Big Learning News 8-24-04
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A reader asked me if I knew of any adventure-type computer games for her son. That's why there's an article about the Colossal Cave adventure in today's issue. The point is, I'm always looking for article ideas, so feel free to write me about your Big Learning needs, and I'll do my best to find something for you.
Freezer Jam Cookin'
Every since the day my kids picked nine and a half pounds of blackberries, we've been crankin' out the freezer jam. This is a new discovery for us (courtesy of my sister) - so easy and so delicious. The recipe comes inside the box of pectin, and you don't have to cook or can the berries - all you do is mash the fruit, add sugar, heat the pectin with water, mix it all up, and let it set. Then you can refrigerate it for three weeks or freeze for up to a year. The fruit mashing is fun and something kids of all ages will enjoy.
Besides the fun, you'll be reviewing some measurement math and estimation - how many strawberries more to make 4 cups of mashed fruit? Not to mention that kids often don't know much about the origins of food - jam is made out of, well, jam stuff - right?
Longtime readers know I rarely recommend a commercial site, but the Kraft Sure-Jell site has a great step-by-step video. Make sure you disable your pop-up blocker (I hold down the control key as I click) or you won't see the video.
Here's the site:
Do You See What I See: The Art of Illusion by Angela Wenzel (Prestel Verlag, 2001)
Ages 6 - 8 with help, 9 -12 independently
A black and white painting that appears to shimmer, a "sculpture" that is actually just a flat painting. This is a lovely collection of artwork that "fools the eye," including works by Magrite, Escher, and other famous artists. Wenzel explains the technique the artists used in each of the paintings and photographs to achieve the illusion, including some of the optical science that makes the illusions work. Don't be surprised if your kids want to try out some of the tricks in their own drawings.
Colossal Cave Adventure
Back in the old days of 1975, computer adventure games were all text - no pictures. There is a certain charm to a text adventure - like listening to a story on the radio, you have to create all the visuals in your own mind. The first of these adventures was "Colossal Cave," which I remember playing in the early 1980's. In this game, you work your way through a cave. At each step, the game describes what you see and what objects are around you, and you tell the game what you want to do by typing commands like "west" to go West, and "get lantern" to pick up a lantern. There are puzzles to solve and challenges to overcome.
The game still exists online, though I haven't found a version that lets you save and continue later. If you've got a reluctant reader, they'll have fun with Colossal Cave and not even realize they're practicing reading.
Here are some links:
Students and parents begin to rebel as schools increasingly assign homework over the summer: Summertime is no longer our own, as schools try to keep kids from losing academic skills over the long break.
Students Tired of Exams: Over-tested students and their parents question the value of some exams.
These and more at http://www.biglearning.org.
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