How To Make A DIY Autumn Leaf Candle Holder

Decoupage Real Leaves on Glass Containers

You will want to find a corner to display these pretty autumn candle holders all year long. But first, let them be the star of your Thanksgiving table. They are really easy to make, and the effect is quite stunning.

Real leaves are decoupaged onto glass containers.  Use Mason jars or purchase inexpensive glass containers.

Be sure to dry the leaves first. Press them between heavy books or newspapers weighted down for at least a week or more depending on how moist they still are when you find them. Then use Modgepodge to apply them to your container.

They look pretty as they are, but I decided to give mine a frosty look with “Pixie Dust”, or iridescent glitter.


Here’s what you will need to make a DIY autumn leaf candle holder

  1. Glass container
  2. Pretty autumn leaves, press-dried
  3. Modgepodge
  4. Sponge applicator
  5. Elmer’s clear-drying glue
  6. Iridescent glitter
  7. Small paintbrush

Clean and dry the glass container. Modgepodge the dried leaves on them. Allow to dry. Make a wash of one part water to one part Elbers glue. Working in sections, paint the glue wash over the container and sprinkle with the glitter. Add a candle and light it to watch the frosty leaves sparkle.

Gone Peopling: An Environmental Poem

The poem, Gone Peopling, is a twist on going fishing. Instead of the people going to fish, the fish have gone peopling. The first characters are Homer J. Fish and his son Tommy. Homer is in a big hurry, breaking the speed limit and failing to conserve fuel. He and his son litter the land  and don’t practice ecologically friendly fishing. Then one fine “peopling day” circumstances bring Homer and Tommy together with the second characters.  A neighbor, Solomon D. Salmon and his son Ray, end up peopling at Homer’s favorite peopling spot. Homer and Tommy learn a thing or two about environmental issues from Solomon and Ray.


Homer J. Fish jumped out of bed.

“What a great day for peopling!” he said.

Down the hall ran Homer Jay

To  knock on Tommy’s door.

“Wake up Tommy!

Fins on the floor!

You get the peopling poles

I’ll get the bait.

Let’s hurry! Let’s go!

The tide won’t wait.”

Tommy grabbed the poles

While Dad got bait.

Pizza,pickles,cold lunch meat

Yucky stuff only people would eat.

“Oh! And don’t forget

To grab a big net,”

Said Homer Jay

On this fine peopling day.

They ran out the door

And hooked up the boat.

They left so fast

All Mom got was a note.

Down the stream and across the way

Solomon D. Salmon and his son Ray

Had the same idea

Of what to do on that day.

“Let’s make a plan,” said Solomon D.

And fish the right way.

We’ll be sure to get

Our best people hooks.

We don’t want to catch

A whole bunch of crooks.”

Ray and Solomon kissed Mom good-bye

And drove slowly down the stream.

Carefully packed, proper gear in tact

They made  a really great team.

Around the curve at seventy-eight

Still trying not to be late

Homer J. Fish and Tommy

Sped right past Solomon and Ray.

Rudely beeping the horn

Yelling “out of our way!”

And flying through the water came

Empty worm wrappers and plankton cans

Tossed carelessly out the window

And thrown upon the land.

“I really don’t know why

That fish has to fly,”

Said Solomon D. Salmon to his son Ray.

“It’s really not cool.

He needs to slow down

And stop being a fool.”

Then out of the blue, siren blasting

The Jet Stream Patrol whizzed by.

A shark cop motioned for Homer to stop

And poor Tommy started to cry.

Over a hill and around the bend

Solomon and Ray came to water’s end.

But across the land they could see

People that didn’t look well.

“Dear me,” said Solomon

“It’s not hard to tell.”

“What happened here?” asked his son Ray.

“A fish factory at the bottom of the bay

Has leaked pluto to the top of the sea.

It’s affected the people, I’m sad to say.”

Solomon and Ray drove to find fresher land

And soon found a spot of beautiful sand.

They got out their poles

And good people hooks

And hoped to catch people

With good healthy looks.

Just then Homer J. and Tommy

Arriving much later than planned

Put in their boat to people

Upon their favorite spot of land.

