Big Learning News 7-20-04
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One downside of having industrious kids is the landslide of stuff that they produce and bring home. I'm kidding - it's not really a downside, but it does create neatness issues and refrigerator clutter. If I don't tell Junior to throw his home-made pirate hat in the trash, where are we going to keep it? How will we know when it's time to get rid of it?
So we've been experimenting with display methods pretty much since the kids started finger painting. If you have your own display issues, making a display area can be a fun summer activity. There are learning benefits too, because it keeps things where you can continue to talk about them. Here are some of my favorite display ideas:
Cork squares: These 12" squares are inexpensive and available at art supply stores. You can spray-paint them to match the decor. Unlike a bulletin board, you can arrange them to fill nearly any size wall space. Kids love to pin stuff to them.
Magnetic display boards: You can buy magnetic bulletin boards, though they can be pricey. These are great for photos, because you can hang up the photos without poking a hole.
String and clothespins: Colored string or yarn, plus brightly colored spring-type clothespins, are great for displaying artwork and look good in children's bedrooms and playrooms.
Temporary exhibits: I let my kids tape things up on the living room walls, but we've borrowed the "temporary exhibit" concept from museums. Our temporary exhibits last a week.
Seven Times Smarter: 50 Activities, Games and Projects to Develop the Seven Intelligences of Your Child by Laurel Schmidt (Three Rivers Press, 2001).
Psychologist Howard Gardner made a good point when he developed the idea of "multiple intelligences," an idea that is still popular in educational circles. Rebelling against the single IQ score, he got a lot of people to accept the idea that there is more than one way to be smart. The Seven Times Smarter title refers to the first seven ways he thought of: verbal, visual/spatial, musical, kinesthetic (athletic), logical/mathematical, interpersonal (social), and intrapersonal (self-awareness). He pointed out that IQ tests only attempt to measure a few of these, leaving a lot of talented kids unnoticed.
People take good ideas like this in both good and bad directions. Some people, for example, have used the multiple-intelligences idea to test, label, and categorize children. That's a bad use.
Laurel Schmidt, on the other hand, has used it to buttress the intuition that kids aren't wasting time when they're playing, building, or creating. "Mom, we're not just goofing around - we're developing our interpersonal intelligence!" That's a good use.
It's a shame we need a psychological theory to convince us. Moreover, the whole "intelligences" idea, no matter how many there are, tends to make people focus on innate talent at the expense the potential all of us have to learn from experience.
All that aside, Schmidt has put together a lovely book of activities for helping kids develop into interesting, creative adults who remember having a lot of fun as a kid. The chapters, with names like "Joyful Noise," and "Exploring and Discovering," each contain ideas short on prep time and expense, but long on entertainment and challenge for kids. For example, in one activity a wooden crate with a cinder block in the bottom (to steady it) becomes a workbench for kids. Many activities also include resources kids can use for inspiration. After suggesting several kinds of journals kids can keep, she provides a list of published diaries children can read.
In the waning days of summer vacation, this book may be just what the doctor ordered to keep kids productively occupied.
BAM! is a site developed by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) to inform kids (ages 9-13) about physical and mental health issues. It's a fun and informative site with quizzes, fun facts, and things kids can do to stay healthy. Topics include exercise, nutrition, common diseases like asthma, and stress management. There's even a make-your-own cartoon game where you can insert characters into a background and type comic-balloon dialogue.
Prep Companies Teach for the New SAT: Critics have long complained that because coaching can boost SAT scores, it is unfair to those who can't afford coaching. Test-prep companies claim that the new SAT is even easier to coach, despite the publisher's claim to the contrary.
Students Dig Unique Lesson: High school students learn archaeology and more by participating in this program.
These and more at http://www.biglearning.org .
Big Learning News © 2004 Karen Cole
All Rights Reserved.