Monday, December 31, 2012

Chuck the Chicken: A rubber chicken team-building game!

Chuck the Chicken

This is our most fun Rubber Chicken game of all! We can’t find the original source of this game. We’ve heard it is very old – maybe the original rubber chicken game. 

You’ll need one Rubber Chicken. 

Spilt players into two teams of equal size.  Teams line up.

Team #1 starts off with possession of the rubber chicken.  The first player in line shouts, “Chuck the Chicken” and throws the chicken as far from Team #2 as possible.

Team #2 runs after the chicken, while Team #1 forms themselves into a tight cluster and the player who chucked the chicken runs laps around the cluster. Each lap earns the team one point. Count off laps!

Meanwhile, when the first player on Team #2 reaches the chicken, that player picks up the chicken and the rest of the teammates line up single file behind that player. Players then pass the chicken from the front to the end of the line by passing “over & under.” (The first player passes back over head, the next player passes back under through the legs; the next over head, etc) .

As soon as the chicken reaches the last player in line, that player shouts, “Chuck the Chicken!” and throws the chicken as far from Team #1 as possible. Team #1 stops running laps and scoring points and chases the chicken. The teams swap roles and play continues until each team has had an equal number of scoring rounds and everyone is too pooped to continue! The team with the most points wins!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Science of Christmas

This is a a collaborative post that my daughter and I wrote together in our after-school science club.

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy. We learned most of the science activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire). We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

This week’s theme was Madison’s idea – linking science activities to ideas associated with Christmas – making science more FUN!

Science Standards Addressed:
  • Describe what happens when substances are mixed (instant snow and dissected glow stick).
  • Know how energy can be converted into different forms and describe how energy produces changes (dissected glow stick and bounce no bounce balls).
  • Identify human organs and their function (ear - reindeer calls and sound).
  • Know how electricity flows through a simple circuit (Rudolph’s nose).
Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

5 minutes
As the children arrived we played the songs I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas and Let it Snow, by Andy Williams; and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, by Burl Ives. Hints about the theme of the day! We drew the line with the one about how “Grandma got run over” even though it fit so well with the reindeer calls and reindeer nose activity we planned.

Next we had a snack that once again was a hint of the science to follow. Not too subtle today!
10 Minutes
To sneak in some literacy standards, while they ate snack we read them 
Froggy’s Best Christmas, by Jonathan London

The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Moore
5 minutes
Santa’s Secret Supernatural Scientific Solution: Dissected Glow Stick
You know those glow sticks that are popular at Halloween? You crack them and shake them and they glow.

They are made of a plastic casing with a liquid and a little glass vial of another liquid sealed up inside.
Before the kids arrived, Dad carefully cut open a glow stick, poured out the liquid (typically something like a phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye) into a glass container, and removed the glass vial (typically contains an activator like hydrogen peroxide).

If your kids play (roughly) with glow sticks, you might have experienced one that breaks and leaks glowing liquid all over your house. It is funky stuff that you don’t want to spill, so if possible get a mature adult (more mature than my dad) to help with this.

To engage their thoughts and emotions, we created an “Imaginary Situation.” Christmas is a magical time – toys made by elves, flying reindeer, a trip around the world in one night, peace on earth, ...EGGNOG!

We told the kids that reindeer fly because of Santa’s Secret Supernatural Scientific Solution, and because we have been so NICE… he gave us some (the little glass vial). Dad carefully broke the glass vial with a tool, letting the hydrogen peroxide flow into the glass jar - to release the glowing magic!

“Woa!” “That’s Awesome!” “Is that real!?”

5 minutes
Bounce No Bounce Balls
I told the kids that when the elves make bouncy balls, at first they don’t bounce (Dad demonstrated by dropping a black ball and it didn’t bounce) but when they add Christmas magic it bounces high. After a quick slight of hand, Dad waved the ball over the Christmas glowing magic liquid, and dropped the ball that NOW bounced high! We paused for the “Wow’s” and then we told them the science behind the bounce no bounce balls. We made them THINK there was only one ball, but there were two, a high-bounce ball and an seemingly identical, no-bounce ball.

