Purple Sneakers and planning for the future 2

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Paula had promised to tell why us why she and Sprite were painting Sprite’s grey sneakers purple. See https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/purple-sneakers-and-planning-for-the-future/

Apparently Paula was showing Sprite another way of creating a combination of De Bono shoes.

When Sprite told Paula how confused she was feeling about her future career after attending the Careers Expo Night Paula said she would help her investigate some more possibilities.

Sprite is always depicted as having an injured left ankle and needing to wear different shoes on each foot to illustrate the concept that she needs different educational provisions for both her giftedness and her learning difficulties and differences using De Bono’s 6 Action Shoes as the planning method. Every year we hope that the provisions which have been recommended and adopted in the previous year will continue but in the past we have often found that situations change and the measures had to be re-evaluated.

At the start of this year (See https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/flocks-and-shoes/ ) Sprite was wearing one orange gumboot representing stop gap measures to cater for her giftedness and a walker boot representing stop gap measures to cater for her difficulties.
She had recently had the plaster cast removed when the eligibility criteria for a support program changed. Because Sprite was working at above grade level she was not eligible for some of the supports.
But although she was not wearing the supporting plaster cast her problems were still present.

Sprite had worn her formal navy blue shoe which represents the formal gifted program she is enrolled in on her right foot and a soft pink slipper on her left when she attended the Careers Expo.

She found that most of the careers that flowed on naturally from the gifted program and the tertiary qualifications needed to pursue them seemed to be as formal as the formal navy blue gifted programs.
Sprite was left feeling that she had to make a decision right now and then follow a set course which would determine all her study subject choices. She was worried about making the wrong choice and not being able to change.
And she also told Paula that she felt as if the people manning the various career booths were looking at her pink slipper and judging her – thinking she would not be able to keep up with the fast paced advanced studies that were the hallmark of the formal blue shoe program studies if her disabilities meant she would need to wear a pink slipper. Paula had reassured her that they were probably not thinking anything like that at all! They were just there to give out information about the careers and courses – not to predetermine the suitability of the students.
“I don’t want to choose right now. I just want to find out all about lots of different careers without being judged for asking about them.” she said “I wish I could put on two blue formal shoes but I cannot do that.”
“You need the Investigative Grey Sneakers for your fact finding” Paul said “Are you able to wear both of those?”
“Yes – if I leave the Velcro straps on the left one open. But would you be able to come with me to the next Career Expo and help me sort through all the information, please?” Sprite asked.
“Yes. We are going to try a different approach to Combinations then” Paula had said.


In De Bono’s 6 Action Shoes theory you can have subtle variation in the planning resulting from applying the 6 shoes by varying the colours
Combinations can be used to
1.Provide a balanced combination
Provide alternatives in an uncertain situation
Modify a situation

 Combinations Type 1
Combinations can be the result of changing the colour of the pair of shoes
In this way you have 36 possible types of action with six of them being the pure versions and the other 30 subtle variations.
Here is the chart of possibilities for the Blue Formal shoes.
Each of the other types has a similar set of variants.


Image Jo Freitag

Combinations Type 2
Combinations could also be the result of wearing shoes of varying type with a different style on each foot and would lead to action plans which are a blend of both.


Image Jo Freitag

Sprite is accustomed to wearing the Type 2 combinations of De Bono’s 6 Action shoes. For example sometimes she wears a Blue Formal shoe or a Grey Sneaker on her right foot and the Plaster Cast or a Pink Slipper on her left foot.

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Paula thought that it would be good for Sprite to also experience Type 1 combinations so she proposed colouring Sprite’s grey sneakers purple so that they would represent investigations with the assistance of a mentor.
She was able to reassure Sprite that these days it is much easier to change courses or even change careers than it was in the past. Now you do not have to decide on one forever career.
Paula also pointed out that often when students have been accelerated they encounter the careers planning subject earlier and may not be legally old enough to participate in the practical job experience aspect which makes evaluating the different careers harder.

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

This has been a belated post on the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum May Blog Hop Preparing for Their Future: Parenting Gifted Teens and Tweens

To follow the blog hop go to


Purple Sneakers and planning for the future

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

“Why didn’t you write a post for the GHF Blog Hop?” demanded P’est Pour Parfait, the Perfectionist Poodle.

 “Well I was busy” I said “Sprite had Careers Expo Night and she came home more confused about her future than ever. She is quite a bit younger than most of the students who attended the Careers Expo Night.
So I went to talk to Retweet about the Careers Week at the Twitter Stream and whether she had found it useful for helping to plan the tweetlets’ future career paths which can be found at https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/the-twitter-stream/  and the following 4 posts.
Then Sprite’s mentor, Paula the Physicist, came for tea and they spent the evening painting Sprite’s grey sneakers purple. Paula said she would explain why they were doing it later.
And then it was too late to write a post so I went on the blog hop myself and left some comments.


These were the posts I visited and the comments I left or tried to leave.

Giftedness doesn’t end when adulthood hits. How do we prepare gifted teens and tweens for the unique challenges they’ll face as they move toward independence? Read the tips, tricks, and strategies used by our GHF Bloggers to strengthen gifted teens and tweens, giving them the boost they need to take adulthood head on.


7 Tips for Parenting Tweens and Teens  ~ Eclectic Homeschool (Amy B.)

Parenting teens and tweens is not for the feint of heart. Parenting in general is not easy, but the tween and teen years can be particularly challenging. I’m new to parenting teens and I’m attempting to figure it out as we go. My older kids are currently aged 12 and 14 and they are teaching me much about this stage of development. Here are a few lessons I’ve heard along the way.

My Comment: I love your tips. One extra one I needed to be aware of was that teens are often growing rapidly and it can take up a lot of their energy; meaning sometimes they are more tired and less focussed even without doing any extra activities.

Coming of Age ~Gifted Homeschooling (Amy Harrington)

In western culture children are granted full rights and responsibilities at the legal age of adulthood. Until 18 most children are dependent beings who are under the control of the adults around them both at home, in school and elsewhere. In an unschooling home these notions of attaining freedom based on age maturation are obsolete. Children of all ages are completely free in an unschooling lifestyle and their ability to self-govern is supported and nurtured. Teens and tweens who embrace their freedom and their authentic personalities should have less issues than their mainstream counterparts. Teenage rebellion and peer pressure are nonexistent as our entire lifestyle rebels against societal norms.

My Comment: An excellent post, Amy – challenging and inspiring!
Keepin’ It Real as a 2e Parent ~ Laughing at Chaos (Jen Merrill)

I’m going to share a little secret with you. Please don’t spread this around, it’ll totes ruin my rep:
My Comment: I do think the world feels much less safe and much less predictable than it was! Even time seems to be spinning at a faster rate! Thank you for your humorous posts, Jen!

Preparing for College; Preparing for Crazy ~ Gluten-Free Mum (Kathleen Humble)But I did learn something from this crazy week. I learned that I and my family are really good at rolling with those punches. There might be a manic moment when I channel Jack Nicholson’s mirror-smashing laugh in Batman. But after the hilarity, there’s usually the realisation that confronting unusual and obscure (even unthinkable) conundrums is something that I’ve become very good at doing
Odds of this happening are one in five thousand? I’ll raise you a one in ten thousand! And, being me, there’s also a little Han Solo voice in the back of my brain yelling out, ‘Never tell me the odds!’
One thing I have learned? Preparing and dealing with the unexpected is pretty similar, whether we’re talking medical-crazy, or education-crazy.
My Comment: Great post, Kathleen! You are doing a great job of rolling with the punches and sharing what you have found helpful – thank you!

Preparing for Their Future: The Importance of Learning to Navigate Ambiguity ~ Teach Your Own (Lori Dunlap)
Decades ago, the ambiguity we were navigating was the lack of information – if it wasn’t available at the library, we just didn’t have access. Today, navigating ambiguity means wading through an excess of information, much of which is irrelevant, inaccurate, biased, or contradictory. We were trying to find any lighthouse in the fog; they are trying to figure out which light is actually the lighthouse.
My Comment: I really loved this nautical navigation analogy for finding and evaluating information!

Show And Tell: Preparing Gifted Teens and Tweens for the Future ~ Atlas Educational (Lisa Epler Swaboda)
There are a million articles out there touting the importance of education. They begin at birth with readying your life by preparing for a stress-free environment, go on to advise you in ways of finding the best preschools, and recommend the best ways to prepare for college applications all aimed at securing the best jobs for your child.
Slow down, people.
My Comment: Thank you Lisa for a very helpful article about putting together a portfolio which will be of great value for the student’s future!

This has been a commentary post on the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum May Blog Hop Preparing for Their Future: Parenting Gifted Teens and Tweens.

To find out why Sprite and Paula are painting Sprite’s grey sneakers purple read the next instalment of this post.

To follow the blog hop go to


Utopian Restoration

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

“This is a task for Delta Dog!” declared the idealist Imaginational Dabrowski.
“Here comes Delta Dog swooping in with utopian ideals, creative ideas and humorous ideation to save the safety, sanity and sense of Sprite and her friends at Sprite’s Site!”

Imaginational was concerned about the less than ideal atmosphere at Sprite’s Site recently and was determined to do something to lighten the mood.

He tried standing on his head and making silly faces but nobody laughed and Intellectual said “Oh, do be sensible! Can’t you see we have serious worries?”

