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3 Mobile Apps for Creativity: Interview with award winning educator Jonathan Nalder

DFC

A few weeks ago I was at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference, meeting great educators from around the world. During a dinner conversation we landed on the subject of Lego and I was lucky enough to make the connection with a fellow Dad from Down Under (Australia). Jonathan Nalder is an award-winning educator who has presented around the world with organizations like Learning Without Frontiers, 21st Century Learning, Apple, and Ulearn. Much of his current work centers on mobile technology, and I figured he’d make the perfect Dad to connect with on the subject of mobile apps and creativity.

We’ve received requests on what mobile apps are best for young children? What are your three mobile apps for creativity at home or in the classroom?

Minecraft – is far and away one of the most popular apps for 4-10 year olds – because it lets them use their imagination and challenges them to constantly problem solve. Only caution is to manage access to the ‘survival mode’ for younger children as it introduces gameplay elements such as dying, zombies and other such elements.

MyPlayhome – is now a series of apps that allow kids to act out home, shopping and school/ kindy environments. A great one for them to experiment with different situations and to explore the interactive rooms on offer.

PuppetPals – a super simple app for creating animated videos that records a child’s voice and on-screen movements of puppet characters (which can include their own face) to introduce them to digital storytelling.

As a Dad and educator, what type of things can parents do to nurture creative thinking skills at home? Any do or don’ts, which they should consider?

Best thing is to create an environment where it is not only ok to fail, but where failure is just an opportunity to learn. Kids tend to think this way anyway, but as parents we often forget how crucial this phase is and inadvertently communicate different messages about failure such as avoiding taking risks.

What are some of the natural creative characteristics that you’ve experienced with your children*? And in what ways have you attempted to nurture/celebrate these skills?

My children seem to have no fear – they honestly still think they can do almost anything and this can be very inspiring if you spend enough time with them doing projects and making – it really rubs off.

If you’d like to learn more about visit http://JNXYZ.education or download the App here.

As for me, I started to play MineCraft with Lucas this weekend. After one session he already appears comfortable with the controls, but as a four year old he needed some guidance to make his Icy Palace, which is still under construction in the image below (clearly the Frozen obsession is alive and kicking).

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We believe the first stage in counteracting the imbalance of creativity verses content, starts at home. Help us share the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Anyone who shares or contributes content via the comments below* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

If you choose to comment via social media be sure to sure to include reference to @dads4creativity or share from our Facebook page. We’ll follow up with details via a private message.

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Daddy did the Volcano already xclode? Our first weekend with GOOGLE CARDBOARD (REVIEW)

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On Saturday my Google Cardboard arrived, and the virtual reality experience got underway… Wait let me correct that, on Saturday the Google Cardboard, which I purchased for my boys arrived, and their virtual reality experience got underway.

I purchased the Google Cardboard type goggles from D-Scope Pro
Our Google Cardboard type goggles came from D-Scope Pro. It was quick to assemble and the instructions where easy to follow.

I’m often asked to recommend mobile apps for young children, and Google Cardboard certainly falls into that category even though the technology is still in its infancy. In order to use Google Cardboard and experience it’s virtual reality on your mobile device, you’ll need to purchase* (or make) a set of goggles made out of cardboard (hence the name Google Cardboard). It was certainly fascinating to watch Lucas put them on and look around the inside of a dormant volcano. Like most children his age, he’s so accustomed to his digital world that we skipped the conversation on how it works and was able to immediately immerse himself into his first virtual reality experience.

‘Is this where the lava go?’ he said as he looked down at a hole in the floor. ‘Did it already xclode?’ I encouraged him to look up at a giant hole in the chamber’s ceiling. ‘Oh, I want to see one that hasn’t xcloded? At that point we switched it up and went to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower.

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Lucas was able to take in the environment and immediately made the connection he was in Paris.

