Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Recommended - An excellent read about the fascinating world of an autistic child genius and his mother's journey to help him nurture his spark

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.

The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.

Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark”—his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could? This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.

The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.

Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

It's International Brain Awareness Week!

March 11th-17th marks International Brain Awareness Week. For one week every March, Brain Awareness Week unites the global efforts of over 2200 universities, hospitals, patient groups, government agencies, schools, service groups and professional organisations in 76 countries in a week-long celebration of the brain. Each country marks the week differently, and in New Zealand the initiative has grown over the last eight years from the modest beginnings of one Open Day in Auckland to an intensive public brain health awareness programme. 

We at Muritai School just love the idea of teaching our kids more about just how brilliant and how unique each and every individual brain is. We love the idea so much that we are going to have our very own Brain Awareness Week in June this year. We will spend a whole week looking at:-
  • How our brains work
  • Keeping our brains healthy and safe
  • The plasticity of the brain - how our learning habits can grow our brains! 
It's going to be a fun and fact based week! 

Check out these brain raps to get you thinking......
Click on the links below to discover more about our fabulous, amazing, brilliant brains!

BrainyKids :  Online science resources for students, teachers, and parents, including games, labs, science fair ideas, brain maps, lesson plans, and more.
The Mindboggling Workbook:  A fun-filled activity book about the brain for children ages 5-9 including how the brain works, what it brain does, and how to take care of it.
It’s Mindboggling!:  A fun booklet of  games, riddles, and puzzles about the brain, perfect for elementary and middle school students. Available for download in several languages.
More Mindbogglers!: This addition to It’s Mindboggling! takes a closer look at learning and memory, the senses, drug addiction, and how the brain and nervous system work…still in a fun format.
Q&A: Answering Your Questions About Brain Research: A pamphlet with answers to commonly asked questions about the brain, for middle school through adult.
Brain Books for Budding Scientists—and All Children: From Dana’s Cerebrum journal, an article surveying the best neuroscience books for children.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Welcome to the Muritai M.A.T.CHbox!

Muritai M.A.T.CHbox has arrived! Come and explore and ignite your creative spark within! Students, teachers and parents alike can use the M.A.T.CHbox as a source of inspiration and a place to share amazing ideas, work and talents.
This blog is accessible to all but is specifically aimed at our children who have been identified as M.A.T.CH (Muritai Able and Talented Children). 

What does this mean?
More Able children are those who demonstrate a significantly higher level of ability than most children of the same age in one or more of the statutory curriculum areas such as Mathematics, Literacy, Science and Inquiry.
Talented students are children who display talent in one or more of the following areas – Art, Performing Arts, Music, and PE. 

Our Vision

  • To provide a differentiated provision, in and out of the classroom, for more able learners.
  • To provide alternative, personalised learning pathways for the more able and talented.
  • To be accessible for all.
  • To raise standards and provide challenge through a range of learning opportunities.

Video of the Week - Simple Ideas + Creative Thinking = Amazing Results..

Each week on the M.A.T.CHbox there will be a video to ignite some questions, curiosities and wonderment in our readers minds. Our first offering explores how coupling a simple idea with some creative thinking can produce amazing results.

Sometimes it is the simplest ideas that are the most effective. An example of this is an award winning ad for a Sony Bravia TV. 

The idea? 
Find a really steep street, release a quarter of a million coloured bouncy balls at the top and film. No computer graphics or trickery, just plain filming, slowed down and put to music with the hook line "colour like no other." 

The result? 
An amazing film and quadrupled sales for Sony. Sit back, relax, watch for yourself and then see the second video to watch how it was all done. 

How different would this scene have looked without gravity?!
Next time you sit down to plan a project, consider how you could use a simple idea to create amazing results.

Check out some of the recent thinking and doing of Muritai students!

Click on the links below to check out some examples of recent clever thinking and doing!

10 Practical and Fun Maths Games and Activities to Inspire Kids at Home

Maths is the universal language and affects almost every facet of life. Reinforcing your child’s maths skills with practical exercises and activities enhances proficiency and boosts self-esteem in a fun and engaging manner.
From fractions to decimals to geometry and measurements, simple games and activities can incorporate every basic maths skill, building a solid platform for life.
Below is a list of 10 games and activities that either inherently use mathematics or can easily be adapted to stress maths applications, sometimes without your child knowing they’re learning!

Primarily indoor maths activities include:

1. Maths folding: Origami 

Because it is an exacting activity that entails precise shapes and proportions, origami is a prime activity that enhances geometry. Triangles, squares, rectangles and more are inherent in the activity; origami would simply be a crumpled wad of paper without geometry.

2. Maths for fashion: Sewing 

The primary maths application involved in sewing is measuring. Checking length and size of the material is imperative in this activity. Additional benefits involved in sewing include patience, small motor coordination, and attention to detail.

3. Building maths: Fort Building 

Geometry leads the maths skills enhanced by fort building for many of the same reasons as sewing. Measuring length, shape and angle of the wood and other material is absolutely required as well and involves both whole numbers and fractions. Additional skills include hand-eye coordination and large motor coordination.

4. Crafty maths: Beading

This arts and crafts activity entails making jewellery, decorating clothing and accessories as well as creating artwork. Recognising and creating geometric and other patterns, counting and measuring lengths are the basic maths skills reinforced. Small motor skills are also reinforced in this popular pastime that can appeal to both boys and girls.

5. Puzzling maths: Tangrams 

A Chinese puzzle gaining in popularity, tangrams incorporate geometry as its maths-oriented skill. The pieces form a square that involves five triangles, a square and a rhomboid. The pieces can be rearranged or combined to create a wide variety of other shapes, limited only by a child’s imagination and pieces availability. All puzzles in general incorporate both geometry and basic counting skills.

6. Competitive maths: Board Games 

Every board game requires at least a rudimentary ability to count, add or subtract. If it’s a purchase game, use of play money enhances counting and possibly multiplication and division in addition to addition and subtraction.

7. Sharp card maths: Card Games 

Counting, addition, subtraction and geometry are the top math-related skills utilised and reinforced in any card game a child likes. Having the right number of cards to recognising card suits and card hierarchy use several maths skills that children need.

8. Tasty maths: Baking 

Volume measurement, weights and counting are the primary maths skills involved in baking. Knowing the difference between a liquid ounce and a weight ounce, for instance, is a supplementary maths skill that also plays an important part in baking and cooking in general.

Outdoor maths games and activities include:

9. Jumping maths: Hopscotch 

This game enhances and reinforces a child’s geometric acuity. The game sketch includes squares, triangles and circles or arcs. Proportions and distance judgement are equally utilised as well. A tremendous non-maths benefit of this game is that it’s terrific exercise.

10. Hit the goal maths: Football 

Football utilises the maths skills of distance and length measurements and counting. From determining yardage and number of players on the field, football cannot be played without using maths.

Shapes, sizes, amounts, sequences, and spaces, mathematics is a crucial field to know. Too few children enjoy learning and especially learning math. Whenever parents can maximise exposure to and utilisation of a child’s maths skills, the child benefits, and the child’s world expands. Use these and additional games and activities to enhance your child’s maths skills whenever possible.

Time to blow the Muritai Athletics trumpet!

Very well done to our amazing and talented Muritai athletes who performed so well in 2012. Check out these links to Muritai's sports blog to see just how well they did at the central and inter zone events!

High Achiever? Gifted Learner? Creative Thinker?

Click here for a very interesting perspective on these different aspects of "the more able" child

Video of the Week - Wow! Amazing 3D Street Art

Ode to the Brain

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