21st Century Skills

A Board Game that Melts!

I have never taught about global warming in my kindergarten class. Have you? I have not even talked to my own children about how polar bears and other cute animals are losing their homes as a result of global warming. Perhaps because it is an issue that is new to me. After viewing the following video, I realize that as an educator, it is important to teach children about how our world is actually “melting.” It will be our children and our children’s children who will have to solve these problems. It is our job to prepare them. One way of teaching them about the dangers of the melting Arctic, is through a board game that actually “melts!” A german company created it. This short video clip explains it in a snapshot. Enjoy!


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What Exactly is Creativity?

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Creativity has been deemed as a 21st Century Skill, because creative ideas can lead us to success in society and in our jobs. Have you ever thought about what creativity actually is and what it means? When I think of this word-I think about something unique, inspiring and eye-opening. In its most basic sense, creative means “original and of high quality.” (Perkins, 1981).

According to Wikipedia, creativity is “The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.” Encarta dictionary agrees.

So, basically, to be deemed “creative” one must produce an original idea. Are you creative? I am not. I can easily copy someone’s painting, but producing one from my own imagination is more tricky and near impossible!

According to a recent article in Educational Leadership magazine, creativity can and should be taught. The most important key is to give our children constructive feedback. This article asserts that we teachers must first set clear goals for our students. We can’t just say “Write a creative story!” First, it is important to emphasize that the story should be original, inspiring, and imaginative. However, I like how Perkins included that creative products should be of high quality. Perhaps teachers could even facilitate a thinking session where students discover and list what creativity means. If I create a new BMW model, and it looks great yet it breaks down continually, then I was simply not creative. However, if I create a new BMW car with features unlike any other car and superb quality…well then, I was creative. In the same respect, we can teach our children the differences of “original” products and replica’s. We don’t want our students to just copy and mimic everything that is taught to them. Yes, we want them to have knowledge, but it is how they use that knowledge to create new things that is of vital importance.


1. Set goals for students products and creative works.

2. Help students see the difference between originality and replica’s.

3. Have a creativity lesson! Brainstorm what is means.

4. Emphasize the importance of original and high quality works.

I would love to hear your thoughts! What is creativity to you? How do you help your students or children be creative?



Encarta Dictionary via Microsoft Word

(Brookhart, S., 2013).”Assessing Creativity” Educational Leadership. ASCD.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb13/vol70/num05/Assessing-Creativity.aspx

Image from: http://rinskesblog.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html

Related articles

The Magic of “Interactive” WhiteBoards


This video below displays the true magic and capabilities of the Interactive White Board. I have been so blessed to have one in my classroom and the children just love it. However, what they love most is when it is their turn to “touch” or interact with the board.

When I first integrated the Interactive Whiteboard into my classroom, I was unsure of how to involve each and every child. I must admit that I used it to show short videos and read-aloud animated story books. However, as I became more comfortable with its capabilities, I learned how to manage my students so that each child truly interacted and had a turn at some point in the day. This took practice and patience (from my students). I finally came to the point that each time we sat down for a lesson or activity at the IWB, not each child would have a turn. I helped them understand that if they did not have a turn at that moment, that they would later. Since tracking who had a turn was a challenge for me, I gave each child a number. They learned their numbers so quickly. Whenever it was time for a child’s turn, I simply called out the next number. And believe me-no one forgot when it was their turn, who had a turn already or who was absent and couldn’t have a turn!

I must emphasize that the most important feature is its capability to interact. The worst thing that it can be used for is a tv or movie player. Let’s face it, our students go home and watch tv-and most likely – alot. Their brains need interactive stimulation. They need to stand up and move their bodies and fingers. They need to think about the appropriate action. They do not need to just sit and listen. The IWB should not be used as another “teacher” who just talks and provides knowledge.

So, I encourage you to allow the students to interact with the board. Remember-its not just a whiteboard. It’s an Interactive White Board!




Communication Skills for the 21st Century

I have a shy child and an outgoing child and one that is in between. Sometimes they have trouble letting their needs be known-in an appropriate way. Communication is more than just speaking. It is speaking, gestures, signs, dance, drama, active listening, and written. It comes in many forms-and we should encourage each type. Why? Communication is a vital life skill that will prepare your child for school and life! Most importantly, we as adults should be good role models of communicating correctly.

Why are good communication skills important for children?

  • They help children to solve problems better.
  • For maintaining successful interpersonal skills.
  • To express oneself and reveal ones own needs and feelings.
  • They help one to develop self-confidence.
  • They are the building blocks for healthy relationships.
  • They help children learn and understand new things.
  • They encourage following directions, remembering things, staying on topic and elaborating ideas.
  • These skills also aid in having a conversation, talking in a group, taking turns and presenting a viewpoint.
  • When a child can communicate his needs, challenging behaviors decrease. Some behavior problems are a result of a child being unable to express his needs.
  • They prepare children for life and future jobs as well.

