Sunday, January 31, 2010


Have you ever heard of Irlen Syndrome?

Sometimes children and adults are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD when it’s a matter of not being able to focus when reading black words on white paper. Often, these individuals get frustrated, have a hard time focusing, may get migraines and exhibit many prohibitive behaviors that may appear like they don’t have a long attention span or just don’t care.

Those affected by Irlen Syndrome may complain that the text they are reading is blurry, wandering, jumping, swinging, changing places or disappearing. Check out this link to see what reading may be like for these individuals:

Over 20 years ago, Helen Irlen discovered “that a subgroup of individuals showed a marked improvement in their reading ability when reading material was covered by colored acetate sheets. For the next five years, Ms. Irlen worked on refining her discovery, developing diagnostic testing instruments, and patenting a set of colored filters.”

My friend, Roxanne, was telling me about her experience with a very dear friend who suffered from Irlen Syndrome. He would rub his eyes and often cry from frustration and pain. He was such a smart young man, but because he thought the fading, blurry text was “normal” didn’t know to explain what was happening as he would read. To make matters worse, the “blackboard” once used in school was a whiteboard…so he couldn’t follow along with the class or read instruction written up on the board. He was labeled as an ADD or ADHD kid by those who didn’t understand what was going on. After some love, understanding and investigation, his mother and Roxanne discovered he was suffering with Irlen Syndrome. Now his teacher runs his tests off on a certain color of paper and he has colored gels that he places over the pages of his text books.

Yes, colored plastic overlays on top of black text/white paper or even colored lens glasses can drastically improve reading ability for individuals affected by Irlen Syndrome. It is amazing that something so complex can be treated so simply.

Look here to see a list of symptoms and disorders that may be misdiagnosed, but are actually part of the Irlen Syndrome.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

SMMART MATH: Tube Tunnel Probabilities

This was a super fun activity to do with my girls. The 2 1/2 year old LOVED rolling her gumball down the tubes over, and over, and over... She would hear the "plink" of the gumball into the plastic bowl and run over to see which bowl it landed in.

At times one side was favored, but after some adjusting it was hard to say just what side the gumball would shoot out.

So, first you need to build your tube tunnel. Hopefully you've been saving up those paper towel and toilet paper rolls! Use masking tape to secure the first tube to the back of a chair, the counter, or somewhere elevated.

Tape tubes together until you have formed a tunnel. We made out tunnel with two entrances and two exits for more variation. When you feed two routes together, cut a hole in one tube and snip off the end of the other tube at an angle. Insert the angled tube into the hole. This allows for a pretty clear tube route (so the inserted tube doesn't block the route). Be sure to secure the tube tunnel onto an object for stability in a few places along the tunnel route. Place a bowl under each exit.

Now let your child roll a small rubber ball, gumball or other small round object through the tube. Keep track of how many times the ball falls into the right/green bowl or into the left/red bowl during 10 runs. What number of times did the ball roll into the green bowl? ...and into the red bowl? Multiply that number by 10 and this is the percentage of times.

Probability is the measurement of how likely an event (one or more outcomes of an experiment) is. (

Probability of an Event Equation:

The probability of event A is the number of ways event A can occur, divided by the total number of possible outcomes.

P(A)= The Number of Ways an event can occur
.........The Total Number of Possible Outcomes

P(red bowl) = 1 (#ways ball can fall into red bowl) =1/2
......................2 (Total number of bowls)

This is a bit over a young child's head, but it's helpful to understand a bit of the concept so you can teach PROBABILITY.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SMMART READING on "Good Things Utah"

Be sure to catch my SMMART Reading segment on February 18th

10:00am on ABC4

"Good Things Utah"

for fun Reading ideas to share with your kiddos!

Monday, January 18, 2010

And the SMMART Winner is...(Claimed)

Travis said...

I must confess. I hate playdough--but only for the mess it makes. It seems to get tracked everywhere! So we reserve that for a summertime activity and set up a table in our garage which makes for easy clean up. However, I do love doing paper collages with my kids. It's fun to see what they come up with and I love to watch them work their magic with scissors! Plus, paper doesn't get ground into the carpet quite like paydough does. :)

Heather Loader

January 16, 2010 3:26 PM
Be sure to e-mail me by midnight tonight (Feb.19) at with your mailing address to claim your prize...

or I'll choose another name and post it Feb. 20th.

Good Luck!

Monday, January 11, 2010

(Giveaway Claimed)

“I believe that art is an adventure and an exploration of materials and ideas. I like to say ‘Art is a Process, Not a Product’.”

MaryAnn Kohl is a leading voice in encouraging creativity in young minds through her many resource art books. MaryAnn founded Bright Ring Publishing, Inc. in 1985 when she published her first book, Scribble Cookies (Now in its new edition, Scribble Art, with more of everything!) Her experiences include teaching in elementary school and college, educational consultation and being an author and publisher.

