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!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marine Maker Fair Project #1: Decorative Tape Sea Life Art & Poetry Extension

***This post is the first in a series of posts that will highlight various marine themed activities.***
In case you decide that your homeschool or school would want to do a Marine Maker Fair, here is one of the Marine Maker Fair Crafts that we suggested at the National Association for Gifted Children's  Annual Convention & Expo: Creativity Night. #nagc14 #gifted

Decorative Tape Sea Life Art Project
For this craft, you need the following:
Several rolls of decorative tape (We used Tapeffeti)
Sharpie Markers, in both very fine and fine point
Reynolds Wrappers Foil Sheets
Card stock Paper
Scotch Self-Seal Laminating Pouches
Optional: Melissa & Doug Textured Stencils - Sea Life
Marine Life books (be sure to have a variety of genres that include both fiction and non-fiction)
Poetry about sea life
Art depicting sea life
(Full Disclosure: Melissa & Doug supplied the Textured Stencils - Sea Life packs for all participants at the convention. The other products that we provided for participants were not sponsors, but their products worked very well for the purpose of this art and poetry project.)
1. Have all craft items organized on a table that makes it easy for children to access.
2. Suggest that children create their own sea life by using the supplies on the table.
3. Ask them if they have an idea for a particular sea animal that they would like to create.
4. If they do not have an idea for what type of marine animal they want to create, have books with photos and artwork showing sea life that they can refer to in order to get an idea of what they wish to create.
5. Discuss that it may be easier to color the foil and then, add the decorative tape if they wish to have a pattern on their artwork.
5. Some children may wish to use one of the Melissa & Doug Sea Life Textured Stencils for this project. These stencils really work nicely, provided that you use markers that are thin enough to properly fit into the grooves of the stencils.
One thing that we found is that the original pack of Sharpie Markers we had purchased were too thick to fit into the grooves of the templates. That made it so that the stencils could not be used as tracers. They still worked well as a guide for the patterns on the sea animals.
Once we switched to thinner Sharpies, they fit well into the grooves and the Melissa & Doug Textured Stencils - Sea Life worked great!
6. After the child draws his or her sea animal using Sharpie Markers, it is then a good time for them to add patterns to their sea life animal with decorative tape.
7. After the child adds decorative tape decorations, if he or she so chooses to add them, it is then a good time to encourage the child to cut out their foil sea life creation.
8. Once children cut out their foil animals, it works best if they attach their creation onto the sticky portion of a  Scotch Self-Seal Laminating Pouch.
9. After children attach their foil creation to the Scotch Self-Seal Pouch, have the child keep the sticky side faced up and then, have them place a piece of card stock paper on top. They can then smooth the paper and then, flip it over and voila! A lovely piece of art!
There may be a need to have the child trim the edges slightly if their card stock paper is smaller than the Scotch Self Seal Pouch.
While at the #nagc14 convention, we had all of the art supplies, including the Melissa & Doug Textured Stencils - Sea Life Packs out for Creativity Night participants to try. A big thanks to Melissa & Doug, as everyone loved that they were able to take home the Textured Stencils  - Sea Life, as well as the Scratch Art - Sea Life packs.
Higher-Order Thinking Extension  - Decorative Sea Life Art Project & Poetry Extension
An extension that can be done with this decorative tape sea life art project that ties in higher-order thinking is to then encourage children to write a poem about their sea life creation right onto the Scotch Self-Seal Pouch.

Hope that you and your children will enjoy this sea themed art & poetry project!

Monday, November 17, 2014

#nagc14 Creativity Night Photo Wrap Up

Last week, we went up to Baltimore to attend the National Association of Gifted Children's 61st Annual Exhibition and Expo.

It was a great experience for our entire family!
We presented for Creativity Night. Our presentation was called Marine Maker Fair.

Here is a photo wrap up of our experiences with Creativity Night: Marine Maker Fair.
What a great  #nagc14 experience!
Special Thanks to:
Moving Beyond the Page, LEGO Education, Code Monkey Island, Melissa & Doug, Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Disney Youth, and Charlotte Wharton Studio.
Everything that you provided for the Marine Maker Fair was a huge hit!
Everyone who attended gave great feedback about your educational products.

They all loved checking out the Moving Beyond the Pages Guides. The teachers made comments that the guides seemed to be full of creative, higher order thinking activities that their students would enjoy.

The Creativity Fair attendees had fun trying out the LEGO StoryStarter Sets and reading the accompanying booklet that gives sample lessons for them to try. Many thought that this would work great for their students, either as a small group activity or possibly as a whole group activity. Thanks, LEGO Education!

Playing Code Monkey Island proved to be fun for all! The teachers enjoyed learning how to play from Little Bro and Big Bro. They loved the concept of the game and how it addresses learning something as complex as coding in a very fun way.
Melissa & Doug, the teachers loved the Sea Life Templates and Scratch Art Sets! Many teachers said that these art supplies would be well loved by their students.

Since we wanted to relay what our family has done within the realm of homeschooling, as well as what our Sunrise Learning Lab students have done and are continuing to do with respect to understanding Marine Conservation, we also shared a bit about #DisneyYouth.
We talked about how Disney Youth has Y.E.S. programs that tie in with marine conservation and how we hope to take a group of our Sunrise Learning Lab students to attend several of these programs.
Logo used with permission. Property Walt Disney Company.

Logo used with permission. Property Walt Disney Company.

Then, with respect to all things Disney, we also had the chance to share about Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and what a treasure trove Jodi Whisenhunt's book and blog are with respect to Disney-inspired homeschooling.

Finally, we took a few minutes to share about Charlotte Wharton's offer of a free art eBook. We talked about the lovely seascapes and how that ties in with the Marine Maker Fair. Charlotte was gracious enough to send us a link to her lovely art book since we do gifted fine arts here at Sunrise Learning Lab. She also has made the offer for other educators who teach art. Such a wonderful art book!

 We loved presenting and participating in Creativity Night and are excited that we will be there next year in Arizona and the following year in Florida. Billie, the NAGC Coordinator of Creativity Night, did an amazing job pulling it all together, so a big thanks to her, to her husband, and to the other committee members who organized the night, as well as the other presenters. We met some cool people and had a super time!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It Needs to Be Said...

Do you personally know of any fathers who stay at home during the day to take care of their children?
How about any mothers who do this same thing?

Well, something needs to be said...

If I could shout this from the rooftops right now and it would travel to those I am picturing right now, I would do it!!!

Parents who stay at home to take care of their children, whether they are mothers or fathers, need to be treated with respect and dignity, as they are playing a very important role in their children's lives. 
Many parents who stay at home also take on work projects as it works into their children's schedules.
They are doing this to help provide and to still be at home with their children.
My husband and I both feel very blessed, as I stay at home with our two sons and do work projects related to educational consulting and social media. We also have started what is turning into a successful gifted education program here at Sunrise Learning Lab™. We hope that our little program will grow into something bigger, but it is off to a very good start.
It is working out well for us, for our sons, and for our students.
But none of that would be true if it wasn't for the fact that my Dear Hubby gives me a tremendous amount of support, respect, and help.
I love my hubby dearly and he loves me!
He gets me. He cares for me. He celebrates my successes and helps ease the pain when things are rough. 
He treats me as an equal in our marriage and that is how marriages are supposed to be.
Think that if you were to ask him, he would have nice things to say about me as well.
We continue to work on making our marriage a happy and healthy one and just wish that some couples who do not treat each other nicely would learn to work on theirs as well. 
How do we work on our marriage and our life together? We try to think of how things make each other one feel; we try to think of kind things to say to each other; we plan fun things to do as a couple and as a family; we help each other by not focusing on flaws, but on the strengths that we each bring to the table.
We work at being good role models for our sons with respect to relationships too.
Our boys know we love each other and we love them!

What is sad is that sometimes, that is not the case with couples.

When one or the other stays at home to take on the role of childcare during the day, regardless of whether they are homeschooling or if the child is too young to attend school, that parent is most likely giving his or her all to take excellent care of the couple's child or children.

What is sad is that some people who are the more traditional, out-of-the-home breadwinners, feel that it is okay to make fun of their spouse...that they can refer to their spouses as "housewives" or "househusbands". That they can make statements about as the bread winner outside of the home, that they are doing "ALL of the Work" while their spouse who is staying at home to be with their child or children is "Doing nothing".
The implications for a marriage are huge! How long does a spouse who degrades another spouse think that that is okay to do?!?
That that so-called stay-at-home spouse should just deal with being humiliated, disrespected, and treated like the butt of a bad joke?!?
For how long should a spouse deal with being put down?
Being labelled and stereotyped negatively for staying at home to take the majority of the child rearing on during the workday?!?

It happens and continues to happen. Some couples stay in these hideous relationships; some decide to make changes by focusing on their own issues and dealing with why they feel the need to put down their spouse; and then, some marriages just fizzle.

As a society, we realize that it is very wrong to use derogatory terms for particular ethnic groups, as it portrays them in a very negative, stereotypical way. It is viewed as deplorable, to the point that certain terms cannot even be uttered on television on most channels.
As a society, most people seem to get that it is degrading to use certain terms.
But somehow, when it comes to couples where one is a stay-at-home / work-at-home parent, some spouses who do their work outside of their homes feel that it is perfectly acceptable to make a rag out of their spouse for being the parent who oversees the rearing of children during the day.

It has to stop!

I have seen it happen to some people I know, some wonderful moms and wonderful dads who give their all and yet, are completely disrespected and made fun of for not being in the 9-to-5-groove.

The parents who are taking on the role of child rearing during the day do way more than just watch their children. They are there to see their couple's child or children reach developmental milestones.
They are there to take care of the children on challenging days, where the child may be sick, sad, tired, irritable, wet, dirty, overly excited, cranky, grumpy, as well as the happy days. The work-at-work spouse needs to be thankful and show appreciation for their spouse who does this for their mutual interest: their child or children. 
Many stay-at-home parents plan outings for their children.
They read, play, sing, walk, create, go on walks, do projects, swim, make meals, drive, and take their children out to meet others for play dates. The stay-at-home parent takes on the role of teacher for their child or children, even if the child is too young to attend school or even if the child attends school.
In many cases with a stay-at-home parent, the family may have a garden and so during the day, that is the perfect time to bring the child or children out to see how things are growing, to smell flowers, to help water the fruits, flowers, and vegetables.What awesome learning for a child!

This is not at all to say what the spouse who has the outside of the house role is not doing a good job either...this is just to say that spouses need to be mutually respectful and loving to each other, regardless of the hours spent in the home or in the office. 
Those who have a more traditional work-outside-of-the-home role need to be kind and loving to the spouse that stays home as that has been the agreed upon arrangement for their relationship.
Work-at-home, stay-at-home, should not matter as far as how spouses treat each other! 

The spouse who is the bread winner in a more traditional 9-to-5 sense should not be controlling of the money in the marriage, either.

When couples get married, they most likely took vows that mention to love and to honor.
That means that you treat each other nicely!
You value each other!
You are respectful of one another!
You put your spouse in a good light when you talk about them to your friends and family.
You don't make fun of your spouse!
You don't focus on their shortcomings or make them feel like a fool that they are staying at home watching the children!

Think about it for a moment from a child's perspective: how is it supposed to be that a couple would expect their child will grow up to be respectful and loving if one of the spouses puts the other down constantly?
Especially if it is for a decision that was supposedly mutually made by that couple?!?

If a person constantly puts down their spouse, what message does that send to the child?
What message does that send to the universe about the person who is doing the disrespecting, the degrading, the making a rag out of the other?!?

When a person does that about their spouse, people generally think "Wow, if they are so critical about their spouse, can only imagine what they say about others, including me...maybe they make a rag about me when I am not present..."
If a person who hears a friend or relative make fun of another and either they do nothing or else they join in and share how disappointed they are with their choice of a spouse, well I guess that misery loves company.

But this needs to stop.

It is wrong and is driven by hate not love.

Our society should feel just as much outrage when couples put the spouse that handles child duties down and calls that spouse "Housewife" or House Husband" as just as bad of an insult as the insults that stereotype races, religions, or any other kind of horrible stereotype that exists.

Housewives are portrayed on television as trampy, wealthy, lazy, and obnoxious. 
Househusbands are portrayed as ignorant, lazy, and downright awful.

If a spouse calls their own spouse one of these hateful, derogatory terms, what does that say about their relationship?!?

What does that say to society?!?
To the children of the world?!?
To the couple's child or children?!? 

It is also terrible when spouses do that and share their disappointment and refer to their spouse as their housewife or househusband with their parents.

First and foremost, grow up!

If a person is old enough to take on the responsibility to get married, then  they should realize that if the decision was made for one of the two to do child rearing during the day, that being a stay-at-home parent is a responsibility and that there should be mutual respect, not resentment.

If the spouse who works outside of the home feels the need to be totally disrespectful and mean, then maybe that person needs to do some re-evaluating.
Are they angry because they are jealous?
Do they lack enjoyment in their own workplace to the point that they have to make their stay-at-home spouse suffer?
Are they angry because they are exhausted?
Are they full of entitlement thinking that their stay-at-home spouse should do all the cooking, cleaning, household chores inside and outside of the house, as well as providing an amazingly loving environment for their child or children? 
Are they focusing on their stay-at-home spouses shortcomings rather than strengths?
Have they ever taken on ALL that the stay-at-home parent does in one day and thought about that?
Are they hateful because that was modeled for them?
Are they projecting their self-hate onto their spouse?
Are they being egged on by a friend or family member who thinks that putting down a spouse is acceptable???

Spouses who put their spouses down need to seek out therapy / counseling / and a social circle that is full of people who treat their spouses nicely.
Hanging out with people who think that it is okay to degrade a spouse makes it so that the person feels justified in doing what they are doing and treating the person that way.
People who encourage toxic fodder are toxic themselves and lack self esteem, so hanging out with toxic people who put spouses down makes a person that much more toxic. 

Bigotry and hate usually have their roots in lack of understanding that the hater has for its target.
They lack compassion and show hatred and disrespect because they don't know what the other person is feeling. They degrade the other because they lack inner peace and confidence within themselves.

Life is not always perfect.
Marriage is not always perfect. 
These statements are true.
But if a person has decided to enter into a relationship such as marriage, they should think about how they treat their spouse. LOVE helps heal all issues! If you truly love one another, then you should also truly respect one another!

A dear friend once pointed out to me that marriage is like a needs to be nurtured, watered, looked after gently, and given priority so that those in the marriage can blossom.
In order to blossom, the garden has to be weeded.
If others feed into negativity and encourage someone to speak evil and put down their spouse, the couple is allowing weeds to grow in their garden.
Remove the weeds!

Regardless or not if they are Christian, the Golden Rule comes into play here...
Treat others as you wish to be treated.

So, assuming that spouses are entering into their relationships that are / were not coerced, that means that at least in the beginning of that relationship, that there was a sense of love and of respect.

I am proud that our inner-circle includes stay-at-home-dads and stay-at-home-moms.
I am happy for our friends and family who have chosen more traditional 9-to-5 jobs and have their children in daycare, but I am also happy for the couples who we know who have made the decision to try something different.
There are not right or wrong answers when both in the couple are trying to do right by the couple's children's needs, but also by their family's financial needs.

Because people make different choices in their arrangement as far as working out of the home and childcare, that doesn't mean that any other dynamic is better than another.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is the name of the game!

Not using derogatory terms based upon one of the spouse's choice for staying at home is critical!
Couples need to think of the child or children involved and need to think how hearing these derogatory terms for one of their parents will have a lasting impact on that child and their future relationships.
Hope that the next time a person who is contemplating gossiping about their spouse, or is thinking of a way to be disrespectful / hurtful / downright mean will STOP and instead, do some introspection and will start to work on their own issues. 

Hope that as people read this, that it will open dialogue in dysfunctional couples.

Hope that they can work out their differences and be respectful, loving, and kind.

They need to think how their bad behavior and shaming of a parent who is handling the majority of child rearing feels. They need to also think of what their words and actions say to the outside world and to their child or children about their entire relationship. They need to grow up and put their spouse and their child or their children in the forefront (hopefully if they believe in God, having God in the forefront too, but will save that for another post) and put everything and everyone else on the back burner.

Our goal is for our sons to grow to have a better understanding of the world and its people and one of the ways to support this growth is for them to see that it is not acceptable for people to put their spouses down!!!!

Well, it had to be said...hope that you will please share this post. 

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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