Monthly Archives: April 2015

Coffee and Tea Drinkers – A Contrast

Often, I go to coffee shops to write.  Today as I sit in one of my favorite coffee shops, I ponder the difference between coffee and tea drinkers.  I offer my thoughts on the subject.

From my experience coffee drinkers can’t start their day without their morning cuppa Joe. For some, it’s a whole pot of coffee! There are rules one must abide by when interacting with a coffee drinker. Most importantly, one must not try to have meaningful conversation with a coffee drinker until after the first cup. Another rule is that for true coffee connoisseurs, only the personal favorite brand, brewing method, temperature, etc. is allowable. Some lightweight coffee drinkers will only drink the brew in the morning to get them going or as a social drink later on. Many coffee participants have to be careful about the caffeine content and so will go to decaf later in the day. To serious coffee drinkers, this is unacceptable! Coffee without caffeine is not true coffee and should not be tolerated by any trained coffee lover. Pity the poor soul who thinks this is an acceptable option.

On the other hand, tea drinkers drink tea in the mornings mainly for the soothing flow of hot flavored liquid felt as it goes down the throat all the way to the stomach. It’s not so much of a caffeine thing as it is habitual comfort. A serious tea drinker can be just as much a snob about particular teas and brewing methods as a coffee drinker. The morning coffee rule does not apply to tea drinkers. You may talk to them whenever you want. Serious tea drinkers are more open to non caffeine alternatives than coffee drinkers because the primary reason for the tea is the comfort of the tea flow through the body. Herbal teas are an acquired taste, but are acceptable as a late night option or the only option for those staying away from caffeine.

There is a third group of conflicted souls. These are the coffee/ tea drinkers. They clearly love coffee and need it in the morning, but because of the caffeine sensitivity thing, and knowing the decaf is not an option, they have adapted to tea later in the day. I admire these people the most. They have made the switch the other side instead of settling for an inferior product. Bravo!

I probably should acknowledge a fourth group of people who actually like coffee and tea equally.  These are people who make good friends. They are usually very agreeable and get along with most everyone.

To coffee and tea lovers everywhere – enjoy!

Geography Day

Geography Day – When Geography Comes Alive

The school I taught at for the last fifteen years wanted to make geography more meaningful for our students.  We came up with the idea of doing a Geography Day to highlight different places in the world.

The elementary grades have a continent they focus on throughout the year, but for Geography Day each year we focus on a particular aspect. Then we get parent help to come up with ideas for presentations and room decorations.  On Geography Day, the students come dressed in traveling type clothes and are given school passports complete with their names and pictures, and travel with their class to each elementary room to learn about the particular continents.

As an example, one year we concentrated on animals common to each continent.  Each grade asked for parent volunteers.  Some parents had ideas on how to decorate the classroom to represent the theme, and some parents had ideas of lessons they wanted to teach each class as it came to visit on Geography day. The students of each class completed a project for involvement.

The fourth grade class learns about Europe in connection with their history, so for the animal focus each student made a poster about an animal from a European country of their choice. These reports were displayed around the room. The parents came up with the animals they wanted as a focus and made a slide show about these animals.  They decorated the room with life-size paper mâché animals. Some of these animals were on mountains the parents created with classroom desks and a lot of butcher paper.


When each class came through for the presentation, they learned about the different animals, got to read the class reports, got to pet a real hedgehog, and were given a bookmark about European animals. The other elementary grades did something similar. There were many  real animals in the school that day.  The parents had fun being creative and resourceful.

Other themes we have done besides animals are dances from each continent, musical instruments, geological  features, and specialty foods.  Recently our high school sophomore Geography class has joined us for

Geography Day by giving presentations.  It’s a fun day that the students anticipate every year.

I would love to  hear from anyone with other success stories  for making Geography come alive.  Also, please feel free to ask further questions on creating a Geography Day.







Palouse Falls


I stopped at Palouse Falls the other day on the way back from doing some out-of-town consulting.   It’s such a beautiful and unexpected place south of Ritzville, Washington, hidden among wheat fields and cattle ranches.

I remember the first time I drove to Palouse Falls State Park. I wasn’t sure what to expect even though I’d seen a few pictures. I followed rural roads for miles and hadn’t seen any water. The terrain was a little hilly, but there were no hills big enough for a huge water fall.

I drove down the last narrow road into the park and heard the roaring water before I saw anything.  It didn’t take long to realize I was at the edge of a canyon, and the water falls were in sight within a few feet.  It amazed me to know I had lived in Spokane for years and hadn’t heard much about the falls.

It’s a beautiful hidden gem of a state park with a half mile of scenic trails to explore. The Palouse River is the source for the falls which then drop 198 feet into a canyon eventually emptying downstream into the Snake River. The scenery of the magnificent canyon walls is simply breathtaking. There is a nice picnic area, bird watching, and wildlife viewing to enjoy while there.

My recent trip down the empty rural roads once again rewarded me with the sounds of rushing water, stunning falls, and spectacular scenic canyon walls. I need to stay longer next time with a picnic lunch to savor the natural beauty. Hopefully, I can make this a yearly outing.

Do you have beautiful back road gems where you live?

How to Create Memorable Content

Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms

On Tuesdays for a while, I will post teaching tips on how to make create memories and make history and other subjects come alive for your students.

A few weeks ago I was consulting for a small school, and I asked the teachers what they were doing to make the year memorable. I gave the example of a project one teacher had just completed on Shakespeare. I saw a few pictures of the event on Facebook, and those pictures demonstrated excitement and the joy of learning in the eyes of the students.

As educators we want to create a lifelong love of learning in our students. We can help nurture that love by taking different subjects and creating fun memories for them. In a school setting, the students can look forward to the special projects established for each grade.. For the home school setting, you and your children can come up with special projects as you plan out each school year.

For example, when I taught 4th grade, the students coming in would look forward to the Medieval Banquet, the Wax Museum, making gingerbread cathedrals, and creating salt dough maps of Europe. I would make sure the younger classes in the school would be exposed to our projects to create an anticipation for 4th grade. As much as possible, I let the older grades see our projects because they had a great time reminiscing about their experiences doing the projects.

Come back to this website on Tuesdays for Teaching Tip Tuesday or sign up on email for specific project ideas and instruction. Next week, I’ll be talking about having a special Geography Day to expose the students to different countries and cultures.