Saturday, January 22, 2011

Random fun activities

Living in a colder climate means real winter and that means Snow Days -- days where there is too much snow for people to have school so they don't. That means children at home. 

The consequence of this has been some exploration as to useful activities other than watching TV. Playing the snow could be one of them but it is a tad cold. 

First of all is Starfall. This is a site I have mentioned before. They now have a new website and this includes maths as well as reading. They also have a few iPhone apps but my kids are now too old for them.

For older kids, the go to site for us is BrainPop. We subscribed to the main edition but there is also a junior one too. Strictly speaking it is closer to TV than one would like but the material is terrific and covers so many areas.

Moving on, we also have been making use of the iPad. This week, the app of choice was Toontastic. For $3 you get an app that allows children to make animations. As my son remarked, "it's just like playing with puppets and videoing the show." That sounds right. Anyhow, you can see what my two youngest came up with here (as you can share the results). Warning: I suspect your kids will find the video more entertaining than you will.

Finally, if you want some higher level mathematics, then consider the YouTube channel of Vi Hart. She is a mathematician who has found a way to make advanced mathematical concepts accessible. Truth be told you may well enjoy this more than the kids but I'll give you the "education" excuse to drag everyone over to the computer. Below is my current favourite. You'll need paper, tape and scissors at the end to finish the story.

Relatedly, I tried to convince my kids that one of the brothers in Einstein bagels was THE EINSTEIN and that his brother was the one who took the food outlet route as Einstein kept on suggesting alternative shapes for bagels such as a Mobius Strip. Without skipping a beat, my son remarked, "Yeah, Einstein wouldn't have been so good at this. You can't hold a Mobius Strip with cream cheese on it without getting it all over your fingers."