birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

This summer as we usually do, I’m trying each week to include some new and exciting math fun.

In the form of puzzles or chocolate challenges or number games or just a new spin on old school problem-solving, any way we can pull in

Especially this year we’ve loved the challenging puzzles created by Erich Friedman.

These puzzles, you guys, are tough.

This week we tried the Birdwatching Puzzles.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Birdwatching Math Puzzles–Super Challenging and Tricky: 

The goal with these mazey puzzles is to move from the left side of the puzzle to the right, ‘visiting’ each color bird the same amount of times.

The ‘birds’ are actually colored dots, though, and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

 

Though Maddy and Cora didn’t even give these puzzles a go, Owen did.

He sat down at some point in the day–I never actually saw him do it–but the evidence was there.

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

He tried.

He stopped.

He doodled.

He tried again.

He did it.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

He graded himself.

He moved on.

That’s summer, y’all.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching puzzles teachmama.com

 

Do you want to download the Birdwatching Puzzle sheet? birdwatching puzzles teachmama.com

Remember, I did not make these up or design them; I am the furthest thing from a tricky puzzle creator.  These are from Erich Friedman’s site, which you can visit here: Erich’s Puzzle Palace.

All I did was find the site, love it, and create easy-to-print puzzle pages for our tabletop surprises.

Thank you, Erich, for sharing your puzzle awesome with us!

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.

chocolate math: age by chocolate

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

 

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

Our tabletop surprises are rocking and rolling this summer, but one thing that really, truly got the kids’ attention was our first (we have another planned!) chocolate day.

The whole focus was chocolate, and friends, it was pretty sweet if I do say so myself.

Who wouldn’t like to talk math and chocolate?

Here’s the skinny. . .

Chocolate Math–Age by Chocolate:

The premise of this day’s activity was twofold–1. figure out their age by chocolate; and 2. watch the multiplying chocolate video and try to figure it out themselves.

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

Figuring out Age by Chocolate is tricky but fun.

Some of the math was a bit difficult for Cora, but we walked her through it, and I’m pretty sure it helped. She hasn’t done big multiplication yet, but she will this year in grade three.

Age by math was simply completing this little printable where no matter what number you choose first, as the number of times that you each chocolate each week, your age should come out in the end.

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

age by chocolate _ teachmama.com

Age by chocolate printable: age by chocolate _ teachmama.com

Please, if you choose to share this printable–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!

 

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

Pretty cool, right?

I think so, too! And Maddy, Owen, and Cora were also impressed.

But they were really, really impressed with the multiplying chocolate videos. Don’t we all wish that this could be true? That we could make chocolate appear simply by cutting and moving candy pieces a certain way?

I sure do!

Multiplying Chocolate is super cool to watch.

Here it is as a .gif: 

DR57onF

And here’s the video: 

 

Both are really interesting–and relaxing–to watch.

Leave some chocolate bars on the table, and see what your kids can do. (Of course, be careful with knives, friends. . . ).

We tried it but couldn’t get the chocolate to cut straight enough–so we broke the chocolate and ate it.

I mean. Come on. It’s summer.

 

I simply placed the following on the table and let the kids go–

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

 

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

It was a hit as far as tabletop surprises go, and I’m thrilled that we have another chocolate day coming up soon. 

It’ll be all about fractions using chocolate bars, and though I can’t wait for the kids to try it, I am already sad just thinking that summer will be ending soon (sob!).  How can we really be on week six of ten of our 2015 tabletop surprises?

Unbelievable.

So there you have it–just a fun and sneaky way to get the kids doing a little bit of mathy math in the middle of summer and thinking about things in a little different kind of way.

Pretty neat, right?

Have you tried this before? Has it worked? Do share!

 

 

fyi: Huge and happy thanks to Murderous Maths for sharing the Age by Chocolate formula. I am not even going to pretend to be a math whiz, friends, and many of  you know it. I am doing the best I can with what I have. Also thanks to this site for the chocolate bar illustration

camp google: ocean, space, music and nature weeks

camp google

camp google | teachmama.com

Friends.

