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Visiting with Friends on Cayman Brac by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Usually when I travel, if I’ve been to a place once, that’s good for me. Time to move on to the next location on my “to-visit” list. But I have a few favorite places I don’t mind visiting each year. It’s convenient when I write books about those places, because I have to then deliver books to stores there, or I go for inspiration and research for the next book. One such place is Cayman Brac, one of the Sister Islands in the Cayman Islands.

To get to the Brac, I usually fly into Grand Cayman, which is a very nice place to visit as well. My favorite places are Books and Books, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens to see the Grand’s blue iguanas, and Pampered Ponies, where you can take a swim with a horse. But then it is off to the Brac, a short plane ride away. It’s only about 98 miles.

image of Sister Isle Rock Iguana, Cyclura nubila caymanensis
Sister Isle Rock Iguana, Cyclura nubila caymanensis

Even though the purpose of my last trip was to market and restock the stores with my books, my personal reason was to visit with the locals, such as the beautiful lady above. She is a Sister Isle Rock Iguana, Cyclura nubila caymanensis. I was part of the team that caught her last year and watched as she dug a nest for her eggs. Her egg chamber was part of the research project for the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment. She is looking great.

Of course, when I asked her if she remembered me, she ran off into the brush!

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's headFor educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page workbook called My Unit Study on Iguanas designed for students in grades 2-4. It’s filled with fun and educational pages and puzzles, all about the iguana.

a blue and turquoise book cover with an image of Cayman Islands passport coverAnd your favorite first – third grader(s) might love to make a Passport to the Cayman Islands while learning about these truly beautiful islands.

illustration of head of cyclura nubila iguanaIf you have any interest in the identification booklets that Lyric Power Publishing has created on how to tell the differences between the invasive green iguanas and the native rock iguanas, please contact Elaine Powers at iginspired@gmail.com.

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Today is Math Storytelling Day! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline.

Math was not my favorite, nor my best, topic, but I did like the math used to solve real-world problems. I enjoyed using geometry to determine how tall a tree is. Discovering the unknown variables in algebra fascinated me; it was like a secret code that had to be deciphered. I eventually came to understand how to use statistics and calculus in measuring aspects of ecosystems and in animal behavior. It turned out that I did like math–if it applied to my interests in science!

When master educator Marilyn Buehrer designed the Lyric Power Publishing workbooks and activity sheets based on my children’s storybooks, I was thrilled that she included some of my favorite animals in her math problems. I particularly like the one where she has the students measure the iguanas to determine average and median sizes in the workbook My Unit Study on Iguanas. I could use that in my citizen scientist work out in the field with the rock iguanas of Cayman Brac!

If you’re curious at all about the Sister Isle Rock Iguanas on Cayman Brac, check out my poignant book, Silent Rocks, pictured above. The population of Cyclura nubila caymanensis on Cayman Brac is in serious decline and these vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. Their reduction is the result of human activity on their habitat, and the threats can only be eliminated by human action. I am hopeful the people of Cayman Brac will turn this sad situation around.

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizards

In The Dragon of Nani Cave, the Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. (The dragon is a Rock Iguana, but when you’re a small lizard, an iguana is a dragon!) Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world beyond their beach really is. Leaving home is easy, but what if they do find the dragon? And how will the lads make it back?

a green and white book cover with the image of a book called The Dragon of Nani CaveFor educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page coordinating workbook designed for grades 3-6. Fourteen pages are taken directly from The Dragon of Nani Cave, with 14 pages of corresponding questions. Teachers and parents read the book aloud to students, then hand out the reading and question pages. Students reread pages from the book and answer the questions for each page; they also color in the black and white pictures on every page.

illustration of head of cyclura nubila iguanaIf you have any interest in the identification booklets that LPP has published on how to tell the differences between the invasive green iguanas and the native rock iguanas, please contact Elaine Powers at iginspired@gmail.com.

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The Importance of Waiting for Your Student to Answer by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Setting: Forest, misty background. A man stands at white board with pointer stick. A child sits on tree trucnk looking at drawings on whiteboard.

Just about every speaker, from motivational speakers to teachers of all kinds, to parents, and just about everyone who can talk, answers her own question within two seconds of asking it.

Trouble is, the person hearing the question can’t answer it that quickly without knowing what the speaker knows. The hearer’s mind is working to form an answer when, suddenly, his thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the answer.

 Believe it or not, their mind tells them to forget trying. This lowers the hearer’s self-esteem and makes them believe they’re a failure. So why ask questions in the first place? Why not just give information and erroneously believe the hearer is absorbing and understanding every word you’re saying?

Because we want people to think. We want children to think. And thinkers need time to formulate an answer. WAIT after you ask your child a question. WAIT several seconds. Be patient. Be kind. And don’t stare at her like she’s on the hot seat. Besides letting her come up with the answer, you’re helping improve her self-esteem and sense of importance in the family or the classroom.  

So, next time, wait at least five seconds before offering an answer to your child. After all, involving the child in the learning process is what helps them understand and make connections to the rest of life’s big questions.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive supplemental Workbooks and Activity Sheets,  such as these:

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
The Rock Cycle cut and paste project in this lesson comes from this workbook. It also includes work pages on rock collecting.

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

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A Simple Geography Lesson for Grades K-4 Using “My Book About Directions” by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

a green and white book cover with an image of a Compass RoseThis lesson should be limited to 10-15 minutes for children in grades K-2, and no longer than 20 minutes for children in grades 3-4. Attention span plays a big role in this as does interest level.

  1. To teach a short but powerful geography lesson, begin with introducing the day’s lesson. What do you want your students to learn?
  2. Start with the topic: Correctly locate and identify islands in the Caribbean.
  3. Tell your students what they’re going to be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson. “In this lesson, I want you to correctly locate four islands: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands.”
  4. Point out these islands on a large classroom map, and write the names of the islands on the white board.
  5. Then hand each child a map from My Book About Directions and ask them to raise their hands when they have found each island.
  6. Next, ask students to color only those four islands on the black, gray, and white map.
  7. Finally, hand out blank sheets of white paper and ask children to choose one of the four islands to draw and label correctly.

From Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy (formerly Bloom’s Taxonomy):

  1. Remembering: (Recognizing and recalling facts) Given a brief discussion and a map, children will locate and identify islands in the Caribbean.
  2. Applying: (Applying the facts, rules, concepts, and ideas) Given a brief discussion and shown examples, children will color a map showing size comparisons of the islands in the Caribbean.
  3. Creating: (Combining parts to make a new whole) Each child will draw and color their favorite island and write three lines (or verbalize) why they like that island.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

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How to Build a Satisfying Essay By Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

This is a 5-paragraph essay with 3 main ideas, a format that can be used in any essay form.

An image of the layers of a hamburger, used to illustrate the five parts of an effective essay

The Introductory Paragraph includes: The Topic Sentence. Write a sentence explaining what you’re going to write about.

In the three body paragraphs, state the main ideas with details.

Conclusion Paragraph:

  1. Restates what you just wrote about.
  2. Write your opinions or feelings about the content of your essay. Include a sentence about why you wrote the essay: what was the significance of the subject?

TYPES OF ESSAYS:

Narrative essays tell a story with details in chronological order.

Descriptive essays describe details of a person, place, or thing.

Expository essays list facts or explain a process.

Persuasive essays express an opinion about an issue.

All students need to learn how to write essays as they progress through school, and how to write them well by the time they get to college.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

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How to Connect a Classroom Study of Rattlesnakes to Real-Life Experiences by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

For use with:

My Book About the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

My Book of Rattlesnakes in the United States

Both books are available for purchase on this website.

A children's book cover, turquoise with polka dots, with image of western diamondback rattlesnake and list of included supplemental educational worksheets
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Workbook

After a study of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake in all the following areas: Geography, History, Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, Science, Academic Art, and Music, take your students outside the classroom to connect the concepts to real-world experiences.

How to prepare your students for a trip to the zoo:

Geography asks WHERE:

  • Let students work together to:
    • locate the zoo on a city map
    • draw a path from their school or home to the zoo
    • hand out copies of the zoo’s map (free from the zoo which will mail you enough maps for students to use one in a group of four kids).

History asks WHEN and WHAT:

  • When was the zoo created?
    • Modern zoos began in England with London’s Regent’s Park Zoo in the 1820s because it was founded with a scientific purpose. But putting animals on display for the public to see dates back to ancient times.
  • What is at the zoo?
    • Use the zoo maps to locate the different areas within the zoo.
    • Ask students to make a list of the animal exhibits.
    • Ask students to locate the reptile exhibit.

Continue reading How to Connect a Classroom Study of Rattlesnakes to Real-Life Experiences by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

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How to Teach a 10-15 Minute Lesson by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Daily lessons for children, especially very young children, should be limited to 10-15 minutes each. Attention span plays a big role in this, as does interest level. To teach a short, but powerful lesson, begin with introducing the day’s lesson. What do you want your child/ren to learn?

First, choose a topic: Tell your student/s what they’re going to be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson. For example, Correctly label the parts of a turtle.

A black and white illustration of a freshwater turtle with its body parts labeled
From the 24-page workbook My Book About Freshwater Turtles

Tell: “In this lesson, I want you to cut out the names of the parts of a freshwater turtle and correctly paste them in the spaces on the page with a picture of a turtle.”

Model: Show them a perfect example of the finished product, one you’ve done yourself. Give them time to study your model.

Ask: “What do I want you to do?” or ask them to finish this question: “I want you to do what?” Don’t simply ask if they understand. Kids will just say yes because they know that’s what you want them to say.

A black and white illustration of a freshwater turtle, with arrows pointing to the turtle body parts

From the 24-page workbook My Book About Freshwater Turtles

Engage: Give them the worksheet, scissors, and glue stick. Older students may want to help them, but the older kids usually end up doing the project for the younger ones to help the little ones feel successful. In reality, this does just the opposite for the younger child, so give a different task to the older students while younger kids complete the assignment you gave them.

Check for understanding: Ask your child/ren to explain, in their own words, what they did. Ask them to point to and read the parts of a turtle aloud to you. After this, let them color in the picture of the turtle.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

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Why Having Your Students Read Aloud is a Good Idea by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.
~William Butler Yeats.

Boys dressed in white shirts sitting in a row. One boy holds a microphone and speaks into it
A child enjoying reading in front of an audience.

Reading aloud can be used to:

  • improve reading comprehension.
  • promote listening and speaking skills.
  • help with the revising and editing steps in the writing process.
  • Fourth grade is where school separates the strugglers from the readers. (researcher Jeanne Chall)

When students read their own essays aloud, they will catch typos, awkward sentences, word choice errors, and other mistakes they have made.

Having a student read someone else’s essay aloud will help the writer hear how their work sounds without getting caught up in the actual process of forming words and saying them aloud.

Reading to students who are auditory learners may help them better understand a text when they hear it rather than sitting and trying to read it on their own.

Listeners learn to track a speaker and follow along with different sentence structures. Listening to more than one reader, such as in Reader’s Theatre, is a good way to help students follow multiple readers in one setting.

Students who listen to teachers read aloud:

  • learn the proper way to pronounce words and phrases.
  • learn how to pause after a period or use inflection when asking a question.
  • hear key aspects of speaking such as tone, pacing, and proper word order.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

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MAP READING SERIES PART THREE: Teaching a General Overview of a World Map by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Close up of side of head and hands of child drawing on a piece of paper on top of a school desk

A child drawing by Heinrich Hess from Pixabay 

When teaching kindergartners an overview of a world map, it’s important to give students enough time to look at the maps. Do not overwhelm them with challenges that are too numerous or complex. Tell students the following information, but do not expect them to memorize it or even remember it the first time they hear it. This is just a beginning overview. A kindergartner’s world is their own neighborhood.

Hand each kindergartner a world map. Explain: The world map displays a view of all the continents on Earth from space.

