Ozobots? A Hands-on Way to Teach Coding

The 3rd grade class at Meadowbrook has been introduced to Ozobots by our new Director of Academic Advancement. Kristen Haugen has joined our Meadowbrook staff this year to find new and exciting ways to bring technology into the classroom. As a seasoned science teacher, her 20 years of experience and knowledge in teaching a hands-on curriculum has already benefited our students. She incorporated the use of Kindle Fires with SeeSaw in Kindergarten through 3rd grade and has been leading a new venture in Ozobot programming in the 3rd, 5thand 6th-grade classrooms. (Google classroom is being introduced in the 4th grade.)

The 3rd graders are creating a Halloween trail of ghoulish delight for their Ozobots. As the Ozobots travel the path they will be startled and frightened as scary monsters and ghosts pop up. Will they turn around and run away? Will they speed up and run forward? The students will decide based on the color codes that they plant on the path.

Ozobots are tiny robots that use colored pathways to travel. Certain color combinations dictate different commands along the paths. The process of creating paths and commands for the Ozobots teaches our students the basics of coding. Different apps and programs apply! What a great way to have tons of fun and learn at the same time!



3rd graders planning a Halloween trail for their Ozobots.
3rd graders planning a Halloween trail for their Ozobots.

Age-Appropriate Chores to Fit Any Family

Getting help around the house is somewhat of a chore, in and of itself, as tasks that need to be done won’t always fit your “cleaning crew” and their set of abilities; thus, the need for age-appropriate chores grows alongside your family. Small children generally love helping with anything you’re doing, and older children are more likely to need a list and some gentle prodding. Making realistic chore lists for your little ones isn’t as complicated as it might seem to be, however, as the larger piece of the cooperation puzzle is compromise. Making chores reasonable, realistically timed, and fun can drastically improve morale around the house. Here are some age-appropriate chores that each group should be able to achieve:

Age-Appropriate Chores for Ages 3 to 7

Preschoolers and young children are the easiest to get enthusiastic (albeit hyperactive) help from. Though their motor skills and attention spans aren’t yet fully engaged, young children can do their part through short, simple tasks made fun. To kick up the entertainment factor, try playing happy, upbeat dance music while doing chores. The kids will love the opportunity to wiggle and move while completing their daily tasks! These tasks might include the following:

● Making the bed

● Cleaning windowsills

● Wiping lower cupboard doors in the kitchen

● Emptying small trash cans

● Putting folded linens into the proper drawers or on shelves

● Picking up their own toys and keeping their play space neat

● Drying and putting away silverware while dishes are being washed (minus the sharp utensils, of course)

Be sure to make your little one’s jobs easier by giving them a stool to stand on and their own cleaning towels. Bonus fun points are awarded if you can find child-size versions of your adult cleaning tools, such as brooms, dustpans, mops, and gloves! Practicing good cleaning habits with this age group will instill both a feeling of accomplishment and a lasting habit of cleanliness.

Ages 8 to 10

This age group is less likely to just volunteer a helping hand, yet, when given proper direction, tend to excel at age-appropriate chores. Making a chore checklist or rotating chart (for multi-child families) can reduce confusion and teach a lesson on personal responsibility. Older children are likely to want compensation for their contributions, which is part of another lesson in entering the workforce, but should begin to learn the difference between obligations and responsibilities. Remind them that the reward for completing these tasks is, ultimately, a clean and inviting space to live in, something that is taken for granted by a lot of people. Examples of easy tasks for this age group are:

● Vacuuming

● Helping younger siblings complete tasks as a team

● Sorting and pairing clean socks

● Setting and clearing the table after meals

● Bringing in groceries

● Watering plants, both indoors and outdoors

Though teaching lessons about keeping a clean home for yourself are important, a rewards system can greatly reduce your chances of seeing eye rolling and hearing complaints from your preteens. Instead of opting for monetary rewards, try a points system, where an accumulation of points awarded for completing tasks can be “spent” on a reward, such as a family camping trip or a pizza and movie night. Then, the whole family can benefit from the hard work you’ve all been doing!

Ages 11 to 13

Teens are often focused on friends and cellphones more than family and cleanliness, but that shouldn’t stop you from including them on the roster for the Clean House Dream Team! Since they’ve willingly taken on the title of “teenager,” their responsibilities can shift into a new direction, building on lessons learned from their previous chores and responsibilities. For example, simply feeding the dog can turn into caring for Fido’s basic needs in general, like cleaning up pet waste, brushing the dog, and keeping toys and pet beds tidy. A new set of more detailed responsibilities shows teens their own capabilities and can impress upon them the intricacies of growing up, like learning new skills and wearing more hats (metaphorically). Teenagers can aptly complete tasks like:

● Taking out the garbage

● Minding their younger siblings while you complete tasks elsewhere in the house

● Cleaning the bathroom

● Pulling weeds in the garden

● Cleaning windows

● Preparing small, simple meals for the family

● Folding and putting away clothes

As teenagers are subjected to homework and extracurricular activities, balancing housework and other obligations can be tricky. While trying to remain fair to the other members of your chore warrior tribe, remember that your teen will have to be flexible with chores and not with homework and school, which might mean putting tasks on hold to avoid interfering with good academic performance. Planning chore lists according to your teen’s school schedule can make for less hassle and more productivity, which makes for better attitudes all around!

