Featured Activity Kit: Puzzle: An Interactive Guide to Intriguing Puzzles and Games

Puzzle: An Interactive Guide to Intriguing Puzzles and Games is this month’s featured  activity kit. Filled with puzzles and games, this special folder allows for hours of fun brain power testing activities. Featuring twelve challenging and ingenious games, this kit is designed to test young readers’ puzzle-solving skills.

Intended for children ages 9 and up/grade levels 4-6,  this kit includes a sixteen page puzzle guidebook with an introduction to puzzles and instructions on how to make, solve, and play with the puzzles in the activity kit. When players are ready, they may press out the pieces for Composite Cube, a box full of puzzles to solve – including Number Wheel Puzzle, Three-Sided Maze, Strips of Color Puzzle, Packing Puzzle, Dancing Squares Puzzle, and Nothing Matching Puzzle. Other fun and interactive games include: Obelisk of Gold, Metropolis Game, Vanishing Square, Winning Dice Game, Figure It Out Game, Matching Pairs Game, Magic Wheel Puzzle, Five-by-Five Puzzle, Disappearing Faces, Color Shape Game, and Tri-Domino Game. This kit also includes a solutions book providing possible answers for those challenging games.

Puzzles provide many learning benefits for the child’s mind and cognitive development. The manipulation of puzzle pieces may improve hand-eye coordination, and as a child looks at various pieces and figures out where they fit or don’t fit, this encourages problem-solving skills. Recalling size, color and shape of various pieces may also enhance memory and strategy development.

Puzzle can be enjoyed in the classroom within small groups. This activity kit is currently on display on the ground floor of the OISE Library, next to the Circulation Desk. Please feel free to check it out! For more activity kits similar to Puzzle, please see the OISE Library K-12 Manipulatives Database or browse the 3rd floor of the OISE Library.


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Canadian Farm Radio Forum

From 1941-1965, the Canadian Farm Radio Forum operated as a mechanism for rural adult education, using the radio as a means of spanning Canada’s geographic distances and therefore reaching large numbers of Canadians simultaneously. Advertised as a discussion group for Canadian farm families, the Farm Radio Forum was equally established to empower rural Canadians, who were particularly hard-hit by the Great Depression: the goal was to help them develop solutions to the economic challenges they faced.

Sponsored by the Canadian Association for Adult Education, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Farm Radio Forum launched in Ontario, the Maritime provinces, and English-speaking Quebec in January 1941. In the fall of 1941, the Farm Radio Forum expanded into western Canada. Farm Forum groups were organized in communities across the country, with provincial committees established to coordinate with the national office. At its peak in 1949, some 1600 groups were registered with the Farm Radio Forum, with over 21,000 individuals tuning into the weekly broadcast. The average size of a Farm Forum group was about 15-17 members, although some could be as small as 5-6 or as large as 35-40.

Farm Forum groups would typically gather at a neighbour’s home to listen to the broadcast. The Farm Radio Forum broadcast aired every Monday night from November to March. Each broadcast was 25 minutes long, followed by a 5 minute provincial newscast with a summary of local activities. The broadcasts themselves used a variety of formats, from speeches and interviews to expert discussion panels to dramatizations set on the fictional “Sunnybridge Farm.” The broadcasts addressed a wide range of topics, such as “Should Farmers Grow More?,” “Can We Pay Off Our Mortgages?,” and “The Farmer’s Image.” A Farm Forum Guide with information and articles about each topic was distributed to Farm Forum members a week in advance, so that members could study the topic before the broadcast aired. These Farm Forum Guides also provided groups with sets of questions to facilitate discussion following the broadcast – this discussion could last anywhere from 30 minutes to two or even three hours. Following the discussion, each group would report back to the Provincial Farm Forum Secretary with their conclusions, and every fourth week the radio broadcast would feature a summary of Farm Forum groups’ opinions from across the country.

