Monday, December 17, 2018

Educational Value of Pokemon

The Educational Value of Pokemon
Kids LOVE Pokemon! My kid, in particular, is a HUGE Pokemon fan.

When she first took up this hobby, I thought of it as pure "bubble gum" - a time-waster with NO educational value (rather like Bubble Gum that has no nutritional value) - but just "fun."

And that's okay! Everyone needs something just "fun" now and then.

Ironically, I'm one of those people who gets annoyed when they go to the toy store and see a doll that says, "Educational! Promotes eye-hand coordination & encourages social skills" or a car with a label that proclaims, "Educational! Helps develop fine motor skills and spatial reasoning!"

I mean, seriously?!  It's a TOY!

But, I can't help but notice that here and there, a wee bit of education is happening when my daughter plays Pokemon : )

This is how:

1. Playing the Pokemon game requires math. Kids have to add, subtract or multiply (often two or three digit numbers with zero as a final digit) to play.

2. Pokemon nearly all have "punny" names that are based on Greek, Latin, Historical, or even Pop Culture roots. Decoding the meaning of the names has given us literally hours of learning root words & foreign words, as well as understanding the occasional cultural reference.For instance, when we look at Geodude, we discuss the root Geo, relating to the Greek root γη (Ge). When we see Purrloin, we discuss the meaning of the word Purloin, and Poe's work, The Purloined Letter.

3. Sorting/organizational skills. My daughter & her friends spend hours sorting and organizing their cards. Some do it alphabetically, others by type, others by cuteness or color. (Most of them can tell you exactly which cards they do and don't own - out of the hundreds produced - a huge mental feat!) Then, once in a while they switch their organizational method and re-do it all! It's easy to look at this as a total time waster as a parent, until you reflect on the huge value of organizational skills in the adult world. Can you imagine a statistician or accountant with no organizational skills? Or a secretary? Or a reporter? Or a botanist? Or a researcher? Or a housewife? Organizational skills are tremendously valuable, and they do require practice to master.

4. Social & business skills. Learning the negotiating skills needed to trade Pokemon cards well without offending friends (OR getting ripped off) has great applicability in the adult world. Expect your child to make some mistakes & need to make some apologies here! That is part of how we learn to mend friendships and treat our friends properly.

5. Literature. Pokemon movies often borrow themes from the Bible (Darkrai, a "diety"  sacrifices his life for his people, and is resurrected, for example!) and classic literature. Learning to recognize common themes from Holy Scriptures (and to see important differences!) and analyze them is something a lot of folks don't undertake till high school or college. But your young Pokemon fan might be doing it already!

6. Character. In the video episodes, the young people exhibit such values as perseverance, cooperation, kindness, and contrition.

7. Phonics Practice. We've all seen it. The seemingly accomplished adult reader who reads regularly in Church, but openly tells you, "I can't read all those 'begats!' Who can pronounce all those strange names?" Becoming truly proficient at sounding out words takes practice long after first grade has ended. Pokemon names give kids that practice (Incidentally, reading the Bible aloud ALSO gives that practice ; )  Sounding out all those Poke-names (many of which are "punny" when correctly pronounced) is great practice!

8. Spiritual Development -  Pokemon, like any interest, can become an addiction (in the Spiritual life, sometimes called a "Passion") that starts to take too important a place in one's life. When we'd rather play Pokemon than pray, or go to Church, we need to learn to reign in that interest and keep it in its proper place, submitting it to more important things. This, also, is a great skill to learn for adulthood!

Now, I'm not about to log Pokemon hours as school time, BUT - seeing the education that's happening during play time is still a gratifying thing : )

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Curried Red Lentils with Winter Squash

Curried Red Lentils with Winter Squash Cubes
My dear friend Chrysa made me this spectacular Lentil dish on a recent family visit. It was so delicious that I could probably eat it every day for lunch and not tire of it.

The sweet squash chunks contrast beautifully with the savory Lentils.

And, it's super-healthy, too : )

She found the recipe here. She made a few changes when she made it for me. Then I made a few changes, resulting in the current Slow Cooker-friendly version.

Curried Red Lentils with Winter Squash

Saute in a non-stick skillet:
1 T oil
1 ½ C Onion
1 tsp garlic (I use the jarred, minced from fresh kind)
1 T Ginger (I use the jarred kind)
1 T Curry Powder
Add the above to slow cooker with
1# Red Lentils, sorted and rinsed well
1 Can diced Tomatoes, with juice
2 tsp salt
7-8 C Water
1 bag (10-20 oz) Butternut Squash Cubes (or any orange, winter squash)
Cook on High about 4 hours
At end of cooking, add
Small Dash Lemon Juice at end to brighten flavors (not too much now !)

 In the slow cooker, frozen squash cubes tend to lose their shape and mix with the lentils (which can be quite tasty, too!). If you wish to keep a firmer shape, and a more distinct flavor contrast, use fresh, large cubes (about 1" cubes), or add frozen cubes one to two hours before the end of cooking time.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Spicy Asian Orange Bowl

Spicy Asian Orange Bowl
This is a great lunch for one. If you want something healthy and satisfying, give it a try. It's also quick to throw together : )

You can completely customize it to your own personal tastes.

First add a layer of Rice. Or Quinoa. Or Couscous - or whatever your favorite grain is.

Top it with your favorite veggies. Here, I used a Stir Fry medley from the freezer. But, other times I add raw veggies like Shredded Cabbage.

Other good toppings (cooked or raw):
Snow Peas, Peas, Edamame, Broccoli, Peanuts, Tofu, Almonds, Scallions, Carrots, Celery, Mandarin Orange Segments

If you're an Omnivore, Some cubed chicken would also go nicely.

This is a GREAT dish for using up those leftovers in the fridge : )

I make the sauce in the microwave, but if you prefer, you can make it in a saucepan on the stovetop. Just keep stirring until it simmers - which won't take very long at all.

Here's the Sauce for One 

Spicy Asian Orange Sauce for One to Two

1 Tablespoon Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Water
½ Tablespoon Sugar*
¼ teaspoon Sriracha(or to taste)
½ teaspoon Tapioca Starch
Microwave, stirring every 15 seconds, till clear & bubbly (usually less than 1 minute total cooking time)

Here's the Sauce for a family

Spicy Asian Orange Sauce for 4 to 8

1/4 cup Orange Juice
1/4 cup  Soy Sauce
1/4 cup  Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1/4 cup  Water
2 Tablespoons Sugar*
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or to taste)
2 teaspoons Tapioca Starch
Microwaving, stirring every 15 seconds, till clear & bubbly

Here's the nutrition information per serving I calculated for this sauce on these sites for
General Nutrition Information and  For WW Points:
When made with Sugar, per 2 T serving:
43.1 Calories, 0g Saturated Fat, 6 g Sugar, 1 g Protein. 2 WW Freestyle Smartpoints

*I tried this recipe with both 1) Pink Sweetener Packets (Saccharine) and 2) Measures-the-same-as-sugar-sucralose (Aka Splenda or Apriva). Don't use the Pink Packets (1) . But, if you use the Splenda-type sweetener that measures like sugar (2) - it  works like a dream. It also cuts your points in half, and significantly reduces your calories. Your call.

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