Saturday, December 5, 2015

Packing Supplies needed to Move

The great article migration continues. Helium is now a distant memory and still hundreds of previously published articles continue to languish in obscurity as life continually finds a way to interrupt my attempts at regular blog posting. (Gotta follow the paycheck...)

Moving is stressful; the need for it often comes at an inconvenient time, and even when the move is a desired one (such as after the purchase of a house), there are so many details to attend to that it can be overwhelming.

The article below, originally published on July 29, 2013, as "Packing supplies needed for a move," will help you plan an organized move so that things can go as smoothly as possible.

Few things are more tedious than packing to move. Having the right supplies on hand can help make the difference between things going smoothly and feeling like things are out of control. You can save yourself a lot of headaches and frustration by assembling and organizing everything you need ahead of time.

Hopefully, when it is time to relocate you will have enough notice so that you can plan the move and gather all of your packing supplies a week or two ahead of time. Moving supplies are pretty basic; something to contain your belongings, something to protect delicate items that could get broken and something to seal the containers you cart your belongings in.

Determining what specific packing supplies you will need for your move will depend on what items you need to transport, how many items, how fragile they are and how far you will be traveling for the move. For instance, packing needs for a handful of odd plates, bowls and cups for a bachelor or college student are quite different than for someone who needs to pack up a matched set of dishes with service for eight.

Short moves can be accomplished mostly with whatever is on hand for carting things, while relocating to a new city requires sturdy cartons or lidded storage containers. Boxes can be obtained for free by asking at the nearest supermarket or you can purchase them from a company like U-haul or a storage facility.

The advantage of purchased boxes is that they are sized specifically to accommodate the household items most people need to pack. Being able to leave clothing hanging by removing it from your closet and placing it directly into a wardrobe box is a huge benefit. Clothes stay neat and organized in their portable cabinet and can be put away with ease once you reach your new home.

Items that will be placed into storage will need to be completely sealed in cartons or containers that can protect the contents from moisture and pests, especially if the boxes or bins will not be kept in a climate controlled area. Packaging tape for sealing boxes can be obtained at some drugstores, office supply stores and even the post office.

Moving is often a time to purge items that are no longer needed such as clothing and papers, but these items can also serve as packing materials. Clothing can be used to wrap glass, dishes and other delicate items that could get broken during a move. Old newspaper can be used to wrap glass or you can use junk mail, bills and other unwanted paper, it can be shredded and used in boxes in place of packing peanuts.

Additional, optional packing supplies for a move include bubble wrap, twine, rubber bands, plastic bags, cling wrap and a permanent marker or sharpie. Cling wrap can be used to contain items like books or CDs on their shelves/racks so that they do not have to be removed and packed into boxes or bins. This is especially helpful for short distance moves where items are not likely to move around a lot in transport.

Whether relocating just across town or moving completely across country, nothing is more frustrating than arriving at your new home and not being able to find anything. Always number your boxes and make a list of the general contents of each and, when assembling packing supplies for a move, always get extra.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Education Topics: Subjects To Enhance Students' Lives

For a brief period, I had a blog titled Engaging Kids, Enriching Lives. I was teaching enrichment classes at a charter school at the time and contributing education articles to Helium. I started the blog to address some of the issues I saw in and out of the classroom and with the education system in general.

After a while I decided to delete the blog. Too many blogs, too little time; also, I had the platform for publishing at Helium (little did I know how soon that would end...), and I was no longer in the classroom. Some of the same topics are still relevant for me, though I don't get to spend as much time on those subjects anymore.

Engagement is still important, and I hope I am still enriching young lives in my role as a docent at the Ogden Museum, where I've been leading tours for school children since 2007. The arts are a great way to engage children and get them interested and involved in learning. The article below addresses some of the ways in which to do so.

Originally published on as "What subjects should be taught to children as enhancements to their lives," in April 2009.

Enhancing Children through Education

Holding the attention of today's children long and well enough to keep them not only interested in a particular subject but excited about learning is a tremendous challenge. Traditional education is basically a low-tech endeavor that hardly competes with the modern multi-media excitement of Wii, X-boxes, Playstations and the like.

