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Tiny Teach: Recipe #4

November 23rd, 2015

Our game Tiny Teach from Great Group Games has worked so well for us that we created a different version for younger children. It’s called Little Professors, Little Einsteins (Great Group Games for Kids).  It follows the same principle of sharing and teaching but adds prompts to help younger youth think more concretely about what they know how to do from given categories such as games, sports, or . . . the kitchen.

And speaking of kitchens, here is this week’s recipe shared by a participant who played Tiny Teach with us in one of our workshops.  A quick recipe you can use to bring to the Thanksgiving potluck!

2 Minute Fudge

Mix Reese’s pieces with vanilla icing. Nuke for 1 minute.  Stir. Nuke every 10 seconds until completely melted. Spread in pan and put in fridge to set.


Tiny Teach: Recipe #3

November 16th, 2015

One of the best times that Ann and I have in our professional development workshops is watching participants teach each other skills and knowledge when we lead the game, Tiny Teach.  We have laughed and learned so much more about the people in the room and what they like to do.

Recipes are one of the most popular sharings from the group (as is dancing!).  Here is our third week’s pick of recipes we’ve learned.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Pie

Pudding Ingredients

  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Crumb Mixture Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder

Pie Completion Ingredients

  • 3 inch pie crust, baked
  • 3 cups whipped cream

To make pudding:

Mix corn starch, salt, 1 cup of milk, egg yolks and vanilla with a wire whisk and set aside.  Heat 3 cups of milk, with the butter and sugar until scalding, stirring constantly. Add cornstarch mixture to hot milk while stirring with whisk. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat before boiling.

Place pudding in refrigerator to chill. Stir every 10 minutes.

To make crumb mixture:

Mix powdered sugar, cocoa, and peanut butter until small crumbs form (with mixer).

Place 1/2 crumbs into pie shell. Spoon pudding onto crumbs. Place remaining crumbs on top of pudding, reserving a little for the topping. Top with whipped cream (homemade is best, but cool whip will work).

Tiny Teach: Recipe #2

November 9th, 2015

In our second week of sharing recipes we’ve learned from the game Tiny Teach, we want to share 1 tip for the game to go along with the recipe.

Tip:  Use Tiny Teach (from Great Group Games) for youth-adult pairings.  This game is the perfect opportunity to help youth and adults realize that they have much to share and learn from each other.  Over the years we have frequently used this game to even the playing field as we prep youth and adults to serve together on boards.  Since both get to teach whatever they want, whatever it is they know something about, it allows them both to be both teacher and learner . . . and begins to create the ground work for mutual respect.

You can gain more games and activities to use in workshops and trainings from our book Get Things Going.

Now for the recipe:

Fruit Dip

  • 1 8 oz. bar of Philly cream cheese – let set at room temperature
  • 1 small jar of Smuckers caramel sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 box of powdered sugar
  • white bread
  • butter
  • cinnamon
  • sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine cream cheese and caramel sauce.  Blend cream cheese mix with 1 egg yolk and a box of powdered sugar. Melt butter and mix with cinnamon and sugar.

Take the bread; roll it out with a pin to flatten and cut off the crust.  Smear onto the bread the blended mix, and then roll it up and dip it in a butter, cinnamon, sugar mix.

Bake for 10 minutes.

What’s your favorite dip for the holidays?

MLK Spoken Word Contest

November 4th, 2015

The Metro Human Relations Commission (Nashville, TN)  is co-sponsoring the first annual Youth Spoken Word Competition for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  There are cash scholarship prizes.  Please pass this on to your staff so they may share it with churches, synagogues, mosques, and civic and community groups they are involved with.

High school and college students (or people between the ages of 14 and 22) are invited to start creating and uploading their videos. They can submit their videos now until December 1st. Participants can win cash prizes based on different categories as individuals or in groups.

The MHRC would like to give a big thank you to Neal & Harwell Law Firm and Meharry Medical Center for sponsoring the scholarships.

Find more information about the competition here:

The videos will be posted on the MLK Day YouTube page.

Tiny Teach: Recipes

November 2nd, 2015

Ann and I frequently use the game Tiny Teach (from our books, Great Group Games) in some of our trainings with youth workers and educators. In this game, pairs have a limited amount of time to teach each other something they know about or know how to do. For example, someone might share how to shoot a perfect free throw, count to 10 in a different language, a dance step or . . . a favorite recipe.

We have learned many recipes over the years and thought with the holidays right around the corner that we would share a few from our files this month. Check back each Monday to gain a new recipe! Bon appetite!

Hungry Jack Casserole
Brown 1 pound of ground beef with onion, salt and pepper. Add B & M’s baked beans, tomato sauce and 1 cup of barbeque sauce; mix.  Cook until it bubbles.

Put mixture into a casserole dish; cover with 1 cup (or more) of cheddar cheese.

