So, I presented today, which means that I was highly distracted and have limited notes from the actual presentations today. That is not to say I didn’t get a lot out of today’s presentations. We had some really interesting topics today and we were given some amazing technology tool resources that I would never have thought to look for. Instead of a big write up, I will just include a list of all the resources I was able to get down.
Here it is! Today I decided on the final layout for Noah’s busy board. Nothing is glued or screwed down yet, but it will be soon! Today my lovely parents have helped me scrounge through everything I and they have to find just the right pieces for the board. We weren’t able to use all recycled items and did have to pick a few things up from the dollar store, but I think we managed pretty well in the end, spending very little money over all, not to mention, we found a toy car in the garage that belonged to my dad when he was a kid 50 years ago!
While my parents were searching through our garage, I decided to see what Noah thought of the alphabet magnets on one of our baking tins. I did have to buy a smaller baking tin to fit Noah’s board, but I thought I would let him have a quick play to make sure it was worth including. The magnets did make their way into his mouth a number of times, so they are a toy that can only be used with supervision, but he still seemed to enjoy them.
After my parents had gone through their stuff and I had gone through Noah’s toys to see if anything could be recycled, it was time to lay everything out. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, this process was just all to interesting for Noah. All the little trinkets and then just the board itself for some reason were just too exciting for Noah to stay away from.
I ended up having to move everything out to the front entrance and lock Noah into the living room with the baby gate. He we not pleased to put it lightly. So, with Noah screaming in the background, my mom and I laid things out, rearranged, and laid them out again before we finally settled on a layout:
In the end, Noah’s busy board will include:
a baking sheet for magnet letters
a push light
a ‘cheers’ speaking button from the thrift store
a small manual clock
colourful wood numbers (just for design really)
a string of jingle bells
a string of beads
small cupboard doors
a magnifying glass
some polished rocks
a beetle in some kind of plastic outer covering
a piece of chain
a door knob
a door stopper
a couple wood handles, one with wooden rings on
a door knocker
a thin rope tied between hinges
a toy to drop toy cars through
I’m really happy with how it is looking. Now I just have to get everything screwed and glued down.
Next post will be Noah’s impressions. My fingers are crossed that he enjoys it! It has turned into quite the family project!
So I have been looking online again, trying to find the most effective ways of including some interactive pieces on Noah’s busy board. After watching the YouTube video above, I’ve decided on a few more things that I would like to add to the board.
First, is a baking sheet to use as a magnetic background for letter magnets. We have a stainless steel fridge so although we have the magnetic letters, Noah hasn’t been able to play with them because they don’t stick to the fridge. In order to investigate whether this was going to be interesting for Noah, I let him play around with some magnet stacking toys that my mom has for her class. They were a hit. He was really curious about what made them stick together and spent a lot of time putting them together and pulling them apart. With this in mind, I think the baking tray magnet idea will work out well.
Buttons are big right now for Noah. That includes lights, phones and remote controls. He tends to get a bit frustrated with the remote control if it doesn’t work though. This is why I like the idea in this video of including a calculator. This will provide him with many buttons to push and numbers will come up on the screen when he presses them so he won’t try to rip the calculator off the wall.
I also like the idea of including a bell for auditory exploration. The woman in this video included a push bell, but I already have some jingle bells that I could attach to a string and I think that will be just as exciting, if not more.
Finally, Noah has started to show an interest in drawing, especially on my dad’s calendar white board:
So, I think it would be a good idea to include a small whiteboard on Noah’s busy board that he can scribble on.
Noah has always loved to be outdoors, but what we have been realizing more and more now that he is walking and a bit more independent is just how much he loves nature. Specifically, how in awe of trees he is! When we go on little hikes with Noah in the carrier, he spends the whole walks looking up into the trees and exclaiming ‘ooooooooooooh!’
Recently, my husband and I took him to the playground near Spencer school. We haven’t been to this park since the summer when they had the water on, but the last time we were there Noah seemed to really enjoy both the water and the play equipment. It’s a good playground form him because it is especially made for toddlers and has smaller equipment that he can easily get on and off of. However, this time, Noah barely spent 5 minutes on the playground. All he wanted to do was walk around the grassy part of the park and look up at the trees.