I have been working with National Geographic Kids for some time now, as one of their ‘Insiders’ and honestly the coolest thing about it is that I get kind of ‘behind-the-scenes’ information that I can share with you.

Honestly.

Fab books, cool programs, you name it.

And this summer, National Geographic has partnered with Khan Academy, National Parks, and NASA to create some really rockstar at-home ‘camps’ for kids.

Really. It’s called ‘Camp Google’, and of course, along with our tabletop surprises, it’s going to make our summer one that my kids will never forget.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Camp Google–Ocean, Space, Music, and Nature Weeks:

Everything you need is right here–

Check out the video that tells you everything you need to know about Camp Google:

Each week will feature resources and activities led by experts.  You can do them any time you want.

When kids finish an activity, they earn a badge.

You know how kids love badges.

camp google badges | teachmama.com

 

Week One, Ocean Week:

Camp Google- teachmama.com

 

Week Two, Space Week:

camp google | teachmama.com

 

Week Three, Nature Week:

camp google

 

Week Four, Music Week:

 

 

camp google

 

 

I’m thrilled to be able to share this information with you as a fun summer resource for you and your kids.  Check back every week. Let me know what you think!

 

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

 

______________________

 

Join us!

 

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

Find something fun to do this summer by following our summertime fun board: 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board summer fun & cool for kids on Pinterest.
 

Share it!

camp google  teachmama.com cover 2

 

 

FINAL INSIDER LOGO Hi-Res

So happy to be a National Geographic Kids Insider!

 

need something fun and unplugged for kids?

tabletop surprises week 4 teachmama.com

tabletop surprises week 4  teachmama.com

Friends.

We’re rocking and rolling this summer.

We’re doing just about everything we can to keep ourselves smiling and sane in between 50 thousand swim and dive meets. And though it’s so fun, just about every year we hit a wall come mid July.

Before we know it, though, summer swim and dive will be over, and we’ll (sob!) be getting ready for a new school year.

So like we do every summer, we’re playing with some tabletop surprises so that Maddy, Owen, and Cora can find their own time through the day to explore the fun I’ve got planned.

Tabletop surprises keep the kids active and engaged. And most days, it gives them something unplugged to do in their down time.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Need Something Fun and Unplugged for Kids?

This week we

 

Monday:

watercolor day! #tabletopsurprises #summerfun #artsycraftsy #paint #painting #watercolors

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

  Tuesday:

watercolor day! #tabletopsurprises #summerfun #artsycraftsy #paint #painting #watercolors

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on


Wednesday:

  Thursday:


Friday:

     

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

 

______________________

 

Join us!

 

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

Check out our summertime fun posts: 

 

Find something fun to do this summer by following our summertime fun board: 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board summer fun & cool for kids on Pinterest.
 

Share it!

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles  teachmama.com

 

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find cool ways of sneaking some math into our day, but recently we’ve been on a puzzle kick.

Puzzles are a super way of getting your brain moving in clever and creative ways, allowing you to stretch those critical thinking skills.

Math is so much more than just number recognition and basic facts. Math is actually the study of numbers, equations, functions, and geometric shapes and their relationships. And there’s a whole lot when it comes to their relationships.

Puzzles help us bring to life those those relationships.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Color Puzzles–Fun Math and Logic for Kids: 

Actually, these color puzzles are fun for kids of all ages. In fact, I’ve done so many of the puzzles I’ve found on this site, that some days an hour will pass and it feels like a heartbeat to me.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

And I’m not really a puzzle person.

It’s just that I find these addicting.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

These are the four color puzzles from Erich Friedman, the puzzle king. 

Erich created every single one of these puzzles, friends; it’s amazing. It’s incredible. Honestly, he must be brilliant.

All I did was make these puzzles accessible to my kids for their summertime tabletop surprises. I wanted to be able to print them out, have the kids work on them whenever they could and not have to be plugged into a device.

So it has worked out well.

color puzzles  teachmama.com`

And if you want to try these awesome four-color puzzles, check out Erich’s site:

Or if you want to download the printable, you may do so here: color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

If you choose to share this printable, which we hope you do, please first link to Erich’s site, and then share this post. Thank you!

