Experiential Explorations

100 Life-long Learning Opportunities for Adults and Kids

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Celebrating 100 Years at North Shore Country Day School

Why 100? North Shore Country Day will kick off a year of centennial activities and celebrations this June! Here are 100 activities for teachers and students to explore technology and innovation this summer and into the next school year! Take a peek!

Take a Field Trip in Chicago

See the Wired to Wear Exhibit at MSI

This exhibit will be at the Museum of Science and Industry through January 2020. Wired to Wear is the first-ever exhibit dedicated to wearable technology—smart clothing and devices designed to extend the human body’s capabilities and make us healthier, stronger and safer. Jackets that help you “see” in dark spaces. Racing suits that deploy their own airbags. A Jet Suit capable of traveling 32 mph. The future of wearable technology is here to explore now.

Participate in MSI's Maker United Workshop

Here's another activity that your family will enjoy at the Museum of Science and Industry. n this beginner-friendly guided workshop, you’ll get hands-on with circuit building, analyze a prototype, and build fabricated materials into your own wearable LED circuit band. You’ll learn about the workshop’s materials—most produced locally—and discover examples of the latest equipment allowing makers to create at home or in local makerspaces.

Visit the Wanger Family Fab Lab at MSI

The Wanger Family Fab Lab is a small-scale workshop where you can dream up, design and make items from practical to whimsical using cutting-edge software and equipment. Check out the Fab Lab's workshop schedule on this website.

Check out the Chicago Children's Museum Tinkering Lab

The Chicago Children's Museum offers a DIY workshop space with real tools and materials to explore. For additional details, visit their Tinkering Lab page.

See Morton Arboretum's New Nature Connects Exhibit

Morton Arboretum in Lisle historically has hosted exhibits that engage families in nature. Examples include Tree House Tales, and more recently, Troll Hunt, which will continue through 2019.


Through September 15, take in their newest exhibit, Nature Connects, which features 15 LEGO creations from New York-based artist Sean Kenney. In addition to these exhibits, the Arboretum has wide-ranging programs for all ages, a terrific children's garden, and many hiking trails. Also, check out their exhibits in Google's Cultural Institute.


Bonus! Teachers from preschool through college can visit the Morton Arboretum with free admission every Tuesday from June through September 2019.

Open House Chicago

Open House Chicago is a fantastic way to get to know Chicago better and to explore some innovative spaces. This year's Open House Chicago will take place October 19-20, 2019. It is free for the most part, although a few locations may charge a fee or only be open to Chicago Architecture Center Members.


Some innovative locations from 2018 include: ArtReach Chicago, Big Monster Toys,

Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center, and Street Level Youth Digital Media Center.

Drop into an Openhouse at Join Pumping Station: One

Pumping Station: One is Chicago's oldest and largest hackerspace and is located on the northwest side of the city. Weekly open houses are held in this space if you'd like to check it out. Also, consult their online calendar of events to learn more about their activities.

Visit Your Local Library's Makerspace

Drop into to your local library's makerspace this summer and take advantage of any open studio hours or workshops offered. Northbrook's makerspace is open to anyone, not just Northbrook residents.


Here are some locations to check out:


Chicago Public Library Maker Lab

Makerspace, Santori Public Library, Aurora

Studio300, Fountaindale Public Library, Bolingbrook

The Makery, Elmhurst Public Library

The Creative Studio, Niles-Maine District Library, Niles

The Makery, Homewood Public Library

Forge, Ela Area Library, Lake Zurich

The Collaboratory, Northbrook Public Library

The BoomBox, Skokie Public Library

The Launchpad, Indian Trails Library District, Wheeling

The Studio, Winnetka Public Library

Explore Opportunities at Your Local Apple Store

Wherever you are located, visit the Today at Apple page to see what classes, workshops, and demonstrations are taking place at your local Apple Store. In addition to product skill lessons, learn more about photography, videography, coding, music, art and design. Events are FREE and available for both kids and adults. The Michigan Avenue location in Chicago has particularly robust offerings and artistic performances. Apple also offers Apple Camp for kids ages 8-12 and you can sign up for more information here.

