Monday, December 21, 2015

5 Ways to Motivate Kids to Learn Math!

For most kids, math can be a total bore.  This year I taught I an after-school math class called Dramatic Math, and my goal was to make a math class that I would have loved to gone to.  Here are some ideas we came up with to make math fun and exciting.

1. Warm Up to Math!
After spending all day in class, the last things kids want to do is sit down and do some math problems. So we always start with a math warm-up exercise.  A math warm-up example:

16 Shakedown -Shake each limb starting with arms and going down to the leg sixteen times.   And count together.  Then ask what half of 16 is.  8! Perfect, now shake every limb 8 times.  Now what is half of 8?  4, of course!  Shake every limb 4 times.  Keep going to till you get down to 1!

2.  Make it a Game!
Kids love challenges, strategies, and games.   A math quiz SHOW is always going to be better than a plain math quiz.  Plus, it’s a great way for kids to interact in groups.

3. Keep it Physical!
Lots of people think math is just a lot of worksheets and written problems. I always like to give physical challenge to test kids bodies as well as their minds.  Examples include:

Division Exercise – Break kids in to groups of 2-6 depending on how hard you want their math to be.  Then challenge to do something ridiculous like 120 push-ups, but also let them know that they can divide 120 by the amount of people in their group.  This also works great with crunches, jumping jacks, and running.

4.  Make it Hands On
A lot of the problem with math is it very abstract and hard to understand when if you can’t see it or touch it.  That’s why we try to let kids interact with math in a tactile way such as making a lemonade stand where they have to use money to and make transactions.

 5.  Keep it Dramatic!
Our math class was called Dramatic Math because wanted to tell a story with the math.  One of the ways was having the kids come up with sketches or even movie ideas that involved math.  We did an Indiana Jones type movie trailer where kids going into a candy cave and have to solve math problems!

By Chris Walsh

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

5 Steps To Rocking a Twinkle Light Parade

1.     Start with an Idea:

Children’s Choice participating in the Twinkle Light Parade came from Carmen our John Baker site director. Inspired by wanting families and kids and staff alike participating in this fun parade she had the had the idea of a How the Grinch Stole Christmas inspired float and spread the word to our site directors. 

Once our site directors were on board, and a list of the float rules and requirements was acquired and registration fees were paid. We were on the road to rocking the Twinkle Light Parade.
2.     Build an Awesome Float

Essential to any great parade is to have fantastic parade float.  You gather the troops and brain storm an idea of what would be the most visually striking on the parade route.  Our float was an homage to the town of Whoville in the How the Grinch Store Christmas.  A backdrop of the town was created along with a  lit Christmas tree.  Our parade allowed people on the float, so we made Whoville come to life with a singing Cindy Lou Who and a Grinch who was waving to the parade goers with Max by his side.
3.     Bring Awesome People on Board

You can’t rock any parade without awesome people to celebrate with. We at Children’s Choice are lucky to have such fun loving families and staff that the invitation was made open to anyone to come join us the day of the parade. We posted invitations at all of our sites and spread the word to our staff.  People came out to help build the float leading up the parade as well as show up the day of the parade to help with make up, costumes and general prep for the float. We had a wonderful turn out for our first parade.
4.     Get Your Twinkle On

We had a simple criteria if anyone wanted to join our float . they had to be ‘Twinkled Out’ on the day of the parade.  Since our theme was Whoville we encouraged our staff to channel their inner Dr.Suess and come in costume if they were able. If not, that was okay. 

We had a mix of families in Christmas Sweaters with twinkle lights,  suits with glow sticks taped on, Santa hats, people even brought their four legged friends decked out for the holiday. Everyone received a glow stick in a balloon to twinkle along the parade route or twinkle lights as they walked behind our already sparkling float.
5.     Bring the Spirit of the Season (& Comfy Shoes)

The twinkle light parade is an even that preps our city for the holiday season.  It’s a time to bring families together with members of the community to share a wonderful time of year. Our staff was on hand selling hot chocolate to parade goers.  Families and Staff that walked the float route  got to know each other while waving to parade watchers. We sang carols and members of our parade crew passed out candy to families we passed along our way.  It was great to have kids notice us from the sidelines and the community recognizes our organization. It was such a great night that the two mile walk seemed to end so quickly. 
If you’re interested in help Children’s Choice with our float next year, sign up for our mailing list
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