According to the 1949 Farm Radio Forum Handbook, in addition to fostering educational discussion, the Farm Radio Forum increased neighbourliness, broadened members’ horizons, and even influenced public opinion. Furthermore, the problem solving ethos of the Farm Radio Forum resulted in concrete community projects. These projects varied according to local needs, and included building recreation facilities such as skating rinks and swimming pools, livestock vaccinations and disease control, road improvement, rural mail delivery, purchasing school equipment, providing school bus services, building community halls, and extending electrical and telephone service to rural homes, as well as giving donations to existing charities.

The Radio Forum model of adult education was adopted in other parts of the world in the 1950s, including India, France, and Ghana. Founded in 1979, Farm Radio International continued to carry out this type of programming and today supports farmers and rural communities in over 30 African countries.

The Farm Radio Forum resources here at the OISE Library include pamphlets, reports, programs, newsletters, correspondence, planning documents, newspaper articles, and photographs. A selection of materials will be on display in the glass table on the ground floor of the OISE Library through the summer.

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OISE Library Display: Outdoor Education

Primarily, the way that the classroom and other educational environments have been conceptualized within Western society centers around a space that is enclosed and indoors. Oftentimes, recess and gym are the only school-time activities associated or deemed appropriate for the outdoors. However, there are a number of benefits to outdoor education and learning environments that take place outside. These benefits not only affect a student’s motor skills, but also their ability to discover, synthesize and comprehend all aspects of their education in its entiretyincluding subjects like math, science and languages. The books included in this lobby display attempt to help reconceptualize the classroom environment, break down the associated physical boundaries and extend the classroom to the outdoors.

Based around the concept that “if you can do it indoors, you can probably do it outside”, Cultivating Outdoor Classrooms: Designing And Implementing Child-Centered Learning Environments by Eric Nelson analyzes the many ways that outdoor education can benefit a child’s learning and development. By offering suggestions and strategies concerning ways that outdoor spaces can be harnessed and transformed into places of learning, Nelson helps to promote ways to help children spend quality time with nature in a more stimulating environment conducive to discovery and learning. Along with a full range of outdoor educational activities, this item also includes recommendations concerning ways to collaborate with other teachers when creating outdoor learning spaces, as well as methods to measure the success of an outdoor environment or activity.

Perfect for those teachers interested in implementing outdoor education within their classroom but don’t know where or how to begin, Let’s Take it Outside! Teacher-Created Activities for Outdoor Learning acts as a great guidebook for getting started. Filled with more than 100 outdoor learning activities and activity ideas, Let’s Take it Outside! helps education administrators better imagine how the classroom can be effectively implemented outside of the walls of a building. Organized by themes such as colours, counting and touch, the activities outlined in this manual help to build upon and expand a child’s intellectual education while stimulating both their bodies and minds. Helping to build skills in areas like math, literacy and science, this item helps to prove that outdoor education helps to develop more than just a child’s motor skills and physical health.

Created by the noted environment education expert David Sobel, Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning has been cited as a revolutionary source that will “change the way that you think about early childhood education.” Based from a framework rooted within the European educational scene, this item explores the stimulating benefits of nature and outdoor education and promotes an educational environment that incorporates those aspects. Identified as “Nature Preschools” and “Forest Kindergartens”, this item works to create a framework that would help to reconceptualize the classroom into a stimulating, nurturing and entirely outdoor space.

While focusing on the visual and physical benefits of outdoor education, A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature also highlights the many ways that a child’s skill and education within the field of science can be expanded with outdoor play. Filled with more than 55 suggested outdoor activities, this item acts as a great way to get children excited about going outside and taking advantage of the physical and intellectual stimulants that are so intricately associated with any outdoor environment. By featuring many activities that are more geared toward the scientific field, this item is a great resource in stimulating a child’s natural curiosity with the world around them in such a way that expands their knowledge concerning nature.

