Enrichment Post: Summer is the time to learn Origami!

Enrichment Post: Summer is the time to learn Origami!

I cannot exactly remember when Ben’s obsession with Origami began. It was sometime in fourth grade, or possibly the summer before. Origami is a great craft to learn. Summer is the perfect time to learn it.

It is a craft that can be as simple as a crane or as complicated as a dodecahedron or moveable pieces.  If you have a self- directed child, origami offers a great deal for those who can independently learn.  There are books and websites, videos, and tutorials all for those who are interested in becoming good at this ancient craft.

Origami is the Japanese art of paper-folding. The simplicity of making a beautiful object with just knowing how to fold and crease paper is inspiring.  Origami also offers a chance to build mathematical vocabulary and understanding of geometry. It can be done just for the challenge of making the desired shape. Or, it can be delved into for understanding how art, science, and math all blend together to make something work. The math and art are easy applications to understand. Where does the science come in?

Origami is now used for many advanced structures. It can be used for solar panels, heart stents, telescopes, robotics, air bags, and more. The possibilities are endless. Origami is the not only the art, but also the science of paper-folding! If ever there was a great example of STEAM education, Origami is it.

During his approximately three years of creating more and more complex origami structures, Ben also collected many books on the subject, created a travelling exhibit for our school,  belonged to a group called Origami Salami founded by, and consisting of,  young leaders who started their own regional chapters, had a piece chosen to be included in a national traveling exhibit, wrote a guest blog piece, and decided Robert J. Lang was a pretty cool guy!

culmulatedicosahedron2

You can search on Amazon for books on Origami, or there are kits available there as well. The kits usually come with paper to get you started. Barnes and Noble also offers kits, as does other craft stores. It can be an affordable or an expensive hobby. I know Ben spent a lot of his own money on books written by the experts in the field, as well as some of the more fun, tutorial type books like Modular Origami Polyhedra (2008) by Rona Gurkewitz and Bennett Arnstein.

We also ended up buying a great deal of paper from which the structures were made. You can imagine this torus ring took a great deal of paper (as well as, time!)

abovetorusring813

Summer is the perfect time to explore something new like the ancient art of paper-folding, Origami! Have fun with it! You will never know where it can lead!

Summer Learning: Ramp Up your Vocabulary!

Summer Learning: Ramp Up your Vocabulary!

An earlier post of mine regarding ideas for summer learning drew some attention from online readers. It is still receiving regular views, despite not being published recently. This tells me that people, most likely parents, are looking for ways to enrich their children over the summer. Over the next few months, I will try to offer a more specific, weekly ideas on things you can do over the summer to enrich your child.

One area that can always use opportunity for enrichment is language arts. When my boys were younger, let’s say between kindergarten and 6th grade, I encouraged them to learn new words over the summer by making a “word wall” on their closet door.  The words I chose to post, usually on Sundays, came from words encountered in a book they were reading or from a resource book of lists containing common vocabulary based on grade level.  Since it was an activity for enrichment, the words chosen were high interest and slightly above grade level.

One way to do this is to use an online word generator for word walls. Scholastic has one  here: I just found this and it is user-friendly. You can made lists of words based on subjects, alphabetical order, or even the Dolce Sight Word list! You can generate your own word list too. Just now, I made a list of words for a presentation I did for elementary children on forests. These words were what I thought would be challenging for most students. This list might be somewhat generic, depending on the student with whom you will use it.  But, the nice part of being a parent and generating a word wall list is that  you know your child better than any teacher. You are reading books together, or still helping them choose books from the library for the summer. You know their interests, you know their skill level. You can hand-pick the words that will benefit their vocabulary and their interest areas.

Another resource for finding age appropriate word lists based on topic is at vocabulary.com. This site offers several different avenues to learn words. You can play a word definition game and earn points. The game adjusts to your knowledge of words and will eventually challenge your vocabulary. There are also word lists that are generated per topic or even event (like taking the SAT). I’ll have to share this with my high school junior who will take that college entrance exam next month. This is a fun, easy, and transportable way to learn new words if you access to a computer and the internet.  You can also put in a topic to search and the site will let you know if they already have a word list generated. In the search bar I typed in The Great Gatsby and Forests (as separate searches) and both queries returned extensive word lists.

The Lexile PowerV website generates lists of vocabulary words for over 125,00 books. It can be found here: Lexile PowerV Vocabulary Tool.  The lists are ten words long that are challenging and important for the students to know while reading the story.  If you know your child’s lexile reading level, this site would be an excellent resource to match books they are interested in with increasing vocabulary.

There are other sites, too. Keep in mind that I did not use any of these internet sites when I made my word wall lists for my boys. I just tried to challenge them with words I thought they should know, like “photosynthesis” for example. Or, I paged through one of the novels they chose for summer reading and extracted words I thought would be a challenge, but again, important to the story they are reading. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can always just search in the dictionary, as well. You, or your student,  can write words on a sheet of paper and post it where they spend a lot of time. Talk about the words on their list throughout the week. By the end of the week, if they have spent some time talking to you about the words, or even using one or two to include in a letter to grandma, your children will increase their vocabulary!  It should be painless.

And, who knows? It might also be fun!