And the Award Goes to…..

LEARNING AND LAUGHTER WITH LOUISE!

BEST BACK TO SCHOOL PRODUCTS AWARD – 2010

I think that it is only appropriate that a radio program dedicated to helping foster learning sets aside an entire set of programs to the best products available to students, parents and educators.  July 21st will be the first of these shows with our focus on STUDENT CHOICES!  The products have been pitched.  The students ages 4-21 have made their selections and reviews and now we have THE BACK TO SCHOOL 2010 AWARDS TO ANNOUNCE.

NOTE-  products are being DONATED to children and school programs.  I received ZERO compensation for endorsing or reviewing these products.

Here are the details and the photos!  ENJOY!!

TEXAS INSTRUMENT TI-NSPIRE – The coolest calculator on the market with the EASY GLIDE Touchpad!

My son begged me to break my rule about not keeping these cool products- because he flipped when he saw the great TI-nspire!  What a super multifunctional calculator that caught the eye of half a dozen of our teen reviewers, many who are college bound.  They loved the touchpad functionality and the USB connector was a hit. The fact that saving and printing their work was a breeze also received high praise.  Our reviewers also were excited that they could “share” work with others, including their teacher, without leaving the comfort of their home or dorm!  This product was popular and the price tag – $150- didn’t seem to phase these kids (“Cheaper than many of my college books and they are not at all cool like this!”, said one reviewer)

AVAILABLE at STORES (such as OFFICE DEPOT) and ONLINE-

GRASSHOPPER PRESCHOOL KITS-  THREE STYLES FOR DIFFERENT SKILL DEVELOPMENT


Grasshopper Preschool Kit- This series is a three parter.  We previewed the comprehensive Following Directions and ABCs – Simple Shapes container.

Adorably presented with a bright plastic box with a handle that was easy for the four year olds little fingers to grasp.  Inside the kit included a book with easy directions for kid friendly activities.  Their eyes locked on a series of LETTER fish of different colors.  There also was a fishing pole that I am sure would have been hours of endless entertainment.  The goal- pick up a fish with the magnet on the pole and then follow the directions to complete the letter game.

As an educator, I liked that the game was interactive, fun for both the kids and myself and not too pricey.  Families that homeschool and preschools may really enjoy that this kit has a lot of activities and seemed to meet many preschool goals for basic pre-reading and shape identification.  The cost was not too bad- $49.95  I am sure it was that much due to the durable construction of the kit and the materials used.  If I had a preschool child at home I would buy this in a flash.

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CANSON ECO- FRIENDLY WRITING PAPER FEATURING the ART OF ERIC CARLE

http://www.what-do-you-see.com/

I am a HUGE Eric Carle fan.  Always loved the books and was truly grateful to his kindness when he agreed to write our daughter, Natasha, a note to help commemorate her becoming a Bat Mitzvah.  (Actually he sent her a note and a whole pack full of goodies!) So, when Canson approached me about these products I said yes, without asking any of the kid reviewers.  The one and only time.  I KNEW that these drawing pads would be VERY POPULAR!  I was right!  Nearly had to stop a war between a set of siblings!!  The older elementary kids loved this product, too!  And if you are a fan of Eric Carle, visit this website http://www.eric-carle.com/home.html

EVERY KID I SHOWED THESE PRODUCTS TO RAN TO OUR DESK AND STARTED DRAWING! Each pad was made with eco-friendly paper and kids loved the Eric Carle recognizable drawing on the cover.  All sizes for all aged kids.  Here are some smiling photos to prove that these very inexpensive pads are worth the investment.

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SCHOLASTIC STORYBOOK SERIES :  (This product will be detailed for a future show) http://www.Scholastic.com  OR http://www.newkideo.com

Featuring stories in sign language for these classic favorites- A POCKET OF CORDUROY, GOODNIGHT MOON and FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS

Each DVD comes with vocabulary, comprehension and fine motor skill lessons.  And of course, American Sign Language is effortlessly taught during these videos.

Frankie (below) and I previewed the GOODNIGHT MOON DVD.  Two hands waving in ASL affirmation for BRAVO!

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KIMOCHI -Toys with feelings inside!

www.kimochis.com Price $25 for the Kimochi with feeling packets extra at $12

As a person who has conducted countless hours of  therapy with children, especially with kids who had difficulty with language, this is a great product.  Another winner by our team of panelists!  Each doll (character) has a pocket.  Little “faces” can be inserted in to the pocket which identify feelings such as JEALOUS, HAPPY, SAD,  LEFT OUT… and so on.  Squishy, fun and fabulous!  Or in the words of one of our young reviewers “Cool!”   We have one photo in ASL below, too!)  Buy this very reasonable addition to a classroom or your home on AMAZON.com.     Age range varies, but I can see Kimochis being very applicable to the special education population to help to identify and role play feelings and social stories.

BRAVE!

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YUBO ECO- FRIENDLY LUNCHBOXES

These lunchboxes are FUN!  Made of durable plastic with containers for a sandwich and two smaller for foods such as crackers, cheese, yogurt or raisins.  A great addition was the ice pack made with a fun shape that added to the flair of this interactive lunchbox.  You see… the front inserts could pop out and be interchangeable.  Our little reviewers loved it and Mateo managed to carry it with him almost EVERYWHERE the day of our product photo shoot.  High praise from a first grader!  Check out your smile for yourself!

