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Spring invites us to look a little closer at nature and the environment and marvel at the miracles all around us. Spring also seems to spark creativity. With those thoughts in mind, here are some things that may interest you, your students, and your own family.

1) April is Earth Month, a time for children and families to be inspired, active and involved in nature. It would be a great time to explore http://pbskids.org/outdoors/, an outdoor website filled with nature, animals and adventure games featuring children’s favorite animated characters. Lots of opportunities are available to explore the environment through children’s television programs. On April 7-11 at 6:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Wild Kratts has all new episodes about Hermit Crabs, Bison, Black Footed Ferrets, Flying Fish, and Osprey. Arthur has outdoor week from April 21-25 at 6:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The children’s programming explores the environment and nature all day on April 22nd.

2) Are you studying about archaeology or history? It is possible that humans may have populated the Americas longer ago than we thought. Archaeologists at the Serra Da Capivara National Park in Piauí, Brazil say the presence of stone tools suggest that humans reached what is now Brazil as early as 22,000 years ago, upending a belief that people first arrived about 13,000 years ago. Other scientists disagree, claiming monkeys made the tools. Your students may find the story and video intriguing http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/world/americas/discoveries-challenge-beliefs-on-humans-arrival-in-the-americas.html?_r=2#story-continues-1. (Beforehand you may want to advance the video to skip the commercial.)

3) We’re watching for an alien landing on April 17th. That’s when Plum, an animated alien, touches down on earth for the first time. She brings with her lots of science videos, games, apps and hands-on science activities for children 6-9 years old. The resources are aligned to national standards. Plum Landing is only available online at http://pbskids.org/plumlanding/.

4) Can your students recite the Gettysburg Address? If so, there’s still time to take part in the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address by video recording them and uploading the file to The Address, the companion website to Ken Burn’s new documentary. The Address, Burn’s new documentary, is about a school in Connecticut where they learn and recite the address every year. The show premieres Tuesday, April 15th at 8:00 p.m. on LPB HD. For details visit http://learntheaddress.org. Your students will join current and former U.S. Presidents, newsmen and women, Academy Award winning actors and producers, and thousands of students marking this anniversary. Visit learntheaddress.org, click on Video Gallery and select By State to see who you know.

5) Just a few more days to register for the April 10th electronic field trip, The War of 1812. This Colonial Williamsburg electronic field trip will air on LPB Thursday, April 10 at 9:00 a.m. and will be available later that day for streaming anytime. Preregister at http://www.lpb.org/etrips to receive your access information and password. A generation after the Revolution, Americans were once again plunged into war with Great Britain. Why? Join Henry Clay, Tecumseh, Andrew Jackson, James Madison, and others as they struggle to determine what course the Unites States will take.

6) Don’t forget to check out our Weekly Content Themes from LPB LearningMedia! Upcoming themes for April include Lincoln & The Address for the week of April 7-13, Word Play & Literacy for the week of April 14-20, I <3 Earth for the week of April 21-27 and Shake It Up! Learning Through Dance for the week of April 28-May 4.

7) Teaching & Learning in the Digital Age: Check out the spring 2014 line-up of PBS TeacherLine courses to learn the skills you need to lead a winning class! PBS TeacherLine offers an assortment of online development courses, trusted by thousands of PreK-12 educators, from 15 to 45-hour facilitated courses to 1.5 to 3-hour self-paced courses taken on your own.

8) Congratulations to Susan Gauthier (BR, Sherwood Middle Magnet School) and Theresa Steward (Amite Elementary Magnet School) who have been selected as 2014 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators! These two educators submitted entries of innovative techniques in leveraging digital media in today’s classrooms. Their work was selected from that submitted by 400 other educators. Throughout the year they will receive special professional development and training opportunities from PBS. Susan also was selected as one of the top 15 “Lead Digital Innovators” and will be traveling to Washington in June for a PBS educational summit. We’re proud of both of you.

