Posts Tagged With: basics

Take a Look at my Etchings

My grandmother kept toys for the grandkids on the attic staircase. We only got these out when the weather disagreed with our plans for outdoor play, or if the cousins, heaven forbid, weren’t around for creating adventures with.

The toys she owned weren’t like any toys we had at our house, so they kept our interest longer than most. My favorite sported a red plastic cover and two white knobs and a gray screen.

From that briefest of descriptions you might assume I favored some early version of a computer game. Not quite.

photo-25 copy 12

A classic!

One knob moved a cursor-like dot up and down. The other knob moved the dot left and right. When the dot moved it left a line in its tiny wake. By moving the knobs I could draw a picture or a design. No colors. Just gray and black. No noises, except the background of my siblings fighting over the other toys.

I never did master the up and down, left and right twists very well.

Such a simple concept, drawing without paper and pencil. For some reason this little device resonated with children. Now, I’m sure to most people, it seems almost laughable and archaic.

Surprisingly, young children today still find it fascinating. At least some of the kids I hang out with sure do.

I had a gaggle of little boys fighting over who got to play with it during a party at my house earlier this year. These boys had a fire to roast marshmallows in, rocks to throw, water to play in and soda and snacks galore. And what did they choose to do? Watch each other draw things on the Etch-A-Sketch! I could hardly believe what I saw.

Don't bother me, I'm busy!

Don’t bother me, I’m busy!

My favorite three-year old, an Angry Birds aficionado, also likes to wield the knobs from time to time. Her attention unwavering and steady as she attempts control of the elusive tiny black dot, little can lure her away.

Why such fascination with such a simple thing? This seems so strange to me.

I suppose it shouldn’t seem odd. I prefer to hold solid words printed on tangible paper bound together in a battery-free device called a book, over the electric limitations of a Kindle or other recently upgraded device. I love the feel of a pen looping and scrolling as I write sentences in cursive. A grocery list or to-do list on a slip of paper tucked inside my pocket feels secure and somehow comforting. I’d rather lift and roll an actual bowling ball than pretend to do so on a Wii. I’d rather walk outdoors than stand in place and aerobicize in air-conditioned comfort.

Call me a luddite. Call these toddlers and children the same. For whatever reason the simple and the basic seem to satisfy something in some of us.

I wonder what other ways in life I could downgrade to simple.

Rather than breathlessly waiting for the next version of the best thing ever, could I simply content myself with something classic and timeless and wonder-filled?

Could you?

An experiment couldn’t hurt. We might even have some fun.

Categories: Family, Memory Lane | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kindergarten, Naptime, Cookies and Milk

Twenty-five years ago the world rotated in a different direction.

Now you think I’m crazy. You’re thinking I’m like one of those “flat earth society” people.

(Have you ever seen that show called Honey Boo Boo? I rest my case.)


Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but I think some basic common sense stuff isn’t getting taught anymore, by parents or by teachers, or by society. It worries me a bit. Okay, more than a bit.

If you don’t believe me just read this short list written twenty-five years ago by Robert Fulghum.

“These are the things I learned [in Kindergarten]:

1. Share everything.

2. Play fair.

3. Don’t hit people.

4. Put things back where you found them.


6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.

8. Wash your hands before you eat.

9. Flush.

10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

12. Take a nap every afternoon.

13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

15. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”

— From the book by Robert FulghumAll I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Isn’t this guy brilliant? If you like this list, you’ll love his book.  If the list seems like a bunch of foreign concepts for you, then you should read this book. If you wish for a kinder world, a more logical planet, read this book.

Milk and chocolate chip cookies, with puzzle i...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess what I’m trying to say is you should read this book.

In the meantime, I’m trying to “hold hands and stick together” more often. (Mom is giving me the opportunity to do that.) Numbers four, eight and eleven seem like areas I need to work on, as well.

I really like eleven. In fact, I think that’s my new affirmation for the next month. “Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.” (for those of you who don’t want to have to scroll up to reread what number eleven is 🙂

And today I’m going to put extra effort into the warm cookies and cold milk thing. I’m pretty sure I could use that one. Right after number twelve.

Categories: The World | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lessons Learned in a Second Grade Classroom

If you don’t have a child in elementary school, you might have forgotten the sights, sounds and smells of school. Children come at a person with speed, wit, surprising widsom, lack of logic, silliness, lack of attention, a trainload of baggage from home and growly tummies.

If you’ve forgotten the sensation of being a kid, visit an elementary school. Sure, you’ll have to get permission, and convince them that you aren’t a scary, stalker type person, but the hassle could be worth your time in the memories it evokes, if for nothing else.

The following two photos are from an actual second grade classroom.

Five basic rules for two different concepts. Nothing major or groundbreaking.

But definitely missing in society on an all too frequent basis.

photo-13 copyI know grown adults who don’t get these concepts.

photo-11 copy 2I know teenagers who have yet to learn these basics.

I don’t always 100% of the time follow these rules, but I am aware of them and try to be a good listener and a good speaker. Sure I fall short at times.

Seems like common sense. But often what passes as common sense is simply something we learned as young children, as second graders, as tots at mom’s knee, out in the yard from pops, while shucking corn with Grandma.

I could be wrong, but I think second grade teachers know more about real life than most of us give them credit for.

Makes sense to me.


Categories: Communication, People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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