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Big Learning News 6-13-07

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 5:15 June 13, 2007

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Table of Contents

Editor's Notes
Math Moment: One Billion Trees
Activity: Box Doodle and other Box Activities
Education News: When to start kindergarten
Book Review: The School Story
News to Share: 5-second rule and other bacteria
Web Site: Butterflies

Editor's Notes

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Fill up those summer hours! Buy our Toymaker's Toolkit - everything your child needs to start making real wood toys with moving parts. With summer coming, you'll want to your kids to have this source of endless fun. Order online today!


-Karen Cole

Math Moment

One Billion Trees Project


The United Nations is spearheading the planting of a billion trees, planet-wide, to fight global warming. Your kids can see how many trees have been pledged and how many have been planted on the program home page. This is a great time to practice reading large numbers and talk about place value.

Then, on the Q and A page, there are lots of other numbers to consider. For example, 30% of the planet's land area is currently forest, which is about 4 billion hectares. That's a metric measurement of area. Kids learning their times tables can estimate the total area of the earth's land by noting that 30% is a little less than 1/3, so multiplying 4 billion by 3 gives you an (over)estimate of 12 billion. This is a good time to note that if you can multiply 4x3, you can multiply 4 billion by 3.

More Fun Math for Kids


Activity: Box Doodle and other Box Projects


Kids love a cardboard box. Just last week, two of my son's friends made a playground for our hamsters (see photo). I got to watch - they did a great job of solving all the problems that came up as they went. How were they going to hold the shelf up? How was the hamster going to get up to the shelf? How could they make the sloping tube down from the shelf have a flat bottom so the hamster could enter easily? They must have spent a good hour on the project, and then they had a great time watching the hamster use the playground they had made.

Boxes, simple to complex

Of course, sometimes just coloring on a box turns it into something special. Your kids can try it online on this site, using the Box Doodle Tool:


Then they can make their real-world box doodles and e-mail them to the site to be displayed in the gallery.

If your kids want a little more structure to their box-craft projects, here are a few good resources:

Cereal Box Boomerang: http://ketc.org/kids/ThingsToDo.asp?ThingToDo=2831
Cereal Box Sandals: http://jas.familyfun.go.com/
Box Barn: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/box/barn/
More box projects: http://www.mycraftbook.com/List.asp?subcategoryID=50

And for some cool techniques for a kid-grownup collaboration, this nice-looking table looks pretty easy and fun to make.


More Quick Activities from Recycled Materials

Paper Sculpture
Paper Trees


Book Review

The School Story by Andrew Clements ( Aladdin, 2002)

Ages 8-12

This is the sweetest book ever written about the publishing industry. Really. It tells the story of 12-year-old Natalie, who is a writing prodigy, and how she and her best friend conspire to get Natalie's first novel published. They hatch a scheme to pose as author Cassandra Day and her sharp-as-a-tack, fast-talking agent, Zee Zee Reisman.

Read the rest of the review at www.biglearning.org/book-review-school-story.htm

Education News for Adults

When should kids start kindergarten?


The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article about "redshirting" for kindergarten - parents delaying their child's start of kindergarten for a year so their child will be the oldest, smartest, and biggest in the class.

The article does a good job of cataloging various points of view regarding the practice, each with a different policy implication. In one view, redshirters are just grabby my-kid-first types, parents who abuse the system to shove their kid into an unearned top spot in the class. So the practice is unfair and should be banned, right?

But others take pity on the kids who, at the tender age of 5, find themselves thrown into the high stakes, read-now-or-fail-forever pressure cooker that is today's kindergarten. Makes you think that maybe waiting a year is a good idea.

And finally, for kids who aren't getting academic exposure in the preschool years, well, we gotta get them into kindergarten as quick as we can, before their circumstances leave them any further behind.

The reader is left spinning in the wind as to what policy really makes sense.

So let me tell you what makes sense, because the solution is so simple:

(Read the rest of the article and comment at: http://www.biglearning.org/biggerlearning )


News to share with kids

New Study puts the 5-second Rule on Ice


Remember a couple years ago a high school student did a science project that showed bacteria on a floor was transferred INSTANTLY to food dropped? Well, another student did a follow up in more realistic conditions and found out that no, there wasn't much contamination for as long as 1-5 minutes, depending on the type of food dropped. This article is a good chance to talk about how the way you design an experiment can change the result dramatically.

Web Site

Butterflies! from the Academy of Natural Sciences

Ages 8 and up

The best part of this site is the smart little games which actually teach kids something about butterflies. In one, you build a habitat by adding and subtracting plants. Each time you change the habitat, you get to see the effect on each of 5 species of butterflies. The site also has gallery of species and information on life cycles.

More insect activities

Beyond the Bug Jar
Toy Review: Bug Vacuum
Site Review: Bug Mugs




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Big Learning News (c) 2007 Karen Cole

All Rights Reserved.

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.



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