Friday, July 29, 2011

Home Depot - Free Teaching Materials!

What are some of the important things to consider when creating a learning environment for your children? We want the learning to be meaningful, relevant, appropriate, interesting, and, especially in today's tough economic times, as inexpensive as it can be without sacrificing quality - free would be great.

This year I discovered a great teaching resource that has all that.   That's right, Home Depot!

Our second graders used this web site for a fantastic project.  The problem:  Our classroom was in need of some new carpeting.  Their task:  find some new carpet and explain why this would be the best choice for our classroom.  They had to keep in mind that we were trying to spend our money wisely. For example, although all three teachers have the initials "MM," the carpet tile with giant "Ms" on it was three times as expensive as most of the other carpet.  Darn!  Students had to look at cost, durability, and ability to be cleaned.  They also had to agree on a color and type of carpet (carpet squares or wall-to-wall).  Additionally, they had to find out the amount of carpet to purchase, meaning they had to figure out how to calculate the area of our classroom, which was quite a challenge for young second graders.  In the end, the carpet teams presented their choices, and we voted on the carpet we thought would be best. The proposals were outstanding, and the questions posed to each team by the other students showed a good understanding of the process and the information they had learned.

This project was an extension of our math lessons.  The children had to use skills such as calculating area, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, figuring out tax, comparing prices and other data, and, at the same time, cooperating with team members. Some of the the time, support was given, either by a teacher or by anther student who had already figured out what another student was now trying to do. Peer support was a huge part of this project, and it gave several students a wonderful opportunity to use their strengths for their own enjoyment and to help their fellow learners. In the end, the children not only built their academic skills, but they are now more savvy shoppers!

So, how can you use Home Depot in your classroom?  Take a look at some of the great learning you could be doing by just hangin' out at Home Depot:

Map Skills

  • Store Finder
  • In Store Layout

Environmental Awareness

  • Energy Star Appliance - what does that mean?
  • Check out the Eco Options of Home Depot - very cool!!

Social and Life Skills

  • What is stress-free shopping?  Why would shopping be stressful?
  • How to communicate with customer service (By the way, Home Depot was extremely quick to respond when I sent a note asking if using their site as a teaching tool met with their terms of use! Well done! And the answer was "yes" so go ahead and teach away!)
  • Credit card - a good idea or not?
  • What is your budget?

How-to Videos - Home Depot on YouTube

  • Your school will be repair-free and looking gorgeous in no time - and with the kids doing all the work as great school projects, you can't beat the cost - FREE  (sorry custodians).  But seriously, children could learn to plan, create and present their own how-to videos just by watching some of these videos, and they might develop some interests along the way. They might also learn to critique by asking questions about the effectiveness of the video, which is another way to help them learn to create their own videos and presentations.

Vocabulary Building - Here's just a sampling...

  • qualified appliance
  • special financing
  • campus essentials
  • exclusive offers
  • eligible items
  • practically the entire lumber and composites section (I have some homework to do!)

And, finally, FREE FIELD TRIPS (OK, I'm kidding, sort-of)
Check out the Kids Workshops at Home Depot. That's right! On the first Saturday of every month Home Depot offers FREE how-to workshops for children ages 5-12.  They learn how to build things, and they get one of those snazzy orange aprons.  Did I mention, it's free!!

I can't wait to check out the Pottery Barn site...

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