UPDATE: The area referred to here is now MarineLand.
A few more images from the Mermaid world we are building…
Life Skill #2: Prioritization and Time Management
Didn’t get to read about Life Skill #1? Click Here to read the first article now!
Your kids have finished their to-do list… but there are about ten thousand things on it. It’s making you go cross-eyed, and you wonder how they’ll ever get it done. You again find yourself longing to make a mad-dash for the window.
But before you flatten your hydrangeas in a homework-induced panic, take a deep breath and look at the bright side: all these assignments can help your kids learn another great life skill! Time Management.
The first trick is to remember that not all assignments are created equal. Some take ten minutes, some take three hours. Some are worth ten points, some are worth a hundred. Some are due tomorrow, some next week, some next month. Once you and your kids get that down, you can prioritize so that even if they can’t get everything done, they’ll at least take care of the important stuff: Generally, things due tomorrow come before things due next week; things that are 100 points come before things that are 10 points; and it’s up to your kids whether they want to start with the short assignments to get some things off the checklist, or tackle the long ones first. With big, long-term projects, you can help your kids break them down into smaller steps, with individual due dates.
The second trick is to accept that it’s okay to not go over-and-above on every single assignment. “What’s the problem?” you ask. “It’s great seeing my child getting carried away with school work!” And you’re absolutely right: on extra-special projects that they’re particularly passionate about, it’s great for kids to get swept away. But it’s also very easy for them to spend all their time doing the fun stuff that’s above and beyond the assignment, at the expense of the assignment itself. If they take too much time on the frills—or even on the research—they might run out of time and not finish the assignment, or they might finish and then not have time for their other work. The bottom line is that when your kids have a lot to get done, they have to learn to just get it done. To do that, they have to accept that doing enough on an assignment is just that: enough.
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You stand frozen in place, staring into the faces of your kids. They have just asked one of those dreaded questions that are almost as bad as “Jimmy says there isn’t a Santa Claus…” or “Where do babies come from?” Your eyes dart around frantically for an escape. Maybe the window? You could do a commando-roll into the hydrangeas, be on the sidewalk, and three blocks away before they could hop on their bicycles and chase you down…
“Mooooom,” they’ve asked, throwing their pencils down in frustration, “when will we ever use this stuff in the real world???”
We all know school is important, but the third line of the fourth scene of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” probably won’t play a big role in your kids’ day-to-day life…or will it? Not only is knowledge a wonderful thing in and of itself, but no matter what the lesson, you can use homework to teach your kids some great life-skills that will last them into high school and beyond! So before you crush those precious hydrangeas…
Life-Skill #1: Keeping a Calendar and To-do list
Keeping a calendar and to-do list are skills that are great to learn early. I know what you’re thinking: “…but I can barely keep a to-do list myself. How can I teach my kids?”
Well, your family can figure out a specific system that’s right for you, but here are two important components to any calendar system:
1) Have a specific place to log assignments – This can be as fancy as a daily planner, or as simple as a designated section in a school notebook – just as long as your kids are always writing down assignments neatly and legibly in one place (instead of, say, on their lunch napkin, their hand, the side of their shoe…).
2) Have a separate monthly calendar- This is for important deadlines, holidays, birthdays, etc. That way, you and your kids can see how much time they actually have to get their homework done.
I’ll admit, keeping a to-do list takes practice and patience. As time goes on, you and your kids can figure out what works best for you, but here are some tips to get you started:
No matter what, don’t give up! Remember, keeping a to-do list and calendar takes practice, and lots of it. Sometimes assignments will still slip through the cracks, so don’t let them get you or your kids down. Make sure your kids know that they’re doing a great job, and encourage them to keep up the great work!
UPDATE: The area referred to here as Mermaid Town is now MarineLand.
In the previous weeks, I showed you some initial concept sketches for our cool new underwater world. The feed back has been great, especially with all the creative names submitted for the Mermaid Village. Having so many good suggestions was like Christmas for our writers.
Enough about words, names and such, lets talk about pictures and art.
The next step in creating our online world is to take the previous sketches and use them as guides to create actual 3D models. We like to use a tool called Maya to actually construct the pieces that will later be placed into the game. Maya is a little like a digital machine shop where we can lathe, bevel and weld polygons together into a variety of cyber sculptures. Once the pieces are crafted using polygons, we are then able to view them from any direction and manipulate them. This 3D approach is different and more flexible that 2D, where you would have to redraw an object to see it from a new angle. It’s kinda like making a clay model inside the computer. You can move it, spin it, squash it, and stretch it… just about anything.
Here are a couple of pictures from Maya. You may notice that everything is composed of either triangles or rectangles (these are the polygons).
Next week, we will give our models color and texture!
Good times everyone!
Chris “Almost a doctor” Williams
Next Week: Modeling several pieces of the MerTown in 3D and early world layout.
– From the Desk of Heather Tuttle, Curriculum Writer –
Sometimes, the best and most effective learning occurs when kids don’t even know they’re doing it.
In my years as a classroom teacher, there wasn’t anything I loved more than learning from my students.Not a day went by without my students providing some kind of learning moment for me.From parenting skills to learning styles to teaching tips for the future, I learned something new every single day.One of the most valuable lessons I took away from my students involved the learning process.Every child who entered my classroom had a unique way of acquiring knowledge and storing it in his or her brain.Even Erik, the unmotivated and apathetic student who decided he hated school at an early age had his own preferred way of learning.While he thought he preferred not to learn, I was determined to “trick” him into learning by tapping into his unique learning style.
One of my most memorable teaching moments was the day we created and played with magnetic poetry in class.Before heading out of class that day, Erik turned back to proclaim, “I never knew parts of speech could actually be fun!”When learning became a memorable experience of exploring and discovering Erik didn’t even notice the neurons connecting in his brain.He called it fun, while I called it a successful lesson.The next week, Erik’s smile was priceless as he “kissed his brain” for receiving the top score on the weekly grammar quiz.
Kids (and their brains) love exploration.When kids have a chance to explore on their own, they make connections with prior knowledge and begin to understand new things.Exploration leads to understanding which ultimately encourages and initiates learning.By color-coding magnetic poetry pieces by parts of speech, Erik quickly made the connection that a well-written sentence was simply a combination of colorful pieces.He was able to see how the pieces fit together.Something that was dull and uninteresting to him in the textbook become alive and real when he could actually touch the pieces and build sentences and paragraphs.Additionally, creating silly sentences with his own homemade word pieces gave Erik a sense of ownership and entertainment.This is what he needed to make the neurons in his brain connect.
Another thing I quickly discovered while managing a classroom full of brains is that kids love the freedom of choice.Making decisions creates a sense of ownership, independence, and motivation.Motivation transfers to engagement (what kids call fun) and leads to self-induced learning (they’re learning, but it’s disguised as fun).Without even realizing it, a child who is given the opportunity to explore and discover will begin to make connections with prior knowledge, creating new knowledge.All of this occurs while thinking they’re just playing and having fun.
When kids are able to enjoy learning as an adventure it not only entertains, but teaches them to uncover answers and knowledge on their own.This “adventure-based learning” makes learning become part of everyday life.When given daily opportunities to explore, investigate, and experience, a child’s mind evolves into an endless mine…full of incredible treasures of knowledge.