Archives for May 15, 2015

Bridging the Gap: A Simple Guide to College by Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T A Must-Read!

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In this increasingly technological world, more jobs require applicants to have diverse skill sets that are not available solely with a high school diploma. According to the Pew Research Center, college graduates ages 25 to 32 who work full-time earn $17,500 more per year than their counterparts with just a high school diploma. Therefore, access to college advice is critically important for students as they prepare for college.
Education expert Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T. is the author of the new book, Bridging the Gap: A Simple Guide to College.Dixon, CEO and Founder of GamePhox Unlimited, LLC, a company dedicated to enriching the educational and life experiences of underserved and underrepresented minority youth, has written one of the only college application guides designed with the underrepresented and first generation students in mind.
“Most college preparation books write about the planning process from the ninth grade and assume readers already know the basics about college and the preparation required before they get to high school,” says Dixon. “This book takes a different approach, beginning with middle school. It’s written for those unfamiliar with the college application process: the underrepresented, first generation students, student-athletes, their families, mentors, and anyone else looking for an introduction to the pathway to college.”
Bridging the Gap serves as a primer and a simplified college planning guide that takes out the overwhelming process of applying to college by offering resources and breaking it down into manageable steps. This easy-to-read, informational book takes a grassroots approach to providing readers with a broad overview of the academic and athletic college planning and preparation process for anyone needing basic, fundamental guidance to understanding the steps it takes to get to college. For those who believe college is out of their financial reach, or are confused and intimidated on where to begin, Dixon cuts through the uncertainty of this life-altering process.
I received a copy of this book to facilitate this post and found the advice very helpful! 

In Bridging the Gap, Dixon covers topics including:
  • Understanding the complex financial aid system
  • The application, admissions, and selection process
  • Standardized tests, self-preparation and cultivating essential life skills
  • Helpful websites and other college application resources
  • Vital information for student-athletes
  • A checklist process for preparing for college, beginning in middle school.

I really liked the Checklist beginning in middle school. This one really is a Must-Read!

Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T. is Founder and CEO of GamePhox Unlimited, LLC, a company whose services include academic and athletic programming for underserved and underrepresented youth in urban communities. She is a former high school and Division 1 student-athlete, coach and administrator with nearly 30 years of experience in academics and athletics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Boston College, a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Education from Trenton State College (renamed The College of New Jersey), and a Master of Science in Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Learn more about Dixon and Bridging the Gap at and
Bridging the Gap is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and
Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to facilitate this post.

Illustrator Creates Colorful Mural for Baby Boy’s Room

Kids will always remember their childhood room. Designer and Illustrator Hyo Taek Kim was given the challenge of creating a mural for a 2-year old that would encourage energy, creativity and a colorful life in a limited New York City space.

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Photo Credit: Hyo Taek Kim.

More information about the artist can be found at

Self Disclosure: I was asked to share with our readers. No compensation was received to post.

“Plymouth Rockers” by Rocknoceros – sparking new album from DC’s power trio for kids & families Available this July!







“An outstanding mix of folk and rock … literate songs … poppy approach … multi-generational appeal.” — NPR, “Best Music for Kids and Families”

“Bubblegum Pop.  The harmonies rival those of any killer alt-rock band (assuming they decided to sing about things little kids love).” — Parenting magazine

“Kudos to the great taste of the DC area.  you already know what the rest of the country is starting to find out — that Rocknoceros is a gem of a band.” — Stefan Shepherd, Zooglobble

“Love the Unique sound and the songs are a perfect mix of great lyrics that are kid-friendly and a great sound. Young kids will love the CD!”—SoCal City Kids.
Washington, DC’s award-winning power trio for kids and families, Rocknoceros, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a sparkling “state-themed” album, Plymouth Rockers.  Set for release on the 4th of July, Plymouth Rockers features a bevy of high-octane songs about 14 different states, along with a Rocknoceros take on Irving Berlin’s classic anthem, “God Bless America.”

Plymouth Rockers is the first installment of Rocknoceros’ long awaited state song project, which will ultimately include a song for every state in the union.  Notes Rocknoceros’ Boogie Woogie Bennie, “We’ve been talking about a project like this since ‘Virginia’ appeard on our PINK!album in 2008.  Our tenth anniversary year seemed like a great time to roll up our sleeves and deliver!”

