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About pinewarbler

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    Hive Mind Worker Bee

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  1. Great list! We've done most of these and loved them. Anyone have recommendations for 12 & 13 year olds?
  2. OMG... I can't believe it, but FIRST just contacted me and our First Lego League robotics team has been offered a place at the International level. We'll be attending a huge tournament with the best teams in South, Central and North America. I really thought we were done for the year and I was taking everything apart. Then I read the email and started screaming 😆 Now it is back to the table. The team says they want to start from scratch and design a new robot, and learn new programming. How will I get them to see the challenges from different angles.... that will be difficult..
  3. The University of Waterloo where we live has Problem of the Week for grades 3-12. It is free and you subscribe. Each week they email you a problem for each grade you've subscribed to. The next week they email you the solutions and the new week's problems. UofW also has math contests.
  4. My DS has been listening to the local public radio station on Saturday nights right before he falls asleep for a couple of years. He listens very intently to Ideas by Paul Kennedy and won't let us talk while it is on. It was always on in my house when I was a child, but I only half-listened to it. The show is described as 'a radio program on contemporary thought'. The subject matter of the shows varies, but music, philosophy, science, religion, and especially history are common topics. Tonight it is the historian Margaret MacMillan speaking about the impact of war on civilization. It has just occurred to me that they have put up podcasts of each episode if anyone has a deep thinker who needs more material 🙂 Podcast of IDEAS
  5. Just a follow up... we survived FLL Provincials 🙂 I find it always takes me a week or two to get back to my old life! The team won the Teamwork Cup and were pretty happy. Next year will be their final year and best of all my youngest has new goals for next year that don't include coasting... My eldest, who mentored the team, won Provincial Adult Mentor of the Year and was thrilled. I think it helped her in applying to a prestigious STEM summer program in our country. She just received her acceptance letter! One month at a university with 45 other top students and no mom & dad 🙂 I can't tell you how much she deserves this. Typically, she has the worst luck and has often lost out on programs/schools she's worked very hard for in the final lottery. Or lost out to another student in her class who didn't work hard and didn't care about the opportunity. And then they came back loudly complaining about it. It often amazes me that she still has hope. My youngest has also been filming lego engineering videos of himself for 3 or 4 years but I've always delayed him starting a youtube channel. Well, we finally have it up and running. I encouraged him to tell his friends/classmates to check it out. He was hoping for 5 subscribers by the end of the month 😆 When he came home from school, he said the kids just rolled their eyes at him. Sigh. Then one day I notice a few subscribers and ask him about it. His sister (who doesn't even want to own a smartphone) pipes up to say that in her physics class some kids were talking about youtube channels, so she told them to check out her brother's. Apparently, they thought it was the coolest thing ever and couldn't believe he was related to her.... At least she took it well!
  6. I am still in awe of this... the stitches are perfect!!!!
  7. We just had the FIRST robotics qualifier and my son's team placed very high so they're off to the Provincial (State) competition in January! They also won Best Research, but I'm thinking it was based on the experts they were able to interview (which included 2 astronauts who have been to the ISS) rather than their exhaustive research LOL! They did invent an interesting gadget for the Dragon's Den part of the competition. I was a FIRST Lego League coach again this year, but decided to cut back to coaching one team (a senior team). We changed it up this year and had everyone problem solving/building/programming, which many teams do not do (often some of the team members work on a project and do much less robotic work). It meant that I had to mentor experienced kids to run workshops for the newbies, but I think it was worth it. They got a much lower robot score than usual, though... this would be unacceptable for many of the teams we compete with. It is a hard line for me, because the league emphasizes 'what you learn is more important than what you win' but I see no evidence of that at the Provincial level... it is all about winning. I have to admit that I checked the requirements for the high school my DS wants to attend to see if I could beg off coaching next year and let him do something else. (Can anyone spell 'Mommie Burnout'?) No luck - the high school expects transcripts, an additional information essay that includes extracurr & awards AND an exam. At least this one doesn't add a lottery to it, as my DD had. After five years of coaching FLL, I have decided that 4th grade student are too young to complete all of the league's requirements in time for an early winter competition and even 5th grade is pushing it. Most kids this age don't have the focus & drive to do the huge amount of work required. They also are lacking in many of the practical required skills, which has always shocked me (in my mind everyone spends their childhood building complex lego structures, reading and debating). Unless there are children gifted in problem solving/programming/building it feels like pushing a boulder up a mountain coaching the younger ones. I even tried to move to a non-competitive model for the junior team, but everyone insists that they need to compete. The competition day for a junior team, however much a learning experience, can be very disheartening. My eldest, who is an FLL youth mentor, finally wrote to the competition organizers this year to suggest a change to the awards music ("We are the Champions") because it doesn't feel as if it fits in with the league's emphasis on Gracious Professionalism. Once I have recovered from this craziness, I will remember that I will miss these days when the kids are off to university 🙂