 

Do you know that when Maddy was young, I totally forgot about puzzles?

It’s true.

When she was two, I had a girlfriend and her two children over for a playdate. My pal was explaining how her son, who was also two at the time, couldn’t sit still for television programs but could always sit still to work on a puzzle.

I felt like the earth stopped moving. I was holding Owen at the time, and I remember nearly dropping him. He was about six months old, and he was wiggling out of my arms, and at the same time, I felt dizzy and nauseous.

Puzzles?

OH MY GOSH! HOW I FORGOT ABOUT PUZZLES?!

How will Maddy ever succeed in life, having never even seen a puzzle until she was 26 months old?!

Right.

So as soon as I could politely usher my friend out of the house and get my kids strapped into the car, you better believe I beelined for the toy store.

I grabbed an alphabet puzzle and a number puzzle–two chunky Melissa & Doug classics–and we used them for years and years since.

I’m sure I overreacted. Maddy did not need a puzzle right there and then, but my point is that puzzles are important, friends.

Our little ones–and we as adults–need puzzles for many reasons.

In fact, a University of Chicago study found that

Children who play with puzzles between ages 2 and 4 later develop better spatial skills . . . Puzzle play was found to be a significant predictor of spatial skill after controlling for differences in parents’ income, education and the overall amount of parent language input.

In examining video recordings of parents interacting with children during everyday activities at home, researchers found children who play with puzzles between 26 and 46 months of age have better spatial skills when assessed at 54 months of age.        

“The children who played with puzzles performed better than those who did not, on tasks that assessed their ability to rotate and translate shapes,” said psychologist Susan Levine, a leading expert on mathematics development in young children.

Read more here: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/02/15/puzzle-play-helps-boost-learning-important-math-related-skills#sthash.4iDTDIbD.dpuf

Cool, right?

And it’s no secret that puzzles are said to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.  The Fischer Center for Alzheimers recently wrote about a study from the University of California, Berkeley with these findings:

Reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles and solving challenging puzzles may be linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Now a new study shows how mental stimulation may protect the brain. . . . 

“We report a direct association between cognitive activity and Pittsburgh compound B uptake, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of beta-amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers write.

Read more here: https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/crossword-puzzles-alzheimers/

So? Get those puzzles out, friends. No matter how old your little ones are, puzzles are for everyone.

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun learning for kids  teachmama.com Week two of tabletop surprises is in the books, and it was a blast!

Because my crew was busy fighting off some pretty awful summertime colds, we did a bit of re-arranging with our tabletop surprises calendar this week.

But you know what? That’s the awesome thing about it: you can do what you want. When you want.

And the freebie 10 week resource guide includes a whole bunch of awesome extra ideas to use if one day doesn’t work for you. 

This week, we drew, built, wrote, and more.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids–Tabletop Surprises:

Monday:

Tuesday:  

Wednesday:

Thursday:  


Friday:

 

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

Check out our summertime fun posts: 

 

Share it!

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

matchstick math  teachmama.com

The matchstick math activity we did last week for tabletop surprises was a real hit.

I had an inkling that the activity would be a favorite of Owen’s but really all of the kids were into it.

And when we didn’t bump the table, making the matchsticks fall all out of place and go everywhere, it was all good.

It was super-simple, and I thank the good folks who write Matchstick Puzzles blog for their ideas.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Matchstick Math: 

Really, I had heard about matchstick math years and years ago but never really tried it with my kids.

And the idea is simple: you have a simple challenge to complete with matchsticks. Move two to create a totally different object. Add three to completely remake a design.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

 

Fun. And easy. But it’s not really that easy at all.

And when I stumbled upon this awesome matchstick math blog while planning our tabletop surprises calendar this summer, I like totally hit the jackpot.

All I did was make an easy printable for me which included three things:

  1. the before design
  2. the challenge
  3. the answer to the puzzle

 

Then, like all of the tabletop surprises every day, I set the matchstick patterns out on the table and let. It. Go.

