Teaching 3D Modeling to Children
This is a guest blog post by CGCOOKIE.com
The benefits of educational computer use on children’s learning are well documented. We know that basic computer literacy is a part of an essential skillset for kids as young as preschool age and an increasing number of parents are including some form of computer education into their homeschool curriculum. Many go as far as teaching basic programming, but 3D modeling can be intimidating to parents without advanced computer background. However, with the 3D printing revolution in full swing and mounting evidence indicating the cognitive benefits of spatial training, sticking with two-dimensional approaches to computer education might mean you are falling behind the technology curve.
What is 3D Modeling?
In broad terms, any three dimensional object created using a computer is considered a 3D model. The purpose is either to replicate a real-life object, or to give form to an imaginary item, like a fantasy artefact – or even a fire-breathing dragon! While such examples are most familiar to children who see 3D models in movies and TV shows employing computer graphics, the uses of 3D design are by no means limited to the entertainment industry; architectural visualization, industrial design or medical software with realistic representation of human anatomy all lean on 3D models.
For children and young learners, 3D modeling presents an exciting creative outlet limited only by their imagination, but the benefits of thinking and imagining in 3D go far beyond just having fun.
3D Thinking and Spatial Intelligence
Research indicates that strong spatial thinking, a skill necessary for creating three dimensional objects, is directly linked to success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively known as the STEM disciplines. Project Talent, a groundbreaking study following over 400,000 American high school students found a rigorous link between high school students with a strong spatial orientation and their likelihood to major in STEM disciplines. Other studies support this finding, showing that spatial thinkers are more likely to be interested and successful in STEM-oriented education.
And the evidence is even more compelling when it comes to the ability to promote and enhance 3D thinking and spatial performance. Playing Tetris, for instance, was shown to lead to substantial improvements in spatial thinking, even translating into an improved ability to construct 3D models from 2D drawings. Creating 3D objects on a computer is likely to exacerbate such improvements and promote spatial understanding even further. This is good news for parents, meaning that spatial thinking can be taught and improved.
A Future Career Path
As if boosting creativity and spatial intelligence wasn’t enough, an additional benefit of 3D modeling knowledge is the career path it opens. Companies across the board have a need for 3D designers for a variety of projects including 3D animation or 3D graphic design and the demand is expected to continue growing. Furthermore, 3D design is a necessary precursor to the currently omnipresent technique of 3D printing. Rapid prototyping, a term describing the process of turning a 3D design into a tangible part through the process of 3D print is used in nearly every industry to test designs before they go into production and can be applied to anything from a piece of furniture to a medical device.
Blender as Free Software of Choice for 3D
The case for learning 3D modeling is strong, but with an overwhelming selection of 3D modeling software on the market, which one is the best for homeschoolers? Jonathan Williamson, head modeler for an online digital art learning site CG Cookie, is a strong advocate for Blender, open source software: “For the most part, all currently available 3D modeling programs have comparable features and capabilities. But unlike other software packages which can cost hundreds of dollars, Blender is open source, meaning that it can be downloaded for free at www.blender.org, installed within minutes and used immediately,” explains Jonathan who has been teaching Blender to young learners as well as adults via online tutorials for over 5 years. “Blender has very low system requirements and it’s compatible with nearly all operating systems including older versions of Windows which makes it great even for users without access to the latest technology.”
Furthermore, Blender not only enables users to model in 3D, but allows them to animate their models, setting them in motion. And if that wasn’t enough, a simple one-click process exports the final model into a file which can be sent to a 3D printer. “Nothing is more fun to kids than creating a model in Blender and getting it printed. This can be done using various online providers who mail you the finished 3D print and we are seeing an increasing number of public libraries which offer access to 3D printers, making this cutting edge technology available to anybody,” explains Jonathan.
When Can Kids Gets Started With 3D?
Jonathan has seen how eager children are to learn 3D modeling and believes there are virtually no age limits: “The great thing about 3D modeling is that children want to learn it. They see it in the movies they watch and the games they play which drives their desire to replicate it,” says Jonathan. And his colleague Kent Trammell, a professional Blender artist, agrees: “The majority of popular children’s movies nowadays are computer animated, so kids see 3D characters and visual effects from an early age and learning the process behind these creations comes very natural to them,” explains Kent who has experimented with introducing children as young as five years old to 3D modeling.
