Masterpieces for Kids: June 2019

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. is the world’s largest research and museum complex, with 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and various research stations.

This is the 2nd part of a yearlong series of great artworks to share with your kids.  Each month I share information about 3 great masterpieces to share with your children.  My goal of these posts is to create a parent-friendly resource to share great masterpieces with your child. I’ve decided on this monthly series because I totally missed sharing the beauty of art with my own children. Better late than never, I guess.

Each post contains a photo of the artwork, the artist’s name, an interesting fact about the artwork and a link to explore more information.  Last month’s post (May, 2019) I shared 3 masterpieces: Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci), The Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh) and Oriental Poppies (Georgia O’Keeffe).  This month, we’ll look at: The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell and American Gothic by Grant Wood.

Remember: You don’t have to “know” art. Just sit for a few minutes with your child, share the information listed and together talk about what you see. Enjoy!

June Masterpieces

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most famous works of art in the world. It is a picture of Jesus and his disciples. The painting is a mural (painted on wall) in a rectory in Milan, Italy.  It measures 460 X 880 cm. Da Vinci began painting it in 1495 and he finished in in 1498.  He worked on other works of art during these three years as well.

The Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell

The Four Freedoms is an important concept of the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He shared his vision of the Four Freedoms in the State of the union address in 1941.  This was just 11 months before the U.S got involved in World War II.

Norman Rockwell, an American artist, created a series of four painting illustrating the Four Freedoms.  The series included: “The Freedom of Speech”, “The Freedom of Worship”, “The Freedom from Want” and “The Freedom from Fear”

American Gothic by Grant Wood

American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood of a farmer standing next to a woman.  Originally, he was only going to paint a farmhouse in Iowa but decided to also paint the type of people he thought would live in the house. It is one of the most familiar images in 20th-century American art.  The painting is part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Scientist of the Month – June 2019

As parents and educators, we know we must teach our kids skills to support scientific thinking. But, how do we encourage kids to explore science? Why not, share stories about a scientist? Scientists, like most kids, are curious and want to know answers. The great thing about studying scientists is there are many branches; so there surely is a topic to motivate all kids. Seems like a perfect match! 

June Scientist of the Month: Alexander Graham Bell


Alexander Graham Bell was born in 1847 and died in 1922. He was known as a scientist that was a great inventor.  He is best known for inventing the first telephone. 

Scientists use the scientific method to learn about the world. Leaning about scientists can show kids how they used the scientific method to learn about their world.  More importantly it may spark their imaginations to become “Everyday Scientists” and possibly a famous scientist one day.  

Quotes Made Famous By Mr. Bell

Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you. [First intelligible words spoken over the telephone“.
When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open“.
Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Raising Kids Is Tough, But Worth It

Perhaps it’s the arrival of grandchild #8.  Or, our potential move to another state?  Maybe it’s the nonstop bombardment of news reports on deplorable behavior by politicians on both sides of the aisle.   Whatever it is, I have been thinking lately of how difficult it is raising kids in today’s world. 

Balancing “life” seems very difficult in 2019.  When I had 3 kids under 5, very often my goal was to get through the day with the least amount of disruption.  Today, it seems that parents have another layer of responsibility to try to “do everything perfectly”.  Perhaps it’s the ease of access to information to find articles on every possible topic on “the very best way to bring up the perfect child”. Or, the ongoing sharing of people’s opinions (sometimes unsolicited) on their parenting skills. Parenting is not easy.  It never has been, and it will never be easy.  But I think today’s parents are facing more challenges and higher expectations than the past.  I believe they feel a day to day challenge to be perfect parents. But what is perfect?  

