Learning from Home – 28 May 2020

Howdy folks! Today sees us at the (almost) end of May. It’s terrifying! One of the questions in the quiz from the newspaper on Saturday asked how many days there were in 2020; I wanted to answer 17,364, because that’s what it feels like (but I didn’t because I’m also extremely competitive). I hope the activities I’ve found for you help those 1,447 day months go a little faster ?.

As some of you may have worked out, I’m a sucker for an interesting/cute/funny animal. The Florida Aquarium has a great YouTube Channel which features videos which are entertaining (African penguins touring the aquarium is my favourite), informative, and educational. Whether you’re interested in conservation, art or comedy, there’s something for everyone (and if you have a child or student who’s obsessed with a particular marine animal, chances are there’s an episode featuring it).

Australia Post and the National Archives of Australia have established a national letterbox they’ve named ‘Dear Australia’ as a way of trying to preserve memories and experiences of this historic time. They’re asking Australians to write a letter or draw a picture about their experiences over the past few months. This would be an excellent project for a whole family or class to take part in. It would be interesting to challenge children to think about both the positives and negatives of the past few months, as well as the lessons and skills they’ve learnt. If appropriate, it might be interesting to have students share their letters to see the range of experiences they’ve had as a group, and the way that what some see as a negative consequence of the shutdown and isolation, others might see as a positive. Some state libraries are running similar projects. For example, the State Library of NSW is running the #NSWatHome project, asking people to share photos of their isolation experience.

Do you have a child, group of students, or even an adult nearby, who you can’t tear away from screens? Well, now they can make use of that time for the Kangaroo Island Dunnart Survey! As you probably know Kangaroo Island was devastated by bushfire last summer, and this survey is being conducted by the South Australian Government as part of their recovery and regeneration process. This is important and time-consuming, but not difficult, work – thus the need to recruit a band of details-oriented volunteers. There is a tutorial to take you through what you need to do, but essentially volunteers identify animals in images that have been captured by motion sensor cameras placed in what remains of the native vegetation on Kangaroo Island. If nothing else, it’s worth it just to see some amazing, and often quite beautiful, native animals.

A couple of weeks ago I let you know that the Kids News Short Story Writing Competition had launched for the year. This week I wanted to let you know about 100 Story Building (there’s a lesson in homonyms right there), a social enterprise attempting to give voice to marginalised young people. As well as some excellent workshops you might like to make use of if you’re in Victoria once things reopen properly, they also have a range of online resources, including an excellent YouTube Channel, around creative writing. Material is suitable for teachers, parents and children.

See you next Thursday!



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