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A Jump on Summer
We're on a roll here - and it's only March - Summer Reading Lists and Summer Workshop Schedules are both available.  We've also scheduled some book talks to introduce our reading list books to parents.  All these items will be available on our Summer Resources page in the next few days.  If you would like to schedule a Book Talk for your school or PTA contact John at the Golden Apple or call us at 925-460-5163

Junior Detective Squad Launched!
Our first Detective class was a hit - and the next class, where we investigate a crime scene is going to be even better!

Critical Thinking Class for Ages 8-11
I got excited reading the James Madison Course in Critical Thinking from Critical Thinking Press.  It's a great introduction to the subject, and since the upcoming Core standards will be emphasizing critical thinking skills, we thought it would make a great class for us - allowing us to use many of the products that we love to show off - and put them in the hands of students.  Here's the outline of the classes:8 Classes in Critical ThinkingProblem Solving Strategies • Asking Questions • Working with Logic • Communicating in Teams • Deductive Reasoning • Hands on Problem Solving • Gate Test PreparationSessions will start with a mental exercise - hands-on or written.  Games like Solitaire Chess, Chocolate Fix and Pentago will set the tone of the class.  Class session will cover an introduction to a critical thinking or logic concept which students will work through together.  Most sessions will end with a Red Herring type puzzle for the class to solve together.  John MacDougall will be guiding this course.Session 1; Intro to Critical Thinking I - The Detective Feb 28Session 2: Intro to Critical Thinking II - Solving the Case Mar 7Session 3: Critical Thinking & Communication Mar 21Session 4:Putting it Together with Mr X Mar 28Session 5:  Logic & Deductive Reasoning Apr 4Session 6:  Analogies & Mathematical Reasoning Apr 11Session 7:  Critical Thinking & Science Apr 18Session 8: Puzzles & Games to Build Thinking Skills Apr 25Classes are held Thursday afternoons at 4 pm in our classroom. Classes end at approximately 5:15 pm.  Advance reservations are required, and refunds require 48 hour advance notice of cancelation.  We will not be holding class on March 14th.If you're know someone who would be interested you can find out more at this link

Hot Science Toys?
Two of the hottest toys this season seem to be Remote Control Machines from Thames and Kosmos and Snap Circuits Light from Elenco.  These are both toys I've written about and would be great for any science loving kid on your list.  What puzzles me is that we have plenty of these items in our store, and while we have sold a few, almost all the excitement for these toys has been through on-line orders! I think the shoppers for these items spend too much time in front of a computer screen - time to head to your local toy store - we have lots of toys for scientists and geeks - but you'll never know if you don't leave your desk!

5 Ways to Create Crafty Kids
From the website Your Neighborhood Toy Store:I hear from parents all the time that they are always looking for ways to encourage their children’s love of crafts. Sure, they give them paper to draw on and the occasional molding clay, but they’re not sure how to expand past that. Painting is too messy and everything on Pinterest is too difficult.  Read More... 

Neighborhood Toy Store Day at The Golden Apple
Neighborhood Toy Store Day is coming!  We're celebrating the 3rd annual NTSD on November 10th.  You and your family are invited to jump with Just Jump It and test your skills at Fastrack, Zing Shot, Faux Bow, Pajaggle and many other games.    Our Kids Carnival will start at 11 am and go on until 1 pm.  We'll take a break, and then start our Crafter Noon events in our classroom - all kinds of crafty fun for kids of all ages.  Crafts take place from 1 pm to 3 pm

Stirling Engine - Science
I'm very excited about this Sterling Engine kit from Thames and Kosmos. It does something practical It was easy to get working (though like all good experiments, it required tweaking)The price for the kit is excellent.Sterling Engines are an old idea that is getting new life in our green technology world.  The value of this machine is obvious the minute you see it start churning away after a few minutes in the sunshine!

Gayla's Model Classroom
We're hosting a model classroom constructed by Gayla Peek.  She'll be using materials from CTP to show off the possibilities for teachers, offices and waiting rooms!  We'll be posting all the pictures on Pinterest, so check it out there!

Now!Board Interactive Whiteboard
As much as I dislike electronics in the classroom (Einstein worked with chalk!), we do come across some nifty devices every now and then.  iPads for every child would accomplish something (if you want to know what, I suggest you listen to Bill Harley's story about Mrs Ammons and the last week of school)  This week we posted on the Golden Apple Online a new item called the now!Board Portable Interactive White Board.  It is what it says it is - a device that is portable and creates an interactive whiteboard anywhere.  Pretty cool, and a good way to save some money, since not every classroom is using a white board at the same time!  We will keep you posted on teacher reactions.  The important thing to us is that the price $499 is being guaranteed by Learning Resources, meaning we will have a competitive price for local schools who want to support a local business - and since teachers will get points for the purchase, you'll save money too!

Summer Reading For Kids
We have our Grade Level lists together early this year, so I can brag about them in May, instead of July like most years!  Our reading lists cover grades k through 6+, with an extra family reads included on the 6+ list.  There are lots of books we didn't have room for - I just finished Chomp by Carl Hiassen and it's on the list, but I didn't include his previous gems Hoot, Scat and Flush.  The list is broad at the bottom - pear shaped rather than an apple - because early readers are more sponges than critics.  Our Summer Workbooks also have lists, and they are up to date, because we try to keep our Summer Workbooks up to date!  A quick Google search let me find some good curated lists - I didn't like Oprah's format - designed to force you to look at lots of advertising - but her list is pretty good.  The bottom line is always read, read read!  I would also like to make a special plea for listen - audio books are a great way to subtract boredom from a road trip.  Sure you could let the kids zone out on their own screen toys, but you will miss the joy of sharing an experience together.  My # 1 recommendation for shared road trip book is Charlotte's Web - read by E.B. White.  Sublime.

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