Genius Hour
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Giveaway: “Rosie Revere, Engineer” {Closed}

{ CONTEST CLOSED } Watch for our next Monthly giveaway!  As strong advocates for hands-on and maker education, we at The Wonder Nook want nothing more than to inspire the next generation of makers and problem-solvers. That means cultivating confidence, resilience and creative risk-taking. What better way to celebrate that spirit than with a giveaway of the wonderful book, Rosie Revere, Engineer, by maker advocate Andrea Beaty (illustrated by David Roberts)? Enter for your chance to win a free copy of this delightful tale about an inventive little girl who gets things done! This giveaway is open to anyone through…

Make & Tinker
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Mini Makers: Cardboarding for Kids

A learn-by-doing skill for growing makers Cardboard has entertained kids for decades, and the youngest generation is just as smitten as we were (ahem, are). The concept isn’t new, but have you ever considered its educational value of this inexpensive standby? Cardboarding for kids is an excellent intro to 3-D building for even the littlest makers. Building cardboard forts, castles, bridges and rocket ships introduces young children to design-thinking, supports budding tactile skills, strengthens a growing foundation of physics awareness, builds confidence, and encourages imagination and grit. What is Cardboarding? I feel a little silly describing cardboarding to readers who…

Research & Activities
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5 Facts and Myths About Dyslexia

My background is in journalism, so when my son was diagnosed with “visual processing disorder” and, eventually, dyslexia, I started a research frenzy. I expected to build upon my scanty knowledge of dyslexia. What I didn’t expect was to walk away with a whole new perspective–and, in some ways, appreciation–of dyslexia. Dyslexia is perhaps one of the best known, but least understood learning challenges, publicly speaking. The National Center for Learning Disabilities published a report stating that a full 91 percent of people have heard of dyslexia. Chances are you know a few people with dyslexia. Perhaps you are one of…

Kids Coding
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Review: Sketch Nation Create – Kids Coding & Game Design App

Tested: Sketch Nation Create Available On: iOS, Android, and the Web Cost: Free Age Range: Simple to advanced play, suitable for all ages (including parents) Series: Kids Coding & Game Design Apps We recently decided to cover kids coding and maker education more prominently here on The Wonder Nook. Research emphasizes how important these skills can be, and not just because coding skills are in demand. Coding and game design nurture creativity, design-thinking, computational logic, and more. Most schools don’t teach kids programming and, as one coding expert told recently told NPR,  those that do don’t do so in an engaging…

Research & Activities
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Get Moving: 5 Kinesthetic Reading Games for Kids

When writing this post I debated whether or not to use the phrase “Kinesthetic Learning” because it comes with baggage. There is disagreement among factions regarding the benefits of applying a curriculum dedicated to kinesthetic learning for those students that are screened as having a “Kinesthetic Learning Style” by the VARK model. My view is that it does work as long as the teacher understands that kinesthetic learning is a tool in the tool box and not the tool box itself. In other words, using kinesthetic learning as the only method of teaching will likely not work for most people.…

Research & Activities
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Heads or Tails: Using Coins as Manipulatives

One of my five-year-old twins has an eagle-eye for coins, so much so that his nickname in this virtual world is Magpie, a bird (perhaps mistakenly) known for being drawn to shiny objects. Any time we go for a walk, even from the car into the grocery, my Magpie is on the hunt. One time he managed to find a coin on a dirt hiking path. How in the world did that even get there? His love for coins isn’t for their monetary value – at least at this point – but simply because they are shiny. He carries his…

Reviews
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THEN & NOW: Here Be Dragons!

When you look back on your childhood, do you remember one or two (or several) books that made you laugh, made you cry, made you mad, made you think, or made an impression? This ongoing series will feature books on a particular subject or from a specific genre and divide them into two sections: THEN (books published before 2000) and NOW (books published in 2000 and later). You may recognize some from THEN that you wish to share with your kids and or even re-read yourself. Your kids may have read some in the NOW section that you may wish…

Explore
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Live Local, Play Local, Go LocalVenturing!