Bounce No Bounce Balls

Objects store energy in many ways. If you roll a rock up a hill it gains potential energy (from gravity) – as it rolls down the other side, it gains kinetic energy of motion. When a rubber band is stretched it has a lot of potential energy. When you release the rubber band, potential energy is converted to kinetic energy and it goes flying across the room.

When it hits your little sister in the arm, it releases its kinetic energy into her, which is transformed into sound waves as the energy travels out of her mouth in the form of a scream.

My dad wrote that! I would never!

When the bounce ball hits the floor, the kinetic energy is converted to elastic potential energy as the ball compresses like it is made of tiny springs. When the ball springs back – it bounces. But the no-bounce ball is made of material that causes it to absorb the potential energy slowly – resulting in almost no bounce. This material is great for car bumpers, but not so fun for bouncy balls.

30 minutes
Reindeer Calls
Imaginary Situation: We told the kids that Santa’s elves use these noise-making reindeer calls to steer reindeer around planes and helicopters. We demonstrated the noise potential by wetting our fingers and letting them stick and slide over the string causing vibrations up the string, into the cup, and then amplified by the cup.

We made Reindeer Calls by first decorating brown cups - gluing on googly eyes, foam antlers, and a red pompom, as a nose. 
Then we poked a hole in the bottom of the cup just large enough to thread the piece of string. We threaded the string through the hole and tied a knot or two at the end of the string to hold the string in place. Next we wet our fingers with water and slightly moistened the string. Then by holding the cup in one hand, we pinched the string between our thumbs and forefingers and slid, our pinched fingers down the string.

With some practice and patience, we created loud honking sounds that reindeer could easily hear. We imagined being elves positioned all around the world like airline traffic controllers sending navigation instructions to the reindeer.

We’ve experimented with many different types of string (nylon doesn’t work very well) plastic cups, paper cups, and different-sized cups – all create different sounds!

20 minutes
Instant Snow

We secretly, poured a spoonful of Insta-Snow powder into an empty mixing cup.

We talked about how much Christmas makes us think of snow - the moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, dashing through the snow, and dreaming of a white Christmas. We told the kids that we can’t have a proper Christmas theme without snow! We didn’t have any real snow, but we do have Santa’s magic. We waved Santa’s magic glowing solution over the mixing cup (with the Insta-Snow powder) and poured some water into the cup.

We got lots of “Oohs” and “Aahs” as the kids couldn’t take their eyes off the erupting snow. NOTE: if you want the “Oohs” and “Aahs” – make sure and get the Insta-Snow with the little trademark sign and the Steve Spangler logo. The knock-off versions don’t ERUPT!

Insta Snow

What’s the science of this? This stuff is made from the superabsorbent polymer found in baby diapers – except they don’t just absorb water. The long chains of molecules swell to an enormous size. The polymers act like little tiny sponges. Eventually they dry out and you can repeat the experiment.

10 minutes
Rudolph’s Nose

Energy Ball
The energy ball has two small metal electrodes. When they are both touched the ball glows red and makes a funny sound. We told the kids that in case Rudolph ever got sick and couldn’t do his Christmas Eve job, this little contraption would help a substitute reindeer complete the mission. We touched the electrodes and it glowed red.

Then we got into a circle. Two people touched the electrodes, and the rest of us held hands. When everybody was touching hands Rudolph’s Nose glowed. We explained how electricity was flowing through our simple human circuit and we had them all take turns letting go of hands and being the “switch.” We got all warm and mushy as we talked about how as a community we have energy we can give to each other, how if we stick together we have power, and how if any of us doesn’t participate then the group has no power.

Then, as we prepared to depart for the Christmas Break we held hands and sang, I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You.

Dad! We did not sing anything!