So Imaginational sat down with his trusty mind map to brainstorm the causes of the glum moods and anxiety.

He identified the problems as:

  • Anxiety caused by Little Bully Black Dog and the Pair O’Noids
  • Subject matter in the World History topic Sprite was studying
  • The books in Intellectual’s pile of suggested reading
  • The approaching elections
  • Issues surrounding the extent of personal responsibility for situations not within Sprite’s direct control

By drawing in the connecting lines Imaginational could see that all the causes of the gloom were inter-related.

So he started to think about which of the causes could be eliminated or changed


Imaginational was happy to find that there were several things which could be changed. One change was already imminent. Next term the Social Studies unit which Sprite will be studying will be concerned with Geography rather than grim World History.
Imaginational could foresee that Sprite would be very interested in studying landforms and places such as Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef.

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Next Imaginational asked Paula the Physicist, Sprite’s mentor, to come with him to visit Sprite and to bring some interesting books to lend to her to provide some alternative reading.

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Paula brought some beautifully illustrated books about astronomy and biology for Sprite to borrow and a gift of an adult colouring book on the theme of art and mathematics and patterns found in nature.

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

She also organised for Sprite to spend some time with her in the laboratory looking at ripple tank experiments into the properties of light.

Watching the circles of waves which went out from the sources and the way they interacted with each other and with differing water levels was not only fascinating.
It also led to an interesting discussion about the nature of light and then to a philosophical discussion about the influence a single small spark of goodness or a random act of kindness could have spreading effects in a seemingly dark and wicked world.


Welcome back!


Image Jo Freitag

Welcome back to Sprite’s Site blog and wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2016!

Sprite was relieved and happy to welcome the Memory Elephant’s return after an absence for the Memory Elephant Day holiday on 30 December and taking Angus McTvitter to the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The Memory Elephant was somewhat bemused. “I am happy to see her too and I have a Memory Elephant Day sample bag full of rosemary and red ribbons and calendars and file folders to show her. But she usually just takes me for granted. What has changed?”

“Well” said Sprite. “Paula told me that Memory Elephants don’t always come home again. She went to visit her grandma, who she used to stay with every holiday, who is in an old folks’ home now and her grandma did not know who she was and was calling her that young lady.”

“I am so glad my Memory Elephant came back in time for 2016!”

Boredom Bingo 3

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

“What advice do you think I should give Sprite?” Paula had asked me.

I was glad that Sprite had asked Paula what she should tell Prudence about how to cope with boredom. I was not really sure that this was a topic on which Sprite should be giving advice to her buddy from the lower grade.

“Did you receive any training about how the buddy system works and what advice you are allowed to give?” I asked Sprite.

“Yes, they had training sessions.” said Sprite “But I was away from school when that happened.”

“And how does the buddy system work?”

“Well, as far as I can tell, we have times when we go to the other class and help them do a specific activity. I think the main idea is that the little kids know one of the older ones so that they have someone else to help them fit into school.”

“What are you supposed to do if your little buddy asks you a difficult question you cannot answer or shares something with you that makes you worry?”

“I don’t know! I missed the training days.”

“So what should I tell her to do when she is bored?”

“Well” said Paula “That is not an easy question to answer. People say that they are bored for many different reasons”

“Is she only bored in class or in other situations too?
She could be bored in class because the work is
* too easy
* too repetitive
* not an interesting topic
* the topic is not presented in a creative or humorous way
* not on a topic of interest to her
* too difficult for her so she tunes out

Being bored and finding it difficult to concentrate also have a lot in common.
It could be that she has a short attention span or that there is something in the class environment that makes her tune out, daydream, or become lethargic.
Is the room well ventilated?
How long is it since she ate and drank?
Does the teacher have a monotonous tone of voice?”

“It could even mean that there is something else she would prefer to be doing or that something happening in her personal life is much more important to her now than what is being taught in class.”

“You would need to know why she says she is bored to know what should be done.”

Boredom Bingo 2

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag


“What do you do when you get bored?” Paula had asked Sprite. “I cannot imagine you acting like the class clown or flicking paper balls around the room”

Retweet the Twitter Bird joined in the conversation “That is exactly the sort of thing my Tweetil would do when he was bored” she said.



“But Tweetelle always seems to be able to find some art or craft to do to amuse herself.”

“Tweetelle is autotelic!” I said. “It means she is able to set goals for herself, build the required level of challenge into activities, and keep herself entertained.”
I remembered the word from the excellent presentation about boredom by Michele Juratowitch of Clearing Skies at the VAGTC Conference in May 2015

The PDF of the slides for the presentation can be viewed at http://www.vagtc.asn.au/sites/vagtc.asn.au/files/VAGTC%20Conf%2015%20Boring%20HO.pdf

“I must be autotelic too then!” said Sprite. “But Tweetelle does not get in trouble when she amuses herself because she is doing NEST Ed.”