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BioME5 ECO- FRIENDLY  T-shirts

Ok- I have a small complaint about the bioME5 t-shirts.  They do not come in large adult sizes.  Truly, when the t-shirt arrived at the door I was hoping (fingers crossed kind of hoping) that it would be in my size.  Sadly no.  But my loss will be a great treasure for a child who wears a size 4T.  Check out our model- Frankie- sporting this gorgeous and educational shirt (learn letters and animals)!  And of course, it was very comfortable to wear- according to Frankie (“No scratchy tags”)  Prices vary depending on shirt sleeve lengths and size.  BIG SALE on NOW–  check them out at www.biome5.com

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OFFICE DEPOT I love shopping at OFFICE DEPOT.  Reasonable prices and lots of selection.  Which is good during the Back to School season.  They were kind to send a selection of their  products including the ATIVA 4G USB FLASHDRIVE with exceptional designs.  I loved their green series with trees), GAMER CALCULATOR from Swinton Avenue Trading and PROJECT BACKPACK – a winning design from seventeen year old Jerry Delgado. ( We hope to have him on to ask how he created the winning design).  All very cool and reasonably priced.


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CAROLINA PAD:

Carolina Pad-  You have to LOVE a company that gives back to the community- big time.  These folks make quality products for Girls (and as it happens to be, also guys!) Many of our student reviewers loved their pads, notebooks,  journals and ring binders.  I loved the colors.   We enlisted our older elementary school reviewer,  Sam, to make a great little video about how he wished for a set in GUY COLORS!  Available EVERYWHERE  ( I saw them at  Kmart in a remote town in Upstate New York!)  Their motto for their GIRLS ON THE RUN SERIES: learn. dream. live. run  Go to  www.GirlsontheRun.org to learn about their philanthropic arm of their company. Their products were perfect for the older elementary, middle school or high school student.  (Or adult radio show host)

Roll the video….

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PROTECT- A – BED

I have a son going off to college in a few weeks.  I am really concerned about the integrity of his dorm mattress.  Then in my list of pitches this past Spring came one from PROTECT – A – BED.  I wish I could find a way for all of you to FEEL this mattress protector.  It has parts that are terry cloth and cozy.  Other portions are smooth like silk.  And the fit on the TWIN XL beds was perfect.  Designed to create an anti-allergy sleep zone.  Available at http://www.protectabed.com  $59.99  And the son-he approved!


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PORTA-POCKET

Teens girls who had cell phones and college students with ID cards and bus passes that needed to be “on them” all day and night- were thrilled with PORTA-POCKET.  Another hit with our reviewers! (And nurses who loved the ability for the Porta-Pocket to hold an epi-pen discretely or important ID info- discretely)

The company provided this synopsis: “PortaPocket is a streamlined, lightweight system that keeps small valuables and other essentials ON the body without risk of theft, loss and inconvenience. Versatile as designed for use on thigh, calf, ankle, arm or waist and under/over the clothing. Detachable; interchangeable. Ideal for IDs, cash, cards, keys, cell phones, ipods, small cameras, passports, lipstick, tampons, inhalers, insulin pumps, Epipens, more. Don’t necessarily ditch the separate purse or bag…just don’t put anything you can’t afford to lose in there! Keep your purse/bag for fashion; use portapocket for valuables-safekeeping function.”

See the photo of  this busy mom, who wanted to carry her phone with her to the bus stop without dragging along all her purse items. (And you know that moms often carry the kids backpacks and lunchboxes, too!)

Note that PortaPocket offers peace of mind & convenience for working out, going out, traveling, and everyday. Inexpensive, too. Kits range $8.95 to $24.95 and are available at select retailers, on amazon and at www.portapocket.com And they were “cushy” and comfortable- first hand experience says so!

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CADOOZLES * Z-GRIPS  *REGAL ROLLERBALLS!   WE GOT GREAT WRITING TOOLS HERE!

I must admit that for the past few weeks I have been writing (when I am not typing) with my new fave mechanical pencil – the CADOOZLE.  I also have a really cute Z-Grip Daisies pen in purple!  Then I  recently found this great display with all three products.  And our reviewers- well the girls went nuts for the Z-Grips and the Cadoozles were GONE before I could stop them (yes, I managed to grab one and I had to buy more for our GIVEAWAYS!)  The REGAL ROLLERBALLS were saved for donation.    Go to ZEBRAPEN.com for more info!

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MASTER LOCK!

Who doesn’t have a memory involving their MASTER LOCK.  I used one throughout school for my main locker and gym locker.  And my bike was always secured with a MASTER LOCK.  Now that was back in the “dark ages” before cool styles and colors.  We got to check out two different models.  The Precision Dial and the Speed Dial.  The pitch was as follows: The Precision Dial and Speed Dial let your little student CREATE THEIR OWN PASSWORD (or big students as they’re great for high school and college), making it easy to remember. The Speed Dial also features technology (first of its kind) that opens with directional movement (up, down, left, right) – making it even harder to crack.”

Now this is what our team liked-  if you have a learning challenge- such as Learning Disabilities- the Speed Dial allowed you to remember direction or motion versus a set of numbers.  This was very well received!  I liked the Speed Dial so much that I will reiterate my endorsement during our August 25th show dedicated to products for classrooms and students with exceptional needs.  The Website is easy… www.MasterLock.com


The SPEED DIAL lock which was a favorite!

