Boston Children's Museum
308 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210
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The activities on this site were designed for you to teach to school-aged children in afterschool and other out-of-school time settings. They cover a range of subjects in ways that support what kids learn during the school day. Most importantly, Beyond the Chalkboard was designed to help foster in children important 21st century process skills like problem solving, communicating, and working collaboratively with peers
By emphasizing this skill development, the activities, teaching techniques, and resources of this curriculum can help prepare kids not just for success in school, but in life. Beyond the Chalkboard is being used in every state in the United States and in over 100 countries around the world, by tens of thousands of educators reaching hundreds of thousands of children. Every activity was tested by kids in after school programs, so you know that they are both educational and fun.
Beyond the Chalkboard activities are based on the philosophy that teaching children to talk together about learning experiences is as important as actually engaging in those experiences. When kids talk about what they’ve done, they must make sense of their experience in a way that is very different from simply doing it. A great way to support this kind of growth is by asking students thoughtful questions, rather than giving them answers. And when you do, try focusing on “What” questions, rather than “Why” questions.
“Why” questions can be tricky. They suggest that there is a correct answer, and you are testing kids to see if they know it. But often there is not one right answer. So rather than ask, “Why did that happen?” (if, for example, something a team is creating doesn’t work the first time), ask them “What happened there?”, then “What did you try?”, and “What have you changed?”, and especially “What do you notice about…” This last question is great for helping kids who are struggling. Rather than telling them how to fix it, you can ask them to focus on something you have noticed that may lead them to discovering an answer – and isn’t having kids solve their own problems much more empowering than being told the answer?
Finally, a note about materials. You shouldn’t have to spend $200 on a kit with limited materials, and limited purpose, just to teach your students something worthwhile. With that in mind, Beyond the Chalkboard activities use mostly easy to find, inexpensive materials—many of which you probably already have. Read the activity instructions ahead of time so you can be prepared and so you can gather materials as needed.