Rec’s and Reviews: Back-to-School Books

With school starting back up, we decided it was a good time to recommend some fun back-to-school books! Check out our nine picks below, or print out this PDF and take it to your local library or school media center.

Books are for various age groups. Many of these titles deal with being nervous about school and have vibrant illustrations. We always recommend that parents preview books before reading them with their children.

These titles deal with various emotions about starting school, and many have vibrant illustrations. We always recommend that parents preview books before reading them with their children.


CE Question: What’s your favorite first day of school memory?


The first day of school looks different than it used to, but some things will always be the same: excited students, welcoming teachers, and tons of school supplies. Even though they’re  taken on smartphones now, you still take that first-day-of-school photo (or three), and meeting new classmates will always give you butterflies. So, what’s different, and what has stayed the same?

We’d love to hear your favorite memories of the first day of school! Share them with us on Facebook!

Monthly Motivation: Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. As families are getting ready to go back to school, remember to get their eyes checked before school starts. Children entering kindergarten and third grade in Iowa must have completed an eye screening before starting school.

This month is a good chance to talk to children about their vision and eye safety. If you and your child are curious about how eyes work, the National Eye Institute has a series of educational resources geared specifically to children, including this video on vision in the dark:

Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month is also a good time to remind children to wear protective eyewear when participating in sports and to take wearing goggles in science class seriously. Make sure younger children are playing with age-appropriate toys that do not have sharp or protruding parts. Students may even need reminders about wearing sunglasses that have full coverage and protection.

Most children have healthy eyes and good vision, but the things that threaten good vision are not always immediately noticeable. The best way to make sure your child’s eyes are healthy is a setting up an eye exam.

Some things parents can look for are:

  • wandering or crossed eyes
  • a family history of childhood vision problems
  • disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
  • squinting or turning the head in an unusual way when watching television

Health Alliance Plan
Prevent Blindness
National Eye Institute

CE Today: August 5 — National Premiere of “American Bandstand”


Image source:

“American Bandstand” started as a local show on Philadelphia’s WFIL-TV channel, but host Dick Clark’s vision and ambition got it picked up for a national premiere on August 5, 1957. The show featured popular music and “average teenagers” who would dance to, discuss, and rate the records played, while also showcasing fashion trends of the time. Being featured on the show could rocket a musician or band to fame, while being passed over could ensure they were forgotten.

The show eventually moved to Los Angeles and changed to a weekly format, but continued to be hosted by Clark until the late 1980s. It was the longest-running weekly pop music showcase TV program, until “Top of the Pops” broke its record in 2001.

Sources “American Bandstand goes national”
USA TODAY: “Curtain falls on Dick Clark, but not on his legacy”
Internet Movie Database: “American Bandstand”

CE Value: Enrichment — Summer of Learning 2015

For the new CE Value blog posts, WDMCS Community Education will share news about our six values: people focus, respect, relevance, enrichment, fun, and team unity. This month, we wanted to highlight enrichment.

One of the ways WDMCS Community Education works to increase enrichment is by providing as many relevant enrichment opportunities as possible. The Summer of Learning programs encompass many of those opportunities. Whether students need a summer learning boost or want a fun way to expand their skills and knowledge, the Summer of Learning provides many activities they can choose from.

Here are some of the enriching Summer of Learning programs that were offered this summer:

Art Adventures — Students learned about different materials and techniques while exercising their own creativity.

Band Bash, Jazz Jam, and Summer Strings — The summer instrumental music programs offered students a chance to keep their skills sharp and build confidence and new friendships.

Be the Boss! Youth Entrepreneurship Camp — Students learned about building a business and the spirit of entrepreneurship before trying it themselves, creating business plans, marketing materials, and products for their own companies.

Preschool Creations — Preschoolers learned to experiment with art and decorate cakes in these new classes all about getting an early start to creativity.

Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) — SAIL offers refresher classes in reading, writing, and math, as well as enrichment opportunities such as chess, computers, art, science, sign language, and much more.

Science Exploration — This class let students explore a variety of science subjects, from weather to dinosaurs or forensics and rocketry.