Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review of a Great CD for Kids by A Little Mandarin

Are you looking for a neat music CD to give to your child for the holidays?
Perhaps your child is in a homeschool co-op, an afterschool club where the focus is on the language and culture of China?
does your child attend a Montessori school? 
Perhaps your child attends a charter school or a magnet school that focuses on Chinese culture and the acquisition of Mandarin
Or perhaps you have children who have been begging to learn Mandarin, as they are quite fascinated by China?
Does your homeschool or school do an Around the World in December event, a Multicultural Fair, or an event to celebrate Chinese New Year?
 Well, if you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you should consider buying a great CD for young children called Chinese Children's Classics vol 1.0 by A Little Mandarin.
How did we come about this CD?
Had seen that Leanna from Multicultural Kid Blogs was looking for bloggers who would be willing to review this lovely CD.
Big Bro and Little Bro have been very curious over the last several years about the languages and the culture of China, so when I saw the opportunity to review Chinese Children's Classics vol 1.0 by A Little Mandarin, jumped on the chance to review this CD and let me tell you, am glad that we were able to review it!

It is a really neat CD for children with cute songs, clear pronunciation, and nice music! Such a fun way to introduce Mandarin to children!

What initially was shared about this lovely little CD is the following:

Our album, Chinese Children’s Classics vol 1.0 has updated traditional Chinese children’s songs with a modern sound.  This is a great introduction to Chinese culture and the Mandarin language for children (and parents!)  
-Source: Kristen, A Little Mandarin

Would have to agree that it is a great introduction to Chinese Culture and the Mandarin language!
My boys enjoyed listening to this music. They have learned some Mandarin and have had fun along the way!

You can listen to the introduction of each of the songs right from their website.  I tried to embed the html code so that you could play it right from my blog, but it did not work for some reason, so please be sure to check out their website to hear the samples of the songs and to check out their store page. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Making, Giving & Doing for Others for December

Hello Everyone!

Hope that anyone who has been with family and friends celebrating Thanksgiving, that you had a wonderful time! We had a great time over the last week or so visiting with our family in South Carolina and Florida.
 While we were away, we started to focus on what we wanted to do as a family for the holidays.

While as a family and as a gifted program, we absolutely love the idea of learning about multicultural celebrations, the majority of our family's activities will primarily revolve around Christmas traditions and will focus on the Advent Calendar.
We wholeheartedly embrace the idea of learning and incorporating other seasonal holiday activities into what we have planned for the month, but Christmas is the reason for the season for our family, so many of our tie- ins will revolve around that for the four of us here. 
If your family celebrates Advent and Christmas, we would love to hear what your family does. We feel that the best way to learn is to learn about the traditions and customs from around the world.
What makes December special for your family?
If you are a classroom teacher, what do your do as part of your classroom learning?
If you homeschool, what activities do you have planned?

If your family celebrates a different holiday during the month of December, or if you have additional plans that tie in with Making, Giving, and Doing for Others, we would love to hear about your ideas. Please share what holiday your family or school celebrates as we want to learn from you!
If you homeschool, what activities do you have planned? If you are a classroom teacher, what holiday activities are you going to be doing? We can't wait to hear what you have planned for your special holiday experience!

Hope that you will share your ideas with us!

This past week, while we were sitting at lunch having a bite to eat, Little Bro made the suggestion that each of us in our immediate family choose a special Month of Making, Giving & Doing Activity.

Little Bro wants his Month of Making, Giving & Doing Activity to focus on making & taking cards and handmade gifts to children at a local hospital. He wants to drop off things to area hospitals every Friday.

Big Bro then chimed in with what he wants to do for his Month of Making, Giving & Doing Activity: to donate to Toys for Tots and to Goodwill.