At the moment you need to stretch a little to make the connection to creativity, but as the problem-solving games begin to emerge, I expect this device to present new opportunities for the user that will engage creative thinking skills at home and in the classroom. For now parents will need to guide the creative thinking by facilitating detailed observation of the virtual environment on offer, and helping children generate the type of questions that will stimulate curiosity and help make connections to the wider world. There are a lot less internal apps via Google Cardboard for the iPhone, so those with an Android have a lot more on offer, plus there are a few other virtual reality apps available such as Volcano VR, and Moorente (as well as a number of shoot-em up games that I wouldn’t recommend). Overall, I enjoyed my first weekend with Google Cardboard, but avoided the motion apps like the roller-coaster at all cost – yep, I’m one of those guys who get sick ridding the merry-go-round.

Rating for Google Cardboard

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If you’re intrigued about Google Cardboard check out the video below from TechCrunch, or perhaps you’d like other uses for your mobile phone that engage creative thinking skills.

*If you’re interested I purchased the Google Cardboard by D-Scope Pro

FREE FILM for parents and educators

We believe the first stage in counteracting the imbalance of creativity verses content, starts at home. Help us share the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Anyone who shares or contributes content* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

Unfortunately, we’re not super sophisticated (or perhaps lack creativity) so in order for us to know that you’ve shared content we need you to tweet to @dads4creativity or share from ourFacebook page. We’ll follow up with details via a private message.

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From drawing stories, to making movies: Plus 7 simple tips that make it easy

It’s been an absolute joy to write about Lucas and his drawing. Watching himself immerse into the imaginary worlds and stories that manifest on his sheets of paper has really got me to think about creativity and the type of content I want to share. In this article I’m going to explain how parents can capture children’s drawings and turn them into a simple movie using a mobile app like iMovie.

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There was no soccer on Saturday morning so I found myself out of my weekly routine. I’d suggested to Lucas that we make one of our father and dad YouTube shows, he declined my offer in favor of drawing, but said after he’s finished we can make a movie. While I waited for the Prince to fit me into his busy schedule I decided to play with Liam (yes on this occasion he was my second choice – second child syndrome is real!). After 15 minutes, Lucas shouted for me to come into the kitchen so he could tell me about the story he’d ‘drawed’. When I arrived I was expecting to see another book stabled together, and another 100 trees wasted, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to see, what looked like, a storyboard sequenced together on the dinning room table. My mind immediately said ‘movie’, so I grabbed my iPhone and, with his permission, began filming 8-second segments of each sheet of paper (or shot). Once I completed the filming, I opened the iMovie app and started to import the short segments into the application. I had no idea how this would turn out, but was intrigued as iMovie has some cool new features. I inserted the clips into the timeline and once they were sequenced together in the right order I asked Lucas to narrate his story – which he did happily. After that was completed (probably the best part), I polished the piece a little more by making sure the images were sequenced correctly to the narration. (made sure the words correlated to the image displayed). After the polishing I added a soundtrack and a filter and hit share on Facebook. I was really surprised and happy with the outcome, the whole activity probably took 5-10 minutes and now we have documented a wonderful moment in Lucas’s development.

I’m hoping some of you might want to replicate the experience so I’ve offered five simple tips to make it an easy process. Please be sure to post on our Facebook page or share in the comments below.

Yes you’re a moviemaker – Don’t over think it:

  1. Avoid vertical phone syndrome by holding the device horizontally. This is a practice you want to get in the habit of doing if the videos will be displayed on a computer or television screen.
  2. Keep it short and sweat. There’s rarely a need to record a segment longer than 8-12 seconds.
  3. It’s a movie, so you need to make sure the images ‘move’. This basically means move into the image so it gets closer or start close and move out. Alternatively you can move across an image, but whatever you choose make sure it’s slow and steady unless you’re going for a specific effect.
  4. Don’t over complicate the narration – simply ask your little one to tell you his or her story. If they pause, mess up, etc.. don’t worry you can edit it out afterwards. It’s better for them to be spontaneous then doing multiple takes.
  5. One of the new and cool features in iMovie is the ability to separate the audio from the video. This allows you to delete the audio so that only your narration will be heard on the final product. If this is too complicated or the feature is not available on your app just make sure the room is quite when you record the images so that you avoid any unwanted sound.
  6. Lengthen or shorten clips in the timeline to help sync the narration with the relevant images. This is probably the most ‘technical’ aspect of the project but will bring about the best results.
  7. Finally, add a soundtrack that provokes a sentimental feeling, but represents the energy and excitement of young children. Avoid anything that is too emotional and corny. It might work for you, but it will probably be too much for others.