With Blender software available to anybody within minutes and virtually all industries currently leaning on 3D design, introducing children to basic concepts of 3D modeling is the smart choice. CG Cookie offers a free video tutorial on Blender Basics, covering the very first steps from software download and installation to simple modeling tasks in Blender. Explained in a clear, concise and structured way, this is a great way to get started in the world of 3D. And as for the next steps? What you and your children chose to create in 3D is entirely up to you. Have fun!
CG Cookie is a site dedicated to providing the best in digital art education. We offer a full library of online tutorials for 3D art, as well as digital illustration, game design and sculpting. Our focus is on giving aspiring artist the tools they need to realize their dreams: whether it’s in their own basement or in the competitive world of digital art industry.
 Daniel L. Shea, David Lubinski, and Camilla P. Benbow, “Importance of Assessing Spatial Ability In Intellectually Talented Young Adolescents: A 20-Year Longitudinal study,” Journal of Educational Psychology 93, no.3 (2001): 604-614.
 Melissa S. Terlecki, Nora S.Newcombe, and Michelle Little, „Durable and Generalized Effects of Spatial Experience on Mental Rotation: Gender Differences in Growth Patterns,“ Applied Cognitive Psychology 22, no.7 (2008): 996-1013.
3 Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s
Rather than launching your child into music lessons at the first opportunity, consider three strategies for nurturing your child’s musical intelligence at home that will make future music lessons more fruitful.
Play Recordings of Great Music
When I was young, my mother would often play recordings of classical music. I particularly remember being entranced by Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf when I was no more than three or four years old. By the time I was six or seven, I was playing recordings of Beethoven symphonies more often than my parents!
Playing recordings of great music is a wonderful way to nurture your child’s musical intelligence. But what is “great music”? Of course, it’s in the “ear of the beholder.” That said, it doesn’t hurt to start with classical music. It’s called “classical” for a reason, after all! That said, there is “classical music” in every genre – from jazz to blues to country to rock. There is classic jazz like Miles Davis, the classic blues of Robert Johnson, the great country tunes of Dolly Parton, and of course, The Beatles.
Rhythm is one of essential roots of music (the other is song). An easy way to stimulate your child’s sense of rhythm is by having a couple of percussion instruments in the house. Make up rhythms together, play them to the beat of favorite music, or create a mini drum circle.
Another excellent way to develop your child’s sense of rhythm is through dance. Dancing not only teaches rhythmic fundamentals such as how stay in time to a beat, it demonstrates that there’s nothing to be ashamed of in moving the body rhythmically. This helps keep a natural sense of rhythm alive that your child can draw upon later, if and when they begin formal musical studies.
Song is the other essential root of music. Take advantage of it by singing with your child. Even if you don’t think you’re a good singer, you can help your child learn to sing by encouraging them to sing along to recordings of their favorite kids’ songs, and maybe later to music they discover by themselves.
Like dancing, by singing with them you demonstrate that expressing oneself vocally is both natural and fun, and impede any self-consciousness they may feel about it. In fact, you are more likely to achieve this if you don’t sing very well!
Listen, Move, Sing…
Nurturing a musical child is not difficult. By exposing them to music regularly and consciously, being rhythmic with them, and singing with them, you will nurture a musically intelligent child, with all the mental, emotional and social benefits that brings. Even better, you can begin doing all these things from an early age. By the time your child is six or seven they may be yearning to play an instrument, and ahead of their peers who haven’t had the rich exposure to music that you have provided them.
Doug Hanvey enjoys nurturing musically intelligent children at the Portland Piano Lab in Portland, Oregon.
3 Reasons to Keep Older Children Reading is a guest blog post written by Jennifer Campbell from RedAppleReading.com.
Reading is a crucial skill for continued school success. Unfortunately, many kids begin to lose interest in reading as they become older. Some parents assume that since their child has already learned how to read, daily reading is unimportant. However, being able to read does not automatically assume full literacy. Continued reading throughout the school years is vital for developing fluency, comprehension and vocabulary.