He was perfectly happy to just walk around, look up at the trees, listen to the leaves rustle in the wind and touch the bark. It didn’t matter how much we tried to coax him back over to the playground, he just kept going back to the trees. This has lead me to the conclusion that having a nature section on Noah’s busy board would be really interesting for him. Luckly, my mother has some extra tree branch cuts in her classroom that I could quite easily glue on. I could even put some of the smaller cuts on with a bolt so that Noah could turn them around and they would be a little bit more interactive.
Noah at the park with his dad looking at trees and avoiding the playground
Noah looking up into the trees and saying ‘oooooooooh!’
Keeping in the theme of nature, it might also work to glue some rocks or polished stones onto the board near the magnifying glass I have already decided to include. This could be like a little science center. Things are starting to come together!
Since I had decided on a space for Noah’s busy board and had a better picture of the size it could be, I decided it was time to visit the hardware store and start collecting some supplies. Although I knew a few things that I wanted to include on the busy board, I decided to bring Noah along in case anything there caught his eye. I also brought my dad to help me pick out the right stuff, because, really, who else do you go to the hardware store with if not your dad?!
We were able to get a good sized board and roamed around the store looking for some other key items but came up a bit short. We had hoped do get hinges and knobs for little cabinet doors that we will put on the board, possibly some chain or tubing, a door knob and some kind of battery operated light with a switch or a button.
Although Noah is still fascinated with kitchen cupboards, he had now expanded into light switches. He can’t enter or leave any room without turning the lights on and off at least three times. Not only is he loving the cause and effect of the light switch, he just loves light in general. He loves to stare up at the lights in the house and, when he manages to get his hands on it, he won’t put down the mini flashlight we have in the house. Needless, to say we will have to have some kind of light on the busy board.
In the end we were able to find a battery operated push light that will be perfect for his board. However, we didn’t end up buying anything beyond the board and the light. The pieces were all a bit expensive and we realized that we should likely do some more exploring through what we have at home, what my parents have at work and what is available at thrift stores. My dad works grounds and my mother is a kindergarten teacher, so I imagine we should have some great busy board spare parts around the house.
Why is it that babies are always drawn to the least safe or convenient places in the house to play? Noah has recently decided that the kitchen is the ULTIMATE play space. I have no problem with him playing with pots and pans, but the issue is, we are living with my parents while I go to school and the house is most certainly NOT baby proof. The wine bottles from the built in wine rack have only very recently been moved to a higher cupboard, and while we do have baby locks on most of the cupboards, there are about a thousand cupboards and drawers in my parents’ kitchen and not everyone remembers or wants to put the child locks back on after they have been opened.
The newly emptied wine rack and one of the oh so tempting cupboards in my parents’ kitchen
Opening, closing and pulling things out of cupboards has become Noah’s key initiative over the last few weeks. Now that he is walking, and moving onto running, it is also getting harder and harder to stop him before he gets into something he shouldn’t. He has also realised that food comes out of the fridge and that is just too exciting! Luckily, he isn’t strong enough to open those doors yet, but he spends an awful lot of time trying.
Noah doing his best to get that freezer drawer open
I have learned that it is near impossible to keep Noah out of the kitchen, so I have a new tactic. There is a relatively free wall across from the fridge and just leading out of the kitchen. THIS is where Noah’s busy board will live. If I can’t keep him out of the kitchen, maybe I can at least provide enough distraction to keep him out of the kitchen cupboards and away from the stove and oven!
Noah’s absolute fascination with opening and closing things has also cemented the idea that I should include some cupboard doors on his busy board somewhere.
So, so far, I know where his busy board will go and that it must include:
Ok, so I have done very little related to this free inquiry over the last week or so. We have had so much going on and I have had so little time to spend with Noah, that this project has kind of fallen to the back burner. So, in order to spark my interest again, I have gone back to the internet.
Here are some sources that I found for making simple but interesting busy boards at home.