You don’t need to spend hours in the car to get to your next adventure with your kids. On a LocalVenture, you’ll spend time exploring sights and sites within about thirty minutes of your home, arriving before anyone has a chance to say “How much longer?” and leaving before anyone has a meltdown (hopefully). Find the unexplored and undiscovered in your backyard. Pretend to be tourists and actually go to those places you’ve always been too busy to visit but recommend to visitors. From historical sites to scenic sights, wherever you are is the perfect place to explore with your kids.…

Explore
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Off The Shelf: Wild Play

Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors by David Sobel, Sierra Club Books, 2011 It’s not a book of studies and statistics, although you’ll find his arguments well-researched. It’s not a list of outdoor activities, although you’ll walk away planning your next adventure with your kids. This book is foremost a touching memoir of a parent’s gift of nature to his two children. I came to know this author through his publications (Place-Based Education and Mapmaking with Children) in environmental education. While those books thrilled me as an educator, this book speaks to my heart as a parent. In Wild…

Explore
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Where The Wild Things Are: Becoming A Certified Wildlife Habitat

It’s official! Our backyard is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat. And yours can be too! Here’s how: Whether you have a little or a lot of space, you can create a wildlife-friendly environment at your home, school, or business. To encourage the growth and support of natural areas, the National Wildlife Federation offers wildlife lovers the opportunity to designate their wild spaces as Certified Wildlife Habitats. The Criteria To become a Certified Wildlife Habitat, your green space must meet criteria in five areas: Food: From ground-dwellers to high-flyers, all wildlife needs food to survive. By providing a number of different sources of nourishment,…

Explore
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Stargazing With Kids: A Cosmic Adventure

Take your kids stargazing, and you will make great memories. Teach your kids about the cosmos, and you will kindle a lifetime of wonder. Not sure where to begin? The Hands-On Dad offers tips and ideas for turning a pretty scene into an amazing learning experience.

Research & Activities
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Kick It! Croquet

Croquet is the quintessential summer yard game, but if you’re like me and don’t fancy giving wooden mallets and balls to your children, you might want to try our family’s version, Kick It! Croquet, using pool noodles and soccer balls. What You Need: Yard (in the most level spot you have, although bumps and rises add to the character and difficulty of the game) 9 pool noodles 18 tent stakes (items like butter knives would also work if you don’t mind using them again after they’ve been stuck in the ground) 2 long posts (we used broom handles) 2-4 soccer…

Make & Tinker
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DIY Dollar Store Tinker Kit

Given his personally chosen pseudonym, there should be no surprise when I tell you that my oldest son, InventorJ, wants to be an inventor when he grows up (that is, if he is unable to secure employment as a ninja). With the tremendous growth of interest in STEM and maker movements, parents have many options in supporting their young inventors. You can even purchase ready-made tinker kits, complete with all the pieces and parts necessary to create a predetermined product. While these kits can allow a child to explore particular skills and bodies of knowledge and can give a certain…

Explore
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Nature Scavenger Hunt: Photo Challenge Edition

“Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.” Introducing children to nature requires a balance between allowing them the freedom to form a personal relationship by experiencing nature through all the senses and instilling in them the principles of “Leave No Trace.” To this end, for this scavenger hunt, your kids will take photos of every item they find instead of gathering objects. Cameras offer kids a unique way to “see” the world. Use whatever camera you have on hand, which you are willing to hand over to your child. My boys received this camera a few years ago for Christmas, and my oldest was given…

Explore
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Nature Sounds Scavenger Hunt

There’s no doubt about it: nature is a feast for the eyes. From a sweeping panorama of snow-capped mountains to the minutely-detailed markings on a moth’s wing, our eyes provide us a powerful means to experience our amazing world. Too often though, we ignore the sounds which surround us even as we gawk at nature’s landscapes. Can you imagine seeing a waterfall but not hearing the tremendous roar of water? How about seeing a nest full of baby birds but not being able to hear their hungry calls? What about watching trees bending in a storm but not hearing the wind…

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