No. 13 — Teaching the history of computers🏺Lineage 👪 History as Wall Art

“The past is reinvented and becomes the future. But the lineage is everything”

My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9540 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.


Back to somewhat regular writing. Thank you for the pouring of feedback and ideas on the last issue ( - you can also leave them as comments below for everyone to learn from.) I’m going to keep thinking about this space that is opening up, somewhere between small group learning and producing online experiences. More in a few weeks.

Meanwhile: the promise of daffodils! Apricot jam! Crunchy fennel in everything I cook!


Last week I started reading Harry R. Lewis’ Ideas That Created the Future: Classic Papers of Computer Science. It’s a book based on a course Lewis has been teaching for years and covers forty-six classic papers in computer science that map the evolution of the field from Aristotle to Donald Knuth. Not surprisingly, I love it.

There is a 2014 lecture by said Donald Knuth on the topic of “Let’s Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science” where he makes an eloquent argument for looking deeper into the history of technical ideas around computers, learning from the past and making sure the documentation survives to the future. Lewis’ book is a collection of these original documents and ideas that shaped our world. I’m not sure if the book will create joy in the general audience (a few recommendations on that later), but for me it helps to place computer science in the context of its intellectual lineage.

And I keep thinking about Philipp Glass and his ideas of lineage in the book Words without Music. “The past is reinvented and becomes the future. But the lineage is everything” he says. We should focus less on trying to act and predict our legacy (very true with technology and it’s bombastic optimism) and focus more on understanding the chain of people and ideas - the lineage - that brought us here.


I don’t know whether it’s because most of us associate history with ancient wars, kings and archeology, whether it’s because writing about computer science can feel boring, math intense and thus remote or whether it’s the disdain for history many programmers hold, it’s rare to see writing about the history of computer science that manages to make it feel alive.

Maybe we should teach backwards (- where did this come from)? Maybe we need more stories, less dates?Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Victorians - how they saw the computer? Important pieces of code? More playing with primary sources? Relationships of people? A family tree of companies?

I wish to slowly see the history of computers and technology in general to be included in history curriculums in primary schools. These portraits of famous computer scientists are from last summer, by a group of schoolgirls. Not much on the historical content here, but I’m hoping they’ll have a memory of making acquaintance if they ever run into the names when older.

Try out the activity

Linked List

In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. But here it is a selection of things I’ve been reading lately.


Classroom

I’m hoping to surface and share stories from all of you and I’d love to see your creations! Here are a few teachers using Ruby in creative, fun and inspiring ways:

  • What role does history play in your field/discipline?

  • Who are the superstars of computing for you? How has their role changed?

  • How did you learn about the history of computers/technology?

No. 12 — Scriptwriting for online learning 📜 Teaching into the Void 🧑‍🏫

Hi friend, awesome to be

My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9553 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.


One of the best things to happen to me last year was the serendipitous return to teaching, all of it online. My eight week undergrad class for students training to become teachers at Helsinki University allowed me to experiment and try out ideas around online learning.

One of the new professions that will emerge out of the pandemic teaching is definitely a producer for online learning.

Every industry has its own tools and practices and it will be fascinating to see how these develop.

Storyboards and scripts get turned into call sheets and movies.

User stories and mockups into digital products.

For teaching, the starting point is the syllabus - which I’ve grown to love as a planning tool on the content, but which gives very little direction on the pacing, rhythm and activities of the actual online teaching.

Much of what follows is a reflection not on the what of teaching, but the how. I realise there are masters degrees worth of practice on how to teach, and I’m a complete beginner in all of this. But if there are others, who have overnight become online educators, keep reading.


The course was called Playful Computer Science and it was intended for students practicing to become primary school teachers and to give them an overview of the field of computer science. I wanted the students to actively make things, to build artefacts of their learning. This being the pandemic fall, Zoom-fatigue was real and my wish for the course was to be something energising, fun and worth looking forward.

Structure: mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning

For each class, I utilised pre-recorded content. Students were required to watch the ten minute videos in advance and we spent the first fifteen minutes of class discussing the videos in breakout groups, followed by a lecture and activities. This allowed us to go through some of the same material as the recorded part, but add depth, add interaction and add new activities. It also allowed time for those more meandering questions and discussions.