 

FREE FILM for parents and educators

We believe the first stage in counteracting the imbalance of creativity verses content, starts at home. Help us share the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Anyone who shares or contributes content* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

Unfortunately, we’re not super sophisticated (or perhaps lack creativity) so in order for us to know that you’ve shared content we need you to tweet to @dads4creativity or share from ourFacebook page. We’ll follow up with details via a private message.

*Contributing content includes comments on existing articles.

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Creativity Chit-Chat: 5 ways to engage Creativity at Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love the Holidays and consider it my duty to make it a magical experience for my boys. Merging family traditions with my wife can occasionally be challenging, but for the most part extremely fun because you get to choose best of both worlds.

Not only can Christmas become a magical experience, but it can also be one full of creativity and imagination. As my eldest is only celebrating his third, and my youngest his first, we’re still building on our annual endeavors but I’ve been making efforts to integrate activities that cultivate creative thinking:
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  1. Making the front cover of our family Christmas card; this was new for this year and turned out to be an enjoyable experience. It’s basically an art project, but because the drawing will be uploaded as the front cover of our card it has added value and purpose. I didn’t challenge the imagination too much this year but anticipate we’ll try and introduce some storytelling elements in the future. They’re currently in the post but I’m looking forward to showing him so that he can make the connection that he’s a ‘Maker’.
  2. Writing a letter to Santa; this should go beyond the writing of a list of presents, which I’ve been told by many parents helps install the ‘I want…’ attitude in later years. Instead this year we wrote a letter telling Santa we’ll be in London, England and will leave him a Mince Pie this year as opposed to a cookie. However, I think that this is another opportunity to tell a story, draw a picture, or write a story to Santa.
  3. Choosing Christmas presents that cultivate creative thinking; I’m going to write another article with some gift ideas that I’ve identified as being particularly helpful when trying to cultivate creative thinking in our little ones. For now I would just say that all children should open gifts that engage the imagination, use fantasy, and have some elements of making, problem-solving, or stimulating curiosity and wonder.
  4. Making, Making, and Making; The Maker Movement has renewed in purpose and energy since the birth of the World Wide Web and other digital technologies. For children below five, making a Ginger Bread House, decorations for the tree or doing some cooking all encourage kids to make and engage in problem-solving. For older children I’m getting particularly intrigued by 3D Printing and plan in the future to make presents for my boys using a 3D application like Blender, or to take my boys down to a 3D printing shop such as the Maker Bot store in Greenwich, CT and have them make decorations or stocking fillers. I’m really excited to see how this one develops and hopefully will be writing bout it this time next year.

    A 3D printer has just begun to print a toy plane for my eldest.
    A 3D printer has just begun to print a toy plane for my eldest.
  5. Make a Christmas Story; this is still in development. I’m hoping to identify time over the next ten days before we jet off to the UK to make a book. I’m still not sure if we’ll make an eBook using Apple Author, or if it will just be made up of pictures and published via iPhone, but I’m going to work with Lucas to create a story of Christmas, and obviously as we get a little older I hope the stories will capture some of the values that we hold so dearly during this time of the year.

Please feel free to share how you plan on cultivating creativity this Christmas. I’m only three years into being a Daddy at this time of the year so am looking for lots more suggestions.


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Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance. is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. To gain FREE access, simply comment below and we’ll follow up with a link and password.

 

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