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Big Learning News 3-29-06

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 4:11 March 29, 2006

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Flipping coins
Activity: April Fools!
Activity: Adopt an insect
Education News for Adults: Leonardo's Basement
News to Share: Free Diver
Web Site: Classical music for kids

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Math Moment

Flipping coins


The more times you flip a coin, the closer you get to the statistical 1:1 ratio of heads to tails. This site lets you say how many coins to flip, and then shows you the results both with pictures and numbers. Try flipping increasing numbers of coins and see if you do indeed approach 50% heads. Try flipping a given number (say, 10) over and over again, and see how much it varies from time to time. Do small numbers vary more than big ones?

More Fun Math for Kids

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Activity: April Fools!

Here are some funny April Fools pranks from Family Fun magazine:


Your kids might also enjoy the famous spaghetti tree hoax, broadcast by the BBC in 1957. It shows an Italian family harvesting spaghetti from trees during the annual spaghetti harvest.

You can see the original broadcast here:


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Buggy Pets


As the resident hamster-cage cleaner, I can see the appeal of insect pets. If your young entomologist wants to keep a bug for more than an hour or two, these pages have advice on selection and care of insects. For example, I learned how you provide drinking water, and it's not via a tiny water bottle. Instead, you keep a piece of moist sponge in a jar lid.

The cool science comes from trying to recreate an insect's natural habitat, and from observing the insect's life cycle. The bugsincyberspace page is written by a serious hobbyist, and even has an e-mail address your child could use to correspond with someone who apparently knows his bugs.

Read our review of the Bug Vacuum Toy

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Education News for Adults

Leonardo's Basement: Hands-on Learning for Kids


How does test-driven schooling affect after-school programs? Some are falling right in line, offering more of the same test prep and drill after school. It's good to know that there are programs like Leonardo's Basement, which offer kids the chance for hands-on, creative activities that build skills kids don't get in school.

I like that many of the activities are developed by kids, and that the directors are aware of the big learning (math, science, etc.) without pushing specific curricular objectives. They talk about the importance of kids learning to direct their own activity in a world where adults tend to fill every moment for them.

Comment on this article here.


News to Share with Kids

Freediver sets records


How long can your kids hold their breath? Here's an article about Tanya Streeter, a professional freediver, who can hold hear breath for more than six minutes.

Safety First! If you share this with your kids, make sure you read them the important safety caution at the end of the article: never try to hold your breath underwater alone - always dive with a buddy. Even as a professional freediver, Streeter never, ever goes without a buddy.

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Web Site

Classical Music for Kids


Lots of fun stuff for classical kids here. There's a monthly radio show that explains some aspect of classical music - this month it's about jokes in music. You can browse through the archived shows too.

The site also has some games and educational tools and lots of music to hear. There's a nice kid-friendly design, but some of the games are hard to figure out without reading the directions.

More Music for Kids and Families on BigLearning.org

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