“So what should I tell Prudence about how to cope with boredom, Paula?”

I knew that Paula would ask me what advice she should give and I had already been researching the subject. I had even contacted Michele Juratowitch for advice and she had given me a wonderful list of links to articles including




She also included an excerpt from a Commencement Day address at Dartmouth College titled “In Praise of Boredom”  by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky .

Most of the articles we found were useful for teachers, parents or practitioners to read but not really suitable for students and were more concerned with the nature of boredom than with strategies students could use themselves to alleviate it.

Sure enough, right on cue, Paula turned to me and asked “So, what advice do you think I should give Sprite?”

Boredom Bingo

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Sprite’s mentor, Paula the Physicist was visiting again and was very pleased to learn that Sprite had taken her advice about talking to Prudence.

“You remember you said we would talk about boredom sometime?” Sprite said “Can we talk about that now? Prudence says she gets really bored in class and I did not know how to help her”
“I do not think it would be a good idea to tell her to do what I do” Sprite continued “because sometimes it gets me into trouble.”

“What do you do when you get bored?” asked Paula. “I cannot imagine you acting like the class clown or flicking paper balls around the room”

Sprite laughed. “No” she said “I play Boredom Bingo.”
“It is a game I invented to help me concentrate when the teacher is talking about stuff I have known for ages. You see teachers tend to repeat facts several times so that everyone will understand. And sometimes when the lesson is really boring Intellectual Dabrowski goes to sleep under the desk and I tune out and if the teacher does say something new I miss hearing it.”

“So I draw up a three by three or five by five grid and when the teacher says a fact I write it or draw a picture of it in a square. Then every time she says that same fact I put a tick in that square and when she has said it 7 times I cross out that square. When I have a whole row or column of crosses or I have crosses in all the squares on the diagonals I win and usually the lesson is nearly over.”

“Why does playing Boredom Bingo get you into trouble?” asked Paula.

“Well Intellectual suggested that I should put a few extra phrases in the boxes in the grid that would alert me if something new was going to be said or if there was something I could research later. For instance he suggested adding the word ‘like’ because it could mean a simile or analogy was coming which would interest me”

“But sometimes Intellectual still gets bored and goes to sleep and Imaginational Dabrowski steps up to help me play Boredom Bingo.”

“Imaginational suggested adding all the things the teacher says a lot like ‘literally’ and ‘actually’ and ‘Um’ and also putting in some words that I would like to hear so that I would not miss them if they were said. So I put in words like ‘astronomy’ and fractals’. It also makes it harder to complete a line or column”

“Today our regular teacher was away so we had a relieving teacher for maths. She did not want to go on to any new work so she reviewed basic arithmetic. She called the lesson ‘Amazing Arithmetic’ and she wanted the kids to chorus ‘THAT’S AMAZING’ after she said really basic facts. I did not think it was amazing at all and Intellectual Dabrowski said “Oh pleeeeeease!” and vanished under the desk.”

“So Imaginational stepped up to help and we added Amazing to one box on the grid.
Then it turned out that the word ‘like’ was the word that she used as a filler in the way some people say ‘Um’.”

“By the time the lesson was half way through ‘Amazing’ and ‘like’ and most of the facts had at least seven ticks and a cross out. I was thinking that if I swapped the position of the ‘like’ box with the position of the ‘astronomy’ box I would have a bingo! And I thought I could allow myself to do that because I do ‘like astronomy’.
And Intellectual Dabrowski woke up and said that Arithmetic was very useful for calculating stuff for Astronomy but the numbers were usually much bigger and followed by ten to the power of huge numbers. And, of course, the same could be said for Nanotechnology but the numbers were followed by ten to the power of minus numbers.”

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

“And then I realised that I had yelled ‘BINGO!’ out loud and everyone was looking at me.”
“And the teacher said ‘It sounds as if Sprite has discovered an Amazing Arithmetic fact. Let’s go round the class and each say what Amazing Arithmetic Fact we have discovered today.”

“And one by one all the kids stated a basic arithmetic fact and everyone chorused ‘THAT’S AMAZING!’ and when it was my turn I could not think what I could say that related to the lesson. Intellectual Dabrowski mumbled that I should tell her it is about scale and plus and minus powers of ten. But that would show that I had been daydreaming.”

“Imaginational said I should tell her how many times she said the words like and amazing in half an hour and therefore what the rates of likes and amazings per second would be. But I knew if I said that I would get sent to the principal for being rude”

“Whatever I said would get me into trouble so I didn’t say anything. And she asked why I had said Bingo and I said it was not important now and everyone laughed at me.”