As a parent, I was far from perfect. However, each of my adult children are good people.  They are hard-working, loving and well adjusted.  They have also learned to surround themselves with friends and loved ones that support them to be the best they can be.  I hope what they learned from our imperfections is that even though we were imperfect, they were cared for, loved and we tried like heck to be good parents.  That is what’s really important as parents. goal is:

My goal in establishing, is to write simple posts to help parents and teachers support kids at home and the classroom.  Each post can be quickly Read, Tried or Dismissed (RTD). Each post is written from my own experiences as an educator for 30+ years in education and as a parent. In either role, I am far from an expert. However, aren’t we all trying to do the best we can everyday raising kids to be the best they can be?

Creativity is Enrichment for Kids

Think CREATIVITY and enrichment this summer.
Think CREATIVITY and enrichment this summer.

Summer vacation is here and how do we encourage kids to keep learning?  The quickest and easiest way is to pick up some math or reading workbooks and assign pages for them to complete.  Although that may be tempting, finding some activities to get kids thinking and learning is  effective to strengthen kids creativity. 

Why Creative Activities?

Creative children believe the world is full of possibilities.  They look at obstacles as challenges to find another way to the end.  This type of thinking is a valuable learning experience. It makes kids confident active learners.

Here’s a list of 5 activities that can be easily adjusted and repeated to get you started. Be creative by making changes to fit your child’s age level, interests and your time schedule. 

Creativity at Home and Traveling

  • Stock a dress up box with clothes and costumes. (Scarves, hats, belts, material) Adding accessories that go with a career like magnifying glass, helmets, stethoscope also are great.  Don’t miss out on After-Halloween sales!
  • Pantry Shopping- Allow your kids to fill a grocery bags with items (remove breakables for little ones). They can pretend to be grocery shopping, having a meal or use them to build towers or mazes. Endless possibilities!
  • Build blanket forts.  After the fun of boiling it, why not give the structure a name?  A castle, a mall, grocery store, the ideas are endless. 
  • Start simple drawings together that you can finish or color. Allow your child to start drawings for you. 
  • In a restaurant, play with small items from your purse or table items.  Items such as sugar, salt packets, straws, paper clips and coins can help to keep kids occupied while waiting for your order.  
  • Plan activities during your car ride on a schedule.  At mile markers or time, take a new activity out of your travel bag.  Include items like inexpensive books, toys, games etc.  Be strategic to give our a “GREAT” activity at times in the journey when you NEED it the most.  For older kids, they can pack their “travel bag” prior to the trip.  The trick is to schedule taking out a new item. Without a schedule, kids will use all the activities in the first hour and your trip is bound to be much less enjoyable.  Building some suspense may make even the smallest activity a little more enjoyable.  Happy Travels!

Developing a child’s creativity is lots of fun for both you and your child.  Enjoy the journey! 

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Math Enrichment Problems: June 2019

Welcome to the 7th month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3.  I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.

Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies

  • Draw a picture
  • Guess and Check
  • Use a table or list
  • Find a pattern
  • Logical reasoning
  • Draw a picture Working backwards (try a simpler version first)

Problem Solving – Here we go! 

  1. October has 31 days.  The 15th of the month is on a Wednesday. Which of the following days of the week will appear 5 times this month? a. Friday          b. Saturday c. Sunday   d. Monday       e. Tuesday
  2. Marie only has 3 cents and 5 cents stamps. If she needs 10 cent postage, she can use two 5 cent stamps. If she needs 11 cents postage, she can use two 3 cents stamps and one 5 cent stamp.  What postage between 5 cents and 20 cents can she not make?
  3. Some numbers on a digital clock read the same backwards as they do forwards.  For example: 5:06, 12:21, 11/11.  How many students are there that do that on a digital clock from 1P.M. to 2 P.M?   (Numbers or words that are read the same backwards as forwards are called palindromes.
  4. Fifty-one bags of sugar had to be put into bags. Some are 4-pound bags, and some are 5-pound bags.  The least number of full bags necessary to hold all 51 pounds of sugar is?
  5. There are 9 equal stacks of books. One class takes 4 stacks and another class takes 5 stacks.  The class that has 4 stacks has 28 books altogether.  How many books does the other class have altogether?
  6. Nicole has a clock that chimes.  At a quarter past the hour it chimes once. At half-past the hour it chimes twice.  At three-fourths past the hour it chimes three times and at each new hour it chimes that number of times. How many chimes will Nicole hear from five minutes to three until five minutes after 4?
  7. IF 15 + A = 21, how much is 15 – A?


