Education Myths

Education myths are far too widespread and also can be quite damaging.  Let’s take a look at a few of them. Myth #1. Education and school are synonyms. While it’s possible that education happens in school (and much of the time it probably does), education is far more than what goes on in the classroom and not everything that goes on in the classroom can be called education. Education is really about humans learning who we are and what we are capable of. That is no small thing. If we, even in our thoughts and attitudes limit ourselves to being educated by a teacher in a formal classroom setting we will be severely handicapped. You often hear of how amazing it was that Abe Lincoln or Henry Ford or Thomas Edison or Bill Gates or any number of remarkable individuals accomplished so much with very little education. This is a … click to read more

Catalysts and Enzymes

Catalysts and enzymes sound complicated, but they are really just big words for simple concepts.  Catalysts are chemicals that speed up a reaction or make it go, but are not used up in the reaction. Enzymes are catalysts in living things. Scientists theorize that enzymes, which are very specific to doing one job only have a “lock and key” sort of mechanism.  That is, the actual physical shape and chemical arrangement of the enzyme perfectly matches the substrate the enzyme needs to affect, so the two join up. Catalyst Experiment 1 Pour some soda pop into a clear glass. Now scoop a tablespoon of sugar into the glass. What happens? When the pop is fizzing more, that is the carbon dioxide gas coming out of solution more quickly. The sugar acts as a catalyst and speeds up the reaction. Catalyst Experiment 2 Pour 1/2 c. of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into … click to read more

Math: Skip Counting

Skip counting is an awesome skill for kids to add to their tool belt.  In particular, it makes multiplying much more manageable when you already have skip counting down.  The problem is – teaching kids skip counting can be boring.  It’s one of those 5 minutes every day things, and all too often we just repeat what we’ve always done, just the same day after day.  Why not mix it up a little? Some ideas to make skip counting more fun:  Use actual objects to represent the numbers. young children are visual learners, unable to grasp the concept of abstract numbers. They need actual objects to look at to understand the concept. Count while playing hide-and-seek. If the kids hide in one room and you find them quickly, you can play this over and over in just a few minutes and they’ll have heard counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s or … click to read more

Land Bridge Model

During an Ice Age, when the world is colder, more of the world’s water freezes into ice. This means that less water is in the oceans than before and the sea level becomes lower. Because the ocean level is lower, more of the land sticks out.  As the ice age comes to an end, the ice melts and fills the oceans, making the sea level rise and covering those same lower elevation bits of land once again.  Geologists theorize that this phenomenon  caused a land bridge to form between east Asia and North America long ago. During the last Ice Age this land bridge would have led from from Siberia to Alaska, and most archaeologists think that people and animals actually made the crossing to North America.  These probably weren’t the first people to come from Central Asia to North and South America – seeing how it’s not a great distance, chances are that some … click to read more

How To Teach Art

There’s no perfect way how to teach art, but I like to keep a few goals in mind: 1. Expose kids to great art and music, learning about the artists and musicians along the way. 2. Teach them the principles real artists use (line, shape, unity, balance, color, etc.) 3. Let them have real experiences and practice 4. Allow them to be creative and unhindered by too many rules Focus on Art Principles and Accomplished Artists To accomplish these I generally plan my art lessons based on either the work of one of the masters or on a principle of art (or both). For example, I show them a picture of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and we have a discussion about it.  What did he use to create it? Does it look realistic? What kind of texture do you see? Are his lines straight and geometric or curving and organic? What … click to read more

Simple Symmetry

I love to peruse education catalogs and check out all the latest and greatest resources that are out there, but sometimes I really wonder if people really buy all that stuff? I was perusing the other day and came across geometry mirrors, a math manipulative I’ve never even considered buying. “Watch students grasp the concept of symmetry as they use these plastic mirrors!” I immediately thought, “Kids don’t need a plastic mirror. They just need to make a symme-tree.” First, you need to understand the basic principle of symmetry if you don’t already. For a lesson on what symmetry is, watch this video on line symmetry. This video can be used for you to better understand how to teach it, or even for kids to watch with you to teach them the basics of what symmetry is. Now take a piece of green construction paper and fold it in half … click to read more

How To Evaluate a Book

When choosing books for their children parents can be very choosy, but few actually know how to decide if a book is good or not.  I can’t give you a list of every single good and bad book out there in the world, but I can tell you how to evaluate a book.  There are several different elements to being sure that what your kids are reading is worth their time. Some Books Are Dumb First of all, though not every book has to be “educational”, they should at least not make kids dumber. Some of the popular series of today have zero literary value. R.L. Steins Goosebumps, The Junie B. Jones books, and some of the newly popular graphic novels (not all graphic novels, many of them are excellent) fit in this category. If your kids like these, it’s okay in small doses. Treat them like you treat candy. … click to read more

Motivational Math Magic, aka Motivating Kids To Do Math

Motivating kids to do math is no small task.  To get my reluctant kids to work their sums in the early grades of math, I have found that nothing compares to bribery.  And bribery involving candy is king.  You don’t want to do this every day because of the health issues, but once in awhile it will get their brains working like nothing else. Just use candy, marshmallows, or chocolate chips.   Even non-sugary treats like goldfish crackers will do.  Some kids might be motivated by raisins, but I’ve never seen the kid who will work for peas or corn kernels. Use the candy to represent the numbers in the math problem, have them work the problem, then receive a sweet reward after each sum. You decide how much: the total, or one piece each time.  I like to have my littlies work many of their problems on a little lap whiteboard … click to read more

Munch’s The Scream

In this art project kids get to reproduce their own version of Edvard Munch’s famous painting, “The Scream.”  The best place to start is by looking at his painting and talking about what kids see.  They may notice the orange sky, the swirls in the painting, or the spooky looking person.  Talk about anything they notice in the painting. There were several versions made.  You could compare the versions.  You may also want to tell a little about Munch’s life and the Expressionist Movement. Now give kids a chance to BE the spooky looking person! Take their picture as they’re imitating the screamer.  Have the picture printed and let them cut right around the edges of their body. Pastels or paints can be used to create a similar feeling background. Munch used swirling warm colors for the sky.  When the background is painted they can glue their body to the … click to read more