1) Increasing Vocabulary – One important reason for students to continue reading as they become older is because regular reading helps to increase vocabulary. As a child continues to read, the books they choose become progressively more difficult. More advanced books lead to more challenging texts; thus helping to foster a greater vocabulary in the student. If a child stops reading, he loses the opportunity to encounter new words as frequently as he would if he regularly picked up a book. Older kids who do not regularly read for pleasure may experience frustration when their high school teacher gives them a reading assignment because they do not understand the meaning of words within the text.
2) Developing Fluency – Children who carry on with reading as they progress through school also have a better chance of attaining reading fluency. Fluency is the ability to read accurately at an acceptable rate (not too fast or slow), with proper expression, while following the punctuation. Fluency is important because it affects reading comprehension. In their book, Reutzel and Cooter state that, “Because of the ‘automatic’ nature of their reading, fluent readers are able to focus their attention on the ideas in the text and comprehend the author’s message.” (The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read) *. It is imperative for older children to continue reading in order to develop this level of fluency.
3) Building Comprehension – Reading involves much more than just putting sounds together in order to form words. Full literacy also involves comprehending what has been read. After all, the reading process is of little value if your child does not understand what she is reading. As has been stated above, children who read regularly develop fluency, which in turn leads to better comprehension. In this way, fluency and reading comprehension are inseparable – one skill leads to another.
If your kiddo’s interest in reading has waned, encourage him to renew his passion. Perhaps a trip to the bookstore or library to pick up a new book will help to reignite his love of reading. Be sure to pick up a book for yourself too!
Source: * Education.Com
Jennifer Campbell is a mom of 4 and blog writer for RedAppleReading.com. RedAppleReading offers online learning fun to help get kiddos up to speed by the end of the year.
Courses That Prepare Your Homeschooler to Leave the Nest – This is a guest blog post from Alpha Omega Publications.
Ben has a winning personality, a B average, and one semester of homeschooling to go. What Ben doesn’t have is a plan for after high school graduation. After talking to his parents about his interests and goals, he adds a CTE elective to his coursework. The course puts him on a path to a profession that he will both excel at and enjoy, web programming.
With 18 online Career and Technical Education (CTE) electives, Alpha Omega Publications offers courses that teach students like Ben 21st century job skills that students can channel directly into a career. Available for grades 7-12, the CTE courses fall into five different career clusters, including business management and administration, health science, information technology, middle school, and STEM.
Research reveals that employers are struggling to find qualified job applicants. According to the ManpowerGroup’s sixth annual Talent Shortage Survey, 52 percent of employers in the U.S. are finding it difficult to fill job openings due to a lack of available talent.
CTE courses combat that issue by showing students a direct connection between doing well in high school and transitioning smoothly to college or getting a good job after graduation. In addition to teaching marketable skills, CTE can help all high school students identify their talents and ease the decision of declaring a college major.
See AOP’s Complete List of CTE Courses
Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, educational books and games, support services, family entertainment, and an accredited online academy. To learn more, visit www.aophomeschooling.com or call 800-622-3070.
Brightstorm–Study Faster. Get Better Grades.
Brightstorm is a great online resource for homeschooling older kids. The website offers:
- Over 3,500 video lessons in math, science, English, and test prep
- The videos are mobile-friendly so kids can study from their smartphone or tablet (very convenient!)
- The instructors are educated, with master’s degrees and higher. Plus, they’re likable and relatable (always a plus!).
- The videos are interesting–I enjoyed watching them—they were not tedious or boring. And best of all—I felt I was learning something important!
- Flexibility– you can use Brightstorm to teach your child an entire subject or you can use their videos as help to explain difficult concepts
- Kids can find a study help video easily. They can search
- by topic name
- by search word
- by textbook page (this is really cool!)
With Brightstorm, students can find help in the following subjects—
I did watch a variety of videos in the above subjects. The Order of Operations videos were very helpful, the Physics lesson on Unit Systems was as well, and I learned that there are three classes of zeroes in Significant Figures (I didn’t know this…or if I did, I had forgotten this fact entirely). The PSAT info was especially informative, and would be helpful to any student getting ready to take the test.
You can become a Brightstorm member for as little as $14.99 a month when you subscribe for the year—so it is affordable. You can also choose the flexibility to subscribe on a month-to-month basis for $29.99/month.
