Big Learning News 12-1-04
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We have two new pages to help you with your holiday gift giving!
Shop our affiliates (www.biglearning.org/shop-affiliates.htm): You can help keep Big Learning online by entering sites like Target, Gardeners Supply, Hearthsong, and other great merchants through our site. It won't cost you a thing, and some are offering special discounts.
Next time you need an absorbing indoor activity, try hooking your kids up with some optical illusions. Sure they're universally intriguing, but understanding them teaches important principals of optics and the psychology of perception. Here are some good web sites for enjoying or analyzing classic and modern illusions.
Sandlot Science: http://www.sandlotscience.com/ This is a fantastic site full of mind-blowing animated illusions with explanations and experiments to do. Sometimes it's hard to figure out where to click, but it's worth the trouble. Start out by clicking the links in the center column of the home page.
Optical Illusions: http://collections.ic.gc.ca/science/english/bio/projects/illusion.html Nice simple explanations of perceptual "rules" that influence how we see illusions.
48 Illusions: http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/ Better take a Dramamine before you explore this series of moving illusions - they'll make you cross-eyed before you know it. But they're sooo cool. The explanations are more technical and complex, but your kids will love watching the animations.
If You Lived with the Indians of the Northwest Coast by Anne Kamma, illustrated by Pamela Johnson (Scholastic, 2002)
If You Lived with the Hopi by Anne Kamma, illustrated by Linda Gardner (Scholastic 1999)
Ages 9 -12
These books, part of Scholastic's If You Lived series of history books, use a question-and-answer format to describe pre-colonial tribal life. The questions are written from a child's point of view - for example, "What would you wear?" Anne Kamma does a nice job of choosing questions interesting to a child, and many are intriguing to readers of any age. In the Hopi book, she asks, "How could corn grow in the desert?" (The answer is that the Hopi grew a specially adapted type of corn with fifteen-foot roots to reach deep down to the water table.) The books end with questions about the tribe's interactions with European settlers and a brief treatment of how the tribes live today.
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Doing Good Together
If the holiday season puts you in the mood to share your bounty or spread holiday joy, take a look at this site. It's full of ways that families can volunteer together, during the holidays and throughout the year. Some of the ideas require no preparation and little if any financial investment on your part. Others can form the basis for rich and memorable long-term family projects.
For example, one of the starter projects is "Make a Child Smile" ( www.makeachildsmile.org ), where kids can send cards to children with life-threatening illnesses. It's a project that can be done anytime and fits into a normal family routine.
The Family Stories page tells stories of real families who have made volunteering a part of their family lives
The site is the brainchild of Jenny Friedman, author of The Busy Family's Guide to Family Volunteering.
Big Learning News © 2004 Karen Cole
All Rights Reserved.