Tagged with "LEGO"
6 Mar
2017
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Genius Hour and Growing Lifelong Learners

I want my kids to love learning for the sake of learning and to hunger for knowledge. School projects that actively enforce those principles  are my favorite. Genius Hour is a prime example.

The idea behind Genius Hour has been utilized in corporations to increase productivity. Employees are given a set amount of time each week to work on pet projects in their field. Google has seen success with this route. Gmail anyone? I’m more motivated to apply myself to tasks I have vested interest in and passion for than something that’s assigned. Wanting to do something as opposed to being told to do something can make a huge difference in the quality of the outcome.

Genius Hour is used in educational settings to allow students to be creative and self-directed. Our 4th grade son’s class finished their Genius Hour presentations last week. Students were told to choose a project topic they were passionate about, and topics were approved by the teacher. One hour of class time each week for the last few months was devoted to researching and developing projects.

student sharing a Genius Hour project

Our son is a young World War II scholar. He devours books on the topic and chose to research Kamikaze pilots for his project. Not only did he work on his project during Genius Hour at school, but we found him at his computer on Saturday mornings and after school researching. He was passionate about what he was learning and self-motivated by the topic. He was learning to learn.

Students were given creative license to decide how their final projects would be presented to their classmates and parents. Our son chose to create a PowerPoint presentation and a battleship and plane from LEGO bricks for his presentation. Projects from his class included growing crystals, researching the history of baseball, and comparing different animals. One student built a chair and another built a bear for a baby sibling who will be born this summer.

Students present their projects individually in front of the class and then collectively, science fair style, for parents. I know public speaking tends to make people nervous, especially children, but it’s one of the most valuable life skills to teach young people. I ask questions. It’s the reporter in me. I enjoyed talking with the students about their projects. It’s interesting to see who picked what to study and why. I learned several things from those 4th graders that I’ve never thought to ask about.

Our elementary school isn’t heavy on homework. Our 1st grader has a weekly spelling test, other than that, no homework. This makes me ridiculously happy on many levels. Genius Hour gave us an avenue into our son’s school week that he willingly shared instead of me pestering him with questions attempting to drag information from him past good, fine and great to describe his school days. He shared photos, videos and an abundance of stories he found while researching. He sought an older brother’s advice when building his battleship and plane. My involvement in the project was limited to listening, reminding him how and where to properly use commas, and transporting LEGO creations from home to school and back. Other students worked more closely with a parent for their projects. Building chairs requires tools and supervision. Other projects required specific supplies. I love that their was room for family members to share expertise and support throughout the process.

Our son thinks he solely learned about Kamikaze pilots and had an excuse to play with his favorite toys. In actuality, he honed his researching, writing, and speaking skills. He learned ways to organize information both to be easily understood and aesthetically pleasing. Building with LEGO bricks is math disguised as play. Genius Hour is an avenue for adults to step back and see how unique and capable students are if we give them the opportunity to direct their learning.


 
Tips for Gingerbread House Construction
By     |    Dec 17, 2015
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Tips for Gingerbread House Construction

The last time I made a traditional gingerbread house was years ago. Everything was chugging along smoothly until the three boys realized their were only two sides to the roof. The fun was sucked right out of house decorating. The best part of a gingerbread house is the roof for my kids. My job became referee. Heaven helps us if one brother had more design input on the roof than the other brothers. We finished the house, and I vowed... [Read More]

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Halloween Costume Craftiness
By     |    Oct 30, 2015
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Halloween Costume Craftiness

It’s a good thing I’m crafty. I’m not sure what my children would do for Halloween if their parents didn’t enjoy creating costumes. By enjoy, I mean I’m excited at the start of the costume fabricating process, but by week three, I’m ready to send kids off in whatever I have finished. Our kids are notorious for picking costumes you can’t simply go buy at Target. They have specific visions for Halloween, and I relent. This year was no different.... [Read More]

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Not Celebrating the Start of School
By     |    Aug 27, 2015
Posted in: parenting     |    1 Comment

Not Celebrating the Start of School

I don’t share the same sentiments as some of my mama friends as the new school year begins. I won’t be celebrating my children heading back to school. I’ll be wondering where the last three months have gone and cursing the quick passage of time. Our youngest heads to kindergarten this year. Next week marks the first time in nearly 13 years that I’ve been without an extra shadow. There are no more little hands to hold as I run... [Read More]

