Monday, April 10, 2017

Games for Brains: Otrio

Playing Time: ~10 Minutes.
Players: 1-4

Overview:
When I first saw this game, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful wood board and the colorful rings.  Even without knowing how to play, it just looks interesting and fun (maybe that's just me, I have the same feeling when I walk into a kindergarten classroom).  It is played kind of similarly to tic-tac-toe, only a little more grown up.  You have three sizes of rings and can win by get three in a row of the same size or ascending to descending sizes.  Additionally, you can win by filling one space with a ring of each size.  For two player, you each play two different colors, which function independently.  While the concept is super simple and can be explained to a new person in about a minute, it is actually a bit more challenging that we first thought it would be.

Xander enjoys playing and it is great that it takes about 10 minutes or less to play.  Sometimes I just can't commit to a 45-60 minute game in the evenings!  We've played 2, 3 and 4 player, and liked all version.    

Angry that I took his spot

Brain Value:
Like I said, this game takes more brainpower than it first seems.  It is a very visual game, which is good for me since I am not always a visual person.  Since there are four different colors and multiple ways to win, you really have to pay attention to the whole board and try to anticipate what others might do.  He so easily gets caught up in what moves he wants to make, that he has to focus to block moves of other players.  I also like that he has to plan a little bit ahead, rather than just playing each move as he goes.

The company makes other games, so I am kind of intrigued to see if I like them as well.







Monday, January 2, 2017

When Early Learning Kid Hits Public School

Hello!  Remember me?  Life has been crazy, hence the silence around the blog.  I taught a new class this year, so all of my free time went to that.  Sadly, I barely got to do any fun learning activities with Xander, and when I did, I forgot to take pictures and blog.  I'll try to be better. :)
Anyway, since a lot of my blog focuses on early education, I figured I'd give an update as to what happened when Xander hit school.  This was his first official year in public school (we did preschool last year, but he was only there a couple hours a day and learned pretty much nothing).
In preparation for Xander entering kindergarten, I had contacted the principal last spring to address some of my concerns about having a kid who could read and do math enter kindergarten.  The principal pretty much wanted me to wait until summer to do anything.  In the summer I contacted both him and the teacher and was told we'd just wait til school started.  Two weeks after school started, and Xander was coming home having "learned" a letter a day, I contacted the teacher again and some meetings and evaluations were eventually set up.  We met and some fantastic ideas were discussed, but nothing was really implemented, so I kept pestering.  Basically, it was a long road to get to a place where we could address Xander's learning needs.

His evaluations came back showing that he was doing 2nd grade math and has a 5th grade reading fluency, so obviously a letter and number a day were just not appropriate.  In November it was finally decided that we should move Xander to 1st grade.  This involved changing schools (within the same district), but was felt to be a better fit.  Xander only missed the age cut off by about 6 weeks, so while he is now young for his grade, he's still fairly close in age to his peers.  It seems like the best balance for him.  He'd be much more challenged than in kindergarten, without it being too big of an age jump.  Also, it allows him to learn the process of school.

He's now been in 1st grade for a couple of months and likes it pretty well.  The teacher works really hard to meet each student where they are and the principal is very easy to work with as well.  He's grouped with the more advanced kids for their MTSS time, so is working on STEM skills and currently doing a research project.  He's getting challenged well in grammar also.  I am not 100% sure how I feel about his math placement, but overall I think his needs are being met the best they can at the moment.  He's learning science and social studies and really enjoys music, art and gym.  He gets along well with his peers and enjoys school.
1st Day at the new school!
  I'd LOVE to do more fun learning activities from home and have tons of ideas for them.  Xander would like that too.  Someday I will work more normal hours and maybe be able to do some afterschooling.  For now, we still use many iPad apps and Xander does some CLE lessons from time to time.

I still have absolutely no regrets about teaching him young, despite the initial stress of this school year.  Our learning time together was always intended to be fun and never took too much of his day.  He had plenty of time to play.  More than teaching him anything specific, I think I taught him how to learn.  He LOVES to read and drinks in stories, characters and information.  He has fantastic recall and figures things out quickly.  He likes learning and being challenged.

More than that, looking back at the pictures from when he was little, early education gave us SO many memories.  While he may not remember every art project, game or activity, having that time focused on just him is invaluable to both of us.  I'm incredibly grateful for that time and wouldn't trade it for anything.
Christmas morning he was surrounded by a pile of toys and the first thing he wanted to do was read.  Proud mama!
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