Mr Boo

How Living Space Affects Parenting

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You might not think that how you parent and the space you live in are related, but as I wait for our new house to be built I’m anticipating aspects of my parenting that will be positively affected by the change. Having separate rooms for the kids and having a proper dining area are just two of the important changes from our current situation that will help me as I guide my two spectrum-kids through adolescence.

The feeding therapy program for Mr. Boo is going well. His weight has stabilized and he’s eating a well-rounded diet, but I have been unable to make meals at the table happen regularly. Even just doing dinner has been difficult, due to the fact that the one space we have for eating serves as my desk and home office. To prepare the space for a family meal, I need to clear off the table (which means finding space to put all my stuff), pull the table out from the corner, and then gather chairs from various locations around the home.

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Having a proper dining table, a dedicated space for eating, will be a huge help with that. I plan to have ALL meals take place either at the dining table (family meals) or at the eating bar (kids’ meals and snack time). Not only will this help expose them to a wider variety of foods, but it will provide some much-needed family time…yes, despite being homeschoolers with mostly-work-at-home parents, older kids means less time spent interacting with each other. The few times we’ve had family dinners, I have really enjoyed the conversation and the sharing that goes on.

Having separate bedrooms is also going to help me address some parenting issues. My brother and I shared a room for the first 12 years of my life, and I have very pleasant memories of playing with him and whispered conversations after the lights were turned out. My kids have enjoyed the same relationship, for which I am very grateful. But now that they are entering their teen years, certain issues are coming up around privacy and needing a space of one’s own. They get moody, and when they are together each provides an easy target. Personal space and personal stuff is becoming increasingly more important. But bedtime is also an ongoing issue, and that’s what will change for the better when they have separate rooms.

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Miss Em has been independent in regard to bedtime for a couple of years now. Hard to remember now that I had to put her to bed until she was 10 years old! Now she puts herself to bed, and at a reasonable time. When she knows she needs to get up early, she goes to bed early.

Not so for Mr. Boo. He still lacks the maturity and self-regulation to forgo the pleasures of whatever-he’s-doing-at-the-time in order to get a good night’s sleep – even though he knows that having to get up when you haven’t slept enough really sucks and makes your whole day lousy. Up until fairly recently, I was putting him to bed, ensuring that lights got turned out and computers put away at a reasonable hour. He always hated being told it was bedtime, and I always hated having an argument when I was at my most tired.

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There were other reasons to hate bedtime: I couldn’t go to bed early if I was really tired or sick (Hubby is often away for work). Miss Em couldn’t enter the room while I was putting him to bed, because she was too much of a distraction for him. It didn’t seem fair to boot her out of her space at a time of day when she was winding down herself and wanting to relax in bed. Mr. Boo was also chafing at being “treated like a baby”, but a few trials over the holidays showed that he just didn’t have the self-discipline to pull it off on his own.

So we came up with a compromise: I would no longer put him to bed, but when his sister said “lights out”, he had to obey. Miss Em is naturally a “take-charge” kind of gal, and doesn’t find it difficult to enforce bedtime (most of the time). She also somewhat enjoys being able to set bedtime for the both of them. They have even developed a routine where she reads to him before lights out (bad fan fiction and not-so-creepy pastas* are favourites). But on occasion, he gets resistant and she has to deal with his antics. And sometimes she just doesn’t feel like taking on that responsibility. That’s when I feel guilty; it bothers me that I have essentially pawned off my parenting duties onto my daughter. But it was the best solution we could come up with, and all agreed it was their preferred choice, if not an ideal one.

But…when the kids have their own rooms, Miss Em will finally be absolved of bedtime parenting duty. She can go to her room whenever she pleases, independent of her brother’s needs or moods at the time. Hubby and I will be able to enforce a lights-out time that meets his needs, while still leaving Miss Em with the freedom to set her own hours. She will be able to get away from her brother and claim a space of her own, which is increasingly important as she gets older.