I’m Liesl Johnson, an educator with a passion for great vocabulary instruction. With degrees in English education and educational psychology as well as a decade of experience in teaching vocabulary, I’m able to bring the very best vocabulary instruction to your kids.
I’d like to invite you and your kids to sign up for my daily vocabulary lessons. They’re free and always will be. They get sent straight to your inbox, and I think you’ll find that it’s really easy and convenient to use them as a regular part of your homeschool curriculum.
I call this lesson series “Make Your Point.” It’s because the lessons help you say exactly what you mean with no wasted words, in both conversation and writing.
Each daily issue highlights a sophisticated but useful word, with an easy-to-understand definition, plenty of examples, engaging review questions, and more. You can work through each short, fun lesson along with your kids in about five to ten minutes.
Over time, as your kids study with “Make Your Point” issues, they’ll be understanding more difficult texts, speaking more precisely, and writing with better diction and concision. They’ll also be well-prepared for the reading and writing portions of their college entrance exams, but more importantly, they’ll be ready to shine in their college courses.
Please sign up here!
I’ll never spam you or reveal your e-mail address to anyone else. And, you can always unsubscribe with a quick click if you find you don’t like “Make Your Point.”
But, I bet you’ll like it! I’ve heard from students as young as 9 and adults as old as 60 that they love “Make Your Point” and find it useful. Here are some of those compliments from a few of the 1,000+ subscribers:
“Really well done.” Bob Meadows
“I just received my first email. I love it.” -Elizabeth Entenman
“The perfect remedy to knowing a word without being able to explain it.” -Steven Kim
“Really useful!” -Ashleigh Barrett-Young
“These are very well done…. wish I had this back when I was going for my SATs.” -Dave Bradley
Thanks so much for trying it out! I pour my heart into writing each lesson, just like you do every day as you teach your kids.
With warm appreciation,
The Science of Choice – Economics
How could you have ever thought that was a good idea? As a parent, I’m often baffled by the choices our children make. From wearing shorts (or having bare legs) when there’s snow outside, to starting research papers late on a Sunday evening, our teens’ choices leave me shaking my head more often than not.
Apart from simply keeping our offspring safe, energized and creatively alive, our job as parents is to help them make better choices. Good news! Here is one suggestion: You can encourage them to take a great economics course! Economics you say? What does that have to do with teenagers? With most economics courses, the answer would be “not very much.” But Common Sense Economics is different.
Common Sense Economics?
While sometimes referred to as the “dismal science,” economics is also called “the science of choice” – so in theory, at least, it could be helpful. Most economics courses are designed to train future economists. Not much fun in that. But economics taught right is different. Common Sense Economics is not some kind of math class. Instead, it focuses on helping students learn how to apply economic reasoning in real life choices they will face as individuals and as citizens.
Making Conscious Decisions
We are constantly faced with a wide range of choices: What do I eat for breakfast? Should I participate in sports? What kind of phone should I buy? Should I insure it? Should I go to a public or a private college? Should I go to a community college? What career do I want? What about a summer job?
Applying Choice to Life
All these are economic choices, because all of them involve tradeoffs. If I have pancakes, I can’t have eggs (except with the farmer’s choice at Bob Evans). If I work at McDonald’s in summer, I can’t go to camp. If I study law, I’ll have to give up my music career. And on and on. Economics can help you think about how to decide. By connecting economic conceptions to everyday life, Common Sense Economics helps teens learn how to make informed choices. It’s fun, too!
Keys to Economic Reasoning
Everything has a cost. Not necessarily a monetary cost, but a cost in money or time or opportunity. If I go to the concert, I won’t be able to go to the ball game at the same time, even if I have the money.
How do I become successful? By becoming really good at helping others. Steve Jobs became wealthy by creating products that were helpful to lots and lots of people. If you want to become financially successful, do something that helps a lot of people, too.
By learning how to be deliberate about choices, teens can start on the path to success. …and if they want to wear shorts in winter, they ought to consider living in a warmer place!
Frederic J. Fransen, Ph.D. is the Founder of Common$ense Education
See their free MOOC listing at http://www.homeschool.com/freebies/deals/
RETHINKING HOW OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM LABELS
This is a guest blog post written by Carreen Schroeder.
