Posted in Education

As a family, we spend a lot of time outdoors and I would hope that over the years, I’ve instilled a love of nature in my children.

So, because we enjoy the natural world around us and knowing that there are so many lessons to be learned through nature I will often incorporate little lessons or snippets of information whilst we are outdoors. One of those is to teach your children how to tell how old a tree is.

Count the Rings

The easiest and oldest method to know the age of a tree is to count the rings on tree stumps. Each ring is equivalent to a year.
Each year, as the tree grows, it develops a new layer of wood below the bark, and this formula the rings you see on a tree stumps if the tree is cut down.
These Rings will vary in size as the tree’s growth depends on several factors including the availability of water and nutrients.
tree rings
tree rings showing growth

Measure the circumference

Another way to determine a tree’s age is to measure the circumference of the tree.
You can do this by using a piece of rope to tie around the trunk and then measuring the piece of rope.
Average growth of 2.5cm represents a year’s growth, however, this measurement does differ depending on the tree species.
tree
trees can be measured around their circumference

Count the whorl

Trees like pines, spruce, and fir trees grow new rows of branches each year. These rows are called whorls. By counting the rows or whorls of branches you can determine the age of the tree.
Fir trees grow new whorls each year
These are easy fun ways to get the kids outdoors and learning. Let me know in the comments below if you have tried any of these tree measuring methods.
Posted in Education, Family Life, Parenting

Reward Charts – Do they work ?

There is a lot of controversy within the parenting communities about reward charts. Some parents swear by them and others think that they are a giant waste of time.

Now what would you say if I told you they can be both.
I will explain…

Pros and cons of reward charts

I love reward charts for Hamish. I think that being used in a consistent manner they can help a child reach a goal as they are able to see and track their progress.
I love that they motivate a child to perform better and that often they are just total fun.
There is always a danger in a larger group of children that a reward chart will in fact damage a child’s self-esteem as they compare their progress to that of their peers and instead of motivating them, the reward chart will demotivate and set your child up for failure.
So, do I personally believe that reward charts should be used for every child, in every situation ….no!

Personal experience

However,we have personally had great outcomes for potty training, school work goals, bed training, and reading with Hamish using reward charts.

He is the only small child we have in the house and has no one to compare his achievements with, allowing us to use the reward chart to build up his self-esteem, highlight his achievements and assist him to reach a personal goal.
When I had 6 little ones in the home, things were a lot different. I hated reward charts.
As a family, we weren’t consistent enough to stick to one. My younger children were not motivated to learn from their older siblings’ success and I found the reward charts brought about low self-worth and a multitude of sibling rivalry as the kids judged and compared themselves.
So. I think if you are going to use a reward chart …..
  • Be specific.
  • Consider if it is the right kind of motivation for your child or children.
  • Discuss how the chart does not measure who we are, what we are good at or our worth with your children.
  • Keep the goals short and reward quickly so that your child does not get demotivated.
  • Build self esteem daily through words of affirmation, praise and acknowledgement of good behaviour, kindness, etc so that the reward chart is not the sole check list of how well you feel they behave.
We use these Reward charts and stickers from Tower products avaliable in most retailers.
Posted in Education, Fine motor activities, preschool, preschool curriculum

Best sticker hack for little fingers

A really great fine motor activity is to let your child peel and stick stickers onto a book or paper.

Nowadays you get a wonderful assortment of learning activity books with stickers and they both engage and entertain your child.
We use many sticker books in our homeschool lessons and I often find that the stickers open an opportunity to develop vocabulary and learn more about a subject as your child will question the stickers that they are working with.
A good age to start working with stickers is from about 2 and a half to 3 years but many times little fingers just can not pull the stickers off the sheet, leaving them frustrated or mom/teacher doing most of the peeling.
When Hamish was about 3 years old, I taught him this easy hack to allow him the independence of being able to peel the stickers himself.
Teach your child to bend the page at the sticker and you will notice how the sticker automatically lifts making it easier for your child to peel off and giving them more confidence in their task.
Let us know if you tried this.
Posted in Education, Family Life, Parenting

Getting ready to go back to school with Tower Product

With Christmas barely over, parents are starting the annual Back to School shopping rush of uniforms, school bags, and labels.
Even as a homeschool family we often label much of the kids’ items. I love the wide range of school labels and stickers Tower Products have and these products have been part of our annual Back to school prep for years.
Some of the products on the Tower Product Back to School catalog are :-
  • DIY bag tags
  • Shoe labels
  • Pen/Pencil labels
  • Waterproof stickers for lunch boxes
  • Lunchbox sticky notes
  • Iron-on labels for clothing
  • Multipurpose book labels