“Hello ,and just who are you?

Are you going to be peopling here too?”

Solomon D. began to explain.

“We tried to people up further ahead

But if they don’t fix that fish factory

Those poor people might soon be dead!”

“I didn’t know that,” Homer said.

“I come here a lot.

I always go peopling

In my favorite spot.”

“That’s not very good,” said Solomon D.

“You might deplete this spot, you see.”

But before Homer could answer back

He hauled in a small

Freckled face red-haired boy

Who was not very tall.

“Put him back!” Solomon said

“That little boy needs to grow.

He’s really too little

And not enough to eat you know.”

So out came Homer’s big fishing net.

“I’ll get me some people yet!”

“Don’t do that!” Solomon said.

“If you deplete their kind

Then they will all be

Much too hard to find.

And more than that

There is another reason

This kind of people

Are all out of season.”

Solomon talked and talked some more.

Homer learned things he didn’t know before.

And so on that beautiful peopling day

Solomon D Salmon and his son Ray

Taught their new friends a better way.

Homer drove home at a slower pace.

He had learned life was not a race.

Homer and Solomon formed a pact.

They made that fish factory

Clean up their act.

And when Homer J Fish

Goes peopling today

He makes sure he does so

The proper way.


Tide Pods Container Crafts: Make a Halloween Luminaire

Tide Pods Halloween Craft

I’d been rolling ideas around in my head since spring about saving and reusing those Tide Pods Containers for Halloween crafts.  They are so obviously pumpkin-shaped,  and with an orange top,  how I could resist.

But then I read warnings against using them as candy containers.  Tide Pods already had a bad rap about kids thinking they were candy. I had to do something, so I came up with this cute luminaire.

This is how to make one:

You will need:

  • Tide Pods or another similar detergent container
  • Black, yellow,  or orange tissue paper
  • Stiff white paper.
  • White crayon or chalk (for tracing on black tissue
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • Glue that dries clear
  • Solar light or battery operated candle
  • Yellow paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Orange watercolor and brush
  • Black Sharpie

1.  Remove the peel by soaking the container in water (fill the container, too, or it will just bobble). Finish it off with Goof Off.

2. Air dry and then paint it with a wash of thinned watercolor to give it an opaque orange look.

3. Decide on a design.  You can do something simple like bats or a jack-o-lantern. I wanted to do a haunted house with a spooky tree, big moon, and spooky eyes peeping out the door.

4. Cutting shapes from tissue paper lets the light shine through. Make a pattern on stiff white paper. Cut out and trace onto the tissue.  Use an  X-acto knife to cut out windows.

5. Glue on shapes. Use glue that dries clear, and use it sparingly.  Use the black Sharpie to draw the window frames.

6. Glue on eye shapes from yellow paper and add googly eyes.

7.  Add lighting inside. You can use glow sticks, a solar light, or battery-operated tea lights.

Use your Tide Pods Halloween luminaire on the mantel, a patio table, or anywhere!


Meaty Eyeballs And Other Gross Halloween Foods

Half the fun of Halloween is the food. From slimy jello treats to pukin’ pumpkins, It’s so easy to create some really gross foods for Halloween. Blood, brains, and guts are a snap to replicate with food.

Check out my meaty eyeballs and other frightening foods for your Halloween party spread this year.

Meaty Eyeballs

Make your favorite meatballs. Spear on a pearl onion with a toothpick and follow with a slice of olive.


Bloody Fingers

Use crescent refrigerator dough sheets. Roll into bent finger shapes. The nails are almond slivers.  Brush with melted garlic butter.Beat an egg in a bowl and add red food coloring. Drip on the “fingers” and bake according to package directions.


Mummified Franks


This is another trick using refrigerator rolls dough. Roll out into strings and wrap around hot dogs and then bake for about 15 minutes.


Creepy Salsa

For this creepy Halloween dip, simply toss some black olive slices in salsa. So easy yet so effective. I put mine in an autumn leaf-shaped bowl.

Slime Dip

Fresh homemade guacamole takes on a new look by simply calling it slime dip! Use my favorite guacamole recipe below.