I liked the busy board in this video because I don;t think anything was too complicated to include construction wise. I will likely have my dad help me put Noah’s busy board together, but many of the examples that I have looked at have required special wood cutting tools and some idea of how to wire things. I think Noah would be really happy with this board and everything was pretty much just screwed on. I can handle that. I also really liked the idea of the xylophone being put on here and the sticks being attached to the board. Noah has a xylophone that he got for his birthday, which he loved, but the sticks have already gone missing. I’m not sure I would include it on his busy board because it is attached to a little drum and another noise making item, but if I see a xylophone on its own in a thrift store I might pick it up.
The website above has a really simple step by step for creating a busy board. I think it is particularly useful because it touches on the reasons behind including certain things. For instance, there should be something that allows the baby to explore cause and effect and other things to engage specific senses like something that makes noise, something that is visually engaging and potentially something that is more kinesthetic.
Finally, I liked the video above because, again, it is very simple to construct, and also it gave some suggestions for mounting the board. I still haven’t fully decided where Noah’s busy board will go, but I want to make sure that it is very secure because I do know that know likes to play rough and pull on things.
consider the placement and size of Noah’s busy board
buy the actual board
start collecting items to go on the busy board
keep looking for inspiration and trialing ideas with Noah
Noah at around 8 months old trying out his first busy board in Indonesia
So I thought it might be time to step away from the internet for a little while and start thinking about Noah’s interactions with busy boards and similar activity tables so far. I thought I could draw on ideas that I have seen and Noah has tried out.
The picture at the top of this post is of Noah at the first indoor play center he ever visited. It was a small space but they had the perfect space for older babies and young toddlers. We went to a baby gym class there a few times where Noah got to play with other babies and make some serious messes with paints, jellies, slime and paper. The busy board at this play center was actually more of a busy wall that ran all down one side of the room. In the picture Noah was playing with a bunch of shower loofahs, but there were also sections with gears, fake grass and other carpeted textures, a phone, switches, plugs and more. At this stage, Noah was more interested in feeling textures and getting whatever he could in his mouth than testing the way things work and exploring cause and effect. It’s still a struggle to keep things out of his mouth and the occasional furry rug will cause a few seconds of distraction, but now that he is a few months older, Noah is more interested in buttons and things that move. That said, it might be worth including a few textured items on Noah’s board to fill any big spaces.
These next two images were taken at Tumblebums in Langford on Noah’s first birthday. Looking at this busy board, I wouldn’t think it would be that exciting for kids. There isn’t much colour and the items are simple and widely spaced, but this busy board is a big attraction, even for kids up to about 4 years old. Noah is always drawn to it when we go to Tumblebums. Maybe there is a link here to what we have been learning about in our literacy class. We have discussed the Reggio Emilia approach and have specifically looked at how this approach looks at wall space and visual input from the classroom. In specific, this approach suggests that we shouldn’t overwhelm children with bright primary colours and clutter on the walls, but instead keep things neutral unless there is a meaningful reason to highlight something. This is related to creating a space that is conducive to learning and allows students to use the room and environment as a third teacher. I doubt that Tumblebums is trying a Reggio approach here, but there is something to be said about how, in a room full of colour and toys, this simple wooden board with everyday items attached to it is the big hit. Many of Noah’s toys at home are typical toys; they are brightly coloured, made of plastic and make loud screechy children song noises at you. It’s very possible that a more simplistic board like this allows Noah to play and explore without being too over-stimulated.
There are a few things in particular that Noah likes on this busy board. He loves the magnifying glass that is attached to a bungee cord, the metal bottle (mostly to put in his mouth) and the handles.
There is also a cubed activity table at this play space. I tried to get Noah to play at it, but he was not interested. I think that means my idea of making a cubed busy board is going out the window.
Noah also received this activity cube for his birthday:
So far, just like all the other cubed activity tables, it hasn’t been a huge hit, but I’ll keep it out a little while longer and see if his interest grows.
So my takeaways:
Make it a board not a cube
keep it simple, a lot of colour and toys are not necessary
Include a bungee cord and magnifying glass
include some form of handle
Include objects on ropes
Finally, I saw this little barn play set up at the Greater Victoria Library downtown. I haven’t taken Noah there yet, but I’ve taken some pictures to remind myself to take him there. He is loving animals at the moment and I think he might enjoy this little center.
