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Big Learning News 8-3-07

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 5:17 August 3, 2007

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Ice Cream Stats
Activity: Ballpoint Pen Engineering
Product Recommendation: Motic Field Microscope
Education News: Are you worried about the Summer Slide?
News to Share: Baby Mammoth Photos
Website: Gimp projects

Math Moment

Ice Cream Statistics


Scroll down past the ice-cream character analysis for some fun numerical facts about ice cream. For example, Vanilla ice cream accounts for 26% of ice cream sales, while Cookies 'n' Cream only racks up 4 percent. You can explain to younger kids that if 100 people buy ice cream, about 26 of them will buy vanilla but only four will buy cookies 'n' cream.

That can lead to an interesting discussion. I mean, I NEVER see anyone at the ice cream parlor ordering vanilla when there are a lot of choices. But, think about grocery stores, and all the people who buy ice cream to go with pie - probably a lot of vanilla sold there. And restaurants that buy a lot of vanilla and chocolate but nothing else? And any place that serves milk shakes uses a lot of vanilla. This kind of discussion helps kids think about the relationship between a number they read and where that number might have come from.

More Fun Math for Kids


Activity: Ballpoint Pen Bonanza

(ages 7 and up)

Want a quick engineering project for your kids? Get a box of cheap retractable, refillable ballpoint pens. Let your kids take them apart and you'll get at least 3 useful parts for an afternoon of inventions: a spring, a tube, and a flexible stick (the ink cartridge).

Put out other materials - cardboard, craft foam, bamboo skewers, string, and rubber bands, tape, and glue. Let your kids go to town, building contraptions out of pen parts.

This page has brief instructions on how to make a pinball machine from a ballpoint pen spring.

And for laughs, this page has a photo of a chandelier made entirely of ballpoint pens.

More inventing and engineering ideas

Newspaper Forts

Make a Puzzle

Craft stick projects


Product Recommendation

Motic 20-100x LED Field Microscope


This handy little microscope is a practical addition to a home science lab. It's lightweight and very simple to use. It even comes with a tough little carrying case. You can take this microscope on a hike and use it to view water samples at a pond - it's that portable. The scope section even detaches from the base for use as a pocket magnifier.

The controls are large and easy enough for a younger child to handle independently. The images are bright and clear, lit from both above and below. Each light has its own dimmer control.

This is an excellent choice if you're ready to go beyond low-quality toy microscopes, but not ready to shell out $100+ for a high-powered workhorse. For $50, you can go a long way with this Motic.

More Microscopes

Digital Blue Qx3/Qx5

Online microscope



Education News for Adults

Don't Focus on the Summer Slide


By this point in the summer, I imagine most parents run away screaming whenever the "Summer Slide" is mentioned. Are you making your kids read EVERY DAY? Are they working on their MATH PACKETS??? Well, I sure hope so, because you don't want them starting next year, the victim of the dreaded SUMMER SLIDE.

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


News to share with kids

Baby mammoth find promises breakthrough


This story has amazing photographs of a baby mammoth, perfectly preserved in ice for as long as 40,000 years.

Web Site

Things to make with Gimp (a.k.a. boondoggle, plastic lace, lanyard string)

Here are some clever projects to make with gimp. I think these projects are great for developing kids' color sense, fine motor skills, and attention to detail. Plus they're fun to make and the results are useful and attractive.

Each project includes clear step-by-step photographs and pictures of the finished project. The site also offers instruction on the basic stitches and stitches you use when starting a project.

Related Crafts

How to make a cardboard loom

Basket Weaving




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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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