It is indisputable that every child needs to learn to read and write and to be able to perform basic arithmetic in order to effectively communicate with others and to function in the adult world, as well as be able to hold a job when they grow up. This is only part of the picture however; it is also important for schools to incorporate enrichment and character education.

A Kinder Classroom

When teachers spend the majority of their time managing behavior there is very little learning taking place. Students have to be able to sit for extended periods, pay attention and be good neighbors to their classmates. They need to learn the concepts of teamwork and sportsmanship and to develop speaking and social skills and they need these concepts continually reinforced beyond the limits of what little of these is provided through their scant physical education classes.

Children need to be taught about responsibility and respect and forgiveness. While many may feel this is the job of parents, the reality of the situation is that today's kids spend the major part of their waking hours at school under the influence of teachers, administrators and most of all, their peers. The use of non-competitive games and cooperatives such as the ones found in Bernie Badegruber's "101 Life Skills Games for Children" can be incorporated into classroom routines to help to encourage emotional maturity and further develop skills of observation and concentration, while reducing aggression and encouraging social awareness.

Looking at Education Another Way

While subjects like Social Studies provide a broad concept of history and social systems they do little toward teaching children to honor diversity and appreciate the differences between themselves and other members of their community. Schools that provide Spanish or French language instruction at the elementary level also include culturally relevant lesson plans that address aspects of the cultures that those languages come from but these programs usually reflect the cultural makeup of the cities in which they are used and are not necessarily wide spread.

Schools, teachers and even parents are aware of the deficits within their educational programs but are not always in a position to address them. Fortunately, there are a number of resources on the web to assist teachers in supplementing their out of date textbooks with creative approaches to augment the classroom experience. One of those resources is Edutopia.

The George Lucas Foundation established Edutopia ( to address the challenges of learning and educating in today's world of continual technological advances, where in many instances, students who are barely literate have to hurry and catch up with the digital age in order to be able to be competitive when they enter the workplace. They have provided a forum for educators to share and distribute information with each other via an assortment of media. The core concepts of Edutopia are Project Learning, Social and Emotional Learning, Technology Integration, Teacher Development, Comprehensive Assessment and Integrated Studies. Teachers all across the United States are posting information and learning how to use hands on projects and other methods to enhance their classroom lessons.

In order for students to be well rounded and develop into creative, critical thinkers they need to be exposed to a variety of interesting and stimulating activities that cause them to ask "what are we doing next?" Project based and experiential learning lesson plans provide the approach while specific programs to provide enrichment classes to students provide the means.

The Arts

Just as Liberal Arts contribute to the well-rounded adult student, supplementing the basic subjects in elementary education with electives and extended day enrichment classes offers a vital opportunity to shape young minds early on and foster interest in learning and scholarly habits. These classes allow for the introduction of important concepts that the traditional lesson plans don't leave room for.
It is extremely important for students to participate in and develop an appreciation for what the arts disciplines have to offer. Even if they never become dancers, painters or musicians there is much they can learn that will later come in handy in the adult world that will be applicable to social settings as well as the work world. Developing this appreciation also helps insure the future of the arts for other generations.

The documentary film "Mad Hot Ballroom" is a great example of how partnered social dance has been used in schools to improve self-esteem, manners, communication and consideration for others resulting in fewer discipline problems. Children love music and they absolutely love to dance and once they get past the issue of having to touch a boy/girl and potentially looking silly they completely embrace Salsa, Merengue, Tango and Swing. The also enjoy teaching it to other students, and performing and showing what they have learned to their parents.

Extended day enrichment classes not only provide a better alternative to aftercare and late pickup the use of nontraditional approaches like Hip Hop classes that foster the appreciation for poetry and ethnic dance classes for African and Brazlian forms add an additional cultural element while allowing students to get up an move, which is a plus after they have spent the better part of their day confined to a desk. Classes like yoga promote calmness and good posture while encouraging students toward healthy lifestyles. Schools with garden programs have found that children love to watch things grow as well as prepare their own foods and have connected this interest to science and math curriculums.
Education is a challenging enterprise that can also be deeply gratifying. No matter what changes take place in the world around us some things are constant: children learn best when they are fully engaged in what is happening.