So I have recently been doing some searching online to get ideas for Noah’s busy board. Of course, I want to tailor any ideas to what he likes, but I also want some ideas about what other people have done so that I have somewhere to start. The problem is, I tend to go down a bit of a rabbit hole when looking at images. I get really distracted by things that I like or that I think would look nice on the wall…. NOT THE POINT of this inquiry.
Here are a few of the prettier versions I have found that are distracting me…
The problem with being distracted by these is that they are clearly FAR above my very novice construction abilities and even if there was a chance I could accomplish them, there is no way I have the amount of time needed to complete them right now. That said, both these images are taken from etsy (click on the pictures to go to the site); the one on the right is listed at $300! The train busy board is currently on sale for $150! That is mental! maybe when I have some more time, I should take up busy board making as a side job!
So distractions aside, I have still been looking for ideas that are both creative and practical. In doing that I found this video:
Ok, so I realise that a cube technically means doing 5 busy boards AND creating a cube somehow, but I thought this might be a good alternative to making a busy board that has to be attached to a wall. Admittedly, Noah has never been overly interested in similar activity cubes when we have visited play spaces, but the last time he saw one he was a few months younger. I think it is definitely worth trying him out with a cube activity board and seeing if it would interest him. I could still keep the whole idea simple by keeping the cube small.
So my next step:
check out more REASONABLE ideas for busy boards online
take Noah back to a play place with busy boards and a cube activity table
continue watching Noah to see what things interest him (so I can start planning actual items for the board)
check out Noah’s old toys, the kitchen and the garage for possible items that could be recycled onto Noah’s board.
Today we attempted to have a conference call with Dr Verena Roberts from the University of Calgary. She was kind enough to agree to talk to our class on the day of her convocation. The topic was meant to be related to open learning designs. Unfortunately, we were unable to hear her speak due to a bad connection. That said, her topic seemed really interesting and relates to my seminar inquiry. Hopefully Michael will share her presentation with us and I can take a closer look at what she was trying to say. I was able to catch a few comments from Verena during her call that stuck with me.
She mentioned that learning happens everywhere and that we need to consider how we access all that learning and ensure that students have access to those learning opportunities as well. In connection to that, she said “learning is learning – it doesn’t matter how”. In this comment she highlighted the idea that learning doesn’t have to happen in formal environments and as teachers we need to learn how to harness learning experiences that happen informally and formally to create and build learning ecosystems. Verena highlighted that two important components to creating learning ecosystems are reflection, from both teacher and students, and building relationships.
She mentioned 4 stages in the process of building learning ecosystems with students.
Stage 1: Building relationships
find out who these students really are
get to know them and how you can best support their learning
It’s really unfortunate that we weren’t able to hear all of Dr Verena Robert’s presentation, but in the meantime I found a few websites related to the topic that might give me a basic understanding of the topic:
Dr Verena Roberts attempted to share with us some ideas about inquiry learning and how it related to her topic. As a result, we had a class discussion about inquiry. Through this, we began to discuss the importance of building strong relationships with students and allowing students the opportunity to find connections in their learning to support inquiry learning.
The following videos touch on these topics.
Some notes from Michael’s slides:
Distributed learning is becoming more prominent and might be important/ common in our future careers.
Some examples of how it is being done:
table top robots for learners who are stuck at home
Traditional classrooms – if you are there you are there, if your’e not, you’re not.
lots of different configurations but often some forced configuration with the teacher at the front
a big problem is that a lot of people think online courses mean just putting content out there for the students
can have asynchronous, fully online or blended
most people that teach online courses were thrown into it and it is a totally different kind of learning
video conferencing (every connection to that environment is dependent on its personal connection to the environment)
synchronous online classrooms
some face to face and some online
want people to prepare with online and then can use the most of the face to face time
We have to be flexible for learners who can’t make it to school – how can we support all learners needs and preferences?
OPENED RESOURCES – Ruth & Hannah’s presentation
We have looked at openEd resources in class before, but Ruth and Hannah did a great job sharing the possibilities and usefulness of Comonsense Education. This is definitely a resource that I will make use of. It has webinars, lesson plans and resources. Hannah also showed us that we can use the site to look up teacher reviews of tech tools. For example, we could look up apps or videos and see how other teachers used it, why they used it or maybe why they didn’t use it.