growing up it was one of my favorite subjects in school. Anatomy, marine biology, astronomy, physics, chemistry and more are just a few of the sciences that can be studied. I took over seven science classes during my high school years, which made me well rounded and prepared me for college. Getting children excited about science now betters their understanding of the world around them and potentially prepares them for pursuing a science field career in the future.

Cherokee Language and Culture

The Cherokee believe everything in the environment, from crops and animals to creeks, mountains and even the wind – all have an intelligent spirit and play a central role in daily life. The Cherokee do not view themselves as separate from the environment. Rather, they see themselves as part of it. Their language reflects that. “Language is the core to any culture because it is what that culture expresses itself with and it is the dynamic mechanism through which that culture continues,” says Tom Belt, Coordinator of the Cherokee Language Revitalization Program at Western Carolina University.

In this lesson from UNC-TV, students learn about the link between Cherokee language and culture, how it was almost lost to history, and how Western Carolina researchers are working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee to study, preserve and grow the language once again. Cherokee Language and Culture

PBS Halloween Activities for Parents

Halloween is such a fun holiday to spend with your family and friends. It’s not just about the candy and costumes, it is so much more than that! It’s about building lifetime memories with your family and having a good time!

Growing up, I remember so many exciting activities I used to do with my family for Halloween. My parents would take my younger brother and I every year to the pumpkin patch. We loved decorating them and getting crafty. One year, we painted our pumpkins, and another year, my mother found these awesome pumpkin stickers. The stickers were mess free and they added a fun look to the plain orange pumpkins. Pumpkin carving can be fun but also quite advanced. It’s a great bonding activity if you do it alongside with your child. If you are feeling up to the pumpkin carving challenge I recommend using a template. PBS Kids has a ton of templates you and your family can print out from all of their hit TV shows and online programs. Visit this link to access all of the templates. No matter how you decorate your pumpkin, they are a festive way to adorn your house and make it inviting for the trick or treaters!
Pumpkin Carving Templates from PBS Kids

Another special memory I have from Halloween is baking in the kitchen with my mother. Every year we halloween1would make different spooky treats. In elementary school, my mother and I made Oreo spiders with red vines sticking out as spider legs. Four years ago, we made Halloween themed cupcakes and here’s a picture from when we made them. We used plain vanilla frosting and color dye to make most of these. My mother and I had a blast making them and all of my friends were so impressed. I can remember all of us trying not to eat them because they looked so perfect. I also made a Franhalloween2kenstein Cake with my mother a few years ago. This cake looks hard, but it is surprisingly a lot easier than it seems. Here is a picture of that cake we made. We used Funfetti cake mix for both the cupcakes and cake because it was my favorite cake mix growing up and it still is my favorite! Baking activities are fun for the whole family. PBS has a section on their website devoted to a bunch of different Halloween baking ideas. Impress your friends and family with all of these ideas on this link here:

DIY Halloween costumes are sometimes some of the best costumes. I lived in New York for the first five years of my life, and Halloween was usually cold therefore my parents used to get very creative at picking or making costumes with jackets! But once we moved to South Florida, we had a ton more options to choose from! I remember one year, I insisted on being a Christmas tree for Halloween. My mother put a water bottle in my hair so it would stick up, and we wrapped tinsel around it so it looked like the top of a tree! Then I had a green puffy dress decorated in rhinestones. My mom then ordered these ornament key chains that light up, and she attached them to my dress so I would actually light up! I wore brown tights with brown crocs (because they were so comfy) and let me tell you, my costume was a hit for the night!!! Whenever I talk about costumes, I always love to pull up this throwback picture of my brother and I dressed up for Halloween in 1999. I laugh every time I see him dressed as a Pea in a Pod. Of couhalloween3rse, when I was Dorothy I needed those red shiny slippers and my dog Toto! But whether you make the costume or buy it, Halloween costumes are a memory your family and children will have forever. PBS Kids has an assortment of DIY costume ideas for your child to dress up as their favorite PBS character. Visit the website here to view all of the amazing DIY costume options and ideas.

Just because Halloween is only one day of the year, it does not mean you can’t celebrate it for the whole month of October! There are so many activities and memories to be made. I will always cherish the memories I made with my family and the many memories to come. I hope this post sparks some creativity and ideas for you and your family to try!

This blog post was written by Kasandra Meiler, our new WFSU Education Intern! Kassie is in her Junior year at FSU working on her BA Theatre major, and minoring in communication and education. We are extremely lucky to have this talented young woman working with us this semester! Look for more blogs from her coming soon…