Got My Mind On My Money and My Money On My Mind

Talking about money is scary, isn't it? It makes me truly squirmy and sweaty. But understanding what you have, what you want, and how to get there has to trump your fear.

Among all of the life skills people need to have, I rank financial literacy near the top of the list. Understanding money is just so essential to a secure future. Recognizing Uncle Sam's pseudonym is FICA when you get a paycheck, balancing a checkbook, and stashing dollars into a savings account just cover the basics of financial literacy. The real fun lies in understanding the impact of pre-tax contributions, deciphering the foreign language of retirement fund prospectuses (prospecti?), and comprehending the terms of a mortgage loan. And I hope you picked up the dripping sarcasm when I wrote, The real fun ...

The good news is that there are a crazy number of resources available to help us strengthen our financial literacy. The other day I decided to take advantage of one of those resources. With trembling fingers, I dialed the number for my financial advisor and scheduled an appointment to talk face-to-face with someone about my (gulp) money. Specifically, my retirement money. I've avoided this move for almost a decade (truly), and it's time I figure out what I have and what I want in terms of my financial future. I'm kind of excited and very proud of myself for taking this step toward beefing up my financial literacy skills.

If you are looking for info on financial literacy, these resources  might be helpful.

The Simple Dollar (one of my favorite blogs)

Financial Literacy Now

Jump$tart - Financial Smarts for Students

Thanks for reading ... it keeps your Mind Full of Literacy!

Literacy Fun from Family Fun!

One of my favorite magazines is Family Fun.  While super cute craft projects and creative food projects typically dominate the pages, I'm drawn toward the underlying theme of literacy this publication incorporates into each issue. Here are two examples from the October issue. Give them a try in your classroom or in your own home ... or both.

Math Evolve: This app, which is available for pretty much any device, lets kids of all ages tune up their math literacy skills through exploration of three creative environments: microscopic, ocean, and outerspace. In each environment, players grow stronger by solving math problems, which allows them to defeat the enemy (super cute aliens and such). The app can be customized to meet the needs of each player. Cost: $1.99!

Street Smarts: This is a great game to play in the car, especially on a long road trip. Players take turns trying to make a sentence out of the letters of the license plate from the car in front of you. the first player to make a complete sentence wins the round. Here's the example from Family Fun:

"LH5-2VF = Let's have vacation fun!"
Thanks for reading ... it keeps your Mind Full of Literacy!

Promote Literacy By Creating Young Authors

We are having fabulous fall weather in the Midwest (still no rain), so I took full advantage of it and sat outside to write this post. In other words, I went old school with pen and paper. Despite all the technology available, I love putting pen to paper. I always will.

Anyway, I often get so wrapped up in life's "stuff" that I forget to step outside and let the sights, sounds, smells, and scenes of the world rejuvenate and inspire me. That's one of the things I love about reading, it rejuvenates me. When I read, I create my own sights, sounds, smells, scenes, and images. I create. I own.

Sadly, an increasing number of kids don't create or can't create using their own brains. I've taught 7th graders who, when I ask, "What do you seen in your mind after reading that paragraph?" look at me and respond, "I don't see anything. Just the words."

One of the best ways to introduce young people to reading and writing is through storytelling. I'm not talking about where an adult reads a story and the child listens. I'm talking about when kids have the opportunity to create their own stories complete with illustrations. I'm talking about letting them unleash their imaginations. I'm talking about letting them be in charge. Not only do they become active participants in their learning, they can also gain an appreciation for the process involved at all levels of literacy.

One of my daughters is super creative, both with the stories she creates and the drawings she produces. She loves to make books. The first time we made a book we used a small spiral notebook that I received for free at a local kid event. Ruthie didn't care that the pages were lined. She went right to work filling the pages with the characters and settings floating in her mind. When she was finished, she dictated the storyline to me. We have read this book a countless number of times. It always makes us laugh. Lately, her books have been made out of construction paper and white paper assembled into book format. She illustrates the book, then dictates the action. Now that she is becoming a true reader and writer, I imagine my role as scribe will soon become obsolete. That makes me a little sad.

Along these lines, I read an article in the October 2012 edition of Family Fun magazine about Scribble Press, a publishing house of sorts for kids. With studios in New York and Los Angeles, young authors can experience the publishing process, from concept to creation, during their visit. They leave their session with a hard cover copy of the story they created. Fun! If you can't make it to the coasts, there is a Scribble Press iPad app available that steers users through the process. They can receive their finished creation in the mail.

So, regardless if you are old school or high tech, the possibilities to help children explore their imaginations through storytelling are out there. Giving them the opportunity to create and express opens up the world of reading and writing and just might create a lifelong lover of all things literacy.
If you are wondering if this creative idea transers to middle and high school students, you'd better believe it! (Actually, I've come to discover that people of all ages enjoy putting crayon to paper every now and then.) In the upper grades, think along the lines of group book projects, persuasive essays, comic strips that showcase key events in a story, personal narratives, original poetry, even book trailers, which require a script. The possibilities are only limited by creativity!

Thanks for reading ... it keeps your Mind Full of Literacy!