Nice way to end the semester!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Science of Halloween

Spooky Science of Halloween

Science Standards Addressed:
  • Know that when substances are combined they may create a new substance with different properties (Monster Drool, Gross Worms).
  • Know that matter is composed of parts too small to be seen with the naked eye (Monster Drool, Gross Worms).
  • Describe the characteristics of the 3 states of matter (Boo Bubbles and Crystal Bubble).
We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy.  We learned most of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos.  We have also provided links to our YouTube videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

10 minutes

As the children arrived we played songs like Ghostbusters, Monster Mash, and Spooky.

Spooky Science Snack: for the color alone we had blackberries and orange carrots.  
We also made a Spooky Halloween punch which contained: walrus pee (apple juice), nuclear waste (pineapple juice), blended beetles (grape juice) and bats blood (cranberry juice).  Then we added some glow sticks and some dry ice that carbonates the drink with the carbon dioxide gas that is sublimating from the dry ice.  - bubbling and burping. 
Serve after all the bubbling has stopped and  the dry ice is completely gone.  Dry ice in the esophagus – not a good thing.

The scary looking guys in the suits threatened that if we didn’t include this,…  they would be back. Dry ice must be handled with caution.  It is -110 degrees Fahrenheit. It must be handled using gloves or tongs.  It will cause severe burns if it comes in contact with your skin.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Diversity = #4 of our 20 Common Core Values

Diversity = #4 of our 20 Common Core Values

Making Stew with the Spice of Life

You can learn a lot from people who view the world differently than you do. —Anthony J. D’Angelo

People are diverse in more measures than we can count; in some of these measures, we want diversity. – Mike Ashcraft

There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity. —Michel de Montaigne

What we know:

·      We know a diverse workforce can more readily relate to and serve a diverse client base, and therefore help the organization to be more successful.
·      We know that developing and celebrating diversity in our organization leads to higher morale, increased productivity, enhanced creativity, and higher organizational loyalty.
·      We know white guys are diverse too… in many ways, but often in discussions about diversity, they are the one group left out. At CC, when we speak about diversity, we are not leaving ANYONE out.

What we value and believe:

·      We value having a variety of people on our team.
·      We value having a variety of ethnicities, skin tones, genders, ages, talents, personalities, intelligences, learning styles, and personality styles.
·      We believe in unity through diversity, so we want the people on our team to share our values and our goals, but that is the only category where we want complete unity.
·      We do not want a melting pot of people who dissolve into a homogeneous solution; rather, we want a variety stew—each ingredient retaining its identity, texture, color, and flavor—different chunks of people who are unique from each other and all of whom contribute to the unity of the stew!
·      We do not believe that you should treat all people the same! People are different—that is the point of diversity. Why would anyone spend so much time intentionally creating and developing a diverse team, only to succeed and then treat everyone the same? It would defeat the purpose.
·      We believe that we should talk about the differences people have, and not be afraid of it.

What we do to show it:

·      You will almost never hear us use the word tolerance. We don’t tolerate diversity; we value it, encourage it, embrace it, and celebrate it.
·      We are an equal opportunity employer because we celebrate diversity.
·      We hire and promote individuals based on our organizational culture, expectations, and values.
·      Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin, culture, disability or sexual preference is just not how we do things around here.
·      We ask people how they like to receive feedback.
·      We ask them about their beliefs, styles, and preferences.
·      We ask them how they handle conflict.
·      We spend time and energy to really get to know them, and discover how THEY want to be treated, and then treat them uniquely how they want to be treated.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Double Trouble Dice Game

Double Trouble Dice Game - You need a pair if dice, a pen, a sheet of paper, and preferably a table that everyone can fit around fairly snuggly. Players stand in a circle around the table (or sit in a circle on the floor).  The pen and paper begin in the center and the dice are passed around the circle rolled one time by each person.  Once someone rolls doubles (i.e. two fives, etc.) than the frenzy begins.  That person takes the pen and paper and begins to right out numbers in order from 1 to 100.  That’s it.  The dice continue around the table (skipping the person writing) until someone else rolls doubles. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

the Trinity of Whole Child Development: #3 of our Common Core Values

#3 = the Trinity of Whole Child Development

We value the child, the whole child. Many good afterschool programs focus primarily on one aspect of child development.