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TARGUS BACKPACK

OMG- World War III also started when the reviewers found out that this backpack was to be donated to a local middle school and not up for grabs!  They LOVED it.  Here were some words used to describe the TARGUS – CRAVE LAPTOP BACKPACK-

“Cushy”  * “A lot of room for all my stuff”  *  “Straps are really comfortable”  * My large laptop will fit in here – no problem”  * “Outside side-pocket great for dorm swipe key card and my college ID” *  “HUGE!”

Sam liked it too- see this cute promo video that he did as an ad lib!

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There are a few products that will be reserved for future shows other than this weeks July 21st show on Toginet Radio.

Here they are and the date that they will appear:

PROJECT NADINE and Windell Smith Jr. have developed a sensational DVD for advanced ASL learners: Idioms! Do You See What I’m SAying?

HONOR STUDENT MAGAZINE – Inspiring kid and College Scholarship information.  Rick Lyons will be joining me on August 11th.

www.honorstudentmagazine.com

ROSETTA STONE- LANGUAGE SERIES-  Most of our August 18th show will be dedicated to this amazing language learning company.  Lane Sutton- KidCriticUSA will be joining me at the end of the show to announce a few more “must haves” for BACK TO SCHOOL, also!

Texas Instrument TI-NSPIRE CALCULATOR- the newest technologies for high school and college level math.  Great touch screen- amazing capabilities.

How to Pay for College Without Going Broke- by Reecy Aresty  We will chat about this fun and informative book that many parents should read YEARS BEFORE their kids are applying to college.  Available at the author’s website: http://www.paylessforcollege.com/

We will have two copies for GIVEAWAYS!!   Show date will be August 3rd.

August 25th we will be talking to the people who offer the Intel (R) READER.  Brandon Gillespie will be discussing the applications of this amazing piece of technology within regular and special education classrooms.  I must admit- this is a MUST HAVE in my book for every classroom!  Go to http://www.intel.com/about/companyinfo/healthcare/products/reader/index.htm

My Zippy Car (And a dog in the trunk?)

My Zippy Car!

I have earned a reputation of being a blogger who likes to take on challenging or fun educational topics.  Often they are centered on children’s rights and the education of students with learning challenges. But, this blog will stray from the beaten path and be dedicated to my sorta new – ZIPPY car- a 2009 Corolla.

When I turend 50 last year I decided it was time to bequeath our SUV to our son (Who NEEDED a car to get to and from high school each day).  This left me sans wheels so I went on the hunt for my next car.  The only criteria- it had to be “zippy”.  What do I mean by “zippy”?  In my own personal vernacular- “zippy” is the anti- “Mommy Mobile”.  No third row of seats. Closed trunk.  Great stereo.  And cherry red !

I searched for weeks, but kept coming back to the Toyota Corolla.  I test drove the same car three times at a dealership in Ellicott City, Maryland. Ultimately I bought the very car I test drove- which was a relief to the kind manager at the dealership.

Now why am I dedicating an entire blog to my Zippy Corolla?  Simply stated- I love it!  It IS reliable and I don’t fear driving this car for a single minute.  The gas mileage is amazing!  I recently went on a long trip and did not fill up until I arrived- averaging more than 35 miles to the gallon on the highway (Keep in mind the AC was going FULL BLAST!)

There is only one problem with the new car- our dog, Tess.  She is under the impression that this car has a full open hatch, like our SUV.  So, whenever the trunk is open- she jumps in and is ready to go!  See for yourself!

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Oh and by the way, the nice people at TwitterMoms really liked my pitch about my helping out Toyota.  So they would like me to tell y’all this little ditty,

I’m participating in a Toyota/TwitterMoms campaign, which inspired this post. My opinions, thoughts and feelings are my own. As a TwitterMom, I’m eligible for a courtesy gift of $50.

Louise Sattler is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist,
owner of Signing Families™ and host of the HerInsight radio program
Learning and Laughter with Louise! on Toginet Radio

BACK TO SCHOOL BEST PRODUCTS AWARDS 2010! Part One..

I have been so honored to have my own radio show, Learning and Laughter with Louise!  In December, I chose to have a Best Products for Educational Holiday Gifts show. It was very popular and fun!  So, this Summer I am having several shows that spotlight best Back to School Products.  Segments will be broken down in to products that were faves by kids of all ages, teacher faves and some for  special education.  Some of our products fit more than one category.

Here is the first list of products which were approved by my host of  preschool, elementary, middle school and high school (almost college) students.  Keep in mind that some products are for little tots while others are to help survive dorm life at college.  Items will be donated to worthy causes (eg. schools, counselors who work with high risk students, etc.)

Drum roll…. Here is the list (in no certain order)

Master Lock – Master Lock sent to us two sensational locks.  The company sent a great explanation of the two locks: “The Precision Dial and Speed Dial let your little student CREATE THEIR OWN PASSWORD (or big students as they’re great for high school and college), making it easy to remember.

The Speed Dial also features technology (first of its kind) that opens with directional movement (up, down, left, right) – making it even harder to crack. They are all available in fun, bright colors and can make locking up your things fun for your kids. “

We really liked the Speed Dial lock.  It seemed like an excellent product for children with learning challenges as it had directionality as the opening mechanism vs. numbers which can be confusing.  We had preschoolers work the lock and were successful.  Prices vary, but were very reasonable and well worth it. As a special educator I gave it two thumbs up, especially for kids with learning disabilities or other challenges. Available all over- I saw them at TARGET.

YUBO LunchBox! I thought we were going to have WW III over this cool lunchbox!  This box which is pictured with Mateo holding it, has inserts that can be changed on the outside.  The inside has really great containers for sandwich, yogurt, raising, etc.  A cool pack will help keep the product safe to eat until lunch time.  Great for elementary and preschoolers.  The kids loved it and so did I!

Here is the company info and pricing for this terrific and very durable lunch box! YUBO (WWW.GETYUBO.COM) IS THE ECO-FRIENDLY, CUSTOMIZABLE LUNCHBOX WITH INTERCHANGEABLE FACEPLATEs. Although it’s fun for kids, the yubo is also easy for moms as it’s dishwasher-safe, the whole lunchbox comes apart to go into the dishwasher, and BPA-free. The deluxe lunchbox comes with a custom icepack and 3 containers for $29.95.

bioME5

T-shirt I LOVED this shirt.  When it came in a little kids size I almost cried!  Seriously, this was one way too cool t-shirt.  So comfy looking and little Frankie is pictured here making the best of her modeling session.  I liked that Frankie didn’t complain about any  scratchy label or

was uncomfortable.  She liked it so much that her mom asked for the website.  So, I am assuming you all may be curious, too!  Here it is: www.bioME5.com And the company owners couldn’t be nicer.  I like that they are a small biz.  So, go ahead and support this great group!

PortaPocket-  Here is one for the older crowd  (including kids who live in dorms.   PORTA POCKET is a great way to conceal items that need to be kept on you without advertising that you have them.  OR to carry with you comfortably and fashionably. Here is the scoop as sent by the company owner:

“PortaPocket is a streamlined, lightweight system that keeps small valuables and other essentials ON the body without risk of theft, loss and inconvenience. Versatile as designed for use on thigh, calf, ankle, arm or waist and under/over the clothing. Detachable; interchangeable. Ideal for IDs, cash, cards, keys, cell phones, ipods, small cameras, passports, lipstick, tampons, inhalers, insulin pumps, Epipens, more. Don’t necessarily ditch the separate purse or bag…just don’t put anything you can’t afford to lose in there! Keep your purse/bag for fashion; use portapocket for valuables-safekeeping function.”

(I must admit that I liked the idea of carrying your epipen on you without having to bring a long a big purse. I am allergic to bees, and I know that many teens and college students have life threatening allergies or asthma too, so how cool is this that you can carry an epipen or an inhaler concealed without toting so much more.)

See the photo of  this busy mom, who wanted to carry her phone with her to the bus stop without dragging along all her purse items. (And you know that moms often carry the kids backpacks and lunchboxes, too!)

Note that PortaPocket offers peace of mind & convenience for working out, going out, traveling, and everyday. Inexpensive, too. Kits range $8.95 to $24.95 and are available at select retailers, on amazon and at www.portapocket.com And they were “cushy” and comfortable- first hand experience says so!


ERIC CARLE DRAWING KITS from Canson (www.facebook.com/Canson)

I am a HUGE Eric Carle fan.  Always loved the books and was truly grateful to his kindness when he agreed to write our daughter, Natasha, a note to help commemorate her becoming a Bat Mitzvah.  (Actually he sent her a note and a whole pack full of goodies!)

EVERY KID I SHOWED THESE PRODUCTS TO RAN TO OUR DESK AND STARTED DRAWING!   Each pad was made with eco-friendly paper and kids loved the Eric Carle recognizable drawing on the cover.  All sizes for all aged kids.  Here are some smiling photos to prove that these very inexpensive pads are worth the investment.


CRAVE BACKPACK- TARGUS

Now when this backpack with cool pockets and places to hold a laptop and other electonic devices was delivered,  I thought I was going to have mutiny with the guys in my home.  No kidding.  I had to send my husband to TIME OUT, until he remembered to share! All kidding aside, this was VERY POPULAR!!  I am really fussy when it comes to backpacks and so were many of the teen reviewers.  This received 100% approval rating.  Available where backpacks are sold!

We even made a funny FlipCam video with our Signing Families™ model- Sam!  Check it out-


KIOCHIS Feeling Doll.

As a person who has conducted countless hours of  therapy with children, especially with kids who had difficulty with language, this is a great product.  Another winner by our team of panelists!  Each doll (character) has a pocket.  Little “faces” can be inserted in to the pocket which identify feelings such as JEALOUS, HAPPY, SAD,  LEFT OUT… and so on.  Squishy, fun and fabulous!  Or in the words of one of our young reviewers “Cool!”  Check out the photos! (Which have sign language for the feelings in the photos too!)  Buy this very reasonable addition to a classroom or your home on AMAZON.com

BRAVE!

Carolina Pad-  You have to LOVE a company that gives back to the community- big time.  These folks make quality products for Girls (and as it happens to be, also guys!) Many of our student reviewers loved their pads, notebooks,  journals and ring binders.  I loved the colors.  Again- we enlisted Sam, to make a great little video about how he wished for a set in GUY COLORS!  Available EVERYWHERE  ( I saw them at  Kmart in a remote town in Upstate New York!)

We have  lots more to come including Rosetta Stone, Protect-A-Bed for college dorms and your home, tons of  Back to School Items from Office Depot,  The great pens and pencils from Cadoozles (love their stuff, writing with it now!), books galore on saving you money, finding college scholarships, and helping to settle in to college.

Plus, interviews with Kat Eden from Education.com,  Sue Adair from the Goddard School, Brandon Gillespie from the Intel Reader, KidCritic- Lane Sutton, Rich Lynons from Honor Student Magazine and so much more- so remember to tune in to Learning and Laughter with Louise – every WEDNESDAY at 9 am. EST or catch us on itunes!

My Workshop “Arsenal”

I have been conducting workshops to teach about the benefits of American Sign Language (ASL) within classrooms, daycares, hospitals, business, etc.- for some time now.  I fill classrooms, auditoriums and even open air venues with people who are barely taking their first steps to those who are retired from 40+ years in the workforce.

I have taught parents of new babies, people who live and work with children who have exceptional needs and even ex-astronauts.  My company, SIGNING FAMILIES™ truly is dedicated to teaching ANYONE  who has a need or desire to learn ASL or a modified form of this language.

So, what do I BRING to these workshops.  Well, for one – a lot of ENERGY!  Sign language is not something you can learn passively.  Don’t come if you don’t want to be wide-awake during my workshop/seminar.  And for goodness sake- don’t wear a tie!  If you are wearing a tie I am liable to point that out to the dozens of new friends who share your classroom!

I also bring the following “THINGS”-

  1. A BALL. Sometimes I bring a few different size balls to teach how ASL is different than spoken language because a lot of adjectives are made by showing size on your hands.  Adverbs are often demonstrated by showing the intensity of motion with your hands.  Nothing says “ASL grammar lesson” better than a few playground balls!.
  2. BUBBLES.  BUBBLES neutralizes the room.  EVERYONE loves bubbles.  EVERYONE loves watching kids trying to pop the bubbles.  EVERYONE laughs at  me trying to blow the bubbles without making a huge mess!
  3. A  DECK OF CARDS.  I learned to count when I was little from my Grandmother Hannah.  She was a very good card player.  So, when I entered kindergarten and was asked to show my teacher that I could count I did so as Grandma Hannah had taught me -which ended up not being the way others learned.  How was I to know that the order of numbers was not the following: ” …18, 19, 20, BLACKJACK!”?  In reality, a deck of cards is an awesome way to teach numbers in ASL.
  4. PRIZES. I am always amazed at how well 40 year old men and women will learn ASL if they can get prizes from a local dollar store!  Also, these prizes allow me to “sneak” in some learning of new vocabulary.
  5. Anything else fun and interactive.  Recently, I have added these items to my arsenal-  UNO,  KUBit2ME,  KIMOCHI DOLL and SCRABBLE! I also have found that the games, Monopoly , Apples to Apples, Battleship and LIFE can be of great fun and value with smaller crowds!

Now this is what I DO NOT BRING!

  1. High Heels- I want my audience to be comfortable and so I dress comfortably, too, to set the tone.  Not to say that I am not wearing a little heel on my feet (GEEZ I am a “snack size” at 5’2″)
  2. A STORE. I will bring my products and place them on a back table.  At the end of my session I will give them a little “recognition”.  But, my workshops are about LEARNING and not a huge “informercial”.  I don’t appreciate it when people are more invested in the bottom line than they are in education.
  3. A bad attitude.  Do you remember that teacher who made you want to scream … “TIME TO RETIRE!?!”   If after a workshop with me I remind me you  of that person then I will refund your money.  Period.

Now that you heard about my “arsenal” … feel free to contact me to discuss how I can get your family, school, business, hospital or organization using sign language.

What ya waiting for…. I have tons of BUBBLES to bring…. hey- have you heard that SCRABBLE is a good way to learn spelling in ASL?????

Oh… you need the contact scoop!  Here it is….

email me at info@signingfamilies.com

 

TWITTER + CHARITY HATS = A MITZVAH?

In Hebrew there is a word and a concept which I try to bring in to my own personal life on a frequent basis- Mitzvah (or Mitzvot as the plural).  This simply means- doing good deeds, mostly for others.  Why the Hebrew lesson?  Well, Judaism like most religions has a strong element of giving back or as many people call it – charity.  Now what does Judaism, a Hebrew word and  momentrepreneur who wears crazy hats on her Twitter avatar have in common?  ME.

You see I “met” Shara Lawrence- Weiss almost two years ago through social media.  A friend of mine, who happens to be the daughter of our synagogue Cantor was talking to me about this company she liked, MOMMYPERKS.com I checked it out one day and thought that the concept was really pretty groovy (High praise from my 51 year old self).  Anyway, I struck up a rather great relationship with Shara as we had a lot in common.  We even teamed up together and created a few sign language products, too! (Including our upcoming Australian Sign Language series!)

Now if you learn only one thing in this blog about Shara it is this- she will do just about anything to help children and families in need.  She also is an avid guru of social media. ( I know that is really TWO THINGS!)  Anyway, when she Tweets she tends to swap “hats” that are on her photo/avatar.  She might photo shop a large Cinnabon after her tour of the company or a diaper to promote “National Potty Training Week”.  So, one day I suggested to Shara that since she is always swapping hats she should promote different companies by photographing herself wearing their hat with the company logo.  The one condition would be that each company would have to make a charitable donation and let her post who received the contribution.  She agreed without hesitation.  I sent her the first hat and made a little donation to a great new organization, PROJECT NADINE. Then Shara started to get lots more requests to wear her company hat with the donations being very generous.  A mitzvah is born!

So, if you want to learn how you too can make a “mitzvah” by having Shara wear one of your company logo hats in return for a charitable contribution contact her at Shara@PersonalChildStories.com (Personal Child Stories is her second company!)