I was lucky to have the Love Letters series ready to go - with better production values than your average talking to a camera setup I think it helped spark enthusiasm and interest in the sometimes difficult concepts of computer science. If I was in charge of a university degree, I would definitely invest in this.

The last 15-30 minutes of class time was spent as quiet work time. I think working in the presence of others is something many of us miss and I wanted to offer that time when a student can after class come talk to the instructor. Out of a class of 25, there were usually 4-5 who hung out afterwards.

The small cohort size (roughly 25 students a class) was also something I enjoyed.

Future considerations:

  • In addition to the weekly class, I would add a session to go through the homework tasks, maybe handled by a teaching assistant. Now the only way to share was with the full class - I would like to offer more nuance, maybe 1:1 talks, small groups and intimacy to discuss and reflect. I have no idea what this would be called. Labs? Grouptime?

  • In an ideal world the teachers would actually use the materials immediately in a classroom/after school setup and document on their journal based on those experiences - I noticed many of my older students doing the activities with their children and loved that.

Content and design: Learning as construction

Early on I knew I wanted to make a course-kit to send students in advance. My whole teaching thesis is about how learning happens at your fingertips, so I wanted to spend time actually making those memories, offering materials that have secrets. Great learning for me, is more about experience and process than information.

Each student received an envelope with the student passport (the class homework), teacher reflection journal (for weekly reflection/assessment) and a few surprises, like a picture of a child we used in debugging, a bag of tea, some crafting materials we would use during the course etc. I believe it helped to see the full workload of the course in advance, hold it in your hands.

The 30 or so tasks were assigned on a weekly basis, but we also spent classroom time crafting together (like the time we made paper computers or created masks out of each other’s behavioural data). I also designed some activities that required students to collect items from their home (like the time we practiced sorting algorithms with different sized objects) or take walks in their neighbourhood.

In addition to the smaller projects, we read together Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms and all students did a final project on a lesson plan. I was looking for a mix of smaller and bigger projects, deep reading and discussion time.

Future considerations:

  • More creative learning experiences. I want to make a class with audio only. Something inspired by Twitch. A reading session with candle light.

  • Participation. In January I took part in Learning to Teach Creative Technologies Remotely, which was a treasure trove for ideas on how to enhance participation: Google Docs led critiques, tape mask on video, Long Now debate format, diagramming activities, show & tell, quick quizzing questions on the chat, ice breakers and tools for checking-in.. I wish there was a card deck of pedagogical patterns one could shuffle through!

  • Setting up class culture. Being new to this kind of teaching I was nervous and didn’t understand how much time should be spent setting the class culture. In next iterations this will be a much bigger part of my work.

Tech: No single stack solution

Whenever we talk about education and technology, we inevitably start to talk about the, well, technology. There is this wonderful blog called Uses This and I’ll just go with their template:

  • What hardware do you use? I use a 13’’ 2018 MBP with so many additional items, it’s a little bit ridiculous. I have a Logitech Brio 4K webcam, a Kodak Ring Light 10’’ and an IPOVO 4k documentary camera. In addition I use an iPad and pencil to draw.

  • And what software? I use Zoom for lectures, mostly because it’s reliable and handles the recording of lectures well. I prepare my lectures in keynote and show them as PDFs. I do a lot of drawing on iPad and have found the quickest and most reliable way to switch screens is to use Quicktime (!) . The documentary camera I use for show & tell, sharing pictures from books and all kinds of other things.

    I used a Google Doc for communicating the syllabus, adding links, recordings and such. I also threw together a janky spreadsheet system for returning the weekly tasks.

  • What would be your dream setup?
    There was no common place for students to hang out, so I set up a Facebook group, but I think next time I would try out Discord. Alan Zucconi had some tech ideas I want to try out. I want to be a bit more ambitious with the online environments I use, now I kept the class mostly within Zoom, but I would like to make field-trips to spreadsheets, Figma, Repl.it and other Internet neighbourhoods. I want to get better with e-mail and using it as a low-fi tool for a course meta-narrative (I’ve been playing this Kickstarter project called A Field Guide to Memory, which has inspired me tremendously. Daily, game like e-mails seem like a lovely way to learn.). And of course I want to code an application where the class materials, experiments and community lives, but, hopefully will find another solution :)

Tools for planning online teaching?

I’ve been following different forms of online learning for well over a decade and I still feel like we lack vocabulary and tools to describe these different experiences. There is a wide landscape of learning out there. What are the scene, character and plot of online teaching?

