Exploring Cuba’s Thriving Coral Reefs

coral reef

Even though at first appearance corals may look like plants or rocks, they are in fact animals, related to sea anemones and jellyfish. Coral reefs the world over are threatened by pollution, rising ocean temperatures and overfishing. In Cuba, however, reefs are flourishing.

Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and depend on clean, clear saltwater for survival. Pollution and agricultural runoff can have a huge impact on the health of a coral reef. In this sense, Cuba’s Communist government may have inadvertently helped protect the Cuban reefs for many years by preventing the flow of fresh water to the sea, as well as limiting the availability and use of fertilizer and pesticides. However, as Cuba begins to open its doors to the rest of the world, increased commercialism and tourism is once again increasing levels of pollution, sedimentation and development in coastal areas, which creates a negative effect on the corals.

In this video from “Nature” follow along with your class as a marine biologist explores the variety of corals, fish and other wildlife in Cuba’s tropical waters, and consider why Cuba’s reefs are so healthy in comparison to those in the rest of the world. WATCH: http://to.pbs.org/1nDACNa

PBS LearningMedia’s Past/Present

Past Present full cast cropped

Now that summer is almost here, it’s time to get gaming! The time: May 1906. The place: The mythical town of Eureka Falls. Reach into a piece of American history with PBS LearningMedia’s Past/Present, an interactive desktop computer game and website designed to impart decision-making and critical thinking skills. Your students will impersonate one of two protagonists: Anna Caruso, a young Italian immigrant worker, or Walter Armbruster, the mill’s young manager. Set against the backdrop of growing labor struggles in an economically harsh climate, Past/Present transports your students to a tense time where labor unrest is on the rise.

As they play, Anna or Walter will make choices that determine their next action. They’ll be asked to accomplish a series of goals and objectives, solve mysteries and collect evidence to answer three big questions that will support pro and con views on key issues that can be discussed in the classroom post-game. At the game’s conclusion, they commit themselves to a position on a volatile topic: for Anna, to strike or not? For Walter, to negotiate or not? Their choices result in an epilogue tailored to their experience. Students will actually look forward to playing this creative game and the accompanying teaching materials will make your life a whole lot easier too! (Grades: 5-10) http://ow.ly/xTOml

Shakespeare Uncovered

Shakespeare David Tennant

William Shakespeare may be the author best known for his use of soliloquy. The literary device, in which characters directly address the audience and share their innermost thoughts, appears in Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and many other Shakespearean plays. Though soliloquies are often considered dense, intimidating, old fashioned and confusing, they still are used as popular dramatic plot devices in books, movies and even television shows.

In this PBS LearningMedia series of videos from PBS’ Shakespeare Uncovered, students explore the use of soliloquy as a device to reveal character and advance plot. They consider how using soliloquy perhaps more truthfully exposes character than other devices like dialogue. In addition, students focus particularly on Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” speech and discuss how and why the topics are best explored through soliloquy. Get inspiration from the accompanying teacher tips to have students identify soliloquy in some of today’s popular television shows such as “Modern Family” and “The Office.” No better way to tie in the new with the old! (Grades: 8-12) Open the resource here: http://ow.ly/xAPLX

Anytime, Anywhere Summer Learning

logoIntroductory Remarks for Anytime, Anywhere Summer Learning
by Michael H. Levine, Ph.D.
June 10, 2014

First, what can we do across sectors to recognize a tremendous drain on our children’s capacity to learn? The fact is that for far too many kids, summer time is part of a profoundly disturbing cycle—millions of preschoolers and elementary school children have precious few opportunities to engage in enriching activities that so many of their higher income peers experience as a matter of course. These kids suffer from limited access to academically or socially valuable experiences within communities that are often distressed with high unemployment, shortened hours of public utilities like libraries, and a paucity of safe outdoor activities that nourish children’s minds, bodies, and souls. And many of the academic “summer school” programs that do exist are often focused on remedial work with limited value.

Second, can we mobilize parents—especially those who are deeply connected to their kids, but who have limited resources and education to do more? We need to reach more vulnerable parents to encourage them to offer their kids a daily dose of proven interactions to intentionally build oral language abilities, to connect them to reading and storytelling experiences at home as well as by to take advantage of fun activities in their libraries, museums, schools, and community centers.

