Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Build Your Wild Self

My good friend Chuck has come out of retirement to run the computer classes at an elementary school part-time. Most of his experience has been with secondary students and he has been thinking a lot about what he is going to teach. Especially, adapting lessons for those younger kids. His first day at the new job a tiny little person came up to him and said shyly in her tiny, little person voice,
"I've never had a boy teacher before."

He was elated to be referred to as a boy. I told him that the kids may be referring to him as a boy, but all those young teachers are already referring to him as "gramps." Some days he hates me.

I said I'd keep my eye out for age appropriate web sites and I almost immediately stumbled on this site, Build Your Wild Self, put up by the The New York Zoos and Aquarium. It's based on Maurice Sendak's book,
Where the Wild Things Are. First you create a picture of yourself. Gray hair was not an option here so I had to settle for a nice golden brown. Then you add various animal parts until you get the right amount of "wild" in your picture.

It was easy to use. The interface was clearly laid out and it was fun to play with the various options. The origin of each animal part is also described. The tongue in my picture is an "Anaconda snake tongue." I could envision using this activity as a jumping off point to talk about the animals used in constructing a wild thing.

My only problem was getting the finished picture off the web site. I was able to send an email to myself (and Chuck). I could create a desktop for my computer. I couldn't simply save a copy of the picture. This may be an issue with Firefox as I didn't try it in a different browser. I was able to do a screen capture but that might be a little advanced for younger kids. It's a minor complaint and wouldn't stop me from recommending it.

Good Luck Chuck. Those kids are lucky to have a great "boy" teacher like you!

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