Kids Philosophy Slam has just announced its new topic for this year’s contest. It is, “What is the meaning of life?” Visit the site for more information on this contest for students in K-12. And if you have any students who figure out the meaning of life, please be sure to at least give me a clue by commenting on this blog post…
Lemelson Center’s Invention at Play is a website that encourages creative thinking. The philosophy is that, by playing, we become more inventive. Cloud Dreamer allows the students to use their imaginations to create their own visions in the clouds. Puzzle Blocks emphasizes problem-solving with tangram pieces. In Word Play the students create stories. By far, one of the favorite playgrounds among my students is Tinker Ball. This is basically a web version of the Bubble Ball app I posted about not too long ago. The students have to use various pieces in combination to get a ball into a cup. It’s fun to challenge them to find out who can do it successfully with the least pieces or the most. I love that they are problem-solving, but that there endless solutions to the problem. You could have them write a “How To” paper giving instructions, or get them to think about their own thinking and describe the process they followed to reach their final solution.
According to its website, “The Learning Network provides teaching and learning materials and ideas based on New York Times content.” Although the site is designed for students who are 13 or over, I have found many lessons that can be adapted to my elementary level Gifted and Talented students. The site includes lesson plans with links to related stories in the New York Times, as well as news quizzes and crossword puzzles. I find the “Student Opinion” section to be a treasure chest of engaging questions that can help students connect themselves to the real world. The “Poetry Pairings” section is also intriguing. The site is a great resource for teachers, and gives teenagers a voice and a place to see how the news relates to them
This short (less than 3 minutes) TED talk by Derek Sivers would make a nice follow-up to any discussions you may have had recently with your students about Steve Jobs and the Apple “Think Different” campaign. It reminds us to think globally and to try to look at things from other perspectives. Before showing the video, it might be nice to ask your students if they had ever witnessed something they thought was “weird”. After the video, you could revisit the pre-discussion, and see if the students can think of reasonable explanations for those “weird” sights or behaviors. Alternatively, have them develop a list of their own behaviors that others might perceive as “weird”.
This site offers resources for teachers and parents, as well as games, activities, and contests for kids who like challenges. I like the “Living Poetically” challenge, as well as the “Excellence in Reading Award”. In the games section, there is a neat “Family Crossword” that is updated twice a week. It includes clues for kids and for adults, so families can participate together. The “Word Roundup” is a fun way to learn new trivia and vocabulary, and there are several math games as well. According to Mensa’s website, Mensa for Kids just won the 2011 APEX Grand Award in the category of Electronic & Video Publications (Nonprofit/Small Office subcategory). With its treasure trove of lesson plans and entertaining activities, I can certainly see why!
WordFoto is an iApp ($1.99) with a lot of potential for creative minds. The app allows the user to either take a picture or load a photo from the device’s Photo Gallery. Once loaded, the designer can then crop the picture if necessary. The main appeal, however, is adding words to the picture. There are sets of words already provided, or a creative mind can provide his or her own. You can also choose the style by selecting from different themes or creating your own. In addition, there are some fine-tuning tools to tweak things a bit more. Below you will find an example of an original photo by one of my 4th graders, and her interpretation using WordFoto.
Thanks to Laura Moore, who first brought this app to my attention in her blog! Be sure to check out her post for ideas on how to use WordFoto in the classroom.