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      Kids and cabin fever

      Winters in the Upper Peninsula can seem to drag on forever, which contributes to many people suffering from the lethargy and depression in the winter that is commonly known as cabin fever. It's not a condition unique to adults, however.

      It can be hard enough to capture a child's attention during the best of times, but when winter weather keeps kids cooped up inside, it gets even more challenging for teachers.

      "Especially with these bitter temperatures we've had this winter; as a teacher your challenge is that these kids aren't getting out on days to burn off that energy as they normally would, and that's visible in the classroom," said Bryan Johnson, first grade teacher at Woodland Elementary School in Kingsford.

      Inattentiveness and restlessness are actually forms of cabin fever in children--when they don't get enough physical activity, it makes it hard for them to concentrate.

      "I definitely get tired of sitting around," said Norway-Vulcan seventh grader Emma Voss. "Sometimes when I don't have any homework, it's like, what am I going to do?"

      Fun mid-winter activites like Norway-Vulcan's teacher/student basketball game or Woodland Elementary's beach day can help break the monotony by getting kids moving and giving them something interesting to focus on. But what about day-to-day class time?

      During the winter months, teachers will often alter their lesson plans to include shorter lessons and more hands-on activities to engage children and keep their attention longer.

      One habit that becomes more pronounced in the winter is the amount of television that children watch. Even kids that enjoy winter activities find themselves watching more TV than they do in the summer.

      "Sometimes we stay inside, watch movies, bring out the popcorn and hot chocolate," said Norway-Vulcan eighth grader Cortney Tomzcak.

      Though television is good in moderation during severe weather, educators warn that too much of the tube can affect kids negatively.

      "If they're not monitored and they have a lot of time in front of the television, then it is a problem because then they're used to having instant gratification and such," said Norway-Vulcan English and social studies teacher, Andrea Cellelo. "It does affect what they can do and their concentration in the classroom."

      Though the best cure for cabin fever in kids is the arrival of sring, keeping them moving in the wintertime will keep them moving in the classroom.