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St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Mischief
By     |    Mar 17, 2015
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St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Mischief

I’m a sucker for fairy tales, unicorns and magic. The wave of a wand, pixie dust and true love’s kiss were the root of my dreams as a little girl. Daily life  can be harsh, unforgiving and difficult to navigate. I try to fill childhood at our house with a little bit of magic and wonder. Our house has hosted a wee mischievous leprechaun for quite a few years. She makes an appearance while we sleep March 16. There’s always... [Read More]

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Free Family Activities in Denver Area
By     |    Feb 18, 2015
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Free Family Activities in Denver Area

It was evident for weeks that my family needed to regroup. Three basketball teams and one cheer team with practices and games had the drivers in this house worn down. I was tired of an hour here or there of time with all six of us. I’m greedy about family time. We knew our school district had a four-day weekend in February, and we decided to leave the to-do list at home for a mini-retreat. We spent a few days... [Read More]

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Hibernating Through the Holidays
By     |    Dec 28, 2014
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Hibernating Through the Holidays

Tomorrow morning the alarm will buzz, signaling the end to our holiday hibernating. The last four days have featured the six of us with board games, food and movies. We left for a sledding excursion and crafting essentials and returned to hunker down within the confines of our home. I haven’t looked at the calendar, and more importantly, I haven’t wondered how we’ll manage to get everyone to everything on the calendar. It’s been perfect. I’ve listened to LEGOs clink... [Read More]

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The Abundance of Thanksgiving
By     |    Nov 27, 2014
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The Abundance of Thanksgiving

I spent yesterday in a kitchen with four kids baking and prepping food for the feast we’ll share with friends today. Christmas music was our soundtrack of choice. The counters were sticky. Crumbs littered the floor. Every single mixing bowl I own was dirty. The sink was full of dishes waiting to be cleaned. It was perfect. When I give myself time to truly reflect on what I’m thankful for, my breath catches. I live in a house with on-demand... [Read More]

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Living in the Din of a Family Band
By     |    Jul 17, 2014
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Living in the Din of a Family Band

I pulled into our garage, shut off the engine and started to climb out of my vehicle. Then I heard it. That sound that’s distinctly MY home. The sound is part saxophone, part recorder, part pan flute, part drum, part guitar mixed with baby stroller wheels rolling on the wood floors combined with periodic whining and the constant sounds of LEGOs being sorted. My house is loud: filled with people, music and life. Our home has always been filled with... [Read More]

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DIY: Hobbit Birthday Party
By     |    May 20, 2014
Posted in: parties     |    2 Comments

DIY: Hobbit Birthday Party

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien is our first grader’s favorite book. I read it to him and our third grader before the first movie hit the big screen. C can tell you what’s accurate in the movie and what’s added for extra drama. He can quote the book and does a creepy Gollum impersonation. It seemed natural to have a Hobbit-themed party for his 7th birthday, but he hemmed and hawed about the theme he wanted. Fairly close to the... [Read More]

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Photo Shoot Jitters Proven Unnecessary
By     |    Apr 28, 2014
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Photo Shoot Jitters Proven Unnecessary

Our local state-wide newspaper runs a health and lifestyle magazine insert a few times a year, Live Well Wyoming. An article was being written about bloggers in my state. I was asked if my family would be willing to have some photos taken to accompany the article. I said yes, hung up the phone and immediately regretted my agreement. There were so many uncontrollable variables, namely my children. They are people prone to bad days, illness, poor listening and questionable... [Read More]

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Forced into Spring Cleaning
By     |    Apr 16, 2014
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Forced into Spring Cleaning

If there’s an upside to having a sick family, it’s being forced to clean house. Walls have been wiped, bedding stripped, pillows washed and furniture disinfected. My sick family gave me reason to start spring cleaning. I actually don’t mind cleaning, so purposefully setting time aside for spring cleaning fits my personality. I find the act of taking care of what’s mine to be rewarding. Cleaning out closets and drawers gives me a natural high. Getting rid of clutter helps... [Read More]

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