Spark the Natural Curiosity of Kids with ‘Into Math with Imagination’

Mathematics is defined as “a boring subject that has nothing to do with real life and is developed just to torture every student for eleven years of school.” *

Just kidding! Math can be as fun and imaginative as any other subject in school. Galileo Galilei described mathematics as the language of the universe, which is very elegant but he forgot to mention that it helps us do cool stuff! Math is all around us every day. How can we help students who are reluctant to embrace this message and seem anxious learning the material?

To help students who struggle or lack motivation in mathematics educators have turned to the discovery method as a support or alternative to rote learning of arithmetic. Discovery learning exercises give students the benefit of seeing mathematical concepts applied directly to their favourite subjects and activities. These exercises use arithmetic to develop the underlying skills that support competency in math, especially logical reasoning and the ability to discuss ideas.

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A good mathematical education begins with arithmetic, but the objective of discovery math is to prepare students for real world experiences by mastering the skill of solving problems. This is the reasoning behind Yasmina Roberts’ discovery learning series: Into Math with Imagination. These three storybooks combine mathematics, fiction, and non-fiction to give kids a chance to explore mathematical concepts in different settings. Readers will discover math in these stories the way they encounter it in real life, and hints embedded in the story will guide them toward the correct manner of solving the problem.

Antventures, the first in the series, is for children in Grade 1. The story follows Limpo, a young ant who decides to skip school and observe the adult bugs working in his community. Already, it doesn’t sound like your typical math book!

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Mystery in the Sea is for students in Grade 3 and up. Oct is a fastidious young octopus who enjoys collecting and exploring. He’s lived his entire life on the 4th layer of the coral reef, or the 7th depending on whether you count from the top or bottom. This time he’s taking on the mystery of the missing Blue Diamond, which was stolen from Queen Snake.

Logic Land is also for students in Grade 3, but you’ll find more than math to puzzle you here. Logic Land is a world of wizards who would rather use math than magic! Yes, the power of human logic is their go-to method for solving problems.

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Yasmina Roberts has a Master’s degree in mathematics from the University oToronto and has taught math in both public and private schools. Her love of puzzles is second only to her love of the natural world, and she hopes to pass on this joy through her series, Into Math with Imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The preface to Logic Land, by Yasmina Roberts

Playwise Wins 2017 Game of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine

Congratulations to George Ghanotakis and the team at Institute Philos! Playwise, the Game of Wisdom, has won Creative Child Magazine’s Game of the Year Award!

Playwise is so much more than a fun game. It provides the framework for productive conversations that foster critical thinking abilities, moral reasoning, empathy, and dialog skills in children ages 6 and up! It also develops executive function skills such as flexibility in entertaining multiple perspectives, reflection, problem solving, and attentiveness to others. It’s a character building tool that improves student performance in every subject across the curriculum.

Here’s how to play:

Playwise is a game of discussion. Players take turns asking a philosophical question from one of the five categories and reward the best answer with the question card and a laurel card. The winner is the first to collect 10 laurels and a question card from each category.  The more original and creative your answer, the more likely you are to win! You can also win bonus laurels by building on the ideas of your fellow players. Draw comparisons between one idea and another or explore the implications of your opponent’s argument to highlight its strengths and weaknesses. It may lead to a fantastic new insight! It may also lead to bed sheet togas.

George Ghanotakis is working to establish his own Canada-wide tournament of philosophical, democratic discussion inspired by the National High School Ethics Bowl and Philosophy Slam taking place in the United States. He’s calling it the Playwise Olympiads in celebration of the classical tradition of education.  We’re currently looking for schools (elementary, junior high, middle school, and secondary) who are interested in hosting the first event in 2018! For more information, or to volunteer, feel free to contact us any time at info@dc-canada.ca or see the Institute Philos website.

 

Canada Learning Code Week

From June 1 to 8, more than 10,000 kids across Canada will take part in Canada Learning Code Week, an educational program that combines history and literature with a simple programming tool called Scratch.  These are beginner lessons for kids who want to learn the basics of computer programming. No experience necessary!

We’re very proud to be partnered with Canada Learning Code this year. Students will be using Scratch to create a trivia game based on Bario Leblieux from Dustin Milligan’s story series the Charter for Children.

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If you’re new to the series, Bario Leblieux aims to help children understand the right to minority language education, which is guaranteed by section 23 of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The purpose of section 23 is to preserve and promote French and English, the two official languages of Canada, in provinces where it is not spoken by the majority of the population.  Kids will learn a little history, test their language skills, and learn some basic programming that they can apply to create… just about anything!

Check out the Canada Learning Code website to find a class near you!

The Little Big Thinker Contest!

Put your thinking caps on kiddos! Students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 can win books and games for the classroom in this year’s Little Big Thinker Contest by answering one of the following four questions and sending it to us before May 15th:

  1. Can you imagine what would happen if no one went to school?
  2. Imagine a tree could tell you something. What would that be?
  3. Do you think the world would be a better place if everyone looked the same?
  4. Imagine you’re in a world where no one uses money. What would happen?

Can you imagine what would happen if no one went to school? I bet you can and do very often! How would life change, and where would you be during the day? Would you have different friends? How would you learn, or would you play all day?

Imagine a tree could tell you something. What would that be? Trees can live to be a hundred, even a thousand years old! What would they be thinking about all that time? They must have a story to tell.

Do you think the world would be a better place if everyone looked the same? How would it change things, or not? What would we look like?

Imagine you’re in a world where no one uses money. What would happen? How would we get the things we need if we cannot make or grow them ourselves? What a different world it would be!

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The Little Big Thinker Contest is based on the Little Book of Questions series and the parlor game Playwise by Dr.  George Ghanotakis, founder of the Canadian Institute of Philosophy for Children.  Dr. Ghanotakis has developed a line of books and games for the classroom to facilitate the development and assessment of critical thinking ability in elementary students. The practice of answering hypothetical questions challenges students to imagine and engage with new or different points of view. Students will develop their ability to share ideas, challenge their own perceptions and the perceptions of others, and evaluate their own reasoning.

Ask the class to analyse these questions and investigate the possible outcomes of these four hypothetical situations. They may choose to answer in any format that suits their strengths and personal style. If they’re better speakers than writers, please feel free to record their answer. If a student is shy but loves to draw, submit a picture of his or her answer with an explanation of what is being shown.

Encourage the class to imagine the outcome of their decisions and explain their reasoning. Give them time to develop and refine their answers to show them off in the best light.
Send them to info@dc-canada.ca, or mail them to us at:

DC Canada Education Publishing
180 Metcalfe Street, Suite 204
Ottawa, ON.
K2P 1P5

You can answer these questions in any format you prefer so long as the answer is clear. There are no wrong answers! Write a story based on what you think of the question, or draw a picture and explain what is being shown. Pair up with a classmate if you can work better together, or work as a group to develop your ideas and submit the answer alone. We can’t wait to hear what you think! Submissions are due by May 15th and the contest winners will be announced on May 31st. Contact Susanne at DC Canada if you would like to host a classroom tournament of Playwise! Watch our Facebook page for more information. 

Here Comes Super Hammy – A First Time Reading Series

Good news for kids who are learning to read! Super Hammy and his friends are here to make it easy and fun.

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The new series is written and illustrated by Oksanna Crawley, a retired Reading Recovery teacher and already the author of well-known storybook, So, You Be Keon and I’ll Be Mahovlich, about a young boy’s dream of playing hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Super Hammy is a mighty hero who fits in the palm of your hand. He can fly! His car can fly! But he is also a normal hamster who washes his clothes and has an accident now and then. The stories are written in short and easy to read sentences – just right for kids who are learning to read as well as ESL students and Reading Recovery students who need a little help and love to laugh.

January 28th-30th we will be introducing Super Hammy to Reading Recovery teachers at the National Reading Recovery & K-6 Literacy Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

We will have the official launch party at the Reading for the Love of It! Annual Language Arts Conference in Toronto, Ontario – February 23rd and 24th. More details to come!

