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Big Learning News 5-11-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:14 May 11, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Baby Name Popularity
Activity: Explore the Pyramids
Book Review: Tips & Tricks for Junior Detectives
Web Site: Visit the Burarra of Australia
Big Learning Workshops in May


Got Family Time!?!
Rather be at the park with your kids? Out with your spouse?
Work at Home! I do; you can too. Create your schedule around family rather than a job.
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Math Moment

Baby Name Popularity


How popular is your child's name? How popular was your name when you were born? How many "Jacobs" does it take to make "Jacob" the number-one name in the country? Are different names popular in different parts of the country? How has the popularity of your name changed since you were born (mine started at 4 and has become steadily less popular, now at 154!)?

The U.S. Social Security Administration has the answers to these and many other questions. With younger kids, you can explore the concept of rank order - interesting because a LOWER number (such as 1) means a HIGHER rank.

Older kids will enjoy this application of large numbers, decimals, and statistics. For example, take a look at this page of top 5 names by state:


According to this page, it took 3,358 babies named Emily to make Emily the number-one name in California for 2004, but only 62 babies named Emma to make Emma the number one name in Alaska. Ask your child to consider why this might be so, and then check out the populations for each state on this page:


At this point you may slide into an entirely different math moment related to state populations - don't say I didn't warn you.

More Math for Kids: http://www.biglearning.org/big-learning-math-activities.htm



Explore the Pyramids

Great news for your young archaeology buffs - archaeologists have unearthed a spectacularly-preserved 2,300-year old mummy at the Saqqara Pyramids south of Cairo, Egypt. The New York Newsday site has a nice series of photos of the mummy being unveiled as workers removed the wooden coffin lid. There are 11 photos you can click through.


If you or your child would like to learn more about the Saqqara Pyramids, National Geographic has a lovely "expedition" to Saqqara. Writer Nancy Gupton explores the pyramids (Saqqara and Memphis) for four days, and the site includes her journal and plenty of photos, maps, and other cool stuff.



Book Review

Tips & Tricks for Junior Detective by Thomas Brezina, illustrated by Gabriele Klan and Bernard Forth (Scholastic, 1994-2000)

Age 9-12

In terms of solid "how to" information, this is the best of the detective books I've seen. Some of it could even be life saving - how to make a life raft out of your pants, how to lose a pursuer in a crowd.

The tips on codes and secret messages go beyond the usual letter-substitution codes - for example, you can write your actual message in really tiny letters, hidden under the stamp on an envelope. Your partner knows to ignore the letter in the envelope and remove the stamp (by dipping it in water) to see the secret message.

There's also an introduction to reading tracks, finger spelling, lip reading, and tons of other handy skills. There are a lot of privacy protection tricks, along with ideas right out of the movies - cutting a small hole in your newspaper to observe someone without being seen. A great book for kids who like a mix of practicality and intrigue in their fantasy play.

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Web Site


Ages 8 and up

This is an interactive expedition to learn about the Burarra people of Arnhem Land , in Australia's Northern Territory. Animated Burarra people tell you about their culture and land, and you get to make decisions along the way.


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.

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
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