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As I dream about moving into our new home and how that will change our day-to-day lives, I see a connection between the spaces we live in and our ability to find solutions that meet everyone’s needs. Our current house was never meant to be permanent, but with the kids getting older I’m finding myself increasingly hampered when it comes to implementing new parenting strategies. Perhaps that has made the relationship between parenting and living space more apparent to me. It was certainly on my mind while I was designing our new house, and I can’t wait for it to be done!

 

* creepy pastas is the Internet term for what we used to call “urban legends”; some of them are written badly enough that they end up being funny, and those are the ones my kids enjoy reading

 

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Categories: family life, Feeding Therapy, lifestyle, Miss Em, Mr Boo, New House Build, parenting | Leave a comment

Growing His World

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Over the years that we have been homeschooling, I have tried taking Mr. Boo to any number of classes, activities, clubs, and field trip groups and we have always ended up dropping out. Gymnastics, swimming lessons, kung fu, clay, therapeutic riding, young naturalists’ club…you name it, we’ve probably tried it, and the pattern goes a little something like this.

“Hey, Mr. Boo, do you think you would like to do [insert activity here]?”

“Yeah, that would be awesome!”

At the first lesson or outing, he would be all excited and enthusiastic. By the third lesson he’d be lukewarm, by the fifth or sixth lesson we’d have constant battles just to get him out the door, and his behaviour would become really disruptive for the rest of the class/group. Eventually the stress of it all would get too much for us and we’d quit. I kept thinking that time and maturity would solve these issues, but the pattern just kept repeating.

Two years ago he started attending an after-school program for kids with autism at a local centre for people with disabilities. The staff there are amazing. When his behaviour became a problem, they saw it as an opportunity to learn how to better support him. He was always accepted, never judged, and always supported. Eventually we made it past the “I hate it” stage, and the battles to get out the door, and he began to enjoy going there. He made friends, and now he looks forward to seeing them each week.

He goes twice a week for 3 hours each time. They often go to the park or some local venue, and on days when the kids get out of school early for teacher training, they take field trips to fun places like the indoor playground in the neighbouring “big city”. I used to take my kids there and places like it when they were younger, and it was always a very stressful experience for me. I had to stick so close to Mr. Boo, when what I really wanted was to sit with all the other mums and socialize. Plus, when Mr. Boo inevitably would shove some kid down a slide or whatever, it was extremely stressful for me (I am a very non-confrontational person) and I often ended up in tears dragging my crying child to the car. With the after-school program, he got to have a blast at one of his favourite places and I didn’t have to deal with the stress (the staff, not being as emotionally involved as a parent, deal with this stuff as part of their job and handle it well).

With the success of the after-school program, I felt he was ready to expand his horizons a bit more, get out in the world more, but I was stumped. I felt like we had tried and tried and nothing seemed to work for him, and I was tired of the struggles and battles. It was slowly dawning on me that perhaps I was in over my head when it came to giving him “more”. Project-based homeschooling is great, and we’ve all got this life-at-home thing down pat; it’s relatively peaceful at home for the most part (given that we have two kids on the spectrum). But it has seemed clear lately that he is ready for more, perhaps even eager for it without knowing exactly what “it” is. It’s that parental instinct that tells you it’s time to move to the next level, that your kid is ready. But I didn’t know what that would look like, or how to do it.

The answer came in the form of a new learning centre in our area for kids with autism, which I learned about through one of my facebook groups. While they offer 5 full days a week, families have the option of attending as few as 2 days a week, which is about as much as we felt Mr. Boo could handle right now (and honestly, 5 days a week is just too much time away from the family for our liking). Turns out the lady running the program is a registered provider with our homeschool program’s special ed division and I was able to get feedback from other families in the program – it was all promising.

