Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Baking Projects Produce Learning Experiences

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have seen some of these pictures lately in my feed.  (If you don’t follow me on Instagram yet – my handle is simply rakisradresources.)

Holiday Cooking Projects

At this time of year, baking and making candy is a HUGE part of the holiday traditions in my household.  Some of the recipes we make are recipes that I made with my mom as a child, like Kris Kringles (cut out cookies with frosting) and Mexican Wedding Cakes.  However, each year we try some new recipes.  This year, we made lollipops and fudge!

As a homeschooling family, baking is about more than just spending time together and building traditions (although those things are awesome too!)  We also work on a wide range of math and science topics including measurement, doubling, and heat.  We work on safety and talk about the chemical reactions that are going on while we are cooking.  Sometimes we talk about how cooking and ingredients have changed throughout history or why certain foods are considered holiday foods.  For example, pumpkin and apple pie are traditionally cooked for Thanksgiving because they are seasonal produce of the season, just as watermelon is seasonal to Independence Day.  The conversations that we have while baking are priceless for building background knowledge and understanding. While it is slightly easier to do these projects with my small group of 3, I have done cooking projects in the classroom setting too, with groups as large as 30 or 40 kids. 

Last year, I worked with a group of teacher bloggers to put together a Holiday Cookbook for Kids.  The recipes inside are perfect for classroom or homeschooling atmospheres.  The cookbook is available as a free download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

holiday cookbook

What cooking or baking projects will you be doing with kids – in school or at home – this year?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Student Interest Project Website – DIY.org

For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. You can download my E-Book of Websites for the Elementary Classroom for free from Teachers Pay Teachers or Smashwords, or, you can check back here each week for the website suggestion.

Use DIY to increase student led learning and encourage students to develop their interests into learning experiences.  Suggestion from Raki's Rad Resources.

Looking for some experiential learning activities for your students to work on over the holiday break?  Try out DIY.org.  A friend of mine recently suggested this amazing website to me for my personal children.  She described it as “virtual scouting”, which is pretty accurate.  Kids can work towards earning badges on any variety of topics by submitting photo or video “proof” of activities they complete.

Use DIY to increase student led learning and encourage students to develop their interests into learning experiences.  Suggestion from Raki's Rad Resources

In order to get started, children must have an account linked to an adult account.  This could be left up to individual families or could be created as a teacher account.  Once children have accounts, they explore all the different skills that might interest them, like art, athletics, building, business, hacking or science.  Each skill has different badges available for children to earn.  For example, within the skill of art, you will find badges like actor, painter, leatherworker, papercrafter, photographer or puppeteer.

Use DIY to increase student led learning and encourage students to develop their interests into learning experiences.  Suggestion from Raki's Rad Resources

For each badge, there is are 6 – 12 possible challenges.  Children must do 3 or four challenges to earn the badge. For example, if you are working on the badge of puppeteer, you can choose to do things like make a hand puppet, develop a voice for your puppet, make a movie with your puppet or create a marionette.

Use DIY to increase student led learning and encourage students to develop their interests into learning experiences.  Suggestion from Raki's Rad Resources

For each challenge, there are links to photos and videos from different members who have completed this challenge.  Additionally, there are How-To videos from YouTube showcasing professional who have created similar projects.  For example, if you are working on the ‘make a hand puppet’ challenge, there are videos of how to sew a hand puppet and how to paint your hand as a hand puppet.  

Use DIY to increase student led learning and encourage students to develop their interests into learning experiences.  Suggestion from Raki's Rad Resources

Once children complete their challenges, they must upload a photograph or a video of their project.  These photographs or videos are evaluated by someone on staff before they are posted on the website and before the children are given credit for it on their badge.  However, the turn around is quite quick and generally within 24 hours their activity is posted.  Once it is posted, other members can “favorite” their activities and even leave comments.  Students collect their badges virtually, but they can receive real patches in the mail if their adult chooses to order them (for a $4 a patch).

 Use DIY to increase student led learning and encourage students to develop their interests into learning experiences.  Suggestion from Raki's Rad Resources

This website was suggested to me as way to give my children a “scouting” experience while we are full time RVing and moving around the country.  However, it is really an amazing site for anyone looking to make a solid virtual/ hands on connection.  It also allows students to build skills and work together with children around the world.  This website is perfect for homeschoolers, especially unschoolers, but it would also easily be included into standard classrooms.  It would be a great spring board for 20% Time or Genius Hour.  It would also be fabulous for early finishers or indoor recess.  Additionally, it would be great to send home over the holiday break as “homework” along with a reading log or an online book report.  It’s a simple and easy way to keep kids learning and engaged in topics that are interesting to them.

How could you use DIY.org in your classroom?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources