I have a very clear memory of being on a building site as a kid (potentially my Granpa’s as he was a local builder) and attempting to make dolls’ house furniture from 4×2 scraps and pieces of carpet. Overall it was a highly unsatisfying experience – although the desire was there.
While I love the fact that I’d had the resourcefulness to use what I had around me – imagine if there had been Roominate? Roominate is the DIY wired dollhouse building kit, designed to inspire confidence and interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). It is the first toy designed by Alice and Bettina — two engineers out of Caltech, MIT, and Stanford who wish they saw more women in their upper level math and science classes. They believe that early exposure through toys will motivate the next generation of female technology innovators.
They realised there passion for engineering had started back when they were little kids, way before they had any concept of what an engineer actually was.The story behind their amazing dollhouse building kit?
“We were most inspired by toys that let us build”.
Bettina played with her older brother’s legos, and the two of them built hundreds of extravagant cities and creations. Alice grew up playing in her dad’s robotics lab. When she asked for a Barbie one Christmas, she got a saw instead. So she used that saw to make her own wooden doll!
But seeing the strong divisions between girls and boys toys today, and the lack of creative building options in those girls toys, we didn’t find any girls toys that allowed for the same types of experiences that inspired us.
We knew we had to do something to solve this problem and provide more options and opportunities for girls as early as possible. We came together to design a toy that would encourage young girls to create and explore hands-on. With Roominate, we have designed a toy that builds confidence in technology and engineering, all while being intuitive and fun.
If you don’t know where to start can I suggest the “How to Roominate”page full of a heap of starter ideas such as Rotating Fireplace or Bowling Alley… I’ll be honest – I’d be stealing this off the kids.
I can’t remember where I heard it but I was once told that Shortland Street has a hugely complex level of ‘strategic action’ in it. Strategic action is a mathematical concept and a highly complex one at that. The idea was posed with me as a way of countering the argument made by many adolescent girls that they are “no good at maths”. The idea being that if they watched Shortland Street then they were engaged in the solving high level calculus problems without even realising it and therefore their theory that they couldn’t “do” maths was defunct.
And now it seems that the theory has extended to my old friend Jane Austen.
Michael Chwe, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, sat down with his children some eight years ago to watch “Clueless,” the 1995 romantic comedy based on Jane Austen’s “Emma.” What he saw on screen was glimmers of a strategic intelligence that would make Henry Kissinger blush.
“Most game theory, he noted, treats players as equally “rational” parties sitting across a chessboard. But many situations, Mr. Chwe points out, involve parties with unequal levels of strategic thinking. Sometimes a party may simply lack ability. But sometimes a powerful party faced with a weaker one may not realize it even needs to think strategically.
Take the scene in “Pride and Prejudice” where Lady Catherine de Bourgh demands that Elizabeth Bennet promise not to marry Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth refuses to promise, and Lady Catherine repeats this to Mr. Darcy as an example of her insolence — not realizing that she is helping Elizabeth indirectly signal to Mr. Darcy that she is still interested.
It’s a classic case of cluelessness, which is distinct from garden-variety stupidity, Mr. Chwe argues. “Lady Catherine doesn’t even think that Elizabeth” — her social inferior — “could be manipulating her,” he said. (Ditto for Mr. Darcy: gender differences can also “cause cluelessness,” he noted, though Austen was generally more tolerant of the male variety.)”
I’m a Mr Darcy fan from way back (as are many on the School Kit Team) and I think this Jane Austen – strategic genius thing could grow legs.
Watch this space.
With that in mind, do you know of a new mum who might enjoy a JOHNSON’S baby starter pack?
The pack contains:
JOHNSON’S baby powder
JOHNSON’S baby wipes
JOHNSON’S baby top-to-toe bath
JOHNSON’S baby lotion
JOHNSON’S baby shampoo
Leave a comment below with the name of the mum you would like to nominate for the starter pack and the reasons why.
Entries close Sunday the 26th of May at 5pm.
EyePaint offers your child the opportunity to create amazing illustrations alongside world-renowned artists,
by completing their illustrations and making them their own.Use the mobile device’s camera as a tool to capture colors, patterns and textures to interactively fill areas in the drawings selected by the child.The final result is a drawing full of organic features, shades and details that cannot be achieved with any other painting app.
The EyePaint interface is colorful, animated and extremely simple – even for very young children. Tapping on any area in the drawing will reveal the live camera image. The Camera Shutter button then appears enabling users to capture their chosen pattern. The child is encouraged to explore their surroundings to find the right match for that particular area: a detail from a book page, for example, or a piece of clothing, furniture, or a leaf. The creative possibilities are endless.The ‘Brush’ option allows users to limit themselves to a specific area where the camera signal appears, allowing for even more possibilities.
No social sharing features are available within the app, in line with child protection regulations.
What makes you a Mum? No matter how bad, or how good, the day has been I look at my daughter as she sleeps and know that I love her that little bit more every day. You see I am a single mother by choice, which means that getting to an advanced maternal age and being single I decided to take charge of my maternal aspirations. I found myself a sperm donor online and with the help of the fertility clinic I became a mum at 42. So I am an independent mum and proud of it!
Describe where you are right now. Sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a cuppa now that my girl has gone to sleep – ahhhh bliss for at least another 5 minutes till she wakes for another resettle! Of course the table is covered in all the things that need to be put away. I’m sure at some time in the not so distant past I had a tidy house.
Describe the last dream you remember having. I dreamt the other night that I was pregnant with twins, it was so vivid I had to feel my stomach when I woke to make sure I wasn’t heavily pregnant! Not sure if it was a funny dream or a nightmare.
Use five words to describe your family. It’s all about the hugs.
What is one thing nobody knows about you? Well I don’t know if it’s something that no-one knows, it’s certainly something people don’t believe. You see I am very much a shy introvert, it’s just I work very hard at being outgoing and an extrovert! Fake it till you make it!
What is your most treasured item? My daughter – it’s like my life started anew the day she was born. I truly started the best part of my life when I decided to have her.
When was the last time you broke a rule? Turned right when it said no turning right out of the carpark at uni, seriously there were no cars coming and I didn’t want to go all the way around the block.
What is your best piece of advice? Believe that there is always a way to follow your dreams. My daughter is proof that despite the odds and what everyone said to me my dream of being a mum came true. She is my soul baby that has come from heaven to show me how to be a better person.
When was the last time you forgot something important? I had an exam earlier today and I got to an essay question and my mind went completely blank, it was all downhill after that L Time will tell whether I passed or fail. In the meantime there is always chocolate.
What’s your #1 go-to “I’m shattered and I have to feed people” meal solution? Nachos … or maybe just takeaways (the joys of living in the city is there is always takeaways open somewhere nearby)
Five minutes ago I was resettling my daughter so she will hopefully be asleep by now. Five minutes from now I will watching some tv and attempting to conquer Mt Washmore which has taken over the chair in the living room or maybe trying to convince Miss 19months that it really is in her best interests to go to sleep cos she is very overtired!
You may have already seen this, I apologise if you have, but I really do think the point it makes about how we see ourselves is profound.
Dove and the marketing firm Ogilvy have hired an FBI-trained forensics artist by the name of Gil Zamora to show just how skewed our perception is when it comes to our self-image. Gil has over 3,000 sketches to his name and demonstrates just how different we see ourselves when compared with a total stranger’s description.
How is it that we have come to a point where we describe ourselves this way? More importantly, as we raise our children, especially our daughters are we teaching them, via our own self critical behaviours, to be just as hard on themselves?
I hope not. But I honestly can’t say that I don’t.
I’ve said before that one of the most valuable things I learned at Teachers’ College was a simple statement – “in years to come subject and content will not matter. What our students must be able to do is to critically analyse.” It was a principle that really came to be very important to me throughout my teaching career. I once told a Headmaster in a job interview that I felt it was the single most important thing I had learned about teaching in my entire time at T Coll. He liked that – and I got the job!
So my most recent find on my feedly, ’back channelling’, has really captured my heart. Not heard of it? Well I bet you you’ve done it
It is a brilliant chance to teach the skill of critical analysis. Not as easy as it looks. I think back channelling gives a chance for everyone to find their voice in the classroom. In a one teacher – 32 kids scenario discussion of key concepts is a hugely important part of any lesson. The problem is giving 32 kids the chance to put their case or share their views on the topic at hand. There just isn’t enough time. Back channelling can be a solution to this problem however. If you want to give back channelling a go with your class then the very famous langwitches suggest some good discussion on “how can we achieve this without going insane” type discussion topics.
Before you start – chat with your class about:
And then give it a go – perhaps try it on a You Tube Clip first and see if it is something you could introduce to your class. best of luck – we’d love to hear how you get on.
Ko Waikato toku awa
Ko Maungakawa toku maunga
No Waikato ahau
How can you live in Aotearoa, New Zealand and not make it a must to own one of these beautiful mountain cushions? Made by a very clever Mum in the USA, Amanda, they are a work of individual, felted, crafty genius that would look good on any couch.
Amanda runs the crafting business Three Bad Seeds along with her lovely “mister” and daughter, Mars. They currently live in the “Pacific Northwest, between Puget Sound and Mt Rainier.
They are available in all their individually felted mountain loveliness from their etsy store Three Bad Seeds. I feel like they should come with their own little mihi as well.
To This Day is a project based on a spoken word poem written by Shane Koyczan (shanekoyczan.com) called “To This Day”, to further explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.
Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. We can give them a starting point… A message that will have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying. Animators and motion artists brought their unique styles to 20 second segments that will thread into one fluid voice. This collaborative volunteer effort demonstrates what a community of caring individuals are capable of when they come together.
This is an incredible project – one that addresses head on an issue in every New Zealand School. It is a fabulous collaborative effort – a true example of what School Kit calls a ‘Common Ground Project’. Watch it right through – it is spectacular.
BYOD is where it is at and while I won’t deny that I’d love to have 1 iPad: 1 Child in every class there is also a certain sadness that comes with this goal: The satisfaction of holding a pencil in your hand and making marks on a bit of paper.
It used to be called drawing.
When I was in Year 2 I had an amazing teacher and to this day I remember her draw outlines of ourselves onto thick paper that we then turned into life size stuffed monsters by adding ears and manes and tails and claws. Mine was kept as a prized possession in one corner of my bedroom for years.
Drawnimal is kind of like that. Players are asked to place the iPad on a blank piece of paper. With a pencil in-hand, they’re instructed to draw a somewhat anonymous shape around the iPad screen (Is that a tail? Are those ears?). And only when the drawing is finished do they see an on-screen portrait to complete the drawn picture, a green cartoon face coupled with a warm, grandfatherly voice that confirms, yes, the “A” really is for alligator. (Just resist the urge to scratch the alligator’s nose. He bites.)
A great way to have younger kids use their device, listen to and follow instructions and get used to holding the pencil again.