“Children have only themselves to please as they drip, smudge, glop, glue and sculpt their way through hundreds of open-ended art ideas. The art activities in my books have unlimited creative possibilities with no right or wrong way to create and no set rules or expectations for outcomes. Process art expands the creative experience and awareness of children in all aspects of the visual arts through painting, drawing, printing, sculpture, architecture, and other manipulations of art materials.”

MaryAnn is nice enough to share free activities from her books here and here!

Here is a list of MaryAnn Kohl’s books (some are co-authored):

Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters

Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters

Storybook Art: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of 100 Favorite Picture Book Illustrators

First Art - Art Exploration for Toddlers and Twos

Preschool Art: It's the Process, Not the Product

Primary Art

Mudworks: Creative Clay, Dough and Modeling Experiences for Children (now in bilingual Spanish Edition)

The Big Messy *(But Easy to Clean Up) Art Book

ScienceArts: Discovering Science Through Art Experiences

Scribble Art: Independent Creative Art Experiences for Children

Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids

Cooking Art: Easy Edible Art for Young Children

Making Make-Believe: Fun Props, Costumes and Creative Play Ideas

Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World

MathArts: Exploring Math through Art for 3 to 6 Year Olds

Snacktivities! 50 Edible Activities for Parents and Young Children

And her newest book, Art with Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff is coming out May 2010!

Mary Ann Kohl is giving away a copy of Mudworks (bilingual edition)!

You can enter to win twice:

1) For your first entry, comment under this post and tell me your NAME and a FAVORITE ART ACTIVITY that you enjoy with your child.

2) For your second entry, become a FOLLOWER of the SMMARTideas blog (on the dashboard of your blog, enter my url- under “Blogs I’m Following”, or follow me on your Google Reader, or promise that you’ll check in each week for the newest SMMART Activity:) Comment under this post and tell me your NAME and that you are a FOLLOWER. “I follow SMMARTideas!”

(...and I'd be honored if you would add my BUTTON on your blog:-)

I will post the winner's name on January 19th! You must e-mail me at with your mailing address by midnight Jan.19th, or I will post another winner on Jan. 20th...process continues until we get a winner!

MaryAnn Kohl is also promoting a special offer on her book, Great American Artists for kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters. It sells for $18.95 plus shipping, but for SMMARTideas enthusiasts, she is offering it for $15 (that includes shipping!!!)

Send her a check at:

MaryAnn Kohl

PO Box 31338

Bellingham, WA 98228

You can even request that she autograph it for you…(if you wish, you can fill out this form) and remember to send her your mailing address! Be sure to let her know you read about this offer on SMMARTideas to receive this price and free shipping! Yipeeeee!

SMMART ART: MaryAnn Kohl's Art ideas

As you can see from the list of MaryAnn's books in the "Giveaway" post, MaryAnn knows children's art!

Here are two of MaryAnn's fun ideas to share with your child:

Shampoo Dough
3/4 c flour
1/4 c white glue
1/4 c thick shampoo
Mix all ingredients in a bowl
Knead dough
Add more flour, as needed.
Model or roll and cut as desired.
Air dry
Paint as desired.

We made up a batch and shaped little hearts, then put a toothpick in the top. When they dry and are painted, you have little Valentine pendants to string onto a necklace! You can shape the hearts by hand, or use a cookie cutter.

One of the artists showcased in MaryAnn Kohl's book, Great American Artists for kids, is the work of Alexander Calder. Calder, a 20th century modern artist, is considered one of the most influential and acclaimed sculptors of this time. One of his methods of creating art, involved bending wire to create 3D sculpture.

MaryAnn suggests how you can simulate Calder's "stabile" works. Wrap a rock with a pipe cleaner, leaving a lot at the end to bend and manipulate. Wrap several pipe cleaners around the rock. Now bend the end of the pipe cleaners in interesteing shapes (zigzags, curves...).

You can add shapes of color to the pipe cleaners. Cut out unique shapes from paper, or felt. Fold the felt over the end of the pipe cleaners and staple it onto the. If you like, you can punch a hole into the felt shape and slide the shape over the end of the pipe cleaners. Pretty soon you will have a colorful 3D wire sculpture, after the fashion of Alexander Clalder.

What a fun way to celebrate a big occasion with your child? Here's an adaption of Calder's can "sculpt" around your child's favorite candy bar!

Check out more fun art ideas in the many books by MaryAnn Kohler.

See my SMMART Art segment while it's still up on the ABC4 site:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Lookie here, my friends and readers...I'll be sharing SMMART Art ideas on

January 12th on ABC4 at 10:00am.

Be sure to watch...and enter to win the art book, Mudworks by MaryAnn Kohl
(enter on my blog on January 12th)!


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