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Big Learning News 11-15-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:31 November 15, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: NOAA hourly weather forecast
Activity: Make a puzzle
Book Review: Children's Night Sky Atlas
Web Site: Charity Animal Gifts

Math Moment

NOAA Hourly Weather Forecast


Sometimes "chance of rain 30%" just isn't enough information. You need to know more than IF it's going to rain - you need to know WHAT TIME. Fear not - this NOAA site gives predictions for each hour of the day in graph form.

To see the graphs, type your zip code into the box at the top left corner of the page. You'll get the 7-day forecast for your area. Then scroll down and click "hourly weather graph" - one of the links under "Additional Forecasts and Information."

These graphs are meaty enough to challenge kids' graph-reading skills at many levels. They're a great example of a graph that goes beyond the simple examples most kids see in text books. Show your kids how to find the line that corresponds to precipitation probability - the 3rd graph down, brown line - and ask them to figure out what time it's most likely to rain. The next graph down shows how much rain is likely to fall during particular hours - good decimal reading skills for older kids. Also for older kids, ask them to make hypotheses and connections about different lines on graphs - how does the precipitation probability graph relate to the cloud cover graph - is it most likely to rain when the cloud cover is greatest? When the temperature is highest or lowest?

If you'd like to simplify the picture (a good idea for younger kids), just uncheck all the checkboxes at the top of the screen and then re-check just one variable.



Make a Puzzle

http://www.archimedes-lab.org/ - scroll down, click any of the links under "puzzles to make" on the right side navigation bar.

Next time you're looking for a rainy day project, here's a sure hit. This site has 12 different puzzles your kids can make. In one, for example, the solver has to figure out how to remove a cardboard sword from a crown; in another, the solver has to re-arrange pieces inside a wooden frame to pack in more pieces.

The puzzles are mostly very easy to make, involving cutting pieces from a printable template and gluing or taping. There are a few to make from wood or foam too. Great gifts or winter fun.


Book Review

Children's Night Sky Atlas by Robin Scagell (DK, 2004).

Ages 8 and up

This book is packed with cool features. The coolest - unique among the children's astronomy books in our collection - are the photographs of the night sky with transparent overlays that trace out the constellations. There are only six of them, but they help make the leap between the abstract line drawings of constellations kids usually see in books, and the real night sky littered with all those "extra" stars.

Like most DK books, this one has beautiful color photographs and a visually exciting layout with interesting "sound bite" information. All in all a nice introduction to star gazing and astronomy.

Buying Information


Web Site

Charity Animal Gifts


Donating livestock animals to help the hungry is charity project tailor-made for kids, becaue animals are such a tangible gift. The idea of giving a goat is easier to understand than the idea of giving money.

Animal donation programs are structured to create sustainable food and income sources for hungry people - you can give a flock of chicks that grow up to lay eggs. Villagers can eat the eggs or hatch them to grow their flocks.

If your kids would like to get involved, this kid-friendly page can help them decide what kind of animal to donate. It explains how people around the world use each kind of animal and how much it costs to donate one (for expensive animals you can donate a share for about $10.00). You can also donate tree seedlings.

If you'd like to find out more about the charity (Heifer International), check out their web site:


and this page from the Charity Navigator, which rates charities:




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Big Learning News (c) 2005 Karen Cole
All Rights Reserved.


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