So last week, Hubby and I toured the learning centre and met the head instructor, a behavioural therapist with a resume a mile long. While her extensive years of work with kids and adults with disabilities was impressive, Hubby and I were much more impressed with the answers she gave to our questions and what we saw of how the program was run. It was apparent that this lady understood these kids and their needs as well as us parents do (and, in some ways, probably better). When I confided in her that our son can become physically aggressive when he is driven past his coping point, she confided to me that every child in the program had come with that same note on their file, and not once had they had any incidences of violent behaviours. She emphasized that their days are designed to give the kids plenty of breaks and opportunities to recharge (they have a sensory room, for example), so that each child meets their full potential. With only six kids in the program, and an assistant or therapist there each day with the head instructor, you can’t beat the adult:child ratio, and we loved that it was a small group.

For those of you not familiar with a learning centre and/or who may be wondering how that fits into homeschooling or unschooling, I plan to write a post on that topic soon. In short, this one is essentially a very small private school for homeschoolers, paid for with our autism funding. The educational philosophy is very consistent with our own – the kids do their academic work through project-based learning, in which the kids direct the project and participate to the full extent of their abilities. Some examples of current projects are: expanding the treehouse in the forest play area with the assistance of a licensed carpenter; converting a garden shed to a chicken coop, building a run, and raising layer chicks (the learning centre is on a 5-acre property); and putting on a play.

Hubby and I left the tour full of joy and excitement at the wonderful new world that is about to open up for our son. He had his first day this week and it went very well – he made friends, he participated in the group discussions and activities, he played, and he even made it through the afternoon martial arts class (they do a different class each afternoon: swimming, skating, and music are also offered). He is excited about going back tomorrow, and we are thrilled about all the new experiences that await him.

I do expect that there may be a transitional period where he decides he wants to quit, where we will struggle to get him out the door, and where he may try the patience of everyone around him. I am determined to make it through! But my gut tells me that it might just go differently this time. The instructor said the children are very supportive of one another, and Mr. Boo is now at an age where he forms meaningful friendships with other kids – perhaps enough to keep him motivated to stick with the group through the tougher parts of adjusting to new routines and expectations.

I’ve been thinking about the implications of our decision to enroll him in the learning centre, and what that means for us, or says about us, as homeschoolers. I don’t think these things are incompatible at all, and I’ll expand on that in my next post. But I’m also coming to accept that I need help and there is nothing wrong with admitting it. Raising a child with autism is no easy task (that’s a subject for yet another post!), and homeschooling such a child presents its own challenges. I’m responsible not just for making sure he is in an environment that is conducive to learning, but also for making sure that he has real world experiences. This is relatively easy for most homeschoolers: the number of activities, classes, clubs, and field trip offerings in our small community alone are impressive, and as homeschooling grows so do the myriad choices and opportunities for homeschooling families. But for me and my son, such opportunities come with particular challenges and I am ready and willing to admit that I am not always cut out for them.

I have much more to say about all of this, but for now I’m going to end by saying that my mama heart is very full this week. I’m so excited for Mr. Boo and all that awaits him. I feel blessed that we have found such good people to bring into his life, and that he is about to be part of something really special.

 

bring it on

Categories: autism, Education, Mr Boo | 2 Comments

More paper game crafting

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I recently wrote about Mr. Boo’s interest in paper crafting. In that post, I mentioned Joe’s Plush Adventure, his new project for Project-Based Homeschooling. What he built that day was a test level for trying out some ideas (I thought that was pretty farsighted for a 10 year old!). This week he started on the actual game.

In PBH, we are encouraged to use journals, and one reason is to document our kids’ ideas so that we can return to them later if they are stuck or just keep track of them for future reference. The first thing Mr. Boo asked me to write down was a list of “What we learned from the test level”. Here is a list of his Do’s and Don’ts, as dictated to me:

  • first worlds must be easy; our test level got harder as it went along
  • cubes (and any other 3D objects) must be drawn first
  • each level must be long (but not too long)
  • longer levels need more checkpoints
  • without a flag, the level is not completable (unless you have a boss, then you don’t need a flag)
  • floating platforms don’t work!
  • do not put too many box spawners

He also decided that his game would have multiple worlds, and each world would have multiple levels. Players begin at the World Hub (shown below) where there are portals to each world. World 2 and above are locked (as shown by the padlock symbols that cover the portals). World 0 is a tutorial level where the players can learn the moves of the game.