Slime Dip

  • 3-4 ripe peeled, pitted avocados
  • 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced chili peppers
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • cilantro
  • 1 TBS lemon juice


  1. Dice or chop ingredients as stated above.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Goldenrod:Weed, Herb,Or Wildflower?

Out in the fields and wastelands, at the edge of the forest and along roadsides, my favorite wildflower is at its peak. The goldenrod is like a wild golden-haired girl who wants to come home. Most think of her as a weed. Perhaps she has been grossly misunderstood.


Ragweed or Goldenrod

Along about the time goldenrod appears, her nasty cousin ragweed starts spreading her free-blowing pollen causing hay fever among the masses. Some tend to blame their problems on our golden girl when in fact, her pollen is too heavy to become airborne.

The lovely goldenrod has run rampant through the fields and mutated with other weeds or wildflowers to produce numerous species. These species are called invasive in some areas. So what? She’s not the only one. Look at all the different false dandelions that exist all over the world today.

Goldenrod Herb

Many people consider goldenrod to be a health-healing herb. A few animal and test tube studies suggest that goldenrod may help with the following conditions:

  • reducing inflammation
  • relieving muscle spasms
  • fighting infections
  • lowering blood pressure

It has been proven that goldenrod has diuretic properties. Europeans have used it to treat UTIs and kidney stones for years.

Like dandelion, the parts of the plant above the ground can be used for making teas and tinctures. Unlike the dandelion, the roots are not consumed.Goldenrod supplements are available in capsule form. It is recommended that one seeks advice from a doctor or botanical medical expert (could be a pharmacist) before using dandelion supplements. Goldenrod can interact with other herbs and medicines.

Natural Remedies

Although there are no high-quality studies to prove so, goldenrod is thought to have health benefits in the following areas.

  • used topically as a wound healer
  • tuberculosis
  • liver enlargement
  • diabetes
  • hemorrhoids
  • internal bleeding
  • asthma
  • arthritis
  • mouth and throat inflammation

Goldenrod and the Food Web

Lots of different insects and their predators get free room and board with the goldenrod. Some of these insects lay eggs within her. As the eggs hatch, the goldenrod provides incubation for the larvae. A tiny ecosystem is formed that becomes a larger part of the food web.


How Goldenrod Benefits the Garden

Birds, bees, butterflies and many other insects visit the goldenrod, helping to spread her heavy pollen. If there are other flowering plants nearby, this animal life will visit them as well. In this way, our golden girl attracts pollinators to the garden.

Goldenrod Flowers Identification

Our golden girl has cross-bred several times over to produce any number of a variety of species in any one local. Because they look so similar, these species have been difficult to isolate and identify. Scientists finally grouped them generally into categories according to shape.

The following chart highlights the general shapes, types, scientific names and a brief description.


Goldenrod Classified According to Shape

Scientific Name
Canada Goldenrod
Solidago canadenis
9 to 15 flower rays, flowers on upper part of stem
Gray Goldenrod
Solidage nemoralis
slender one-sided plumes, groups of flowers form a crest
Early Goldenrod
plume-like or elm-like shape, flowering branches curve downward
Stout Goldenrod
Solidago squarrosa
10-16 flower rays, flowerhead is narrow
Bog Goldenrod
Solidago uliginosa Nuttall
long,broad cluster of flowers, likes moist woodlands
(Flat topped)
Grass-leaved Goldenrod
Solidago graminifolia & Euthamia graminifolia
flowers grow in clusters, grass-like leaves on stems
Houghton Goldenrod
Solidago houtonil
umbrella-shaped head that is flat-topped
Ohio Goldenrod
Solidago ohioenis
large umbrella-shaped head massive tiny yellow flowers
Uplands White Goldenrod
Solidago ptarmicoides
white flowers 1 cm wide 10-25 ray flowers per head
Erect Goldenrod
Solidago Erecta
long, slender stem
Downy Goldenrod
Solidago pubuula
tiny hairs on stems and leaves
Ontario Goldenrod
Solidago simplex
ray and disk florets, sticky flowers, found on shores of Lake Huron
Blue-stemmed Goldenrod
Solidago caesia
scattered clusters in leaf axile, smooth purplish stem
(Elm branched)
Rough-stemmed Goldenrod
Solidago rugosa Miller
scaly stems, elm-branched with clusters of flowers

