Extension Activities

A letter from MAGE President Emeritus Dr. MaryGrace Stewart

In these tricky times, it may be helpful to have something you can give to your children or students that will automatically be enriching, creative, and meaningful to them. These two PDF documents should be able to help you do just that:

1. Extensions Menu

2. Extensions Menu for Younger Children


Several years ago, when a 1st grader asked his teacher "What are the sum of the interior angles of a dodecahedron," She called me in a panic. Unlike her, you don't need to panic about educating your advanced/bright/gifted/talented/ twice-exceptional child or students. I created a "menu" for her and now you, where you and the child can create instant truly enriching activities or projects. While I have shared it with several others since then that first encounter it is not available for purchase. It can only be received as a gift from me to you. There is one for younger children and one for older students. Use them as you see fit.

These menus are based on the work of Dr. Sandra Kaplan, from USC and her work on depth, complexity, and universal themes. They work because of a phenomenon known in Creative Studies as "forced fit." You may recognize this idea if you've ever done improvisational theater. It also relies on the Venn Diagram concept and something we educators used to call an assignment "contract."

Here's how it works:

(Interest + Enrichment + Process + Product = Project)

1. The student or an adult if the child is too young to write or finds writing too laborious puts a major interest of theirs on the first line instead of the required curricular content assignment that would go there if this were being used in a school setting as an alternative assignment. (You don't need a pre-assessment in this case so you can skip that.)

2. The student chooses one of the depth and complexity of words or one of the universal themes.

3. The student chooses one of the processes from the list. (It's a long list.)

4. The student chooses one of the product choices from that list.

5. They put these together to make their "assignment." 

For example, they may have said their favorite interest is airplanes. Then they chose "rules" from the depth and complexity list. Then they chose the "model" from the processes list. Finally, they chose "yak" from the products list. They then write a sentence using airplanes, rules, models, and yak. It could go something like this. I will make a model of an airplane that uses the rules of survival that a yak has to use in their environment to survive. I will get this done by two weeks from now. Signed: Mary Smith.

This will require them to find out about yak survival and the environment and how it might apply to aeronautics. It can and it will if you let them research yaks and use their imagination to ponder in what ways yaks and their survival might apply to airplanes.

You may end up with your child making a kind of flying yak but they will learn, struggle, and attain satisfaction through their learning.

Best wishes to all from all of us at MAGE!

Stay safe, healthy, and happy,