Sunday, October 31, 2010


"Happiness comes from spiritual wealth, not material wealth... Happiness comes from giving, not getting. If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it." By John Templeton

When I was in my early twenties, and going through a time of great angst, someone asked me what would make me happy. I rattled off my wish list of material possessions, believing that therein lay the road to bliss. Later, having attained some of those things , but still not really happy, I came up with a different answer – having peace of mind.

Years of vague discontent rolled by, until one day I realized that I had not been thinking about my own feelings of happiness for quite some time, and wonder of wonders, I was at peace with myself and actually pretty happy. What was different? The answer? Having children. . . and they weren’t even ON my original wish list. I realized that they were keeping me so busy I didn’t have time to think about ME at all. In other words, thinking about their needs trumped mine. Could the answer to finding happiness really be that simple?

As I continued to evolve and mature, I came to realize that, at least for me, happiness is not a perpetual state of being. It is strongly influenced by external factors such as the people in my life, their actions, my reactions, health and well being of loved ones, job satisfaction, freedom from worry, dwelling on past mistakes and hurts, and putting things off until tomorrow. The negative fallout from all of these factors is a happiness-breaker!

With twenty-four children, their spouses, and grandchildren taking up mental space there is always “a situation” of some kind to keep one off kilter. Instead of dwelling on these situations I have decided to share my thoughts and insights in the hope that you can find some seeds of happiness you can sow in your own mental garden. Here are two lists that could prove helpful: (1) Ten doable things that might make you happy, and (2) Ten quotations from people wiser than me on the subject of happiness and fulfillment.


1. Master a new task. These days there are hundreds to be mastered.

2. Find out what someone wants and give it to them (within reason)

3. Organize a junk drawer or closet.

4. Do something today that you would normally put off until tomorrow

5. Call, write or e-mail someone who might need an emotional lift, or who would be thrilled to hear from you.

6. Replace every negative thought with a positive one for 24 hours. If that’s too long, try one hour.

7. Decide to smile and say “Hello” or “Good Morning” to as many people as possible today. Make it your goal to do so every day.

8. Strike up a conversation with your supermarket or other checker and learn something about him/her.

9. Volunteer at a school, food bank, or shelter. Better yet, become a Big Brother or Big Sister.

10. Step outside, at sunrise or sunset, smell the fresh air, perhaps with a hint of wood smoke, listen to the birds, and appreciate the incredible gift that nature provides us every single day.

You don’t like these? Then make your own list of ten things that would make you or others happy. I would be willing to bet that just thinking about others for that little bit of time will take your mind off your troubles.


1. “The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour." Unknown

2. “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

3. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller

4. “Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

5. “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~Joseph Addison

6. “If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. He will not be striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of the day.” ~W. Bertram Wolfe

7. “The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.” Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

8. ‘Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.” Groucho Marx

9. "Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours." ~ Dale Carnegie

10. "The purpose of life is not to be happy - but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all." ~ Leo Rosten

Anticipation is also a big part of happiness, A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh says it best. “Well, said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you begin to eat which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” So, spend time thinking about things that might make you and, more importantly, others happy, anticipate the pleasure you’ll derive and get busy. Remember, “happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.” (Anon)



A wonderful lesson in helping children to grow in a positive, thoughtful way is to read Happiness is a Warm Puppy by Charles Schulz. The cartoonist captures simple ideas of what causes happiness. After reading the book, have the children write and illustrate their own page of what Happiness is. . . . for a class book. Publish the results, giving each student a copy and placing the original in the class library corner.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


"Role modeling is the most basic responsibility of parents. Parents are handing life’s scripts to their children, scripts that in all likelihood will be acted out for the rest of the children’s lives." By Stephen R. Covey

What if you were told that there was an almost sure fire way of raising your children to be bullyproof - either as a bullier or as one who is bullied? It would also guarantee that they would grow up to have positive self images, even if they were not the most beautiful, the most book smart or the most athletically able. What if I further told you that it simply boils down to making more daily deposits into, than withdrawals from, what I call your children's emotional bank account.

In an earlier article I talked about how all of us are born with blank slates upon which are written every visual, auditory and kinesthetic experience we have. These experiences shape our view of the world and our place in it. It would seem logical that children, whose parents are calm and skillful, have an edge over those whose parents are uptight, unwilling, or unhappy. This is not intended to diminish the importance of nature in the nature vs. nurture debate. Certainly a baby’s personality/nature/disposition plays a huge role in how it interacts with its parents, family members, and others during its continuing development. Colicky, sick, crying and demanding babies can tax the most patient parent, but from the beginning, negative reactions will surely guarantee negative results whereas the use of patience, humor, and understanding will surely reap some positive benefits.

Try thinking about your child as an investment – his/her development as a bank account to which you add positive emotional deposits. Unfortunately, out of ignorance or personal stress, your negative reactions will also bring about negative emotional withdrawals from the account, which in turn effect the emotional cash flow.

Positive deposits include the following: Compliments, cuddling, kissing, storytelling, smiling, listening with an appreciative ear, talking in a calm, soft voice, spending time together, showing empathy, seeing your child with an appreciative eye, treating your child as a child, not as an adult, modeling a neat environment before expecting your child to keep a clean room, teaching your child to be a helpful part of the family in terms of chores, helping your child with homework, being proud of your child’s small accomplishments, loving your child unconditionally, and expressing that love daily.

Negative withdrawals from the emotional bank would include: Sarcasm, yelling, belittling, threatening, hitting, frowning, ignoring, meanness, constant scolding, being overly worried, using put downs, impolitely demanding that the child shut up! sit down! come here! (What happened to "please"?), having impossibly high expectations, having no expectations, inconsistency in behavior modification, applying unfair or overly harsh discipline, having no boundaries, allowing fighting and wrangling within the family, etc.

An example of a negative withdrawal I have seen repeatedly in public places is this. An exasperated parent (usually the mother) administers a spanking to a young child, while also shouting, "How many times have I told you not to hit your brother!" Oops! There went a withdrawal, a mixed message, and a lesson learned from the most important role model in the child's world. If my mom hits me, it must be o.k. for me to hit others, even if she says not to.
Perhaps a more effective measure would go like this. Holding the child close, say (not yell) firmly, "It is not o.k for you to hit your brother. We do not hit others." Look him/her in the eye and ask if he/she understands. If the hitting continues, repeat a variation of your message. If you are able to do so, distracting the child with a story, or removing him from the situation can help.

Divorce, and all the unpleasantness and stress that comes with it, can have a profound effect on the emotional bank balance. A healthy bank balance because of prior positive emotional deposits dwindles rapidly as daily emotional withdrawals are taken. Such withdrawals are similar to the ones listed above, but are exacerbated by the turmoil, uncertainty and worry in what is now a hostile and scary environment. The emotional bank account becomes so overdrawn that the child/children will then react negatively to the parent who is perceived as having caused the pain and disruption.

Like any bank account, more withdrawals than deposits will result in an overdrawn account and unpleasant penalties. Penalties from an emotionally overdrawn account might include such unpleasant reactions as tantrums, slamming doors, yelling "I hate you", moodiness, disrespect, whining, kicking, biting, screaming, running away, and later, more extreme reactions such as drug use, promiscuity, criminal activity, and the tragedy of suicide.

Here’s an exercise you can do on your own. Analyze the next 48 hours with your child/children and briefly jot down every interaction you have with them, both positive and negative. At the end, tally up the responses and see if you are in the emotional black or red. If the former, pat yourself on the back and keep up your positive parenting. If you are in the red, determine how you can make more deposits by using one of the examples above. If you have a spouse who needs "an emotional financial advisor," share these ideas with him/her and suggest that in the future you both try to add more deposits than withdrawals to your children's accounts.

If there is drinking, drug use, mental illness or abuse in the family, it goes without saying that these are problems which need to be dealt with immediately for everyone's safety and well-being. Teachers and other trained school personnel can be valuable resources in helping to solve these kinds of issues. In the meantime, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others close to the children, can be adding their own loving deposits to the account.

Having a healthy emotional bank balance allows us to have feelings of self-worth, and the ability to help others by making deposits in their accounts. This concept can be threaded throughout the fabric of your day, as you deposit smiles, and other positive actions wherever you go.

"You are in charge of your feelings, beliefs, and actions. And you teach others how to behave toward you. While you cannot change other people, you can influence them through your own behaviors and actions. By being a living role model of what you want to receive from others, you create more of what you want in your life." by Eric Allenbaugh


Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, and illustrated by Tara Calahan King, shows how one astute father helps his son become friends with a new neighbor boy he thinks is his enemy. Jealous because the new boy, Jeremy, is spending time with Stanley, his best friend, our boy goes to his father for help and guidance. Father, understanding what is going on, uses some reverse psychology, and a clever ploy to bring a new friend into his son's life. He is making large deposits in his son's emotional bank account by his empathy, and role modeling.

Teachers, try this activity to help students welcome new students into their lives. On a piece of lined paper with a space for drawing at the top, write the following:

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold!
My old friend is _____________. My new friend is ______________.

At the top, have the students illustrate their pictures by showing their old and new friends playing together. Mount the illustrated story on black construction paper. Have your students add gold and silver glitter around the border or in the picture for a glitzy touch.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Old saying from the time of slavery.

Are bullies and victims born or made? And what role does a parent play? Here are some things to think about.

You get a call from school. Two scenarios. (1) Your child is in the nurse's office with a head injury. Could you please pick him up. OR (2) Your child is in the office for pushing another kid on the playground resulting in a head injury. Please come in for a meeting with the principal.

Somewhere in these scenarios lurks a bully and a victim, and after twenty-five years of teaching and playground supervision, I could say that the truth may not be immediately clear. I could also say that often the situation is not dealt with in a satisfactory way for all parties. I could further say that any parents involved would probably have feelings of anger, embarrassment, denial, helplessness or any combination thereof. Once home, the children may face an unsatisfactory parental response - either no consequence, no understanding, or even abusive punishment. There will probably not be a lot of active listening or "how to"s for the future.

Whatever the case, the truth needs to be determined. Sometimes the supposed victim starts out being a bully, with the supposed aggressor having had "enough" resulting in a bully-like response. Example: Billy, a known playground bully, consistently picks on Jimmy both in class and at recess. Jimmy suffers in silence or is not getting satisfaction from teachers and playground supervisors. For Jimmy, Billy knocking the ball out of his hands while also making a "yo mama" comment, is the "last straw". Jimmy pushes Billy down resulting in the head injury.

Hopefully right will be done, the truth ascertained and the situation dealt with fairly, ending in emotional growth for all concerned. Often, though, the wrong child gets blamed, or doesn't feel heard, causing yet another layer of anger and hostility for the original victim. It could also give the actual bully a feeling that he won the encounter.

More than likely, though, Billy the Bully has pushed Jimmy down "just because" resulting in injury, and the incident is just one more notch on his “bully belt.” He will lie or distort the truth, and rationalize his own behavior to avoid consequences. Either he gets too little or too much punishment, and learns no lessons which might curtail future behavior. He may also see bullying modeled at home which adds to his bully arsenal. Sadly, Billy's victims are also getting messages of not feeling heard, both at school and at home. In these cases layer upon layer of anger, helplessness and despair can cause depression, dysfunction at school, and later lashing out at society as they become bullies themselves; i.e. the perpetrators in the Columbine tragedy.

Girls have “bully belts” as well, with example upon example cited in the media. A fascinating incident played out recently in Seattle where one girl was attacked by another, under the eye of security guards who did nothing to stop the conflict, and with sympathy going out to the supposed victim. As the story unfolded we learned that the girls had a long-standing history of antagonism towards each other, in other words, both were bullies. In other instances, bullying, with horrible outcomes, has taken place via the internet, often with girls as the perpetrators.

Babies certainly don't come into the world as bullies, but they soon learn how to manipulate their parents, whether it is related to eating, sleeping, or going out in public. A parent’s reaction to any given situation sets the stage for future actions and reactions. We hear jokes about babies not coming with handbooks, and we see lots of parents who are uninformed, unwilling, or unable to be effective parents for whatever the reason. Unwittingly they may be creating baby bullies by not setting boundaries, enabling, or finding excuses for bad behavior. If the parent does not fully understand a parent's job and the child's needs, the bully behavior can escalate. On the flip side, if the parent is not listening to his or her child's concerns and stories with an appreciative ear, the tendency to be victimized will also escalate.

It follows that one of the solutions for curtailing bullying is to help parents be more effective, for teachers and school administrators to have expert training on the subject, and for better programs to help children to avoid being bullied or victimized. School programs like Second Step have many good points, including picture cards and role playing ideas, but they work best if the teacher is well trained and the entire school-parent-community is on-board. Looking back, there was no consistency in the school where I taught, and no real school-home connection. I question such a program’s overall success with kids under these circumstances.

Next week I will discuss how parents can raise happy, mentally healthy children by regular deposits in their children's emotional savings account.


In continuing my on-line research this week I found several sites that offer hope and help. The most intriguing was called Bullies to Buddies . Here you can find free materials showing "how to stop being teased and bullied without really trying.” It is aimed at students, teachers, parents, administrators, mental health professionals and work place personnel. The over-riding advice to a would-be victim is to ignore the bully. Read the article for greater detail.

Other sites worth checking out are:

Top Strategies for Handling a Bully for both children and parents, citing that a wise line of defense is avoidance. Other suggestions include using humor, recruiting friends, telling the bully to “Get a life. Leave me alone.”

Dealing with Bullies” is a very easy-to-read article showing why bullies act that way, how to handle them, how to prevent a run-in with one, what to do when you encounter one, and what often happens to bullies.

Education World: “Strategies for Stopping Bullying”. In essence this article is saying that since bullies are made they can be unmade, and offers some clear steps to deal with the problem.

Monday, October 11, 2010


"Bullies are always cowards at heart and may be credited with a pretty safe instinct in scenting their prey." by Anna Julia Cooper

Check below for some lesson ideas on bullying. The book under discussion is called Bullies are a Pain in the Brain, written and illustrated by Trevor Romain. Very cool!

Bullying is a hot topic these days, with CNN Specials, alarming stories of teen suicides attributed to peer bullying, and articles galore on causes, effects and possible solutions. Most of us have a childhood "bully story" and cringe at the memory.

My sister clearly remembers a particularly scary incident when a child in the neighborhood came after her with an ax, threatening to kill her, then cackled with glee when my sister ran away. Upon changing schools my 3rd grade daughter was teased constantly on the playground, several boys calling her a "white witch" because she had such light blonde hair. I, myself, had a hair incident in ninth grade when a group of girls spread rumors that I, a natural platinum blonde, dyed my hair so that it would be that color. It was a silly rumor, but had the desired effect on me - embarrassment and denial - which only made them do it more.

Yesterday my 12-year-old grand-daughter, Lily, now in middle school, was wondering what to do about a bully in her science class. He is one of four students in her cluster group of two girls and two boys. Let's call him Billy. The story goes like this: The other little girl asked my grand-daughter if she could borrow her black colored pencil. Billy the Bully snatched the pencil and wouldn't give it back. The girls responded by telling him to give it back, but of course, he wouldn't. Finally, after he had achieved the desired drama, he threw the pencil back at them.

Those of us hearing Lily's story began to offer ideas of how to handle Billy and other bullies based on our own beliefs and experiences. What became clear to me is that there are no easy answers to this complex problem. However, here are some strategies we came up with:

1. Raise your hand and tell the teacher that Billy apparently needs a black pencil, and is there an extra one available for him? This would be a subtle way to call attention to his behavior without "telling on him." Perhaps he would be sufficiently embarrassed to refrain from such behaviors in the future.

2. Ask Billy a question, i.e. You seem to be in a bad mood. Are you having a bad day?

3. I am wondering why you find teasing people so much fun. Please return the pencil.

4. What you're doing is not o.k. Please show respect.

On other occasions apparently Billy the Bully engaged in verbal bullying, calling the other little boy, who is shy and serious, a "fat hippie." In this case, the bullied child shot back with "I'm not either a fat hippie." which, of course, does nothing to stop the taunts.

Name calling is prevalent in school from kindergarten on, resulting in complaints, or tattling, tears, and teacher intervention. Some things a student might say include:

1. Name calling is not O.K. Please stop.

2. I don't like it when you call me names. Please stop.

3. Why do you like to call people names?

4. Kids don't like it when you call them names, so stop it now.

5. You show no class when you stoop to name calling. Get some class.

6. I want to be your friend, but I can't when you act so mean.

One suggestion is for teachers to have a Class Meeting Box where students can write anonymous concerns on paper. Teachers can then designate a time during the week where these complaints can be discussed and resolved. When the solutions and consequences come from peers, the offenders are more likely to listen. It also gives an opportunity for "the other side of the story." This process takes a little time away from instruction, but the pay-off in overall learning and emotional well-being far exceeds the expenditure.

Of the many on-line articles I checked out, the one forwarded to me by my sister, stood out. Called Life Lessons - Compassion for a Bully by Jodee Blanco, the article seeks to show ways to defuse bullying by finding out the underlying causes and addressing them. The example used showed ways that two different teachers handled bully incidents, one making the situation worse, and the other causing a real turnaround in behavior.

Other interesting articles include ParentFurther's "Introduction To Bullying and Violence," with FAQs, what bullying is, what to do about it, information on cyberbullying, what to do if one's own child is a bully, and more.

Another called Teasing and Bullying: No Laughing Matter, by Diana Townsend-Butterworth, also describes what bullying is, how it starts, effects, warning signs, how to help, and what to look for at home and at school.

Bullies are made, not born, and unless the offending behaviors are addressed, a bully's aggressive behavior can do serious, long-lasting damage to all concerned. Jails are full of them. Psychologists' offices are full of their victims. Nice people like my sister, my daughter and myself have painful childhood memories because of them. It's time for us to take a grassroots stand against bullying and bring about a return to civility. If each of us committed to putting at least one bully in his place this week, what a difference we could make. I pledge to try, and will report back.

In the meantime, if you have a bully story or a bully solution, make a comment. We'd all benefit.
If you are a teacher, check below for an interesting resource on this topic.


Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain, written and illustrated by Trevor Romain, is a practical, sometimes humorous, book filled with bullying examples, solutions, and resources for kids, parents and teachers. Example: "Bullies think they've hit the jackpot when they make you cry. Don't reward a bully with tears. Instead, stay as calm as you can and walk away with confidence." I would add this: It's easier said than done, so role play with a family member or friend on how to respond, and what walking away with confidence looks like.

To use this book in class, try the following:

1. Print out the examples on separate pieces of paper. At a class meeting or during a "dead time" (every class has a few minutes of this), pull out a paper for presentation and discussion.
One good time is before lunch or before recess so that the subject is on everyone's mind.

2. Take the examples and turn them into skits for presentation to the whole class. Follow with discussion.

3. End the day with reading from the book, and ask if anyone has seen examples during the day of that particular kind of bullying.

4. Have a PKC Club (entry is gained by being polite, kind and considerate) in your class where no bullying is allowed. Have a reward at the end of the week for those in the class who are still members, i.e. They have not been designated as a bully by anyone. I had a PKC lunch to which I brought dessert. That's pretty time consuming and ambitious for the teacher. Instead, have a surprise or treat box, cookies, or some other thing that kids enjoy.

Good luck on helping kids be caring, empathetic people. It is SUCH a good mission.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


“What is the essence of Iceland, the island in the far north? Silence and solitude despite occasional volcanic activity, color and expanse, wilderness and grassy farmlands, ever changing ocean and villages, symphonies of color and tones of light.” Reykjavik Living and Beyond

Note: You will find a lesson plan using a variety of multiple intelligences activities for elementary age students at the end of this article.

What comes to mind when you think about Iceland as a country? Snow and glaciers? Volcanoes? The northern lights? An isolated people whose language looks and sounds funny, especially the capitol city, Reykjavik?

Whatever my preconceptions, I was not prepared for what would become the experience of a lifetime. Upon landing my first impression was of an incredibly modern airport of glass, steel and wood – light, airy and spacious -- followed by a 45 minute drive across the most barren and desolate terrain I had ever seen. It felt a little like landing on the moon.

During a four day visit I viewed the old colliding with the new. In the quaint old section of Reykjavik, with its myriad of shops, were streets heated thermally because of volcanic action. The latest in fashion, much of it designed by Icelanders, and the most modern of home furnishings were available everywhere one looked. Beautifully designed sweaters, hats, gloves and slippers made from the wool of Icelandic sheep, were impossible to resist. Lava, a rocky reminder of long ago eruptions, became gorgeous jewelry, candle holders, and other objets d’art. Nine swimming pools and hot tubs were available year round, offering a place to relax and meet others.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the climate. Somehow I thought that the country would be blanketed in snow during much of the winter. Not so. Tempered by the gulf stream, Iceland enjoys milder weather than its fellow Scandinavian countries. Last year was unusual with no snow at all - attributed by many Icelanders to Global warming. Even higher elevations had only a few days of ski-ing. During this visit in early October, I noticed how changeable the weather was – a little rain, a little sun, some rainbows and very unusual cloud formations seemed to be the norm.

So what is there to see and do in this distant land, shrouded in mystery and lore. Here are some snapshots (written) of my own experiences:

(Click) Breakfast – free with a hotel room – includes eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fruits and juices, many different kinds of bread and rolls, cheeses, herring, and other traditional foods. One doesn’t need to eat again until dinner. Click on "Breakfast" for some very unusual Icelandic recipes.

(Click) Hallgrimskirkja – A beautiful church that is the tallest building in Iceland, rises majestically, its concrete exterior design reminiscent of ice formations, its interior soaring skyward. Basalt-like columns lend support. A huge pipe organ dominates the rear of the church, sending forth its music from 5275 fifty-foot-tall pipes. Outside a statue of Leif Ericson faces west, a symbol of the once dominant Vikings.

The Pearl – another visible landmark, and well-named because of its glowing pearl like shape – symbolizes the thermal heating advantages for the people of Reykjavik. The Saga museum, which portrays some of the old stories, is a unique feature of The Pearl.

(click) The present
Parliament – housed in a small building in the heart of town is a tangible location for the oldest parliament in the world once located in what is now Pingvellir National Park. Presently it is the site of a dicey and heated political situation. The Icelanders’ outspoken frustration with their government was highlighted the day after we arrived. On this first day of session, two thousand demonstrators pelted the parliament house with eggs, tomatoes and rocks. I should mention here that, population-wise, this is a tiny country of just over 300,000 residents with nearly half living in and around the capitol city. There’s a feeling of revolt in the air.

(click) Architecture is eclectic, with newer structures being ultra-modern. Residences of unpainted concrete with white trim, or painted corrugated houses mix with row houses of many colors. Unpainted buildings or multi colored rows of buildings, both old and new, abound. The economic downturn has unfortunately caused many office and apartment buildings to be vacant or uncompleted.

(click) The Blue Lagoon - It must be the world’s largest natural hot tub! With the smell of sulphur in the air, amid steam rising, one applies healing mineral mud to one’s face, while soaking in water ranging up to 102 degrees F. On the day we were there, the Norwegian Men’s Chorus was off in one area singing songs as we all sat in the healing water. It was my husband's birthday, and he called this impromptu concert the best birthday present he had ever had. Our fellow lagoon mates spoke many different languages. Striking up a conversation was easy, illustrating diversity at its best. Many people spoke some level of English, which always makes me regret the lack of emphasis on foreign languages in our American schools.

(click) One of five facilities, the
geo thermal power plant we visited serves a wide area a short bus ride from Reykjavik. These plants make it possible for Icelanders to enjoy heat, electricity, cold and hot water for a fraction of what other world citizens pay.

Geysir is the geothermal field where geysers erupt every few minutes with mud pools bubbling, and lending an other-worldly feeling to the area.

(click) Gullfoss, called the queen of Icelandic waterfalls, sends huge amounts of water crashing hundreds of feet below to a rushing river. A most splendid and awe-inspiring sight.

(click) Pingvellir – where from the first century, Iceland’s most important historical events took place. Icelanders of long ago rode by horse from every corner of the land, sleeping in tents, to meet and make decisions in what was the site of the first and oldest parliament (Althing) in the world. The parliament was moved to Reykjevik much later. Now you can walk up the hill between massive lava flows and crevices and get a taste of what that old trek must have been like.

You have reached the end of my slide show. There was neither time nor energy to do more in our brief visit. Perhaps now you will be inspired to fly to the land of the Vikings. BUT, don’t come to Iceland thinking that it’s a bargain vacation. The cost of living is high and the tourist attractions are expensive.

Here are some more experiences for another trip: Horseback riding on the small, darling shaggy Icelandic horses, helicopter rides to look into volcanoes, whale and puffin watching, white water rafting, and tours to see the Northern Lights, to name a few. And try to take a Saga tour where you can learn about the stories, legends, and inhabitants, real and mythical, of old Iceland.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now, let's make learning about Iceland a fun project for students and children everywhere using the seven (multiple) intelligences.

Rikka and Her Magic Ring in Iceland by Hendrikka Waage is a modern day story about a little girl who, with her friend Linda, goes on educational and exciting visits around her country by using her magic ring. Together they learn about volcanic hot pools where they can relax and swim, sculptures at an art gallery, handball which once gave Iceland an Olympic silver medal, horseback riding, snowmobiling, glaciers, icebergs, Viking history, fishing, folk sagas, elves, trolls, geysers, puffins, whales, and finally, the Imagine Peace Tower on a nearby island. Get ready for your own Icelandic adventure!

Make clay people similar to the ones Rikka saw at the art gallery. If you have beads and pipe cleaners, make a simple magic ring. Turn a lump of black clay (lava) into a beautiful stone necklace. Inscribe a mystery design on your stone. Poke a hole in your masterpiece and thread some ribbon, string or yarn to fit around your neck. If you are really ambitious make a troll out of a dried and shrunken apple. Clicking on "troll" will give you step-by-step directions.

With a partner, each make a small volcano using a plastic prescription bottle, pop bottle, or other small container, a hardening substance like plaster of Paris or other waterproof clay, vinegar, baking soda, vinegar, liquid soap, and food coloring. Mold the clay around the bottle, shaping it like a mountain with an opening in the top. Click on "make a small volcano" for more details. Help each other to find a way to make the volcanoes erupt. Chart your results and draw a picture of your final product. Research on line what causes volcanoes and what really makes them erupt.

(1) Pretend you have a magic ring. Write and illustrate a story.

If I had a magic ring I would go to ________________because____________________. Keep on writing to develop an interesting story.

(2) Find a book about trolls in your library and learn about the different kinds of trolls and elves in Iceland. Go online if you need more information. Icelandic Trolls by Brian Pilkington is a wonderful and fanciful, beautifully illustrated book, filled with facts about trolls. This is a “must read” selection for kids who like fantasy stories.

Think about where you live and list five places in your community that you would like to visit or show someone else. Tell a little about each place. Share your information with a partner or the class as a guest speaker in charge of tourism for your area.

Learn facts about Iceland on Yahoo for Kids. Study the map and learn about the people there. See the flag example and make an Icelandic flag using construction paper in the three different colors – red, white, and blue. Compare it to the American flag.

At recess play a rousing game of handball. Check with your PE teacher about the rules and where best to play.

Listen to the beautiful choral rendition of the national anthem of Iceland.