Take Advantage of Museum Free Days

Most city and suburban museums offer free days for Illinois residents and Chicago Parent has compiled these dates here. Here's another list from Urban Matter. Also, make sure to check with your local library as many provide free passes to various institutions.

Make the Most of Road Trips

The Best Road-Trip Apps for Kids That Make Travel Less Painful | Fatherly

Looking for apps to entertain your children this summer? Take a look at this list from Fatherly. I'm a big fan of Stack the States and any other game made by Freecloud Design.

Where to Find Free and Cheap Audiobooks for Family Car Trips | Trip Savvy

Here's a nice list of audiobook sources for your family road trips this summer. Make sure to investigate resources at your local library and perhaps even your librarian can create customized reading lists for students based on travels!

Read a Book - Grown Ups

The Art of Digital Fabrication: STEAM Projects for the Makerspace and Art Studio | Erin Riley & Sylvia Martinez

"The Art of Digital Fabrication makes the case for designing and making art with digital technology and provides the resources for bringing that work to life in classrooms and makerspaces. Written by an educator with extensive experience in art and maker education, this volume contains over twenty-five makerspace tested projects, a material and process inventory for digital fabrication, guides for designing with software, and how-tos for using digital fabrication machines. This book will inspire those new to technology to get started with the tools for making while offering experienced makers approaches for fabrication with materials found in the art studio."

The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life | ya Kamenetz

"Today's babies often make their debut on social media with the very first sonogram. They begin interacting with screens at around four months old. But is this good news or bad news? A wonderful opportunity to connect around the world? Or the first step in creating a generation of addled screen zombies?


Many have been quick to declare this the dawn of a neurological and emotional crisis, but solid science on the subject is surprisingly hard to come by. In The Art of Screen Time, Anya Kamenetz--an expert on education and technology, as well as a mother of two young children--takes a refreshingly practical look at the subject. Surveying hundreds of fellow parents on their practices and ideas, and cutting through a thicket of inconclusive studies and overblown claims, she hones a simple message, a riff on Michael Pollan's well-known "food rules": Enjoy Screens. Not too much. Mostly with others.


This brief but powerful dictum forms the backbone of a philosophy that will help parents moderate technology in their children's lives, curb their own anxiety, and create room for a happy, healthy family life with and without screens." Click here for more information.

Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World | Suzie Boss

"Are you preparing a new generation of innovators? Activate your students’ creativity and problem-solving potential with breakthrough learning projects. Across all grades and content areas, student-driven, collaborative projects will teach students how to generate innovative ideas and then put them into action. You’ll take learning to new heights and help students master core content." Click here for more information.

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World | Tony Wagner

"Harvard education expert Tony Wagner explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. In profiling compelling young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple’s first iPhone, and Jodie Wu, who founded a company that builds bicycle-powered maize shellers in Tanzania, Wagner reveals how the adults in their lives nurtured their creativity and sparked their imaginations, while teaching them to learn from failures and persevere. Play, passion, and purpose: These are the forces that drive young innovators." Click here to learn more.

A Guide to Documenting Learning: Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified | Sylvia Tolisano

"What is learning? How do we look for, capture, reflect on, and share learning to foster meaningful and active engagement? This vital resource helps educators answer these questions. A Guide to Documenting Learning facilitates student-driven learning and helps teachers reflect on their own learning and classroom practice. This unique how-to book

  • Explains the purposes and different types of documentation
  • Teaches different "LearningFlow" systems to help educators integrate documentation throughout the curriculum
  • Provides authentic examples of documentation in real classrooms
  • Is accompanied by a robust companion website where readers can find even more documentation examples and video tutorials"

Click here for more information.

Invent to Learn | Gary Stager & Syliva Martinez

"In this practical guide, Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager provide K-12 educators with the how, why, and cool stuff that supports making in the classroom, library, makerspace, or anywhere learners learn." Click here to learn more. A new and expanded version is

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. You also might be interested in

the Invent to Learn Guide to MORE Fun: Makerspace, Classroom, Library, and Home STEM Projects by Josh Burker

Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play | Mitch Resnick

"Drawing on experiences from more than thirty years at MIT's Media Lab, Resnick discusses new technologies and strategies for engaging young people in creative learning experiences. He tells stories of how children are programming their own games, stories, and inventions (for example, a diary security system, created by a twelve-year-old girl), and collaborating through remixing, crowdsourcing, and large-scale group projects (such as a Halloween-themed game called Night at Dreary Castle, produced by more than twenty kids scattered around the world). By providing young people with opportunities to work on projects, based on their passions, in collaboration with peers, in a playful spirit, we can help them prepare for a world where creative thinking is more important than ever before." Learn more here.