After learning about her teaching career, which was chock-full of story books, I just had to know which were closest to Oksanna’s heart. She gave me the SHORT list, which you can see below.

  1. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  2. Albert the Artist – Dubravka Kolanovic
  3. Moo Baa Laa Laa Laa – Sandra Boynton
  4. The Jolly Postman – Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  5. Red Riding Hood – James Marshall
  6. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs – Jon Scieszka
  7. Leo the Late Bloomer – Robert Kraus
  8. Olivia– Ian Falconer
  9. Big Pumpkin – Erica Silverman
  10. Love You Forever – Robert Munsch

 

Watch our Facebook and Twitter feed for information about the Super Hammy’s launch party in Toronto. We would love to see you there!

 

 

The 2017 Little Big Thinker Contest

The “winding down” days at the end of a school semester are anything but. Classes may be about to end, but for kids the summer season is full of potential and the fun is really just beginning. Teachers are full of inventive ways to channel a classroom’s energy into creative projects for these final days. Last year, DC Canada introduced The Little Big Thinker Contest to give schools a chance to host a class tournament of our critical thinking game, Playwise, on the last day of school.

Playwise is a board game for ages 6 and up. With three different ways to play, the game can be tailored for varying levels of ability and competitiveness. The goal is to think creatively, think fast, and communicate clearly. Players takes turns being the judge of each round and awarding laurels while the others offer their best answer to hypothetical philosophical questions. It pays to be imaginative as it is often the most unique answer that wins the round.

The Little Big Thinker Contest is based on the game Playwise and the My Little Books series, both developed by the founder of the Canadian Institute of Philosophy for Children, Dr. George Ghanotakis. Last year we gave schools four philosophical questions from the My Little Books series and their answers were extraordinary! We could only pick three winners to receive books and games for the class, but the real reward of this game is always to see demonstrations of the wild range of seriousness and imagination that kids bring to the game.

This year we’re doing it again. Four questions will be announced in early February. The top three answers will be selected by our panel of judges in April, and the winners will receive books and games for themselves and the class. One class will be chosen to host a Playwise tournament on the last day of school!

Has a little big thinker stumped you with a funny question? We want to hear it! Send it to us by email, via Twitter, or on Facebook.

Want to join us on this year’s big thinking adventure? Volunteer to be a judge!

Dr. George Ghanotakis, founder of the Canadian Institute of Philosophy for Children, developed the game Playwise and the My Little Books series to introduce kids of ages 6 and up to philosophy and critical thinking.

Three Little Piggy Banks

November was a special month for DC Canada and a passionate local financial planner, and author, Pamela George. The 5th was the official release of Three Little Piggy Banks, a personal finance storybook for ages 4 to 8. Both the author and illustrator Meredith Luce received congratulatory plaques from Mayor Jim Watson who called the book a “must read” and “fun teaching tool for young readers.”

tlpbcover

Twins, Ella and Andy each receive three piggy banks for their birthday when they already have their hearts set on a camera and a bike. Why three piggy banks? Their clever parents have a much bigger gift in mind: a lesson in financial wisdom and a plan to set the twins up for a life of financial security.

pg12

It’s really that easy. Three dollars a week and a handy pull-out tracking sheet that comes with the book will give young readers a solid foundation of financial literacy that can improve their lives immeasurably.

We had the chance to talk to kids about piggy banks at Chapters-Rideau on November 12th.  It was no surprise that when we brought up the subject of saving, many kids naturally told us about their dreams for the future and their heart’s desires. They know the exact amount they have saved in a piggy bank or account, and often they know exactly how they plan to spend it. One boy claimed his $350 of savings would be spent on exactly 350 ice cream cones. Others had more practical goals in mind.

With a bit of guidance, youngsters will take on the responsibility of managing an allowance of any size with a lot of enthusiasm. Three Little Piggy Banks is a great tool for starting this conversation and illustrating the necessity of living within one’s means. Pamela George believes it is never too soon to start learning about money and how to manage it, so pick up a piggy bank, or two, or three! Start a conversation about personal finance with your kids today.