Smart Kid Toys – For Preschoolers

Toys are popular gifts for kids but they are not all created equal. While toys offer an opportunity for play, an essential activity for children and teens, some are better than others at building creativity, intelligence, and knowledge. “Dr. Toy,” aka Stevanne Auerbach, has explained that a good toy can “expand imagination in art, crafts, hobbies, language, reading, music, movement, and drama.”

Here are four important questions to ask before you buy a toy for a special child in your life:
1. Is the toy safe?
2. Is the toy fun?
3. Is the toy age appropriate?
4. Is the toy durable?

We’ve reviewed the research and want to share FIVE SMART TOYS you can buy for the special children in your life. In this first list, we will list five excellent toys for preschoolers.

#5 – Peaceable Kingdom Write & Wipe Games to Go (Manufacturer Recommended for Ages 3-6)

#4 – Schylling ABC Big Blocks – 48 Piece Wood Alphabet Blocks (Manufacturer Recommended for Ages 19 months+)

#3 – Code Hopper, Jump into Coding Fun! STEM activity game toy introduce preschoolers to computer coding (Manufacturer Recommended for Ages 3 and up)

#2 – Kidzlane Durable Piano Mat, 10 Selectable Sounds, Play and Record, Dance and Learn (Manufacturer Recommended for Ages 2-5)

#1 – Kids First Science Laboratory Kit (Manufacturer Recommended for Ages 3-5)

All five of these educational toys can provide hours of fun for the favorite preschooler in your life. Who knows, maybe as they get older they will make a scientific discovery, write beautiful music, or develop computer code? Maybe they will simply have fun with these gifts that will engage their minds rather than numb them.

ACSI California School Board Members and Administrators!

It is always an honor to spend time with ACSI School Board Members and Administrators and a distinct pleasure to have this opportunity at the beautiful Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite!  Christian schools are communities in which every member is called to be salt and light in the world.  I have posted slides from the two workshops I am presenting at the conference in PDF format so they can be viewed on any computer with ease.  If you would like me to email you a PowerPoint or Keynote version of the slides, please  post a comment below (or email).  I will be pleased to forward you this information so that you can share it with others.  May the Lord continue to guide and bless you and you lead in your schools!

Administrator Traits Teachers Appreciate

CA Common Core and You Feb 12. KEY

Spelltacular Event!

Poems have been written about it. Songs have been sung to describe it.  Plays have been performed to relive it.  Tomorrow, we will host it!  What is it?  It’s the Spelling Bee.

The local spelling bee at DCS will involve students from nine different ACSI member schools.  Five of the schools are in the Antelope Valley and the other schools are located in Lomita, Hesperia, and Banning.

The winners from our local spelling bee and eleven other local spelling bees that take place throughout southern California will compete at the ACSI Regional Spelling Bee at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena on February 18. The winners from the regional bee advance to the ACSI National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. on May 12.

I am impressed by each student selected to represent their schools at this event, especially the Knights!  Many of the participants engage in a significant amount of study to prepare for this competition.  The Spell-Off that takes place after the grade-level contests is very exciting and a joy to attend.  You’ll be enthralled if you watch the students apply what they’ve learned to spell many difficult words.  You might become spellbound by it!  See what I did there?  That’s a pun. P…U…N.  It is a noun.  It means “the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words.”  Thankfully, the students representing Desert Christian Elementary and Middle Schools will not limit themselves to 3 letter words.  It’s very likely someone will be asked to spell a word like hippopotamus which, if this had happened to me in second grade, would have caused me to faint.  It’s not a fear of spelling words that would have caused me to black-out, it would have been the crowd of people all intently staring me right in the eyes while I tried my best to spell very long words.  By the way teachers, please do not ever ask me to spell a difficult word, like cymotrichous, which was an actual word at the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year, in front of your students.  If you do, I might faint.  If you cause me to faint, I will bring a hippopotamus, with a big red bow around its’ neck, to your home and tell your children, or grandchildren, that it’s their new pet and to take care of it in YOUR backyard until it is fully grown in 10 years.

Now, back to happier, hippopotamus-free thoughts!  We are able to host this event every year because our staff members, parent volunteers, and volunteers from other schools make it possible.  The entire team is led by Julie Shirar, Spelling Bee Chair and Vice Principal of DCES.  Thank you, Julie, and our fantastic hardworking volunteers for making this a special day for our students and guests.  Please note that the participants may not invent words as I did in the headline for the article.

A Few Thoughts about Shoes

“A shoe that is too large is apt to trip one, and when too small, to pinch the feet. So it is with those whose fortune does not suit them.”