Products

DIY bag tags that can be used for easy identification or to add contact or emergency details onto your child’s bag. I’ve actually added one of these to our car seat safety belt with Hamish’s info on so that if we are ever in a crash, the medics can identify him and assist him quickly. I have his name, my contact number, allergies, medical aid number all listed on the tag.
Shoe labels are not only fantastic to help little ones to label their left from their right. I use two different labels for that (for example Left could be a yellow label and Right a blue) but they also help your kids to know they have the right shoes on and teachers know whose shoes are left behind in the classroom.
Pen/pencil labels for easy marking. Use a ballpoint pen to write your child’s name and affix the label. I have to confess, I absolutely hate labeling pens and pencils. It is always such a long process. This way you can write all the names and let your child fix them on. Hamish was quite adamant that we match the colour of the label to the colour pen.
Lunch box sticky notes. How cute are these? I honestly think that they are my favourite and such a nice way to send a little love with your child to school. Tower Products also have a variety of waterproof labels to mark lunch boxes, juice bottles and lunch bags. These are dishwasher safe.
These Iron on labels for clothing take me back to my own school days. They are so easy to use and cost-effective. Write your child’s name with a ball point pen and iron onto the garment with a hot iron. For me personally, these labels are great for if you have a bigger family and don’t want to order 100 name label stickers per child at a time.
Multipurpose and book labels because all textbooks and exercize books deserve to look good and Tower Products makes it easy to label these with a variety of self-adhesive stickers. Simply write your child’s name, subject, or year on.
Back to school has never been this much fun.
To learn more about Tower products go to www.towerproducts.co.za
Posted in Education, Press releases

Unpacking the “New Normal” for Educators and Parents

Industry experts offer rich insights on innovation, resources and support needed now, and into the future.

A group of experts were recently brought together through a discussion, organised by BIC, a world leader in stationery, shavers, and lighters, to address some of the challenges faced in the education sector. The discussion aimed to provide educators with support through insights, ideas, and practical tools.

The discussion was facilitated by the highly esteemed media maverick and current ‘Talk Radio 702’ presenter, Refiloe Mpakanyane, who was joined by all-star panellists.  These included: “Swaggy School Teacher,” Sibusiso Masombuka; Occupational Therapist, founder of Nanny ‘n Me and co-founder of Play Sense, Lara Schoenfeld; Counselling Psychologist and founder of Shrink Mama, Reabetsoe Buys, and Journalist, Author and Founder of “The Village” Facebook group, Vanessa Raphaely.

A wealth of invaluable insights were shared by these experts, some of which include:

  • Communication and creativity are amongst the most important tools that educators need to use to overcome the obstacles that the pandemic still poses to traditional teaching.

  • Handwriting is pertinent in brain development and should not be replaced with the use of computers as a primary transcription tool.

  • Establishing a sound routine for children at home is an effective way for parents to compensate for the disruptive changes that the pandemic introduced to their children’s lives.

  • Creating a supportive group for parents helps to alleviate the burden that they feel and allows them to pool resources to assist their children.

The ‘Swaggy School Teacher’, Sibusiso Masombuka, kicked off the discussion by sharing the most noticeable changes that he has experienced as a result of the pandemic, saying: “Education has transitioned into a different realm for both educators and learners. The most noticeable change was obviously that schooling moved from a physical to a virtual environment. Learners have had to transition from having access to a school library with computers, and a physical classroom with a teacher, to learning behind a screen through online platforms. Even that was only available for privileged learners who could afford to access teaching material online through accessible technology. Many kids were not able to attend classes due to lack of resources. As educators, platforms such as YouTube, WhatsApp groups, or Google Classroom were methods we used to   engage with students. Not having all students present on these platforms presented a challenge that we hadn’t faced before.”

In an attempt to maintain the quality of education that his learners received pre-pandemic, and to strengthen the human connection between himself and his students, Masombuka shared the approach he followed as an educator during the COVID-19 pandemic: “I believe that traditional schooling perpetuates the idea that education can only happen at school, when in fact it can happen anywhere and we’re all responsible for it, not just as teachers. I definitely used the change that was enforced on the industry as an opportunity for me to start my own YouTube channel. I knew some of the kids’ parents were able to get the technological resources needed for me to engage with the kids. I also took up the opportunity to teach in various online schools, through which more than three million students were reached and impacted, in the first phase of the lockdown period alone. To reach the kids that did not have the resources, I joined the Department of Education through its Secondary Schools Improvement Programme (SSIP), a GDE supplementary tuition program, which is being implemented on weekends in 298 sites across Gauteng. As a team, we visited townships and rural communities to teach the kids. The project resulted in the development of teaching methods that would allow students to catch up on what they had missed out on during the lockdown period. Underpinning these activities, was the constant communication flow I maintained with the students and their guardians – to ensure a human connection amidst a digitally based world.”

