Fun and Engaging Online Activities for Twice-Exceptional Learners
The recent school closures in our community have been stressful for students and parents alike. If you have a child that is twice-exceptional, you may be facing the additional challenge of trying to find enough resources to keep these rapid learners focused and engaged. These students often struggle with intense anxiety and depression in situations where they don’t have enough stimulation to keep their brains busy. Without an appropriate area of focus, their pre-existing tendency to over-analyze and speculate about what they hear on the news can lead to excessive isolation and worry. You can help your twice-exceptional student adapt by showing him how to use the extra time in his schedule to take a satisfying “deep dive” into a topic that interests them.
Many twice-exceptional kids have an intense passion for learning, but that passion can often be narrowly focused. Here are some tools you can use to help expand their range of interests and keep their minds focused on learning, rather than worry.
For middle school and high school students:
- Crash Course – If you have a teen or tween at home, you probably already know about YouTube megastars Hank and John Green. Their charming, clever and very funny YouTube educational series “Crash Course” mixes humor, animation, and insight into abbreviated high school level courses. Each course is composed of a series of fifteen-minute videos that are snappy, quick-paced, and accessible – like snack food for the mind. Courses include World History, Chemistry, Film, Artificial Intelligence, Sociology, Psychology, and much more. These videos are so dynamic and entertaining that kids will watch them just for fun, and they are easily appreciated by the whole family.
- CS50: Introduction to Computer Science – This is a Harvard University’s entry-level course for the art of programming. The course has long been a favorite amongst Harvard freshmen (including those who previously had no interest in computer science) because it provides a broad overview of algorithmic thinking and efficient problem-solving. Also: it’s very fun and has recently been made available to the public for free. Featuring 12-weeks of lectures by charismatic professor David. J. Malan and nine problem sets, you and your children will leave with a deeper appreciation of the nuts and bolts of the code underlying our digital society. You can access it for free through EdX (it’s one of their all-time most popular courses!)
- Big History Project – This comprehensive program is a free online social studies course that spans 13.8-billion years – starting with the Big Bang and ending with our modern society. As explained on the course website, it “weaves insights from many disciplines to form a single story that helps us better understand people, civilizations, and how we are connected to everything around us.” It’s perfect for students who truly crave an understanding of “the big picture.” The free online course has been funded by Bill Gates, who found its approach both inspiring and insightful. It is frequently used in high school classrooms for gifted kids, but it is also available as a self-guided, six-hour course that includes a mix of videos and readings. It inspires a whole new understanding of who we are and where we come from.
- The Art of Problem Solving – If your child has a deep fascination with mathematics, and a desire to attempt challenging and intriguing problems that require creativity and persistence, then they will love the Art of Problem Solving. It includes traditional math courses from grades 5- 12, but also advanced courses that focus on training for math competitions and Olympiads.
For younger learners:
- Brainpop is another online learning series that is so fun and easily accessible that kids will watch its mini-classes as entertainment, even as they are absorbing new information. It features short animated videos that follow Tim and his robot buddy, Moby, as they provide concise overviews on a surprisingly rich array of topics in all common core subjects from grades K – 8. For example, under Social Studies, there is a sub-course on Women’s History that includes 34 biographical shorts featuring famous historical figures like Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, and Emily Dickinson. Ordinarily, Brainpop is a pricey subscription-only service, but during the current crisis, the company is providing free subscriptions to families and teachers.
- BBC Bitesize is a free online study support resource for students from ages 5 to 16. It contains videos, games, activities, quizzes, and traditional lessons for students at all levels in all common courses of primary and secondary school in the UK. Starting in April 2020, it will feature Bitesize Daily, which will bring special daily lessons in English, math, and other core subjects to students currently learning at home due to the school closures. It will even include content on how to maintain your emotional health during these trying times.
- Beast Academy was developed by The Art of Problem Solving for younger kids who want creative and challenging math classes. It teaches kids ages 8 – 13 how to think critically and understand math concepts deeply by using comic-book style illustrations. But don’t let the cute images fool you. These are some of the most rigorous and creative math problems available for kids of this age. It’s available as a book series or by online subscription, but they are offering discounts for students who are new to learning at home.
For social engagement:
Twice-exceptional kids often struggle to find a true peer group and being stuck at home can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. An online class with other 2e kids can present a great opportunity to make new friends and explore new interests.
- Online G3: Smart Classes for Smart Kids has experience working with twice-exceptional students and offers courses in subjects as diverse as psychology, microeconomics, Big History, and Lord of the Rings. The classes include webinars and discussion forums for spirited debates.
- Outschool features fun, social learning experiences taught over live video chat. The course catalog includes more than 10,000 classes priced from as little as $5 per class. Topics are extremely diverse and include everything from cooking to creative writing, from geography to American Sign Language.
For the whole family:
A highly-motivated twice-exceptional kid may be tempted to spend the whole day pursuing her intense interests individually, alone in her room. It is still important, however, to find time to pursue activities together as a family. In order to coax them into the family room, offer to spend time learning about a favorite topic alongside them.
- The Great Courses series includes hundreds of classes taught in an engaging lecture format. Courses are led by world-class subject-matter experts and are frequently accompanied by a guidebook, but there are no assignments or worksheets. Just learning for fun! Topics cover everything from engineering to astrophysics and the history of secret societies. Although the complete library is available via paid subscription, Amazon has made many of the individual courses available for free to their Prime subscribers.
- BBC Languages features free interactive lessons in French, Spanish, German, Greek, and 33 additional languages! Having the whole family learn a new language together is a terrific bonding experience and a fun way to pass the time. Also try Duolingo for its free, fun, habit-forming, and game-like approach to language learning.
- Virtual Museum Tours offer a great way to enjoy a stimulating family vacation from the comfort of your own couch. Using the free Google Arts & Culture collection, your family can stroll through the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, The British Museum, or the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. There is also a beautiful interactive history of the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
- Science VS, Stuff You Should Know, 99% Invisible, Stuff You Missed in History Class, TED Talks and Radiolab are just a few examples of the many stimulating podcasts that are fun to have on in the background while the family is relaxing or doing chores.
We hope your family is staying happy and healthy during this time. We have been actively working with school district IEP teams to schedule and hold IEP team meetings for Summer and Fall planning. OAH Cases are moving forward during Covid-19. If you have questions regarding your child’s special education rights, please feel free to contact our office.
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