To read the article about her Twitter Hats- go here:  http://www.mommyperks.com/vip/?p=5798

Learn more about Project NADINE at http://www.ProjectNadine.org

Are You on a Trip to Holland?

Once again I have been asked by several people to repost this article.  If it helps one parent get through the tough times of having an unexpected premature baby, a child with special needs or another tough circumstance then it is worth the few minutes for me to post.

Here it is from the Early Childhood News website offered by MommyPerks.com.  I have updated the ending a bit from the original post.

Are you on a “Trip to Holland?”

The poem written by Emily Perl Kingsley was cut out and pasted on refrigerator from February of 1992 until we moved to a new home in 1995. It was titled, “ Welcome to Holland”. In essence, it was a snapshot of what it is like to being unprepared when you give birth to a child who has challenges, such as medical or cognitive disabilities.

There is one section of the poem that I read over and over again, “After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.”

My husband and I wanted to go to Italy and ended up in Holland on February 7, 1992. I should have known that our trip to second time parenthood would be bumpy as we were told that our second born was to be a girl. “Two girls, so nice”, my OB-GYN told me. Guess what, we had the first boy born in 28 years in my family when he arrived via emergency c-section. Not breathing right. Sugar too low, heartbeat too high. I could already feel the “plane veer” off course.

Days later we were allowed to go home only to notice that our little “fella” was turning the color of a Sunkist orange. Not good. Not good at all. Rushed back to the hospital to be told it was simple “jaundice”. Nope, nothing in the child’s life would be simple, I found out. Days go on and before the first actual tulip bloomed that year we were in intensive care with our young guy. Jaundice ended up to be a “liver problem” – not yet determined, but possibly very serious and could lead to severe retardation. Respiratory syncytial virus/ RSV nearly claimed his life. Reflux choked him every third breath. Our nightmare continued. You know you have a very sick baby when you can’t find room in the isolated PICU suite because of the number of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists working with your child to keep him alive. You also know your baby is very ill when the nurses come and ask you questions such as, ‘Is there anyone we can call for you?” Does God have a hotline, I wonder?

For any new parent who has a baby you know this is the worst part of the scenario- waiting. You wait to see if the tests are positive for illnesses that are unimaginable. You wait to see if the insurance will cover the rare and complicated blood work, machines that are helping your child stay alive or special therapy sessions ordered. You wait to see if you will ever have a “normal” life again for yourself, your family, your work, etc. Will your child walk, talk, eat normally, have friends, etc.? You begin truly HATE Holland.

Then little by little the waiting ends. Test results come back. Therapies begin. Hospitalizations end and you go home. But, for many of us, this is when you start a new journey in to the realm of Special Education. Here is the most ironic part of this story and the reason I am writing it for this blog. I am a special educator. I am a full fledge, certified School Psychologist that is trained with helping parents and children with special needs. All my training flies out the window as my mind is trying to process the months of evaluations, reports and recommendations from specialists. Ironic indeed. I have now changed teams! Instead of being the intervention specialist I now am the one calling our local school district asking for help from the Early Intervention Team! And I am so grateful when they appear at my door. But, I still have problems with paperwork and understanding all the information. How can this be? I do this job everyday and I am still wading through it because my head is so full of grief and confusion. The team helps me. Everyday gets a little better. Clarity arrives with every meeting or visit from a team member. Family members come on board to help. We get it through it.

Now fast- forward, our son improves with therapy as he starts to talk, walk (actually run) and become quite sociable. He has more hospital visits but he is deemed fairly healthy. His liver has a benign disorder and we are told that he shouldn’t go without food or enter in to the military. We can live with those two stipulations to have a benign liver disorder vs. the alternatives.

I also become a much better psychologist. Often I went to our refrigerator and I read Welcome to Holland. As I do I imagine my own fears, but also the see the faces and hear the sad, confused and sometimes hopeful voices of countless parents and children I have worked with in the past. I am a better person because I stopped in Holland than Italy.

As for the little “fella”, he is off to Michigan State University in the Fall.  He wants to help others by joining law enforcement as a forensic criminologist.   He has had his challenges, but nothing we couldn’t handle thanks to the help of caring teachers, healthcare professionals and family.

And guess where he suggested we go on summer vacation this year? Holland. And what teams does he predict will win the FIFA World Cup- you guessed it… The Netherlands!  Well, I’ll be!!

Follow-Up... It has been a YEAR since I wrote this original post and have received notes from many parents who thanked me for sharing our journey and giving hope to theirs.  As for the “little fella”- well he has excelled beyond out wildest dreams at Michigan State University- with acceptance in to the honors college and dorm.  He is an amazing kid and still remains to this day my hero…

Second Follow-Up … My son is now a junior and living the average life of a college aged student.  The fact that I typed AVERAGE makes my heart sing, as for many  this is the bar which to aim and one during his earlier years that we weren’t sure would ever be attained.  An interesting twist happened a year ago… my son was so touched that I wrote this blog that he tried to connect with Emily Kinglsley, the author of A TRIP TO HOLLAND.    Unfortunately his attempts were unsuccessful  which made his Mother’s Day gift a bit of a disappointment for him.  However, knowing that he tried was present enough for ME!  I grow prouder and prouder of both of my children on a daily basis as they are kind and generous people who are doing the world of good for “tourism” in Holland.  XO to all parents with children that are the tulips of generations to come.

The author and her son when he was only 5 months old. Keep in mind we are at the beach, hence the “bad hair day!”

The premature “baby”, Seth, on his HS graduation day, 2010!

