How Music Affects Kids’ Intellectual and Creative Development

Music and the Brain!

Study after study has shown how music positively affects children’s developing brains.

Music enhances intellectual development in various ways. Here are some of them.

Math – Math and music are natural partners. Even on a very basic level, understanding and reading music requires some math skills. Rhythms are expressed in wholes and fractions (whole notes, quarter notes, half notes, etc.), and even the measures in written music are divided into equal sections. So it stands to reason that math and music enhance each other.

Reading – Interestingly, reading skills can be enhanced by music study. A 2009 study took a look at this and concluded that music training (not just listening to music) gave children an edge over their non-musically trained peers. Kids who took music lessons showed better reading skills when compared to their non-musical counterparts.

Overall academic performance – Adolescents can also benefit from the intellectual effects of music. Studies have shown that kids this age who participate in music lessons and attend concerts with their parents do better in school.

Music and creativity – Let’s not forget the creative side! Music also affects children’s creative development.

Creative thought patterns – At its core, creativity is basically a particular type of thought pattern. Music encourages this type of creative thinking. After all, the number of pitch, rhythm, and note combinations is practically infinite!

Imagination – Listening to music evokes all sorts of wonderful, imaginative images. Children can conjure up all kinds of scenes and pictures in their minds based on music. And sometimes, these can come out as artwork.

New worlds – Music spans the globe. Listening to music from different times and cultures gives children “fodder” for wider expanses of thought. It stimulates creative thinking by giving them something new to think about.

The art of dance – Dancing is a very creative art, and as children learn to move to music, it can open up creative ways of self-expression.

Early Spring Pest Control in Your Garden

During the first warm days of spring, bugs are not always the first thing on your mind. They haven’t yet made the forceful appearance they’ll make in the summer, so it’s easy to get a false sense of security about these little pests. But don’t be fooled – they’re coming, and it’s a good idea to be prepared.

Here are some tips and ideas for early spring pest control in your garden.

1. Cutworms

One of the primary ways these chubby, hairless bugs make their way into the garden is by coming up out of the soil where they spent the winter. They are moths as adults, so these larvae are ready to eat early in spring. To keep cutworms from feasting on your tender young plants, you can make a protective collar out of plastic cups or cardboard. Push it about an inch into the soil all around the plant, and make sure it’s about 3 inches high. This acts as a barrier and foils the cutworm.

2. Leaf Miners

The evidence of leaf miners is obvious – thin, curved, winding tunnels going through the leaves. These tunnels contain the tiny white larvae. Leaf miners come up from the soil as flies, and they lay their eggs on leaves. To help deter these critters, make sure your garden is free of weeds – leaf miners love certain weeds such as chickweed, and the presence of weeds will attract them.

If you’re early enough in the season, you can cover your plants with specially made covers that will keep the flies from laying their eggs on your plants. You only have to keep these covers in place during the early weeks when the flies are active.

3. Slugs and Snails

Dusting your garden with diatomaceous earth can help deter slugs and snails. And there are also several commercial brands of slug and snail control. Iron phosphate is said to be the best active ingredient in such products, and many are safe to have around pets and kids.

4. Rotate Your Crops

One of the things that happen when you plant the same things year after year is, word gets around. Pests learn what and where the goodies are, and they line up to munch! Changing crops year to year keeps pests guessing a bit.

5. Chickens

If you have ever thought about keeping chickens and it’s allowed in your area, now is the time! Chickens are a great way to control pests in the garden in early spring, when they can join you while you turn the soil and expose the pests. In addition, they help fertilize the soil. You could borrow a neighbor’s chickens if you can’t keep your own. You will need to have a fence later in the year, though, because chickens will also damage your plantings and vegetables.

Taking some measures to control pests in early spring can save a lot of trouble and headache later on.

New Software Released: Disk Drill for Windows (Free)

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disk Drill – Free data recovery software for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Any Drive

Disk Drill can scan and recover data from virtually any storage device – including internal Windows hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, iPods, memory cards, and more.

Recovery Options

Disk Drill has several different recovery algorithms, including Undelete Protected Data, Quick Scan and Deep Scan. It will run through them one at a time until your lost data is found.

Speed & Simplicity

It’s as easy as one click: Disk Drill scans start with just the click of a button. There’s no complicated interface with too many options, just click, sit back and wait for your files to appear.

All File Systems

Different types of hard drives, memory cards and flash drives have different ways of storing data. But whether your media has a FAT, exFAT or NTFS file system, is HFS+ Mac drive Linux EXT2/3/4, Disk Drill can handle it.

