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Big Learning News 3-1-06

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 4:7 March 1, 2006

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Math Contest
Activity: Make a flip book
Magazine Review: Moo Cow Fan Club
Education News: No Art - it's FCAT Time

Web Site: Pavement drawings
Web Site: Weird inventions

Have you checked out our newest Family Fun Treasure Trove at BigLearning.org?

Music Activities for Kids and Families

Math Moment

Crazy 4 Math Contest


I like this site - they seem to be kindred Big Learning spirits. They're running a contest for kids. Kids send in ideas for learning or using math in everyday life. The kids can win prizes (though the prizes seem to be all company products), but the best ideas will also be published on the site and in their column. So if your kids use math to help them in sports, arts, or some other real-world activity, encourage them to send in their ideas!

Know of other online math contests? Comment on this article

More Fun Math for Kids



Make a flip book

In a flip animation book, each page has one frame of a short animation. When you pull all the pages back with your thumb and let them flip by quickly, you see the whole animation.

Inspired by some professionally-drawn flip animation books, our kids wanted to try making their own. In case your kids would like to try, I scoured the web for tips:

- The basic technique is to draw a simple figure - say a ball - and change it slightly on each page. You might draw the ball slightly lower on each page so when the pages are flipped, the ball appears to fall down. Flip it backwards, the ball appears to fall up!

- In our experience, a small tablet or Post-it pad works best. One site recommended using the page corners in an old phone book - but there really isn't much room there! Some sites recommend cutting out small squares of paper and stapling them to make a book, but we found that it's really hard to line them up perfectly enough to flip well.

- For small kids, try making each page a crayon rubbing instead of a drawing. Take something like a large paper clip, put it under each page and rub a crayon over it until the shape appears. On the next page, spin it slightly and rub again. It will look like the paper clip spins when you flip the book.

- Draw in dark marker starting from the last page and working up to the first. That way, you can see your previous drawing through the page you are working on. You trace the previous drawing, changing it slightly.

You can find more art activities on BigLearning.org's art pages: http://www.biglearning.org/treasureart.htm .

Have your own flip-tips? Click here to comment on this article



Magazine Review

Moo Cow Fan Club


Ages 5-12

"The Children's Magazine Both Funny and Smart." That's the tag line of this wacky little gem of a magazine. It's ad-free, and also refreshingly free of secondary agendas and tie-ins. They're not promoting anybody's cartoon network or video game or trying to sell you a line of action figures or trading cards. It's just a magazine, and it's great fun for kids.

Each issue revolves around a theme - this month is ancient Egypt. Other back issues include baby animals, Hawaii, space, and the Aztecs. You won't believe how good the writing is - snappy, full of fun facts, and respectful of kids' intelligence. There's non-stop creativity in the presentation: some articles are written from a child's or animal's perspective, or in advice-column format, or as a how-to (how the Egyptians made papyrus).

Each issue has a craft project - my favorite is the "sock pharaoh" in the ancient Egypt issue. There are also comics featuring the Moo Cow character, puzzles, and other fun stuff.

You can order Moo Cow Fan Club through the Moo Cow web site or through the Amazon link below.

Amazon.com Buying Information

What's do you look for in a kids' magazine? Comment on this article


Education News for Adults

It's Testing Time in Florida, and this article documents schools canceling art or music instruction and shifting the money so they can hire another reading teacher. Is this happening in your state?

Read the whole article here: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-parts01mar01,0,6471124.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

Should schools trade the arts for more reading and math? What do you think? Comment on this article here


Web Site

Pavement drawings


Haul out the sidewalk chalk - your kids will be inspired by these amazing pavement drawings. They have to be viewed from a certain point, and when they are, they look three-dimensional. Viewed from another side, they look wildly out of proportion. To see what I mean, check out the first two drawings on the fourth row of thumbnails - one is the "Swimming Pool" drawing seen from the correct viewpoint, and the other shows how distorted it its viewed from the wrong side.

If your kids are interested in learning to draw three-dimensional-looking drawings, here's a review of a good instructional book:

Draw 3-D: A step-by-step guide to perspective drawing

Comment on this article


Web Site

Weird inventions


The young inventors at your house will love this collection of strange inventions that actually received patents - a golf-club cooler, a car wash for humans, and a diaper alarm that goes off when the diaper is wet.

More inventing resources on BigLearning.org

Comment on this article

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