9) Teach art? On April 5th at 5:30 p.m. LPB’s new weekly art series, Art Rocks!, debuts. The series, hosted by James Fox-Smith, publisher of Country Road Magazine, spotlights artists, performance, culture, literature, history and the impact of art in our world. Art Rocks! features Louisiana stories as well as segments from across the country. Each week, the Louisiana Arts Calendar highlights current events throughout our state, and Louisiana Treasures – offering a glimpse of items, styles and themes that are unique to Louisiana. The series aims to capture your imagination, introduce you to new artists, and offer close-up views from communities around the country and our own backyard, places where art truly rocks! The program encores on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. beginning April 13th. On April 5th composer and musician Don Vappie performs original tunes with a jazz quartet live in LPB’s studios. Texas artist Dixie Friend Gay brings the calming influence of nature into the Dallas and Houston airports with her large scale mosaics. The Colorado Ballet performs a challenging contemporary dance project that expresses artistically the human anguish of the Holocaust. New York artist Richard Birkett has been turning trash into treasure for 30 years with his quirky “fantasy clocks.” We examine a Louisiana Treasure that is Newcomb Pottery.

10) This month you can Strike a Chord by accessing music resources available free for use in your classroom, complete with lesson plans and aligned to National/Common Core standards. Register for the free LPB LearningMedia library at lpb.org/education and there you will find a wide variety of music styles and demonstrations from Yankee Doodle Variations on Coronet, Japanese Taiko Dojo, India ragas by Ali Akbar Khan, Bluegrass, Jazz with vocalist Bobby McFerrin and pianist Chick Corea, a mixture of jazz, classical and the hauntingly beautiful Spanish Suite (Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo II), New Orleans Jazz, Jazz Improvisation from New Orleans, and many more.

11) Enjoy an all-star concert of Women of Soul at the White House featuring Tessanne Chin, Melissa Etheridge, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, Patti LaBelle, Janelle Monáe and Jill Scott. The show airs at 8:00 p.m. on April 7th on LPB.

12) The Dave Clark Five – Glad All Over a Great Performance Special features interviews with Tom Hanks, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band, Stevie Wonder, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons of Kiss, Whoopi Goldberg, Dionne Warwick, 60s fashion icon Twiggy and Sir Ian McKellen, all sharing their memories of how the music and the cultural revolution of 1964 changed their lives. Airs on April 8th at 7:00 p.m.

13) Independent Lens: Muscle Shoals looks at the music of Muscle Shoals, Alabama which helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. Rick Hall, who founded FAME Studios, brought black and white together in Alabama’s cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations. In this joyful film, Greg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals’ magnetism and mystery, and why it remains influential today. Airs at 8:00 p.m. on April 21st.

14) Two lovely ballet performances are available this month. On Friday, April 17th, Peter Pan from the Milwaukee Ballet premieres at 9:00 p.m. and Great Performances: Mathew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty which premieres at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, April 25th.

15) Finally, a few more nature shows are premiering:

• Life in the Undergrowth on Sunday, April 6th. The 5-part series premieres at 10:00 a.m. and explores a spectacular miniature universe never normally seen.
• Nature: My Bionic Pet on Wednesday, April 9th premieres at 7:00 p.m. shows feats of engineering as prosthetics are made for animals left disabled without fins, flippers, beaks or tails because of disease, accidents or human cruelty.
• Nova: Inside Animal Minds, a three part series premieres at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9th. The science of animal cognition reveals hard evidence about how animals understand the world around them and uncovers their remarkable problem-solving abilities, communication, and emotions.
• Your Inner Fish, a three part series, debuts on Wednesday, April 9, at 9:00 p.m. How did the human body become the complicated, quirky and amazing machine it is today? Based on the best-selling book by Neil Shubin, the series travels from Africa to the Arctic Circle to uncover the 3.5 billion year history of the human body - and how a colorful cast of ancient characters made us who we are today.
• Alive! In America’s Delta: Life on the Edge premieres on Wednesday, April 30th, at 7:00 p.m. The Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana comprises about 40% of the nation’s coastal wetlands. Meet a few of the relatively unknown creatures struggling for survival in the Delta and get to know the people behind the scenes working tirelessly to save them. Discover how two of America’s most iconic species, the American Bald Eagle and the American Alligator were rescued from the brink of extinction, and why sustainable management is essential to the future of these and countless other species.

If you are in the New Orleans area, these programs may be available through WYES. You can check their schedule to determine whether they broadcast these programs. You can also check pbs.org where some may be available online.

I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy some of these performances and resources.

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