Guess Who Is Coming to Dinner?

Today’s Learning and Laughter with Louise show was dedicated to the question I usually ask my guests –  “Imagine you could have a dinner party and invite anyone from historical or contemporary times- Which people would YOU invite?”
Here is the list we chatted about (and I am sure that Ieft a few out…. but here is the majority of the list).  Thanks for Wendy Young, Blythe Lipman, Sharon Silver, Mary Beth Wells, Beth Engleman, Brenda Nixon, Nina Frye, Jill Martin (station engineer), and many Facebook fans for chiming in!
In no special order:
Ellen DeGeneres (mentioned by loads of people) And Sharon Silver actually had met her!
George Clooney (Eye candy, activist, supporter of Darfur, etc.  AND another favorite of most guests)
The Kennedy Family WOMEN! Especially Eunice Shriver who started Special Olympics.
Mother Teresa–   For her undying love and care to others.
Princess Diana- How did she manage it all in such a public forum?
Anderson Cooper–   What is the story behind the man who tells the stories of our world?  How does he do it all?  (and then add Ryan Seacrest in the uber time management category)
Julia Childs, Martha Stewart and Paul Dean. All great women entrepreneurs who also are super cooks!
Erma Bombeck for laughs and motherly wisdom
George Washington- Tell us Mr. First President the REAL history of our country!
Al Capone–  We asked-  ” Where is the MONEY!  Help poor Geraldo he is devastated still that there was NO MONEY in the vault!”
Anne Frank–  How interesting would she be to recount her life
Elie Wiesel – another Holocaust survivor and an outstanding orator.
The Psychology Trio-  Sigmund Freud,  Karl Jung and T. Berry Brazleton   (We really want to have a heart to heart with Freud!)
Barbara Jordan – The late congress woman from Texas. (And other women who were political trailblazers!)
Sarah MacLahlan– The catalyst for the empowering Lilith Fair
Stacey Kannenberg- How to start a media network!
Sidney Poitier- How he broke barriers in Hollywood
Julia Roberts–    Keeping it together with family in the public Hollywood spotlight
Kelly Ripa–      How do you do it all, especially putting up with Regis!  (THANKS to the Jill Hickey- Not So Soccer Mom for this entry!)
Gandhi
Moses
And all four of the Obamas!!
I know I forgot some of the people mentioned.  Feel free to continue the list here!
Now who would be sitting at your table breaking bread with YOU??
Thanks for reading!  ~Louise

Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) and More!

Did you know that the United States, England and Australia all have different sign language systems?  Yep, you are reading this correctly… despite all of these countries using English as their “native” spoken tongue, their sign language systems are all different.  Tell me more, you ask!?  All of the countries have similar signs that are gestural, such as for DRINK.  However, the alphabet and numbers are all completely different.  England uses a two handed system which frankly I find difficult.  (What happens if you are carrying a package and need to ask someone to “ring you up on the phone”?)

ASL (American Sign Language) was brought over to this country from France.  It has undergone some drastic changes, but structurally the grammar is very akin to French.  Which is why students of the French language often do well learning ASL.  I also believe this is why the Brits don’t use ASL.  They will allow French wine and pastries in to the United Kingdom but never a sign language system that was rooted in France. Now if you are British don’t get angry, I am not hear to chose sides, but really- a two handed alphabet?  You could have chosen ANOTHER one handed alphabet!

Now what about the Australians… Recently I was asked by Shara Lawrence – Weiss from Personalchildstories.com (PCS)  to send some of our joint Signing Families and PCS products to Australia. In particular our educator series for preschoolers (I Can Count to Ten in ASL, English and Spanish and the Trilingual chart for the prompts I WANT and I FEEL).  I asked Shara what American School in Australia wanted our products and she replied that it was for an Australian school.  Hold the presses!  That won’t fly Orville!  So, I had to explain the whole story about ASL  not having much in  common with UK sign systems, including the ones across the Pacific Pond.  But, don’t fear we can do this I thought.  So, this week PCS and Signing Families are making by request Australian Sign Language counting books and language charts.  We will take new photos and develop at least one new chart for teachers of the deaf and preschoolers to use in their Australian classrooms.  Who knew that one simple request could start a whole new series of products and workshops for us!

At the bottom of this post is my attempt to show some basic Australian Sign (AUSLAN).  Enjoy and please ignore my ‘I am exhausted look’- the World Cup has taken over my life and watching on FIOS demand has been exhausting, albeit fun.

Now for Father’s Day.  As you know, this Sunday is Father’s Day here in the US.  Many people get all mushy around Father’s Day, I sometimes do, too.  My father died twenty years ago and I wish now that I had made a bigger fuss on Father’s Day then we did.  He was a great communicator, educator and in his own way, comedian.  He loved kids and life, in general.  The last June weekend of every year is dedicated in his memory by our family.  You see this is wheni my brothers, myself and our families  converge on little  Wellsville, New York all at once.  This hamlet of a town is where our Dad was Superintendent of schools for more than 15 years and our task  each year on this weekend is to give a college scholarship to one deserving Wellsville High School graduate.  We never give the award to the best or the brightest.  We always try to find a student who exemplifies hard work and determination against all odds. For some, this scholarship makes the difference between attending school or not.  And each year we are full to the brim with pride as one of Stan Masin’s grandchildren now gets the opportunity to stand in front of a thousand or more people to announce the recipient of the scholarship in his memory.   So, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s in the world who help teach their children great values  such as how it is so much better to give than ever to receive.

