January 29

Time Travelling with Dinosaurs!

Some fun stories and a bit of creative writing or drawing!

I chose some funny books about time travelling and dinosaurs to read today. They are;

We’re Back! – A Dinosaur Story by Hudson Talbott

and

Time Train by Paul Fleischman, illustrations by Claire Ewart

Activity – Creative writing or drawing

We will use these books to springboard some creative writing or drawing!

For our younger students or students who struggle with writing you will DRAW a picture of something that could happen if you went back in time to visit the dinosaurs or if dinosaurs came to our time to visit us.

For our students who are comfortable with writing you will write it as a short story.  Make sure it is ORIGINAL, we don’t want to hear the books I just read re-told.  Imagine something that could happen if you went back in time to visit dinosaurs or if they came to the future to visit you!

If you’d like to share them here, email them to me at b.ruel@theojcs.ca

 

January 27

Reflecting on Roblox

Considerations for Parents

If you are the parent of an elementary aged student there is a pretty good chance your kids are on Roblox.  Roblox is an online game or app in which players from around the world converge in different games that are created by its own users or professional game development groups.  Some games, such as Adopt Me! get a lot more play than others.  On October 10, 2020, Adopt Me! reached 1,786,076 concurrent players (data from the Roblox Wikia) and these popular games require multiple servers to accommodate the amount of players on the game.  Players gain Robux game currency by overcoming challenges or accomplishing tasks and this money allows them to buy new clothes and faces for their avatars, new houses, new vehicles, new pets, etc…  Parents can also connect a credit card to the players account so that kids can buy Robux.  Kids quickly get hooked on these games and on making purchases.

So let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of the Roblox revolution.

Pros

  • These games allow friends to connect in what is essentially an online playground.  That means that during a pandemic when kids aren’t having playdates in the real world, they can play together in the Roblox world.  There is a chat feature that allows kids to chat with their friends (or anyone else in that game on that server), but I have noticed that most kids put their friends on Facetime or in a Google Meet and then play together.  This allows them to talk to each other while they play which makes them feel like they are hanging out.
  • The game allows ample room for creativity.  Kids can design their own Roblox games which is an amazing feature.  They decide the rules for their game (villains, time limits, the world it is in, music, reward system, etc…)  The sky is the limit in terms of game design.
  • They learn how to earn money by accomplishing tasks just like they do in the real world with chores!
  • You can easily set up a chore/Robux reward system at home.  For example, if your child makes their bed and cleans their room each day, they earn a certain amount of Robux at the end of the week that you pay for.  I use this system for my own daughter and it is amazing how easy it is to get her to clean her room now!

Cons

  • Kids enjoyment of Roblox very rapidly turns into an addiction.  Managing screen time becomes of the utmost importance as it can quickly spiral out of control with this game.  Many of the games that are the most popular simply never end, so play can go on indefinitely.
  • Some of the games have scary or violent themes involving horror movie characters or shooting.  You may want to dictate which Roblox games you approve of and which ones you don’t.  There is a parental control setting that allows you to choose the games you want to allow.
  • Kids can chat with strangers.  This can be turned off by parents in the parental control settings or parents can choose to regularly check your child’s chat history by logging in.  The only thing I will say in defense of the chat feature though is that it is monitored by Roblox so kids aren’t allowed to swear, say anything suggestive, say anything political or religious, etc…  Kids who violate the rules are banned from the game.  However, by the time they get banned the damage may have been done, so be aware that it is always a possibility.
  • If you want to raise a voracious consumer with a deeply ingrained love of capitalism then this is the game for you.  Kids will constantly need more and more Robux to be happy and will bug you for them all the time!

Each parent will have different opinions as to why or why they do not allow their kids to play Roblox.  I allow my 9-year old daughter to play because it is a great way for her to connect with friends during lockdowns and Robux are a great incentive for her to do her chores every day without being asked.  But it is highly addictive and has caused its fair share of arguments about screen time.  So I have personally experienced many of these pros and cons!

If your kids are playing Roblox regularly I would encourage you to stay in the loop.  Find out what games they are playing on Roblox, who they chat with regularly, and make sure that you need to approve any and all in-app purchases so they can’t be automatically charging your credit card.  Sit with them and watch them play for a while.  Most kids will love to share about these games with you.  Open communication with your kids about their online lives is the best way to keep your kids safe online.

To find out more about the parental control settings visit:  https://en.help.roblox.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000375686-Account-Restrictions

 

January 21

Let’s Think About Our Digital Footprints

A New Nearpod Lesson

I have created a new Nearpod lesson that can be used anywhere from grade 4 to grade 8 in which we will learn about Digital Footprints.  Digital Footprints are the tracks you leave all over the internet every time you go online.  Any time you visit a website, leave a comment, post a picture, create a post on social media, post a video on youtube, participate in online chats, etc… you are leaving behind a digital footprint.  It is extremely important to be aware of this because these footprints are permanent and searchable.  In this Nearpod lesson you will participate in polls, quizzes, and a game of ‘Time to Climb’ to learn about this topic.

