Music Camp

Victor Beaumont led our music camp and brought his skills and love of music to our little camp family. We had an amazing week banging, shaking, and singing along to his guitar. Not only did we make music, but we made some pretty neat musical instruments too! We developed an appreciation for the sounds of Myles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and the Spice Girls. On Thursday we showed our musical talent to our families and friends with a little impromptu concert 🙂IMG_9045 IMG_9028 20140717_133207

Art Camp

Our first week of camp started with art! Time for some beautiful, messy, sensory activities.

We started each day with an artist for inspiration, and followed with art activities that targeted the skills and abilities of our fabulous campers. We explored mark making through traditional media such as paint and graphite, and also through unconventional materials like shaving cream and chalk. This allowed for some interesting textures and artistic experiences.

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Trip to the B.I.O.

We wrapped up our ocean study with a trip to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. We had a tour and at the end got to spend some time with the touch tank, picking up and handling all kinds of neat ocean creatures! I know now that a sea cucumber is a very slimy creature!

BIO snip1 BIO snip2

Beyond the Curriculum

For one of the students here, we do all her academic programming. This means that I try to stay as close as possible to the Nova Scotia curriculum, but what do you do when the curriculum just doesn’t hold enough interest for a learner? In this case, the subject in question is Science. This learner has an avid interest in science. She loves experiments and learning about interesting things. The grade one science curriculum however, is mostly focused on looking at the weather, building things with materials, and exploring the five senses. With theme-based curriculum focused on science as an area of interest, we quickly exausted topics of interest under these three headings -which turned out to be a great thing. From then on, my focus has been on teaching the scientific method and process through experiments that I know will capture this learner’s imagination and interest.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago we took advantage of a sunny day to go outside and make some baking soda and vinegar bottle rockets! These were stunningly successful, and I highly recommend making them! First, we took the time to look at our experiment and predict what they thought would happen. The predictions were fairly accurate because they have seen baking soda and vinegar react together before. Then, we went outside to perform our experiment. Afterwards we followed up, were our predictions correct? What really happened?

Bottle Rocket Experiment

Of course the curriculum is important, but sometimes when we look at the bigger picture there are more interesting or engaging topics to be explored. Since we have some flexibility here, I can look at the curriculum as a guide to what is expected and what is developmentally appropriate, but not necessarily follow it word for word.

Learning at Different Levels

It can be really challenging to deal with the vastly different levels in the classroom. Sometimes I set up an activity for two of my learners who work together, and one will think it is “baby stuff” or the other is getting nothing from it as it goes right over her head. However, recently we had a lesson where it worked -it really worked!

We were looking at the ocean, and I challenged the kids to use information provided to find an animal in each of three levels of the ocean: the sunlit zone, the twilight zone, and the midnight zone. The two of them both had different information; one had several websites open and ready to go, and the other had a Pictello book I had made about the layers of the ocean. Each student came back with a picture (either drawn or found on Google -depending on the student) and the name of an animal that lives at the different layers. Both were engaged, with no off-task behaviours. Both felt like they had done something at their level, and gotten to share it with a friend.

2014-04-29 working on layers of the ocean

Studying the Ocean in Nova Scotia

We have been studying the ocean around here, and since we live so close I couldn’t resist a trip to the beach. What do you do when one learner is gung-ho to spend hours and hours outdoors, and the other is slightly less interested? What can you even do at the beach in April (when it is pretty chilly!)? A scavenger hunt! We searched for various ocean-side treasures among the rocks, sand, and dunes -and even discovered some Easter-themed treasure at the end. As much as I love the outdoors (I have been out on the same beach throughout the winter)that doesn’t mean that it is something that motivates everyone. Not all kids are necessarily naturally motivated by the outdoors, and that is okay! No matter where we are learning, I try to build experiences that will have something for everyone. With an objective and a purpose a nature lover and a computer wizard can cooperate in the beautiful spring sunshine.

beach trip april 17 2014 scavenger hunt beach trip group photo Kinsey and seaweedMaddox at the beachDogs enjoy the beach too!

Show What they Know

We all know that learners have different strengths and weaknesses, but what about when a learner really struggles to show what they know in a written format? So much of schooling is paper and pencil, or computer and printer, and for some of our learners these verbal learning tasks just don’t show the depth of their knowledge. This is one example of how great authentic learning activities can be. For this assignment I asked a student (grade 1) to be a marine biologist. I gave her some information about dolphins, in the form of a Pictello book, and then asked her to create a tank for a sick dolphin that would have all the things it needed to be happy and healthy. We talked about food, water, entertainment, even company. The result is a little hard to see, given the ridges on the jar, but the dolphin is in salt water (because dolphins live in the ocean) with a few friends (an eel, a penguin, and a whale), some food (a few foam fish) and a ball to play with. This allowed me to see the student’s ability to take information from one source, and synthesize it into another context. It also ended up being a whole lot of fun!

Dolphin Tank

March Break Camp at Paths 2 Learning

post office tourOver the march break we had a different sort of education going on around here! We were out and about in the community with a fun march break camp. With kids between 5-9 years of age, it was a fun and busy week!

It is always enjoyable as an educator to get to see kids in other contexts, just having fun and playing with other kids. The small size of our group meant we could plan activities and games that would be appropriate for everyone involved, and give everyone something new to learn. We worked to make every day educational, but still offer time for the kids to just be kids.

Camp offers some fantastic social opportunities too; we kicked off our week by talking about how we can work to get along with one another -and then followed it up during both structured and unstructured activities throughout the week.

We had activities around water, bugs, musical instruments, and even space! Every day had a craft, lots of games, and a science experiment. We even got to spend a morning at the community post office for a tour, and to see how our mail gets sorted and delivered! The grown-ups had a fantastic time, and I hope the kids did too!

Magical Magnets

Magnets are amazing! It is such an interesting way to explore our world -exploring what things in it stick to magnets! We had a great time discovering what kinds of things are magnetic (or not). Playing with Magnets

We’ve also been looking at some poetry. We have been focusing on our senses, and using poetry to allow us to describe and understand the world through them. We used all five senses to write a colour poem, and then used our sense of touch to describe what we felt with our hands when we weren’t using our eyes to see.

Poet Tree

Done with Dinosaurs

We’re leaving prehistoric times and coming back to the present! At the beginning of our study I asked what we wanted to study, and the answers were: dinosaur babies, fossils, and Tyrannosaurus Rex. My goals for the unit were to talk about the needs of living things, to discuss the difference between meat eaters and plant eaters, to compare another animal with ourselves, to introduce subtraction, to do some research, and to do some dinosaur themed creative writing. There is so much you can do with a fun theme like dinosaurs! We’ve had dinosaur math, dinosaur reading, dinosaur art, and some great dinosaur experiments (like dissolving the shell of an egg in vinegar during our discussion of dinosaur babies).

Here are a couple of the activities we got up to:

Dino Math T-Rex Diorama Dinosaur Puppets