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Big Learning News 1-6-04

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 2:1 January 6, 2004

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Table of Contents

Activity: Measure your fitness
Book Review: Art Fraud Detective
Web Site: Math Tools


Measure your fitness

     Are we all ready to get in shape for the New Year? Make it a family affair, and get your kids involved in measuring family fitness levels. Your kids will learn to measure time in seconds, find their pulse, and multiply to find their heart rate. Tracking your fitness levels can help motivate everyone to stay active.
     "Rob's Home of Fitness Testing" has a page of simple fitness tests to do at home (usual disclaimer: and don't take fitness advice from me or any web site without checking with your doctor).  Here's the link: http://www.topendsports.com/testing/hometest.htm
     The Fantasy Fit site has a nice Q&A page on getting fit: http://www.fantasyfit.com/php/faqdisplay.php3

     This Family Fitness Calendar from CDC may give you some ideas for fun family activities:

     My advice is to stay away from scores and charts that compare your fitness to the general population. Who cares about that? Just get more fit than you already are.

Book Review

Art Fraud Detective by Anna Nilson (Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, 2000).

    Lack of art appreciation is a self-perpetuating problem.  We know we should expose our kids to great art, but standing in the museum our thoughts vacillate between, "That's a pretty one," and "I wonder where the snack shop is." Without a good working knowledge of art history, we feel ill-equipped to help our kids notice the best in the paintings we see.
     That's why I appreciate books like Art Fraud Detective that help us notice details and learn more about great works of art. This clever book sets kids in the title role, with the job of looking at the 34 paintings in the book and figuring out which ones are frauds.
     The pages are split horizontally so that the top half of the book represents the paintings in the "museum," and the bottom half is a catalog of the museum's paintings. As the book explains, the catalog was photographe d before four gangs of art thieves stole 30 of the 34 paintings and replaced them with fraudulent copies. To detect the fakes, kids must compare each painting with its catalog photograph and look for small differences. The catalog pages also contain information about the artist and the painting. The book comes with a bookmark-shaped magnifier for looking at details, and the answers are in the back just in case you need them.

Web Site

Math Tools

     The other day my son declared that before he went back to school he wanted to understand angles. So I went looking for a good "applet" - an internet-based program he could use to experiment with angles and get a feel for angle measurement.
     Math Forum's "Math Tools" site is chock-full of tools for exploring math concepts, and I found a good page there on angles. The site is a little hard to navigate. I found the right-hand toolbar helpful, once I understood how it works. You select something from each box to narrow your search. I selected "Geometry" from the "courses" box, then "tools" from the middle box, then "angles" from the bottom box. That gave me a list of geometry tools related to angles, which led me to the applet I was looking for (this will make sense to you if you look at the site).
     The Math Tools site is a directory, or portal, guiding you to other sites that have math tools and lesson plans. When you select a tool, Math Tools provides a description and screen shot of the tool. Clicking on the tool name opens a new window for whatever site has the tool. Doing this I found some other good sites that are a little easier to navigate than Math Tools, though less comprehensive (Math Tools goes from kindergarten to calculus):




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