  8. I agree with adding poetry into the mix. Shel Silverstein audiobooks, where Silverstein is doing the reading are great... he has crazy voices. I had things like this playing in the background when they were playiing.. For instance, in "A Light in the Attic" collection, he explains "How not to do the dishes" (ie. break them) or my favourite, "The Homework Machine" in which a boy has finally figured out how to get out of doing homework and it fails... in a funny way. I have always like this site for finding books at a particular levels... Book Wizard Our local library has an "advanced picture book" section with more complex stories and higher vocab levels. Re: wordless books... here is our all time favourite. You Choose It allows everyone reading to choose THEIR favourite item on that page and then you can have discussions about why you chose that one. For eg. "If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?" The page is covered in dozens of options.. islands, castle, forest etc with lots of details. I would explain why I chose an island, and then the kids would take turns explaining theirs. Many interesting conversations came out of reading that book... and we read that book for 6-8 years! Wordless books could be the first step towards good narration skills...
  9. Not a biggie, but can't share it with any friends, and most of our family members don't want to hear... DS just received a certificate of Distinction for his results in the Beaver Computing math contest at University of Waterloo. His category has 2 grades, and he is in the youngest grade this year... and he was only 2 points short of being in the group of "top-scoring" students for 2018. I'm assuming he'll make it next year? I am mostly happy because he cares to work hard and succeed in math contests now. The good experiences he's had this year with writing contests has improved his confidence and motivation. Hurray!
  10. This. I have 2 HG kids, now middle elem. & end of high school. They are both highly motivated, high achieving, happy learners. At age 6? Not so much.... they were motivated, just not to do what I wanted them to do :) Seriously, play-based lessons are completely appropriate for this age. I STILL play with my kids.... just finished building a crazy paper maché mask with my Grade 7 for Halloween. We are learning Python together and building our own video games. Despite their ages, we still have close connection because we played together all of those years. And my kids could see the real life application of what they were learning. I taught both kids to read at a crazy young age by playing games. I had a goal to get them reading chapter books at the earliest age possible so that they could become their own teachers. They system I used didn't teach them the names of letters, only the sounds. We played bowling, for eg, where we had to sound out the pin we wanted to hit, and then hit it. Once they knew a few sounds, we played a game to glue them together to make words. Very soon they could read any CVC word and they never looked at a book, never mind a worksheet. Transitioning to reading from books didn't happen for more than a year, but it involved puppets. I spent that time reading very high level books to them so that their vocab and life experience continued to improve. And I scribed for them so that they could write long stories and work on creativity w/o having to work on handwriting. The gap between their input and output can be huge, as mentioned above. I still scribed occasionally for my youngest as late as grade 3/4 if he wanted to write a tome. His handwriting is still not beautiful, but his writing is; it makes me cry! I worked with the school to allow him access to a computer any time a long piece of writing was needed. Immediately I got reports on how incredible his writing was :) I think playing with my kids while teaching them taught me to listen to them more carefully than I would have naturally. It allowed me to follow their passions and keep them motivated. It taught me to see things in a new way. It made me hyper-aware of their asynchronous development and able to work at balancing it. So much time is wasted in a school setting for lining up, waiting for everyone to be quiet, waiting for everyone to finish their work, waiting for the teacher to stop lecturing everyone on behaviour. I agree with 8FillTheHeart that early elementary could be done at home in an hour or so. If I was to do any of it over again, I would have kept my kids out of kindergarten and kept taking them to museums (daytime programs for adults), studying nature, hiking and reading with them. They were beyond kindergarten, but kindergarten wasn't willing to meet them at a higher level. For grades 4-6, I took one kid out of school 2-4 times a month for nature study in the forest. Last year, it was at least once a week. Despite missing the most school in his grade, he won the academic award. I think that is the best validation that missing school for the right reasons works.