“A vigorous temper is not altogether an evil. Men who are easy as an old shoe are generally of little worth.”
Charles Spurgeon

“A work-room should be like an old shoe; no matter how shabby, it’s better than a new one.”
Willa Cather

“Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”
Robert Service

Read more:

I am writing, for the first time in 15 years, an article about shoes. Big shoes, little shoes, wide shoes, narrow shoes, Payless Shoes, Christian Louboutin shoes, and my favorites, good old Bostonians. I do not get rid of a pair of shoes until long after I’ve worn holes through the soles. That’s when they are broken-in and comfortable! If I really like a pair of shoes, I will pay to have the soles replaced but, usually, I throw them out and start the sometimes painful break-in process anew.
When the staff arrived for school this fall, I explained the significant increase in work related accidents that took place last year and the consequences we will experience for the next several years. Staff members were hurt, missed ministry opportunities at school, and there was a significant increase in Workers Compensation insurance premiums mostly as a result of slip and fall accidents. We emphasized our safety training and made sure each employee received training specifically appropriate for their job at the school. We invited inspectors from our insurance company to visit our school sites and watch us as we went about our daily ministries. The inspectors produced a written report with a number of safety recommendations to reduce the possibility of accidents. The inspectors were impressed with what our staff, Safety Committee, and administrators have done to reduce accidents this year. The Safety Committee and administrative staff reviewed the report line-by-line so that we could implement their suggestions. We all want to work in a safe environment and most changes are minor. Then we had the discussion about shoes!
Gentlemen, once again, we have things fairly easy in terms of dress code. Ladies, it’s a little more complicated. This is usually the downside of having more choices. Let me summarize by saying we’re following the recommendations of our Workers Compensation insurance carrier by updating the shoe dress code mid-year. The updated shoe dress code will be effective on the first day of the second semester, Monday, January 30, 2012. The big change for ladies is that their shoes must have a factory strap or closed back and that narrow high heels must be avoided on snowy, icy, and rainy days. The overriding principle is that all of our work shoes need to be appropriate for the weather and for walking conditions inside and outside. Please see the updated dress code below for requirements organized by area of ministry.

Still Alive? Thrive!

A.W. Tozer wrote, “A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the crude, unshapely marble into a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer, and the chisel are crude tools but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful. To do His supreme work of grace within you, He will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most trusted treasures used to be.”

Watch this Powerful Inspirational true story…Don’t give up! From

When disappointments happen in your life, you may ask “How could God allow this to happen?”

But what if God didn’t just “let it happen?” What if the things you treasure the most and hold on to the tightest are damaged or destroyed? What if what you call disappointments are really God’s appointments? What if, like a skilled sculptor, He is using your disappointments like the sculptor’s hammer and chisel to chop and carve away the undesirable elements in your life, leaving you pure and radiant…His beautiful masterpiece?

Life’s disappointments can destroy you, or you can become stronger because of them. The dangerous spiral of disappointments can lead to discouragement, disillusionment, depression or even despair. But you can learn to break that cycle and embrace the disappointment and trials with a faith that recognizes that they are the hammer and chisel God uses to make you a reflection of Him. We can follow the selfish course of our natural reactions and be subtly trapped in a downward spiral that swiftly leads into depression and discouragement. Or, we can take those trials and count them all joy, knowing that our faith and endurance will be strengthened. Our disappointments are the stone that God will use to sculpt us as a sculptor would his rough stone. If we respond by taking the steps of trust, obedience and relying on His grace, we will discover that we are being sculpted into His masterpiece that reflects the radiance of His image and character. Knowing this, today, as you face those trials or are in the pit of despair, what will be your decision? We will choose to continue on the path of despair, or make the turn and trust Him and His grace?

Some thoughts about hardships from the Bible:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, for that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, them I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29).

Ugly Sweater Contest

The last school day before Thanksgiving is always marked by extra energy and a festive spirit. Our students are looking forward to Thanksgiving vacation while our staff enjoys the change of pace, professional development, and Thanksgiving break at the end of the week.

This year we want to add some extra fun that day, Friday, November 18, by encouraging everyone on the staff to break out an exceptionally ugly sweater that you would, under normal circumstances, keep hidden in your closet. They don’t have to be Christmas or Thanksgiving sweaters, but hopefully they are really ugly!

Once you arrive on campus we hope you’ll engage in a little fun electioneering by showing off your sweater to everyone on your staff team and encouraging them to vote for your unattractive knit wear. We have emailed a flier describing the contest and a ballot appears at the bottom of the flier. Please vote for your favorite ugly sweater; one vote per person and only within your staff group. By the end of the school day, we will announce the winners and present each of them with$50 in AV Mall gift cards. The competition is within the following staff groupings:
Learning Tree Eastside, Learning Tree Main Campus, Elementary School, Middle School, High School, Main Campus Office, Support, & Facilities, Gymnastics Center & Peach Factory

We are looking forward to an ugly day!

Running the Race

2010 CIF SS Cross Country Finals

Athletics have played a significant role at Desert Christian Schools for three decades.  Our physical education classes, competitive teams, intramural activities, and adult leagues all serve to meet the physical needs of our students, families, and staff toward the fulfillment of our mission.  Running, in particular, is used as a metaphor throughout the Bible.  “In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun…like a champion rejoicing to run his course” (Psalm 19:4-5).  “They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31b).  “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Cor. 9:24).  “…Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1a).

