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Ideas for awesome classroom enhancements

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - The approach of the school year has parents seeking out the best deals on back-to-school supplies, and teachers everywhere are preparing their classrooms to give students the best educational experience possible. From decorations designed to create engaging learning environments to having extra supplies on hand for students, the back-to-school shopping season requires a bit of planning by teachers.

On average, teachers spend more than $400 of their own money each year to purchase supplies and decorating materials for their classrooms. This year as they stock up on those needed materials, teachers can use them to create awesome rooms where students will love coming to learn.

* Elementary rooms – Picture books, numbers magazines, puzzle books and a large collection of crafting supplies are often needed in elementary school classrooms to create the perfect learning environment for younger children. Plastic containers, shelving dividers, colorful hanging tote bags and boxes – all decorated with fun shapes and colors – are the perfect way to keep the classroom organized. A teacher could create a puzzle corner to provide challenging word, mathematical or even scientific puzzles to stimulate their students’ minds. Keep extra paper, pencils and calculators in this area so students have the materials needed to stay engaged.

* Middle school rooms – In middle school, students tend to rotate from classroom to classroom to study different topics. It’s good to keep them moving in the classroom as well to engage their interest. Teaching history? Use media photos and crafting paper to create a timeline of historical events wrapping along the walls around the room. Are you an English teacher? Paint a door with chalkboard paint and provide colorful chalk for students to create short poems or words of inspiration for their classmates. Challenge them to create art with their words on the chalkboard and print out finished pictures of projects to decorate the board. At the end of the quarter or semester ask the students to vote on the most creative project.

* High school rooms – At high school, students need less action, but they still appreciate stimulation. Math students can use graphing calculators to create graphs of different trig functions, and then print those graphs on paper to create colorful and beautiful wall designs. Physics teachers can set up plastic boxes of problems featuring subjects their students are interested in. Namely, the cars they drive to and from school or the sports teams they support on Friday nights. Fill the boxes with different situations related to these subjects, and have the students apply the laws of physics to calculate what will happen to the car, or if the sports player will make the play.

Teachers can save money on their classroom supplies and decor by enrolling in the Staples Teacher Rewards program. Those who are enrolled will receive a coupon for 25 percent off any purchase of $10 or more to be redeemed during the Teacher Appreciation Event Aug. 1 – 3, alternatively they can provide their Staples Teacher Rewards Number at checkout. These savings are only available for teachers, and exclude any technology items. Educators who are not currently Teacher Rewards members can sign up at any Staples store, Aug. 1-3, and receive 25 percent back in rewards during this special Teacher Appreciation event. Exclusions apply, see store for details. Visit StaplesRewardsCenter.com to learn more.

The school bell will be ringing soon, which means teachers need to get their classrooms in order for a great year of learning. Whether they’re looking for materials to support a room theme or extra supplies to have on hand for student use, Staples has the school supplies needed.

Categories: Lifestyle

Help your kids make the grade with healthy back-to-school snacks

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - School means big adjustments and big demands for everyone involved: shopping for supplies, shuttling here and there, studying – or overseeing the studying – special projects, and more. It’s easy to forget nutrition in all the hustle and bustle.

Make a pact to embrace healthful eating, whether breakfast on the run, packed lunches or after-school snacks. In other words, plan now to fuel those little bodies with something better than potato chips and cookies and to nourish at regular intervals to avoid big dips in energy and focus.

The first step is to start the day off right. Eating breakfast helps the brain to function and has been shown to improve performance in school. In fact, children who eat breakfast score higher on cognitive tests than those who don’t. With a little forethought, you can stock your pantry with breakfast staples, and orchestrate a fresh and healthful breakfast that is also tasty and quick.

One of the easiest options is to simply mix yogurt with granola and top with California grapes for a balanced and nourishing boost to the morning. Pump up the good stuff even more with a Yogurt Power Bowl.  This breakfast-in-a-bowl combines Greek yogurt, fresh grapes, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds with a touch of cinnamon. The yogurt serves as a great source of protein, the walnuts, flax and chia seeds offer healthy omega-3 fatty acids, while the fresh grapes offer a fresh flavor boost and contribute beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols that support a healthy heart.

Yogurt Power Bowl with California Grapes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon flax seeds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups red, black or green seedless California grapes, halved

Directions:

Mix the yogurt, walnuts, chia, flax and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss the grapes into the mixture to coat. Serve chilled.

Next, keep your child’s brain-power on a roll at lunch time by offering a balanced variety of foods. Grapes from California are an easy component of packed lunches; they complement sandwiches, salads and soups as well. Plump, juicy clusters of grapes help to hydrate and refresh, and won’t likely be traded off for something else. Grapes are easy to share, so you might just want to pack extra.

After school, kids need to refuel and recharge to accomplish the slate of afternoon activities, whether homework, sports, enrichment classes or simply a playdate. They aren’t alone, actually: according to a recent study by Technomic, 71 percent of people enjoy a snack in the mid-afternoon, with some 50 percent stating that healthfulness is important to them in a snack.