  11. Just saw this, and it brought back memories :) My kids are in a school board with almost 500 elementary schools. When my eldest was 10 or 11, she wanted to audition for the board-wide string ensemble that would perform in a prestigious concert hall at the end of the year. Even though she had played non-stop for a few years, my first instinct was that she was too young. I said so. That got me nowhere ? She told me she was going, and I would drive her. I supported her in preparing for the audition, and she was very ready. She was using an ancient school violin and a bow with not much hair, but knew the material cold. The day of the audition, we walked into the auditorium, my DD nervous. As I looked around, I saw super confident kids with very very expensive beautiful instruments. The cases for their instruments cost more than my sofa. They had tiger moms who had taped the sheet music to the walls and were glaring at the kids as they practised. And this is the first time this had ever happened....I really thought I was going to throw up and could barely breathe. Here was something my kid had really worked for.. had I really given her every opportunity? I made sure she knew where she had to go to audition and that she was tuned and warmed up. I watched her walk down that aisle. Then I left the hall so that she didn't see me start crying. Parenthood is really tough! She made it... was placed in the back row, but she made it. Within 2 years she was the concertmaster. I noticed that year that she was the only child who tuned her own violin (?!), who helped others when they had problems, and who volunteered to stay to clean up after the rehearsals. Now years later, she is just changing instruments (to have a new challenge) and refuses to be part of the drama that seems to be endemic in that field. So maybe throwing your kid into the deep end (if that is really what they want) is the right thing to do!
  12. I so remember this - cringing at the choices, but realizing that they were reading them quickly so there was time to push the better books. Rainbow Magic Fairies was, thank goodness, a short phase. I remember finding a better book, then reading them the first chapter and stopping it on a cliff hanger, and then leaving the book on a table for them to find. I don't know why, but I never classify comic books that way... maybe I think of them as entertainment and the reading is a bonus :) My kids are reading First Nations mythology because they've decided they want to write a novel together. They have stacks of adult books out of the library. We actually saw a new set of murals this week painted by first nations artists and they could tell me all the myths that they represent... cool!
  13. Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women's Right to Vote, by Dean Robbins Also, Connie Brummel Crook did a series on Nellie McClung, an incredible Canadian who performed mock plays of parliament where women were in power and debated whether men deserved to get the right vote, drew fantastic crowds when she spoke and won Canadian women the right to be considered 'persons' under the law in 1927. Hyena in Petticoats: The Story Of Suffragette Nellie Mcclung, Willow Dawson
  14. Just out of curiousity, avilma, how do the US and Canadian tests differ? Also, you can subscribe to the University of Waterloo Problem of the Week, and they email you the ones just for the age groups you request. Solution is sent next week. Love how organized they are. Some school teachers here print them out and have them for kids who finish their math early (of course, they never seem to print out solutions :confused1: )
  15. Whew! Twelve hours of competition.. still limping a week later! Great experience, and it went the way I'd hoped (growth & improvement and some recognition). The kids showed that we'd run the teams the RIGHT way this year... they were completely independent, self advocating, having fun, able to persuasively discuss with judges what they'd learned this year, spent weeks memorizing lines for robot design and project presentations. And we tried all new things this year, so they learned a lot :thumbup: They wanted to win, but they helped others while they competed. In fact, they insisted on working on the mission that GIVES points to OTHER teams... not many teams did that one (so they didn't benefit from that). They mentored another team this year, and taught programming to an entire grade at their school. They also managed to double their scores between the qualifier and provincials, which means we have a new goal for next year ;) They got called back to two out of three judging rooms to present all over again. And they won one of the coveted yellow cups - Gracious Professionalism, the most important core value in the league. For me, that was the one to win! Oh, and they also talked afterwards what it felt like for the teams that didn't win a cup :crying:
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