The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World | Jordan Shapiro

"In The New Childhood, Jordan Shapiro provides a hopeful counterpoint to the fearful hand-wringing that has come to define our narrative around children and technology. Drawing on groundbreaking research in economics, psychology, philosophy, and education, The New Childhood shows how technology is guiding humanity toward a bright future in which our children will be able to create new, better models of global citizenship, connection, and community.

Shapiro offers concrete, practical advice on how to parent and educate children effectively in a connected world, and provides tools and techniques for using technology to engage with kids and help them learn and grow. He compares this moment in time to other great technological revolutions in humanity's past and presents entertaining micro-histories of cultural fixtures: the sandbox, finger painting, the family dinner, and more. But most importantly, The New Childhood paints a timely, inspiring and positive picture of today's children, recognizing that they are poised to create a progressive, diverse, meaningful, and hyper-connected world that today's adults can only barely imagine." Click here for more information.

Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences | Suzie Boss & John Larmer

"It's no secret that in today's complex world, students face unparalleled demands as they prepare for college, careers, and active citizenship. However, those demands won't be met without a fundamental shift from traditional, teacher-centered instruction toward innovative, student-centered teaching and learning. For schools ready to make such a shift, project-based learning (PBL) offers a proven framework to help students be better equipped to tackle future challenges.

Project Based Teachers encourage active questioning, curiosity, and peer learning; create learning environments in which every student has a voice; and have a mastery of content but are also comfortable responding to students' questions by saying, "I don’t know. Let's find out together."

In this book, Suzie Boss and John Larmer build on the framework for Gold Standard PBL originally presented in Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning and explore the seven practices integral to Project Based Teaching:


  • Build the Culture
  • Design and Plan
  • Align to Standards
  • Manage Activities
  • Assess Student Learning
  • Scaffold Student Learning
  • Engage and Coach


For each practice, the authors present a wide range of practical strategies and include teachers' reflections about and suggestions from their classroom experiences.

This book and a related series of free videos provide a detailed look at what's happening in PBL classrooms from the perspective of the Project Based Teacher. Let's find out together." Click here for more information.

Viral Parenting: A Guide to Setting Boundaries, Building Trust, and Raising Responsible Kids in an Online World | Mindy McKnight

"...VIRAL PARENTING is a guide to raising responsible, safe, and communicative kids in the digital world. Mindy shares practical tools for having honest conversations with kids of all ages about privacy, bullying, respectfulness, and family time, while emphasizing the importance of trust and open communication. These strategies are timeless--whether applied to texting, snapping, Facebooking, kiking, or whatever social media platforms await us in the future, this book is ultimately about teaching children about personal responsibility and safety.


Mindy shares practical tools for creating family rules for kids of all ages about privacy, bullying, respectfulness, and family time, while emphasizing the importance of trust and open communication. Using family contracts, guided conversations, device checks, and respectful but firm oversight, the McKnights have raised a close knit family and navigated the complexity of being world-wide internet celebrities with grace. McKnight will show any parent of any child or teen how that's done--setting non-negotiable guidelines and offering a savvy perspective toward privacy that audience have been begging for." Click here for more information.

Read and Create Apple Books

Apple Distinguished Educators Books

Apple Distinguished Educators is an award program for educators who innovate in classrooms using Apple's technology. Find interactive books authored by these educators in the Apple Book Store on a variety of topics. All are free.

Distinguished School Success Stories

Download and read stories about Apple Distinguished Schools and be inspired to innovate in your own educational setting. A few favorites include:

Joy of Professional Learning Books

Kurt Klynen and other Apple Distinguished Educators have written a series of Apple Books that will help educators re-design professional learning experiences. If you are looking for inspiration on how to implement fun and innovative professional development, this series will definitely help you

Read a Book - Kids

TEC Books on Goodreads

Check out this amazing list of tech and innovation related books curated by the Technology in Early Childhood Center at the Erikson Institute. This list was suggested by Tamara Kaldor who used to work for the TEC.