Both boys then discussed the recent events in Ferguson. We had committed over Thanksgiving to helping Natalie, whose bakery was burned down, so we had started the hashtag #CupcakesForNatalie on Twitter and Pinterest. While driving up to South Carolina, I had tweeted and asked people to see if we could rally to help Natalie with the #CupcakesForNatalie hashtag and it ended up trending. We were very happy to hear that two individuals took it a step further and set up a project to help Natalie and other affected businesses.  Thousands of dollars have been raised so far, but we still want to have a personal connection to helping so our boys want to involve the students that come to us as part of our Sunrise Learning Lab program and have them do a project to help Natalie and other businesses and projects that will help Ferguson to rebuild and hopefully, to heal as a community. Thursday will be the Month of Making, Giving & Doing Activity day to focus on helping Natalie, as well as to make things that will encourage others to focus on embracing diversity and showing goodwill towards others. I will be focusing on this, as well as building an extensive Diversity Pinterest Board as a Resource for Parents, Teachers, and Others.
Please Note: 
I will add in links and photos over the course of this month so that you can donate and so that if you want to do something to help, that you and your homeschool or school group can do something too...

Dear Hubby decided that Monday will be his Month of Making, Giving & Doing Activity day.
For his activity, he will handle mailing things out that need to be sent out to different organizations and such, including books for a program in Erie, Pennsylvania.
So as a family, we have plans for every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
That leaves us with Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Wednesday will be our catch up day and Saturday and Sunday will be our days to just spend time with family and friends and to really focus on the true meaning of Christmas: preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ.

That is our family's plan for December.

We hope to really focus on Making, Giving, and Doing.
In the spirit of making, giving, and doing, we have teamed up with Hoagie's Gifted and have joined this month's Blog Hop to an extent. I did not have my laptop with me while in South Carolina, so instead of writing a full blog post, sent in the link to my Handmade Gifts Pinterest Board and that is what appears on Hoagies Gifted for this month's blog hop. The Blog Hop theme for this month at Hoagie's Gifted is excellent!
Bye Bye Buy Buy:
How can we "do" the holidays without the kids' chorus of "Give me, give me"?  How can we ignore the ads and the stores and the constant bombardment that the less we spend, the less we love our loved ones?  What options are there for our gifted families?
Please be sure to check out the various blogger's posts in the Hoagies' Gifted December Blog Hop.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some Exciting News: 200,012 Pageviews Plus Marine Maker Fair Project #2: Lotta Love for LEGO!!!

First, want to quickly say thank you to all of the readers of Sunrise Learning Lab. 
As I began to write this post, we have had 200,012 Pageviews!!!
Thank you so much for reading our blog and for following along as we grow our Sunrise Learning Lab!
Our sons were very excited today and they cannot wait to tell our students tomorrow when they come that we have passed 200,000 pageviews!!!

Today's Marine Maker Fair Project #2 involves our love of all things LEGO!
For the actual Marine Maker Fair #nagc14 presentation that we did in Baltimore, we shared about LEGO Education's StoryStarter set. Every person who attended Creativity Night and stopped by our tables to check out what we were sharing was given a package of StoryStarter LEGO to take and try with their students.
It was pretty great to be able to share our love of LEGO with the generous freebie from LEGO Education.
These are shots of the StoryStarter sets that we were able to give to all of the Creativity Night participants thanks to the generosity of LEGO Education! Can't thank them enough!
The LEGO Education StoryStarter Set is great for any homeschool or school program. It works well with all elementary and middle school aged children. A booklet that accompanies the set gives ideas to jump start student creativity.
Our boys had originally attended a LEGO Education workshop at LEGOLAND Florida. That is where they first had the opportunity to explore what LEGO StoryStarter is all about...and they loved it! LEGOLAND Florida has been very good to students, both homeschool groups and school groups. We have participated in many of their special days and have really expanded our love of trying LEGO classes there, as well as going on all of the rides and seeing all of the various shows there. Even though LEGOLAND Florida was not a sponsor for our Marine Maker Fair, feel that a shout out here in this post is appropriate, since they have given us so many opportunities to come try out various LEGO Education sets in their classes. That is how we knew for sure that we wanted to buy LEGO EV3 Mindstorms, as nothing sells a LEGO Education product faster than getting to first try it out in one of their classes! So huge props to both LEGO Education and LEGOLAND Florida from all of us at Sunrise Learning Lab!