Enjoy the YouTube Video of AUSLAN.

Let’s Learn some ASL signs for SUMMER VACATION and MORE!

Hello Everyone!

It has been crazy here in the Sattler household.  Summertime always means a bit of unscheduled free time which is fun, but a bit tricky as I work out of a home office.  Yet, I have “employed” the son to help out during the summer, so don’t be surprised if you read a blog penned by him sometime soon!

I wanted to update you on a number of great happenings. Let us first revisit some of our former guests.

Alison Rhodes, The SAFETY MOM, will be hitting the road with five kids in tow to go visit Hershey Park and all the great sites in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Read about her trip here on her super blog: http://thesafetymom.wordpress.com/

Candi Wingate from Nannies4Hire.com and Care4Hire.com sent me lots of updates!  Her update is here :  Candi’s update! http://wp.me/PSDlj-68

Traci Bisson also contacted me to tell us of great stuff that is happening with her Mom Entrepreneur Group.  Check it out!

www.supportgroup.themomentrepreneur.com The Mom Entrepreneur Online Support Group offers tips, advice and resources for balancing motherhood and running a company. Join for free to network and promote your business!

Annie Fox (www.AnnieFox.com) has started a very important program– Cruel is NOT Cool! This anti-bullying campaign is unfortunately needed all over the country.  She has inspired me to “hop on board” and I hope others will, too!

Shara Lawrence-Weiss has begun a new website that is for KIDS!  www.KidsPerks.com is full of  activities for kids to participate in safely and free!  Go to www.kidperks.com and check it out yourself!

More updates to follow in future blog posts!

Next, I finished the first ASL lesson for Summertime signs.  Here it is off of YouTube:

NEXT: Had a great show today about going GREEK on a college campus!  What are the POSITIVE aspects of being in a sorority or fraternity, I asked?  I was fortunate to have as one of my guests today, Nicki Meneley from the National Panhellenic Conference (http://www.thesororitylife.com ).  We chatted about some very interesting aspects and facts regarding GREEK life.  For example, more than 26 sororities exist in the US with thousands of chapters all over the country.  The deepest concentration, due to population is EAST of the Mississippi River, California and Arizona.  Greek life includes many famous names including – First Lady Laura Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Katie Couric and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  ALL the sororities in the US and Canada have a philanthropic arm to their organizations. (Personally, this is one of my fave facts!)

I was then joined by Robin Rettstattt O’Hearn and Carmen Sancez Wright.  Together we discussed our experiences as members/ sisters  at the U of Delaware – Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority.  We recalled all of the fun (and safe) activities that we participated in, including being the winners of the GREEK GAMES!! (How many people can you stuff in to a VW Bug??)

Fast forward and Carmen and Robin both now work full time for organizations that require leadership, creativity and thinking “out of the box”.  We all agreed that many skills needed in the work world were honed during our sorority days.  And Carmen was quick to add that she was not surprised that my gift to “gab” would translate in to becoming a talk show host!  Many of us recently got together to reunite after twenty plus years.  Here is a photo of that fun day in cold January!

On another note: I am looking for a few more people who want to call in to answer the burning question ” Who would you invite to dinner with you from history or current times?”  This will be the topic of my Learning and Laughter with Louise show on Wed, June 16th.  Feel free to comment here who would be joining you.   Here is some indication of who I picked :

GUESS WHAT!   We have had a lot of changes with our Signing Families™ company.  The first set of changes is that Hilary Bilbrey,  Alison Rhodes and myself are teaming together to offer safety products and services for organizations worldwide.  If you know of anyone who you feel would benefit from my Sign Language for Emergency Situations materials, Hilary’s Brecker Bunny Lesson books about fire and burn safety or Alison’s safety consultations please let us know.  Our audience we believe are  rescuers, educators,  healthcare education specialists, trauma team members. Please feel free to give my email to those you feel could benefit from learning about us : Louise@SigningFamilies.com

Our website now has two new LINKS to help large groups obtain our services and products.  The ORGANIZATIONS and EDUCATORS links have been added.  Our Educators link includes deep discounts for schools,  homeschool family and other organizations that provided educational services.

The ORGANIZATION link is generic and for large orders.  This would be where groups serving the special education community, scouts, or places of worship would like to go.

Lastly, this week is my hubby, Marc’s Birthday and the start of the WORLD CUP SOCCER GAMES (Futbol!!) http://www.fifa.com/ I need to tell you that the best gift I could give my hubby is for him to spend a day inside lying on the couch with a plate full of nachos, some beer and our HD TV playing the World Cup games ALL DAY!  WE ARE SERIOUS SOCCER FANS!  Make no mistake we have the books, charts of the teams to follow all the games, eliminations and players.  We will be only a few of what has been cited as “Tens of Billions” of people watching these games. More than the Olympics.  More than the Super Bowl (way more, actually).  More than the wedding of  Princess Diana and Prince Charles.  We are talking the Grand daddy of all televised events.  Don’t bother to call our house.  We will be too busy glued to the TV set.  Although there is ONE exception- hubby had only one request for his big day – a burger from FIVE GUYS .  DONE!!  So, if you are looking for me on Sunday I will be either watching the WC with the family or on line at FIVE GUYS!!   Enjoy the photos below (one of Seth and I playing Tourist in our own “backyard” this week – Washington DC)

The Birthday "Man" with Seth getting ready for graduation two weeks ago!

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