Commenting on the psychological impact of the changes enforced by the pandemic, Counselling Psychologist, Reabetsoe Buys, said: “A lot of research shows that an event of this magnitude is directly linked to mental health. People who struggle with mental health issues find that their symptoms get worse, while those who don’t, often develop issues. It is impressive to see that many teachers, parents and students have done exceptionally well as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ that emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators have looked at new and innovative ways of teaching, while parents have worked on incorporating teaching into day-to-day parenting.”

Buys went on to share her professional insights on what parents can do with their kids at home to compensate for the changes that took place in the education system: “It is important to establish a solid routine for children as it provides them with the safety and the boundaries that they need. Ensuring that the kids take part in family activities is equally crucial. Allowing your kids to spend time outdoors where they can exercise and engage in physical activity, especially those that engage their senses, will help them burn off the energy they built up as well as activate different parts of their brain. The work that the parents put in, needs to be complemented by teachers, who in turn need to make sure that they engage learners with more than just the academic material in the curricula. We need to ensure that children are looked after holistically.”

Commenting on the role of parents in supporting children amidst the pandemic, author, media consultant and founder of The Village SA (a trusted parenting group on Facebook), Vanessa Raphaely, said: “What I hear on The Village every day is that the fear of unemployment and uncertainty has never been as prevalent. As a result of that, many parents have feelings of anxiety and fear that have been misdirected towards teachers. I founded The Village to ensure that parents and teachers alike have a safe space where they can break through barriers and emotions to focus on solutions to effectively support students. One of the most positive outcomes of the pandemic was how parents worked together to come up with innovative solutions to support their children – whether that was through gathering up, sharing the load, or pooling resources.”

As an accomplished Occupational Therapist, Lara Schoenfeld offered her insight on the developmental and long-term impacts of typing in comparison to hand-writing, unpacking further the need for writing to develop fine motor skills, particularly for primary school students. Schoenfeld said: “Handwriting activates specific parts of the brain, which researchers believe are important for learning and memory. Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Dr Colby Wiley, found that when children use handwriting, they’re not only activating the motor cortex because they’re using their hand physically, but are also using the motor planning aspects of the visual cortex as they visualize the letters in their minds. Children would also use the language center of their brain to communicate, as well as the neural senses associated with reading and spelling. This is evidence that it is vital for students to learn to handwrite at school, to ensure that they develop these neural patterns that are beneficial for learning and memory. Writing, particularly cursive writing, also helps stimulate the right and left sides of the brain. Research on brain imaging confirms that this doesn’t happen when children type.”

Schoenfeld sheds further light on the importance of handwriting, stating that it improves children’s literacy as it stimulates different parts of the brain to work together. Similarly, handwriting improves attention and cognition and contributes to self-regulation. It helps children think more freely, brainstorm, annotate, link ideas, and identify important points. Schoenfeld highlights findings of Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology, which suggests that children should first learn printing, as it stimulates the reading centers of the brain, after which they should learn cursive writing, which contributes towards spelling, composing and the ability to be creative. And finally, in late primary school, children can be introduced to touch-typing. Schoenfeld concluded by saying that the result of children using a keyboard instead of learning to write, is a reduction of the developmental aspects which contribute towards brain development.

Commenting on the pressures faced by educators to tailor teaching methods to different students, Masombuka said: “Teaching kids in a way that engages them requires teachers’ understanding of the generation, what stimulates them, and what they respond to. Taking children out to teach them on the field, creating groups where children can learn from one another through peer learning, or using visual aids are all ideas that can be implemented to get more out of students.”

Masombuka shared an experience where his colleague had a challenge engaging with students via Microsoft Teams. He suggested that his colleague conduct the lesson on TikTok instead – which resulted in a phenomenal outcome.  Masombuka stressed the importance of being relevant to audiences, as well as being creative and existing in an environment where children are present.

The discussion, organized by BIC, saw tremendous success, and received positive feedback from educators, parents, psychologists, and experts in the industry. Stakeholders have agreed that discussions like these are invaluable and crucial in finding practical solutions to aid teachers, parents, and students as they continue to navigate this “new normal”. The activity reaffirmed the need of educators for access to regular support and useful resources.

These sentiments are aligned to BIC’s greater vision for education in South Africa. Commenting on the initiative, Marketing Manager of BIC Stationery South Africa, Kutlwano Tshetlhane, said: “Education is a part of BIC’s DNA, as we continuously work to improve the lives, spirits and educational opportunities of the children of our beautiful country, allowing them to reach their full potential and imagination. This is what prompted our decision to gather industry experts to address some of the challenges faced by teachers, parents, and children. We aim to initiate conversations that cultivate, support, empower and provide practical tools that would allow educators, parents and students to overcome some of these challenges. We invite like minded individuals to join us on our journey as we write the future of education, together.”

If you would like to view the full roundtable discussion, please see the recording on YouTube here.