So yes, you need matchsticks to do this.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

And then throughout the day, the kids hit the table when they felt inclined.  When they were interested. It was great.

The printable includes six of the millions and millions of matchstick puzzles I found on the site, so if you really love them and want more, head on over. Really, what I have here is a fraction–and I mean fraction–of what they have going on over there.

They’re matchstick cray-cray.

But here’s the thing: if matchsticks make you nervous, DON’T. USE. MATCHSTICKS.

For real. You can totally get the same thing going on with these matchstick puzzles if you use something other than matchsticks.

Consider using:

The possibilities are endless.

Please don’t allow your fear–or aversion–to matches turn you away from this activity.

It really is cool, and it really does get your kids’ brains and bodies moving.

It’s quiet. It’s critical thinking. It can be a group or partner activity, and it’s a great way to pass time in restaurants if you need a little something unplugged to do.

 

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

 

If you’d like to download the document: matchstick math teachmama.com

Please, if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the printable. Thank you!

What do you think? Cool?

I’d love to hear what you think!

 

And definitely do check out the awesome matchstick bloggy blog where all the puzzles can be found. Without that site, there’d be no matchstick math for us!

And so was I.

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

 
Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

 

Every weekday in the summertime, I start the day by sharing a #tabletopsurprises post.

Just one quick picture of what’s in store for Maddy, Owen, and Cora for their tabletop surprise that day.

Are you on Instagram? If so, I’d love to follow you.

And if you’re joining us in our tabletop surprises this summer, I’d love, love, love for you to share your photos tagged with #tabletopsurprises — it’s so cool to see what everyone is doing!  Use #tabletopsurprises on your photo, and I’ll follow you back.

So here’s the skinny for this week. . .

We started on a Tuesday because the kids’ last day of school was Monday. 

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids– #tabletopsurprises week 1:

Tuesday:

  Wednesday:

Matchstick Math! #tabletopsurprises #math #familyfun #kids #summerfun #ontheblog

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

Thursday:

  Friday:

Good, ole fashioned Play-Doh day! #tabletopsurprises #Iloveplaydoh #freeplay #summerfun #photooftheday

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

how to play bunco with FAMILIES

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

On an off for years now, we’ve played Bunco with our family.

At family gatherings, after the little ones had gone to bed, the adults rocked out a little Bunco fun.

Complete with crazy prizes a la our fun Bingo bonanza, the adults laughed and rolled dice and played Bunco late into the night.

Now that Maddy, Owen, and Cora are older, though, we’ve introduced them to the fun of Bunco.

Bunco is a simple dice-rolling game that leaves little to skill and all to chance. It’s fun–and easy enough for families with mixed-age kids to play.  There’s counting and adding and a whole lot of mathy-math in the mix.

Any sneaky learning is a win in our book.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Play Bunco With FAMILIES:

To play Bunco, you need a few simple things. Nothing will break the bank, and the biggest thing you need is a good number of people–twelve players will make it really fun.  So grab another family or two, and you’re probably good.

To play Bunco, you need:

how to play bunco  teachmama.com

Grab our score sheets and table cards here, and make sure that you print enough!

You’ll need the Family Score Cards which are printed two per sheet.

how to play family bunco | teachmama.com

 You can download the Family Bunco Score Sheets here: bunco printables _ family _ teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

 

And you’ll need Table Cards.

You may only need three or four tables, and our printables have you covered through six tables.

how to play family bunco | teachmama.com

 

You can download the Table Cards here: bunco table cards _ family teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

 

Remember: 

The best way to teach kids to play Bunco is by showing them–it gets too confusing when you try to go through the rules.

So take a minute and show them a sample table, how each person rolls and adds and scores, and then you’ll be good to go!

