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Big Learning News 7-13-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:21 July 13, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Movie Ticket Prices and Graphs
Activity: PandaCam
Activity: Find a Potter Party
Book Review: Peterson's First Field Guides: Urban Wildlife
Current Events: War of the Worlds history

Math Moment

Movie Ticket Prices

It's not your imagination - movie ticket prices are nearly always on the rise. The National Association of Theater Owners has published this list of prices from 1948 through 2004.


Your kids may enjoy thinking of paying 36 cents to see a movie. They can practice their table reading skills figuring out when the price crossed each dollar line.

To see the trends though, seems like a graph is in order. So I made one by pasting the data into a spreadsheet program. (If you don't see a graph here, you can see it at http://www.biglearning.org/news050713.htm#mathmoment.)

You can see from this that prices rose at a fairly steady rate, except when they leveled off in the late 80's and early 90's. Good chance to use vocabulary with your kids and talk about concepts of rate - change over time and slope, as well as practicing reading a graph that isn't all that detailed.


More math resources and our Math Moments archives on our Fun Math for Kids page on BigLearning.org - http://www.biglearning.org/big-learning-math-activities.htm

Activity: PandaCam

Ages 3 and up

http://animal.discovery.com/cams/pandavidr.html (easier to get through on this one)

Mei Xiang was snoozing when I last checked on her this morning. She's a new mother, so she has to grab her sleep when she can.

Mei Xiang is a giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington. She gave birth to a cub on July 9, and you can watch her (and the cub) on a live "PandaCam." You may not be able to see the baby for awhile though - all reports say it's about as big as a "stick of butter." The Panda page text is updated every few days to let us know how mother and baby are doing.

To handle the barrage of viewers - everyone wants to see the pandas - the zoo has set up a second viewing portal on the Animal Planet web site at http://animal.discovery.com/cams/pandavidr.html. So far I have only been able to see the panda on Animal Planet.

If your kids have questions or want to indulge their inner pandamaniacs, there's a good Pandas for Kids page at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/PandasForKids/ with facts, pictures, and activities.


Activity: Find a Harry Potter Party


Are your kids looking forward to the July 16 release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince? Many bookstores are hosting midnight release parties. If you would like to find one near you, this site has a huge listing of parties (2327 parties at press time). Click on your country on the right side of the screen to find a party near you.



Book Review

Peterson First Guide to Urban Wildlife by Sarah B. Landry ( Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

Ages 8 and up

Field guides can be so overwhelming, what with the diversity of nature and all. This slim volume is just right for the casual naturalist, including about 250 of the species you are most likely to see if you live in a town or city. It includes starts small with viruses (interesting, but darn I forgot to bring my electron microscope so I'm not seeing a lot of these), and works its way through the animal kingdom. There's a short section of common plants at the end. Since we've had this guide in the house I've looked up and found several bugs and animals we observed, and found it quite handy.

Buying Information

More Nature and Science Books for Kids at http://www.biglearning.org/books-nature-activities-for-kids.htm.


Web Site

"War of the Worlds": Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic


Adults or kids 12 and up.

In 1938, an Orson Wells radio drama about attacking aliens was taken for a real news report by some listeners, causing panic. The current War of the Worlds movie (rated PG) dramatizes this event, and your kids might be curious about the actual history. If you need to bone up, this National Geographic article tells the story, putting it in context with other events and trends of the day.


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