Fresh grapes are the quintessential healthy, but oh-so-tasty snack. They are the perfect finger food, easy to eat, convenient and portable. Grapes play well with other foods too, complementing cheese, crackers, nuts, yogurts and granola bars. Grapes from California are available May through January, with a wide selection of grape varieties available throughout the fall.

Consider these super snack ideas:

* Let the kids make their own no-brainer burritos: Spread a tortilla with whipped cream cheese, a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, and line the center with grapes. Roll up for a tasty fruit-filled burrito.

* For a savory roll-up, spread cream cheese on a sun-dried-tomato tortilla, and top with sliced turkey.  Roll it up and slice to enjoy.

* Smoothies are a great way to add wholesome fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. Enhance it with a spoonful of nut butter for extra staying power.

* Set out a platter of hummus, pita bread and fruit. Remember that hummus, while traditionally made from chickpeas, can be made from any type of bean, from black beans to white beans to pinto beans, and edamame (soybeans).

* Top an open-face peanut butter sandwich with bananas and grapes.

* Create a fresh trail mix with nuts, cheese cubes, chocolate chips and fresh grapes instead of raisins.

* Pair almond butter with fruit. Spread directly on apple slices or mix with a little honey for a peanut dip for colorful grape skewers.

* Frozen grapes are always a cool treat.

* Sometimes it is OK to play with your food! Create some grape caterpillars by threading green grapes onto bamboo skewers. To make eyes on the end grape, place a dot of cake icing on the back of each of two mini chocolate chips and stick them to the grape.

Categories: Lifestyle

Teenager danger: Five rules for young drivers

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If you’re feeling nervous about handing the car keys to your teenager for the first time, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment given some sobering statistics. According to teendriversource.org, 20 percent of all 16-year-old drivers will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel.  And studies show more teenage motor vehicle fatalities happen during the summer than any other time of year. But there are some things you can do to help keep your teenager from becoming a statistic. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has some tips and tools to keep your teen safe.

Though auto accidents are a fact of life for most drivers, even a minor fender bender can impact insurance rates, costing parents and teens for years to come. The good news is research shows teen drivers who follow rules are half as likely to get in an accident. Before your teen hits the road, consider establishing some simple guidelines to protect his or her safety and your wallet:

1. Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Set a curfew to keep your teen off the road during these times.

2. Limit passengers. A teen’s relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with each additional passenger. More passengers equal more potential distractions.

3. Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting can double the likelihood of an accident. If your teen must use the phone, instruct him or her to pull over before doing so and be sure to set a good example when you are behind the wheel.

4. Empower your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Remind your teens they are just as vulnerable in an accident as the driver, so they should speak up if they feel unsafe.

5. Be Prepared. Arm your teens with the knowledge of what they should do if they do get into an accident. Mobile apps such as WreckCheck can help take the guesswork out of a tense situation, guiding users through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. WreckCheck uses your device’s location service, camera and audio recorder to document all pertinent information about the incident and provides tips on how to file and follow up on a claim.

A Teen Driver Contract is a simple way to keep your teen accountable. It establishes basic driving ground rules and clearly lays out the consequences associated with driving privileges. The NAIC has developed an online tool to guide parents through building a customized Teen Driver Contract. There’s also a downloadable sample contract to help get you started.

Educating yourself and your new driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money. As your teen begins his or her journey on the roadways, take time to speak openly and candidly about your expectations for behind-the-wheel behavior.

Categories: Lifestyle

Teenager danger: Five rules for young drivers

Automotive - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If you’re feeling nervous about handing the car keys to your teenager for the first time, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment given some sobering statistics. According to teendriversource.org, 20 percent of all 16-year-old drivers will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel.  And studies show more teenage motor vehicle fatalities happen during the summer than any other time of year. But there are some things you can do to help keep your teenager from becoming a statistic. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has some tips and tools to keep your teen safe.

Though auto accidents are a fact of life for most drivers, even a minor fender bender can impact insurance rates, costing parents and teens for years to come. The good news is research shows teen drivers who follow rules are half as likely to get in an accident. Before your teen hits the road, consider establishing some simple guidelines to protect his or her safety and your wallet:

1. Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Set a curfew to keep your teen off the road during these times.

2. Limit passengers. A teen’s relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with each additional passenger. More passengers equal more potential distractions.

3. Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting can double the likelihood of an accident. If your teen must use the phone, instruct him or her to pull over before doing so and be sure to set a good example when you are behind the wheel.

4. Empower your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Remind your teens they are just as vulnerable in an accident as the driver, so they should speak up if they feel unsafe.

5. Be Prepared. Arm your teens with the knowledge of what they should do if they do get into an accident. Mobile apps such as WreckCheck can help take the guesswork out of a tense situation, guiding users through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. WreckCheck uses your device’s location service, camera and audio recorder to document all pertinent information about the incident and provides tips on how to file and follow up on a claim.

A Teen Driver Contract is a simple way to keep your teen accountable. It establishes basic driving ground rules and clearly lays out the consequences associated with driving privileges. The NAIC has developed an online tool to guide parents through building a customized Teen Driver Contract. There’s also a downloadable sample contract to help get you started.

Educating yourself and your new driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money. As your teen begins his or her journey on the roadways, take time to speak openly and candidly about your expectations for behind-the-wheel behavior.

Categories: Lifestyle

Turn your fantasy fairytale wedding into reality

Bridal - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Every girl dreams of her fantasy wedding. It usually includes a Prince Charming standing next to her at the altar, saying “I do,” while surrounding by friends and family in a fairytale atmosphere.

Now it’s time to turn that fantasy dream into reality. And while Prince Charming has been replaced with Mr. Right, the rest of the fairytale doesn’t have to change. Every bride should feel like a princess, and here are some ways to pull off the special wedding:

* The dress: The right wedding dress and accessories can make any bride look like a princess. A strand of pearls around the neck for a Cinderella look or a long, decorative braid down one side of the head completes the Rapunzel look. Many brides love the look of a simple tiara woven into an elegant hairstyle. And the dress can have a full or puffy skirt, or long flowing tresses to really bring out the princess style. Disney also has a collection of designer princess cut dresses based on several of the Disney princesses.

* The invitations: Set the tone for your fairytale wedding right from the start with Disney Princess Wedding Invitations from Invitations by Dawn. The collection features eight elegant princess invitations inspired by Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Tiana and Snow White. You’ll love the deep embossing, the shimmer paper and the raised print that looks like an invitation from royalty. The flowers and motifs will capture the eyes of your guests and evoke a sense of fairytale nostalgia, having them anticipating the wedding itself.

* The decorations: Shimmery gossamer, twinkle lights and decorative candles provide beautiful touches to help make the fairytale a reality when it comes to your wedding and reception. If you are a crafty person, use DIY crafting sites like Pinterest to find centerpiece and table decoration ideas you can make yourself. Also ask your florist and cake decorator if they have any suggestions on decorating your reception and the wedding hall in a fairytale theme. They may suggest a fountain centerpiece, or creating a forest backdrop behind the cake to help enhance the theme.

If you’ve been dreaming about your wedding for many years, you probably already have some ideas for those special romantic touches that will make your wedding memorable and special. Share those ideas with the wedding specialist helping you plan your special day, and let the magic happen. Your guests will be awed by how you pulled together the entire fairytale theme, from the invitations to the special gifts they’ll take home to remember your special day.

Report: Dozens killed, injured in China terror attack

CNN World - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 8:52pm
A gang wielding knives and axes attacked civilians, a police station, government offices and smashed vehicles, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday, citing local police.
Categories: International News

Witness: Mom went 50 MPH with son on car

CNN - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 8:29pm
Two Ohio men say they recorded a mother driving down the street with her 19-year-old son on the roof of her car.
Categories: National News

McDonald's may be liable for worker lawsuits

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 7:30pm
Read full story for latest details.

Football Set To Report For Camp Wednesday

Bulldog Beat - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 6:16pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mississippi State football team officially reports for 2014 preseason camp Wednesday morning as sixth-year head coach Dan Mullen will welcome 105 players to campus with the start of practice set for the following day.

Sick leave policies pick up steam

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 6:07pm
Biviana Lagunas must skip class or her part-time job when her 4-year-old germ-magnet brother Derik is running a fever, because their mother has no paid time off.

Amgen joins job-cut parade

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 6:03pm
The economy is on the mend, but the pink slips keep flying.

Russia hit with more sanctions

CNN World - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 5:51pm
The United States and European Union officials agreed Tuesday to ratchet up economic pressure on Russia as fighting escalated in Ukraine.
Categories: International News

Watch robbers get a beat-down

CNN - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 5:40pm
Robbers get beat-down by cashier cashing in on his martial arts skills. Jeanne Moos reports on flying feet, and fists.
Categories: National News

ESPN suspends Stephen A. Smith after domestic abuse remarks

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 5:27pm
ESPN on Tuesday announced a one-week suspension for one of its most controversial commentators, Stephen A. Smith, in the wake of his widely-criticized remarks about domestic abuse that referred to possible "provocation" by victims.

Body of 'apparent stowaway' found in U.S. Air Force plane

CNN - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:50pm
The body of an "apparent stowaway" was found in the wheel well of a U.S. Air Force plane that had traveled Africa before landing in Germany, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
Categories: National News

'Die Hard' actor Shigeta dies

CNN Entertainment - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:46pm
James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career includes the movies "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," died in his sleep in Los Angeles on Monday, his agent said. He was 81.
Categories: Entertainment News

Sorry Bill, Herbalife's woes aren't about you

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:39pm
Read full story for latest details.

Country music's biggest earners

CNN Entertainment - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:37pm
Country music's biggest earners
Categories: Entertainment News

Red Lobster bets on fancier-looking plates to turn things around

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:32pm
Read full story for latest details.

Telecom bounce not enough to buoy stocks

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:16pm
The summer doldrums appear to be officially here. Stocks didn't do much Tuesday -- a day after the market was mostly spinning its wheels.
Just a few years ago, LeBron James was the darling of the NBA world as a member of the Cleveland...
Teams from 14 different schools assembled at Malvern High School on Wednesday for the second James...
Correction: In today's sports section (Tuesday, July 1 edition), which will be out in a few hours,...
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