I formally entered the professional realm of education in Southern Ontario, in
1999. I was initially hired by the Catholic district school system in my
hometown and was extremely proud to be part of a district that pioneered
inclusion – all children, regardless of their disability, were (and are) educated
in the very same classrooms right alongside their abled peers. Now back
then, a disability was any seemingly abnormal function from a behavioral,
intellectual, physical or developmental standpoint. What is ‘abnormal’? Well I
suppose for the powers that be at the decision-making level, it is anyone who
operates in a way that places him outside the operational function of the
majority. And let’s face it, it is just more convenient that way. If we can place
labels on children who are functioning outside the norm, we can get on with
the business at hand: teaching and learning, right? And those with labels will
be given the educational guidance that we, the educators decide is
appropriate based on their disability.
A few years later, a new term was introduced to the educators. The term
disability would now be replaced with the term, exceptionality. Again, the
powers that be felt this was a more fitting term because its connotation was
set in a more positive light and I totally bought into it. I bought into it to such
an extreme that when I relocated to New York State, I would proudly
enlighten the educators and the professors (yes, I continued to take university
courses in Special Education so I could continue to be an authority in the
field, or so I thought) by subtly and sometimes directly using this new term,
as though I was some sort of an expert – hypocrite.
I reflect on all of this now and realize I knew nothing of this amazing and
dynamic group of individuals I had the privilege to call my students year
after year. I only wish I could go back and apologize to each and every one of
these young men and women and humbly ask for their forgiveness. I knew
NOTHING of their amazing talents, gifts, intelligence and wisdom. I
professed that I did. I tried to have the greatest of open hearts and open minds
but sadly, I had learned that I was the expert and that my job was to teach
according to each individual’s ability or exceptionality. Definitely and
entirely the wrong track.
I have changed a great deal over the past number of years and so much of
what I thought I knew has also dramatically changed for the better. Up until
my late 30′s, I was part of the vast majority who feel we must be the authority
(or at least pretend to be) on a great many subjects, or else we fear
humiliation by the masses – authority on religion and spirituality, authority on
parenting, on education, on societal values, race relations, women’s issues the
list goes on. The truth is, none of us are. What we are, are eternal
students, should we be humble enough to admit this truth. The world is in
desperate need of the global humility of man. I urge you to contemplate this
for awhile and consider your stance. Only the bravest will be able to attempt
complete humility but those who do, may come to realize the most magical of
Is it entirely possible that all of these uniquely talented individuals we once
termed disabled for our own convenience, possess qualities we just don’t yet
comprehend? Have we been so conditioned by our own egos to be the
authority, that we have missed out on extraordinary human beings who bring
enlightenment, inspiration and healing to this broken world?
I ask that you take the next 20 minutes now and……… FORGET WHAT
It may just change your life. I know it changed mine.
Carreen Schroeder of New York Adventures in Homeschooling, has been a certified teacher in Ontario and in New York State since 1999, holding an Ms.Ed in Elementary Education, a B.A. in French Language and Literature and a Specialist in Special Education. She has been homeschooling her youngest of three daughters since 2012 and is passionate about assisting homeschooling families with free resources and homeschooling services. Visit Carreen at:
Can you believe that summer is right around the corner? Summer – full of hot dog roasts, swim parties, fireworks, lightening bugs, family vacations, lazy mornings…and at some point, that spoken statement that almost all parents dread, “I’m bored”!
In response to this age old conundrum (really, how can they be bored when there is so much fun to be had?), we’ve compiled a list of 101 ideas to keep your children’s minds and bodies busy during the summer months. Many are suitable for kids to complete on their own, some require parental permission and others can be completed as a family.
Kids can choose any activities they are interested in and complete them in any order they’d like. The list includes check- off boxes, but if you (or your kids) prefer a little more structure, please note the Summer Boredom-inator and the Boredom-inator Weekly forms that go along with our 101 Things To Do list. These forms were submitted by one of our loyal readers–and we think they’re a GREAT addition!
Click Here for our Great Summer Resource: 101 Things To Do This Summer list!
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10 End of the Homeschool Year Activities
Whether you homeschool year-round or take the summer off–this post offers some fun ideas! And fun is always good!