My four-year-old is really interested in sea creatures and in zombies. One of her very favorite water dwellers is the mysterious and lovely Sea Star (or the star formally known as fish).
In our morning search on Youtube we came across a true-to-life ‘Zombie Starfish’ mash up that peaked Ella’s curiosity. The video is from a BBC-two popular show called Nature’s Weirdest Events.
Just what is happening here? The images shows what looks to be Sea Stars actually ripping off their own limbs. If that wasn’t alarming enough, those limbs then look to crawl away, zombie like on their own. Could this be a real life undeadliest catch happening on the West Coast from Alaska to Mexico? My daughter wanted to know more. Continue reading Zombie Starfish: Nature’s Undeadliest Catch
Comics Club-4-Kids is a monthly club that explores comic books geared towards kids, of various age ranges. A couple of GeekMoms test different comic books on their own geeky kids. However, as geek moms, our intent is to use comic books as a source for exploring concepts used in studying classic literature in schools. Because schools need more comic books.
This month’s theme: morality.
Each comic book is broken into four sections: character, narrative structure, problem solving/plot development, visual text. Sample questions are provided to help parents, teachers, homeschool parents, or comic book enthusiasts to help their littles or bigs to learn critical thinking skills while exploring fun forms of literature: comic books.
This month’s comics: Tiny Titans—Return to the Treehouse (geared towards Littles), and Guardians of the Galaxy Issue 023 (geared towards Bigs).
Can you shimmy? Can you shake?
Can you step-clap-twirl to the right then the left?
Can you do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around?
Because that’s what it’s all about.
Coding, that is. Behind the intimidating circuitry hidden inside the impersonal hardshell exterior known as computers is an elegant simplicity that can unlock countless possibilities limited only by your imagination. The beauty of it is that it is so fundamentally easy to understand, yet capable of doing so, so much. Much like dancing. Continue reading If You Can Dance, You Can Code
I’m a big fan of Recurse Center (formerly known as Hacker School**), a free educational retreat for programmers. RC’s commitment to Computer Science education and diversity therein is nothing short of impressive, and they officially announced today an exciting new experimental program.
Know a teen aged 14-19 whose notebooks are overflowing with spaceships and lycanthropes? Who has NASA’s New Horizons mission bookmarked as a research guide for their next novel? Maybe they (and you) should check out the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers for a summer experience that is close to out of this world.
My husband and I have this little trick we play on our children.
Every night, we try to get our three children in bed as close to 7:00 pm as possible. Our rule is that they need to stay in their rooms quietly and lights must be off. Oh, unless they feel like using this.
It began when I tested out of the math requirement as a college freshman. High school calculus had drained my confidence and scoring a pass was a tremendous relief. Nearly a decade later, I realized my mistake.
As a grad student, I rediscovered that not only was I good at math but I also kind of loved it. For reasons that made sense at the time, I didn’t allow this revelation to alter my humanities-leaning career trajectory. But it nagged at me.
The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program has been visiting classrooms nationwide to help students and teachers learn more about incorporating the immersive learning opportunities of the “virtual field trip”
Hour of Code has come and gone; the reviews are jumping all around the interwebs (my own is coming shortly). But was it enough for your kids? Did your spawnlings savour the taste of coding … and then ask for more? And is coding really enough for them to start their career in-game development?
It was Tuesday morning, around 11:30. My husband was at work, my kids were at school, and the phone rang. It was my OB calling with my blood test results. I had gone for my nuchal screen 8 days before, and as with my first 3 kids the doctor quickly assured me that everything looked perfect.
When Ariane pointed out that Apple was sponsoring in-store Hour of Code events this week, I hopped on the free stuff in a store bandwagon. First, let me be totally honest: $Free. is my favorite price. I will do almost anything if you tell me I’m getting a free service. When I heard that the Apple store ten minutes from my house would be providing an in-store class for kids, I couldn’t get my kid signed up fast enough.
When I heard that the Apple store ten minutes from my house would be providing an in-store class for kids, I couldn’t get my kid signed up fast enough.
Up to this point, the nearest I’d come to an in-store training at the Apple store was asking questions about my own Mac because I am committed to my fully integrated Mac environment at this point. Not knowing what to expect, I went in with low expectations because that’s pretty much how I roll. However just like with my first iPod, Apple blew me away.
When I approached my four-year old’s teacher about Hour of Code, she invited me into the classroom to do a half hour lesson. My little ballerina goes to a Montessori, so the classroom is computer free.
“How hard can it be,” I thought. “I will just grab something off the internet and teach from that.”
So I told the teacher that I would be happy to do this.
I discovered how hard it is to plan a lesson for four-year-olds, both when following a lesson plan and making a new one.
Very little remains to be said about Hamilton: The Musicalthat Broadway blogs, mainstream media, Twitter, and every other thing haven’t already said.
Except for the story that I am about to tell.
This is the story of how a historical musical based on the founding father, Alexander Hamilton, not only helped me explore history with my six-year-old son but created a gateway into the world that gave me so much growing up.
Growing up, my parents took me to musicals all the time. I saw Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and so many others that I can’t even begin to count them. We live near Hartford, and the Bushnell always has a Broadway musical series. My parents would get subscriptions to the cheap, nosebleed seats. I loved it.
So, having my own child, I wanted to bring musical theater into his life as well. We’ve seen ballets and plays. I took him to a hip-hop Shakespeare (which was excellent!). So when streaming Hamilton on NPR made me think of my son, I, of course, played segments for him after school.
Welcome to the Computer Science Education Week! By now you may have heard of this little thing called Hour of Code, a global initiative from Code.org and CS Ed Week to get everyone—adults and kids alike!—to try just one hour of programming. Why? No, not so everyone can become programmers, but because exposure to programming can teach logic, problem solving, critical thinking, and demystify technology. Oh, and it’s also fun!
Since 1974, millions of geeks have dug their teeth into the lore, magic, and adventure of Dungeons and Dragons. Over 40 years of shenanigans and sleight of hand have carved a backbone in the Geekyverse, before many of us were born, and each of those 40 years has seen a new crop of newbies join the ranks of Dungeon-crawlers. Embracing the idea is the easy part, in the end. That hard part? Learning thousands of concepts, rules, and options.
No one can learn it all overnight, and sometimes, you won’t have a teacher. D&D for Young Players and DMs is a journal of the lessons our family learned while introducing my kids to D&D.
November 26th, 2015, marked the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The origin of the Alice stories were conceived by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Oxford mathematics don, whom the world knows as Lewis Carroll.
In 1862, Dodgson constructed the basis of the Alice stories while on a boating trip with the daughters of Henry Liddell: Lorina Charlotte, Alice, and Edith. Henry Liddell’s middle daughter, Alice, requested Dodgson write the Alice stories down.
In 1864 Dodgson presented Alice Liddell with a handwritten, self-illustrated manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground on November 26th.
“It was all very well to say ‘Drink me,’ but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. ‘No, I’ll look first,’ she said, ‘and see whether it’s marked poison or not’; for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that, if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison,’ it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.”
As the mother of four children, three of them extreme sport-loving boys, I am very familiar with the dangerous side of having fun. This is why I was thrilled to see GeekMom Ariane’s recent post about the importance of wearing helmets while ice skating. Fortunately, many people are finally realizing that flying down the hill on skis requires a good helmet, but it’s taken a bit longer to get the skating crowd on board.
I blame part of this trend on the movies and television shows. When you think about the life moments that might find you sliding around a rink, you usually envision the cute stocking cap on your head, or scarf around your neck. The skating outfit is usually a part of the winter fun scene that television and movie directors are looking for. Adding a rigid dome to the actors’ heads isn’t an option.
There is a reason life doesn’t really look like the movies. From wardrobe to relationships, most of us are smart enough to realize that the real world life is a bit messier.
It’s time for winter sports season once again. Whether you live near a scenic frozen lake or have a rink tucked conveniently in your local shopping mall or town square, a lot of people have access to skating once the winter months hit. So it’s time to talk about helmets. Continue reading Helmet Heads Can Be Cool
While I wouldn’t call myself a “weather geek” per se, meteorology and weather have interested me since at least high school. I love looking at weather maps, learning about low and high pressures, knowing what the marks on wind direction maps mean, and parsing the extensive data tables that come out of weather records.