How can I help a child communicate better?

Help him to do any of the following:

  • Write a note or letter to someone-then mail.
  • Make a phone call.
  • Send an e-mail or text message.
  • Design a costume or dance move-then put on a show!
  • Make a video of himself on an iPad.
  • Listen! Active listening encourages thoughtful feedback and engaged converstaions.
  • Encourage using “an inside voice” as opposed to screaming or tugging to get someones attention.
  • Ask more questions.
  • Think before speaking.
  • Take your time and don’t rush through what you want to say or write.
  • Teach a peer or younger child or sibling something.
  • Eliminate distractions, like the t.v, cell phone, computer and video games.

What Are Some Ways to Encourage Communication for Children with Special Needs?

  • There are various apps that allow children to type what they want to say.
  • Software, such as BoardMaker, contains many printables for parents and teachers to make ABA type cards that allow children to point to their need or want. Picture schedules can also be made with these.
  • Social stories are available online and in larger bookstores, which allow a parent or teacher to teach and read about how a child can communicate.
  • Give choices instead of demands. For example: do you want to pick up the blocks or do you want to put away the crayons?

For more detailed information about the why, process and how’s of communication, please visit the following sources.






Images from:



Zoodles! A Kid Friendly WebSite Surfing Tool and More!

If you haven’t checked out ZOODLES-you really should. It is a great website and app that I am having trouble explaining how awesome it is! My kids love it. It is free and took just a few minutes to set up my children. By typing in thier birthday, the app/website automatically generates age-specific games, stories and websites for that child. My kids love opening the app and clicking on thier name and picture to direct them to their very own learning site!

I downloaded it on my Kindle Fire, iphone and home PC’s for my own 3 children. It send me a report each week of what they did. It is educational and provides age and kid-friendly websites and YouTube video’s for each of them.

I think it is a great way of keeping track of what a child has been working on. It can also be used in the classroom. Think about those children that are not easily motivated…..well this could be a solution. Zoodles has games, website, and a doodle pad to encourage creativity. Each picture that the child creates, is saved and sent to you on a weekly email report. It’s like a portfolio.

Here is what the weekly report looks like…..

Drawing that the child made….

It even has video mail! You send an email to the person you will allow and then they can send a video message email! How cool is that, right?!!

It is great! I just had to share my excitement with you!

Too Much Technology?

By: Andrea Chouhan

The TV is no longer the only form of technological entertainment-for kids and adults! When my first child was a baby, I stimulated his mind with classical music while he watched a Baby Einstein DVD. As he smiled at the moving toys and watched the cause and effect relationships of each, he giggled and was very focused. By the time I had my second child, I could not watch and listen to it anymore. I loved the music, but the repetitive moving plastic toys, started to irritate me (and I was even multi-tasking!)

The iPod came on to the market in 2007-the birth year of my third child. By age 2 he somehow got hold of it and he was satisfied during fussy spells. I found that this device could be used as a quick babysitter while I did my grocery shopping! Soon, my then 4 and 6 year old children became interested in playing on the iPod too! I helped them each find so many free apps that were a mix of games and educational fun. We began reading and listening to bedtime stories on it. This was by far, a cooler toy than the Atari that I played when I was a child!

However, I did witness some negative effects from too much iPod use. Just like with any toy, when I needed to take away the iPod (because I needed to use it) my children would have tantrums. I finally had to put my foot down and use the microwave timer to allow each child to play for 10 minutes at a time. They learned this routine well and the tantrums became non-existent. Too much of a good thing can definitely become a bad thing. In fact, in 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time for children under age 2. I am sure some parents have already introduced their babies to the ipod, as I did, however no research proves that ipod use is damaging. Some studies do warn that attention and behavior problems could result, though. However, too much of anything can be damaging, right? Too much computer, TV, alcohol, video games, ice cream, shopping can be detrimental.

We must be careful to ensure that a child is not engrossed in using any device for long periods of time. Adults must rely on their intuition and anecdotal evidence to guide their decision making about when and how much technology their children interact with. It is our responsibility to teach children (and ourselves) the appropriate and inappropriate uses of such new novelties.

Technology can make the lives of children better, as Warren Buckleitner proclaims. The NAEYC also asserts that “we now have the tools we need to start improving the quality of childhood.” What research does tell us, is that “the brain is changing in response to the changes brought about by the high tech information age in which we live” (2010). Did you know that our brain has cravings? Sprenger’s research reveals that the brain craves novelty, excitement and innovation (2010). Technology such as: iPods, iPads, video games and interactive white boards offer children (and many adults) this type of stimulation.


