Posts Tagged ‘Design’

Look What This Father Designed for His Son (Photos)

April 11, 2013


Some will find it extreme that a father would go to the trouble to make a spaceship simulator for his child. I think it is fantastic and it will most likely do wonders for the child developmentally.




space 5

Click on the link to read Monitoring Children’s Social Networking Activities Proving too Difficult for Parents

Click on the link to read This New Craze Proves that Adults are Just Bigger Versions of Children

Pictures of the World’s Best Treehouse

April 4, 2013



Just when you thought the treehouse was a thing of the past!






Click on the link to read Is There Anything Better than an Inspirational Child? (Video)

Click on the link to read Instead of Teaching a Baby to Read, Teach it to Smile

Click on the link to read The 15 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in the English Language

Click on the link to read Who Said Grammar Isn’t Important?

Click on the link to read Why Spelling is Important

10 Art Related Games for the Classroom

October 8, 2012


Courtesy of Becca Swanson. Perfect for substitute teachers who haven’t been provided with work for the class:

1.) The Creativity Design Game – This art game, originally inspired from the book “Design Synectics” by Nicholas Rourkes, takes problem-solving to a new level. Students are asked to take two very different objects and create a drawing, combining these separate objects into one completely new invention.

In my classroom, I call this the “Creativity Game” and I made this activity more game-like by typing out hundreds of random nouns on slips of paper, and placing them in a bag. Two students then blindly reach in the bag and pull out a ‘mystery word’. The students are given one to two minutes to come up with an idea, sketch it out and name it. As they work, I observe their drawings and ask the most creative thinkers to share their ideas with the class when time is up.

2.) The Artwork Memory / Matching Game – Artwork memory games – inspired by the child’s matching game “Concentration” – can be perfect free-time activities for elementary art students. The “Art Memo” game comes with 72 artwork images and can be purchased for around $20 here at Amazon. However, if you have a color printer you can easily make your own Art Memory game by photographing student artwork or finding art online, printing out 2 of each image, then laminating the cards (or glue onto note cards).

3.) Art Jeopardy! – A great way to review art terms, art history information, processes or artists before a test – or simply as lesson closure – a teacher can plan an Art Jeopardy game by coming up with five or more categories, and five questions to go in each category. Depending on the art teacher’s time, A Jeopardy board can be drawn onto the chalkboard, made in PowerPoint, or can be assembled with fabric and ‘pockets’ for questions on note cards.

4.) Art Room “Win, Lose or Draw” – A great classroom reward, last-day activity or holiday treat, your classes can play the classic art game “Win, Lose or Draw” (or “Pictionary”). Simply put students in two teams, give the player a word to draw and have them try to draw it in a given amount of time with their teammates guessing correctly.

5.) Clay Wars” Game – When introducing students to ceramics — or as a way to practice recently learned skills — have students play a clay-based art game. All students will have an equal amount of clay, and compete to sculpt items, such as: the tallest structure without falling over, the most perfect sphere, the longest single rope coil, the best cube, the most realistic animal, the funniest face, etc. Students can be split into teams, or compete individually.

6.) Educational Art Novelties – When students have additional activity time in art class, they can play solo art games and puzzles by looking at hidden-picture art books (such as “Can You Find It Inside?” by the Metropolitan Museum of Art), using mosaic tiles to create pictures, working on art-based jigsaw puzzles, working on origami, and studying optical illusions. Students can easily create their own artwork novelties and games by designing tangrams (a Chinese puzzle, easily made with paper) or creating thaumatropes (a toy popular in the Victorian era).

7.) Paint Wars” Game – Similar to “Clay Wars”, this paint-based art game is also a way to practice recently-learned processes and theory. Students can compete as teams or individuals, and will try to do the following: best match their skin tone using only primaries and neutrals, most closely match the color of a flower, paint the most realistic piece of food, the scariest monster, and other ideas.

8.) Art Book / Internet Scavenger Hunts– This fun art game is going to be more effective with older students, and requires either a large assortment of art books or the internet in your library or classroom. You can either compile a list of items that students will need to search for, perhaps with a worksheet to write them down on, or give one item at a time for students to search for as a timed competition. Your scavenger hunts can be customized to whatever your students have been learning about lately (find an Impressionist painting with a dog in it, find a sculpture made in France, etc.).

9.) Art Vocabulary Word Searches / Puzzles – Word searches, crosswords and other puzzles can be an effective and fun way to review art class vocabulary. Try making your own customized art puzzles here at Discovery Education Puzzlemaker.

10.) Online Art Games – There are thousands of online art games and activities that are safe for students to play in school (some more so than others, so be sure to check them out beforehand). These can be a great educational activity for students who finish their work early. Check out the Incredible Art Department’s list of Online Art Activities for Kids for a huge list of online art games and resources.


Click on the link to read Do Kids Need A Classroom Pet (The Four-Legged Variety)?

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Classrooms the Swedish Way

September 11, 2012

Sweden has  new school system that is  eliminating all of its classrooms in favor of an environment that fosters children’s “curiosity and creativity.”

Vittra, which runs 30 schools in Sweden, wanted learning to take place everywhere in its schools — so it threw out the “old-school” thinking of straight desks in a line in a four-walled classroom.

Check out the pics below:



Click on the link to read Tips For Supersizing a Cramped Classroom

Click on the link to read Stricken With Self-Doubt

Click on the link to read Do You Suffer From Classroom Envy?

Click on the link to read The Classroom of the Future


Tips For Supersizing a Cramped Classroom

February 12, 2012

We’ve all had the problem at stages of our career. We’ve been allocated a classroom that is far too small to comfortably teach in. There is insufficient room for mat time and the children, especially the very restless ones, need more space to work in.