Rocknoceros fans will notice that, while maintaining a tradition of covering a dizzying array of musical styles, the power trio actually rocks a wee bit harder on Plymouth Rockers than on previous albums. Plymouth Rockers kicks off with a big slice of Kansas weather seasoned with a dash of Beatles-esque attitude on “Would You Like To Visit Kansas?”  The tasty morsels of cheese known as “Squeakers” are the pièce de résistance at the heart of the Rocknoceros tribute to Wisconsin. Migrating to the east, Rocknoceros takes a sharp right-hand turn and heads for Florida.  “The Sunshine State,” a country-inflected rock number, offers a chance to roll out the clavinet, while “Louisiana” pays tribute to the Pelican State with some dandy double-time funk expressed by fine Hammond B3-type organ licks and a full chorus of swinging, single string guitar improv.  Roots reggae à la Toots and the Maytals gets the spotlight on “Colorado Rockies,” and the Swamp Funk-influenced “Tennessee” includes references to Davy Crockett, Casey Jones, Elvis Presley, and the Tennessee Volunteers, amidst a lively chattter of wah-wah pedal guitar.

Rocknoceros is three guys:  Coach Cotton, Williebob, and Boogie Woogie Bennie.  The band has been at the forefront of the Washington, DC children’s music scene since its inception, winning a remarkable eight Washington Area Music Awards.  In its first decade Rocknoceroshas entertained tens of thousands of fans throughout the country and has gained significant national recognition with performances at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Wolf Trap, and The Kennedy Center.  In addition toPlymouth Rockers, Rocknoceros albums include Colonel Purple Turtle(2011, with an accompanying picture book), the NAPPA award-winningPINK! (2009), Dark Side of the Moon Bounce (2007), and Rocknoceros(2005).

Plymouth Rockers will be available at,,, and iTunes.

Visit the Rocknoceros website HERE.
Rocknoceros on Facebook

Rocknoceros on YouTube

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post.

Education Week releases Building Literacy report Nation’s premier education newspaper examines the state of reading instruction in grades K-3

Early literacy skills are often seen as a key indicator of educational achievement, yet American schools continue to struggle to help a wider range of elementary school students become proficient readers. And classroom literacy instruction today is largely in flux, as one federal initiative dies down and states move on to new curriculum standards for early-grades reading instruction. To help sort out the confusion, Education Week today announced an in-depth look at the state of literacy in American K-3 classrooms with its Building Literacy special report, in print and now available online at

“With new research and insight to early-education literacy topics, this report represents our most up-to-date, thorough analysis of reading and literacy,” said Debra Viadero, an assistant managing editor atEducation Week and the executive project editor for Building Literacy. “Building Literacy examines what is working, and what may not be, as schools and educators adapt to changes and work with our nation’s young learners to instill necessary skills and a lifetime love of reading.”

Education Week’s Building Literacy report will be available for print subscribers on Wednesday, May 13. The report, including an interactive quiz, classroom videos, and other multimedia features, is also available online, starting today, in a curated section at Featured stories include:

  • Should 3rd Grade Be Pivot Point for Early Reading?

Education research reporter Sarah D. Sparks examines new research suggesting that holding students back when they don’t meet grade-level reading expectations may do more harm than good. And the theorized cognitive shift from “learning to read” in 3rd grade to “reading to learn” in 4th grade may not be as clear-cut as traditionally thought.

  • Teachers Turn to New Read-Aloud Strategies For Common-Core Era

Catherine Gewertz, an Education Week associate editor and an expert on the Common Core, reports on Las Vegas’ Clark County school district’s efforts to implement lessons from the Read-Aloud Project, a collective effort that reflects a major shift in reading instruction due to the Common Core State Standards.

  • Forget Word Lists: Vocabulary Lessons Start With Context

Liana Heitin, who also covers the Common Core for Education Week, looks at how some Washington, D.C., early-grades educators are embedding vocabulary instruction in thematic units–another change driven by the Common Core.