Goldenrod in the Garden

Now that we know all the benefits of goldenrod, perhaps it is time to bring her in from the wilds and tame her for our gardens. Goldenrod will attract pollinators to our winter gardens of kale, lettuces and other greens.Goldenrod is hardy growing in zones 2-8. they propagate by both the spreading of seeds and the spreading of underground rhizomes. A variety of goldenrod seeds are available for purchasing on-line to make growing goldenrod in the garden more convenient.

Plant seeds in flats in spring or summer. Make sure that they are exposed to plenty of sunlight. Goldenrod will look especially good growing alongside purple salvia and assorted asters.

The goldenrod’s stiff stems make her a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements.These arrangements are sustainable, practical and inexpensive. They are great for all those fall events from luncheons to weddings.

Rosemary-Lemon Chicken: Frozen Meat Recipes

Cooking With Frozen Meat

Now that school has started again, we’ve got less time, and probably a little less money. There were school supplies, clothes or uniforms, and electronics to purchase and book fees to pay.

Using frozen meat, both cooked and uncooked helps save money on the food budget and time in the kitchen. Purchase lean ground beef in bulk. Divide into planned meals by the pound. Add seasonings and spices for tacos, spaghetti or sloppy joes and then freeze in Ziplock bags.

Meatballs can be made and frozen cooked or uncooked. In the morning, toss frozen uncooked meatballs in a slow-cooker with marinara, Alfredo or pesto sauce. Add chopped onions, peppers, spices and 1/2 cup liquid like milk or water. Then simply boil pasta and add a veggie or two for a quick, healthy dinner.

Make and cook your favorite meatloaf recipe and freeze whole. On those school nights when homework makes the evening hectic, thaw out a baggie for quick dishes for pennies per serving, or cook the meatloaf until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rosemary Lemon Chicken

Buy frozen uncooked chicken breasts in bulk to save money on poultry dishes. They can be cooked in a preheated 350-degree oven for less than an hour without thawing. Top them with sauce, salsa or condensed soups about halfway through cooking, piercing the breasts with a fork.

There is no need to give up gourmet taste for meal planning in a hurry. Make delicious rosemary lemon chicken with lemon slices and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Make a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed rosemary leaves.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, pierce with a fork, and brush on the marinade. Add a sprig of rosemary and top with a slice of lemon.

Return to the oven about 15 or 20 more minutes or until the chicken breasts are done. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with steamed broccoli. Buy the frozen broccoli; it is quicker to cook and just as nutritious as fresh.

For a really special mid-week treat, serve rosemary lemon chicken with sweet potato home fries and steamed frozen broccoli. It is a quick and healthy meal.

Ingredients For Rosemary-Lemon Chicken

  • 4-6 Chicken breasts, Frozen
  • 4-6 Sprigs Rosemary, Fresh
  • One Lemon, Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, Melted
  • 1/4 Cup Olive oil
  • Peppercorns, Ground
  • 2 TBS Rosemary leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place frozen chicken breasts in a shallow dish and place in preheated oven
  3. Mix butter, olive oil, lemon juice and rosemary leaves.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the olive oil and melted butter. Add the lemon juice and garlic.
  5. Baste frozen chicken breast with mixture often while baking. Pierce chicken with a meat fork.
  6. Top each chicken breast with a lemon slice and sprig of fresh rosemary
  7. Bake rosemary lemon chicken for about 50 minutes
Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ready in: 45 min

Yield: four to five servings

Other Ideas For Cooking Frozen Chicken

  • Baste with your favorite barbecue sauce while cooking
  • Cook frozen chicken breasts in cream of mushroom soup
  • Make a quick chicken Parmesan
  • Cook with blue cheese dressing and bacon bits
  • Top with salsa halfway through cooking

These are just a few ideas for cooking frozen chicken breasts. I’ll bet you can get creative and come up with your own quick, delicious recipe

Quick and Healthy Meal Idea

Serve rosemary-lemon chicken with steamed fresh broccoli and sweet potato home fries.