ABOUT BIC

BIC is a world leader in stationery, lighters, and shavers. For more than 75 years, the Company has honored the tradition of providing high-quality, affordable products to consumers everywhere. Through this unwavering dedication, BIC has become one of the most recognized brands and is a trademark registered worldwide. Today, BIC products are sold in more than 160 countries around the world and feature iconic brands such as Cello®, Conté®, BIC FlexTM, Lucky Stationery, Made For YOUTM, Soleil®, Tipp-Ex®, Wite-Out® and more. The Company is listed on “Euronext Paris,” is part of the SBF120 and CAC Mid 60 indexes and is recognized for its commitment to sustainable development and education. It received an A- Leadership score from CDP. For more, visit www.bicworld.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube

Posted in Education, guest blogs, Parenting, STEM

Why you should teach S.T.E.M. to children from a young age By Jonathan Drake, Head of Accessories at The Core Group

The world today is changing rapidly. Technological advancements are unlike anything we have seen before. We have entered the fourth industrial revolution and can only speculate about the future of workplaces and the required skill sets.

 

Children need to prepare for an exciting and tech-driven future, and we need to enable them to acquire the necessary skills to build their careers. The education curriculum is adapting to meet this need by introducing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) in the school syllabus to help children develop creative problem-solving, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and other vital skills. Many early learning brands like PlayShifu are creating incredible toys that help children master S.T.E.M. and all these essential skills early on.

 

However, S.T.E.M. is more than learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. At its core, S.T.E.M. is the process of integrating these disciplines to help children develop new ways of thinking that interlink science and mathematics to technology and engineering and how it all fits into our daily lives. This holistic approach to learning encourages children to experiment with concepts and develop critical thinking, logical analysis, curiosity, and inquiry through trial and error.

 

Although educators and parents are generally aware of the importance of S.T.E.M. and its benefits, until recently, S.T.E.M. initiatives have been limited to children that have demonstrated an aptitude for subjects such as mathematics. Further, funding is often set aside for higher grade levels and overlooking the benefit of S.T.E.M. for younger learners.

 

When should S.T.E.M. be introduced to children?

Children are naturally curious, explorative, and eager to learn. All these qualities are crucial for S.T.E.M. learning. By their very nature, they are scientists at heart exploring the world around them, organizing items, and trying to figure out how and why everything works the way it does. PlayShifu’s Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto offer children a safe and sound space to play, tinker, and learn. PlayShifu’s Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto offer a safe and sound space for children to play, tinker, and learn.

 

Introducing children to S.T.E.M. experiences helps establish a critical foundation early on and fosters a positive attitude towards learning. Children as young as three can be introduced to S.T.E.M. learning as suggested by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Next Generation Science Standards, and International Standards for Technology in Education[1].

 

What are the benefits of introducing S.T.E.M. at an early age?
From language development to collaborative learning, there are several significant benefits to introducing S.T.E.M. to children at an early age. The most pertinent benefit is that it prepares them for the workplace of the future. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, non-S.T.E.M. occupations are predicted to grow by 5% between 2018 and 2028, while the number of S.T.E.M.-related jobs are expected to grow by 9%, creating 10.6 million jobs[2].

 

Children who are introduced to S.T.E.M. early on could perform better academically and could pursue a career in S.T.E.M. comfortably. Early S.T.E.M. learning helps develop critical thinking, creativity, and other essential foundational skills. The Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop study[3] asserts that closing the gap between preschool and elementary school practices is necessary to prepare children for a better digital future.

 

What can parents do to encourage S.T.E.M. learning at home?

Many schools have started implementing S.T.E.M. learning into the curriculum from preschool through to Grade 12. However, parents have an important role to play in encouraging S.T.E.M. learning at home from an early age. Parents’ guidance at a young age could impact children’s attitudes toward learning in the classroom and beyond.

 

The study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop found that many parents felt anxious or lacked confidence in their knowledge of S.T.E.M. and thus found it difficult to implement and encourage S.T.E.M. development at home. Fortunately, more tools like PlayShifu’s Orboot and Plugo are becoming available to help parents foster S.T.E.M. activities at home.

 

How to introduce S.T.E.M. to young children?

 

Many innovative S.T.E.M. toys integrate tech seamlessly with rich storytelling and gameplay that encourages curiosity and learning.  However, screen time is a major concern among 21st-century parents. Extended screen time is known to cause behavioural problems and sleep disorders.

 

That said, the focus of screen time is shifting from avoiding screens to harnessing their benefits as learning supplements, providing opportunities to learn through play, and changing the role of children from being passive recipients of information to participants in learning alongside a screen.

 

PlayShifu’s innovative use of Augmented Reality and tactile toys brings phenomenal educational games for children. These games are driven by hands-on play that enriches and brings new meaning to screen time. They have developed smart S.T.E.M. toys that work in conjunction with a phone or tablet device to help foster critical thinking, grammar, logic, social-emotional learning, cultural awareness, and problem-solving skills. The products have physical components that children can touch, connect, and build with. And the companion app has super fun games that teach children various curriculum-based concepts.

