Category Archives: Technology

I have an idea and I need your help

My boys are eager to explore the Internet and create their own content. I came home yesterday and found one of my sons writing his own newspaper. I figure if they are so inclined then others their age share the same mindset. My idea is to create a Let’s Explore WordPress session for children ages 8 to 10. I’d like to try to bring this idea to life for a day over the December holidays or the first professional day in Peel District School Board’s 2013 calendar. I am hoping I can find a teacher – perhaps a high school or college student who would be interested in teaching a group of children for 4 or 5 hours. (physical activity like dodgeball, etc. would also be included and led by me or another adult)

Please can you recommend a WordPress teacher or other ideas for this type of day?

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Encouraging The Art of Storytelling with Technology

I used to love going to camp and learning new things. I was really excited when my boys went to The Amazing Rainforest – I wish I could have gone too. So I decided to organize a day of camp at our house – for my boys, of course.

My husband had seen an ad in the boys’ magazine – The Magazine for The Director’s Cut http://www.thedirectorscut.ca/ . When we looked it up online, their programs sounded outstanding – making movies and watching movies over spring break inconjunction with Cineplex, learning how to make cartoons, stop action movies and others. Unfortunately they didn’t offer a week long camp near us – otherwise my day of camp would have turned into a week for my 8 year old. I contacted the organizers to find out if we could do a one day program at the house. No problem, Linda Perry, Key Contact for the Simcoe/ Peel Region for The Director’s Cut, tells me –  we can divide the children into groups and each group can make their own movie and then the children can take home a copy of all of the movies that they make that day. Perfect! 

From 10 to 2:30,  8 children (2 5 year olds, 1 10 year old and 5 8 year olds) made their imaginations come to life with Tiff – the facilitator and made Live Action Comic Books! . First, they practiced using digital cameras – taking pictures of different items and people in different poses and from different angles so they became very comfortable working with a digital camera. They mapped out their storylines by working out what was going to happen in each scene. Then the real fun began – they dressed up and became their characters  and took pictures of themselves making their stories come to life. Once done, they uploaded their pictures into the mac books and started to manipulate them using imovie software – adding captions and sound effects and voices. This was their favourite part by far – everyone felt they were artists making their masterpieces just like Shrek. 

Creating Stories

Each of the stories was so different and creative. I understand that by grade 5 some of the media development is taught in the schools. As my eldest son starts grade 3 this week, I do hope to see more emphasis placed on storytelling – specifically writing stories that have a clear beginning, middle and end. I hope I am wrong- but my observation is that our children’s ability to write stories and express themselves through storytelling is not being developed in schools. I love The Director’s Cut programs as they not only teach storytelling but enable children to bring their stories to life.

Teachers and Principals – please look into having the folks from The Director’s Cut come to your school this year to give your students an opportunity to be storytellers in our technologically driven world.

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Filed under Creativity, Organized Fun, Technology, Uncategorized, Valuable Partners

Outstanding Day Camp- The Amazing Rainforest in Bolton

With both my boys needing more stimulation this summer than daily visits to the park and game time with their nana, we researched day camps to find some that had great activities,  a safe environment and wonderful organizers and leaders with good child to leader ratios.

Our elementary school sent home a flyer about The Amazing Rainforest in Bolton which looked promising. Its summer schedule offered a variety of themes that had appeal to young and older children – such as Lego, Photography, Gadgets and Gizmos – some were offered in French too! Their website didn’t offer very much information about their program and we asked our friends but no one seemed to know much about it so we stopped by their location in Bolton in the spring to talk to the owners.

I think our boys feel in love with it the moment we walked in. With a larger than life electronic race car track, a computer lab, arts and crafts (ie. wax hands and modelling) and live lizards, snakes, turtles to learn about as well, we felt our boys would have a lot of fun and possibly learn a few things as well. So we signed them up for Gadgets and Gizmos week along with a buddy. (I was thrilled to learn that lunch was provided in the cost and was delivered by the Italian restaurant around the corner – spaghetti and tacos were on the menu!)

For their week in August – the junior camp (ages 5 and 6) built robots out of recyclable materials and painted them. The senior camp (ages 7 to 12) constructed handheld fans with batteries, wires, electrical tape and a popsicle stick. Together both groups made origami. What blew my mind was near the beginning of the week the children paired up and prepared a speech about one of the animals in the rainforest. Little did I know that these presentations were videotaped and then played back to the parents on the last day of camp. My boys never tell me anything – for example it was only when I attended the open house on the last day of camp that I found out that my 8 year old son and his buddy along with the senior campers had learnt to play the drums – And they did an outstanding performance in the dark with just their hands glowing! And there was my just 5 year old making a presentation with his new 6 year old buddy about the lizard!

Cooperative learning and performing

While I was a bit concerned about signing my boys up for a camp that I knew nothing about – and was primarily held indoors, my worries were put aside at the end of each camp day when they came home and told me how excited they were to go back the next day. Plus on the last day of camp (having signed a permission slip on the first day), the leaders took the 20 campers to the Albion Conservation Area for the day – where they played soccer, capture the flag, hide and seek and splashed in the new splash pad.

 In speaking with the owners who are teachers, they are clearly well organized folks with a passion for working with children.  Their love for education was evident as they helped the children with their reptile presentations, explained how to build their fans, helped them learn new activities and led them through musical lessons. Poor behaviour  – including not listening – was not tolerated as my boys quickly found out. (I did hear about this as my youngest tells me most behavioural issues.)

We will definitely be sending our boys back to The Amazing Rainforest camp – they made new friends and had fun while learning a few new things. I hope the organizers will offer a program over spring break  and maybe something for children and their parents!

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Filed under Activities in the 905, Creativity, Technology

Exploring Technology

My 70 something mother bought herself an ipad the other day and brought it over to show her grandsons her new toy. (Considering she never turned a computer herself over the last 20 years and used to write our annual Christmas letter out by hand – this is a quantum leap.) Needless to say, when my boys began playing with her ipad, they fell in love with it.

On my sons' Christmas list

They loved being able to move and open folders, applications, etc. just with the touch of their fingers. Yes – now an ipad is on each of their Christmas wish lists. Apparently so is an ipod Touch according to my 8 year old.

Technology is advancing so quickly. Check out this video by Microsoft 

What The Future Holds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dact-1Tdgz0

It is pretty incredible to think that this will likely happen sooner rather than later. The question is – how do you keep up?

As a parent I would like to be more than aware of what is going on around me; however I feel that I am lagging behind. If I am feeling like a neophyte, how do I help my children be comfortable with technology? Will they explore on their own? If my husband and I don’t show them, will they be behind the technology curve?

While I would love to think that my sons would gain knowledge about technology in schools, I don’t foresee schools being well equipped with the latest equipment unless they are privately funded. So I am starting to explore ways to give my children greater exposure to this world and at the same time try to educate myself. A colleague suggested I take them on a field trip to an Apple store so they could try out the floor models in the store. My husband and I are also allowing them some more time on our home computer to explore on the internet (under our supervision). I have found a great organization called The Director’s Cut  http://www.thedirectorscut.ca/ which has spring break and summer camps for children giving them hands on experience to make movies – filming, editing, sound etc. all with technology.

Parent and Child Animation Classes Every Saturday During the Summer

I have also heard that the National Film Board’s Toronto Mediatheque is offering Parent and Child animation classes on Saturdays all summer long. http://www.onf-nfb.gc.ca/eng/mediatheque/schedule.php?id=2047 

We are going to check them out!

We have also decided as a family we are saving for a Flip Video camera. Money earned from chores, loose change etc. will be put in our money jar and counted every week. Hopefully before the end of the summer we will have enough to buy and experiment with a Flip. 

I am hoping that by giving our children the opportunity to explore in this arena, that we are helping to be more prepared for the future. And hopefully, I will be as well.

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Filed under Technology, Thoughts, Under The Influence