(Furman, E., 2012). “Coolest Tech Toys of 2012” http://blogs.babycenter.com/products_and_prizes/coolest-tech-toys-of-2012/

(Ghazi Aska, J., 2012) “Toddler and touch screens: pros and cons for parents to consider” Deseret News-Online Magazine

(Buckleitner, W., 2000) “A Day in the Life of a Kid in 2020” Children’s Software Review, January/February.

(Sprenger, M., 2010) Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age. ASDC: Alexandria, VA.

“Tech Toys for Kiddies” http://www.parentingclan.com/entry/tech-toys-for-the-kiddies/

images from google

Homework Stinks – but Kid boxes are Fun!


Let’s face it-homework stinks. Kids hate it and teachers hate creating it and finding creative ways to get children to complete it on time. Long, paper and pencil homework is not 100 % productive for Pre-K and Kindergarten children. They learn by playing and they have fun by playing-not being tortured with writing and sitting for long periods of time. So, what to do, what to do, then? Children need to be active-and not necessarily with a paper and pencil. Well, some brilliant moms and teachers must have been pondering similar ideas and dilemmas. The problem has productively been solved with the Busy Bag, Travel kit, Theme Bag-whatever you call it! It is a bag/box/container that is filled with fun stuff and it keeps a child engaged for more than five minutes. I am on a mission to create a learning kit, in comparison to the ideas that I discover. My goal is to make a kit based on what a child is currently learning about in my classroom. So, because I know that in reality-these Take Home Kits are not my own brilliant original idea, I am setting off on my own journey to discover what other teachers and moms out there have already created.

To begin finding inspirations, I begin with Pinterest (of course!)  Hmmm….so…..what will my Take Home Kits look like? Maybe, it will look like these that follow, perhaps????

Spider Learning Bag –  I just love the tea set and stuffed animals that are here to encourage a child to act out the story. It was created by Ms. Annie @ kindergarten at heart. I just love her learning bags! http://kindergartenatheart.blogspot.com/search/label/Take-Home%20Bags

Toddler Busy Bag – I love how @ The Princess and the Tot, this super mom created this bag full of colored paper clips and paint sample cards. This is a fun way to color sort. The bag is just an inexpensive pencil holder zipper pouch! http://theprincessandthetot.blogspot.com/2011/07/toddler-busy-bags.html

Toddler Learning Baskets – Lindsay over @ Passionate Homemaking created a list of supplies and activities for toddler bags. There are not many visuals of what the kit looks like, but they are so geniusly simple, that I am sure that you can imagine them, just as I did! http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2011/09/simple-toddler-learning-activities.html

Camp Bag – Victoria @ one-crafty-momma is so crafty with this idea! This would be a kit that could not be reused as often. But I think it is one worth noting here, because it is just so darn clever. It also looks like a lot of fun to make. The child is learning while making each item, as well as the bag! (She actually made this as a birthday party bag-but I just can’t help to see the educational side of it!) http://one-crafty-momma.blogspot.com/2011/05/camping-birthday-party.html#comment-form

Bean Learning Bag – Look carefully-these beans have sight words written on them! This cool idea from Melissa @ Chasing Cheerios is seriously smart! http://chasingcheerios.blogspot.com/2012/04/kindergarten-activity-bagsight-words.html

Retail Learning Kit – And-if you don’t have the time to make a kit, then you can buy one and have it shipped and delivered to you!. Jessica Kim created her own business with these amazing BabbaBoxes. How smart she is! She creates kits and subscriptions for parents to order kits per month or year. http://www.babbaco.com/

BabbaBox Sample 1

Ok-now I have been inspired. I am ready to begin planning the contents for my Take Home Learning Kits. My goal is to incorporate learning and educational stimulation with the activities provided in the Kit. I want my students to have fun, enjoy thinking and using art, as well as be challenged with Math and Language tasks. I also want my kits to contain a real book, puzzle, art activity, technology element, drama task and incorporate collaboration with a parent. I am so excited. My journey begins.

21st Century Learning Skills-Do you have them?

By: Andrea Chouhan

“For students to succeed in the coming decades, they must also learn to be creative, think critically, communicate, and collaborate.” New literacies of information, media and technology skills are additional skills that are vital for 21st Century Learning. Young children are already self-learning how to digitally think critically.

Let’s face it-children and students crave technology. Technology grabs their attention, is exciting and is engaging in many ways. Other than handheld blinking light toys, 2- 3 year olds first technology is the iPod or iPad. Its ease of use and simple directions are learned quickly. Young children learn that if they touch the screen-something exciting will happen. Sounds and animation are a given. This interactive technology wins against watching a cartoon on t.v.

The next type of technology that young children interact with is laptop computers. Like the iPad, it is handheld and interactive but in a different way. The computer allows a child to learn by searching the internet, using the keyboard to type letters and words, and using the mouse to click and drag objects on the screen.

