July 2008

Songs that teach

By Alan Haskvitz


Research has clearly shown that music is a great way to help students learn concepts. Indeed, it is part of the multiple intelligences that Howard Gardner has developed. Here are some terrific sites where you can download lyrics that help teach most every subject.

A large listing of all types of songs. A great place to start.


Language Arts Songs that Teach
English Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling

Very complete site


Always Fun: Schoolhouse Rock


Songs and poems for elementary

From Canada


Elementary songs including math jingles


Their, there, they’re song

Spelling Rules

Math Songs and Poems


Musical Multiplication

Continents Song


Songs that teach science



Songs that teach history


Songs that teach the states

And more about geography


50 State capitals song


Bill of Rights and Historical Documents Songs


Children’s Songs

Not necessarily for teaching


Using the Beatles to teach ESL


ESL worksheets


Language Arts Songs


Always fun and catchy, but not all about school oriented subjects.

Animaniacs Mega Lyrics File


Nissan Altima Hybrid

 By The Car Family

For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

Not for sale everywhere. Pity. This is the best hybrid you can buy for family usage. Unlike the competition it does not come fully loaded and so it is priced less than the high-line Toyota Prius with a MSRP of $25,000. Of course, it does not get the fuel mileage of the much smaller Prius, but it is quicker and sportier to drive.

The downside of the Altima hybrid is a spare interior with difficult to read gauges and front seats that could stand more padding. The engine can be a little rough, too, but with 36 mpg who cares? Another plus is that the Nissan comes with the same basic components as the Toyota’s Synergy Drive system, but sells for less. You also lose trunk space and the back seats don’t fold down due the battery pack and you are driving proven technology. In other words, the heart of this Nissan is Toyota.

Is it worth more than the regular Altima? Yes, for sure, if you don’t need the larger cargo carrying capacity and can scrimp on options. It is spunky with a soft ride and when you ask for acceleration you get plenty of it and right now. The Altima comes with a continuously variable transmission and regenerative braking and the brake feel is the best we have ever had in a hybrid.

Mom’s view: The back seats are wonderful. It drives like a luxury car, accelerates like a sports car, and gets fuel mileage that is astounding. Can you say 600 miles plus on a tank? You might want to upgrade the base interior a bit, but I loved the smart key that enabled me to start the Altima with a push of a button. The navigation system was well above average, but the radio reception was poor. The trunk is five cubic feet smaller than the regular Altima, which certainly diminishes its usefulness.

Safety wise the Altima Hybrid earned top safety marks and comes with standard traction control and a Vehicle Dynamic Control System as well as a tire pressure monitoring. The rear view camera is the best there is and you must have it if you park anywhere there are children or in a mall. Visibility is excellent in all directions. The Altima has dual-stage supplemental front airbags, side-impact airbags and a curtain side airbag.

For the money this is as good as it gets for a family vehicle. It runs clean, gets exceptional gas mileage, and is well priced. I like it better than the Toyota Camry, but that is due to the Nissan’s handling and good visibility. Don’t buy another hybrid without testing the Altima.

Young working male’s view: Altima Hybrid is boring. The interior is a let down even with a good voice-recognition system, Bluetooth hands-free calling interface, and responsive handling. If you get the optional Digital Bose Stereo with an in-dash six-disc CD changer and nine speakers you are lucky. The base unit sucks. The 6.5-inch touch-screen GPS is run by a DVD and has one terrific feature and that is a Where am I screen that even provides local traffic incident reports. The monitor also tilts to avoid sun glare, somewhat. Driving a car with a CVT is dull with very little feel when you demand some excitement. I’d pass on this one and wait for the next generation of diesel cars if you want fuel mileage and some pep.

Working woman’s view: There is plenty to admire in this rather bland looking vehicle. You have dual zone automatic temperature control, power windows and a driver’s trip computer and the hybrid’s standard audio system is an AM/FM single-disc CD player with six-speakers and an auxiliary audio input jack. Get the optional Bose system or you’ll be sorry.

Now for the sad part. Even though it uses the proven Toyota hybrid system, the past reliability scores for Nissan products isn’t the best. However, I believe this is changing and if they can get their sales and service people to perform as the Altima hybrid does they should be in excellent shape. I would take the risk.

Dad’s view: Nissan’s CVT is as good as Audi’s. The interior layout is easy to master with good quality materials, albeit with need for a bit more feel in the switches. The steering is too soft for me, but it makes parking a breeze and the suspension on the hybrid is stiffer than the regular Altima making cornering a bit easier, but not in the Maxima’s territory. The brakes are very good, but they are regenerative and so have an initial soft feel. They have a better feel than all other hybrids except the Lexus.

The 2.5-liter, 162 horsepower four cylinder is adequate even without the electric back-up, and you can take pride in knowing that the Altima has a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standing and even meets the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle requirements.

Family conference: Check it out. This is the best bargain in the hybrid field and we have tested them all except for those from General Motors.

A section dedicated to helping students prepare for disasters.


also use the search engine to find specific free lessons.

