Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Top 5 Winners of SpiderSmart's Summer Writing Contest

We had a LOT of fantastic submissions this year!  GREAT WRITING, KIDS!

We will share our Top 5 in the other categories next week, but for now here are glimpses of the judges' comments for our winners in the following five genres:

1. Descriptive Essay Winner:  "In the Deep Ocean" by Kaylyn Li from SpiderSmart of Sugarland

Kaylyn's was the strongest of the stack because of all that had to be imagined. It was chock full of description and further beautified with details and specifics. Additionally, every line was descriptive and evocative so the reading was very pleasurable. There were many original moments of true sensory reflection that made it our winner.

2. Fan Fiction Winner: "Crossing Field" by Jung-Won Hwang from SpiderSmart of Rockville

With fan fiction pieces, there has to be a strong rhythm and gathering momentum to get the reader from chapter to chapter with a strong sense of anticipation.  We really like what she accomplishes in that regard.  Jung-Won's masterful piece kept our interest building and building, never lapsing into slower parts. The suspense was memorable!  Additionally, we love fan fiction pieces the most when the kids put themselves in the story within whatever fan-world elements they've chosen.  I think we have the best choice with "Crossing Field."

3. Persuasive Essay Winner: "The Slaughter of Wolves" by Esther Zhang from SpiderSmart of Cupertino

We really like how Esther summarizes and synthesizes all the research in this piece; it seems the perfect fusion of research and original, persuasive thought. She is compelling in her urging, as well as in her outlining of the issue at hand. While the other essays accomplished this in moments, her piece had an evenhanded way of presenting the research plus the personal persuasive elements. The surveying of her fellow classmates, in particular, made the piece very entertaining!

4. Short Story Winner:  "Four-Leaf Clover" by Valerie Huang from SpiderSmart of Sugarland

Valerie's narrative drive and instincts are incredibly strong, and her voice is super confident for her age.  The chapter titles made us laugh, and she just has a tone and fun style that totally stood out for us. Her unique, non-device-like details were particularly interesting. Her piece is funny without being randomly goofy, which was probably our favorite part!

5. Personal Narrative Winner:  "Personal Fishing Experience" by Alice Zhong from SpiderSmart of Sugarland

This piece has a lot of poise and memorable qualities.  Not only is it well-written, but it is fine-tuned.  We love the lingering feel, sound, and sentiment behind every inclusion of onomatopoeia!  There were many lines that resonated with us, and we loved its plaintive feel.  There was a sense of observation and original discovery that made Alice's piece our winning selection.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons to Solve a Rubik's Cube

1. Solving a Rubik's cube exercises mental reflexes. 

Working on solving a Rubik's cube is great cognitive training! There are no tricks or cheat codes- all you have is the cube in front of you – so you cannot be lazy when trying to solve the puzzle. There are multiple ways to solve the cube; you will never arrive at the solution the same way. Having to try multiple methods to find a solution keeps your mind active and sharp. The mental acuity gained through working on a Rubik's cube will transfer over to your schoolwork and tasks in the workplace.

2. Solving a Rubik's cube helps you develop a wider perception to the process of problem-solving.

Learn to think outside the cube by practicing your Rubik's strategies in all areas. Learning to shift gears, gain a new perspective, and attack a problem are all skills that help unravel different types challenges. Carry these traits over to your career to be a one-of-a-kind problem-solver!  

3. Solving a Rubik's cube develops hand-eye coordination. 

Strong hand-eye coordination is a valuable skill that translates to several areas of life, such as sports, cooking, and many career fields. The more you practice solving the cube, the better your hand-eye coordination will be! You can also time how long it takes you to solve the cube. Continuously working hard to beat your best puzzle-solving time is a challenge that will enhance your hand-eye coordination in no time!

4. Solving a Rubik's cube improves short-term memory.

A healthy short-term memory is vital for success in school, personal pursuits, and socially. Research shows that this “working memory” helps develop thinking, planning, imagination and play, and basic literacy skills.

5. Solving a Rubik's cube increases spatial intelligence. 

Spatial intelligence is the ability to imagine real world spaces in your mind. The Rubik's cube is a mechanical three-dimensional puzzle that helps you work on your spatial intelligence, because it not only helps you visualize things in your head, but it also improves certain abstract abilities. Some of these abilities include recognizing images and relating them to other objects in your surroundings, and the ability to analyze situations from every angle, which leads to quicker problem-solving.

Don't miss the Rubik's Cube Workshop at SpiderSmart of Ashburn this Saturday from 4:30 - 6:30! Kids will work with expert cubers to gain speed, skills, and learn new techniques!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Top 5 Most Creative School Lunches

 Nothing perks your kids up more than a fun midday meal at school. Check out these creative ways to spice up lunchtime!

1. Put everything in a jar.
Use your leftovers to layer up visual excitement in a mason jar!

2. Make it a muffin.

Mac and cheese muffins sound great hot or cold!

3. Skewer some quick kabobs.

Put your sandwich on a stick, or check out some of these dippable delights!

4. It's a wrap!

Make it gluten free with a corn tortilla!

5. Break out your bento box.

Add variety with perfect portions of provisions!

Any of these simple and quick recipes will provide a pick-me-up that helps your child remain focused for the rest of the school day. Try adding a note to let them know you're thinking of them and you hope they always try their best. Together, you can make it another great school year!