A colourful reminder of all the fun that can be had outside, On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole is an inspiring children’s picture book designed to get children excited about exploring the outdoorseven if it’s just their front yard. This item follows the story of a girl named Caroline, who is confused why her house on Meadowview Street doesn’t have a view of a meadow at all! Bored with her grassy but plain front yard, Caroline sets to work in creating a meadow of her own creation that would act as a nice home for all the birds and butterflies of the street. Offering a great lesson concerning the potential of the outdoors and the capability of young children, this item helps to encourage children to go outside, play, and learn new things by discovering nature.

For these and more books on outdoor education, visit the Lobby Display on the ground floor of the OISE building. Please feel free to take out the materials found in the lobby displayOISE staff would be happy to take these out for you.

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OISE Lobby Display: Mental Health Education

For Mental Health Week (May 7th – 13th), the OISE Library is featuring a selection of books and resources from our Curriculum Resources and Stacks collection related to Mental Health Education. These titles cover topics such as mental health in colleges/universities, mental health in the classroom, mindfulness, and more.

Mental health matters: A practical guide to identifying and understanding mental health issues in primary schools, by Paula Nagel

Mental health matters: A practical guide to identifying and understanding mental health issues in primary schools is a teacher’s guide that examines children’s mental health in an educational context. Recent research on children’s mental health has shown that one in ten school children are diagnosed with a clinical mental health disorder. According to Nagel, these mental health problems are likely to manifest as behavior problems and  are often treated with ineffective behavioral management methods. The author explores the complex relationship between unmet mental health needs and behavioral issues through various case studies. Divided into six chapters, the book explores triggers, risk factors, and various types of environments that affect a child’s mental heath. The book is a comprehensive and practical guide that provides classroom teachers with tools to help improve children’s confidence and mental health.

Social and emotional learning in the classroom : promoting mental health and academic success, by Kenneth W. Merrell and Barbara A. Gueldner

Social and emotional learning in the classroom: Prompting mental health and academic success is a teacher’s guide that provides resources and strategies on social and emotional learning (SEL). The book consists of eight chapters, the first half which defines SEL and examine its implementation and benefits in the classroom. The latter half of the book explores the ways in which educators can effectively adopt social and emotional learning in their teaching plans. Using strategies based in recent research in SEL, the goal of the book is to create greater awareness of student mental health in the classroom and ensure that teachers are equipped with the proper knowledge to cultivate a healthy and happy learning environment.

This is NOT a fire drill: Crisis intervention and prevention on college campuses, by Rick A. Myer, Richard K. James and Patrice Moulton

This is not a fire drill: Crisis intervention and prevention on college campuses is a comprehensive guide for post-secondary faculty, administrators, and educators on how to create a crisis intervention program on campus. The goal of the book is to highlight the importance of crisis intervention and prevention in schools and help staff and faculty to identify and aid students in crisis. It explores topics such as the basics of crisis intervention, organizing crisis response, recovery after crisis, crisis intervention training, and more. Each of the twelve chapters in the book provide readers with guidelines and tips on how to effectively establish a crisis intervention protocol in a college or university system. Authors Rick Myer, Richard James, and Patrice Moulton combine their extensive experiences as crisis intervention/prevention specialists to provide readers with real-life cases and examples of crisis intervention in practice on campuses.

Mental health practice in today’s schools : Issues and interventions, edited by Raymond H. Witte and G. Susan Mosley-Howard

Mental health practice in today’s schools: Issues and interventions is an anthology of scholarly articles that explore at some of the most crucial and current mental health concerns in schools.  Despite receiving greater attention in recent years, schools often lack effective mental health programs for their students. The goal of this book is to equip school staff, administrators, and teachers with the proper tools that will help them to facilitate good mental health practices within the classroom. The book focuses on prevention and intervention tactics, and argues that proper counselling is key to improving student mental health in schools. Furthermore, the book explores a variety of topics in mental health education, such as, at-risk students, culturally sensitive practices, support networks, law and ethics, crisis response, abuse, and more. The contributors of this resource share their extensive knowledge and experience in mental health and education, and provide readers with evidence-based research and real-life cases.

