I love Steve Spangler‘s science shows. More importantly, my five-year-old loves them. Recently I had a chance to talk with Spangler about his work, his views on science education, and his professional response to the pandemic. (My child joined for a few minutes!)
Sum Swamp (paid link) is a great game for young children just learning to add and subtract. There’s just one problem: Because, as written, the outcome depends completely on luck, the game isn’t very fun. But there’s a simple way to modify the directions to add an element of strategy and make it a vastly better game.
David Attenborough’s 1979 Life on Earth (paid link) takes readers on an amazing journey through the history of life and its varieties today. The book (of which many used copies are available) contains many remarkable full-color photos of living creatures, making it accessible even to younger children.
Project Gutenberg makes available, at no cost to users, an extraordinary number of out-of-copyright books in various ebook formats. Here I round up links to famous works suitable for young (and older) readers.
Ten-year-old Willie has a heap of problems. His grandfather and caregiver, distraught over the likelihood of losing his Wyoming potato farm, is bedridden. Willie’s doctor friend urges Willie to leave his grandfather to the care of others and abandon the farm. The local banker sees selling the farm as Willie’s only way out.
But Willie is not ready to give up hope. Can he work the farm himself? And can he raise the funds necessary to save the farm? That is the adventure that John Reynolds Gardiner takes us on in his 1980 short novel Stone Fox (paid link).
My wife did a very simple and fun leaf coloring project with our son. Gather up some Fall leaves, put them between paper, and use the side of a crayon to capture the outline and texture of each leaf. The colorings make great seasonal cards.
It’s nearly Halloween! My five-year-old loves hearing spooky stories—just not too spooky. I thought I’d share some of our favorites.
For the youngest readers, Here Comes Halloween (paid link) is not scary at all; it’s about dressing up in costumes.
Two of my five-year-old’s favorites are Five Little Pumpkins and Five Black Cats (paid links). The stories are fun to chant in rhyme. “The second one said, ‘There are witches in the air!'”
Goodnight Goon (paid link) is a funny spoof of Goodnight Moon. “Goodnight claws and goodnight jaws. . .”
Although it’s only superficially about Halloween, Room on the Broom (paid link) is a standout. Julia Donaldson is a gifted author of children’s books, and Axel Scheffler adds colorful and fun illustrations. The story begins, “The witch had a cat and a hat that was black, and long ginger hair in a braid down her back.” The story is about making friends and coming to your friends’ aid. The short film at Amazon based on the story also is excellent.
When I was a child I loved listening to the Disney recording of Haunted Mansion (paid link). Featuring the voice of Ron Howard, the story follows a couple who enter a spooky mansion during a rain storm only to find themselves on a ghostly tour. It’s a little scary, but the ghosts expressly don’t hurt people. You can listen to the recording through Amazon prime or purchase the mp3 or CD (if you get the disk check around for the best price). Listening to the story with my child brought back many of my own childhood holiday memories.
Children and adults tend to learn about things that interest them. How does interest work? What can parents and teachers do to foster a child’s interest in a given subject? Should adults seek to foster such interest, and, if so, how and when should they do so? These are some of the important questions addressed in a recent podcast discussion between “Schooled” host and education professor Kevin Currie-Knight (whom I’ve interviewed) and and psychologist K. Ann Renninger.