Partition Recovery

Sometimes your data is still on your drive, but a partition has been lost or reformatted. Disk Drill can help you find the “map” to your old partition and rebuild it, so your files can be recovered.

Recovery Vault

In addition to file recovery, Disk Drill also protects your PC from future data loss. Recovery Vault keeps a record of all deleted files, making it much easier to recover them.

Give them a try now: Disk Drill – Free data recovery software.

Tips for Interviews and the Workplace: How to Dress for Success

When you go in for an interview, the visual impression you make will wordlessly communicate a lot about you: how well you can put things together, whether or not you pay attention to detail, and how self-aware you are (to name a few). In addition, if competition is stiff (as it is these days), employers may resort to appearance to make their final decision between otherwise equal candidates. Think of your appearance as a sort of visual resume!

While individuality is a good thing, expressing yourself through appropriate clothing ups your chances for success considerably.

Here are some tips for interviews and the workplace, and how to dress for success.

1. The Right Mindset

The first thing to do is get in the right mindset. What are you trying to convey? What skills does this job demand? Unless you are applying for a job in the fashion industry and are specifically trying to show your skills, your prospective employer is probably not interested in an over-the-top, super-creative ensemble. Instead, get into the mindset of the job and dress accordingly. Does this job require you to be organized? Outgoing? Behind-the-scenes? Think about what’s expected of you as you put your outfit together.

2. Get a Feel for the Workplace

Find out beforehand if the place where you’re applying for a job is formal, casual, or somewhere in between. Not all offices are dressy. Check out their website and get a feel for how people in the office dress and act. Formal offices will likely have a formal website; a more casual place should project that sense from its photos and web design. The content on the website will be written in a way that reflects the tone of the office, too.

3. What’s the Position?

The general consensus is: the more high-powered and exacting the job, the more formal the attire for the interview. Secretaries, tech supporters, and similar positions often require just simple slacks and blouse or collared shirt. But if you are applying for a job in finance, management, or something comparable, then a suit – and a nice one – is expected. Your hair should be carefully styled, too, if you are hoping for a high-powered position.

4. Don’t Reveal Too Much

An interview is no time for a slip or bra strap to show, nor is it a great time to show off your hairy chest or your cleavage. Your goal is not to distract, but to engage the interviewer.

If you feel like you’re faking it, you might not be applying for the right job. You will be pretty uncomfortable if you have to dress uncomfortably every day of work! So make sure there’s a personal element to your attire. And good luck!

How Hashtags Work and Using Them to Grow Your Traffic

Most people discover hashtags quite early in their Twitter journey.  And many more ignore them till much, much later, when their Twitter habits are set and established.  If you are new to this unique social network, you need to know that you can instantly attract the right followers, find the right people to follower and hook into the best network segment for your goals straight away… simply by using and following hashtags.

This is what an effective hashtag (Penguin’s “#DailyDeal”) looks like, in action:

It doesn’t have to be used for just promotion or branding.  A hashtag can be a keyword, hook, topic indicator, community connection tool and search filter all in one go.  It strains out the hordes of spammy tweets that seem to populate the Twitterverse at times, and instead brings up ones relevant to your interests – specifically, to the keyword (hashtag) that you chose as your filter.  It also makes your tweets easier to find for your audience, when you share your hashtag.  (Get it right, and it may even go viral!)

What is a Hashtag?

Hashtags look like this… A word, acronym or collection of characters preceded by (#).

The above screenshot shows one quick way, incidentally, to find out which hashtags are trending right at the moment, while you’re logged in:  By glancing over to your left-hand menu bar and checking the top hashtags that are trending, under the “Trends” window.

You can create your own hashtags.

You can follow other peoples’.

You can follow company or resource hashtags too (e.g. “#Nike”, “#freefood”).

Google+, Pinterest, Pheed, YouTube and Instagram also allow hashtags.  Pinterest and Pheed hashtags in particular, however, are not the same as Twitter hashtags, so make sure you study each network’s specific hashtag guidelines.

8 Benefits of Using Hashtags

You can use hashtags for a variety of functions – and reasons.  We’ve already mentioned narrowing the focus on who to follow, and you can create your own hashtags to serve more than one purpose too.  But before you start using them, you have to be aware of their specific benefits.  Knowing these will affect how you choose to use hashtags.

  • Grow your following and extend your reach
  • Find relevant people, companies and organizations to follow
  • Brand a product or business (e.g. “#Nike”)
  • Brand, promote, manage and track an event through its distinctive hashtag
  • Participate in Tweet Chats and Twitter Parties
  • Quickly tweet information to people (Twitter followers, forum members, subscribers, etc.) who follow your custom hashtag
  • Networking with industry or niche influencers and peers
  • Grow traffic

Creating Your Own Hashtags: 101

Creating your own hashtags is a wonderful way to brand a product, business – or a particular promotion.  (You can use your hashtag as a metrics tool, if you create one for a campaign.)

