Sunday, November 28, 2010

Animal Survival Game

Avril has been reading the Kids Care! book and a few days ago she asked that we make the Animal Survival Game (page 82 of the book). We made a board game before (the Cheese Game) and we still play it from time to time. This sounded like a good project, so we cut a cardboard box into small cards and too one sheet of paper for the board. I drew the path on the board and blue pictures of water and red pictures of caves. Avril draw the stars ("I'm good at them because I practice at school") and everything else including the rewards at the finish (checkered flags, the crown, "Happy birthday" banner etc). As I was writing cards, she also added rainbows, park ranger cars, and another cave).
I wrote the text on the cards and she drew pictures on them. She decided to draw "bad things on bad cards" (dragons and angry dogs) and "nice things on nice cards" (rainbows). The two cards with pictures I show in this post have pictures drawn jointly by me and her: the first card has a dog and two-headed dragon (I did the dragon and she added six eyes on his body); on the second card, I drew the kite on the right and Avril added everything else.  At the end I added a balloon showing that the girl is thinking about a heart.
We played the game twice and really loved it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sand castle competitions

I wrote about this topic in 2008. Here's updated info for 2010 about sand castle competitions in the Bay Area:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Flash games for young kids based on books by Mo Willems

For Mo Willems fans (like my 4 year-old daughter), these games are great. She especially liked the "Hot Dog Dress Up" but we also spent some time playing "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed" and "Elephant and Piggie Dance".

in reference to: Pigeon Presents (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems is one of my 4 year-old daughter's favorite books. I also really like it and I picked it as the book to read to children in her classroom as "community reader" last week. The book is witty and smart and a joy to read both by children and adults.

But I would also like to point out that naked mole rats are fascinating animals. If, like me, you haven't heard of them, check out one of many articles about them on the web (e.g., this one on Wikipedia: As a teaser, let me say that this one of only two species of mammals that are eusocial, i.e., their society is organized similar to ants and other social insects.

in reference to: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (9781423114376): Mo Willems: Books (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bill to change California's minimum school age

This will be a great change for students in California. California's cutoff dates are very late. You can see cutoffs dates for all states do here:
There is also an interesting paper available here:
This topic is related to issues of Kindergarten readiness but goes well beyond them. I hope that this legislation will pass.

in reference to: California Chronicle | Simitian Introduces Kindergarten Readiness Bill (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More research needed about impact of Internet on children

This article in NY Times is fascinating. I agree that children who grow up with today's technology will have a different understanding of the world and a different set of expectations than their parents and indeed than people just 10 years older then them.
But the exact effects are very hard to predict. And there's enough research to prove contradicting things. For instance I read a Newsweek article ( that cites a neuroscientist, Joshua Greene of Harvard, saying that "The Internet hasn't changed the way we think". I would love to learn more about this topic. For now I'm watching how my 4 year-old daughter grows up in this amazing new world of technology.

in reference to: The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Making a board game with kids (part 1)

Avril likes playing board games, so I thought that it would be fun to design a board game with her.  This post describes the process of the design up to the point of creating a pdf file that can be printed.  In the future we plan to have a follow-up project to actually build the board, board pieces and cards based on the design.  If you have any tips about actually making the game, please leave comments on a web page that tracks the progress of our game making.
Since recently Avril has been interested in cheese, our game is about making cheese.  Read my earlier post to learn how to actually make cheese at home with a child (the board game includes the recipe followed by us).
Avril has played a few board games (Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, The Ladybug Game and others), so she was quite familiar with the idea. We started with a simple sheet of paper to sketch the game.  After 15 minutes or so, we ended up with this sketch:

We simulated the play a few times (without using any actual board pieces or dice) and Avril laughed a lot as she recalled us making cheese.
Going from the sketch to a somewhat nicer version that can be downloaded here was somewhat tedious (it took me over 4 hours), so I did it myself but next time I will try to involve Avril in that part too. There are a lot of sources of public domain images online (for instance PDClipart and WPClipart). And you shouldn't have problems finding computer software for editing images (you should pick software you're already familiar with).

If your child likes board games, I recommend designing your own. This is a fun activity. We already enjoyed the design part but since Avril (like most kids at this age) loves crafts, we will surely love making the game based on the design.