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He hadn’t finished numbering the worlds before I took this photo. He also noticed himself that his “3” was backwards, and had me draw a “2” for him so he could ensure that one was done correctly.

World 0 will have 4 levels: ground movement, air movement, combat, and extra moves. Each level will teach skills specific to that area. For example, the ground movement level will teach: move, jump, slide, and jumpslide, and that’s the level he made this time around.

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The image above shows the spawn point (the purple circle with a lower case letter j, for Joe, the main character). The player moves toward the blue circle and sees the X, which prompts the player to press X (I should point out that the player will be holding a Playstation3 remote, although it is not hooked up to anything, obviously). This produces the Jump move, and the player uses that to get up on the cube (making this cube was fun: he wanted it twice the size of the one in the test level, which he made using graph paper, and he was able to calculate himself how many squares to use for each side of the cube – yay for relevant math learning!). The player practices the jump move again by jumping over the river. The player is then prompted to press the circle button, which produces the Slide move, and the player slides through the tunnel.

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After that is a second tunnel with an obstacle at the end (shown above). By now the player knows that Circle = slide and X = jump so he should be able to figure out to slide through the tunnel and jump at the end to avoid the small cube. This is the Jumpslide maneouver. The blue circle is the portal back to the Level Hub, where the player can choose to move on to Level 2 (which will be about air movements) or return to the World Hub.

Here he is, demonstrating this level in action!

I’m blown away by how rich and detailed this project is, and how well thought out and organized his ideas are. Often times it seems he is just randomly throwing things together, but he has clearly put a lot of thought into this. Hooray for project-based learning!

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Categories: a day in the life, Crafting, learning is fun, Mr Boo, Project Based Homeschooling | 2 Comments

Learning with Paper Crafts

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Last week, Mr. Boo was inspired…by something, I don’t know what…to make a paper game for his stuffies, and he has been doing tons of crafting with paper ever since.

This sudden passion for paper crafting happily coincided with this past week’s theme in my Project-Based Homeschooling Master Class: making (being a maker, nurturing a maker, and mentoring a maker). Like a textbook example of PBH, these paper projects are manifesting as all sorts of learning. We’ve covered physics, math, geometry, fine motor skills, and problem solving. As is usually the case with child-led learning, my son knows exactly what to do – it’s me who needs to learn how to stay out of his way!

For his first project, a basketball court, I confess I did not do a great job of letting him problem-solve. He caught me off guard and my natural inclination was to “help”, thus robbing him of the opportunity to figure it out himself. This is why I’m loving my Master Class so much – I tend to try to solve their problems, rather than let them do it themselves. Consciously, I understand that I shouldn’t do this, but it’s a bad habit; the course helps keep me mindful of my role as mentor. Fortunately, he didn’t hold it against me, and when he next came to me I was better prepared.

The court has two hoops and there are “power-up items” scattered about the court that grant the player special abilities. He decided that the court needed some decorating, and I suggested we look up the patterns of real courts. He pulled up Google Images and copied some of the lines onto his court. Along the way there was lots of drawing, writing, cutting, and taping to work those fine motor skills (something he struggles with as part of his autism).

When he first made this hoop, he encountered a problem: how to get it to stand up?

When he first made this hoop, he encountered a problem: how to get it to stand up?

The solution: straws!

The solution: straws!

The playing field, complete with powerups (flaming hoop, sword, missiles, health).

The playing field, complete with power ups (flaming hoop, sword, missiles, health).

Joe checks out the new game.