 

The PlayShifu range includes Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto, which start at R899 and can be purchased from iStore, Takealot, and Toys’R’Us. Designed for ages 4 to 12, all the product platforms are supported by free-to-download apps that work with a range of devices on iOS and Android.

 

About PlayShifu

PlayShifu is a leading early learning toy company offering a variety of immersive, educational toys that connect the physical and digital worlds. The play experiences are specially designed for kids ages 4 to 12 years, and build foundational STEAM skills through fun. Founded in 2016 by Dinesh Advani and Vivek Goyal after they saw a need to provide meaningful digital play experiences for their kids, PlayShifu is now loved around the world. With offices in the U.S. and India, PlayShifu products are available in more than 35 countries through online marketplaces including Amazon, and brick-and-mortar locations including Sam’s Club, BestBuy, Argos, Toys‘R’Us, Hamleys, Virgin Media, and Rakuten.

 

To purchase and find out more, visit PlayShifu.com.

[1] http://cadrek12.org/sites/default/files/DRK12-Early-STEM-Learning-Brief.pdf

[2] https://soeonline.american.edu/blog/stem-in-early-childhood-education

[3] https://joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/stem-starts-early/

Posted in Education, Fun Mamma SA Toy of the Week, Press releases

The revolution for children’s games arrives in South Africa with the debut of Osmo

The award-winning, innovative play system that combines fun and learning. A mix of fun, education, physical and digital play designed for young children

Osmo, the children’s game company that has revolutionised the world of gaming and learning, has arrived in South Africa. The American brand has created a new category of game, which combines the digital world with the physical one, creating a unique and interactive experience.

 

Osmo is an educational accessory that shortens the distance between the real and digital worlds, combining tablet screens, particularly loved by children, with the tactile and practical interaction they need. The Osmo range encourages children to participate actively, to think, play and see their creations come to life on technology. Its uniqueness immediately brought excellent results worldwide, with more than 2.5 million downloads on iPad and reaching over 50,000 schools.

 

Research shows that the inordinate use of screens such as tablets, smartphones or PCs in children does not give them the necessary tools for learning and growth. In fact, more and more children are losing the pleasure of manual dexterity and creativity, arriving at school with weak motor skills, even simply in the use of pencils and pens.

 

Faced with this situation, two former Google engineers and two parents, Pramod Sharma and Jérôme Scholler, founded Osmo to create a new, fun and educational gaming experience. The proposals include hands-on activities, essential for proper development, to their own expertise and proprietary technology to give children a fun tool to explore their creativity while improving their business skills, STEM, spelling, math and more. Plus, Osmo’s holistic learning system and design lends itself to children of different ages, and with a wide variety of add-ons, it’s the perfect tool to keep your kids entertained.

 

 

 

The children’s toy revolution: How does Osmo work?

 

Osmo’s games are based on its proprietary “Reflective AI” technology that turns your iPad, iPhone or Amazon Fire into a blank canvas on which children can express their creativity and learn. This proprietary and first-of-its-kind technology allows objects that are placed in front of the screen to be reflected on the device used. In this way, children can perfectly combine the world of video games and the real, physical world, while continuing to learn and have fun.

 

Simply place the Osmo sensor at the height of the device’s camera and, like a scanner, it captures everything that happens in front of the screen on the play surface, such as the child’s movements, the various game pieces he manipulates and places on the table. These appear on the screen which provides immediate (and fun) auditory and visual feedback. Also, once the games are downloaded and installed on the device, no WiFi connection is required.

Osmo has received several awards: Best AI-based Solution for Education Award for its proprietary Reflective AI technology. It was also named as one of the “25 Best Inventions” by Time Magazine.

Osmo games: designed to make children “grown up”.

 

Osmo Starter Kit Genius

The Genius Starter Kit, is designed for children ages 6 to 10. They can discover the world of Osmo and get excited about its revolutionary and innovative gaming experience. The kit includes everything kids need to experience physical learning and digital fun with five different game modes: Words, numbers, tangram, newton and masterpiece.

 

Osmo Starter Kit Genius is available at a recommended retail price of R2299 at iStore.

 

COMPATIBILITY:

  1. Compatible iPads: iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation), iPad (4th generation), iPad (5th generation), iPad (6th generation), iPad (7th generation), iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Mini 5, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Air 3, and 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro.iOS 9 or higher version.
  2. Fire Tablet is not compatible with this base.

Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad

Designed for ages 3-5 the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit engages pre-schoolers with educational games in core subjects by merging tactile exploration with innovative technology. Beyond fostering creativity and cognitive skills, these educational toys help children learn in a stress-free environment with instant feedback and encouragement.