Right now I’m thinking mostly of professional development and teacher training in terms of existing educational structures (like the university), but so much interesting work is being done in places like Hyperlink, Tiago Forte & co and older ones like Reggio Emilia, Summerhill & Black Mountain College. I don’t think there will be a single format that will win - education is so many things for so many people - but many systems that allow people to create all kinds of learning structures within them. Meanwhile, paper, pen and inspiration from others will have to do.


Linked List

In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. But here it is a selection of things I’ve been reading lately.

  • The Halt and Catch Fire Syllabus is so amazing and an example of syllabus as a thinking tool. I love the little koans, use of emulators, discussion points - well, everything.

  • Teaching into the Void is all of us. I especially love the line: Move over Bill Gates, the essential office products are now brought to you by James Charles and Charli D’Amelio.

  • Much has been written about the online platforms disrupting education, but I think the shortage of teachers is something we should paying attention to equally. And the opposite: the rise of great educators. Taking CS classes from David Malan, following yoga classes from New York and having Reggio Emilia atelierista lead me through a workshop are experiences I wouldn’t have been able to do before. When is there an exodus of great teachers leaving schools to start their own practice like journalist are now leaving newspapers to start newsletters?

  • Explorabl.es. Oldie, but goodie by Nicky Case. Video is so pervasive in education it really makes me hope there was room for truly interactive learning. My promise for 2021 is to make an explorable of my own.


Classroom

I’m hoping to surface and share stories from all of you and I’d love to see your creations! Here are a few teachers using Ruby in creative, fun and inspiring ways:

Or hit reply and answer me: 

  • What is the best online learning experience you’ve had?

  • How do you engage students in lectures?

  • How can we design learning experiences that encourage play? What kind of tools, checklists or maps might we need?

No. 11 — Handwork 🖐️ Choreographer of Robots 🩰 Touchmap

Swiping, tapping and touching through the world

My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9574 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.


I’ve been slowly making my way through The Children’s Machine: Rethinking school in the age of computer by Seymour Papert. I’ve read a lot of his works, but had overlooked this particular book. Papert’s way of exploring the sensory-kinesthetic cognition building of children is infatuating. I love how he helps recognise and value diverse mathematical practices.

There is one story in the book that I keep coming back to. A little boy tries to count sums in special education class. Finger counting, traditionally frowned upon, is forbidden from him, for Papert’s dismay:

“On the other hand I was firmly convinced that allowing him to use external aids was the best way to encourage real learning and denying the use of fingers the best way to make sure that he hated doing these sums. So I thought for a while and then said in a loud enough voice for the teacher and the kid to hear: “What about your teeth?””

This is how we explore the world. On our hands and knees, tongue twisting in our mouth, through our fingertips. Many people, when asked what their PIN code is, have to type it on an imaginary keypad. Even programmers, often thought as the pure-thought professionals, rely on their hands to practice their craft.

With much of the world of touch taken away, it is an interesting time to notice our hands and how we interact in the world with them. Touching, swiping and tapping through the world, we feel plastic or glass most of the time. Fingers reaching across keyboard to hit the intricate patterns of shortcuts.

I wish there was more I could offer, but these ideas are still churning in my head. However, from the HelloMath series comes a fun activity that practices both finger flexibility and mathematical skill. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 - go!

Try the activity


Linked List

In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. But here it is a selection of things I’ve been reading lately.

Classroom

I’m hoping to surface and share stories from all of you and I’d love to see your creations! Here are a few teachers using Ruby in creative, fun and inspiring ways:

Or hit reply and answer me: 

  • Are there patterns to touch?

  • How do you use hands when learning?

  • What if your hand could tell stories?

No. 10 — 🧭 Year in Review 2020

My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9612 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.


“Ends are always followed by beginnings. Something new could start now, right here! There really are so many wonderful things. “
- Tim Walker

For the past six years I’ve written a recollection of the year past. It’s part documentation, part journaling on small and big moments of the year. To make it useful for others, I usually also include links to stories I’ve found interesting and books I’ve read.

Last year I wrote about paying attention. Most of this year felt like a prolonged exercise in attention: the trees in different colors in the neighbouring park, break making, walking the same loop around Helsinki, living on an island in the middle of the city.

I waved and air-kissed a lot. Worked on small, personal projects that gave me joy and prepare me, maybe, if I’m lucky, for something new. Ruby series grew to include a Faroe, Greek, Thai, Turkish and Indian-English versions. I also got a new Chinese publisher and new books were published in Japanese and Italian. Completed my 1000 kilometers a year running goal, but was short two books of the 70 books a year goal.

Found surprising joy amidst a pandemic. Learned to trust.

Here’s 20192018201720162015 and 2014. And here is 2020:

January

  • Changed the year at R. & A.’s making Korean hotdogs and playing Playstation. Walked to my new home, had a drink at the nearby hotel lobby at midnight and decided 2020 was going to be great.

  • Played Terraforming Mars on several nights. Entertained a lot: friends for tea, lunch, weekend visits, lazy Sundays in bed and book club planning. Loved these moments, especially given how the year would continue.

  • Last stretches of renovation and the excitement of plumbing, electricity and interior decorations all coming together. My brief for A. was: “Make it look like an English arts club where members have forgotten to pay their dues. Also Grey Gardens meets Queen Elizabeth.”

  • Made the same sandwich over and over again: Västerbotten cheese, pumpkin relish and sourdough from the nearby bakery. Attended classical music club and scribbled down life advice: when you change the tempo, you change the rendition.

  • Spent a week in London with E. BETT was massive, V&A’s Tim Walker collection mystical. Saw A’s first exhibition, had breakfast with C. and met with the lovely folks at Wonderbly. And with a wink and a bit of eastwind, my year took a turn into Mary Poppins universe with B. Serious, yet whimsical, lighthearted, yet profound, imaginative, yet practical.

  • Throughout the year hung for some reason on this Guillermo del Toro interview. The themes would reappear over and over again.

Read:

February

  • Flew to San Francisco. Mostly worked with H. Read a lot and did yoga with H.&E. and about 70 other people crammed into a tiny room. Enjoyed the cold, sunny days, running in Presidio (“I am dancing, dancing on the edge of the world.” — Rumsen Ohlone Song) and the smell of eucalyptus. Visited Reno for a lovely teaching session at the Nevada Museum of Art.

  • Thought a lot about Freeman Dyson, who passed away.

  • JOY IS NOT MADE TO BE A CRUMB, told everyone who would care to listen. But/and for the entire year.

  • Did a quick trip to Dubai at the end of the month. Enjoyed examples of Taiwanese and UK teachers using Ruby materials. Started playing Fortnite after reading many essays from Matthew Ball. Watched Giri/Haji and missed both London and Tokyo. Ate blinis, hunted for furniture from Bukowski, attended several birthday parties, saw Parasite in the movies. So many lasts.

  • On February 5th a delegation from China was supposed to visit Finland, but they cancelled. This was my first inkling that things would change.

Read:

March

  • Met baby E. Visited Stockholm and the lovely Tove Jansson Festival. There was already nervousness in the air, a lot of hand sanitisers in use with T. and J., but still went to Junibacken, Millesgård and ordered room service at Nobis. March 11th flew to Copenhagen for the final in-person gig of the year for an empty audience — then, one by one, every single work thing disappearing from my calendar.

  • Started a long-planned egg freezing process with all of the hormones and injections, but had to abruptly stop because of Covid. Luckily, joy was around the corner and I didn’t have a lot of time to feel sad.

  • Drink coffee, write and try not to meet a lot of people.”- Bong Joon-ho. Kale and butternut squash and chickpeas. Coffee and toiletpaper. Cranberry no-knead bread. Blood orange cake.

  • Got a new piece to my Armi Ratia collection, built a Lego lunar lander and bought a beautiful Carolina Herrera gala dress I never got to wear. The days grew lighter and so did I.

  • Loved the pastel aesthetic of old computers. Read several books in Swedish and held story hours on Instagram in the evenings.

Read

April

  • Every calamity opens a new seam and for me it was time. It’s been a decade or more since I’ve spent several weeks in one place. Doing “nothing” became a national moral imperative, and as much as I missed my family, and the pandemic scared me, the pause was much needed. (Here I must say Helsinki has had it quite easy compared to many other cities, I don’t have kids of my own and work, even though completely uppended, could continue in some fashion).