So when we found out that we were going to present at the Marine Maker Fair, we were thrilled when we were told that LEGO Education would donate these sets for each and every Creativity Night participant!
What we did not get to bring due to the logistics of getting it up to Baltimore, was our LEGO EV3 Mindstorms Sets, including the LEGO EV3 Space Challenge.
We also love LEGO WeDo Robotics, especially for younger children.
While we would have loved to have brought our LEGO EV3 Mindstorms sets for everyone to see in person, it was not possible for us to bring not only our awesome LEGO EV3 Mindstorms sets, but also our two custom tables, and our two laptops.
So we shared by talking about what an impact LEGO EV3 Mindstorms and LEGO WeDo Robotics has had on our students mostly by talking about the experiences that they have given the boys.
Little Bro working on LEGO WeDo Robotics.
Little Bro programming his LEGO WeDo Robotics project.

Our family has always loved LEGO, ever since our boys were very little.
My hubby grew up playing with LEGO and had actually saved his bin of LEGO from when he was a boy. That bin has been added to our collection of LEGO.
If you plan to do a Maker Fair, you could use the LEGO StoryStarter sets very easily to coordinate with virtually any theme that your Maker Fair might use.
LEGO Hero Factory and LEGO Mixels also work well for jump starting the storytelling process with children, so keep that in mind too if you decide to organize a Maker Fair. 
What we had done to make the LEGO StoryStarter sets tie in with our Marine Maker Fair theme of sea life is that we brought along additional pieces, including sharks, fish, crabs, and sea themed mini figs.
If you would want to include LEGO EV3 Mindstorms into your Maker Fair, you could do it, provided that you can find a good way to transport your EV3 Mindstorms custom tables.
Or the other thought would be to use any tables that you can access but to build a barrier around the entire perimeter of the table so that the LEGO EV3 Mindstorms will stay on the table safely.
Another LEGO extension that we actually discovered upon returning from Baltimore was one that Big Bro came up with on his own: he took what originally was an art project that was supposed to use beads to make a dolphin pin and turned it into a LEGO build.
It turned out really well, but the best thing was that he LOVED creating it!
So, if you do decide to create a Maker Fair for your school or homeschool group, suggest that in addtion to the LEGO StoryStarter Sets and LEGO EV3 Mindstorms, that you set up a table where children can free build something that ties in with your Maker Fair theme.
Would suggest that two to four children can easily share a bin at one time, although ideally, you could have it worked out that every child has their own bin of LEGO to use.
Here are some photos that show some of what we do here with respect to all things LEGO:
Big Bro building LEGO EV3 Mindstorms
The boys love building their LEGO EV3 Mindstorms! Our students come every Thursday for up to three hours to work on LEGO EV3 Mindstorms. It has been a great experience for our sons and for all of the students in our program. We are looking forward to competing in friendly LEGO EV3 Mindstorms Challenges this Spring, once everyone on our team is old enough to compete!!!
One of their favorite LEGO EV3 Mindstorms builds! This week, we are going to attend a Florida LEGO League Competition to get a feel of what to expect for the Spring. Everyone is very excited about this upcoming event! Should be fun!
LEGO Hero Factory works great for storytelling too! All of the boys enjoy building with LEGO Hero Factory here, as well as at LEGOLAND Florida when we go there!
LEGO Mixels are quick and easy to build so if you have limited time and want your students to be able to build as well as focus on storytelling in the same class period, these are a great way to go! You can easily adapt any LEGO Mixels into sea animals.
Any sort of project originally designed to fit into a grid or that is designed to be in pixels can easily be tweaked to be LEGO builds. The project here was originally meant to be a dolphin bead project that got turned into a LEGO build by Big Bro.
Big Bro changed out some of the original design of what was to be a dolphin beaded jewelry project to make it into this LEGO build. He LOVED working on this!

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!
***This program is for residents of Florida only...

More Gifted Program Details!

More Gifted Program Details!
Sunrise Learning Lab™ and its Gifted Pilot Program belong to Colleen Murray Bowers. © 2014 Colleen Murray Bowers.

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