 

The Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit includes four educational games to help children develop creativity, imagination, fine motor skills, verbal proficiency, empathy and spatial reasoning. These are ABC, Squiggle Magic, Costume Party and Stories.

 

Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit is available at a recommended retail price of R1999 at iStore.

 

COMPATIBILITY:

Compatible with all iPads except Generation 1, 2, 3. iPad Reflector 2021 required for the: iPad Air 4, iPad Pro 11-inch & iPad Pro 12.9-inch. The minimum iOS version needed is iOS 10.

 

Osmo Coding Starter Kit for iPad 

Designed for ages 5–10, Coding Starter Kit teaches children logic, coding fundamentals, basics of programming, solve coding puzzles, teamwork, listening, critical thinking, observation, creative problem solving, music creation & pattern recognition.

 

Osmo Coding Starter Kit builds coding skills in progression with 3 hands-on learning games: Coding Awbie, Coding Jam & Coding Duo

 

Osmo Coding Starter Kit is available at a recommended retail price of R2299 at iStore.

 

COMPATIBILITY

Compatible with all iPads except Generation 1, 2, 3. iPad Reflector 2021 required for the: iPad Air 4, iPad Pro 11-inch & iPad Pro 12.9-inch. The minimum iOS version needed is iOS 10.

 

Osmo Pizza Co. Starter Kit  

Children aged between 5 and 12 learn real-world (business) math, money, addition, subtraction, fractions, fast paced mental math, run & grow a business, social interaction, listening, critical thinking, observation, creative problem solving & basic business concepts with Osmo Pizza Co. Starter Kit.

 

Osmo Pizza Co. Starter Kit is available from iStore at the recommended retail price of R1399.

 

COMPATIBILITY

Compatible with all iPads except Generation 1, 2, 3. iPad Reflector 2021 required for the: iPad Air 4, iPad Pro 11-inch & iPad Pro 12.9-inch. The minimum iOS version needed is iOS 10. Compatible Fire Tablets: 8th Gen Fire HD 8, 9th Gen Fire 7, and 9th Gen Fire HD 10. Compatible with the Fire HD 8 10th Gen (2020) & Fire HD 10 11th (2021), requires the reflector adapter, sold separately.

 

About Osmo

Osmo is building a universe of hands-on play experiences that nurture children’s minds by unleashing the power of imagination. The company brings physical tools into the digital world through augmented reality and its proprietary reflective artificial intelligence.

 

Acknowledgements

To date, Osmo has been named one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions, is a Parents’ Choice award winner, a winner of the prestigious Oppenheim Prize, and a 2016 finalist for Toy of the Year. Osmo is sold in more than 42 countries, delivered through nine international distribution centres, and has been embraced in more than 30,000 schools. Tangible Play Inc. is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.

Posted in Education

BIC invites you to a virtual discussion for educators

Invitation

BIC Stationery is honoured to invite you to join a virtual discussion with an all-star lineup of panelists, who will share insights and practical solutions to issues facing educators and parents in this time.

 

The past year and a half has been synonymous with a plethora of unforeseen challenges for many. As revealed in the findings of a nationwide study commissioned by BIC Stationery, the education sector arguably faced some of the most difficult challenges with teachers and students having had to adopt a new normal seemingly overnight.

It is a well-known truth that was further supported by this study, which I have attached for your reference, that as a collective more needs to be done for the educators within our country, who are ultimately responsible for shaping the minds of our future generations.

BIC Stationery, which has a longstanding commitment to improving learning conditions for students worldwide, as well as to contributing to education in South Africa, understood that now more than ever it needed to not only continue but also increase these efforts.

 

Now more so than ever, rings true the age old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Whilst this webinar is aimed at educators, they alone cannot equip children with all the tools and skills needed to prosper in life, and so BIC Stationery encourages parents to join this event where you will equally benefit from the insights shared by our respected panel.

 

Speakers

 

To join the webinar click HERE

 

Posted in Education, Press releases

BIC provides teachers in South Africa with educational solutions to write the future of education

BIC Stationery explores the realities facing South African teachers and offers assistance for improved learning

Stemming from BIC’s commitment to improve learning conditions for students worldwide, and its continued contribution to education in South Africa, the company conducted a nation-wide study which aimed to identify the key challenges and opportunities faced by educators in the country. The study aimed to collate challenges faced by teachers in South Africa to consequently provide solutions that would help them perform in the important role that they play in children’s lives, and to help contribute towards enhancing the education field in the country.

 

The study was conducted by BIC, in partnership with Big Mama’s Famous Truth Shop, a private research studies laboratory focused on human research techniques.

 

The study revealed three main findings that were consistent for teachers across South Africa:

  1. Teachers play multiple roles in a child’s life.
  2. Teachers in South Africa are hungry for higher quality curricula and thought-provoking content.
  3. Teachers are expected to perform many additional duties that erode the time they could be dedicating to children, and they are quite simply overloaded.