Listen to Podcasts

20 Best Podcasts for Kids | Common Sense Media

Pick one of the 20 podcasts described in this Common Sense Media article and listen along with your child. Methods for listening as well as podcast pros and cons are also provided. Find recommendations for bedtime, road trips, and other topics.

105 Podcasts You Should Check Out | Getting Smart

The Getting Smart blog has compiled a comprehensive list of podcasts that might appeal to teachers. There's something for everyone within this list including podcasts that are geared towards or made by educators. Find podcasted series on ed tech, higher ed, ed policy, leadership, STEM and more.

Teaching Podcasting: A Curriculum Guide for Educators | NPR

After listening to a few podcasts, consider how you can incorporate these audio files into your teaching. This set of lessons from NPR provides a concrete process for teaching students how to develop a podcast.

Read Articles on Tech and Innovative Practices

Denver’s CUBE: Reimagining the High School Experience | Getting Smart

This article details the approach of a new school in Denver opening in August 2019. 5 core elements of its mission to cultivate leaders of tomorrow are character development, learning happens everywhere, computational thinking, mash-ups, and pivoting. Find out more about this model here.

This Teacher Started a Hands-On PD Lab That’s Sparking Change Across the District | EdSurge

Find out how a team in an Alabama school district created a personalized professional development space and program to support teachers with integrating STEM subjects into their curriculum. This article is written by Faith Plunkett for EdSurge.

Lessons from a School Without Walls | Bright

This article from Bright Magazine on Medium tells the story of an open-plan school in Denmark that is designed to personalize learning and to encourage students and teachers to take responsibility for their own learning. "...Prakash Nair, an architect and president of the school-planning firm Fielding Nair International, called Hellerup “an adventure in change.” Nair, who has helped design many open-plan schools, explained that these buildings resemble contemporary working environments, but also enhance student autonomy and teacher collaboration."

Find More Articles & Share Your Favorites

Lucy regularly bookmarks useful links related to innovation in education in this Diigo group. You may need to join Diigo and then this group to access these resources. Feel free to contribute your own favorite articles to this group as well.

Subscribe to Blogs and Websites in Feedly

Want an easy way to keep up to date with information related to the field of education? Consider starting a Feedly account which allows you to subscribe to websites and see new content all within the Feedly site or app.


Here are some of my favorite blogs to help you get started.


Live and Serve

Volunteer as a Family

Here are some places to check out according to NSCDS Service Learning Coordinator Drea Gallaga.


Bernie's Book Bank: https://www.berniesbookbank.org/

Cradles to Crayons: https://www.cradlestocrayons.org/

Feed My Starving Children: https://www.fmsc.org/

Become a Citizen Scientist

The Peggy Notebaert Museum in Chicago trains volunteers to serve as citizen scientists and there are opportunities to help monitor frogs, butterflies, dragonflies and damsel flies. Check out their citizenship science page here. The Field Museum also offers opportunities for citizen scientists. If you are interested in incorporating citizen science into your classroom, there are many opportunities listed here on National Geographic's website. For more information about citizen science in general, read this SciStarter article for more background information.

Learn to Code

Why Code?

In this EdSurge article, Christina Lewis, Founder and CEO of All Star Code, notes that programming languages will change and evolve over time; the languages we or your children learn now may be obsolete in the future. Coding is an experience that teaches important critical thinking skills and Lewis notes, "It is the ability to learn new skills that is the real superpower of our time."


There are many resources and apps for teaching code now. Check out the following suggestions for getting started yourself and for encouraging your child to explore computer science.

Browse These Lists of Recommended Resources

Languages suitable for high school students are listed in this Common Sense Media list and middle school recommendations are also available. Top picks for elementary students are located here.

Think About Subscribing to BitsBox

BitsBox is a subscription service that sends your child a project each month that teaches a different computer science concept. It is geared towards 6-12-year-olds, and no coding experience is required on the part of the parent or child. BitsBox uses a special set of commands that are written in Javascript.


Disclaimer: I've known Aidan, one of the co-founders of BitsBox, since his days at Google as part of the SketchUp team. HIs co-founder, Scott, is also a former Googler who learned to code using real code like Javascript. You might have seen them previously on Shark Tank! And...there's a North Shore parent who knows this team and is impressed with their work.

Books About Coding

Everyone Can Code

Apple's coding language is called Swift and there are tons of resources available for students and teachers to learn this user-friendly language via the Everyone Can Code initiative. Students can even learn code apps! Download the free Swift Playgrounds iPad app and work through various lessons.

Coding Games in Python | DK

"Beginners and experienced programmers can use Python to build and play computer games, from mind-bending brainteasers to crazy action games with explosive sound effects and 3-D graphics.

Each chapter in Coding Games in Python shows how to construct a complete working game in simple numbered steps. The book teaches how to use freely available resources, such as PyGame Zero and Blender, to add animations, music, scrolling backgrounds, 3-D scenery, and other pieces of professional wizardry to games. After building a game, instructions show how to adapt it using secret hacks and cheat codes. Instructions are illustrated with zany Minecraft-style pixel art.

Master the key concepts that programmers need to write code--not just in Python, but in all programming languages. Find out what bugs, loops, flags, strings, tuples, toggles, and turtles are. Learn how to plan and design the ultimate game--and then play it to destruction as you test and debug it.

With coding theory interwoven into the instructions for building each game, learning coding is made effortless and fun." Click here for more information.

The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code | Marina Umaschi Bers & Mitchel Resnick

"ScratchJr is a free, introductory computer programming language that runs on iPads, Android tablets, Amazon tablets, and Chromebooks. Inspired by Scratch, the wildly popular programming language used by millions of children worldwide, ScratchJr helps even younger kids create their own playful animations, interactive stories, and dynamic games.

The Official ScratchJr Book is the perfect companion to this free app and makes coding easy and fun for all. Kids learn to program by connecting blocks of code to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing.

Each chapter includes several activities that build on one another, culminating in a fun final project. These hands-on activities help kids develop computational-thinking, problem-solving, and design skills. In each activity, you’ll find:
–Step-by-step, easy-to-follow directions
–Ways to connect the activity with literacy and math concepts
–Tips for grown-ups and teachers
–Creative challenges to take the learning further

By the end of the book, kids will be ready for all sorts of new programming adventures!" Click here for more information.

The Official Scratch Coding Cards (Scratch 3.0): Creative Coding Activities for Kids | Natalie Rusk

"Now updated for Scratch 3.0, this 75-card deck features interactive programming projects you can make with Scratch, a free-to-use graphical programming language used by millions of kids around the world. The front of each card shows an activity, like Pong, Write an Interactive Story, Create a Virtual Pet, Play Hide and Seek. The back shows how to put code blocks together to make projects come to life! Along the way, kids learn coding concepts like sequencing, conditionals, and variables." Click here for more information.

Take in a TED Talk or Two

Hone Your Technology Skills

Join the Apple Teacher Program

Consider Google Certification

Customize Your Chrome Browser

Play with Amazing Apps

Take a Photowalk

Flex Your Creative Skills

Become a YouTube Creator

Set Up Amazing Outdoor Art Spaces to Encourage Creativity

Check out this blog post for some terrific ideas for getting your kids outdoors and flexing their creative skills!

Watch a Webinar

Book Creator Webinars

Learn more about the versatile app Book Creator by taking in one of their free webinars. The list of upcoming webinars over the summer include:



  • Hands-On with Book Creator for New Users - June 4
  • Project Ideas for the Science Classroom with Book Creator - June 14
  • Using Book Creator for Reading Responses - June 18
  • Collaboration with Book Creator - July 10
  • Social Studies and Book Creator - July 16
  • New Features! Must-try Updates to Book Creator - July 22
  • Favorite Apps to Use with Book Creator - August 6
  • Social-Emotional Learning Activities Using Book Creator - August 15
  • Nurturing Creativity with Book Creator - August 20
  • Book Creator in Special Education - September 3

Start a Family Film Fest

Storymap Your Summer Vacation