Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Playing in the dirt

At the end of school today, I took my fifth graders out to the playground for a few minutes of play. When done, we lined up to go inside as parents were congregating near the playground to pick up their children. A group of parents were hovering nearby and I looked down to see a preschool aged boy squatting down with both hands digging into a muddy puddle. He kept pulling out his hands to inspect the attatched mud before diving in for more. My fifth graders were trying to get him to high-five them, but he was too engrossed in his play. What I thought was cool was that the mom was not bothererd by his playing in the mud. It is good for a little kid to get his hands dirty and not be scolded to keep his hands clean.

How often in school do you get to play in the dirt? Here is an article about a fourth grade class that sifted through a box of dirt and found an eight inch long 11,500 year old piece of hair from a Mastadon. What a memorable experience for the children in that class. They were participating in something called The Mastadon Matrix Project. It costs only $10 to get involved and get your own box of dirt. I think I will apply and have my class do this next year. As Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus always says, "Take chances! Make Mistakes! Get Messy!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reading books helps you get a better job in later life

Reading books is the only out-of-school activity for 16-year-olds that is linked to getting a managerial or professional job in later life, says an Oxford study.

Researcher Mark Taylor, from the Department of Sociology, analysed 17,200 questionnaire responses from people born in 1970, which gave details of extra-curricular activities at the age of 16 and their careers at the age of 33. The findings, presented at the British Sociological Association on May 4, show that girls who had read books at 16 had a 39 per cent probability of a professional or managerial post at 33, but only a 25 per cent chance if they had not. For boys who read regularly, the figure went up from 48 per cent to 58 per cent.

None of the other activities, such as taking part in sports or activities, socialising, going to museums or galleries or to the cinema or concerts, or practical activities like cooking or sewing, were found to have a significant effect on their careers. Mr Taylor also found that playing computer games frequently did not make it less likely that 16-year-olds would be in a professional or managerial career at 33, but this was linked to a lower chance of going to university.

So get your kids reading!