 

Study findings at depth

  1. The multi-role teacher: Education is a fundamental driver of personal, national, and global development, making teachers arguably the greatest influencers in society. They give children purpose, set them up for success, and inspire in them a drive to do well and succeed in life.

 

According to the study conducted, good teachers are passionate about the children they teach, and describe fulfilment as being able to truly connect and unlock children’s diverse potential.

 

The study found that South African teachers all shared the same overwhelming sentiments of quite simply being overloaded and under-valued.  They often play the role of social worker as well as fill up the gap created by parents. Insights revealed that parents are a source of pressure with their demands and expectations, while often leaving a void as they are too busy or ill-equipped to give their children the quality of attention they need today.

 

  1. Lack of resources: The study revealed that the gulf between “have and have not” kids is widening, and the pandemic has shone a spotlight on inequality and inefficiency in the state education system. The difference in resources, numbers of children per teacher, and even basic stationery needs in state schools is alarming. Semi-funded (Q5) schools also struggle with resources given the numbers they are expected to cope with.

 

The current state Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and educational resources, considered to be bland and uninspiring, is felt to deepen the divide further where teachers end up picking up the pressure of bringing it to life and building lessons with higher quality content, using classroom tools like posters and print media, to inspire and stimulate the minds of the children they teach.

 

The study found that teachers are hungry for higher quality, brighter and more engaging teaching tools and resources. They are self-taught content creators, who are persistent in overcoming the many challenges that they are faced with. They continuously seek out inspirational platforms with useful worksheets, inspiring videos, and ways of making their lessons more engaging and exciting.

 

  1. Teaching in a pandemic: The Covid-19 pandemic has added fuel to the pressure cooker in so many ways. Teachers are the unsung heroes of this time as many have worked right through lockdowns, adapting, learning new technologies and developing remote learning content. According to the study, lockdown has forced teachers to move to digital teaching methods overnight. The study also revealed that mobile data is still the biggest divide as it’s expensive in South Africa.

 

Teachers have shared the sentiment that online learning has been a huge challenge with schools being behind technologically which resulted in a lack of preparation for the ‘new situation’. Teachers have had to get far more creative, and the need to keep up the marks, despite the massive data and technological divide, was a major source of stress.  For the most part, teachers were following the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) but adding to it to ensure efficient and creative learning techniques.

 

Teachers faced challenges when returning to schools, where they have had to deal with the challenges of teaching and policing social distancing and other hygiene protocols at the same time as alleviating learner’s anxiety.

 

According to the study, going back to school after the lockdown has resulted in stress amongst children due to all the rules and fears associated with the COVID-19 virus. They will be obliged to wear masks, and no one can touch or hug. It will take kids a long time before they get out of their shell and get their personalities back amidst huge groups of people.

 

The study also revealed positive findings, as the pandemic and lockdown has allowed teachers to work together more than ever before. This was mostly a result of accelerated personal growth and skills development. Similarly, the smaller classroom sizes allowed for more individual attention.

 

The Solution

To help address some of the teachers’ needs identified in the study, BIC has launched a BIC Stationery Teachers Group on Facebook, which is accessible to all teachers and educators across South Africa, where they will be able to communicate, ideate, share experiences and best practices, as well as exchange tools and resources.

 

Commenting on the occasion, Kutlwano Tshetlhane, Marketing Manager for BIC Stationery, Southern Africa, said: “We are ecstatic about offering the new platform, BIC® Stationery Teachers Group, to help teachers across the country to start their journey towards more efficient and innovative teaching techniques, learning from and supporting one another. As a brand that is committed to improving education in communities we operate in, we are proud to support teachers across South Africa through a platform that would provide them with the tools and the inspiration they need to help build the future’s generation.”

 

Expressing her delight, Wendy Cochrane, Big Mama’s founder, said: “Our mission for the study was to understand teachers’ diverse perspectives on challenges in a post-covid education system, and to identify opportunities where BIC can offer solutions.  The need for high quality, locally relevant content and teaching materials for South African teachers is clear, highlighting the inequality gap between state and private schools that have more access to internet-based resources. This research helped generate ideas for the development of a practical and exciting digital resources platform that bridges these divides.”

 

BIC has always been a dominant player in supporting the youth and contributing towards the education field in communities it operates in. Education is part of BIC’s DNA and the company has long advocated for and worked to improve lives through education. Through BIC’s initiative, ‘Writing the Future Together’, the company is committed to supporting communities and improving the learning conditions of 250 million children globally by 2025. To date, BIC South Africa has played an instrumental role in the classroom and beyond, with its range of stationery products, including crayons and other coloring tools, Tipp-Ex, highlighters, pencils and pens of all descriptions.

