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Big Learning News 6-29-04

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 2:25 June 29, 2004

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Table of Contents

Book Review: Real-World Math

Web Sites: Campfire and car song lyrics

Web Site: Old Farmers Almanac

Education Headlines on BigLearning.org


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Book Review

Real World Math for Hands-on Fun by Cindy A. Littlefield (Williamson, 2001)

Ages 7-11

This book is like a museum of mathematical curiosities. Under each of six broad mathematical topics (numbers, shapes, measurement, time, probability and statistics, and money) the authors have chosen several interesting, didja-know kinds of things for kids to explore. For example, the Numbers section covers Mayan numbers, binary (base-two) numbers, the U.S. highway numbering system, and more. The author spends a page or two on each topic, so the explorations aren't necessarily deep but everything has a hands-on activity to try.

There is plenty of practical, real-world knowledge to be gained. Your kids can learn to calculate time across time zones, and understand phrases like "precipitation probability of 40 percent," and "price increase, adjusted for inflation." There are tricks to learn, puzzles to solve, and toys to make. All in all, a nice way to involve your kids in math over the summer.

Buying information

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Web Sites

Campfire and Car Song Lyrics

Here's the problem: my cousin, who taught me the song "God Bless My Underwear," didn't actually know all the lyrics. So for thirty years, I've had these incomplete lyrics knocking around inside my head, and every time I want to sing the song for someone (many times, I assure you), I have to make up the missing lines on the fly.

But now there's the Internet, that wellspring of vital information. All I had to do was type lyrics "God Bless My Underwear" into Google. It turns out nearly a hundred people have typed these lyrics into their computers and posted them on web sites.

Along the way, I happened upon sites with every silly camp song I half-remember. Your kids will love browsing these and singing the ones they know. Here are some of the better sites:

http://www.kididdles.com/mouseum/alpha.html

http://www.scoutsongs.com/categories/index.html

http://www.bussongs.com/singalong_songs.php

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Web Site

Old Farmer's Almanac

http://www.almanac.com

The Farmer's Almanac site is a good one to bookmark. There's weather lore and predictions, gardening tips, recipe search, science articles, and lots more. I like the Rise and Set page, where you can get rise and set times for the sun, moon and planets for any day. The daily puzzle is usually a groan-producing riddle but still lots of fun. The Weather History page lets you view the weather for your town on any day back to 1973.

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Education Headlines on BigLearning.org

New York City Promotes 1,500 Third Graders: New York City had announced that ten thousand third graders would be held back for failing a standardized test. Now, 1500 of them have won their appeal to be promoted. Other evidence, such as classroom work, showed that they had in fact mastered the required material.

Getting Schooled on Homeschooling: Washington Post education editor Jay Mathews says he regrets the way he's overlooked the growth of the homeschooling movement. He asks readers to help bring him up to speed.

SAT scores don't predict success: SAT scores are only meant to predict grades in the first semester of college. They don't predict success in college or beyond. In fact, many people with low scores have gone on to brilliant success.

Summer School with an Edge: This Oregon summer school program is rich in big learning.

All these and more at http://www.biglearning.org.

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