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Category: Articles Written for Kids

Elephants In The Sky & The Man On The Moon

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.

The Dark and Scary Side – of SNEEZING

Kids History

Sneezing. We all do it. It seems so simple. You get an itch in your nose, a tickle in your head and then: HAH-CHEW! You don’t decide to sneeze. It just happens. A sneeze can be funny, but it can also be dangerous. In fact, sneezing has a dark and frightening history.

People have sneezed since the beginning of time. And all over the world people have responded to a sneeze by wishing the sneezer good health.

In ancient Rome people would say “Jupiter preserve you.” Ancient Greeks would say “good health to you.” Even though these people didn’t know about germs, they knew that sneezing was a bad sign.

Some thought that the soul left the body when a person sneezed. Wishing good health helped keep the devil away from that soul. Other people thought that sneezing was how a person got rid of a demon. A blessing was to help keep the devil from re-entering the person’s body.

The phrase, “God bless you” is believed to come from Pope Gregory The Great during the sixth century. This was when a deadly bubonic plague ran wild through Europe. The blessing was uttered after a sneeze in the hope of preventing the spread of the illness. Of course, it didn’t.

Probably the most familiar response to sneezing is: gesundheit. This is a German word that means “health.” In Punjabi, people say “Glorious Lord.” Latvians say, “To your health.” Albanians simply say, “Health.” While some cultures have different ways to answer the blessing, the usual thing to say back is: “Thank you.”

Sneezing is also thought to have inspired a famous old children’s rhythm: Ring around the Rosie. In the 1800s, people thought that the poem was a playful description of the plague. The words, “A-shew-A-shew we all fall down” was thought to describe sneezing then getting sick and falling.

History experts don’t think that the nursery rhythm was written because of the plague, but people still believe the story.

Of course, now we know that sneezing is one way our bodies get rid of germs. Years ago, people were told to sneeze into handkerchiefs. This wasn’t a good idea, because the germs still lived in the cloth.

Now people are told to use tissues then throw the tissues away and wash their hands. If you sneeze and do not have a tissue, doctors say that you should to sneeze into the elbow of your sleeve.

We know that sneezing isn’t caused by demons, but we do know that germs are dangerous. You can still say “God bless you,” but to be safe, use a tissue and wash your

Sneezing. We all do it. It seems so simple. You get an itch in your nose, a tickle in your head and then: HAH-CHEW! You don’t decide to sneeze. It just happens. A sneeze can be funny, but it can also be dangerous. In fact, sneezing has a dark and frightening history.

People have sneezed since the beginning of time. And all over the world people have responded to a sneeze by wishing the sneezer good health.

In ancient Rome people would say “Jupiter preserve you.” Ancient Greeks would say “good health to you.” Even though these people didn’t know about germs, they knew that sneezing was a bad sign.

Some thought that the soul left the body when a person sneezed. Wishing good health helped keep the devil away from that soul. Other people thought that sneezing was how a person got rid of a demon. A blessing was to help keep the devil from re-entering the person’s body.

The phrase, “God bless you” is believed to come from Pope Gregory The Great during the sixth century. This was when a deadly bubonic plague ran wild through Europe. The blessing was uttered after a sneeze in the hope of preventing the spread of the illness. Of course, it didn’t.

Probably the most familiar response to sneezing is: gesundheit. This is a German word that means “health.” In Punjabi, people say “Glorious Lord.” Latvians say, “To your health.” Albanians simply say, “Health.” While some cultures have different ways to answer the blessing, the usual thing to say back is: “Thank you.”

Sneezing is also thought to have inspired a famous old children’s rhythm: Ring around the Rosie. In the 1800s, people thought that the poem was a playful description of the plague. The words, “A-shew-A-shew we all fall down” was thought to describe sneezing then getting sick and falling.

History experts don’t think that the nursery rhythm was written because of the plague, but people still believe the story.

Of course, now we know that sneezing is one way our bodies get rid of germs. Years ago, people were told to sneeze into handkerchiefs. This wasn’t a good idea, because the germs still lived in the cloth.

Now people are told to use tissues then throw the tissues away and wash their hands. If you sneeze and do not have a tissue, doctors say that you should to sneeze into the elbow of your sleeve.

We know that sneezing isn’t caused by demons, but we do know that germs are dangerous. You can still say “God bless you,” but to be safe, use a tissue and wash your

What Would the ‘Future You’ Post?

future social media posts for kids safety

Adults tell you all the time: “Be careful what you post on social media! The Internet is forever!” Teachers say: “When you apply for college, the school might reject you because of all those pictures and mean posts.”

You hear over and over: “People who hire employees will read your history and you might not get the job you want.” You smile, nod, then roll your eyes. Who cares about what happens in five, ten or twenty years?

Someone just made a post that makes you angry—you feel that you must post some angry comment back. You take a picture of yourself drawing a rude image on a neighbor’s fence and snicker as you upload it to your page.

Stop. Take your fingers off your phone or keyboard. What you are told is true. The Internet saves everything you do today. People can see all your posts five, ten and even twenty years from now. People have lost jobs for postings made years before.

If you want to be, say, the boss of a company or a famous dancer or a doctor or mayor of a city, think about that when you post online. A firefighter’s job is to face danger and save lives—would someone like that make mean posts to a little kid?

Would a great engineer type hurtful words to a person who is different from him or her?  Maybe you won’t become a great engineer if you can’t get into college because of mean comments posted when you were a kid.

Think about what you want to be. Imagine reaching your goals. You could dream of being an athlete, a pop star, a carpenter, a zoologist—whatever it is, think about how The Future You would act online. What would a nurse post when a person talks about being in pain?

