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).


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.

In the last five years, I’ve spent countless hours in waiting rooms and doctors offices across Rhode Island, including two surgeries for me and one for my preschool aged daughter. One doctor told me flatly that I should have come in sooner; two other doctors haven’t had the chance. The insurance company has bounced claims back and forth, changed our prescription copays, companies, and policies, and required us to appeal basic treatment decisions. I’ve been told by various well-meaning folks to exercise more, move less, eat better, pray more, and just be nicer. We’re signing my daughter up for Kindergarten now, but the secretary at the school seems a bit irritated that my paperwork is late. We’ve collected the dentist’s form, the doctor’s form, the eye doctor’s form, and three copies of our racial heritage form, but she calls me to task in front of my daughter. In the last five years, all kinds of people have had reason to correct, criticize, amend, appeal, and deny me. But never at the library.

When I use the library, I hear people being helpful, polite, and interested in each other. My mother flew to Dubai on business, and one part-timer I’ve never met helped me find pictures to show my daughter. When my daughter wanted to show off that she can reach the water fountain, the friendly director was delighted. Because the director cares enough to watch, this event becomes precious, and it cements in all of us the belief that society is worth living in.

We all have work to do; librarians remember that building society is part of that work.

I want library services restored because I want my child to grow up knowing that people are important. I want her to remember being too small to drink by herself, and finally old enough to reach, and one day old enough to stop in by herself on her bike. When she looks back on her hours at the library, she’ll equate reading and learning with a sense of common decency and value placed on human life.

Librarians teach people to see the world around them, to imagine better futures, and to believe in answers and in dreams. Selfishly, I want that feeling for myself, as well. To sit among the librarians is to drink at the oasis.

When we lose librarians, we are alone in the desert.

Comment below, or read more about “Losing Librarians” on Rhode Work

girlsmoonsand2bI have the girls engaged in what you might call a “science trap.”  Armed with some cheap ice cream bowls, a set of plastic utensils, and a bunch of mixing bowls, the girls are mixing up flavors of ice cream.   What flavor of ice cream do you have? I ask Carolyn.  “Flambe Crambe, Sprinkly Pink,” she says.  “There aren’t really any sprinkly pinks, but I guess that’s just its name.”  Actually, I went all out this time, giving them a bowl of water with a little moon sand in it, some plastic princess plates, and even a water bottle, which they have fun shaking to see if the moon sand will mix in.  (It doesn’t.)  I’m in my element here: setting out resources that build their brains and their imaginations, promote sharing and playing, and everyone is relaxed and safe.  Fun at its best.  They’re quibbling, but no big deal.  “I want to play play doh instead.”  “How come I don’t have a Belle plate?”  “That’s not my bowl, it’s Libby’s.”  I can’t decide if Carolyn’s new haircut makes her look like a supermodel or a street urchin.   Carolyn just added some “odorant”  and dish soap to her cupcakes.  “When are we going to play play doh?” asks Libby.  I can’t shake the feeling that she has to go to the bathroom, but it’s not like her to hold it.

Dora's New Eye


Dora – Gasp! – Grows Up

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modaleaves37 cheerful, unusual quilt patterns with high-quality directions and 


color photos.   I like that piecing guidelines are shown in diagrams as well as words.  Also includes 2 bags, 1 bib, and graph paper.  I especially like the Strawberry Lemonade Throw (not shown), probably because the final instruction is “decorate”!