Take canned biscuits and tear into halves.  Layer biscuits on top of the mixture.  Put in oven and follow directions for biscuits to get the oven temp and how long to cook.

Suggestion serve with salad and mashed potatoes.

Meditation as a Practice in the Classroom

September 30th, 2015

My colleague, Jacquie, shared with me that at her school, a fellow teacher daily starts his class off with a slower pace. As students enter, calm music is playing. He tells the class to simply breathe for one minute, eyes closed or not. Students are then invited to journal for three minutes on whatever is standing in the way of their connecting with class. (It’s good old-fashion brain dump.) If there is still time left before diving into class, then two minutes are dedicated for students to share with a partner or in a group.


Peter’s practice is brilliant for various reasons.


  1. He creates a bridge into an emotional safe space and invites youth to be actively present in class, present to relationships in the now. Basically he honors the fact that they may have things swirling in their heads that needs to be dealt with before they can move forward.
  2. He is introducing a form of meditative practice that they can use throughout their lives that will help them learn to control their own emotions, deal with them and restore balance. Breathing techniques and brain dumps are both great ways to slow down storming thoughts and return to a calm center.



Meditation is an increasing practice that youth workers are using not only to feed into brain development but to help with social-emotional balance and learning to control emotions. Once associated only with Eastern religions, many diverse people are now realizing the power of meditation is in the act of slowing down, regulating breathing and calming crazy, out-of-control thoughts. A practice we can all benefit from!


Do you use any form of silence, focused attention on a positive thought or breathing, or journaling in your program? If you have a story of how mediation has helped your youth, share it with us!

Brain Enhancers and Creating an Environment for Learning

September 16th, 2015

As we wrote our book Groups and Troops, one of our priorities was to take research chunks that match well with the idea of positive youth development and connect the research to ideas adults working with youth can use in their classrooms and programs. One of our research sources was John Medina’s work on the 12 Brain Rules (www. ). Medina offers key insights into what the brain needs to be healthy. We took those rules and applied them to the youth world.


Assess your work with youth: Do you use movement as a method for teaching content? Offer challenge or opportunities for them to explore new things? Do you focus their attention and give them opportunities to repeat what they’ve learned to help engage short-term and eventually long-term memory? Do you keep the stress down?


We offer practical strategies for these brain enhancers – and others from other researchers in the field – in the book. Consider this visual of what it looks like to create a welcoming environment for the brain:


Fourth-grade teacher Linda Tupper of Columbia, Tennessee, is deliberate when it comes to preparing her youth for standardized testing. She knows that her students will be sitting for a great length of time and need all the brain support they can get. While she can’t control the length of time they have to spend taking the tests each day, she does what she can to boost brainpower and help them recover as quickly as they can. She focuses on creating a supportive environment before, during, between, and after test taking. She has water and healthy snacks on hand, plays music, leads planned exercise breaks, and has puzzles and coloring pages set up around the room. Linda knows how important healthy development is, and over the years her youth have earned some of the highest standardized scores in the school.


How much attention do you pay to the environment you create for your youth?


Field Trips to Explore Youth Perspectives: Virtual and Real-Time Opportunities

July 8th, 2015

Excerpted from Groups Troops, Clubs and Classrooms by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, 2014

Field trips are a powerful way to help youth expand their perspectives. They help youth learn more about the community and expand their horizons of opportunity and awareness. Field trips can reinforce academic, civic, or cultural learning and connect to the personal sparks or interests of young people. Field trips are powerful ways to help youth explore potential connections to the community with regard to internships, career fields, hobbies, and volunteer opportunities.

Choose field trips that give youth different perspectives of what makes the community work and demonstrate a variety of sparks. Try one of these: airport, bakery, pro sports team practice, cathedral, farm, factory, science lab, or a military base. Think about what makes your community unique and take youth to explore your community on a deeper level. Where could you take your youth to give them the most diverse perspective possible?

Or consider virtual field trips:

  • Use Skype to interact with      people across the world. Skyping can prepare youth for what they might      experience on an upcoming trip to another part of the world or it can be a      conduit for creating updated versions of “pen-pals.”
  • Virtual classrooms can      provide venues for groups to connect through technology for the sake of      discussions or doing presentations.
  • Take virtual field trips      around the world to learn about anything you want to. The website has many virtual field trips submitted by      children around the world.
  • Have youth create and submit      their own videos to share on Meet Me at the Corner’s website.
  • Use a search engine to      research topics of interest to your group. Just remember to preview any      media content that you share with your group.


Looking for more ways to help young people explore the world?  Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

The Power of Relationships

July 3rd, 2015

My friend, Rena, a referee, stood on the sidelines before a scrimmage, talking with a frustrated basketball player. She gave her some advice for improving her game. She explained in detail how important her role was on the court and why the coach had changed her position. She gave perspective to what was going on. Rena helped paint a vision and expectations for leadership for the girl’s role and how she could step up her game.