But it’s like anything else in marketing:  You need to know what not to do, and how to get the maximum effect.

Don’t…

  • Use hashtags containing more than two words (e.g. “#marketingmythsfifteentips”)
  • Create hashtags that are too quirky – unless you have a whole army of promotion tactics to spread it. (Example:  You want to create a unique identity for an event)
  • Start your tweet with numbers (e.g. “#999”). You can include numbers – but only after alpha characters (e.g. “#fuzzimals123”)
  • Overuse hashtags. Keep them for important and highly relevant use.

Do…

  • Make your hashtag short
  • Make your hashtag easy to read (e.g. “freepizza”)
  • Make your hashtag as vividly descriptive – and simple – as possible (e.g. “freepizza”)
  • Remember to use your hashtags to designate topics, subjects or categories

So how do you make a hashtag?  Simply preface any word or word combination with the “#” sign (#MyHashtag) – and share it in a tweet.

You can make your hashtags all lower-case, or use initial caps as above, to help people make visual sense of your combination hashtag.  (“#MyHashtag” is easier to read than “#myhashtag”.)

That’s the easy part.

Making your hashtags go viral is the real trick.

Making Your Hashtags Go Viral

The only way to grow traffic with your hashtags is to make sure they are shared – and more than shared.  You want them to explode on the scene like a spectacular firework and go viral.

We’ve already spoken about the importance of creating hashtags that are short, catchy, easy to read and relevant.  The real trick is to pick the right keyword(s); then pair your new hashtag with a relevant, active hashtag.  For example, if you have created “#FBbloopers”, pairing it with the existing, highly-active hashtag “#socialmedia”.

And, of course, the bigger your list, the more likely your hashtag is to be retweeted and followed.  If you don’t yet have a big list, introducing it on membership sites or forums (if allowed), as well as the above tactic of pairing it with an existing, relevant hashtag should help you get started.

Finding Good Hashtags to Follow

Following the right people via their hashtag can also help boost your own credibility (think  “credibility-by-assocation”), which can net you followers of your own.  You become part of any community built around a strong, evergreen hashtag.  But how do you find them?

In addition to simply searching via the Twitter search bar, there are even more focused ways to find hashtags to follow – especially off Twitter.

1. TweetChat – You do have to log in with your Twitter name and password. What this does is allow to focus on one hashtag, each having its own dedicated chat room.

This can save you hours of monitoring tweets you’re not interested in on Twitter by allowing you to focus just on that particular discussion/hashtag.

2. Twubs – Another strong hashtag directory, which also shows you hashtags and conversations to follow, and allows you to register your hashtags in their directory

3. Hashtag.org – allows you to analyze which hashtags are trending, allowing you to “listen, measure and engage”… as well as track!

There are many more Twitter sites and online management tools.  Pick one that feels a comfortable fits for you.

Hashtag Mistakes

Yes, you can dilute the effectiveness of hashtags – or even do the opposite of what you intended.  For example, if you load each tweet with too many hashtags, people will eventually mentally and literally skim over them without reading.  They’ll feel like “spam”.

So here’s what not to do with your Twitter hashtags, starting with the tip we just mentioned:

  • Overloading your tweets with multiple hashtags. It looks and feels aggressively spammy; it’s confusing; it’s hard to read the message you presumably wanted people to read.
  • Following hashtags that are not consistent with your brand or stated core values. Doing so is okay if you are using Twitter as personal recreation – but not if you’re using it for business purposes.

(Example:  Following “#ReallyHateSmallKids” if your business is all about selling quality toys suited for the 3—7-year-old age range to university-educated mothers in a high income bracket.)

  • Inserting popular, trending hashtags not relevant to your tweet content just to ensure your tweet is seen. The only thing does is annoy the people who are seriously follow that hashtag.
  • Going off topic while using a hashtag. Don’t get sidetracked into personal discussions that have nothing to do with the hashtag while still using it!
  • Not tracking your hashtags. Sites such has Hashtags.org often provide easy and thorough tracking tools (free or at paid levels of subscription)
  • Trying to use other special characters in your hashtags. It’s alphabetical characters only – with numerals allowed in the middle or end.

Don’t overcomplicate things. Focus your hashtag on your goal and your followers.  Make it easy to read and catchy to remember and share.

Now that you know how hashtags work, and what to do/avoid, put them to use.  Make your traffic grow.