Using Cooperative Learning In The Classroom


What is Cooperative Learning?

Cooperative learning is an instructional method based on past research of the theory that people who work together to achieve shared goals are more successful in achievement of goals(Alport Watson Shaw and Mead). The theory was established before the onset of World War One. Philosophers and Psychologists John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Morton Deutsh further developed the theory helping to establish it in the educational setting. Later David and Roger Johnson actively promoted the theory from 1974 to 1994. It has proven to be a popular and successful instructional method.

With the cooperative learning method, the teacher’s role becomes that of facilitator rather than just instructor. Learning occurs naturally as students interact among themselves. Students work together to create a common project or assignment by sharing opinions, knowledge, and skills. The success of each individual in the group is reliant upon the success of the whole group as a unit.

What Are the Positives of Cooperative Learning?

Research shows several positive outcomes when using cooperative learning. Studies show retention of learned material increases. Students will have greater recall of skills and facts covered in the activities.

The method has been shown to increase social skills that help students prepare for good citizenship and successful living in society. It is thought that cooperative learning can set the stage for students to experience greater success in the world of work. Most jobs and professions require employees to cooperate and work together toward a common goal.

Finally, cooperative learning encourages respect among students for one another when working in groups of varying abilities and ethnic groups. Acceptance and respect for diversity will be important all through life.

Implementing Cooperative Learning


Cooperative learning can be implemented in lessons in any subject and in grade levels from kindergarten to college. It can be as simple as a group brainstorming a list of writing or research topics or as complex as a project for a science exhibit.

Grouping learning disabled or other special needs students with non-disabled peers is a valid and useful accommodation. It can become a part of the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or 504 plan. It can be a useful way to accommodate students with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Work can be “chunked” for students to complete. A long set of math problems can be a daunting task for the ADHD student. Divided and shared between four students the task becomes more manageable for them.

Although good research exists proving the advantages of cooperative learning, educators may be finding themselves reluctant to use the method. Some claim that students socialize too much and often get off-task. They favor more direct instruction. While it is true that many students benefit more from direct instruction, cooperative learning may be well worth giving a second chance. A few strategies could help in making it successful.

The teacher will need to monitor and decide when and how to make adjustments. Do the students need to be rearranged within the groups? Is the activity either too easy or too hard? Begin with these questions. Keep in mind that motivation is a key underlying factor for learning to occur. Teachers may need to find ways to motivate students. This could be accomplished by allowing them to choose from a list of activities.

Strategies for Implementing Cooperative Learning

1. Begin with less complex tasks when first implementing cooperative learning. Pair lower ability students with higher ability.

2. Establish a set of rules within the other class rules. Make sure students understand the procedures and take a few minutes to go over them directly. Have the rules posted. Implement the same consequences for not following them as with the other class rules.

3. Keep groups small, no more than 4 to 6 students. Doing so will ensure that each member of the group will have to participate and be accountable for the finished product. Use a rubric for grading and always give grades.

4. Assigning a certain role for each member of the group will give guidance and direction making each student feel important. If they tend to argue over roles, then have them to draw numbers.

Roles to consider:

Leader- checks each member for understanding. reports problems in understanding or materials to the teacher

Recorder- records responses.

Reporter- reports findings to share with the rest of the class. reports problems in behavior to the teacher.

Monitor- can keep time for timed assignments. reminds others to stay on task.

5. Switch members of cooperative groups occasionally keeping in mind who does or does not work together well. Also switch roles occasionally.

6 Assign each student one fourth of a lesson to study. then have them take turns “teaching” their part of the lesson to the other students. Have a list of ways to share to choose from.

Ideas for sharing:

compose a song, poem or rap

draw an illustration

write a summary

give an oral report

write true/false questions for the other students to answer.

7. Students enjoy hands-on activities. Let them work together to create projects such as making a Frosty the Soap Man.Each student can be responsible for one part of creating the whole project. The leader can be responsible in making sure that each part is completed for putting the project together.