Third, can we help break the summer slide with those community programs that are modernizing their approaches—finding cool ways to get kids and families focused on reading. Today you will hear from some great state-based and community efforts that may be ready to scale.

And fourth, how can we harness technology and well-designed educational media more effectively? Given the fact that the average 3rd grader is engaged with some media platform over 7 hours a day during the school year, according to the Kaiser family foundation—and presumably even longer hours during the summer—what will it take to encourage a new media “food” pyramid? Can we find a way to balance the many tech calories that teach children the skills of communicating with friends on Facebook or playing video games throughout the day, with new habits that certainly encourage two of the old R’s—reading and writing with three new essential 21st century skills—creating, communicating and coding? For the entire blog post, please visit: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/2014/06/10/introductory-remarks-for-anytime-anywhere-summer-learning/

Just Give It A Try !


The Fred Rogers Company encourages kids to take safe risks in class such as, offering ideas in class discussions, asking questions, trying new things, and tackling problems that seem challenging. The Fred Rogers Company is also responsible for producing, Peg+Cat and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Peg+ Cat is an animated math-based adventure series that target audience is 3-5 year olds. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new animated program for preschoolers ages 2-4 that builds on the pioneering PBS series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The new series tells engaging stories about the life of a preschooler using musical strategies grounded in Fred Rogers’ landmark social-emotional curriculum.

Benefits of taking risks:
• Fear is inevitable so JUST DO IT!
• We learn from risks.
• Embracing risk taking also helps you overcome a fear of failure.
• Failure makes you FEARLESS!
• Great opportunities often come from risk-taking.
• Taking risks also shows confidence and make you stand out.


Here are some ways to encourage kids to just give it a try:

Offer encouragement:
Encouraging kids to take risks will reduce the anxiety that many feel towards the idea of stepping out of their comfort zone. Just letting them know that you’re proud of them for even trying regardless of the outcome will really make a difference in the future. Research has found that it is more important to praise the effort, and the willingness to learn from mistakes.

Be a role-model:
Children often emulate their parents or anyone that they look up to.

Think about what each child needs:
The kind of encouragement that works for one child won’t work for another. Some children are cautious by nature. Allowing them to watch others for a while before attempting to complete the task will help them feel more confident.

Check out this video of Fred Rogers taking a ‘safe’ risk!

Quench your thirst with PBS KIDS!



Quench your thirst with PBS KIDS! We all know there is 24 hours in one day but sometimes we get so caught up with just living that we forget about the little things like making sure we stay hydrated throughout the day! Since majority of the body is made up of water it is important that we make an effort to consume water daily.

Benefits of drinking water:
1.) Increases energy.
2.) relieves fatigue.
3.) Drinking water daily helps the brain to function better because majority of the brain is made up of water.
4.) Put you in a good mood- when your body is functioning at its best you will feel and be at your best.
5.) Healthy skin- Drinking water daily can give your skin a natural glow.


Recommended daily glasses of water to drink:
5  glasses of water for 5 -8  year olds .
7 glasses of water for 9 – 12 year olds.
8 to 10 glasses of water for 13+ year olds.

If you live in hot climate weather you need to drink more than the recommended amount.

Check out these FETCH games and activities here



PBS offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning through television and online content. President Obama also encourages teachers across the nation to really focus on these areas. “Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today—especially in science, technology, engineering and math.”- President Obama. WFSU and PBS KIDS have taken the necessary steps to ensure that kids of all ages are equipped in these subject areas.

Dinosaur Train is a PBS animated series that encourages scientific thinking while educating them on science and nature. It also inspires and embraces the fascination that young children have with both dinosaurs and trains. For more information on Dinosaur Train and to play game and activities with your kids check out the website

Sid the Science Kid is also a good show to tune into to learn more about the fundamentals of science. It is a new PBS KIDS educational animated television series that promotes science and exploration. It has been very successful with preschoolers because it incorporates music, humor, and educates on everyday life. To watch videos and play games with Sid the Science Kid click here.