What would a great world leader do when he or she sees someone being bullied online? If you act like the person you want to grow up to be, you’ll be on the road to being that person.

Now, look at your social media platforms.

Think about what a firefighter would say to the comments you see online. You have a long way to go before you can join a team of firefighters, but your journey can start when you act smart and strong online. It’s like having a firefighter writing your posts!

Adults tell you all the time: “Be careful what you post on social media! The Internet is forever!” Teachers say: “When you apply for college, the school might reject you because of all those pictures and mean posts.”

You hear over and over: “People who hire employees will read your history and you might not get the job you want.” You smile, nod, then roll your eyes. Who cares about what happens in five, ten or twenty years?

Someone just made a post that makes you angry—you feel that you must post some angry comment back. You take a picture of yourself drawing a rude image on a neighbor’s fence and snicker as you upload it to your page.

Stop. Take your fingers off your phone or keyboard. What you are told is true. The Internet saves everything you do today. People can see all your posts five, ten and even twenty years from now. People have lost jobs for postings made years before.

If you want to be, say, the boss of a company or a famous dancer or a doctor or mayor of a city, think about that when you post online. A firefighter’s job is to face danger and save lives—would someone like that make mean posts to a little kid?

Would a great engineer type hurtful words to a person who is different from him or her?  Maybe you won’t become a great engineer if you can’t get into college because of mean comments posted when you were a kid.

Think about what you want to be. Imagine reaching your goals. You could dream of being an athlete, a pop star, a carpenter, a zoologist—whatever it is, think about how The Future You would act online. What would a nurse post when a person talks about being in pain?

What would a great world leader do when he or she sees someone being bullied online? If you act like the person you want to grow up to be, you’ll be on the road to being that person.

Now, look at your social media platforms.

Think about what a firefighter would say to the comments you see online. You have a long way to go before you can join a team of firefighters, but your journey can start when you act smart and strong online. It’s like having a firefighter writing your posts!

A Story of Before and After

My odd friends are once again teaching me how what we think can sometimes fool us. Let me tell you about Rahim and Sandy. Rahim is a quiet, gentle guy and all the girls I know have a secret crush on him. The one with the biggest crush is Sandy. What put him in solid with her was when she saw him one afternoon at the mall.

A girl who was dressed kind of oddly was being bullied by a group of rude boys. Sandy, watching in the food court, saw Rahim stride up to the group and order the boys away from the girl who by this time was crying.

Rahim stood between the weeping girl and bullies until mall security came and escorted the boys away. Sandy watched as the guards thanked Rahim and the girl’s mother ran up to hug her girl.

Sandy texted me from the food court: “Rahim is awesome. He’s so strong and kind. I like him so much.”

I smiled and set my phone aside.

A busy week of school and sports and gossiping passed. Sandy spent every spare moment she could with Rahim. They took breaks together, went for slushies together and biked away from school together every day.

Sandy texted me: “I know we are just friends, but Rahim is the guy I see with me for a long time.”

This was before.

The very next day after that text, Sandy saw a picture on social media of the bullied girl from the mall kissing Rahim on the cheek. In another picture, Rahim and mall-girl were sitting close to each other eating burgers and looking happy.

At this point, Sandy texted me: “How could I be so stupid. Rahim took advantage of a bullied girl and now is hanging with her.

He was only nice to her because she was so pretty. And all this week while he was hanging with me, he was also hanging out with this girl.

He must be one of those guys who needs lots of girlfriends to feel good about himself. I saw that in a movie last week.”

I rolled my eyes and turned off my phone.

Sandy does this all the time. Before the mall incident, Rahim is sweet and sensitive. After the mall, he’s the villain on a television show. Sandy is my friend and I’m going to have to talk with her about making assumptions. I need to tell her that mall-girl is Rahim’s cousin.

My odd friends are once again teaching me how what we think can sometimes fool us. Let me tell you about Rahim and Sandy. Rahim is a quiet, gentle guy and all the girls I know have a secret crush on him. The one with the biggest crush is Sandy. What put him in solid with her was when she saw him one afternoon at the mall.

A girl who was dressed kind of oddly was being bullied by a group of rude boys. Sandy, watching in the food court, saw Rahim stride up to the group and order the boys away from the girl who by this time was crying.

Rahim stood between the weeping girl and bullies until mall security came and escorted the boys away. Sandy watched as the guards thanked Rahim and the girl’s mother ran up to hug her girl.

Sandy texted me from the food court: “Rahim is awesome. He’s so strong and kind. I like him so much.”

I smiled and set my phone aside.

A busy week of school and sports and gossiping passed. Sandy spent every spare moment she could with Rahim. They took breaks together, went for slushies together and biked away from school together every day.

Sandy texted me: “I know we are just friends, but Rahim is the guy I see with me for a long time.”

This was before.

The very next day after that text, Sandy saw a picture on social media of the bullied girl from the mall kissing Rahim on the cheek. In another picture, Rahim and mall-girl were sitting close to each other eating burgers and looking happy.

At this point, Sandy texted me: “How could I be so stupid. Rahim took advantage of a bullied girl and now is hanging with her.

He was only nice to her because she was so pretty. And all this week while he was hanging with me, he was also hanging out with this girl.

He must be one of those guys who needs lots of girlfriends to feel good about himself. I saw that in a movie last week.”

I rolled my eyes and turned off my phone.

Sandy does this all the time. Before the mall incident, Rahim is sweet and sensitive. After the mall, he’s the villain on a television show. Sandy is my friend and I’m going to have to talk with her about making assumptions. I need to tell her that mall-girl is Rahim’s cousin.