Some afterschool programs label themselves as child care and basically extend classic early-childhood education programs with learning centers and a lot of child-directed activities for children to self select into afterschool. These program focus primarily on play-based learning of social and life skills.

Some programs focus primarily on academics. These “academics-only” programs put emphasis on tutoring and homework. Their primary goals include higher academic achievement and test scores. They provide more school... after school.

Some afterschool programs label themselves “for recreation purposes only.” These “rec” programs aim to provide a safe place for children to play and are intentionally and purposefully designed to provide a break from academics after school.

Other programs focus on a singular skill like drama, science, karate, chorus, chess, soccer, fine arts, etc. 

Children’s Choice sees value in each of these models. We see the need for many types of programs to meet the diverse needs of different communities. We help train and develop staff working in many different types of programs and strive to help them improve their practices.

Within our own programs, Children’s Choice takes a whole-child-development approach. We weave together play-based learning, academic enrichment, life skill development, team building, recreation, relationship building, and specific skill building through enrichment classes and novel, challenging activities.

We value what we call the “TRINITY” of positive youth development. We weave together practices that facilitate the development of P.I.E.S.

1.     Physical Skills
2.     Intellectual Skills
3.     Emotional/Social Skills

Or if you prefer, the “TRINITY” of Mind-Spirit-Body. The whole child. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Value as a Value - #2 of our Common Core Values

#2 = Value is a Value

We value VALUE. It is important to us that our programs be worthwhile and useful to those we serve. We believe our service to the community must be worth what it costs to provide that service. We value providing the highest possible quality at the lowest possible price and being good financial stewards of our resources.

We value VALUE because value improves access. We believe all children should have access to high-quality afterschool programs. 

  • We know that if families cannot access programs for financial reasons, then their children will never experience the many benefits of quality.
  • We know that children who have no access to high-quality afterschool programs experience a gap in their potential development and education compared to children who have access.
  • We know that children who do not have access to quality summer enrichment program experience additional summer learning loss.
  • We know that the achievement gap between children with access to quality afterschool and summer enrichment programs and children with no access widens each year.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

20 Core Values


We have 20 Core Values at Children's Choice. The first is quality.

We know that high QUALITY afterschool programs have strong positive effects on the academic, social and emotional development of children. We know that what children do during their out-of-school-time hours has as much influence on their success as what they do during the school day. We know that participation in high-quality afterschool programs is associated with better academic achievement, better work habits, stronger task persistence, better school attendance, better attitudes toward school, more self-confidence, stronger self-esteem, and better social skill development. We know that these benefits continue to grow even after students leave elementary school. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Math Thumbball

You’ll need to modify a beach ball(s) for this game.  

Using a permanent marker, divide the beach ball into more sections by drawing additional lines – as many as you need depending on the size of the ball. Label each section with a different number (1-10 OR 1-12). 

Check out the video!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Windbag Wigwams

Each week in our new Fun Funky Fungineering class we give our Fungineers an engineering challenge. This week the challenge is to build a free-standing structure using "Windbags."

Here is the script for the mission and a video! Enjoy and replicate!

Greetings Fungineers!
I am Agent B.
My true identity must remain secret for reasons of national security.
We need your help.

In 1962 the world’s first successful interplanetary mission happened when the United States sent the space probe Mariner 2 to Venus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gargamalian Orbs

Fun, Funky, Fungineering!

Each week, in Mike's new Fungineering class, we give kids a mission - an engineering challenge. In this week's episode the "fungineers" are challenged to build a model of structure that could protect peaceful aliens (the Tranquilians) from the evil transforming orbs of the not-so-peaceful Gargamalians!


Here is the script for the mission...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Tech: Prezis

Here's a cool new tech to share our story!

Follow mikeafterschool on Twitter