posted on February 10, 2021

Why do we not teach decision making skills in K-12 education? Our entire lives revolve, in a practical sense, around making decisions both large and small. We certainly, for example, ask students to make sound decisions by “making wise choices” about their behavior! Do we ever explicitly instruct students in the process and skill of how to actually make a wise decision from a series of presented alternatives? Do we further instruct them in ways to locate, investigate, and evaluate plausible alternatives?

As an instructive example, if you are teaching middle or high school students about personal finance, one might approach the evaluative and decision making process as follows:

PERSONAL FINANCE: the overall picture

Lesson objective: to be able to see your financial situation as integral to your life. This helps with setting goals, objectives, and forward planning. We will learn to think about maximizing opportunities, and minimizing risks.

Consider your “financial self” as an avatar that you are responsible for. It has inputs and outputs, and you are responsible for its well-being. The inputs and outputs are very closely tied to one another; they feed and nourish each other in a continuous circle. Mentally, this gives you an opportunity to look at your life objectively from a distance.

Inputs: what does your financial avatar need to survive and thrive?

Circle of support








Outputs: what does your avatar produce as output?









  1. What are some ways you can work towards making a positive impact on your financial future?
  2. What are some ways you can assess and minimize risk?
  3. Why is it important to set goals, and measure achievement?
posted on May 4, 2020

intooba construction kits for K-6. The benefits of using physical kits for mathematics and engineering in elementary and middle school are:

  • students can learn the vital skills of collaboration, listening, and expressing/explaining their opinions;
  • students learn that they may need to attempt to solve problems multiple times in order to meet the requirements of the problem;
  • students use their hands and minds in construction thereby giving a visual and practical application to math and engineering;
  • teachers can “see” how children are thinking by observing how they construct their engineering/building challenges;
  • teachers can see how children are working together and expressing themselves in collaborative project work.

posted on


– Beast Academy (Math) (
– BrainPop (
– Creative Bug (
– Curiosity Stream (
– Khan Academy (
– Outschool (
– Tynker (


– Crash Course Kids 
– Free School
– Geek Gurl Diaries
– Geography Focus
– Kids Learning Tube
– National Geographic Kids
– SciShow Kids
– Science Channel
– Science Max
– SciShow
– TheBrainScoop

Elementary engineering
posted on April 8, 2020


This house design is an engineering marvel created by two 11-year-old students without any adult input whatsoever!

The structure was created in two parts – base and top.

Congratulations to these two budding engineers!

CONSTRUCTING CREATIVITY – intooba construction kits

Housing base
Housing top
Complete house
posted on April 3, 2020

From my years of teaching elementary school, a few ideas come to mind on what are essential skills for young people to learn. They are presented here, in no particular order:

  • the ability to substantiate and articulate your thinking and viewpoint
  • the ability to negotiate and work within a group
  • the ability to take information from one place and use it in another
  • the ability and fortitude to try something and rework it to make it better
  • the ability to try something new
  • the capacity and interest to learn about the world
  • the interest in connecting in-school learning to the ‘real world’
  • the opportunity to be both teacher and learner

Finding few engaging manipulatives attached to curriculum to achieve these goals, I have co-developed several products for hands-on collaborative learning in a variety of settings: the classroom, in after-school activities, in homeschooling, and in summer camps. These products offer open-ended opportunities for students to experiment with curriculum supported ideas and creative-free-thinking. They offer the possibility for students to teach and learn from each other, taking time to listen and contribute while using visually stimulating hands-on materials.

The first, the intooba construction kit for K-6, ( is designed for hands-on collaborative learning in STEM/STEAM engineering and math. Rods and connectors are used to solve over 25 engineering challenges, each with several levels of complexity. A math manual is provided to support common core concepts such as shapes, measurement, and estimation.

Our challenging engineering projects encourage collaborative learning in designing, constructing, and budgeting.

diskii math ( is a hands-on math manipulative for grades 1-5. Our instructor manual offers ideas on learning such topics as algebra, logic, fractions, and decimals, and is based on common core standards. Students may learn both as teacher and student when working collaboratively with diskii tokens. Each token is associated with a unique name, color, and face offering three variables for problem creators.  Users can vary the complexity of the product by assigning an age-appropriate value to each token when creating challenges. We have developed both physical and downloadable token sets.

All of our materials require minimal instruction to set-up and use. No professional development is required for these easy-to-understand products which are supported by instructor and student manuals where appropriate.

posted on March 3, 2020

NOAA SOS Explorer is an amazing visual interactive tool to help teachers explore and explain topics of scientific interest to the K-12 community. Adding a powerful and vibrant visual component to student learning brings such topics as the oceans, bird migration, marine sanctuaries, coral reefs, and transportation to life. This offering could well complement the movement within K-12 schools to convert traditional libraries into media learning centers.

The Boulder Center for Interactive Learning at Dawson (BCILD) has, in collaboration with the educator team at NOAA SOS Explorer, developed a set of questions and internet resources for educators to complement the visual datasets:

posted on August 10, 2019

As elementary school teachers, we developed an entrepreneurial after-school program for grades 3-5.

We felt that it was important for younger students to develop a solid understanding of business and the economy. Our program consisted of three components:
(a) visiting local businesses, noting physical positioning, product, and range of service;
(b) playing a virtual stock market game: GAME HERE;and
(c) creating a product from concept to design to packaging and marketing.

I have not seen many programs on this topic. Recently, however, I met an elementary educator who has developed an extensive curriculum in business development ideas for elementary and middle school students. Eva Foxwell’s materials include curriculum material on entrepreneurship, business skills, and career development: CLICK HERE

We do not know where students’ interests and passions will lead them later in life, but it is certainly advantageous to offer early insight in careers, entrepreneurship, business, and economics.

posted on August 8, 2019

I am always thrilled to share really interesting products, both recently introduced and longstanding favorites. I particularly favor products offering children hands-on learning opportunities.

The products I can share after attending an education convention in Palm Springs, CA are:

(1) KEVA Planks from Keva Education. Keva offers teacher lessons and activities with their single size Keva Planks made from fine hardwood maple. Students can innovate and problem solve collaboratively using the materials. Using your hands to work through problems with classmates can only benefit students as they prepare for other STEM/STEAM topics. Website HERE

(2) Learning Wrap Ups. This company offers many hands-on classroom and after-school curriculum supported manipulatives for students to reinforce learning in math and reading topics. Offering very creative ways to check and practice topics. Website HERE

(3) Insect Lore. To get hands-on learning about caterpillars, ladybugs, butterflies and more, this company offers an excellent opportunity to do just that! Children should know about all aspects of our fragile eco-system, and what better place to start than with insects? Website HERE