  • Alabama Coaches Up Literacy Lessons

Associate Editor Stephen Sawchuk’s case study follows the Alabama Reading Initiative, a coaching-based professional development program launched 17 years ago that has been credited with helping significantly increase state scores in 4th grade reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. From early challenges to providing a model for other state and federal programs, the ARI now faces an uncertain future.

  • Broadening The Push for Grade-Level Reading

Catherine Gewertz looks at the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and how three communities – New Britain, Conn., Quad Cities, Iowa, and Topeka, Kan. – are working to improve 3rd grade reading proficiency through innovative attendance, summer learning, and school readiness programs.

  • Fluency Still Seen As Neglected Skill

Liana Heitin takes a close look at the perennial problem of improving fluency, the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression, and why fluency can become a barrier for some young readers. Experts caution that teaching speed alone can actually harm fluency development.

To see the full report, Building Literacy: The State of Reading Instruction in Grades K-3, and for exclusive online content, visit

Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in Bethesda, Md. Its primary mission is to help raise the level of awareness and understanding among professionals and the public of important issues in American education. EPE covers local, state, national, and international news and issues from preschool through high school and beyond. It publishes Education Week, America’s newspaper of record for precollegiate education; Education Week Teacher; Digital Directions; and the Top School Jobs employment resource. EPE also produces periodic special reports on a wide range of issues, publishes books of interest to educators, and hosts numerous live and virtual events.

Credit: Education Week.

“Woo Hoo!” “Springfield” is Now Open at Universal Studios Hollywood, in an Immersive New Themed Land Surrounding “The Simpsons Ride”

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“Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite family, The Simpsons, has officially opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, setting up residency in an elaborately immersive land situated adjacent to the theme park’s award-winning mega-attraction, “The Simpsons Ride.”

To mark the occasion, Universal Studios Hollywood hosted a festive neighborhood block party attended by special guests Al Jean, the Executive Producer of The Simpsons, Nancy Cartwright, the voice of “Bart,” Yeardley Smith, the voice of “Lisa” and Joe Mantegna, the voice of “Fat Tony,” alongside Springfielders, Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa Simpson, Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob.

The new themed environment captures the spirit of Springfield, immersing visitors and fans in the world of “The Simpsons” like never before. Springfield at Universal Studios Hollywood features the many iconic landmarks made famous throughout the series’ mind boggling 26 seasons, including Springfield Elementary School, Comic Book Guy’s Android’s Dungeon, the cooling towers of Mr. Burns’ Nuclear Power Plant, the Springfield Police Station, the Aztec Theater and, of course, the Kwik-E-Mart.

The Simpsons is an enduring franchise that has withstood the test of time, contributing to why The Simpsons Ridehas been an all-time favorite since it opened at our theme park,” said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood.  “As Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates its 50 year milestone celebration, the introduction of Springfield underscores the extensive transformation underway to engage guests in dynamic and relevant, immersive entertainment.”

The all-new Springfield culinary excursion will allow visitors to enjoy the places that helped it earn the distinction of being named “The Fattest Town” by the Duff Book of World Records. Guests will enjoy a “Genuine Clown-Endorsed Meal” at Krusty Burger, grab a slice that’s “a-nice” at Luigi’s Pizza, enjoy a “Taco Fresho” at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck, or a platter of Chicken Thumbs at Cletus’ Chicken Shack. To satisfy one’s sweet tooth, guests can visit Phineas Q. Butterfat’s Ice Cream Parlor or go nuts for a Homer-sized helping of drool-worthy donuts at Lard Lad.

The Springfield experience also features Moe’s Tavern, a Duff Brewery and a Duff Beer Garden, where guests can savor an authentic Duff Beer.

New strolling characters, Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob, also make their debut at Springfield, entertaining and interacting with guests, and, in the case of Sideshow Bob, keeping a vengeful eye out for Bart, alongside existing favorites Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie Simpson.

The arrival of Springfield adds new dimension to the area surrounding the award-winning mega-attraction, “The Simpsons Ride,” where guests embark on an outrageous and original Simpsons adventure in “Krustyland,” a theme park created by the show’s greedy clown and the ultimate Springfield convenience store, “Kwik-E-Mart” featuring a wide selection of Simpsons memorabilia.