Joe checks out the new game.

The day he built this game was also the first day back to his after-school program for kids with autism. He brought the game with him to show all his friends! I loved how much pride he took in his creation.

He went again the next day (he goes twice a week) and they went on a field trip to a local park with a nice playground. Mr. Boo loves playgrounds. But when I came to pick him up, he got off the bus with a bag full of paper! Apparently he and his friend had spent the whole time at the park sitting at a picnic table creating gaming worlds and levels using paper. Those creations stayed at the centre, so I don’t have photos, but the drive to create didn’t stop there.

Back at home he had a big idea for a paper board game that he named “Joe’s Plush Adventure”. He talked about it constantly and couldn’t wait for project time. On the next homeschool day, we headed out to Staples to pick up some supplies (paper, scissors, tape, and thick markers) and put aside our Little Big Planet 2 project to work on this instead. In a brief moment of school-ingrained thinking and parental doubt, I wondered whether I should make him finish the first project before moving on to the second, but I knew immediately that doing so would only squash his enthusiasm about this paper project and make him resent the programming project. Besides, he is progressing with game design through other outlets and this project is something that better fits the bill: the LBP2 idea came about due to a lack of ideas for project time, whereas this was a giant spark that lit him up. There was no way I was going to throw water on that flame!

So, without further ado, here is what he’s done so far:

Making status bars (for health, magic, and strength)...and writing UPSIDE DOWN (so I could colour while he wrote)!

Making status bars (for health, magic, and strength)…and writing UPSIDE DOWN (so I could colour while he wrote)!

Geometry: making paper cubes.

Geometry: making paper cubes (and seeing how graph paper makes for more even sides).

Big challenges to solve with this one!

Big challenges to solve with this one!

The big challenge came when he wanted to make a pillar on which the character could wall jump up to the top, then hop over to a floating platform. How to make a floating platform? He didn’t want to place it on its own pillar; he wanted to have it suspended from a ceiling. How to make a ceiling? He attached that ripped piece of paper to the top of the pillar, but oops – it just flopped over. So he taped a straw to it. That was better. Then he tried to stick a piece of paper perpendicular to it for a ceiling. That didn’t work. He made the ceiling piece smaller, then came up with using a straw to prop it up.

After that, he had to experiment with different lengths of tape for suspending the platform from the ceiling. Meanwhile, the thing kept tipping over. He used a pair of scissors to weigh it down, which worked until he added more paper to the thing. Then he tried making a cube out of paper and using it as a weight: not heavy enough. Finally he sent me outside to find a rock, and that did the trick. I’m proud that I kept my mouth shut during all this, given that I already knew the answers. He never got frustrated or asked/expected me to solve it. He just kept coming up with ideas and trying them out until it worked. THAT is real learning!

Watching his enthusiasm, his determination, his drive, his pride…I thought to myself, THIS is why I homeschool. I love giving him the freedom to pursue his passions; honouring his ideas with dedicated time, space, and materials; and – most of all – sharing in the joy of learning, creating, and discovering.

Categories: learning is fun, Mr Boo, Project Based Homeschooling | 3 Comments

Fundamentals of Programming

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Mr. Boo is really into making games. While he occasionally makes board games out of Lego, or by drawing on paper, his favourite medium is video games. We’ve recently started this amazing course by Youth Digital called 3D Game Design, but before that Mr. Boo used to satisfy himself by designing new levels in Little Big Planet 2, a sandbox game with beautiful graphics, played on the Playstation console (other favourite sandbox games include Minecraft and Garry’s Mod).

This past week, Mr. Boo gave me a tutorial on how to create levels in LBP2. He made a rudimentary level that involved getting past a sackbot (the LBP2 version of a minion) and then battling a giant robot by shooting it with a paint gun.

I was really impressed by the degree of programming knowledge he has picked up by working with this platform. The “controllinator” function looks a bit like a circuit diagram, and there are definite logic functions involved in assigning movement, features, and other aspects to your game.