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Amanda Provost

amandaThis month the spotlight is on our new Fifth Grade teacher, Mrs Amanda Provost.

1. What is one item on your bucket list?

An item on my bucket list is to see Billy Joel live in concert. I have loved him since I was a little girl. I am hoping now that I am closer to New York City I’ll have to opportunity to see him at Madison Square Garden very soon.

2. What book are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This sci-fi story is filled with video games and 80’s pop culture. Two of my most favorite things!

3. Who is your mentor? Why?

The AMAZING Debbie Fletcher has been the most incredible mentor anyone could ask for. She has spent so much time guiding me, answering a million questions, and supporting me from the moment I started my Fifth Grade journey at this wonderful school. She has helped to make this transition an easy and exciting one. There are not enough words to express how fantastic she has been and I will never be able to thank her enough.

4. What would your superpower be?

My superpower choice is always a toss-up between flying and teleportation. Flying would be an incredible experience. However, being able to teleport from one place to another would be so handy. Think of all the amazing places I’d be able to travel to in an instant! As much as I love traveling, I think I’d have to choose that option.

5. Where is the best place you have traveled to and why?

The best place I have travelled has to be New Zealand. It is easily the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The landscapes are breathtaking – rolling hills covered in wildflowers, ocean waves crashing on rocky shores, deep underground rivers with nothing lighting the way except glow worms shining like stars in the sky, erupting geysers in geothermal parks, incredible mountaintops, and frozen glaciers. Everything you could possibly want to see can be found in New Zealand. Plus, I was able to visit Hobbiton and many of the other locations used in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies! (Got to cross that off the bucket list!) It was truly a vacation of a lifetime!

6. If you could do any job for just one day what would it be?

If I could do any job for a day, I would want to be an astronaut. How awesome would it be to be among the stars looking down at Earth? The idea of space travel and exploration is fascinating to me, so it would be great to experience it.

7. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

It often surprises people when I tell them I have had 141 dogs. While 137 of them were temporary, I feel that they still count as being mine. My husband and I have been working with Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue for the last six+ years. Taking these dogs into our home is the most rewarding and heart breaking experience, though the good far outweighs the bad. We’ve taken in the young and happy, to the scared and broken, and everything In between. No matter how long they would stay with us, whether it was less than a day or more than a year, I loved them like they were my own. When our fosters would get adopted, they would take a piece of my heart with them. It was bittersweet, knowing we had to say goodbye but also knowing we saved their lives and they were on their way to their happily ever after made it just a little easier. Yes, they may not have been our forever dogs, but they will be in my heart forever. So it totally counts!

8. What is your favorite thing about Meadowbrook?

It is so difficult to pick one thing I love most about Meadowbrook. I fell in love with it the moment I walked through the doors the very first time. The list of things I love is a mile long, but I think the best thing about Meadowbrook is the sense of family here. The staff, students, and parents all come together so beautifully to make Meadowbrook feel like home. It is the perfect environment for children to flourish not only academically, but socially and creatively too.

World Maker Faire

maker spaceMrs. Becky Blumenthal, Meadowbrook art teacher and director of maker space attended the 8th annual World Maker Faire at the Hall of Science, in Queens New York September 22-24. This event was billed as the greatest show and tell on earth and that was an excellent description! The goal of the Maker Movement is to create more makers, or people who create as well as consume. Mrs. Blumenthal’s goal is to inspire our children to think creatively, push through obstacles and become life-long learners. Picasso said “All children are Artists.” Mrs. Blumenthal says, “All children can be makers. It takes only curiosity and exposure to take something apart and put it back together in a new way or for a new purpose.” Mrs. Blumenthal continues, “As part of our maker space program, we can peak their interest in fields that before now may not have been seen as fun by a wide range of people.”

At the Faire, it was hot and crowded but the energy was amazing, and all who attended were excited about innovations in health care, sustainability, food, crafting, robotics, and electronics. There were hands on activities and play zones and giant fire breathing machines. A chair was turned into a musical instrument, and clothing lit up for nighttime use. maker space4

maker space2At Meadowbrook, we are excited for Mrs. Blumenthal to bring this to our children and she is excited too. As she says, “The best thing about my position is I don’t have to stay grounded for long. We touch ground then bounce off to allow for creativity, exposure and hard work to lead our learning! It’s a great time to be in the STEAM fields and I’m so excited to bring that enthusiasm to your children!”maker space3

Our Science Teacher Learns New Tricks!

ScienceMrs. Janice Mockaitis, Meadowbrook science teacher since 1998 attended a course called A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning. This multi day course started during the last school year and ended with a final follow up session this summer. The instructor, Brett Moulding, compiled his teaching experience and research to formulate a process of teaching science which engages the students to build up on their natural curiosity about the world around them. Using the students desire to understand and make sense of the phenomena in their world, Mr. Moulding taught how to develop science lessons based on asking good questions, finding patterns or cause and effect relationships, and then combining these with basic core concepts or facts.

Since this course, Mrs. Mockaitis has worked on tailoring more of our science lessons at the Meadowbrook School to include this new vision for teaching our students. It is exciting to see that some of the benefits of using this method include the students having a better understanding of science related events in their world, increased student participation, and continued desire to learn why or how things happen.