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Big Learning News 11-08-06
|Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 4:37 November 8, 2006
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Lacing up shoes
Here's a bit of practical geometry. The question is, do you need the same length of shoelace to lace up a shoe, no matter what lacing pattern you use? This article helps kids think about that problem.
By actually trying out the ideas on real shoes, kids can practice measurement as they measure to figure out how much lace each pattern uses.
The page explains three patterns. Show your kids the patterns and ask them to measure to see how much lace each pattern requires. The article reveals which patterns use the most lace and why, but you don't have to tell them that until they try it out for themselves.
Get egg-cited about science
Here are "seven experiments for hard boiled investigators" all involving eggs. Each experiment (demonstration, really - there are no questions involved) illustrates a scientific phenomenon and does something either gross or cool.
Have you visited the Big Learning Craft Stick Idea Palace? Your child will love these projects - real wood toys and gifts they can make, using jumbo craft sticks for the wood. Parents love the way the projects teach math, science, art, and other important subjects.
The American Civil War: 365 Days by Margaret E. Wagner ( Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2006)
Ages 10 and up
Here's a great holiday gift for Civil War buffs, young and old. It's an amazing collection of photographs, political cartoons, pages from soldiers' notebooks, paintings, and nearly any artifact you can imagine about the civil war. Each page has a full-page illustration on the right page, and text about the war on the left.
This is a great book for browsing - although the book is coherently organized by themes, a child could also just look at the pictures and read the captions. It's a book a child could come back to again and again.
More History Books for Kids
Looking for books about Thanksgiving for your child? Try this list.
Ages 7 and up
Here's an addicting little online gem. It teaches physics, but your kids will just think it's fun.
Linerider couldn't be simpler. It starts with a blank screen. Kids draw sloping lines with a pencil tool and press "play." A little guy on a bike rides the lines, obeying the laws of physics. Draw the line too steep - he falls off the bike. Draw it too bumpy - he falls. Too long on an upward slope - he slows and rolls back.
People have made really complex and clever drawings with this thing. The site offers you a chance to watch videos of other people's drawings, which is a great way to get ideas of how to make your own drawings work. Kids can also save and share their own drawings.
From a Big Learning standpoint, I like Linerider because it's a great way for kids to develop intuitions about the physics of incline planes without breaking any bones.
Note: The game is new and very popular. Sometimes the site gets too much traffic and you get an error message when you try to visit. But try again, even a few seconds later, and you'll probably be able to get in.
Exploring the U.S. elections
The U.S. elections are big news, and your kids might be curious about them. Here are some resources for helping them understand this election specifically, and U.S. elections in general.
First, the results. Time for Kids and Washington Post's Kidspost have news reports to help kids understand the election and its implications (both articles are already out of date, but you can catch up by looking at the maps described below).
If kids would like to learn more about the structure of the U.S. Congress, try these pages from CongressForKids.net:
Over a million kids nationwide had the chance to vote in a mock election, thanks to the National Mock Election program. Check out their results page to see how kids voted - in my state at least, the results were very different from the adult vote. Ask your kids why they think kids voted the way they did.
Here's a cool bunch of "citizen science projects" where your kids can contribute their observations of nature to nationwide science studies. These projects involve tracking migrating species and the arrival of spring, as marked by the blooming of your scientifically-planted tulip bulbs.
Tulip Gardens: Kids plant tulip gardens in the fall. In spring, they report their tulip's date of blooming to show when spring arrives in different parts of the U.S.
Monarch Butterflies, Robins, and several other migrating species: Kids track when species are sighted in their area and pool data to track the whole migration.
These projects are meant for classrooms and are very robust (data forms, etc.). But I don't see why you couldn't participate at home too. This might be a good site to send to your principal (along with BigLearning.org, of course!).
More citizen science
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Content meant for adults and provided for informational purposes only - readers are responsible for previewing all materials and activities for suitability and safety before sharing them with children.