On St. Patrick’s Day



Happy Pi Day 

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.
Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.


Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Born in 1904, he wrote 44 books for children and was a genius with the rhythm and creativity of language. Dr. Seuss knew how to engage the minds of children without being condescending or boring. I’m pretty sure he would not have been a fan of how we introduce children to reading these days.

As part of celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I hope our schools will be able to take time away from standardized testing and their  curricula to celebrate the imagination, creativity, and fun that are synonymous with Dr. Seuss. Even though there are no standardized test items on his poetic use of language and whimsical characters, there are great lessons to be learned from his books.

Green Eggs and Ham, despite what Ted Cruz said, tells us to try something new as we may find we like it.

The Lorax teaches children about the importance of respecting their environment.

Horton Hatches the Egg illustrates the virtues of fairness and being faithful to one’s promises.

Oh the Places You’ll Go reassures graduates from nursery school to college and beyond that they have the brains and ability to succeed, even if there are obstacles to overcome.

Yertle the Turtle warns of the consequences of trying to get above everyone else at the expense of those below you, perhaps a good lesson on income inequality.

As we force young children to plow through boring leveled readers, often at an age when they are not developmentally ready to read, we should think about the way Dr. Seuss approached children’s literature. When an educational expert challenged him to write a book to help children learn how to read, using a list of 300 words that most first-graders (note: not kindergarteners or preschoolers) knew back in 1957, two words on the list jumped out at him: “cat” and “hat.” Guess what he wrote. The Cat in the Hat is 1,702 words long, but uses only 220 different words. Brilliant.

In 1960, Seuss bet a friend he could write a book using only 50 different words. The result was Green Eggs and Ham. Not only did he use exactly 50 different words, but except for “anywhere,” all of those words had one syllable. For years, that has instinctively been my go-to book to read with young children. It took the genius of Dr. Seuss to combine a simple vocabulary with the repetition and humor children adore.

My own children grew up on heavy doses of Dr. Seuss. At some point, each of them was able to read those books themselves. It didn’t take long for them to figure out they could actually read Hop on Pop. Maybe they memorized it at first, but thinking you can read a familiar book and being able to correctly point to many of the words is a huge first step to reading. Dr. Seuss understood that by exposing kids to interesting books, they would learn to read when their brains were ready.

One thing I know for sure is that Dr. Seuss appreciated creativity and individual differences. Among the many wonderful things he wrote, here are a few of my favorites:

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”

“Think and wonder, wonder and think.”

“There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go.”

“Children’s reading and children’s thinking are the rock-bottom base upon which this country will rise. Or not rise. “

“Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted.”

You were not born to just fit in, you were born to stand out!”

So today, let’s honor Dr. Seuss by acknowledging children’s creative thinking, wide-ranging interests, and unique styles of learning. These days, facts are literally at our fingertips, so rote memorization and boring worksheets make no sense. Children need to know what questions they should plug into their search engines and how to use the facts they uncover to take them in new directions. As Dr. Seuss wisely said, “It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

Laurie Levy, Contributor

Sharing insights & personal experiences on education, aging, special needs advocacy, community, love, kindness, caring, & acceptance.

What is Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer.

Ashes on forehandAsh Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is cheifly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance.

Priests administer ashes during Mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s palm Sunday Mass.

March Fun Facts

The 3rd month of the year brings us Palm Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, and the start of Spring.

In the Georgian calendar, the calendar that most of the world uses, March is the third month of the year. However, it was the first month and named Martius in the early Roman calendar. Later, the ancient Romans made January to be the first month so March became the third month, which always had 31 days. The name Mars was named after the Roman god of war. In March, the winter ends and spring begins. In the northern half of the world, spring begins in March 19-21, which is the day when the sun is directly over the equator. At this time, the animals end hibernation and begin to show up.

Below are some fun facts about March:

  1. The birthstone for March is the aquamarine.
  2. The zodiac signs for March are Aries (March 21 – April 19) and Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
  3. The birth flower for March is daffodil.
  4. American Red Cross Month
  5. Fire Prevention Month
  6. Women’s History Month
  7. National Reading Day
  8. Saint David’s Day
  9. World Math’s Day – the first Wednesday in March
  10. March 1 is the date the Nebraskans celebrate the admission of their state to the union.
  11. March 2nd is celebrated by Texas as the anniversary of its independence from Mexico.
  12. On March 4, 1681, William Penn was granted Pennsylvania’s royal charter.
  13. March 25th is celebrated by people in Maryland to commemorate the arrival of the first Maryland colonists in 1634.
  14. Purim, a Jewish festival usually occurs in March. It is held on the day corresponding to the 14th day of Adar on the Hebrew calendar.
  15. March 8 – International Women’s Day
  16. March 14 – Pi Day
  17. March 19 – Saint Joseph’s Day
  18. March 22 – World Water Day
  19. March 23 – Pakistan Day
  20. March 26 – Bangladeshi Independence Day

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