If you aren’t a Nearpod user, here is more on the topic of Digital Footprints;

Let’s watch this little video about Digital Footprints created by Common Sense Education.

It may seem impossible to believe but 15 years from now a future employer may be Googling your name and finding the mean comments you left all over YouTube, or the crazy photos you posted on social media, and thinking you may not be the best person to hire for a job!  More importantly for today though, the things you are posting now will find their way back to parents and teachers.  Here are some tips from safesitter.org to making sure that the tracks we leave online are the good kind!

So let’s think about some places online we need to be extra careful…

Game Chats

  • Never share private information like your address, full name, school, phone number, or email in a game chat.
  • Don’t make rude or mean comments in a game chat.  Not only will it get you banned from the game, it will be permanently logged.

YouTube, TikTok, and Social Media Comments

  • The comments you post online should be supportive and kind.  Hurtful comments can never be erased, even if you delete the post.  It is very easy for others to screenshot and share the things you’ve posted.

The Sites You Visit

  • Make sure you are visiting sites that are appropriate and approved by parents and teachers.  Every site you visit shows up in your Search History and can be seen by parents and school administrators.

Your Messenger Chats

  • Most parent-approved texting apps like Messenger Kids allow parents to see every chat.  Other chat apps allow friends and family to screenshot and save messages.  So be aware of the kinds of photos and messages you are texting with others.  What you say today may be online forever.

Your Social Media and Blog Posts

  • Make sure that all of the videos, photos and posts you put online are ones you’d be happy to share forevermore, because that is how long they will be searchable online!
  • Never post pictures of your friends without their permission.
  • Make sure you have parental permission to be posting certain kinds of posts on the internet.

January 21

Let’s Celebrate The Trees!

Tu B’Shevat is such a wonderful holiday.  It is so important to grow up appreciating nature and trees!  Today I will read three books about trees.  They are;

Are Trees Alive? by Debbie S. Miller, illustrated by Stacey Schuett

Have You Seen Trees? by Joanne Oppenheim, illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid

Activity

Our activity this week is a beautiful but simple tree painting!  All it takes is tracing your hand and part of your arm to make the trunk, painting it brown, and then choosing some pretty colours to make dots for leaves.  For the full instructions visit https://www.artycraftykids.com/art/autumn-handprint-tree/ 

January 13

Online Safety Workshop – Protect Your Passwords!

You might have heard that there are some very commonly used passwords that you should never use because they are very easy for hackers to figure out.  Passwords we should never use include;

  • your pet’s name
  • your own name
  • your siblings name
  • your birthday
  • your street name
  • password
  • 123456
  • abc123
  • iloveyou
  • princess
  • dragon

But how do we create a strong password and keep them safe?  This video slideshow will help you learn some easy tricks to creating and protecting your passwords.

Activity

We are going to learn how to create a super strong password by playing the game Password Protect on the Common Sense Education website.  Remember, when you are finished, don’t share your super strong password with anyone except for your parents or teachers!

January 12

Chapter Book Storytime – UFO Spotted!

Today we read the chapter book UFO Spotted! which is in the Hilde Cracks the Case Series.  This book is written by Hilde Lysiak and Matthew Lysiak and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff.  If you decide to stop at a certain chapter make sure you take note of the time in the video so you can start back in the same place another time.

I want you to pay attention to how important it is to Hilde to get all the FACTS before she writes her story.  Real news is fact-based.  Real journalism is not a guess or an opinion.  Real news is not based on rumours.  Real news is about stating clear facts.  That is very important in learning to differentiate real news from potentially fake, false, or misleading news.

ACTIVITY: Visit Hilde’s news site and get tips from the real Hilde!

First let’s visit Hilde’s real news site, Orange Street News, and take ten minutes to read some real news stories.

Site Address: https://orangestreetnews.com/

When you are done, listen to Hilde’s advice for aspiring journalists:

January 8

OJCS Storytime – Cleaning Frenzy!

Today we read;

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Sweep by Louise Greig and Julia Sarda

Activities:

Teachers can choose between several handout activities in this amazing Emily Gravett Sweep teacher resource page.

Kitchen Cleaning Frenzy Game:

Designate one corner of your kitchen to be your ‘net’ area by marking it off with duct tape.  If you have a small real net even better.  Now arrange lots of non-breakable small objects around the kitchen floor.  These could be small toys, balls, etc…  Now use a broom and see how fast you can sweep those objects into your net.  If you have a sibling you can compete with, that is even more fun.  Use a timer to break your own record again and again!

 

January 5

Digital Citizenship Workshop – Facts vs. Opinions

Today we listen to the story;

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex

Afterwards we will complete a short assignment to make sure we understand the difference.  Understanding the difference between facts and opinions is another way we can be great digital citizens.  There is so much information online presented as a fact when it is actually just an opinion.  And in this book we learn how important it is to listen respectfully to the opinions of others even if we don’t agree with them.  This is especially true online when we make comments on each other’s blogs and social media.