Students, teachers and parents are all getting in the swing of the school schedule once again. It is easy to become overwhelmed with adjusting to a different routine and getting schoolwork finished on time. There are many fun ways to take a break from the stress of shopping, preparing, and thinking about school. Funschool (http://funschool.kaboose.com/fun-blaster/back-to-school/) is a fun website that allows students to play back to school games to prime their minds for learning. It also has crafts and puzzles to make entering the classroom enjoyable.
This summer I had the pleasure of teaching a programming class and as usual, the kids taught me a lot. The resources from the class include the site for downloading and learning Pro-cessing, the language that is an excellent "next step" from Scratch (http://www.processing.org) and of course the Scratch site itself (http://scratch.mit.edu). If you haven't yet tried 2.0, it's great.
Here's some other things we learned: if you want music, say Mario style RPG, you can use YouTube, and convert the videos into MP3 files using http://www.dirpy.com or http://youtube-mp3.com (the coun-selors warn: be careful when downloading and installing any self-executing program, and make sure you tell your parents).
Fall is upon us as leaves change color and the air feels crisper. Many activities accompany this time of year. Outside fun is abundant as the hot melts away into the golden coolness of fall. To engage your child in the turning of seasons, watch this animated reading of Leafy, the Leaf that Wouldn’t Leave goo.gl/vH3ryK. Follow up the story with one of these 37 amazing fall crafts: goo.gl/Rju6K5
Apps to Consider:
Apple Apps: Discover the seasons with interactive games:
Every fall, they grab our attention by changing from green to scarlet and yellow. Here are five sites and 10 videos that teach something we take for granted -- leaves. You will see the longest leaf in the world, learn about a leaf that could kill you, and one that can save your life. You will even see a single leaf that is so big you could use it as a raft! www.LittleClickers.com/leaves
In this month's issue of CTR, don't miss The Human Body, goo.gl/h69rPf ($2.99) by Tinybop, Inc. The app is great for all ages, and anyone with a heartbeat. The Human Body combines exceptional design with a topic every child wonders about, without the embarrassment. Also keep your eye on Disney Infinity ($75, by Disney Interactive, Inc.) with this video http://youtu .be/NEZNS7LACU 8 and the XO Tablet by Vivitar. The long awaited XO Learning Tablet ($150, www.xo - learning.org), a 7” Android tablet that comes pre-loaded with 173 apps and hundreds of open-source books; it proves that Moore's law trumps idealism. You can see some of the people behind the tablet at http://youtu .be/llvEyLBgT5 0 and http://youtu .be/DdxPn JuYL1A .
Excellent customization features for individual children and parent options Good out of the box app selection Handy loop hanger on the bumper.
Weak volume and speakers Hard to find the buttons Pre-installed Android apps are hit and miss; some with links to social settings or websites.
Magic is something that captivates the minds of people of all age groups. The thought of making anything in our imagination become a reality is very appealing. There are a few websites that will allow your children to discover the magic on their own. The first is Rainbow Magic: http://www.rainbowmagiconline.com. This website will appeal more to girls, but it has fun activities and games for all. You can collect jewels and build your own fairies to unleash the magic!
Another fun site is Kidzone: http://www.kidzone.ws/magic/ . This site has numerous magic tricks to learn. With these fun magic skills you can “WOW!” anybody!
Greetings My Fellow Computer Explorers: I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that you missed one of the most incredible Dust or Magic events ever, held last week at Asilomar in Monterey, California. Why was it amazing? We had a chance to hear Max Whitby, the co-founder of Touch Press as he described how he came to design The Elements, and how the idea of "seeing" music, used in apps like The Orchestra, dates back to the days of hypercard.
I also have good news! We have been able to capture the complete talks on YouTube. You can be the first to watch Max's talk http://youtu.be/2CBQkztDDeU. One thing that he said that was particularly striking to me was when he reminded us that, "We’re in a very exiting period of cultural change, and what we’re doing -- making apps for young minds -- is a really important, right at the heart of our culture." The take-away is that if you're in the business of empowering children with technology, you can make a big difference for a lot of children. A good example is Dan Russell-Pinson, who gave a talk called "Letting Magic Happen" http://youtu.be/a16wuluJUdU. Pinson demonstrates that a single computer programmer with a good idea and knowledge of code can educate and entertain millions of children, and even make a living.
For this month's LittleClickers, we take on a popular topic for this time of year, soccer, with a nice collection of web sites and videos. I'm hoping that school is out for most of you and that you have a wonderful summer. W. Buckleitner
The Evolution of the Game Console OK, Computer Explorers, you have heard about the Xbox One and the PS4. You're probably thinking, "What do video games have to do with me?" That's exactly what I was thinking as I wandered the crowded floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center last month at the annual E3 conference. Here's the answer. Because, you're in the technology business and you need a well-rounded knowledge of all technology. We all know that video game hardware often drives innovation. Here's a painless crash course with video examples:
Lesson 1: Know that the Wii U is the same hardware as last year, but it has more blockbuster titles. Some of these are loaded with problem solving opportunities (see, Pikmin 3, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXKskJE10SY). Lesson 2: The Xbox One now has the improved Kinect camera that can see you better -- like it or not—right down to the fingers on the end of your hand. This is because the camera hardware is now integrated with the console and for that it costs more ($500). Watch for some interesting motion-based experiences, including integration with TV programming as a result (Like that American Idol contestant? Just raise your hand!). In my mind, Sony has followed the most logical upgrade path by layering more features into a smaller, much more powerful console, for about the same price. Lesson 3: Learn about the Dualshock 4 controller, because it can now keep an eye on you. See what I mean with this demo video http://youtu.be/qSTJc9UqNk8.
Failure isn’t always a bad thing. Growth in knowledge and growth in character are some of the most valuable lessons to teach our children. In The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, the main character learns that the way he lives does not bring him happiness, so he must try a different way of living. Watch this animated version of the book!
After watching the story with your child(ren), create a rainbow fish to enjoy! Easy to follow directions on The Crafting Alphabet.
App to Consider
More Rainbow Fish stories can be found on both the iOS and Android apps.
The Three Words for Computer Explorers: Make Something Fail
I frequently am asked for advice on how to best use technology with children, which is funny, because I really don't think such advice actually exists. I usually say that my only advice is to not take advice. However, I do offer general recommendations, which led me to a recent Rogers Center blog post, "Three Words for Digital-Age Parents: Access, Balance and Support." See the general idea at http://bit.ly/10GSEiK. As I see it as Computer Explorers you're in the "access" business. You introduce children to wonders of technology that they wouldn't normally see, and make sure they get ample time to see how it works… or doesn't work. This means providing a learning setting in which it is OK to fail. We all know that the key to success with technology is overcoming failure, and this leads to empowerment and persistence. Problems come in many forms -- from debugging a Scratch routine, getting a WordPress plug-in to work, remembering a password or getting a printer to sync with a laptop. Ask yourself "Am I providing lots of different types of access to my kids with a variety of types of technology?" and "Do they have time to fail -- and test the limits? " This is the key to real learning. A great program for "controlled failure" is Scratch, which is why the latest edition of Scratch 2.0 is so important. For the first time, you can make a Scratch program that is completely browser-based. You don't need to download or install anything. Give it a try at http://scratch.mit.edu, and have a Happy spring!