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For example, to create the giant robot shown in the photo above, he first sculpted the figure. Then he added a “health meter” and attached it to a counter that registered a decrease in the meter with each hit by the paint gun. To do this, he had to add a function that detected each hit with the paint gun and conveyed that information to the meter. Finally, he had to program the robot to dissolve (destroy) when the health meter ran out. I was amazed to see how easily he accomplished this. While the tools in LBP2 are wonderful and easy to use, the fact that he understood all the steps involved, and without having to run through the scenario several times to determine what was missing, really stood out to me. He’s clearly had a lot of practice with this platform, and his level of knowledge was impressive.

I think he is off to a great start as a future game designer!

Here is a very short video demo of his robot boss being defeated by the paint gun.

Categories: learning is fun, Mr Boo | 2 Comments

Modelling Healthy Choices for the Kids

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It has been several months now since Husband and I began our new health and fitness plan. Hubby has lost almost 100 lbs and I have lost over 15 lbs. I run three times per week and cycle twice a week. Hubby runs or cycles six days a week and has started doing a video fitness program at home as well. It has become just a normal, natural part of our life to count calories and weigh food as we prepare our meals throughout the day. It takes such little extra time, and the results are so very worth it.

Having been so successful in changing our own eating habits, we felt empowered to help our kids. Mr. Boo was an average-weight child until around the age of 6, when he began to gain weight. He’s now 9 years old and, while very tall for his age (just shy of 5 feet), is quite overweight, clocking in at just over 100 lbs. He likes his food, especially treats, and he doesn’t like sports. Carrying around extra weight doesn’t make moving your body much fun, either.

And so we decided to put him on our health and fitness plan. He’s watched us on our journey and we asked him about following our plan. We discussed it with him, presented the risks associated with childhood obesity, and stuck to an emphasis on health rather than looks or body image. He seemed quite keen on the idea. We started a food journal in which we log what he eats, and set a goal for him based on a calculation of his daily caloric needs (his goal is < 1650 calories per day). If he meets his goal, his reward is a miniature chocolate bar for dessert (60 calories).

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We’ve been doing this for about a month now and couldn’t be happier with the results. Not only has he lost 2 lbs, a very healthy rate of loss (~ 0.5 lbs per week) but we can see that we are establishing healthy habits that will serve him well for the rest of his life. He now reads nutritional labels and makes choices based on calorie content. He helps prepare his food, weighing out the ingredients and calculating portion size. We help by presenting choices when he’s hungry, and laying out the consequences of those choices in terms of what he can eat later. He’s learning that he likes to have a big meal at the start of his day, a small snack midway, and a good size dinner. He also likes to save room for an extra dessert, and will often forgo a second sandwich, for example, for a banana and some yogurt instead so that he can have that extra treat later on. One day he announced that he wanted to eat a whole pizza for dinner and asked for help in choosing some healthy, low calorie options for breakfast and lunch.

He’s also beginning to see exercise as something positive because it buys you more calories (up until now, the word “exercise” was met with groans and protests). This evening we attended the first night of a new drop-in gymnastics program at our local community centre, where the kids get two hours of free, supervised time on the equipment (trampolines, etc). It’s one of the few activities he has always enjoyed and he was particularly pleased that all that fun meant he could have a treat on the way home from the gym (he carefully read the labels in making his decision).

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To make this as easy on ourselves and him as possible, and given his extremely limited diet due to his sensory issues around food, we decided that “any kind of food goes” so long as it fits within his goals. It’s not what a lot of people would think of as “healthy” eating – it includes hot dogs and McDonalds cheeseburgers, and yet we still see that he is learning about making good food choices for his body. We’ve had a couple of interesting conversations about what a body needs to be healthy and grow, and why some foods are so high in calories while others are low. What we’ve all learned is that when you are looking to get the most food satisfaction “bang” for your caloric “buck” it pays to stay away from the really junky stuff. One bag of of potato chips, for example, is more than an entire cheese and liverwurst sandwich (despite his picky eating habits, the kid loves liver sausage). The sandwich will keep him full for some time and provide his body with protein, healthy animal fats, iron, and other nutrients he needs. But with the chips, he’ll be hungry soon after eating them, and they really only provide carbohydrates (which turn to fat if not needed for energy) and some not-so-healthy hydrogenated vegetable-based fats.

