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Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Building Brain Power With Building Blocks!


The New York Times reporter Kyle Spencer recently took a closer look at the rising popularity of “unit blocks — those basic, indestructible wooden toys created in the early 1900s,” in New York City’s early education schools. Spencer spoke with 92nd Street Y’s Fretta Reitzes, an expert in parenting and early childhood education. “Ms. Reitzes,” wrote the Times, “said many educators were embracing blocks as an antidote to fine-motor-skill deficits and difficulty with unstructured activity, problems that they blame on too much time in front of screens and overly academic preschools.”

Fretta Reitzes also runs the 92Y Wonderplay™ Early Childhood Learning Conference every November. This year’s block workshop was so popular, she told Spencer, that she added a second one. “What we’re seeing,” she said, “is teachers really caught between these very prescriptive curriculums and their desire to give kids opportunities to explore.” Watch this year’s completed Wonderplay™ conference online, for free.

Related: Mark your calendars for February 4, the first in a series of FREE Parenting with Soul Conversations, with Alexandra Barzvi Silber, Ph. D and Stephanie B. Levey, Ph. D.

[92Y Parenting & Family]

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92Y Culture Klatsch Q&A With Michael Kupperman


Michael Kupperman is a cartoonist and Mark Twain autobiographer. He’s also the special guest at tomorrow’s installment of the Closely Watched Films series hosted by Elliott Kalan, on December 7. Elliott and Michael also worked together on the new Marvel comic book Shame Itself. The newest installment of Michael’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle comes out December 9.

When Michael is not illustrating comics, he’ll glance at the website English Russia, if time allows. And he get his news on Twitter, the “magic grapevine.” Read more about his culture and media habits below, in the 92Y Culture Klatsch Q&A.

Where do you go for news when you start your day?
Twitter. It’s a magic grapevine.

What are your favorite websites?
I have no time anymore, but an amazing one to look at is English Russia. Apparently Russia is a cross between The Road Warrior and Brazil. Endlessly fascinating.

How much do you use Twitter and Facebook (or other social networking services)?
A lot. I genuinely enjoy Twitter and the interactions I find there; with Facebook I enjoy the interactions but detest the site itself. Someone on my Twitter feed recently compared it to East German in the 1970s, which I thought was very apt; the spying, the control, the fact that you can never do what you want/need to. It’s maddening!


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