Monday, September 20, 2010

Fish Tanks

Watching a tank full of fish can be very calming. Studies have shown that it can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety in Alzheimer’s patients, and decrease hyper-activity in children with ADHD.

Over the years, I’ve had a fish tank in my classroom. My students love to watch them swim, but more importantly, they love to take care of them! Even the janitors get in on the act—sneaking extra food to the fish who pretend to be starving.

One time they overfed the fish so much, the water turned a murky brown. That’s not healthy for them. Now there’s a sign on the tank that reads, “We get fed a pinch on Mondays and Fridays no matter how much we beg.” I must confess sometimes I give in on a Wednesday and give them a little morsel of food. Sometimes a wayward insect will come into the classroom and I feed it to the fish. It’s fun to watch the food chain in action!

My longest lasting fish is named Jeff Goldblume. He’s at least six years old and about five inches long. He was a tiny 29 cent feeder fish that I rescued from being some other critter’s lunch! He spends his summer vacations in the water accent in my front yard munching on whatever he can catch. His scales are such a beautiful vibrant orange; he’s almost fluorescent!

Jeff is such a smart fish because he spends all day in school! Do you keep a fish tank? Do you find it calming? Leave me a comment below.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Balloon Sculpting

Being a clown is such fun. I guess I make it look easy because many people say, “Oh, I could be a clown.” They think all clowns do is put on some makeup, colorful clothes, and act silly.

There’s more to clowning than that!

Clowning is a lot of work. It took me a long time to master balloon sculpting. I first started with a little hand pump to inflate the balloons. That took forever to make balloon animals! The kids got restless, especially when balloons popped and I had to start all over again! Wah! I did not like making balloon animals.

But, I didn’t give up. I attended balloon workshops that taught me which brand of balloons to buy. Fresh, high quality latex balloons are really worth the extra money. They last longer! My hubby made a big floor pump out of plumbing supplies. That really sped things up and I got the hang of it. Finally.

“Peppermint Patti promotes peace,” I say when someone asks me for a balloon sword or gun. It may seem silly, but I think that balloon weapons send the wrong message. That’s why I won’t make them.

Only once in my thirty-plus years of ballooning a parent insisted her child get a sword. I made a fishing pole and said imagination could make it anything. That was a win-win situation.

There are two major laws concerning balloons:

1. It is against the law to give balloons to children under the age of three. Babies put everything into their mouths and a balloon could make them choke.

2. It is against the law to give uninflated balloons to children under the age of eight. When you inflate a balloon by mouth, it could pop. This could startle you, causing you to gasp and inhale the balloon and choke. According to a New York Times article, “Balloons Made of Latex Pose Choking Hazard,” (make that title a link) shiny Mylar ® balloons are much safer. (Collins, March 13, 1997)

I sculpt the balloons at the END of my show because they are fun, but distracting! It’s great to get all the balloons made and gather the kids for a picture! Great ending to a great party!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Clown Shoes

What is it about clown shoes that make some people want to step on them? I don’t see people stepping on regular shoes. I’ve even heard some moms and dads tell their kids to go step on the clown’s shoes. Now, if I could go to Kmart and pick up a new pair of clown shoes anytime I wanted, that would be one thing, but I can’t. My clown shoes are custom made and cost $200 over ten years ago! I don’t know what it would cost to replace them today. What do you think? Why do people want to step on a clown’s shoes? Please leave me a comment below. Until next time, have fun!