Cybersafety offers lots of great games, safety apps, and information for kids, parents, and educators. The goal is to have the family be more cyber-savvy. For more information on Cybersafety check out the website


Design Squad Nation is a PBS KIDS reality TV show that inspire and encourage kids to take on their own hands-on engineering activities. The activities included in the series are hands on challenges that really focus on the engineering design process. If you think you have what it takes to be the next engineer or want to learn more about Design Squad Nation. Check out the website.


Peg+ Cat is PBS KIDS animated reality show that focuses on teaching kids the pre-fundamentals of math. The target audience is 3- 5 years old preschoolers. Another very good resource is Get The Math . This online resource targets middle- high school students and is design to teach students how Algebra can be apply in different areas of life such as, music, and fashion. Check out the Get The Math website for more information.

Learning the fundamentals math skills with Peg+Cat!

Touch up on your math skills by tuning into Peg+Cat! Peg + Cat is a PBS animated children television series that follows Peg and her sidekick Cat as they embark on adventures solving problems together. Peg+ Cat is a good show to tune into to really learn the fundamentals pre-math skills with your kids! This will come in very handy later on in their lives as it will serve them well in college, work, and everyday life. The target audience is 3- 5 years old. We all know keeping the attention of preschoolers can be very challenging at times.
The average attention span for 3-5 years old is 10-15 minutes. Keeping this in mind, each episode of Peg+Cat is only 11 minutes long to keep kids engaged! Peg+ Cat makes problems cool by incorporating characters that kids can relate to and integrating activities such as, playing games, brainstorming, improvising, and singing songs!
The problem presented in each episode isn’t just math related or strictly academic. In the beginning of each episode, Peg and her friends are face with a huge crisis and solves each issue through humor and working together. This is a way to help kids to develop the skills they will need in order to deal with issues that they will face inside and outside of the classroom. The ultimate goal of this show is to make kids think of math as fun and exciting! After viewing an episode of Peg+ Cat kids will be one step closer to being well-rounded! To check your local listings to see the time and dates that Peg+ Cat comes on click HERE. Check out this website to bake Peg+ Cat POPULAR Honey Cake!

Shopping Organic

To get started on eating organic you need to first know what the word means. A common misconception that many consumers have is that Natural is equivalent to organic. This is wrong. For a food item or product to be considered organic,  specific requirements have to first be met and maintained. Organic refers to the way the agricultural products are grown and processed. It is also regulated by government accredited agents that ensure that farmers and processors follow a strict set of federal standards. The food production of organic products must maintain and replenishes soil fertility without the use of pesticides and it is minimally processed without the use of artificial ingredients.

This is not the case for “natural” food. Natural foods are not regulated and have no set of standards that they must follow. The “natural label” seen on many food products is simply a marketing tool to appeal to health conscious and environmentally aware consumers. When shopping for organic food ALWAYS look for the USDA (United States Department of Agricultural) green and white “certified organic” seal or sticker on any packaged food. This is just reassurance that the food item was produced without using any pesticides and is 95-100 percent organic.This sticker ALWAYS starts with number 9 and is a 5 digit code, followed by the price code. If the sticker label starts with any number that is not 9 the product is NOT organic.

Benefits of Eating Organic

The benefits of eating organic are,
1.) The food is fresher and lasts longer.
2.) The food contains fewer pesticides.
3.) Organic raised animals are NOT given antibiotics or growth hormones.
4.) Better for the environment .

Though there are many benefits to eating organic it can also be very pricey, so Shop SMART. You don’t need to purchase everything organic to maintain a healthy diet. Here are a few tips to save money and still maintain a healthy diet:

1.) Try to purchase most of your organic food from farmers markets. Purchasing your food from farmers market you’ll not only be supporting local farmers but you will also be purchasing it at a reduced price. To find a Fromartz market in your area click HERE.

2.) Purchase the “Clean 15″ which is just a list of the 15 types of produce that is lowest in pesticides. Click HERE for more information on food that contains the lowest/highest amount of pesticides.

3.) You can also shop at your local Whole Foods Market.

Don’t forget to check out your favorite PBS KIDS show!