As a child, I used to spend hours creating what I called “melt beads”. More commonly known as Perler beads, these are small plastic beads that are put in various designs on differently shaped peg boards. After the designs are complete, it is ironed so that the beads melt together (hence the name) and create one plastic shape for you to keep! This was an activity that we did with the mentors and mentees this week at Homework Zone, and it was a huge hit! They were making dogs, people, hearts, and various other fun shapes. It captured the creative attention of mentors and mentees alike, and it was amazing to see the products of their creativity. Here are some photos of the first few melt bead products – we will be updating this post with more photos soon!
At Homework Zone, we have started giving the students challenges to complete with their mentor during their time together. This past week, we asked them to write about someone in their lives who they look at as their hero. Some of them also got creative with illustrations! Check out who some of the kids chose as their heroes:
All HZ mentors quickly learn that there are certain things your mentee will ask for on a weekly basis – 2 of those being:
“I don’t have homework, can I go on the computer?” and “Can I pleeeease use a tablet?”
Usually, they will be encouraged to do something else, but on those special days when they have been behaving really well and have finished all their homework, you might find yourself sitting in front of the computer. And then you wonder, what should we do once we’re on the computer? Well, you can check out http://www.abcya.com – its a great website with educational games for elementary school students. Their website is divided up by grade level, and there are tons of great spelling and word games, as well as number games! Your mentee will be reinforcing what they are learning without even realizing it. And here’s the best part, they even have a website made for tablets!
This semester, we had a HUGE turnout at our Orientation. The room was filled with bright eyed, bushy tailed new mentors, excited at the prospect of fostering a new relationship with someone who will look up to them as if they rule the world. It was great to see mentors meet other mentors for the first time, and I really enjoyed getting to know some of the mentors as well! We snacked on delicious food and had stimulating discussions.
We added on something new to the carousel stations that we run at the end of the Orientation – we made a games station! This was run with the intention of helping mentors come up with creative activities to do when they finish doing homework with their mentees. Here are some of the games that we played together:
Name – Place – Animal – Thing
- Make a table on 2 pieces of paper, with 5 columns and the headings ‘name’, ‘place’, ‘animal’, ‘thing’ and ‘points’
- One person says the alphabet in their head, the other yells stop
- Each person thinks of words to fit in each category starting with the letter that they stopped at
- Compare words, each person gets 10 points for a correct answer and 5 points if you have a common answer
Pictionary (this can also be Charades – with verbs and acting!)
- Create a pile of cards (scrap paper) with simple nouns on them
- Make 2 teams (as many people on each team as you like)
- Select one person from each team to draw
- Each artist looks at the same card and starts drawing the object
- Whichever team guesses the object first gets a point!
- Ask your mentee to make a list of everything they can see from where they’re sitting and you do the same
- Compare lists and cross off ones you both wrote
- You win points for objects that aren’t on the other’s lists
Of course, you can always play the Homework Zone go to card games like War and Go Fish, but eventually everyone will get a bit tired of cards. I hope that these game ideas will inspire you, and I hope to see games like these being played in the upcoming weeks of Homework Zone!
Hey Homework Zone friends!
I am really excited to share the great news that we have surpassed all past semesters in applicants for HZ this semester, we have had over 120 applications come in!! We have many returning volunteers, both from last semester as well as previous years of HZ. Our new mentors are from many different years and faculties at McGill, and I am so excited to meet every single one of them.
We are having our Orientation this Saturday (January 23) at New Residence Hall at 1 PM and don’t worry returning volunteers, we’ve changed the agenda slightly so you won’t find the orientation redundant. Get excited for fun station activities designed to help you overcome all your HZ difficulties, with the #1 being what to do when your mentee “doesn’t have any homework”. We all know we’ve heard that one before! I’ll be back online soon to share new resources and tips that we’ll be sharing at orientation 🙂
I’m really pumped for this semester and I hope you all are too!
– your HZ coord
A new semester of university means a new semester of Homework Zone!
We are currently recruiting new volunteers to add on to the magnificent Homework Zone team. Homework Zone is perfect for you if you:
- love spending time with and working with kids
- want to meet a diverse group of students at McGill
- want to find a way to give back to the Montreal community
Here are some comments about Homework Zone from the Fall 2015 volunteers:
” I love the community built between the school but also my fellow McGill students. I feel I have made so many connections and bonds with so many people. I also love the opportunities HZ provides for kids. It is incredible to watch the growth in these few short weeks. I am really impressed by the work done through it and I cannot wait to continue to be a part of it”
“HZ provided a great change to get out of the McGill ‘bubble’ and a distraction from our busy student life. It was also fulfilling, great to interact with kids and see firsthand how you are able to teach and accompany them.”
“I am so appreciative of this opportunity. I cannot wait to come back next semester for more fun. I am so lucky to have found HZ in my first semester at McGill because it gives me the chance to continue with this program for the next three years. I will be telling everyone about Homework Zone and encouraging others to join as I think its a truly remarkable program.”
If you’d like to be a part of this wonderful experience, fill out the short application form here!
This week, we noticed one of our mentors on the computer with her mentee – both captivated by what they were looking at on the screen and engaged in discussion. It turns out, she was teaching her mentee about what she is studying at McGill! This amazing website is a great representation of the scale of the universe, interactively engaging and teaching you about the smallest aspects of the universe (quantum foam, 10^-35 m) to the estimated size of the entire universe (10^26 * 9.3 meters). The images are simplified and relatable, and it takes what Science students learn and make it easy for young students to understand. Thank you to this lovely mentor for introducing such an amazing website to the rest of the Homework Zone family!
Last week we had an awesome reflection session with Megan Webster about Eliciting and Interpreting Student Thinking. She posed a very interesting question that got our mentors thinking – what does learning mean? The mentors engaged in interesting discussion starting with this question and then talking about different teaching methods. Check out a video that we watched here: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/65013 that really got everyone thinking about what the right method of teaching is. Thank you Megan!
This semester at Homework Zone, we have introduced our mentors to a new set of goals that they can work towards with their menses – socio-emotional goals! These 5 goals are great tools to set the tone for each Homework Zone session and are actually all related to one another. Not only that, but I have found that they help me in my daily life! Check them out 🙂