  1. (a) Friday Because the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th will be on a Wednesday.  There will be 5 Fridays that month (the 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st).
  2. (7 cents) She can make 8 cents, 9 cents and 10 cents.  Once she can make three in a ow, the next 3 amounts (11 cents, 12 cents, 13 cents) are made by adding a 3-cent stamp.  She can make any amount of postage greater than 7 cents.
  3. To get to the least number of bags you use as many 4-pound bags as possible up to 51.  (12 X 4 = 48) and one 3-pound bag to get to a total of 51.  Answer: Least number of bags is 13 (12 +1)
  4. There are 9 equal stacks of books. One class takes 4 stacks and another class takes 5 stacks.  The class that has 4 stacks has 28 books altogether.  How many books does the other class have altogether?
  5. IF 28 books means each stack has 7 books (4 X 7).  Then 5 stacks would also have 7 books each for a total of 35 books.
  6. (13) She hears the following # of chimes:  3:00(3), 3:15(1),3:30 (2),3:45 (3) 4:00(4)  
  7. (9) A must be 6 so that 15 +A (6) = 21.  SO, 15 – 6 = (9) 

Don’t forget to check in NEXT MONTH for more Enrichment Problems 

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Learn the Signs. Act Early Program

Learn the Signs. Act Early. A resource of family-friendly materials to support a child's development.
A resource of family-friendly materials to support a child’s development.

The Center for Disease Control has created an outstanding resource of family-friendly materials to support a child’s development. The Learn the Signs Act Early program gives developmental milestones as well as tips to help your child learn and grow.  It also has a free app, the Milestone Tracker, to help parents track the information in a fun and easy way.   

The Learn the signs app includes the following features:

  • Interactive milestone checklists for children ages 2 months through 5 years, illustrated with photos and videos
  • Tips and activities to help children learn and grow
  • Information on when to act early and talk with a doctor about developmental delays
  • A personalized milestone summary that can be easily shared with doctors and other care providers
  • Reminders for appointments and developmental screenings

Good News: The app is now available in Spanish.

Please check it out today and share with others!

Phonological Awareness Resource for Families

Phonological awareness is crucial for understanding language and how words come together.
Phonological awareness is crucial for understanding language and how words come together.

The National Center on Improving Literacy has released a great eLearning resource on Phonological Awareness.  The Ask & Answer: Phonological Awareness  will help families and educators learn about this important skill. The document can be reviewed as presentation or downloaded as a Word document to be read easily.   

The Question and Answer document describes key literacy terms in reading instruction.  Additionally, it shares ways parents can help their child’s literacy development at home.  Educators may find this tool useful to review key literacy terms and teaching practices.

Phonological Awareness in 7 questions:

  • What is phonological awareness (PA)?
  • Why is PA important?
  • How does PA typically develop?
  • How should PA be taught?
  • What should instruction look like for children with, or at risk for, literacy related disabilities or dyslexia?
  • How can families support PA development?
  • How can I learn more?

Please check it out today and share with others!

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ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: May 2019

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.

Five months down in 2019- how are you doing on those New Year’s Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s posts. All 13 May posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. Still posting a Threeringsconnections’ newsletter, so I’m still keeping my New Year’s resolution: 5 down and 7 more to go! Have a great month!

May’s 2019 Archives

May’s Most Popular Posts:

My Favorite May Posts:

  • Learn the Signs. Act Early Program
  • Phonological Awareness: A Resource for Families
  • Kindergarten Behaviors to Start School