  • Home felt like a remote island, a tiny enchanted diorama. Finished a dream project of building a custom bookshelf. Daffodils grinning on the windowsill. Pancakes becoming a form of meditation. A bench at the nearby park, perfect for reading. Had a patient skateboarding teacher I was learning to trust and enjoyed the Ghibli cloud weather in the evenings.

  • Turned 34. Had one of the best stay-at-home birthdays ever. Went to a Travis Scott concert — on Fortnite, with 12 million others. Listened to Sofia Coppola’s Quarantine playlist and hours on end of Timothée Chalamet New York mixtape

  • Wrote the only column of the year for YLE on Fortnite being a place instead of a game. Thought also about nostalgia and childhood and Solitaire. Watched Unorthodox which fit the strange mood perfectly.

  • A new book buzzing and humming inside of me. Took a Stanford class on narrative non-fiction writing, but failed miserably to work on PST.

Read

May

  • Worked on video productions, math content and a few bigger projects that are not yet out. Had some professional disappointments. Slowly started to believe that the cancellations of international events and teaching might turn out to be a good thing, although at times the spring was financially stressful.

  • Still had my work with Hive, OP Helsinki and Unesco, so got my share of Zoom-fatigue, but probably to a lesser extent than many. Also, writing life prepared me well for days and weeks without workplace contacts.

  • Moisio preschoolers made me smile. Printing presses are giant GPUS 🤯

  • Through work at Hive followed discussions around the future of remote-first university and higher-ed and decided to start paying attention again (after the first wave of MOOCs had all but left the edtech world in disillusionment). CS50 was a constant source of joy and inspiration.

  • Did a joyous Mayday delivery run of pastries for godchildren and met a new group of people I’d grow close to (a feat during a year of social distancing!). Saw B. kitesurfing. Played Peggy Gou instead of being at AfricaBurn.

Read

June

Read

July

  • Summer plans changed quite suddenly and I was alone for most of July, with a slight summertime ennui and endless loops of Taylor Swift. But did enjoy a trip to Lonna island, a walk to Way bakery which felt like a trip to Berlin, as well as making of special signs (“Do not trample the bugs”).

  • Watched Babysitters Club with A. and enjoyed a wonderful exhibition by M. and C. Watched I May Destroy You in awe. Hung out a lot with my goddaughter, literally stopping to smell the flowers and visited the cabins of two friends. Summer felt at times almost normal.

  • Did a talk for CSTA and got quite excited about all the possibilities virtual events offered (and wrote about my thoughts a bit). After a quiet and simmering spring, I was feeling ready to start working in the new normal. Ordered a documentary camera and rolled my sleeves. A typology of dumplings.

  • Something about the lack of touch this year, our focus on wobbly heads on the screen, has made me notice more the connections of movement, language and technology. If language began in the hands, why did it ever leave?

Read

August

  • C and K came to Helsinki. Spent time at our summer house and attended H’s tiny engagement party. B. came back. Had a magical night at Savoy. Went to the Moomin exhibition at National Museum three times and organised a Moomin & pancaked themed 2-year party for A and a graduation party for C. All the time the tingling sensation that this too, was ending.

  • Photographed a ton of electrical boxes to start my outdoors mural project.

  • Started a newsletter, after years of postponing. Wrote about digital pocket treasures and was glad to have a writing rhythm after slacking on the column writing in the spring. Was curious about Walden Pond.

  • Throughout fall joined as many online events as I could: seminars, theater, festivals, exhibitions, Netflix parties, Discord meetups, small classesconcertsbook clubsTwitch writing sessions, parties on Google Docs, and tried to take notes of every experience. Felt like I was back in school, but instead of paying tuition to someone I was getting paid to learn in public. And all this might become something.. new?

  • Month of big life changes — bonjour l’avenir!

Read

September

Read

October

Read

November

  • Celebrated my first year in Ullanlinna! Did a keynote to Singapore, Sweden, Faroe islands, Estonia and Pori, all virtually. Bought a ring light, that also doubled as a bright light in the darkening Helsinki.

  • Walks in Seurasaari and anxiously waiting for Uunisaari bridge to come back. Purple brussels sprouts. New routine of Sunday breakfasts. Seeing baby I. for the first time on a walk. Father’s day dinner.

  • Enjoyed seeing the work of my Chinese publisher (hope I can share more next year!) and the new Faroese versions of Hello Ruby. Wrote about math and later about drawing. Started an online Reggio Emilia course, something that wouldn’t have been possible before. Read A Critique of Technocentrism in Thinking About the School of the Future by Seymour Papert

  • A worsening Covid situation and general November-ness were starting to get to me. Tried to find wisdom from Moominvalley in November. R’s and A’s small wedding was a source of much joy: participated in bachelor and bachelorette party and the wedding itself. Ebitdad returns.

  • Felt relieved with Biden’s victory and remembering a moment on the South Lawn years agoForest floors in Finland’s daycare’s made me smile.

Read

December

Read

No. 09 — 🎄 24 ideas for holiday season 🎒 Schools of trees, logic and poetic computation

Christmas CAPTCHA and binary trees

My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9627 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.


Seven years ago I was working on a daily advent calendar for Ruby. I had just moved back to Helsinki from New York and was looking for momentum, some kind of permission to start working on the children’s book I had been talking about. My drawing sucked and the stories limp.

Looking back, making drawing a daily habit was the thing that turned me from reaching for a noun, into a verb and helped me have the confidence to illustrate instead of trying to be an illustrator and write, instead of trying to be a writer.

I haven’t tried a countdown calendar since. But this season is unlike any December I’ve experienced, so here are 24 ideas for welcoming some stay-at-home holiday spirit and a little computing education, both for parents, teachers and curious grownups.


24 computing ideas for December

  1. Bake cookies in the shape of hardware.

  2. Make ice lanterns, lanterns from tin cans or jam jars or anything that holds light. Study binary letters and create the first letter of your name.

  3. All holiday cooking is an opportunity for some decomposition practice.

  4. Craft your own holiday cards and send to friends. Or, print out Ruby themed ones I made a few years back.

  5. Create a book advent calendar - a packaged surprise book to read every night, either from a local bookshop, thrift store or a library. Here’s a nice selection of code-inspired ones and a list of different language versions of Hello Ruby books.

  6. Learn to fold a christmas tree napkin and write out the algorithm for others to learn it too.

  7. Decorate a christmas tree (or build a hardware spruce).

  8. Decode the secret message Christmas tree lights and ask a programmer you know to explain this joke.

  9. Take an evening walk around the city to look at the festive lights and maybe spot things related to Internet.

  10. Start a diary for kids to record countdown to Christmas, including especially pictures and mementoes of the pandemic year and it’s digital pocket treasures.

  11. Make homemade playdough and add glitter for some extra effect. Or buy from a store. Try recreating some of your favorite apps.

  12. Code a holiday themed game. Here are Scratch tutorials for a Snowball fight game, a Downhill ski game and a selection of Holiday projects from around the world.

  13. Kids from Newburgh designed the village christmas lights and they are so delightful. Design and create completely unique light decorations - shop your own LED lights and other equipment from Adafruit.

  14. London Computing has a selection of great Christmas Computing projects - I especially love the Christmas Greeting algorithm and the Computer jokes.

  15. Print out a colouring page. Mr Printable has the coolest ones.

  16. Create a holiday themed CAPTCHA and discuss how you’d train a machine learning system to understand the concept of Christmas.

  17. Pretend play - the kids are robots and their task is to collect Christmas objects from around the house. Focus the hunt around classifying and grouping similar objects, such as objects of a specific color, texture, or shape.

  18. Repeat the hunt, but this time collecting and sorting old toys and other things to give away as a donation to a local charity.

  19. Make paper snowflakes and decorate the windows. Recreate the snowflakes in Scratch, try out a snowflake holiday science project or explore snowflake symmetry.

  20. Try making pixel art of holiday imagery.

  21. Paper chains are fun to make, cheerful and include easily ideas of binary numbers in them.

  22. Make an obstacle course for the little robots in your family - the robots have their eyes covered and the programmers give instructions for the hopping, crawling, walking backward, balancing and rolling through the course.

  23. Visit a virtual museum. Here’s a list - each family member chooses a museum and curates three pieces for everyone else to see.

  24. Fill a basket with pine cones, berries, and other treasures of nature and make decorations. Practice pattern recognition skills.


Linked List

In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. But here it is a selection of things I’ve been reading lately.

The classroom

I’m hoping to surface and share stories from all of you and I’d love to see your creations! Or hit reply and answer me: 

  • Has your family or school tried something like the countdown calendar? If yes, did you enjoy it?

  • What ideas would you add to the list above?

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