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Big Learning News 1-11-06

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 4:2 January 11, 2006

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Calendar Trick
Activity: Make some pottery at home
Book Review: Making Things
News to Share: Harry Potter Clock?
Web Site: Tinker Ball


Math Moment

Calendar Trick

http://www.murderousmaths.co.uk/games/calendar.htm

This trick will let kids impress their friends while giving their mental multiplication and addition skills a workout. On any month's calendar page, tell the friend to draw a square around any three-by-three square of dates on the page. Instantly tell them the sum of those 9 numbers.

To do the trick, you take the middle number of the square and multiply it by 9. To do that, multiply by 10 and subtract the middle number. For instance, if you draw a 3-by-3 square starting on Sunday, January 1, 2006, the sum of the dates is 1 + 2 + 3 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 15 + 16 + 17, which equals 81. The middle square is January 9, and 9 x 9 indeed equals 81!

The murderousmaths web page above has an illustrated example. Check out the other tricks they have while you're there (click the Tricks and Games link at the bottom of the page).

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Activity

Make pottery at home

http://www.jhpottery.com/index.html

I'm assuming that you don't have a kiln in your living room. We don't either, but that doesn't stop us from making real ceramics projects using air-dry clay. We adapt ceramics techniques potters call "hand building." That's pottery you make without a wheel.

The jhpottery page has illustrated instructions for basic hand-building projects - a pinch pot, coil pot, and slab pot.

Once you've got the pinch pot down, check out this page on how to make "Pinch Pot People."

http://www.pinchpotpeople.com/home.html

Here's an article on BigLearning.org about air-dry clay:

http://www.biglearning.org/article-giotto-plastiroc.htm

 

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Book Review

The Best of Making Things by Ann Sayre Wiseman (Handprint Press, 2005).

Ages 8 and up

Tin can stilts, popsicle stick weaving looms - all the classic make-it-yourself-from-scratch stuff is here. Wiseman collected classic amusements kids used to make for themselves before visits to the toy store were commonplace. The book itself has a charming hand-made quality, with hand-drawn illustrations and hand-lettered style text. The instructions are simple and straightforward, though somewhat spartan - you and your child will probably have to fill in some steps by looking at the illustrations.

This is a great reference to have around the house for the next time your child decides to make a kite or wants a good idea for what to do with a cardboard box. It's also a great book for grandparents who want to show off their old-fashioned know-how.

Buying Information

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News to Share

Real 'Potter' peril clock coming

http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_4530000/newsid_4539600/4539646.stm

In Harry Potter books, a magical clock shows the Weasley family members' whereabouts. Now technology promises to make this idea real, using computer and cell phone technology. Ask your kids if they think this is a good thing - it's a good way to talk about balancing safety and privacy.


Web Site

Tinker Ball

http://www.inventionatplay.org/playhouse_tinker.html

The Lemelson Invention web site has some free online games. My favorite is Tinkerball, where kids arrange pipes, cups, and other "junk" to direct a falling, bouncing ball into a cup.

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