I came across a piece that attempts to make this problem far more manageable:

Even if your classroom is much cozier than you imagined, there are ways to stretch the boundaries. These “big” ideas will help.

There’s no question that a small classroom is a real challenge to arrange. When I walked into my kindergarten classroom for the first time, there was wall-to-wall furniture! I had half of a room and 27 children; there simply was not enough space to set up a proper kindergarten room. With a little ingenuity, however, I was able to orchestrate a workable classroom layout that met all my — and my students’ — needs. Similar strategies just may work for your small classroom:

  • Remove excess or over-sized furniture. Instead of a large piano, I brought in my small keyboard, which could be stored in a cabinet. Round and kidney-shaped tables were quickly adopted by other teachers who had more space. I kept only rectangular tables and a few desks in the room.
  • Store rarely used equipment out of the way. I arranged for media equipment, which I don’t use on a daily basis, to be stored elsewhere. I did keep one student desk, which I made into a permanent listening center by removing the legs so that it sat only six inches above the ground. The cassette player sat on top of the desk and the headphones were stored in the desk.
  • Consider carefully your furniture needs. Midway through the year, I decided my students did not need to have their own individual desks or table spots. Eliminating just one table from the classroom and placing the other tables around the perimeter of the room opened up a large center area for whole-group activities and provided space for centers, math manipulatives, reading, and writing.
  • Explore creative management techniques. Without the traditional seat-for-every-student arrangement, I struggled with how to engage the entire class productively. I finally hit upon splitting the class; half would work at the tables and half would work in centers. I alternated the groups, so that everyone could participate in both activities on the same day.

If you’ve had this problem before and employed some strategies for maximising space I’d love to hear about it.

Stricken With Self-Doubt

January 31, 2012

It’s the first day of a new school year tomorrow and I’m suffering from my annual bout of self-doubt. I get very anxious before a school year starts. I worry about whether or not I will succeed at helping my students. I worry about whether my style of teaching will work on a new bunch of kids.

The week leading up to the start of the school year doesn’t help. It’s a week that is set aside for preparing the classroom. This involves displays, fancy name tags and innovative ways to use a small space to enhance learning. The female teachers I work with put a lot of emphasis on the look of their classrooms. Borders are replaced around noticeboards, name tags are put on everything (and I mean everything!) and the fear of death is reserved for the poor laminator who cops the brunt of all this activity.

When it comes to developing fun lessons, I am very comfortable. When it comes to decorating a classroom, I am completely out of my league! I have been getting comments ever since I started about the plainness of my classroom compared to the other teachers. My bosses have pointed out that my classroom looks far less inviting and colourful. This year I put up a beautiful piece of red material to cover my noticeboard, before being told that children don’t learn well in a room of red. Apparently the colour red has a negative effect on concentration and creativity. The comments certainly made me see red!

Then there’s the endless diatribe from those in charge about new responsibilities and expectations that all staff need to adhere to. These usually involve devoting a great deal of extra time. If there is something all teachers have in common, it is the absence of any extra time.

Handover isn’t much fun either. As the previous teacher reads each name from the class list, every child is presented as difficult to teach. There’s behavioural issues, Aspergers, ADHD, ADD, Oppositional disorder, social issues, anger management issues, language disorders etc. What is it with psychologists today? They have turned every personality type into a disorder. Why is every second child on a spectrum? What is this spectrum, and how did it get to be so big? In today’s age, the one kid who can’t manage to get on the spectrum of any modern psychological condition probably ends up feeling left out and abnormal.

All this makes me very uneasy. I get very frightened. I desperately don’t want to let my students down.

Do You Suffer From Classroom Envy?

February 1, 2011

There have been a few realities that have caught me off guard since I signed up to being a teacher. The expectation of a meticulously presented classroom is certainly one of them. I’m not an artistic person. My creativity comes from writing and thinking innovatively, but I am inept at decorating. Design school’s nationwide are not flocking to mimic my inimitable low-key style.

I knew that a classroom should look bright, contain student work and be aesthetically pleasing. What I didn’t know, that I have seen learned, was that teachers are inherently obsessive with the look and feel of their classroom. From the table layout to the perfectly hand-crafted posters and signs. Teachers are constantly shopping for material, furniture and accessories to beautify their classroom.

Often it’s a competition. The other day I complemented a colleague about her majestic looking classroom in the presence of another colleague. Only later was I told that by praising that colleague I had potentially upset the other who was already anxious about her classroom not matching up to others aesthetically.

It reminds me of the Christmas lights battle that takes place in some neighbourhoods. What starts out as an expression of good will and festivity, can sometimes turn in to a competitive slugfest. I am not a competitive person at the best of times. In this context, my classroom isn’t simply inferior, compared to the others it looks like a jungle.

My bosses past and present have continually made insensitive comments about the look of my classroom. It’s not as if I don’t try. Sure, it doesn’t size up to the others, but I still maintain it possesses a quaint charm (well that’s my spin on it anyway).

I once apologised to a parent about the look of my classroom during a meeting. The parent responded by pointing out that she doesn’t care what the classroom looks like, just as long as her child is happy and learning well.

Is that representative of other parents? Is it a case of style vs substance? Or, perhaps I am depriving my students of a classroom they can be more proud of. Perhaps like my students I have to improve at skills that don’t come naturally to me. I have to get better at cutting big, beautiful, cardboard letters for my brightly coloured welcome sign.

Is this just my experience? Are there other teachers who have an insecurity over the look of their classrooms? Are any of you envious of the classroom next door?

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