Cross Country was the first team sport established at Desert Christian High School.  Some who had a hand in starting these programs have joked that we had no athletic facilities so it was our only option!  Over the years, hundreds of students have been trained athletically and nurtured spiritually by participating on these teams.

As is typical for our school, our Cross Country teams are experiencing success this year.  Our boy’s high school team is exhibiting outstanding Christian character and are also ranked 2ndin CIF-SS Div. V and in California.  A recent Antelope Valley Press article about the team ran under the headline, “DC’s special team takes run up rankings.”  Beyond their outstanding talent and commitment to competing “in such a way to win the prize,” these young men and their coaches are dedicated to honoring Christ with their lives.  It is clear when you speak with them and watch how they interact with each other and their competitors.  They are running the race of faith and, along the way, none of us will be surprised if they win a championship.  They seem to be setting new individual and school records every time they race.  If you really want to be impressed, come out to a race and talk with them when it is done.  They are champions.  The next few weeks will tell if they win the prize.

DCS Students See Chinese Acrobats

Our sixth grade students enjoyed a very special cultural experience today at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center. The Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats are a high-energy attraction and have performed for thousands of students and at performing arts centers around the country. Under the direction of Chinese acrobatic legends, the Hai Family, the company flawlessly interprets the precision and grace of an art form honed by years of training and discipline. Their multi-faceted and multi-cultural production features dazzling acrobatic displays, formidable feats of daring and balance, explosive Kung Fu, brilliant costumes, and even a touch of Chinese comedy. This renowned acrobat troupe has received the Performing Arts Campus Entertainment Award by the National Association for Campus Activities. This group has also had the honor of performing at the USA Olympic Swim Team’s Golden Goggles Gala.

Gaining an appreciation and understanding of the arts is an integral part of a child’s education. Our sixth grade students will remember this performance for years to come.

DCHEP Student Named National Merit Scholar Semifinalist!

The Mullen Family: John, April, Dan, and James

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced the names of 16,000 Semifinalists in the 57th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Approximately 1.5 million juniors in 22,000 high schools entered the program by taking the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The Semifinalists have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $34,000,000 that will be offered next spring.
Desert Christian Schools is pleased to announce that James Mullen, a senior in our Home Education Program, is one of two students in the Antelope Valley to earn the Semifinalist honor for the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program. Finalists will be announced in the spring.
Dan and April Mullen are parents to James (Class of 2012) and John (Class of 2010). John was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist in 2010. Wow! These parents have done a great job teaching their sons at home in a Christ-honoring and effective way. They are quick to express gratitude to God and remark that their sons have both worked very hard throughout their home school experience that started when John entered the 5th grade and James entered the 3rd grade. It has been a total family effort and the Lord has blessed everyone’s hard work, including providing a love of learning to both of their sons. John is now a sophomore engineering student at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas and is continuing his excellent education on an academic scholarship. James is considering many options, including Texas A&M University. He plans to study chemical engineering.

Congratulations to the Mullen Family!

Solar Energy Projects to Begin at DCS

After months of planning, design, and engineering efforts, the solar projects that will bring long-term stability to the school’s energy costs will begin on the main campus in October. The installation of the main campus portion of the project is scheduled to be complete in 90 days, by the end of 2011. However, it’s important to remember that construction projects often take longer than originally planned.  When all the solar panels have been installed at the main campus, the construction at the high school campus will begin.  Construction at the high school is expected to last four weeks.  I want to plainly state that there will be inconvenience, in the form of crowded parking lots, during construction and that it will be important for staff members and parents to model patience for our students.  It will help us to remember that the payoff for this short-term parking lot congestion is stable long-term energy costs. The new solar power systems will help keep our tuition lower for the next 20 years. All of us will also enjoy the additional benefit of covered parking. Here are a few basic facts about the impact on our parking lots:

• The project will begin with the removal of trees in the main campus parking lot on the first two Saturdays in October. We are working closely with Solar City to preserve as many trees as possible.
• All driveways entering and exiting our parking lots will remain open during construction.
• At both campuses, we will close one half, or less, of the parking spaces at a time during the installation of the large steel support structures and required trenching. The church portion of the main campus parking lot will not be impacted.
• The large driveway adjacent to the “Horseshoe” will remain open during construction.
• The rows of parking spaces at the south and west ends of the high school lot will not be impacted and will remain open during construction.
• Once the steel support structures and underground wiring are in place, the construction crews will only close 20-30 spaces on a daily basis while they install the solar panels.

The plans shown above allow you to see exactly what spaces are being covered and where the structures are being installed. If you have any questions about the project, please feel free to ask them here.  I will respond online so that everyone can see the questions and answers.

It is important to remember that short-term parking pain is long-term stability gain and the added bonus of covered parking is a significant benefit for everyone who uses our parking lots, especially on hot or rainy days.  The projects are being funded, built, owned, and maintained by Solar City. DCS receives lower cost electricity with small, predictable adjustments every year. Our power generation will put electricity into the power grid, which makes more energy available for our community. This project is good for our families, good for the school, good for the community, and good for the environment. It is a win-win-win-win.