Seeing how weather changes over a year for a particular spot really helps me get a feel of a place. Is it a wet winter or a rainy summer? Does it get above freezing during the winter? Is there a monsoon season? How likely are there to be mosquitoes (see: rainfall, among other things)? I’ve especially enjoyed how much more accurate weather forecasting has gotten over my (42 year) lifetime.
Before I got to try out the Davis Instruments Weather Box recently, the closest I ever got to a weather station was an outdoor temperature probe that was connected to an indoor wall clock. I loved weather data but had never had my own data to play with. So when the Weather Box arrived in the mail, I was excited to set it up. My 14-year-old daughter, equally excited, made me wait until she was available before getting started. She’s the type of weather geek who keeps a cloud journal.
You don’t know me. In about nine months, your child will walk into a classroom on a college campus. Most likely, I, or someone just like me, will be standing in front of your wide-eyed, excited child explaining what a syllabus is.
Unless your child isn’t excited. Unless your child doesn’t want to be in college. Unless your child is feeling societal and parental pressure to make the most expensive mistake of his/her life.
Of course you read books aloud to your kids often, but have you ever thought about setting aside time to cuddle and solve math problems together?
Leslie Gilbert, a math teacher and creator of MathKit, has created a collection of games to show kids that math can be a fun way to spend family time—and give them the confidence to keep trying and learning, even when they get a problem wrong.
There’s no escaping the cold, hard truth: Children love to play with cardboard boxes.
As parents, we’ve all experienced this cardboard-fueled phenomenon. It’s almost become an old adage: He played with the box more than the gift.
With the holidays on the horizon, there will be oodles of boxes to contend with especially if, like myself, you prefer to do your holiday shopping online in your jammies. And, as the holidays draw near, the to-do list increases. There are gifts to buy, presents to wrap, gatherings to organize. If your home is anything like ours, it can be tricky to get all the things done with children underfoot. Unless, of course, you have a plan.
And have I got a plan this year! This plan is sure to keep your children engaged and learning and provide you with some uninterrupted time to tackle that mounting must-do list. This plan requires your kids to get creative and to think outside of that proverbial box… while playing with all those cardboard boxes that are strewn about your home just waiting to be recycled. Continue reading Cardboard STEM: 25 Ideas for All Those BOXES
Since becoming a children’s librarian, I’ve found a new appreciation for picture books. The good ones (not the cheesy ones thrown together to cash in on a popular character or make grandparents go “awwww” that show up in the discount bin at the grocery store) are true works of art. Picture books are one kind of story you need to have in paper form, to open up and spread out in front of you, to experience as a whole. The words are chosen carefully, to say a lot with a little, like poetry (even when they don’t rhyme). The pictures don’t just illustrate the story, they enhance it, adding detail and humor that words can’t do alone. Even the page turns are considered to get the pacing right.
November is Picture Book Month, part of an international literacy initiative to raise awareness of and celebrate picture books as an art form that can and should be appreciated by people of all ages.
But in today’s score-driven educational environment, too many people see picture books as something to be outgrown. A year after learning to read, children are being pushed into chapter books, sometimes by teachers, but more often by parents. The more words, the better. Accelerated Reader, a program used by thousands of school districts in the U.S. to track student reading, awards students more points based not on the difficulty of the book, but on the length. Picture books, being almost all just 32 pages long, are worth exactly one-half of a point on Accelerated Reader. Kids trying to rack up points will almost always go for one longer book over several half-point books, even if the total number of words is the same.
We’ve learned more about the human brain in the last ten years than the previous ten thousand. Adolescence in particular is a time of dramatic change.
I’m currently pursing a master’s in social science and as I have two daughters on either side of the teenage spectrum (10 and 19), I decided to enroll in a course on Adolescent Brain Development.
I’ve learned that from age 10 to 25, approximately, the human brain goes through significant structural transitions as it is both built up through the maturation of various areas of the cortex and the myelination (coating) of neurons, and thinned out through synaptic pruning, a kind of knowledge specialization.
The teenage brain advances in a back-to-front pattern. The prefrontal cortex, the region responsible for executive functions such as impulse control, emotional response, decision making, planning and judgement, is not considered fully matured until the mid-twenties.