To play Bunco:

  1. 12 players break into 3 tables of 4 players each.
  2. Tables are numbered; table 1 is the ‘head table’; table 2 is middle; table 3 is last.
  3. Players sit across from their ‘temporary team’ member at each table.
  4. One player at head table rings bell to signal start of game.
  5. Players at each table take turns rolling 3 dice, trying to roll the same number as the round     (ex:  roll 1’s during the 1st round = points earned; 2’s during 2nd round, etc.).
  6. Players keep rolling until they score no points, after which time they hand the dice to the next player.  A table scorekeeper tallies points for both teams.
  7. When the head table earns 21 points, the bell is rung, and the round is over.
  8. Points are added.  Each table will have a winning team and a losing team. Players write their score on their personal score sheet and indicate win (W) or loss (L).
  9. Players either stay or move tables depending on whether they won or lost the round. Instructions are on the table cards.  ‘Temporary team’ members MUST switch after each game.

BUNCO = 3 of the same number rolled matches round number (ex: three 2’s during 2nd round = BUNCO!  →  BUNCO = 21 points

Baby Bunco = 3 of same number rolled does not match round number (ex: three 2’s during the 4th round) = Baby Bunco  →  Baby Bunco = 5 points

 

 

You can download our Bunco Rules Sheet here:

how to play bunco | teachmama.com

You can download the Bunco Rules Sheet here: bunco RULES _ family teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

Remember, that the fun part about Bunco is the prizing!

Everyone pays $5 to play! And then, after all of the games are played, count the pot.  Sometimes when we play with families, we only throw in $1 or $2 per person. Kids don’t care–the more singles they win, the better!

  • 50% of total pot goes to the player with the most buncos
  • 30% of total pot goes to the player with the high score
  • 20% of total pot goes to the player with the most wins
  • $5 goes to the player with the  lowest score
  • $5 goes to the player with the most losses

Make this as simple as possible! It doesn’t have to be perfect–just divide the money, give to the winners, and the kids will be happy!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

But you cannot forget about the Bunco snacks!

Check out how we do snacks for our  games:

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

 

 

The great thing about Bunco is that it’s crazy easy and that you need very little brain power to make it work. 

It’s just enough counting and chance to make it fun for players of all ages. And the simple adding of numbers makes it a cool way of sneaking a little math into the mix.

Some helpful hints for playing with families: 

  • Make sure there’s an adult at each table to help move the game along;
  • Have an adult keep score at each table;
  • Make rolling a Bunco super fun–whomever rolls one must wear a silly hat or necklace or hold a funny toy;
  • Everyone cheers for the winners as they move tables;
  • Go easy on snacks–maybe keep something healthy at the tables and keep the sweets in the kitchen!
  • Have fun!

 

And if you’re looking for a fun Girls’ Night Out, here’s everything you need:

 

how to play bunco everything you need teachmama.com.png

 

 

 

 

This post is part of our #livefocused in 2015 series; February is our month to focus on friendship. It’s been a blast.

Find out more here:

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

 

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

 

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

 

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

sponsored post

 

 

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

 

For the past two years, we’ve been invited to attend the Future City Competition here in DC.

Last year, only Maddy and I attended (It was the very same day our chicks hatched! Ahhhh, memories–), but this year, the whole family got in on the fun.

Future City is a middle school engineering competition; this year over 40,000 students from around the world competed. It’s really a super-cool event that I love attending with my kids.

And I’d love to see more families encouraging their schools to get involved because it’s easy for students of all backgrounds to participate in and the payoffs are huge.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

We’re inspiring future engineers! Giving kids a chance to solve real-life engineering problems! Teamwork! Collaboration!

It’s all awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Future City–Middle School Competition Inspires Future Engineers: 

My kids are not yet old enough to actually participate in the Future City Competiton, but that doesn’t matter.

I love bringing them to the event because they get to see first-hand what other kids, just a little bit older than they are, have worked so hard to create.

And they don’t only get to walk around passively; rather, spectators are encouraged to ask the groups questions, to interact with them, and to really learn a bit while there. I love it.

Check out a bit about Future City:

Here are some photos from our Future City adventure. Huge thanks to my three little photographers for taking such great pictures through the day!