“This is a must-see experience for Simpsons fans all over the world,” said Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative. “In spectacular fashion, guests can now enter an animated world that they’ve only seen on television – and we’re really excited to bring that world to life.”

“I might actually had been excited about the new Simpsons attractions even if we hadn’t put our blood into making it great with our fragile egos waiting for the outcome,” said James L. Brooks, Executive Producer, The Simpsons.

“The Springfield launch at Universal Orlando exceeded all of our expectations with Simpsons fans young and old traveling from around the globe to experience the immersive land. We’re so excited to now bring the world of Springfield to Universal Studios Hollywood,” said Jeffrey Godsick, President, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products.


About The Simpsons:

Currently airing its record-annihilating 26th season, THE SIMPSONS has won 31 Emmy Awards, 31 Annie Awards, a 2015 People’s Choice Award, was the first animated series to win a Peabody Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for the theatrical short “The Longest Daycare.”  “The Simpsons Movie” was a hit feature film, their mega-attraction “The Simpsons Ride” at Universal Studios Hollywood has received historic expansion updates with the addition of “Springfield” and the show was honored with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000. It has been named the “Best Show of the 20th Century” by Time Magazine, and called the “Greatest American Sitcom” by Entertainment Weekly in 2013.


THE SIMPSONS is a Gracie Films Production in association with 20th Century Fox Television. James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Al Jean are the executive producers. The Gracie Films Worldwide Brand Division develops and produces the licensed content for the series.  Film Roman, a Starz Media Company, is the animation house.


About Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products:

A division of 21st Century Fox and recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with Twentieth Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television programming and entertainment content.


About Universal Studios Hollywood:

Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A.SM, includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour; the CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex, the Universal CityWalk Cinemas and the “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue.  World-class rides and attractions include the incredibly popular “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and immersive “Super Silly Fun Land,” the critically-acclaimed mega-attraction, “Transformers™:  The Ride-3D,” the intense, award-winning ride, “King Kong 360 3-D” on the behind-the-scenes Studio Tour, “Revenge of the MummySM—The Ride” and “Jurassic Park® —The Ride.” As part of its milestone 50th anniversary celebration in 2015, Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates the arrival of all-new attractions including the electrifying 3D-HD thrill ride, “Fast & Furious—Supercharged” as the grand finale to the famed Studio Tour, “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family, adjacent to the award-winning “The Simpsons RideTM” and the “Nighttime Studio Tour,” offering evening tours of the iconic movie backlot.

Credit: Universal Studios.

West Marine Launches “Deck Out Dad!” Contest One Lucky Father to Win $500 Waterlife Makeover


West Marine, one of the world’s largest waterlife retailers, today announced its 2015 “Deck Out Dad” promotion. This Father’s Day, West Marine is looking for the dad most in need of a waterlife makeover. By spreading the word on social media – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – West Marine is encouraging folks to share photos of fathers who could benefit from a $500 West Marine gift card.


Maybe dad will upgrade his fishing gear to better enable him to catch dinner – or just update his casual attire so he doesn’t embarrass the family at a favorite seafood restaurant. He might need foul weather gear that doesn’t leak or a lifejacket that doesn’t look like it survived World War II. He might even want to spend it on supplies to finish up that boat project he started last season. Whether the dad in your life is incredibly makeover-worthy or just a little too frugal, we want to hear why he deserves to win new gear from West Marine.


“There are a lot of people who love being out on the water with their dads – even if their dad could use a makeover,” says Deb Radcliff, Senior Vice President of Marketing for West Marine. “The contest is a fun way to share photos of friends and families who enjoy spending time together on the water.”




Contest Dates: May 11–June 19, 2015. The winner will be announced the week after Father’s Day.


Entry Process: Photos should be posted on Instagram, tagged to West Marine and include the hashtags #westmarine #deckoutdad. Captions should include info on why the dad is deserving and/or needing a makeover.


Judging Criteria: Photos can be funny or sentimental, and preference will be given to those taken on or near the water. They could be on a boat, walking along the beach or at a waterside restaurant. Or, even at West Marine!