6+1 Writing Traits

by Alan Haskvitz


For more free resources go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/index.html

Six traits is a model for teaching students about writing. The traits are designed at develop good organization habits, but be warned that six traits is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Good judgment on the part of the teacher is always the best ways to know when a student needs help to put pen to paper.


Advantages of using the 6+1 program

No objective data, but ideas on how to make it work.



Nice chart that offers insights into all aspects of the 6+1-writing program

Google Lits…making reading integrated.



Very large link site


Government site

Offers links to information that includes video and assessment help.


Very interesting interactive site that enables students to more quickly learn about the program.


Revising tutorial video

Nice overview and PowerPoint presentation


Elementary Ideas with some lesson plans


Link site

For Primary Students


Some basic ideas


Interesting classroom set-up for teaching the 6+1 method

A day-by-day plan


Good rubrics for primary and other information including strategies


An interesting take of the program with art tie-ins


Concise interactive site


A very basic checklist for primary level. Printable.

Making 6+1 Fun

Simple ideas

Rubric for my advanced students


Great descriptors and lessons


Online tutorial

Death Rates for Small Car Occupants Down: Large SUVs, Trucks Dead

By The Car Family

For more vehicle reviews go to


For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

The death rate for drivers for small cars continues to fall and are now at the same rate as drivers of large pick-up trucks giving small car scared cats a glimpse of the reality that big vehicles are not safer for the vast majority of families. Of course, the full-size sedans are still the safest if they are over the 3000-pound threshold that seems to be the touchstone for the highest safety ratings.

This is good news for intelligent buyers as large SUVs, such as the horrible Hummer H2, are literally being abandoned on the sides of the marketplace as people fight to buy safer and more fuel frugal small cars. In fact, the average dealer lot time before sale of a Prius is four days. It takes months for someone dumb enough to want to buy a large SUV to show up and qualify. Rebates over $5000 are not uncommon and as the end of the model year looms closer rebates on the Hummer and other dreadnaughts might hit $10,000. Residual values could set new records for loss rivaling those of the ill-fated Yugo as the truck chassis based SUVs find few buyers and less dealers interested in taking these slow movers as trade-ins.

In an effort toe save the company Ford and General Motors are both trying to make their rigs more attractive and even Toyota is offering huge incentives on its large pick-ups. Unfortunately, Chrysler doesn’t have a single quality high mileage compact in its fleet and is gambling on freshly designed Dodge Ram to woe the public in the fall. What we find the most upsetting is the Chrysler’s excellent minivans are not finding owners despite good gas mileage and tremendous passenger and cargo carrying capabilities. They have the most family friendly interiors of any minivan, too.

What is most fascinating is that the owners of large pick-ups usually owe more than the deflating value of their truck. The good news here is the workers still use pick-ups and their purchase can be justified. Large SUVs are another matter. There is no practical use for a Hummer H2, Lincoln Navigator, or Ford Excursion that can’t be solved with a more environmentally friendly vehicle. The excuse that I use it to tow a trailer or boat is losing its appeal when you are paying fifty cents a mile for gas. And, they aren’t safer.

According to Charles Oglesby, CEO of Asbury Automotive, the trucks are worth so little that people are just keeping them and buying a small car. Sadly, it looks like they are going to own the gas gulper for a long time because unless someone starts to cut down on speculation fuel is going to suck the energy out of the economy. By the way, gas should cost less than $70 a barrel. The rest of it is to pay for speculator’s profits not that Big Oil isn’t enjoying record profits at the expensive of the nation.

The surge of interest in hybrids is overwhelming with stock barely getting into dealer lots before it’s sold. The lines are only going to get longer so it is good thing that those big Hummers and other monsters of the highway give a lot of shade for those waiting for the fuel friendly vehicles to arrive.

Interestingly, diesel powered vehicles are still not on many people’s radar and this could be good news for early shoppers for Volkswagen and Mercedes new products. Diesel cars don’t get quite the mileage as hybrids, but they are better on the highway and less expensive to maintain. Of course, finding a diesel fuel station in some parts of the country isn’t easy, but they are just as good as gas powered vehicles, and much better in terms of longevity and miles per gallon.

The number of children who have been run over by large SUVs and the crowded freeways has created technology options that are increasing in demand. The blind spot detection system is very good, we love the one on the Cadillac, and the back up sonar and cameras, Nissan has the best, are gaining buyers. The outlawing of hand held cell phones is making wireless systems a hot item. Don’t leave the showroom without one because in time this is going to be in the same category as a radio when it comes to resale.

Suzuki, makers of an under-valued new SX4 sedan and small SUV, is going to make a GPS available next year that is portable. It is also much less expensive and easier to update than those that are permanent.

Summer themes

by Alan Haskvitz

For more free teaching resources go to


Sand Castle ideas


Sands of the World

Interesting, but sophisticated. A good compare and contrast activity.


Very large link site


ESL Related thems


Montessori Summer Hands-On Lesson Planning Newsletter


Plentiful, but very uneven

These are mainly for primary levels.


Pre-school Activities and Crafts


An interesting collection of ideas for summer learning I especailly like the month without holidays one.