 

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Some Future City fun facts: 

  • More than 40,000 students from 1,350 middle schools are participating nationwide in the regional competitions.
  • Future City, a STEM program, is reaching girls and underserved students
    • 46% of participants are girls;
    • 33% of participating schools have 50% or more of their students enrolled in the reduced or free lunch program.
  • Future City is a program of DiscoverE, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations.
  • Student teams, led by an educator and volunteer mentor, research and design a solution to a city-wide challenge that changes each year.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Each Future City team must do several things:

  1. design a virtual city using the latest SimCity software;
  2. write a 1,000 word essay outlining their solution to the given problem;
  3. create 500-word city narrative describing their city of the future;
  4. design a model of their city to scale with at least one-moving part, using mostly recycled materials and staying within a $100 budget,
  5. impress the judges in only 7 minutes by showcasing what they’ve learned and what their city is all about.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

 

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

 

Everything you need is at your fingertips.

The Future City website has literally everything you need to start a project and a team right there.

If you’re a homeschooling family, a public school or private school family–it doesn’t matter.  If you’re a part of a nationally, regionally, or state-recognized youth-focused organization, like Boy or Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, or 4-H, you could form a team. I think it’d be a really cool focus for a group like this.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Guess what? This week is Engineers Week (February 22-28, 2015), so perhaps it’s a good time to explore the DiscoverE site.

And Girl Day is February 26th:

 

And if you miss these two events, no worries!

The DiscoverE site has Upcoming Events shared and updated regularly.  There’s probably something near you in the next few months.

 

Want a few at-home STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) ideas to try before you try Future City for yourself?  Check out: 

 

fyi: My friends at Blogalicious bLink and DiscoverE invited my family to attend Future City and share our experience. As always, my opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DiscoverE. The opinions and text are all mine.

GoldieBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com for @goldibloxinc

sponsored post

 

 

 

Yesterday, my girls were late for school.GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

And they were late for cheer practice last evening.

And they were late for school again today.

It wasn’t because they were sleeping in or taking too long to pick out their clothes.

It wasn’t because they were poking around or moving slowly.

They were building. They were reading; they were creating.

My smart girls were busy tinkering with their GoldieBlox sets, and this mama was fine with it.

Sure, we need to teach our kids to be punctual and to make it to school on time. But we have the rest of the week to work on that, don’t we?

We are totally impressed with GoldieBlox.

And I’m thrilled to have a GoldieBlox gift set to give away to one lucky teachmama.com reader.  Just in time for the holidays. Woo-hoooo.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • GoldieBlox for Smart Girls–Read, Create, and Learn:

GoldieBlox is one of those products that you’re happy to buy because it packs a crazy powerful punch. Your money goes far because our girls are reading, thinking, and creating.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

And along the way, they’re learning spacial skills, engineering skills, and confidence in problem-solving.

They’re learning about wheels and axles, hinges and levers, pulleys, gears, animation and more.

GoldieBlox gets girls building through the context of a narrative.  That is, each set comes with a book that girls read, and the pieces that they build somehow hinge on what happens in the text.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

Their research has shown that girls in particular connect with a story.

I wanted to know why GoldieBlox was only for girls.  What made GoldieBlox special? 

Straight from the FAQ page:

Our founder, Debbie, spent a year researching gender differences to develop a construction toy that went deeper than just “making it pink” to appeal to girls. She read countless articles on the female brain, cognitive development and children’s play patterns. She interviewed parents, educators, neuroscientists and STEM experts. Most importantly, she played with hundreds of kids. Her big “aha”? Girls have strong verbal skills. They love stories and characters. They aren’t as interested in building for the sake of building; they want to know why. GoldieBlox stories replace the 1-2-3 instruction manual and provide narrative-based building, centered around a role model character who solves problems by building machines. Goldie’s stories relate to girls’ lives, have a sense of humor and make engineering fun.  

Pretty cool.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

And though the sets are geared more for girls, I’m here to attest to the fact that boys dig ’em, too.

I got one. And he was wow’ed by Maddy and Cora’s creations. Big time.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

We tried two of the newer GoldieBlox sets:

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine: Teaches kids how to make movies. Not even kidding.  When I first saw it, I was totally skeptical. But I read the book alongside Cora, and together we read about the bad news: The film festival was going to be cancelled because the projector was broken.

Goldie, the mechanical engineer of the group, calls her friends for some help. Valentina (the electrical engineer), Li (the token guy and environmental scientist), Ruby (the coding expert), Nacho (the dog), and Benjamin Cranklin (the cat), all work together to build a zoetrope.

Right. You don’t know what a zoetrope is, do you?

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

It’s all good. I didn’t, either.

A ‘zoetrope’ (pronounced just how it looks: zoey-trope), is the world’s first moving picture machine, friends.  You’ll learn all of this when you get the set, but in 1834 the zoetrope was born. It’s basically a cylinder on a spinning platform.  The cylinder has slits cut into it, and it has long strips of paper on its inside.  When the cylinder moves, it looks like the objects on the papers are moving due to the Persistence of Vision principle.

Sounds crazy but you’ll get it.

And when the zoetrope is built and after your child tries each of the movies (she can even make one of her own!), she can check out the GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine app (free from the iTunes store).

Cora and I haven’t even had a chance to scratch the surface of the app, but essentially, you can create short, animaged GIFs over there using their digital creation tools. You can save them and upload them to Bloxtown for others to see (coming soon!), or you can print them and put them into your brand, new zoetrope. So fun. So totally cool.

Check it out:

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GoldieBlox and the Builder’s Survival Kit: Maddy dove right into this set, which is bigger and geared more toward a slightly older age group.  Maddy loved this because of the freedom it afforded her.

She could basically flip through Goldie’s Diary of Inventions and build anything she wanted. The Diary seems just like a diary–scribbles, doodles, pictures, you name it. And information on her friends and family–just like a personal journal.

Who doesn’t like to have permission to read someone’s diary?

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

Instructions for building a Derby Racer, a drum set, a dog house, an ice-cream truck, and a tea cup ride (for real!) are followed by a few drawings of other inventions to create.

Maddy was quick to give me her official feedback which was:

She liked:

  • the many choices to build;
  • the diary to read;
  • that it was a really good pastime.

She wished:

  • that there was a little more detail in the pieces;
  • there was a little more detail in instructions.

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

However, it is worth noting that when Maddy stepped back, laid out all of the necessary pieces for the item she wanted to build, and took the time necessary to read and understand the given instructions, she was successful.

She had a tough time building the ice-cream truck at first, but when she started fresh with the tea cup ride, following all instructions and making sure to identify all of the necessary pieces before she began building, she met with success.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn

As a parent, overall, I really liked:

  • the combination of reading and creating–I totally see why girls especially would love this;
  • the quality of materials--the parts are sturdy, the book is solid, and you can just tell that these are high-quality pieces;
  • that there are little action figures with the sets–not like big, fighting guys–but little sweet animals that can fit in the creations;
  • the design and layout–I love the concept, I love the design, and I love the look of everything;
  • the music videos, the cartoons, and the graphics on the app;
  • the extensions: the Bloxtown site, the Movie Machine app, the games, and fun for kids;
  • the message--that girls are ‘more than just another princess’ and that it’s cool to use their brains;
  • that Goldie has a melting pot of pals--really, her pals look a lot like my girls’ groups of friends, and I love it.

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

I do wish that:

  • some of the teeny, cardboard, interlocking tabs were a little easier for my girls to manage;
  • ‘GoldieBlox’ was spelled correctly–because I have a hard time with ‘x’ instead of ‘cks’ or ‘ks’.

 

And that’s it. Really, truly my new favorite go-to for birthday gifts and something I do look forward to exploring as the line evolves and grows over the next few years.  Six sets now, but growing, growing!

 

And just for kicks–check out the coolest video ever. Show your kids. They’ll be totally hooked:

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GIVEAWAY: One GoldieBlox gift pack–valued at $100.

Do you want to win your own GoldieBlox gift pack just in time for the holidays??!  Yes, yes you do.  

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Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Friday, November 7, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/07/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

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fyi: This post is written as part of a paid partnership with GoldieBlox; however, as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little classroom engineers.  Affiliate links are used above.