 

Teachers are invited to take another step in the ongoing journey of elevating education and improving learning conditions for students in South Africa by joining the community here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/147643004001019/?ref=pages_profile_groups_tab&source_id=234103023320102

 

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About BIC

 

BIC has been operating in South Africa for more than 58 years covering over 18 countries in Africa with subsidiaries in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. BIC stationery offers a large portfolio of writing instruments, a BIC Kids range including wax crayons, coloring pencils, felt pens, and Tipp-Ex correction products to name just a few. BIC offers pocket lighters, utility lighters, firelighters and we have a BIC shavers range for men and women.

 

BIC has a long history in South Africa. Everything began in 1958 when BIC acquired Biro Swan Ltd, a UK company with activities in the so-called “sterling zone” of which South Africa was part of. Beginning in the 70’s, BIC launched BIC pocket lighters and BIC shavers, supported by memorable advertising. For more information about BIC, visit:  https://za.bicworld.com/

Posted in Education, Entertainment, Family Life, Parenting

Safe Online Games for Children

I sat with a friend the other day and as we have both raised adult children and are once again bringing up little ones, we discussed how things had changed with the introduction of technology, technological devices, and technological toys being so readily available today.

Ten or fifteen years ago we allowed our teens to get cell phones at 16, bought specific learning programs for our PC for younger kids, and only let them play games if they were on a console like PlayStation or Wii.

Nowadays my 5-year-old has his smartphone, used under supervision and mainly for youtube kids. He also owns a kids tablet, several smart toys that require technology to work, and can use a laptop as well as we can.

Naturally, screen time is a concern and we balance his technology time with other activities like playing, crafting, reading, and being outside.

but

We do encourage him to play educational games and as a homeschool mom, I firmly believe that his general knowledge, reading skills, maths skills, and logic are developed through the use of online educational games.

Finding good quality online games

So, I am constantly looking for good quality, trusted sites where I can find new games that will both stimulate and entertain Hamish. One of the great sites I’ve come across is http://www.plays.org

Plays.org is a user-friendly site that offers you a wide assortment of free, fun games that you can quickly play on your browser.

Unlike many other game sites which have a ton of ads or require downloads before you start to play, I discovered that Plays.org did not require you to register or set up an account before playing. You also do not need to download an App first, instead, you can simply log on and pick a game to start playing any time you like.

The games are simple, easy to beat, and reminiscent of the old Nintendo console games.

Their simplicity, and lack of ads and upgrades needed, for me as a mom, allows me the knowledge that Hamish is playing a game intended to let him have fun, learn something and retain the innocence of childhood, even in such a fast-paced modern world.

Top 3 Games that we are enjoying

I have only been using the site for the last month and we’ve tried several games, however these are the games we are currently enjoying for entertainment and learning at home…….

Pac-Rat

I love this game, inspired by the arcade classic Pacman.

The object is to eat the cheese whilst avoiding the cats. Your child will use the arrow keys to move the rat and a level is complete when all the cheese has been eaten. However, if a cat bumps into you are dead, unless you ate a power pellet which turns you into a ghost and lets you eat the cats.

Unlike the original Pac-Man, this game is easier with just 6 levels and slower speeds.

This game is fun and great to replay until you master a level. Hamish at 5 thoroughly enjoyed this and did not find it too difficult.

AGE; 5+

Complete the Sequence

This cute kindergarten maths game requires your child to put the numbers in the correct sequence. With 3 levels of difficulty – easy, medium, and hard- your child can pop the bubble that contains the correct number to finish the sequence.

A great beginner numbers game that allows your child to practice maths skills, number recognition and develop their hand-eye coordination as they look to find the correct bubble. A graph underneath shows if the sequence is in ascending or descending order and all sequences are randomly generated.

We are currently using this game as a brain break in our homeschool maths lessons.

Age: 3+

 

Dinosaur Train bridge builder

This has to be Hamish’s favorite game. He loves dinosaurs and has watched every episode of Dinosaur Train and so finding a fun game with his favorite dinosaurs from Troodon Town was a bonus.

Designed for preschoolers, your child will help the dinosaurs to cross the chasm by breaking down numbers and adding them up, finding the length of the chasm, and choosing the log bridge units that are the same length as the chasm.

When your child has found the right length the dinosaur will cross the bridge. This took some time for Hamish to master but it was easy enough for him to grasp after I initially showed him how to measure.

Age:3+

Comments

I was impressed to find that there is a game for everyone. From educational games that help your child with reading, spelling, and maths to character games like Avengers, Tom & Jerry, and Batman to simple old-school fun games like Tetris.

The games are both PC and smartphone or Tablet compatible, allowing you to play anywhere and the games save to your web browser for you to log back in and replay.

Overall I was really impressed to find such a comprehensive library of fun and educational games on a safe site to use for Hamish.

Have you tried this site before? If so, what was your favorite game?