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Lessons learned from Stanford, Google, IDEO and Pixar

This weekend I spent some time with incredible innovators at Stanford University to talk about innovation in education.  All walks of life gathered at d.school to discuss problems in education and to propose solutions. My biggest takeaway: Education needs more design thinking and collaborative concepting...

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Camp Virtual by Common Sense Media

Posted by admin | Posted in For Teachers, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 28-06-2013

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Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 5.18.38 PM

What it is:  Summer time always seems to be a much-anticipated time for a little rest and relaxation.  Over the years I’ve heard from hundreds of parents how much they enjoy the summer months with their kids…until they reach July.  This is when the “I don’t know what to do” sets in and boredom can take over.  Common Sense Media is here to help with those in-between moments when it is too hot to play outside and you prefer that they do something more meaningful than plop in front of the TV for a few hours.  Send them to virtual camp!  The virtual camp is a library of apps, games and websites that will help your kids retain all of the skills they built up over the school year and even build some new ones in anticipation of the new school year.  Recommendations are broken up by age (2-17) and have been further divided by categories including: Outdoor Exploration, Scavenger Hunt, Arts and Crafts, Campfire Friends, Indoor Activities, and Talent Show.  Each recommendation is rated with books.  You are looking for 3 books for an engaging, exceptional learning activity!

How to integrate Camp Virtual by Common Sense Media into the classroom: Camp Virtual is a great way to keep kids learning throughout the summer.  Parents will be extra appreciative of the recommendations for worth-while and safe places for their kids to play while they are at home.  Each activity includes a learner rating and gives a great description of the activity as well as the learning that is tied to it.

Camp Virtual has a guide that can be downloaded and sent home with students at the end of the school year.  Too late for that?  Send a “hope you are having a wonderful summer” email with the guide and a link to the site.

When the weather is nice, I am a HUGE fan of kids getting out and enjoying experiential learning.  However; I know that like all of us, they hit the point of no return when they are hot, tired, crabby and just need a change of activity in a cooler location.  These recommendations of games and activities is a great reprieve for those moments!

Tips:  I love that at the bottom of each page there are some recommendations for parents to continue the learning beyond the game or activity.  Things like “Encourage kids to come up with as many different solutions as they can with each game. Ask them which solutions are most efficient.”

Are you using Camp Virtual?  Share your experience in the comments below!

Felicity from Thin Air: Inviting creativity, imagination, and play in the classroom

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Character Education, Create, Fun & Games, inspiration, iPod, Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 17-12-2010

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The following is a re-post from my other blog: iPad Curriculum.  I shared Send Felicity a few weeks ago as part of my advent collection but thought I would give everyone a little more information about this incredible site and invitation for play.  Even though Send Felicity has an iPhone/iPod Touch app, the app isn’t necessary to engage in the creative play which is also available on the Send Felicity website and Facebook page.  I encourage you to offer your students opportunities for play.  I deeply believe that play is a strong catalyst for learning.

Application/website: Send Felicity

What it is: Everyone could use a little more magic and enchantment in their lives and Send Felicity brings students (and teachers/families) just that.  Take a look at the video below to watch some of that magic unfold.

Felicity is six and three-quarters years old.  She loves imagination, making things, and magic.  She comes from a magical place called Thin Air. Felicity invites children everywhere to join her in play.  Every day there is a new special surprise waiting for children.  Each surprise invites students to engage in creativity, play, imagination, and learning.  It is an enchanting-ongoing place that involves technology, imagination, and the real world in new ways.  The artists, geeks, and minds behind Felicity are deeply committed to keeping the childhood experience one of magic, imagination, and exploration.  They bring these values to life beautifully as an application, website, and social experience.  What I love about the Send Felicity experience is the storyline behind Felicity, and the invitation to be part of something that is engaging, meaningful, and magical.  The combination of the three makes Send Felicity a unique learning and interactive experience.  So, how does Send Felicity work?  Children can visit the application or website to learn of a new craft (adventure) to take with Felicity.  Felicity takes every day objects like paper plates and makes them magical.  Children follow the adventures and create and pretend along with Felicity.  Children can take pictures of their finished masterpieces and upload them to the Send Felicity website, sharing the creative experience with others.  The application is truly unique and takes what is real and adds a bit of magic (as you saw in the video).

How Send Felicity can enrich learning: Play is an important part of learning. It provides the building blocks for self-regulation and executive functions, promotes creativity, imagination, and divergent thinking.  Unfortunately play is often stripped from the classroom.  Send Felicity weaves together a wonderful tapestry of play and learning in the form of an application, a website, and a social movement.  Felicity uses open-ended play and experimentation that leads to an attitude of fun learning.  Felicity helps your students turn ordinary objects into creative works of magic.  Use Felicity’s daily dose of magic to spark your students imaginations.  Set aside some time for your students to do a little creative play.  The benefits that play has on the rest of the learning day will be well worth the time invested.   Go beyond the crafts and invite your students to write stories, poems, or secret letters in connection with the imaginative play of the day.   Activities for Felicity are open-ended and include art, language arts, literacy, and even math and physics.   Send Felicity marries technology and real life in new fun ways.  The application is just a piece of the bigger picture.  The application takes students physical creation and adds a little magic to it.

Send Felicity is really an app all about engagement of the mind.  As an example, one of my personal favorite Sending Felicity projects Beautiful Oops:

Today we are boldly making mistakes.Today, our children will make a small mess.

Today, we’ll set out on an adventure and begin with an “oops” and end up in a place where we can look and wonder. Together, we can do something mistaken and wrong; and audacious and wonderful to surprise everyone.

This project shows children that it is okay to make mistakes, and that, in fact, those mistakes can be turned into something wonderful, new, and meaningful.  Students don’t hear often enough that it is okay to make mistakes and that it is indeed an important part of the learning process.  Take a look at what these beautiful oops turn into:

The Send Felicity App has not yet been released to the iTunes store, but don’t let that stop you from using Felicity in your classroom right now, the Send Felicity website is full of fun activities, instructions, and even a bit of magic.  You can also check Felicity out on Facebook where she shares creations made by children from around the world!  Send your students home with a wonderful gift this holiday season and point them toward the Send Felicity website. Students will love the opportunities for play and imaginations, parents will love the ideas to keep their kids learning and playing.  Let parents know about Send Felicity along with this article from Geek Mom for a little explanation.

The wonderful people over at Send Felicity are so passionate about creating a world of wonder and imagination for children to play in that they have made the technology that Send Felicity is based on open source.  Interested parents, educators, and developers are invited to sign up to play along with them.

Devices: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch iOS 3.1.3 or later

Price: Free!