Blueberry Skillet Custard Pie With Lemon Glaze

Rustic Blueberry Skillet Dessert

Thanks to the right mix of sunny days and gentle rain fall, we had a bumper crop of blueberries in North Georgia this year. That meant lots of plump sweet berries to munch on at the bushes, toss atop a bowl of cereal, whip up in a smoothie, and add to pancake batter.

Blueberries are easy to grow, easy to freeze, and good for easy jam recipes. This is all good news since blueberries are one of the top 10 superfoods and can be pricey at the grocery store.

The freezer is now stocked and a few jars of blueberry jam are put away.  And we enjoyed a few tasty blueberry desserts along the way like a rich blueberry-peach Pavlova and healthy blueberry-banana swirl pops. 

The blueberries were ripe just in time for adding to my patriotic red, white, and blue pops for the Fourth of July. 

It’s always good to try something new. This year it was a blueberry skillet custard pie, a rustic dessert baked in a cast iron skillet. It was delicious and really easy to make. Just blend all ingredients except the berries in a blender and pour the batter into a buttered cast iron skillet.

I love the taste of blueberry together with lemon so I added a lemon glaze after baking, but this is optional. The blueberry skillet pie was delicious.  Thanks to a bumper crop and a freezer full of blueberries, one will grace my holiday tables this year.

Blueberry Skillet Custard Pie


  • 1 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions for Blueberry Skillet Custard Pie

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine and blend all ingredients except the blueberries in blender
  3. Pour into buttered skillet
  4. Top with berries
  5. Bake for 40 minutes
  6. Cool and drizzle with lemon glaze

Lemon glaze.

  • 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • juice of one lemon

mix and adjust for the desired consistency


Simply blend all ingredients in a blender

Toss on the berries and bake. Easy as pie!

Ode To The Morning Glory

This summer I let a little swatch of lawn at the edge of the backyard get a bit out of control. Well, okay, way out of control. But now I am glad I did. The weeds offer a barrier, a sort of natural privacy fence. I’m a sort of lover of weeds, if you may. I love flowers that grow in the wild like Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod.

So I was delighted when bunches of colorful ones sprang up on my neglected lawn. They were morning glories and I was amazed at the colors and variegations, so I took photos, wrote a bit of prose and did some research on the common morning glory.

Ode To The Morning Glory

I can always count on your pretty face to grace the day’s beginning.

Your soul unfurls wide open,

No secrets to hide,

To embrace each morning, no matter how misty.

As the sun climbs high you seem to disappear

All shriveled, faded and spent.

But you’re still there.

The cool darkness nourishes your soul with dew

You rest

And I see you again the next morning.

Facts About Morning Glories

  • Morning glories bloom in the early morning and then fade and curl up a few hours later.
  • Cultivars have been developed and seeds are available to grow them in gardens.
  • In the Australian bushland, morning glories grow dense with thick roots and are seriously invasive.
  • Some species of morning glories were used in ancient China for medicinal purposes.
  • Mesoamerican civilizations used one species of morning glory along with other plants to produce rubber.
  • Aztec priests used the morning glory’s hallucinogenic properties.
  • One species is used as a vegetable in culinary dishes in East and Southeast Asia.
  • The Japanese were the first to develop cultivars for morning glories.
  • One species known as moonflower blooms at dusk instead of the morning.

Pretty Pink with White Throat


White tinged with dark purple

White tinged with pale pink

Powder Blue

Bright Orange with Yellow Throat

Royal Purple with Dark Purple

Summer Reading:10 Reasons Why Teens And Adolescents Should Dig In

What is Summer Slide

The long Summer break most traditional schools experience can cause the average student’s learning to regress by one month and is referred to as “Summer slide.” This can spell trouble for the students who have left the apron strings of the elementary school where the focus was on learning to read. Now the game has changed and it means reading to learn instead. The best solution? A Hot Summer Reading List that will keep them wanting to read all Summer.