Sitting still like a frog: Mindfulness exercises for kids (and their parents), by Eline Snel

Sitting still like a frog: Mindfulness exercises for kids (and their parents) is written by Eline Snel, a prominent author on the topics of infusing mindfulness practices into education and healthcare. This handbook helps both children and adults cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and of awareness for the world. The book is comprised of ten chapters that explore topics such as mindful parenting, handling emotions, attention to breathing, attention to the body, and more. Each chapter takes the reader through different mindfulness practices and techniques, which are accompanied by visual audio guides provided by the book’s DVD.

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New Titles: Teaching in the Digital Age

As contemporary society delves further into the Digital Age, technological devices, systems and programs become more and more integral to the transfer of knowledge and information. So integrated are these digital interfaces that some privileged classes of youth may no longer remember or have had the experience of learning in an environment that is completely “unplugged”. Whether they possess full or partial access to digital learning, it is important that all students understand the processes by which they can both effectively and safely utilize technology and digital interfaces. The books featured in this post will help teachers, guardians, and educational administrators do just that.

The first item in the spotlight is Diversifying Digital Learning: Online Literacy and Educational Opportunity edited by William G. Tierney, Zoë B. Corwin, and Amanda Ochsner. This book explores the issues surrounding what is called the “digital divide”, a phenomenon that pertains to the circumstances by which some demographics of students are privileged and thus empowered through access to digital and technological resources, while others are not. Diversifying Digital Learning explores the ways that this divide perpetuates digital illiteracy and thus further disempowers those communities who do not possess access to those resources. While also highlighting the various ways that demographics like women and people of colour are uniquely disadvantaged by this system, this item acts as a great resource in understanding the complications involved in erasing the digital divide while still offering some possible solutions.

Game On! Gamification, Gameful Design, and the Rise of the Gamer Educator works to revolutionize the very way that classrooms are designed and structured. Taking its inspiration from video games and social media, this item works to explore the classroom that offers a more personalized, interactive, and inclusive environment that mirrors the student experience when they engage with the digital world. Placing heavy emphasis on creativity and engagement, the type of classroom promoted in this book privileges the environment where the student is involved and interested in their own education. By outlining the ways that this type of engagement can empower students, particularly high-risk youth, Game On! offers the unique opportunity of observing and understanding a learning environment more in-tune with the desires and needs of contemporary youth in the Digital Age.

Similar in its recognition of the transformative nature of digital learning, Learning to teach in the Digital Age: New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools explores and evaluates the many ways that the inclusion of technology in classrooms and lesson-plans inevitably works to transform the very conceptualization and foundation of education. The content of this book follows author Sean Justice, who attends a girls private school in the northeastern United States  to observe the effects technology has in the classroom, and the ways that students, educators, and education administrators interact with them. In the end, Justice claims that the findings suggest that digital learning can be successfully integrated into the classroom, and can be done so in innovative and creative ways.

Digital Technologies in Early Childhood Art: Enabling Playful Experiences is the book for the guardian or educator who feels weary when considering the many ways that digital technologies are affecting the growth and development of young students, and specifically, the development of their creativity. In her book, Mona Sakr discusses the positive effects of art-making like drawing, painting, and modelling have on youth, and the many ways that such activities and their effects can be adopted onto a digital platform. By offering a number of recommendations of how youth can creatively engage with art-making processes online, Sakr demonstrates the positive ways that digital technology can help inform and shape the cornerstone moments and experiences in a child’s development.

Another book that touches on the role that technology has on children’s development, Techwise Infant and Toddler Teachers: Making Sense of Screen Media for Children under 3 explores the relationship between screen media and children under three years of age. This item explores the role that screen media has in the education of toddlers, and offers guidance in making that role appropriate and productive. With a heavy emphasis on educating toddlers in becoming proficient and responsible in their interaction with screen media, this book sets the stage for guardians, educators and education administrators to inform and empower toddlers in becoming “techwise”, or rather, digitally literate.

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