Miss Em is not officially on the plan – she is only mildly overweight and is independent enough that it would be difficult to monitor her food intake as closely. She has definitely been paying attention to what we are all doing, however, and she has expressed some interest in considering calorie content, although she is not prepared to take on calorie tracking just yet. She has made an effort to work more exercise into her week, going on bike rides or long walks to the local corner store. Kids watch what adults do and I know even if she doesn’t follow us right now, we are modelling the route to attaining a healthy weight and being fit so that when and if she decides in the future to do something about it, she’ll know how.

It’s a good feeling to take charge of your health, to be at a healthy body weight, to enjoy being active, and to feel good in your body. Hubby and I are pleased enough that we’ve been able to do so for ourselves, but seeing our son embracing this lifestyle and learning to make healthy choices for himself, is truly rewarding.

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Categories: Mr Boo, parenting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Computer Programming with Scratch

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Today was the first day of Mr Boo’s new project (for more information about Project Based Homeschooling see this post). He has chosen to create a video game using the program Scratch. He has used it before, but not much, and he wanted my help in creating a proper game. This turned out to be a great project – I didn’t realize what a wide variety of learning would be involved.

He started by importing a generic background image from Minecraft. He chose a crab to be his first character (or “sprite”, as they are called). Eventually he added another sprite, coloured the “ground”, and added an obstacle (the brown block). Here’s a screen shot showing where he left off today:

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But first, he started with just the red crab and the background (the pink bar was originally white). He attempted to program the sprite to move right or left with the right or left arrow keys, respectively. However, he ran into trouble when he could not get the sprite to change direction – it just rotated about its axis instead.

I suggested we watch a tutorial and Mr. Boo searched YouTube. He chose this one by MrMattperrault that shows how to make a sprite jump more realistically by incorporating gravity and velocity changes into the motion of jumping and falling.

At the beginning of the video the narrator reviews how to make the character move left and right. By looking at the scripts Mr. Boo learned where he had gone wrong: to change direction left or right you need to set x to positive or negative numbers (the magnitude of the number is how many steps the character takes when the key is pressed). He also saw that to get a character to jump (and thus fall back down rather than just moving up higher) he needed to set y to positive and negative numbers (with a slight delay in between).

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The main topic of the video was how to get a character to jump realistically – in other words, incorporating acceleration due to gravity. Mr Boo immediately wanted to try this, and so he copied the scripts from the video. Not only did he get a lesson in physics about why things bounce, but he was introduced to the concept of velocity and how that relates to gravity for the sake of programming movement. And, he was also introduced to the concept of conditional phrases: “if/then”. Finally, he learned that multiplying anything by -1 changes it’s sign (and thus, in this case, the direction of motion). Here is a script that causes the character to drop onto the ground:

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Basically this says if the character is touching the colour blue (which was the ground in the video demo) then it needs to stop moving, and if it isn’t touching blue (the ground) it needs to fall. Mr Boo programmed his sprite according to these directions and, at first, the character wouldn’t move. With some assistance from me, we figured out the problem. There was a white rectangle along the bottom of the background, and we’d programmed the sprite to stop falling when it touched white. However, there is also white in the sky so that’s why the character wasn’t moving. When Mr Boo changed the ground to pink it worked.

Before wrapping up for today he added a second character and a block to jump over. He’ll program them next Project Time.

Categories: Mr Boo, Project Based Homeschooling | 1 Comment

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