Winner Notification: The winning entrant will be asked to visit a West Marine store to pick up their $500 gift card,  and must agree to a brief photo shoot that shows them shopping. (What he buys is up to him.) He must also agree to use of the photos (before and after) for West Marine promotional purposes.

Credit: West Marine. No compensation was received and not affiliated with SoCal City Kids.

About West Marine

Founded in 1968 by a sailor, West Marine, Inc. is the largest omni-channel specialty retailer exclusively offering boating gear, apparel and footwear and other waterlife-related products to anyone who enjoys recreational time on or around the water. With over 270 stores located in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada and an eCommerce website reaching domestic and international customers, West Marine is the leading waterlife outfitter for cruisers, sailors, anglers, paddle sports enthusiasts and industry service providers. West Marine has everything you need for your life on the water. For more information on West Marine, Inc. its products and store locations, visit or call 1-800-BOATING (1-800-262-8464). West Marine’s stock is traded on NASDAQ under the symbol WMAR.



Pet Central Pet Products from CVS are a Must-Buy!

Pet Central_pig skin twists     Pet Central_Stain Remover

We recently added a new member to our family…a puppy! I am finding that puppies need a lot of different things. I received a few items from the Pet Central product line and you can find these at CVS or We received  a Pet Central Tennis Ball Dog Toy,  5 inch Pigskin Twists and the Enzyme Stain and Odor Remover. Our pup’s favorite were the Pigskin Twists and they are already all gone! My favorite is the Enzyme Stain and Odor Remover since we have been house-training our puppy. He is doing quite well but has had a few accidents and this has really come in handy! Actually, if you have a puppy, it is a Must-Have! The Pet Central Tennis Ball Dog Toy (not pictured) is also a fun and durable toy. You can see it here. I like that it seems quite durable. As with any chew type toy, just make sure to supervise your dog.

Find these and so many more great items for both dogs and cats at or CVS.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. Photo Credit: CVS/pharmacy.

Noble – A True Story About A Woman Who Makes A Difference For Hundreds Of Thousands Of People


Based on a true story about an Irish woman Christina Noble who flies into Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) after the war and leaves behind an extraordinary life story. Christina lands in a country “that she wouldn’t be able to show you on a map” with a few dollars, a dream and her own hard-won courage, and changes everything. For hundreds of thousands of people. Forever. Noble is the inspirational true story of a woman who believes that it only takes one person to make a difference. And of how she is proved right. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Hailee H. comments, “It helped me realize that a kid’s life in America can be so much easier than a kid’s life in other countries. It also inspired me to help others that are not as fortunate as I am.” See her full review below.


By Hailee H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14


The inspirational film Noble is very enlightening. It helped me realize that a kid’s life in America can be so much easier than a kid’s life in other countries. It also inspired me to help others that are not as fortunate as I am. The movie is very well acted, in terms of creating believable character.  Noble is a film that touched me emotionally and mentally and definitely put a new perspective on life.

The film is about an Irish woman named Christina Noble. The movie shows three parts of Christina’s life – her childhood played by Gloria Curtis, her teens and twenties played by Sarah Greene and her midlife years played by Deirdre O ‘Kane. Christina has a revelation through a dream that makes her to decide to help the homeless children in Vietnam to prevent their childhood from turning into an unfortunate childhood. Christina creates very strong bonds and connections with the people in Vietnam while on her crazy adventure of helping children.

The main character, Christina Noble has a very protective, brave and emotionally strong personality. I enjoyed how the director Stephen Bradley separates the film into three parts to show Christina’s difficult life as a young child and into teens and twenties. When she gets older, she starts helping kids. One of the interesting part of film is the editing which is not sorted chronologically. Instead, it is all mixed together. For example, there might be a scene showing her in her teens and twenties. Then, it’s followed with one from her childhood. The next scene might show her in middle age. The acting is very believable. In fact, at one point, I found myself in tears and, at another point, smiling. The film is like an emotional roller coaster. The cinematography is also very good. It is very good.  I was very impressed and inspired.

I rate this film five out of five stars and recommend it for children age 12 to 18 because of some adult content and some inappropriate language. This film is playing in theaters now so, check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST! Upcoming Attractions.