Save the Date!

You may remember that the GT classes participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge last year.  We will be doing it again this year – only bigger!  This time, the students will be competing to have their cardboard creations chosen for a special evening we will be hosting at Main Event.  Main Event is allowing us to use their party rooms to display the cardboard games, and we are going to be inviting the whole community to come play!  We will be charging a dollar for admission to our cardboard arcade, and the students will be voting on a charity to which we will donate the funds.  In addition, families will be able to buy Fun Passes to use in the rest of the facility for $20, and $5 from each Fun Pass will also go toward the charity (or a separate charity – depending on what the students decide).

So, be sure your GT student is brainstorming ideas for his or her cardboard game.  We will begin making them in September.  Also, you are welcome to e-mail suggestions for the charity to me.  And, mark your calendars for the evening of Wednesday, October 15th, 2014!


Parenting Articles

1 of the 24 suggested books from the Huffington Post for your child to read this summer

1 of the 24 suggested books from the Huffington Post for your child to read this summer

I’ve been collecting a few links over the summer that I thought might interest parents:

10 Things Parents/Guardians Should Do Now – I particularly like #4 and #5!  (If you are interested in #5, I highly suggest you check out this post I did on a neat new product that uses stickers to make electrical circuits!)

How to Get Into Harvard – Bottom line?  “Make your children interesting!”

Brainteasers and College Readiness –  Here is a link to some brainteasers if you need a supply!

Check out this list of 24 Books That Will Captivate Your Kids This Summer from Huffington Post.  I have not read any of them, but I definitely want to try some out!

Are you a parent of a girl?  I encourage you to check out this post I did on my professional blog recently.

If you read anything that you think would be good for me to share with other parents, please e-mail me the link!

Kid President Has a Television Show!


Many of the students in my upper grades are familiar with Kid President, whose short, inspirational videos I’ve shown in the past.  He now has a television show on the Hub network.  If you are like me, and haven’t heard of Hub, you can go to this link to find out which local channel it is, based on your zip code and service provider.  Or, you can view the episodes online.  Here is a link to the full episodes, which are about 22 minutes long.  So far, there are three episodes: Heroes, Families, and Dreams.  These are great to watch with the family – funny and very motivational! In case you are new to Kid President, you can also visit his website, where there are links to the previously mentioned short productions.  The favorite for the students seems to be his Pep Talk.

The Kid Should See This

The Kid Should See This

For this week’s blog update, I thought I would share with you an awesome website that is a collection of videos a mother has curated to “connect kids, parents, and teachers with smart, conversation-starting videos – about science, art, music, nature, and more – that probably weren’t made for kids, but are still perfect for them.”  “The Kid Should See This” recently got updated, and I love the new look along with options for finding videos.  If you are looking for an educational website for your curious child, this is definitely one to bookmark!

Also, I want to congratulate our two winners from last week’s “Make a Theme Park Ride” contest for our online Edmodo class: Anna for “The Sparking Spur”, and Athasi for “Kittyana Jones.”  You can see the blog post I did about our winners here.  Next week, I will announce the winners of our Theme Park Mascot contest!

Summer Learning Opportunities

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I hope everyone is enjoying your summer so far!  I have been happily sleeping late and devouring books in between doctor’s appointments and cleaning my closet:)

I plan to post to the blog once a week this summer.  This week, I wanted to direct you to some of the posts I’ve been doing on my professional blog, as they are all about fun ideas for “avoiding the summer slide.”

I also want to give you some links to the projects from our first week of our online class, Make a Theme Park, for 3rd-5th graders.  This week, the students designed rides for their theme parks.  Here is the link for the Family entries. And, here is the link for the Individual entries.  I love the creativity!  As Joey Hudy, our celebrity guest judge for the week says, “Don’t be bored! Make something!”

Kinder Identifies Leaves and Bugs

To practice their “Scientist Thinking” this week, the Kinder students used a combination of traditional and 21st century tools.  On Monday, they used magnifying glasses to take a closer look at some leaves I gave them as examples.  They observed the similarities and differences.  Then, they went on a leaf hunt, and collected some leaves from around the school. When we returned to class, they used an app called “Leafsnap” to take pictures of each leaf.  The app, once a picture is uploaded, gives suggestions from its database as to the type of tree to which the leaf might belong.  Because the app gives several recommendations for each picture, the students really had to study the information carefully before identifying each leaf.

On Friday, the students talked about bugs and different ways to sort them.  We looked at the number of legs, the parts of their bodies (some students even learned about the thorax and abdomen of insects).  A fun book by PopAR Toys called Bugs 3-D was used to see different bugs up close and personal.  We were able to scan the pages, and see 3D images of samples such as ants, grasshoppers, and tarantulas.  Each child got to scan a bug with the iPad, and we were able to project the information on our classroom screen for everyone to see.  The interactive book included videos of the animals, as well as diagrams and fun facts.  I think we all learned a lot!

Kinder Students Learn How to Think Like a Scientist

The Kinder students finished up “Magician Thinking” this week by playing a board game called, “Robot Turtles.”  This game helped them practice some basic programming skills that they learned from the “Daisy the Dinosaur” app. They got better at visualizing the steps they needed to take to reach the jewels in the center with the least number of steps.

We then started a short unit on “Scientist Thinking.”  For this type of thinking, the students look closely at items, and try to group them based on their similarities.  We played some games on the interactive board on Monday and Friday to practice sorting.  Then, on Friday, the students used magnifying glasses to match miniscule pictures with their larger counterparts.  Since their eyesight is far better than mine, I don’t think they really needed the magnifying glasses 😉

Kinder GT Learns How to Program

In Kinder GT this week, the students continued to learn about “Magician Thinking,” which is looking for patterns and trying to visualize things in your head.  On Monday, they were introduced to a free app called “Daisy the Dinosaur,” which teaches basic programming skills.  We did it as a class on the big screen on Monday, and then the students worked independently on the iPads on Friday to practice their coding.

The students also finished up the stations they started a couple of classes ago – Tangrams and Q-bitz.  These also reinforced “Magician Thinking.”

A couple of the pictures below show the students doing a “Go Noodle” brain break where they performed some “Surfer Dude” movements 🙂

Oh, and I tried to get all of their pictures during the Fiesta parade, but most of them came out blurry.  Sorry!

Kinder Practices Magician Thinking

Parents, I am posting the Kinder blog entry for the week today, as we will not have class on Friday due to the holiday.

The Kinder GT students continued to work on Magician Thinking – looking for patterns – today.  First they did a color pattern game on our interactive white board.  Then they worked on a “rotational dominoes” activity.  Matching the shapes to their mirror images was a bit tricky, but they all did very well!

For centers, half the students played a Tangram iPad game that our GT classroom is beta testing.  It uses real tangram pieces on the table that are recognized by a special piece placed by the iPad.  The other half of the students played a game called Q-bitz, where they had to build pictures with colored cubes. Next week, the students will switch so everyone will have a chance to do both stations.


Kinder Finishes Up Detective Thinking

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The Kinder GT students finished working on Detective Thinking this week.  You can see them in the picture above proudly displaying their detective badges! They learned that detective thinking requires that one find the right answer by looking for clues, and did lots of logic puzzles, Venn Perplexers and thinking games to practice this.

So far, they have learned about Inventor and Detective Thinking.  Our next unit is Magician Thinking, where they must look for a pattern to find the right answer.