Educators of younger students are all aware of how important self-selected reading is. Self-explanatory, this method of reading entails the child selecting a book himself, one that appeals to him to enjoy in a comfortable setting. Why should we change this for the older student? While there will probably be required reading assignments for the Summer, the teen and adolescent should make the time to select a few books that they really feel will be enjoyable to them.

It is estimated that even as few as 6 books will keep “Summer slide” at bay and more. Following are 10 good reasons for Summer reading for adolescents and teens along with 6 great books that will keep them engaged.

1. Improving Vocabulary

Summer reading fun can improve vocabulary. In middle and high school, vocabulary words aren’t sight words anymore. They are those “hard” words that show up in the content areas-general science, history, economics, etc. Reading for pleasure provides practice in making connections between familiar and unfamiliar words by using word structure (roots, affixes) and context clues. Studies show that the amount of reading time influences the size of both the reading and speaking vocabulary.

2. Improving Decoding Skills

Summer reading for fun is a good way for the budding middle school student to reinforce the decoding skills they learned throughout elementary school. Once an adolescent is out of grade 4, decoding instruction will likely be reserved for remedial reading classes. The middle school student will be required to read more supplementary materials for learning in the content areas. The vocabulary in these (expository) reading materials will be more difficult to decode than those in narratives.

3. Keeping the Mental Processes Active

Summer reading for fun keeps the mental process active. Scientists believe that attention, memory, and thought rely on the brain’s active neuron patterns. The firing of one memory network causes other memory networks to fire. Impulses travel through neurons and jump from dendrite to dendrite via the synapses in a sort of dominoes fashion. The reader can make connections between events in the story to events in her own life. Activation of related networks in the brain will strengthen the synaptic connections of neurons. It’s sort of the brain’s way of getting exercise. Additionally, a good riveting tale can stir the emotions which will also help connect memory networks.

4. Improving Concentration and Focus

Summer reading for fun can improve concentration and focus. A well-written story of high interest is a good attention grabber. The reader will be focused on the outcome of the story, paying attention to the details that contribute to the plot. The ability to concentrate and focus will essentially help in all subject areas.

5. Reading for Interests

Summer reading for fun is a good way to increase interests and hobbies. As students move through middle and high school career choices become issues. The purpose of school begins to be seen in the context of preparing for the workforce. For example, a story about a sick or wounded animal could spark an interest in veterinary medicine. Or a story about a social issue could encourage volunteering for a cause.

6. Reduce Summer Boredom

Summer reading fun can help reduce boredom. The bored adolescent or teen can get into trouble more easily. Boredom on long hot days can set in, especially toward mid-summer when interest in the beach, pool or lake begins to fizzle. A good story can be entertaining. Unlike TV shows or movies, the written story will be more mentally engaging. It will be like a “movie in the mind” and can stimulate creativity.

7. Reading to Improve Test Scores

Summer reading fun can help test scores. Like it or not, high stakes testing is a fact and is probably not going to go away. Not all high stakes testing is used to determine school funding. Students everywhere must pass the end of course tests, high school competency tests and attain certain scores on the SAT or ACT to get into higher institutes of study.

8. Learning About Other Cultures and Places

Summer reading for fun can create an awareness of other cultures and places. With the internet and travel life has become more global. Chances are the adolescent or teen will travel to other parts of the world. They can “travel in an armchair” and learn about their destinations through descriptive literature. They can “time travel” and read about other times in history and learn how the culture was different.

9. Solving Personal Problems

Reading for Summer fun can help teens with life’s problems. The adolescent and teen years can be bewildering times. New freedom gives rise to new issues. Or sometimes they feel they don’t have the freedom they should have for their age. Peer pressure, bullying, feeling left out of groups, problems getting along with parents and siblings and new attractions to the opposite sex are all issues that many authors write honestly on. Reading about the problems that characters face can be like receiving advice.

10. To Develope a Lifelong Love of Books and Learning

Whether ebooks or paper books, they will always be the door to learning. Kids who learn to love a good book will always have that love.

If you are an adolescent, teen or the parent of one please pick out at least 6 good books that you really think would be fun Summer reading. Don’t forget that required Summer reading list. But do have fun reading! Here are some ideas to get you started.