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Big Learning News 12-13-06

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 4:41 December 13, 2006

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Table of Contents
Karen Cole's holiday wish list
Math Moment: Give a goat
Activity: Cookie Art
Book review: Bird Watcher
Education News : Newsflash! Winter break is good!
Favorite Web sites of 2006

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Karen Cole's Holiday Wish List

We'll be taking a break until the new year. I hope you enjoy reading Big Learning News as much as I enjoy writing it. Which is a lot.

Perhaps you enjoy it so much, you want to give me a GIFT! Well, shucks. I couldn't ask you to spend any money, but here's my list of ABSOLUTELY FREE holiday gifts you can give me.

- More subscriptions: Entice your friends to subscribe to Big Learning News. The more subscribers I have, the more I can charge for ads and the longer I'll be able to keep writing the newsletter. So tell EACH AND EVERY ONE of your friends to send a blank e-mail to subscribe@biglearning.org, or fill in the form at http://www.biglearning.org/newsletter.htm.

- New Links to BigLearning.org: Tell your school, PTA, or local library to link to BigLearning.org on their web sites. Or put a link on your own site. More links = more traffic = more ad revenue = more Big Learning for you = more happiness for me. Linking information is available at http://www.biglearning.org/LinkToUs.htm.

- Blog entries about BigLearning.org or Big Learning News: If you have a blog, help spread the word! Let your readers know about our unique take on family learning. Read more about that here.

- Amazon commissions: Enter Amazon.com by clicking on any of my Amazon links - for example, the titles of books in book reviews, the "Buying Information" links, or even this link right here). I get a little commission on anything you buy. It doesn't cost you a cent, and Amazon doesn't share your personal information with Big Learning.

- Write to me! Write me a comment or an e-mail. I love feedback, positive or "constructive!" Tell me how you used one of the activities, give me suggestions of topics you'd like to see next year, or just tell me what a darn good newsletter I write.


Math Moment

Don't have a cow, man! Give a Goat.

It's always amazing to note how far dollars go in an impoverished country. $59.00 buys two goat in Rwanda, providing a daily supply of milk to a family. A quick Google search for "Goats for Sale" indicates a U.S. price of several hundred dollars per goat. That's the math, by the way - comparing prices for these gifts to U.S. retail.

Anyway, if you're looking for a way to teach your kids about giving (and a little math too), the Hunger Site has a great deal on goats. Buy a pair of goats for a Rwandan family for $59.00, and the Hunger Site will throw in 150 cups of food (more math - figure out how much that is in units that make sense - like a bag of rice). You even get a Rwandan woven basket as a thank-you gift.

At the Hunger Site, you can also pay a month's salary for a teacher in Afghanistan for just $40.00. And check this page for more ideas - these gifts can make a big difference in the life of a family.

More Fun Math for Kids

More charity projects

Give a Heifer

Donate books to children


Comment on this article or see what others have said



Cookie Art

Tired of making frosted cookies with sprinkles? Here are two cookie-art ideas we found on the Internet and tried out, plus one we made up ourselves.

1. "Jackson Pollock" Cookies: This one came from Martha Stewart's site. To make them, you cut out "canvases" out of cookie dough. Then you drop drops of food coloring onto the dough while blowing through a straw. Guess what - ours aren't as pretty as Martha's (we used store-bought dough, which might be part of the problem). But we had fun doing them.

2. Egg paints: We found this idea here. You color egg yolk with food coloring and then paint your design on cookie dough with food-grade paint brushes.

3. Swirls: We made these out of our failed egg-painted cookies. We pulled the paint through the dough in streaks, then rolled it into a 3" snake, twisted the snake a little, and joined the ends to make a doughnut shape.

Here are photos and tips we discovered.

Here are some facts about Jackson Pollock and links to learn more.

More gifts to make (to go with the cookies)


Comment on this article or see what others have said


Book Review

Smithsonian Bird-Watcherby David Burnie (DK Children, 2005)

It's bird feeding season in the Northern Hemisphere. Here's a book that will help kids learn about birds through the winter and into the whole year.

The 30+ activities in the book are likely to entice kids to explore - they sure got me curious. In nesting season, the book suggests, put out dishes of various nesting materials, and try to catch birds in the act of taking them. Will different species prefer different materials? Or, during the winter, put out two bowls of food - one with a cover lightly taped in place. Which species are smart enough to remove the cover to get at the seeds?

The book is full of great photos - who knew a woodpecker has a tongue? Well, they do, and there's a photo to prove it.

Buying information


Know some good birding resources? Comment on this article or see what others have said



Looking for more books for your kids? Try this list.

Children's Books

Education News for Adults

New Flash! Winter Break is Good for Kids!


This hardly needs saying, but vacations are good for kids. So enjoy yours, and if anyone asks you if you've been reviewing math facts, you can quote Dr. Denoon of Kansas State University:

DeNoon believes some of the "greatest life lessons" can be instilled in children by their parents during a long break. "An appreciation for culture, family heritage and family values becomes a lifelong learning experience for students when time is spent traveling and with family."


Catch up on our education commentaries!

Here are our recent commentaries on education-related news.

Holding back kindergartners
Closing the achievement gap
Great playgrounds, great toys
What it takes to be great
Raise children with a wild streak

Tell us about your winter break plans! Comment on this article or see what others have said


Web Site

Reviews of Favorite Web Sites (2006)

We reviewed a lot of sites in 2006! Here are some of the stand-outs you may want to re-visit. They make great use of web technology to give kids a creative challenge and real interaction. Many of them have substantial information, organized and presented to grab kids' attention and keep it.

Tinker Ball physics game

Polar Days and Nights astronomy animation

Dig a hole through the Earth geography

Get Physical sports and fitness

Bookzone children's literature

Hug a Tree wilderness survival

Dance Mat Typing free typing lessons

Shellfish field guide from the National Wildlife Federation

Make a Movie with the Zimmer Twins movie-making web site

The Hobby Shop online microscope and science lab

CBBC Press pack children's journalism

Toon Beats creative music game

Linerider physics game

What were your favorites? Comment on this article or see what others have said



Changing Your E-mail Address? Don't Lose Your BLN Subscription!

Sadly, each week, BLN subscriptions are cancelled because the e-mail address no longer exists. If you are about to change your e-mail address, don't forget to re-subscribe to BLN!

Just send a blank e-mail from your NEW address to subscribe@biglearning.org.

or fill out the subscription form at http://www.biglearning.org.


Fight Hunger
You Visit. Corporate Sponsors Pay. The Hungry Eat.
http://www.thehungersite.com .


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Big Learning News (c) 2006 Karen Cole

Content meant for adults and provided for informational purposes only - readers are responsible for previewing all materials and activities for suitability and safety before sharing them with children.
All Rights Reserved.



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