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It’s difficult thinking up new ways to keep children interested, stimulated and occupied day-to-day.  In fact, the same can be said for all cognitive beings.  Preventing boredom in children, adults and even animals can reduce stereotypic behaviors (such as nail-biting, hair-twirling and pacing) and have profoundly positive effects on their quality of life.  By introducing new stimuli, you are providing a person or pet with an interesting, and sometimes challenging distraction. 

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December 17, 2016
Rachael Rufino

Do These Optical Illusions Have You Fooled?

Creativity, Learning Through Play, STEM, Brainteasers, STEAM

 

Can you see the hidden 3D image in the stereogram above?  Continue reading and the answer will be revealed…

Optical illusions help us understand how we perceive the world around us and why.  Sometimes what we believe we are seeing, isn’t reality.  Why does this happen?  Our brain works to interpret everything we see, and sometimes shadows, lighting, shapes and other factors mislead that interpretation.

Stereograms

Our depth perception is challenged with stereograms.  Finding 3D shapes within a 2-demensional image isn’t easy, but by staring at a repeating pattern in wallpaper, the brain is tricked into matching pairs of them to perceive a virtual plane behind it.  This virtual plane is where the hidden image lies.  This was discovered by Dr. Bela Julesz in 1959, which helped change the belief by most vision scientists at the time that depth perception solely occurs in the eye.  It is now known that depth perception is a neurological process that occurs in the brain. 

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October 29, 2016
Sophie Miller

Fall Learning Series Part 6: Household Chemistry

STEM Education / Play, Learning at Home, Learning Through Play, STEM, STEAM

As recently as the 17th century, there was a branch of science called alchemy, which resembled magic more than it did science.  The focus of alchemy was primarily on transformation, such as the many famous attempts to turn lead into gold.  Alchemists believed that these transformations would lead to immortality and the purification of the human soul, making alchemy a religious and spiritual study.  While the practice of alchemy is uncommon today, this branch of investigative reasoning has evolved into one of the most widely-explored scientific studies in the world: chemistry.

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October 24, 2016
Alana Hackes

Improving Second Language Learning

Learning Through Play

It was 8am and before walking into the classroom, I knew my students were going to be disinterested in today’s lesson. Our 8am class was nearly three hours long and happened three times a week, and today was the third class… Friday. I loved teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) because the students I taught were always so eager to learn and I was eager to teach them. At the same time, I knew as well as they did that it was hard to keep that enthusiasm going in an early morning class, especially when learning a second language. It was on days like these that I would break out a game and would see a burst of energy in my students.

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October 17, 2016
Sophie Miller

Homeschoolers in the Spotlight: Part 1

Learning at Home, Learning Through Play

Raeca, now 6, was in Kindergarten last year when her mother Chantel started wondering whether she might benefit from a different learning environment. Chantel, who received her Bachelor’s degree in education, visited Raeca’s classroom as a substitute teacher and saw firsthand that an institutional environment didn’t seem to be the best place for Raeca’s learning style. “While she enjoyed going to school and loved being around her friends she was also obviously a little bored,” Chantel frankly states. “Teachers need to teach to the middle-to-lower end of the class” in order to make sure that even the slowest of learners don’t fall behind the rest of their schoolmates. In this environment, brighter kids like Raeca won’t be “challenged or pushed to grow,” resulting in a feeling of drudgery and an increasing resistance to go to school each day. With her background in teaching, Chantel decided to try homeschooling Raeca and her three-year-old son Ephraim.

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October 15, 2016
Sophie Miller

Fall Learning Series Part 4: The Five Senses

Kids And Creativity, Creativity, STEM Education / Play, Learning at Home, Learning Through Play, STEM, STEAM

Imagine that you’re baking your favorite dish.  As you’re putting the pan into the oven, you graze your arm against the edge – it’s burning hot!  Your body responds to the heat in seconds and you pull your arm away before the skin gets seriously burned.  You’re a little bummed that you hurt yourself – but it’s all worth it when your dish is done, and you smell that delicious smell coming from the oven.  Just be careful when you’re taking it out, and don’t burn your mouth!

Our fall learning series is designed to give you a chance to teach your children about something new and interesting. Each week our blog covers a new topic, and is filled with specially curated activities that let you get hands-on with each lesson. It’s a great way to spend time with family and learn all at once!

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September 19, 2016
Mike Ritchie

The Value of a 'Growth Mindset' in Education

Learning Through Play

“When educators create growth mindset classrooms…equality happens, and here are just a few examples:

  • In one year, a kindergarten class in Harlem, NY scored in the 95th percentile on the national achievement test – many of those kids could not hold a pencil when they arrived at school.
  • In one year, 4th grade students in the South Bronx, way behind, became the #1 4th grade class in the state of NY on the state math test.
  • In a year to a year and a half, Native American students in a school on a reservation went from the bottom of their district to the top, and that district included affluent sections of Seattle. So the Native kids outdid the Microsoft kids.”

This quote is from a TEDx talk given by Carol Dweck, a researcher whose work, in her own words, “examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior. My research looks at the origins of these mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal success.” So how did these teachers she describes achieve these results? What exactly is a ‘growth mindset’?

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