Chess Kid

From iLearn Technology

Chess Kid is a fantastic way for kids to learn to play the game of chess and then practice their game against kids from around the world.   The Chess Kid environment is safe and secure for kids, students have no contact with strangers.  A parent or a teacher manages all access and friendships online and can easily monitor all activity.   On Chess Kid students learn the rules and strategies of chess and work to improve their game, memorization skills, patience, and sportsmanship.  Students can train with tactic puzzles and exercises, view video lessons, practice tactic against the computer, or read chess articles.  Chess games can be played online against other kids from around the world, in online tournaments, blitz chess, or against the computer.

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I may be one of the last people on the planet to have found out about this, but  friend of mine sent me this video yesterday morning. Later in the day, as I was browsing through the New York Times online, I noticed this op ed piece about the cyclist, Danny MacAskill, and the impact that the video, which according to the article is “the Top Favorited sports video in YouTube History,” on McAskill’s life.

What interested me about the video is not so much what it shows, mind-boggling as that may be, but what it implies about what isn’t shown: the the 10,000+ hours of practice, the falls, the miscues, the injuries, the pain. I’ve never quite grokked the skateboarding ethos: kids on the street spending hours and hours obsessively practicing a set of skills that have no practical value and often constitute an considerable annoyance to those within earshot. For what, exactly? But out of every thousand kids who waste amazing amounts of time on something they’ll never be much good at, and at the expense of learning something else that might actually serve a purpose, for them or somebody else, there are always perhaps one or two guys like MacAskill who manage to raise their skill level in whatever idiosyncratic discipline they are engaged in to the point where it’s somehow transcendent, inspirational, even somehow spiritual. The Zen of Bicycling.


If your can’t wait for Twilight: New Moon to be released, some of these quizzes and activities might help:

How well do you know Twilight? quiz

New Moon video quiz

Twilight puzzles

A fun quiz in the lead up to the release of Twilight: New Moon next week.

Take this quiz and find out which Twilight: New Moon character you are. Please be aware that you do need a Twitter account for this one.


New Game

Thanks to Iain I have discovered a new game from the makers of Samarost, Machinarium. I loved the  puzzling point and click adventure / game that was presented in Samarost so visited the new game site. I have started with the demo but can’t get past the first screen – I need someone in the class to give me some clues!!!

Is this a game worth paying for? Comments please.

From Iain’s blog post

This time the action revolves around a little robot, cast out from a mechanical city by accident. He must find his way back home, rescue his girlfriend and prevent a gang of robot hoodlums from setting off a bomb.

Each area is packed with visual detail, from intricate backgrounds to fluidly animated characters. Machinarium’s world is not a still piece of scenery, it’s a living, moving environment loaded with personality. There’s so much to look at it can be difficult to know where to start. Somehow, though, you always catch wind of a puzzle on the screen and can manage to discover what needs to be done.

The graphics are slightly different to Samarost, this time done in scratchy pencil style, but stills retains that unmistakable Amanita feel, and will foster a whole new round of creative writing prompts for eager kids.

Machinarium is a magnificent game, and that’s all I really need to say. You’ll be hooked the moment you see the robot store an item in his belly.

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Environmental Graffiti

I have just come across this site and it’s well worth a visit!

Environmental Graffiti regularly features photo essays of some of most interesting and unique natural occurrences on Earth. There is a range of interesting articles and photo sets from

The World’s Most Famous Gay Animals to The Most Incredible Geysers on Earth to Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Anne Frank

As we studied the Holocaust earlier this year I thought you might be interested in this from Larry Ferlazzo

The British newspaper The Guardian has just written about, and posted, a short video clip appearing on YouTube which shows a few seconds of Anne Frank.

Film footage of Anne Frank posted on YouTube

Anne Frank museum posts 20-second video of young wartime Jewish diarist taken on neighbour’s wedding day in 1941

The only existing film images of Anne Frank have been loaded on to YouTube by Amsterdam museum the Anne Frank House.

The footage, from 1941, is the only time Anne has been captured on film. The 20-second footage uploaded to the museum’s recently launched Anne Frank Channel shows Anne’s neighbour on her wedding day. A 13-year-old Anne is seen nine seconds into the video, leaning out of a second-floor window to get a better look at the bride and groom. At the time of the wedding the bride-to-be lived at No 37 Merwedeplein, next door to the Franks at No 39.

The scene was filmed on 22 July 1941, just under a year before the Frank family went into hiding above the family business. The family were discovered in August 1944 and Anne died in a Nazi concentration camp in March 1945.

You can also read more at Mashable

New Zealand Book Month

From Fiona Grant, ICT in English NZ, I have discovered that October is NZ Book Month.

Here are a few useful links from Fiona

Picture Books, Comics and Graphic Novels A selection of some of the best picture books, comic strips and graphic novels currently available for children aged 10-14.
From Billy Boyd’s – The Literacy Adviser Blog (The Arrival by Shaun Tan is delightful).

Inside Google Books is a blog with tips and updates for using Google’s book search

ReadPrint Free online books library for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast.

Literary Tweets 100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter