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Big Learning News 4-27-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:13 April 27, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Nutrition planning with MyPyramid
Activity: Falcons hatching
Book Review: Square Foot Gardening
Web Site: Media Literacy at Inconspicuous Consumption
Big Learning Workshops in May

Math Moment

Nutrition Planning with MyPyramid


The U.S. government has released new nutrition guidelines, incorporated into a snappy rainbow-colored pyramid so chock-full of symbolism that you should get course credit for remembering it all.

But still, the guidelines have generally been praised as representing the state-of-the-art recommendations in nutrition, so it's worth a look.

For a math moment with your kids, go to the site and help your child fill in his/her age, gender and activity level. The site will give back a page of how much of each food group your child should eat every day. Print the page. Serving-size information is given in ounces and cups, so get thee to the kitchen - help your kids measure how much milk is in their usual drinking glass and help them convert their recommended allowance of milk from "cups" to "glasses."

If you have a kitchen scale, your kids will enjoy weighing slices of bread, bagels, etc. to see if they're more than a serving. If you don't have a scale, you can help your kids figure out how much a slice of bread weighs by dividing the net weight on the package by the "servings per container" information on the nutrition label.



Check on the Falcons


Well, I've been watching the live bird-cam at 55 Water Street in New York, hoping the peregrine falcon eggs would hatch before press time. They were due to hatch sometime on or after the 26th of April, so if you check in now you might see the baby falcons, or even observe the hatching event itself!


Book Review

Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden in Less Space with Less Work by Mel Bartholomew (Rodale, 1981 and 2005)

Adults, or kids 10 and up with adult help

If you'd like to start a vegetable garden with your kids but feel you lack space, know-how, or time, this is THE book. First published in 1981, it's outlasted the competition due to its simple, practical, no-nonsense, labor-saving approach. I have other gardening books but this is the one I use every year.

The book explains how to grow lots of produce in a small space. You fill small raised beds with good soil, and then divide the bed into one-foot by one-foot squares. Each square can hold a certain number of plants, depending on the type - for example, four lettuce plants, one tomato plant, or nine carrots. The book includes planting and growing guides for all the more common vegetables, melons, and other food plants. It also explains how to save space by growing cucumbers, squash, and other vine plants up a trellis.

My square-foot gardens are a marvel of low-maintenance I pull out a few weeds now and then, water occasionally, watch for pests, and pick the harvest when it's ready. That's about it. All in all, highly recommended.

Buying Information

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Web Site

Inconspicuous Consumption (Media Literacy)


Ages 8 and up

Paul Lukas pokes fun at the silly marketing language you find on packaging. A can of soup boasts, "Now with more flavor!" and Lucas wonders if they watered it down so there's more water flavor now. He tries to get specific information from the soup company, and the resulting conversation is typical of the preposterousness of modern consumer life.

Your kids will laugh, but they'll also become more critical of marketing language directed at them.


Workshop Fun for May

Do you live the Washington, D.C. metro area? You can attend one of my very-fun Big Learning workshops. Here is the May schedule.

Raising Great Learners: A Big Learning Workshop for Parents
Thursday, May 12, 7:30-9:30pm La Madeline Restaurant , 7607 Old Georgetown Rd. , Bethesda , MD 20814


The joy of watching your child learn - it doesn't have to end after preschool. This workshop shows you how to help your child do better in school, sustain your child's curiosity and love of learning, and do it all without the stress and expense of an over-scheduled childhood. Hands-on activities will help you understand more about how your child learns and organize your home for learning through creative play and family fun.

Gardening Together: A Big Learning Workshop for Families
Sunday, May 22, 1:30-3:30 pm Garrett Park Town Hall 10814 Kenilworth Ave Garrett Park , MD 20896

$25.00 for one adult and one child, $8.00 for additional family members 5 and up.
Grow your child's math, science, and literacy skills along with the carrots. You and your kids will get your hands dirty while learning about seeds, soil, and even bugs. This is an afternoon of Big Learning fun for parents and kids 5-12, plus a summerful of garden learning to take home.

Sign up or get more information at http://www.biglearning.org/workshops/ .

Contact me about doing a workshop in your area.

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Big Learning News 2005 Karen Cole
All Rights Reserved.


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