Tag Archives | learning

Kids learning to code games

A few weeks ago, I spotted a cool course on Tanya’s (Rattle and Mum) Facebook page. She shared a Code Space event which I signed Bradley up to, and he’s just spent the last 2 days there with his friend.

Code Space is a digital literacy held for kids in Grades 5 to 7. It’s a course (by Thinkahead) held over 3 mornings in Sandton, and the aim is to teach the kids basic programming skills and to get them started with coding games and doing a bit of robotics too!

I thought it was an awesome idea, but I must say, it did take some coaxing to get the boys a little interested in it. They only agreed to let me sign them up for the first 2 days, they weren’t sure about the robotic toy idea.

Here’s the structure of the 3 days:

CodeSpace 1 – children will be introduced to the basics of computer programming.
CodeSpace 2 – children will design their own games, art and animations.
CodeSpace 3 – children will explore the real life application of coding through robotic toys.

Yesterday, they were really eager to get going, and I left them at the Sandton Library armed with iPads and headphones.

However, when I picked them up, there were 2 bored faces that awaited me. Turns out, the first day was similar to what they’ve learnt at school already, albeit with another program.

Day 1 taught them the basics of using Hopscotch. It’s an iPad app designed to teach you how to code. I’ve actually played around with it before, and it’s really cool and pretty simple to use. By the end of day 1, the boys were making objects (and monkeys) move around the screen, and creating shapes etc on their games that they’d created.

And they really weren’t sure they would learn much the next day, so it was a bit of a struggle to get them there again.

Day 2 however, seems to have been fantastic. They loved it.

They learnt how to code proper games using Hopscotch, and Bradley has created quite a few that work quite well. He’s published one or two… and he was so thrilled when he got home and saw that someone had shared one of his games. He then spent some time this evening showing Connor what he’d made, and they both played on the new games a bit.

The kids loved it so much, they want to do more now. They’re keen to get signed up for the CodeSpace events next holidays. They now want to do the robotics day, and then learn more too! I’m keen for them to do it too! I’m going to keep watching out for ThinkAhead and CodeSpace events now.


An old new World atlas

I finally got around to sorting out the kids school stuff yesterday… I wrapped books, and sorted out stationery… and I finally opened the package of textbooks needed for both kids for the year.

One of the books that Bradley needed for Grade 5 is an Atlas. Now I love maps etc, so I opened it and paged through it to see what was in it and what they’d be learning about.

And I’m floored!!   It’s 10 years out of date! 10 years!! Most of the environmental and population information is from 2003 t0 2005. This means that although this book says it was reprinted in 2013, no-one at Oxford Press has even bothered to check the relevance of the information in nearly 10 years!

I sincerely hope that the kids are not going to be using the atlas for the stats! I’m going to be chatting to the teachers about this… although I do “get” that there are only so many suppliers of text books in the country. But OMW… 10 years!! There was a census in 2011 for pete sake!! Surely they can update the stats in the atlas! I’m sure I’d be able to google more recent stats for every one of those pages!

I know I would probably complain about buying the kids iPads… but this is a real-life example of how e-learning can only be better than what the kids are experiencing now.

Oops, just realised how many exclamations I used in this…

Studying for a cycle test 325/365

15.05.2013 7:45pm

Tonight was the first night that we’ve actually sat with Bradley to study for a cycle test.  It’s Afrikaans tomorrow, and when Lance tested him earlier today, it was clear that he needed some help.  It’s such a bonus that Lance’s first language is Afrikaans…

We did have a bit of panic earlier though, because we had a power failure, but thankfully it came up 30 minutes later… but it was good actually, in hindsight… I feel he’s a little young to be spending hours cramming the night before an exam! So we went out for dinner, and he summarised a few things when we got home, and Lance “tested” him… and now Bradley seems confident again 🙂

A document by himself

Yesterday evening, Bradley got a bee in his bonnet.  One of his friends at school had arrived at school that morning with an impromptu paper he’d done on some animal… and Bradley wanted to do the same.

So, last night, he went through the umpteen animal encyclopedias that he owns, and found articles about jaguars, and decided that was going to be the topic.  And he told me that he wanted to do it on the PC, not on paper.  Fair enough. This morning, I left my MBP on for him, after opening Word (he didn’t know where it was on my Macbook compared to what it looked like on the school computers) .  I also told him that I would help him with images this evening if he wanted to add them.

And this is what was waiting for me to print when I got home tonight…

Jaguars of America

… with images and all…

I’m amazed!! I asked him how he did the photos.  He matter of factly told me… “I went to Google, typed in jaguars, and it took me to the National Geographic site, and I just took them from there and put them in the document”

Wow! I didn’t know he could do that!   I just needed to help him print, but I reckon he’d be able to do it all next time.

I really need to give him more credit… and have his PC fixed :/

Dreaming… about a course

I’ve got itchy feet.  Serious itchy feet.