After her next game, the player sought out Rena and told her that she had taken her advice and had the best game she’d ever had and scored the most points she’d ever scored.


This quick moment is a great example of how a caring adult created a relational space, took a few minutes to listen, focus on the player, be real, and find her strengths. A mere 5-10 minutes of listening and sharing together can build a person up!


Rena simply took advantage of a moment, and turned it into something deeper. She seized an opportunity to show the player she cared and to offer encouraging words, actions and challenging ideas for making things better. The result? The player ran with it. She needed someone to listen, to care, to create a safe space for sharing and then she was open to feedback for making changes. That’s positive youth development in action!


To learn more about creating relational space, the value of listening and empowering youth to be proactive in their own lives, check out our book, Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms, The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.



Have you had a passing conversation with a young person that you later learned was a bigger deal to them than you ever thought possible? Share with us!



Silence – An Unexpected Strategy for Engaging Youth

June 17th, 2015

As you listen to youth, make sure you invite silence into the conversation. Some of us hurry conversations because silence makes us uncomfortable. Silence, however, is a friend to conversations and creates space for introverts to think and for everyone to reflect. After you ask a question, wait 10–12 seconds (count: one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, and so forth) before you ask another question. Or breathe slowly in-between. These two tricks will help you slow down and focus on them.

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Classic Children’s Books

April 13th, 2015

The library is so vast, that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start looking for good books.  Check out this list of classic youth stories from my friend Mary Young:

Where the red fern grows
Wrinkle in time
Island of the blue dolphins
My side of the mtn.   The Hobbit
Chronicles of narnia
Treasure island
Swiss family Robinson
Robin hood
Black beauty
The black stallion
Treasures of the snow
Little house on the prairie
Little women.
Johnny tremain
Little men

Resources for Teaching Tolerance

April 8th, 2015

Have you seen all the cool resources you can access from Teaching Tolerance?  Here is a sampling:

Racial Profiling

Defusing School Violence

Unequal Unemployment

The Motivation for Movement (immigration)

Progressive City Planners

Changing Demographics: What Can We Do to Promote Respect?

Freedom’s Main Line (segregation in KY)

You can find a full list of their resources at

6 Ways to Challenge Youth to Become Social Entrepreneurs

March 25th, 2015

If your young people are fired up about tackling issues and have ideas for wide-scale change, they may be social entrepreneurs in the making. Do your young people seem to be change agents at heart? Do they seek to invent new approaches and improve systems? “That’s what social entrepreneurs do,” says Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka. “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” Social entrepreneurs often weave philanthropy and business with ideas that unstick systems or impact communities in big, powerful, society-changing ways.

Strategic Moves

  1. Invite your youth to take a social entrepreneur quiz or practice building a socially conscious business at The New Heroes, “Are You the Next New Hero?”
  2. Read stories of other young      social entrepreneurs in this article: “Meet the 25 Most Influential People      in the World!” Huffington Post.      June 18, 2012.
  3. As a group, join others in      solving big challenges at
  4. Teach a course on social      entrepreneurship. Check out the free curriculum at The New Heroes,      “Classroom Materials,”
  5. Find funding for creative      projects at Kickstarter,
  6. Be inspired by other ideas      at and at


This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Take a Stand – A Service-Learning Activity for Exploring Interests

March 18th, 2015

What issues is your group willing to take a stand on? Poll your group by having each person vote with their feet by simultaneously moving to a corner of the room that represents their answer.  Group members will be able to look around the group to see the kinds of social issues each person is interested in.  This will help you gauge the interests of the group, so you can know what kinds of service or advocacy projects to explore together.

  • You have extra money to donate to a cause. Will you give it to help the homeless or to address environmental issues?
  • You have a day to volunteer. Will you help the animal shelter or a nursing home?
  •  You are going to answer the phone to accept donations for a service group. Would you rather answer the phone for raising money for world hunger or for saving the whales?
  •  You get to choose how the city will spend its financial and physical resources. Will you vote to help disaster relief victims or senior citizens?
  •  You’ve been chosen to speak to a group of lawmakers. Would you rather speak about childhood obesity or violence in schools?

Ask the group for other causes that mean something to them and why they’re important to them. Brainstorm ways youth can help. Then get busy! Pick an issue you want to tackle or a project idea that everyone agrees on and get to work.

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Finding Great Books for Kids

March 16th, 2015

“Find out what the kid really loves, and help them find a book, magazine, or any kind of text about that love. Without judgment. The subject can be sharks, volcanoes, bodily functions, the Guinness Book of World Records, fighting ships of World War II. And they can read about this love for as long as they want.” – Jon Scieszka