Watch out. Research shows screentime can be a real brain drain.

Dimitri Christakis explains his research in this TEDx lecture “How TV Affects the Brains of Young Children” His study shows that too much exposure at a young age can be detrimental to the brain’s development. Constructive, interactive play and exploration literally helped build the brain in their study. “We need more real time play today.”  Children, at young ages, need more time playing with real objects and plenty of social interaction to help develop their brains and language.

Fun on order

Reclaimed Wood Distressed Wire Frame ~ SOLD!
Reclaimed Wood Distressed Wire Frame ~ SOLD!

I had my third order for an Etsy creation. My store at is just a little shop but I’m finding that it’s a lot of fun to create with purpose. It’s a whole different story when you have to make something to meet a person’s specific order than it is to just create for fun.

This experience makes me think about the difference between “crafts” in the classroom and “making with purpose.” I want to create activities for children that help them make things by applying STEAM standards, not just keep them busy. As I gear up into the next school year this is on my mind. I hope I can share some of the enthusiasm for making and make it part of our process.

Summer blaze

Tinkering for the Etsy shop
Tinkering for the Etsy shop

Who said summer break is supposed to be a time of rest? I’m thankful for a number of opportunities I’ve had to grow and stretch this summer.

  • enrolled in more courses towards my certificate in Early Childhood Education to help me in my role as a TK teacher
  • received notification that I’m accepted into the K-2 #iCanCode iPad STEAM Initiative with my school district so I’ll be getting some special training and a set of iPads for my classroom
  • taking a course on the letters the Apostle Paul wrote while in prison (the Prison Epistles)  in the School of Advanced Leadership Training through Hope University and Church of the Servant King where I serve as an overseer.
  • developed my Etsy store with help from my family and friends and ventured into online selling with ebay
  • continuing to develop my skills on the piano (right now just a hobby)
  • playing my sax with brothers and sisters over at where we are seeking to model lives of racial reconcilation

A new space for tinkering

A recent TK TinkerSpace project.
A recent TK TinkerSpace project.

Introducing TK TinkerSpace

My new Etsy store TK TinkerSpace has been a the result of a new idea on an old theme. For me it is the convergence of various streams in my life. When I was growing up my father always had a woodshop where I was allowed to tinker. I invented many different useful and useless little contraptions. As I got older I earned the privilege of using more powerful (dangerous) tools. I remember when I turned 12 and got my first toolbox with a powerdrill (that I still have today).

Fast-forward to today when I find myself in a place where I can share the joy of inventing with children and you find me opening up an online shop. I came upon the idea through different people. Recently I attended a one-day workshop for Transitional Kindergarten teachers. The presenters were sharing their enthusiasm for the new “Makers” movement sweeping through the education community.  YES! We are now encouraging the infusion of hands-on, project-based learning and technology-infused inventing in our classrooms, exposing children at young ages to the kind of tinkering I was a part of growing up.

Shop areaI have already been a teacher for over 20 years but this new era is probably the most exciting I’ve seen. The new “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS), Preschool Learning Foundations (CPLF), and the Common Core (CCSS) are just a beginning. I approach the new adventure I’m involved in with optimism. I hope to help other teachers and families by making toys, games, and materials they can use to encourage little tinkers, inventors and entrepreneurs.

Art Bot Fun

This is a sample of the little drawing robots I created with very inexpensive items. The students were involved in design and testing and as you can see they had a lot of fun with the little drawing robots.

The motor is from a dollar store toothbrush. The markers from the same store. The cup is a used, but washed cup. The lighted candle in a set from the other dollar store. I got the batteries and leads on Amazon. Hot glued the parts together and soldered the leads onto the motor.

Hex Nano Bots

These little HEXbug nano robots are tons of fun! I built a simple course for them with PVC that I cut in half. This center was under $30 and very engaging.

How do robots help people

Robotics Unit, Week 3

This week we will take a special look at the big question, “How do robots help people?”

  • How do they help people with disabilities?
  • How do they help with very difficult jobs?
  • Can they do jobs for less money than people?

Here’s an example of one video story:

Make your own game!

I am excited to introduce programming with ScratchJr this week as part of our robotics unit.

Learn more about the program here:

It is available as an Android, Chrome, iTunes, or Amazon app. Learning how to code is the new literacy and helps children have an advantage in academics. This program was developed by researchers at Tufts University to help young children explore programming. Their theme is “learn to code and code to learn.”

Mr. Schwanz


Estoy muy contenta de lanzar la programación con ScratchJr esta semana como parte de nuestra unidad robótica.

Más información sobre el programa aquí:

Está disponible como una aplicación para Android, Chrome, iTunes o Amazon. Aprender cómo el código es la nueva alfabetización y ayuda a los niños tienen una ventaja en el mundo académico. Este programa fue desarrollado por investigadores de la Universidad de Tufts para ayudar a los niños pequeños exploran la programación. Su tema es “aprender a código y el código de aprender.”

Sr. Schwanz

Resources for robotics

We will begin our Robotics Unit of Study on May 16, 2016 and it will run through June 14, 2016.  We are excited about this unit because students will engage in Project Based Learning activities and Self-Organized Learning Environments that will help them build their social-emotional skills.  Most importantly, it will help them practice and apply  inquiry based skills to the learning of Robotics.  

We welcome all your support throughout this unit.  Here is a list of activities Transitional Kindergarten students will partake in.  Your support would be greatly appreciated. Here is the main page for our Robotics Unit

Robotics Activities:

  • Build a Robot at home project (more details were in a separate letter)
  • Navigating through a Chromebook and Google (with account)

    Our Robot Center is FUN
    Our Robot Center is FUN


Nuestra clase empezará una unidad sobre Robóticas desde el 16 de Mayo hasta el 14 de Junio, 2016.  Los estudiantes tendrán la oportunidad de participar en varias actividades relacionadas al tema.  También tendrán la oportunidad de trabajar en equipo y desarrollar sus habilidades sociales.  Aquí está la página principal de nuestra Unidad de Robóticas

La siguiente es una lista de las actividades que haremos:

  • Construye tu propio robot en casa (más detalles se encontraban en una carta por separado)
  • Navegar Google con un Chromebook (cuenta de


Muchas gracias por su apoyo continuo.


Here are some resources for our Robotics unit.

Week 1: May 16 – 20, 2016

Guiding Question:  What do you know about the study of robotics?

Video Resources:






Art:  Drawing a Robot


Science and Discovery Area:

Reading Area:

Build a Robot

At Home Project:  

 Build a robot project due Friday 5/20/2016

SOLE: Whole Group – Do robots make better math teachers?


Robot Project

Click here for resources for the week of May 16-20.

Parents it’s time for a fun project! Your child is to design and build a robot answering the question: “What could a robot do?” Plan to help them build the robot using different everyday objects such as cereal boxes, tissue boxes, bottles, balls, styrofoam pieces, etc. I would like for your child to name their robot and make a badge and put it on its body. The robot is to have a basic purpose such as fly, walk, dance, sing, help, roll. Please be creative and have fun with it!
In addition we will be engaged in lessons and activities on robots in class during the period May 9 to June 14. More information will also be available here:  and here:
The project is due: May 20, 2016
Thank you,
Mr. Schwanz

Los padres que es hora de un proyecto divertido! Su hijo es diseñar y construir un robot responder a la pregunta: “¿Qué puede hacer un robot?” Plan para ayudarles a construir el robot utilizando diferentes objetos de uso cotidiano, tales como cajas de cereales, cajas de pañuelos, botellas, bolas, piezas de poliestireno, etc. le gustaría para su hijo a nombre de su robot y hacer una placa y ponerla en su cuerpo. El robot es tener un propósito básico tal como mosca, paseo, bailar, cantar, ayudar, rollo. Por favor, ser creativo y divertirse con él!
Además se ocuparemos en las clases y actividades en los robots en clase durante el período de 9 de mayo de a la 10 de junio. Más información también estará disponible aquí: y aquí:
El proyecto se debe: 20-may el año 2016
El Sr. Schwanz


Monthly News/ Kindergarten and TK

  • Field Trip on 5-13-16/ Paseo el 13 de mayo.
  • Cinco de mayo Celebration on 5-27-16 from 9:30 -10:30 (TK will perform “Los Colores.” Wear bright colors of your choice.) / Celebración de cinco de mayo el 27 de mayo de 9:30 – 10:30. (TK interpretará “Los Colores.” Use colores brillantes de su elección.)
  • Memorial Day – No School on 5-30-16/ Dia conmemorativo  – no hay clases el 30 de mayo.


  • Unit 6 test on 6-1-16 to 6-3-16/ Examen de unidad 6, el 1 de junio al 3.
  • High Frequency Words Assembly on 6-7-16 at 9:00/ Asamblea de palabras de alta frequencia el 7 de junio a las 9:00.    

Last day of school is 6-14-16