A world map shows:

  • Continents:
  • Countries
    • The continent of Africa has 54 countries.
    • The continent of Europe has 51 countries.
    • The continent of Asia has 50 countries.
    • The continent of North America has 23 countries.
    • The continent of Australia has 14 countries.
    • The continent of South America has 12 countries.
    • The continent of Antarctica has no country and no permanent inhabitants.
  • States
    • The United States has 50 individual states; 48 contiguous and 2 noncontiguous. Contiguous means that 48 states touch each other. The noncontiguous states that do not share borders are Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Cities
  • Towns
  • Oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, Artic, Indian, Southern Ocean

Ask kindergartners which continent they live on and point to North America.

Ask students why part of the map is blue? (It represents bodies of water.)

Collect the world maps.

Hand out maps of the United States.

The United States is a country on the North American continent.

There are 48 contiguous states and two noncontiguous states: Alaska and Hawaii.

The United States is included in the map of the world.

Help students locate their state on the map of the U.S.

Hand out maps of their state.

All states are included on the map of the United States.

Help students locate their city on the map.

Collect the maps of their state.

Hand each student a map of their city and explain:

All city maps are within the world map.

The city map zooms in on a particular area.

City maps are used to navigate from one place to another.

Your neighborhood is within the city map.

Collect the city maps.

Hand out blank sheets of drawing paper, pencils, and crayons. Start with a very basic map.

Ask students to draw a map of the classroom.

Ask students to add the playground.

Ask them to draw a route from the classroom to the playground.

What other places can go on your map?

Your house

Backyard

Park

Grocery store

Grandparents’ house

Best friends’ house

Collect the maps of the United States.

Encourage parents to:

Help their children draw rooms in their home.

Take a walk around the block with their children, looking for landmarks to include in a neighborhood map. Use simple shapes to draw and label objects such as furniture, playground equipment, and stop signs.

Talk about directions with their children: “Which way do we turn at this stop sign? Right or left?”

Put a map of their town on a wall in their home where children can easily access it and refer to it.

Draw a treasure map to a special object somewhere in the house or a particular room. Encourage children by using spatial language such as “It’s under a pillow” or “It’s inside a cabinet.”

Ask their children to draw an interesting new route from their house to a store or relative’s house across town. Then take that drive and ask the children if it was the best route, or a better route than the one they usually take and why. Did they get to see things they never usually get to see? Was it faster?

In this way, the overview we started with at the beginning of this lesson grows into teaching about place and direction in the child’s own home and neighborhood, giving them invaluable knowledge for day-to-day life.

A wonderful aid to map reading skills and the ability to find your place is Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive supplemental workbook My Book on Directions and Prepositions of Place.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

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MAP READING SERIES PART TWO: Preparing to Teach a General Overview of a World Map by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

White crinkled paper with the world's continents drawn in turquoise blue ink
Map of the World by Yuri_B on Pixabay

To teach a general overview of a world map, the materials needed by the students are:

  • Globe (compare/contrast to a world map)
  • Maps (world, North American continent, United States, state, and city)
  • Blank sheets of drawing paper
  • Pencils and crayons

The classroom Bulletin Board should have these maps:

  • the world
  • the North American continent
  • the United States
  • their state
  • their city
  • a compass rose labeled with the cardinal directions.

Add the following vocabulary words and definitions to the bulletin board:

  • Map: a drawing that tells you about a place.
  • Legend or Key: explains what the symbols of the map stand for.
  • Symbol: small drawings on a map that indicate what is in that place.
  • Landmark: something that is easy to find like a mountain or building.
  • Route: a path or road that you will travel.
  • Compass Rose: a symbol that always shows north and most often also includes south, east, and west.
  • Globe: the Earth represented on a sphere.
  • Cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.
  • Contiguous: sharing boundaries. The 48 states are contiguous.

Part Three will give the teaching instructions.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

A wonderful aid to map reading skills and the ability to find your place is Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive supplemental workbook My Book on Directions and Prepositions of Place.