All the above technologies foster learning by reaching out to so many learning styles: tactile, visual and auditory. Students today are influenced by the media-rich and instant technology based environment. Technology provides immediate, fast, engaging, and dynamic learning experiences. Students’ methods of learning are different than earlier generations. Students collaborate, network and communicate via technology, like Twitter, blogs, texting and Facebook. They learn online and rely on digital media for information and socialization. They crave this technology, just like prior generations craved the radio and talking on the home telephone.

It almost seems unfair that children have such easy access to technologies that were not even created when we were in high school. This brings up the fact that these children have the opportunity to learn more efficiently, than we did as children.

“Today’s students need to be prepared for life in a world that will require new skills. That need puts schools at the forefront of technology adoption and education.” In order for teachers to meet students “where they are at” schools must create a learning environment that inspires students to attain the 21st century skills that society demands of us. The classroom should be student-centered instead of teacher centered. In a student centered classroom, learners are engaged in meaningful conversations, interactions with technology and group-based tasks. The direction of learning is facilitated by the teacher, as opposed to being dogmatic about covering specific standards. Long gone should be teacher-centered classrooms, where the teacher stands in front of the classroom and talks while the students take notes and listen. Who actually likes to sit and take notes anyway? This is not a conducive style of learning for most people. This requires tough change, which begins with the school and then the teacher. This change begins with integrating and aligning technology within curriculum, instruction, learning standards, teacher professional development and student assessment. In order for schools, teachers and parents to nurture student learning, they must learn about these new technologies. Just as teenagers acquire more knowledge from the internet than they do their parents, we adults need to follow their example. To start with, I encourage you to investigate some of the new technologies that I have discovered. A simple Google search provided me with knowledge on the following: Augmented reality learning, iStation computer assessments, Animation-ish software. By clicking on the links below, you can begin your journey towards critical and creative thinking. Can you use these new technologies? Can your child or student use them? If so, how? Enjoy your learning journey!


e-book, “21st Century Learning”: Tech & Learning Online Magazine http://newbay.ebookhost.net/tl/lenovo/1/index.php?e=41&open=1


Computer-based Reading Assessment- http://www.istation.com/Assessment/ISIPEarlyReading

Animation-ish Graphic design Software for children- http://shop.fablevisionlearning.com/animationish/fa/shop.detail/productID/2542/

Letters Alive, Augmented Reality 3-D Software for the Whiteboard http://www.logicalchoice.com/archive/archive/augmented-reality-for-teaching-learning/letters-alive-curriculum-pre-k-k/



Augmented Reality Technology Brings Sesame Street Characters to Life | Augmented Reality in Education and Training | Scoop.it


Interesting Parenting Article: http://www.psfk.com/2010/10/the-digital-birth-of-the-modern-child.htmly

Interactive WhiteBoard interactivity!

Children love using Interactive whiteboards in the classroom. I have observed that children learn more and are involved more when they are actually interacting with the board, with their touch.  It is true that children learn by doing, therefore the whiteboard should be used to its full capability-instead of just being a backdrop to view Power Points and video’s. Power Points and video’s are important too, but should not be the only method for delivering instruction. Children are very capable of coming up to the screen and touching it to advance each slide. I have realized that I need to include more whiteboard interaction into my teaching. I will be using this cute little picture icon to display whiteboard activities that I have found online, from other other teachers. I am excited to start using other professionals activities!

Here are my teacher inspiration blogs below!


Here’s an early childhood one- It’s one of my favorites!



Here is an Australian sight that allows you to use activities for free.


This one is by Carson Dellosa and includes a free download unit:


More downloads here:


This post below is even better than mine and has a comprehensive list of hundreds of interactive lessons!



Brain Pop Jr. is a great online tool for teaching!

                             images from google

If you have never used brain pop jr. or brain pop…you have to try it! Educators and parents can use brainpop jr. It is appropriate for younger students (I would say up to first grade). However, brainpop ,is for older kids. There is a cute little robot named Moby that guides the lessons and his friend does all the talking and explaining. It has such great content and depth, but is at the children’s level. One of my favorite lessons is about story characters. Moby gets dressed up with a Goldilocks wig and re-enacts the story. Hearing my students laugh and learn, at the same time, is such a wonderful thing to see! Some of my other favorite topics on brainpopjr. are: recycling, animal habitats, space, rocks & minerals, holidays, bike safety, family and so much more! Their website is: http://www.brainpopjr.com

Here is a link at the educator’s section that shows how a teacher uses brain pop in her classroom and in the computer lab: http://www.brainpop.com/video_tutorials/brainpop_jr_in_the_classroom/

So, there is a catch. Daily video’s are free. To view everything, you must subscribe. I never had to pay a dime because our PTO paid for it. You may even could write a grant to cover the costs. It is worth every penny, though. If my school ever stopped paying, I would do it myself. I cannot imagine teaching Science or Social Studies without brainpop jr.!