Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Self Portraits

We have been having so much fun doing self portraits.  The younger ones have been using a method taught by Mr. P on YouTube, which uses the number 2.  The results are pretty amazing.  Even 5 year olds are able to follow this method.  We took our photos and portraits and made an ebook using the Story Maker app for iPad.  This app allows you to send the book through email as a PDF file.  If your child created a book, you got an email :-) 

Older students created a Doodle Summer Self Portrait using a method taught by Kathy Barbro.  Their portraits tell the story of their summer.  You can see, the results are fantastic!  

I'll keep you posted...


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Above is a scene from last week's Creative Learning class.  Didn't you just love love love playing dress up as a child?  I know I did.  Did anyone else have a pair of plastic Cinderella shoes or is that a '60's thing that you are all far too young to have experienced?  The best dress up stuff was from my grandma's closet.  Those were the good old days...

Turns out that playing dress up is pretty important in the life of a child.  A child learns about himself and others in this type of play.  When playing dress up with others, kids learn teamwork and negotiation.  They take turns and agree on topics and rules.

They learn empathy, putting themselves in another person's shoes. It expands vocabulary. It stimulates their cognitive skills.  To engage in dramatic play, a child must recall what mom looks like when she cooks supper, or think about how a lion roars or how a horse would gallop.  This moves them toward abstract thinking as they create their own scenarios. 

Kids have to work on decision making. Who's going to be the nurse and who is the patient?  What is the role of the dragon in our world?

Best of all, this kind of dramatic play stimulates creativity in children.  As they go from role playing the familiar to the less ordinary,  kids start to think outside of the box.  A large scarf becomes a set of wings, and ordinary becomes extraordinary. Allowing children to have the time to play in this way contributes to their ability to be think creatively, be innovative and inventive.  And that is awesome.  


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Today we enjoyed having some new students join us for Lego Robotics.  All 11 kids learned to program the robots how to do both a swing turn and also a point turn.   Swing turns are similar to how you would turn when you're riding your bicycle and a point turn is a sharp 90 degree turn.  In the above photo you can see the kids busy programming their robots for one of the challenges that was performed today. 

The students started off with programming their robots to navigate through a simple maze.  This robot made a nice 90 degree turn within the track allowed inside the maze and the team celebrated a victory.  All three teams were able to program their robots to move through the maze without going outside of the lines.

The next challenge was to program the robot to move around the outside of a square.  This was most easily accomplished by using another new programming concept we learned today, the loop.  A loop is simply telling the robot to perform a task multiple times.  For instance, with the square they told the robot to make a sharp 90 degree turn and then move forward 2 wheel rotations and to loop that process 3 more times to make a perfect square.

I'm so pleased to have these enthusiastic and intelligent students perform these challenges because it's fun to watch how they problem solve glitches with their robots.  They are creative and have done an amazing job of working together in teams.  I am looking forward to next week when we'll learn how to program the robots to avoid obstacles using two different sensors!!!


Monday, September 9, 2013

Getting Creative With Leaves and Petals


New creatures emerged from plain paper last Thursday as some of the younger homeschool students created put their creativity into practice.  A short nature hike provided us with leaves, petals, sticks and other interesting things combined with markers and a little glue to invent new creatures.  

A little later the same group learned folk songs, played an echo singing game and learned some simple rhythms.  Everyone enjoyed playing some of the old classics like London Bridges, The Farmer in the Dell and the Hokey Pokey.  There are so many great American folk songs and games.  It's no wonder that children have enjoyed these same ditties for years and years.  What a fun group of children!

To finish off the morning, many of the children stayed for our weekly Brown Bag and Books activity.  We started the year off with the 2013-2014 Iowa Children's Choice Award winner, The Luck of the Buttons, by Anne Ylvisasker.  This charming story about tomboy, Tugs Esther Button, takes place in small town Iowa in 1929.  Seven chapters into the story, there is mischief, pie, an upcoming 3 legged race at the annual 4th of July celebration, and a shady character form Chicago who promises to bring progress to their sleepy little town.  The children don't trust him, but they love Tugs, and can't wait to come back to hear what happens next!

Looking forward to next week!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Getting Creative at Enrichment Classes

Seven eager students arrived this morning ready to learn about Lego Robotics.  Lego Robotics is a combination of legos, software and creativity.  The sky is the limit when you use these kits!  Our students are getting a basic introduction to how to use the Robotics kits to perform simple tasks. 

Today we built a very basic robot called the Simplebot.  The students worked in teams to build their robots with very little help and in very little time which was IMPRESSIVE.  They are quite a bright group and cooperated well to get the job done!    Team building is an important skill that is emphasized when using Robotics.  

In the photo above Rachel and Angela congratulate each other on their robot performing the task as programmed.

 Libby, Anna, Ethan and Carli are busy programming the robots that they built in the classroom.

After the robots were built we moved into the gym to program them.  A robot really isn't very smart, so the students had to tell the robot which functions to perform in a systematic, step-by-step approach.  Once again, these bright kiddos had the robots performing tasks in no time at all.
 Ethan and Heidi are working diligently at getting their robots programmed and ready for the drag race challenge!

The most difficult challenge that was carried out today was a drag race!  We sent the robots straight down the gym floor about 12 feet and then it had to return and stop with its wheels ON the starting line.      
We ran two heats and the older students won the first one and the younger students won the second round.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the kids can do with the challenges I have prepared for them next week as we incorporate a few more programming tools!

Remember, tomorrow morning we have our first Friday Field Trip!  We are meeting Brayton at the Old Glory Park (the only part in town, you can't miss it) with our bikes and a picnic lunch.  We will ride on the T-Bone Trail and end with a picnic.  Hope to see you there!