May 2009


We should give marshmallows to every kindergartner. We should say, ‘You see this marshmallow? You don’t have to eat it. You can wait. Here’s how.’

When Walter Mischel studied the mechanics of marshmallow restraint in the 1960’s, he certainly didn’t expect that we’d still be studying it 40 years later. You may have heard that children who were able to resist eating a marshmallow for 15 minutes later turned out to be more successful by a variety of measures, including SAT scores. You may not have heard the details of what Mischel discovered.

The Appeal of Two Marshmallows.
The marshmallow-resistors in Mischel’s study all resisted in the same way: They distracted themselves. Even more interesting, when non-resisting children were given tips on how to distract themselves, they were also able to resist eating the first marshmallow.

It appears from Mischel’s study that self-control is a crucial predictor of success, and, importantly, that it can be improved through teaching.

Today, scientists are using brain scans and further studies to find out more about how self-control works, why it’s so important, and how it can be taught. You can read more about this research (but not learn how to increase your own self-control) in the New Yorker article, Don’t: The Secret of Self Control (May 18, 2009).

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Turns out our friend Linda is scared of bees – so scared that she does not want to play outside after seeing a bee. I have a pet peeve about being scared of bees, which probably signifies some sort of deep psychological issue, but that’s for another day. For now, I decide to do a little impromptu “bee advocacy.”

Hexagonal Graph Paper. I print two sheets per child, but they only decorate one.

Honey Colored Paint and a Round Sponge Brush. They mix a bit of orange and yellow paint and splotch it on. The sponge brush gives it a nice texture and variety. I pour the girls a little yellow paint, a little orange paint, and have them mix it to make a golden color.

Decorate Bee HiveVocabulary Worksheet I wanted to slip some literacy into the activity, so they color in these spring pictures and glue them around the edges of the hive.

Bees I don’t think the tiny bees on the vocabulary page will inspire kind feelings, and that’s really my goal here. So I print up the bee craft from First School and cut out the body and head.

Vellum WingsVellum and Brass Brads. I can’t resist embellishing, so I cut the wings out of vellum and attach them to the body with a standard paper fastener from Office Max. I glue the head on to cover the brad.

Staples. To save myself from insanity, I staple the extra hive to the back to make a little pocket to keep the bees in.

The result is very cute, and I’m rewarded when Linda’s mom says she plays with her bees at home all the next day.

According to What They Play, it’s easy for teenagers to get a copy of a Japanese video game that simulates stalking and violent attacks on women. You can read about it here, but I’ll warn you it’s disturbing.