I’ve already signed up for 2 photography workshops in January.  One is a boudoir workshop for one day by Yvette (Innovate Photo), and the other is an online 1 month long course on expanding my mind for lifestyle photography, run by a US photographer.  I’m thinking I need to be pushed again… I feel like I’m getting stale.

And now I saw this course… and oh wow I’m so tempted!

This five week online class complete with inspiring lessons, real life stories, secret missions, audio interviews and hands-on activities will help you take your dreams from the realm of wishing into everyday motion.

Something has to change… and I think this time I need help… just got to figure out how… maybe something like this course?

It’s actually all about pushing my boundaries and trying to be brave I think…

I learnt something at my workshop too

You know that photo workshop I ran yesterday… well the guys that attended were not the only people that learnt something.

I learnt something too.

That I have learnt a lot about photography over the last few years, and I do actually have a skill I can teach someone.

You may think that’s a funny statement to make… but after reading and participating in so many online forums and camera clubs over the years… you do doubt some days whether you actually do know what you’re talking about.

I don’t think people realise how much their glib statements affect you… but eventually you doubt whether you know stuff.

And it turns out I do.

The only problem I had yesterday really, was navigating around Kerry’s Nikon… I need to play a bit with one because the menus are so vastly different to the Canon… but seriously, that’s all.

I can actually do this.  And I think I’ve found a niche… I keep getting more requests for more workshops.

Onwards and upwards…

Lets talk about sex

Yip, I’m thinking it’s nearly that time.

I always said that I would broach the birds and bees subject with the kids when they asked the questions, and I would be truthful.  It’s best to hear the proper story than a convoluted mess that kids can spin (and I would then have to unravel).

But after being asked the question today, by a colleague who has kids the same ages… I’ve decided that I’m not prepared for this at all.

And I think I need to be.

So now the question is… how have you told your kids?  And have you told them? And when did you tell your kids (age)?  What prompted it?

I looked on Kalahari this afternoon, and there are plenty books that explain it to kids, and for parents, but which ones are good?  Anyone have any idea?

This evening on the way home I had to chuckle.  I had this blog post in my head the whole afternoon, and then Connor pipes up from the back seat “Mommy, where do babies come from?”!! LOL! Talk about timing?!  Thankfully at his age, 3, the answer that babies come out of mommies tummies suffices… but Bradley’s going to need more information… question is… how much and what is age appropriate?

Sites to help with tricky homework questions

So, the harder homework has started.  Bradley announced when he came home this evening, that his teacher told them to google sloths so that they can report back tomorrow.  Then while we were on the hunt for sloth information, he also said that they were talking about Pompeii at school and if they wanted to they could look that up too.

Bradley thoroughly enjoyed what we found, and in fact, so did Connor.  And I thought we’d share 3 of the websites that we really liked in our searches… because they ended up being fantastic for all sorts of subjects and I’ve bookmarked them for future projects!

1.  Learning about Rainforests – what a perfect site for kids to learn!! Simple information, that was easy to read with enough information for him to give a full report back tomorrow about sloths.

Pompeii ended up being a little trickier, mostly because the first sites we found were far too complex for a 7 year old to read easily.  After searching with kids in the keyword, I found these 2 sites that I thought were really awesome…

2.  Kidipede – History for Kids.  Very easy to digest information, that told us about Pliny the elder

3. Discovery Channel – just WOW!! The whole history about Pompeii is on the site, and simply written, and it has a video that narrates Pliny’s story (he’s the only guy that wrote about Pompeii fateful day).  The kids just loved it!! We even went and built our own volcano and watched it erupt online!! Very cool, and it illustrated the point so very well.

Then we went from Pompeii and looked at a few of the other things on the site, and under Explore by Subject, we found the Dinosaur channel… awwwssssumm (as Connor said)… there’s a Dinosaur viewer that shows you so much about each dino… just perfect for 2 dino mad kids!!

We’re definitely going back there to explore some more!

Bradley’s speech about Serbia

Every class in Bradley’s school was given a country to research this year.  Only countries taking part in the FIFA World Cup were used as part of the project. It was done to get the kids excited about the World Cup and it’s certainly worked!

Today is the day that Bradley is going to stand up, with his class mates, in front of the whole school and recite the speech that they’ve prepared about Serbia.  I’m so impressed that he’s even saying a few words in Serbian (apparently the teacher in the next class comes from a country next to Serbia).

Excuse the crap quality again… the only video camera I have is my Blackberry… and it’s shocking quality.
Then first thing Bradley said when he saw the video was “Hey, that’s not my voice, I don’t sound like that” LOL!! I think everyone feels the same way when they hear their own voice.

Sharing freely

I’m at home this morning because Connor has a doctor appointment a little later (it’s a checkup after his tonsillectomy) and I’m listening to him chatting to Beauty while she’s making the beds.

Connor: “Look here’s money”  (picking up the coins next to Lance’s bed)

Beauty:  “Put it in your money box”

Connor: “No, you can have it”

Beauty: “Noo, it’s your money, you can save it”

Connor: “Nooooo, I have money already, you don’t have any, you can have it”