Archive for the ‘Activities and Lessons’ Category
Are you looking for an engaging way to help your students learn about the countries of the world? We just want to remind you that we’ve put together a scavenger hunt that will help them do that, and students will become familiar with some of the content and features available in the CultureGrams World Edition as well. The activity requires students (either individually or in groups) to answer a series of questions on an assigned country by “scavenging” through the product. And in the process, they learn about some of our standard CultureGrams categories, plus features like the Currency Converter, Data Tables, Famous People, Photos, and Recipes.
Most of the questions are factual in nature, but there are critical thinking questions as well. The scavenger hunt can be an activity that you use on its own or it can be a way to teach students how to use CultureGrams for country research as preparation for working on their own.
Check it out by clicking here. Enjoy!
It’s #FeatureFriday! Learn about editorial cartoons in the Spotlight On… feature of SIRS Discoverer.
The origins of editorial cartoons date back to the eighteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, several magazines such as Punch and Harper’s Weekly were publishing editorial and political cartoons. It was during this time that Thomas Nast, known as the “Father of the American Cartoon,” popularized editorial cartoons with his take-down of corrupt politicians–particularly “Boss” Tweed. Nast is also known for his creation of the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey.
Visual Literacy and Common Core Standards
Several forms of literary and visual devices such as exaggeration, personification, symbolism, irony, satire and caricature are often used in editorial cartoons. Because of this, editorial cartoons support dynamic classroom lessons in Visual Literacy. Cartoons invite students to think critically and analyze what they see in the images. Such cartoons also provided an excellent opportunity to evaluate bias and point of view as most cartoonists illustrate their beliefs towards their subjects.
Find Editorial Cartoons on SIRS Discoverer
Editorial and political cartoons are featured throughout SIRS Discoverer on a wide variety of topics. Cartoons are editorially selected from prize-winning and reliable sources. These cartoons can be located through a Subject Heading search and a Subject Tree search. In addition to these searches, a cartoon can be found within the In the News feature (located in the Spotlight On…) where at the beginning of each month, SIRS editors hand-select an editorial cartoon that focuses on a news event. Students are then invited to answer a question based on the featured text and cartoon.
Want to know even more about the editorial cartoons? Patrick Chappatte is the cartoonist who is often featured within SIRS Discoverer. Take a look at his TED Talk where he discusses the power of cartoons.
By Dawn Treude, Library Assistant, Scottsdale Public Library
This month the Scottsdale Public Library is offering our young patrons Scream STEAM, science with a Halloween twist. With activities like Frankenstein’s Hand, Balloon Banshees and Troll Boogers (don’t worry, it’s liquid glue and starch), we took a departure from typical coding or robotics programs and let simple household items shine as the stars in simple, yet satisfying activities. The results sent happy shivers down my spine.
As the demand for STEM/STEAM programs continues to grow, two responses typically come to mind—delight or fright.
Youth Librarians never tire of engaging with our young patrons, but not all of us have a background in math and science. Figuring out what to do with the kids can be tricky and time-consuming as you study and practice STEM/STEAM activities.
The turning point for me came in earlier this spring when I read an interview in YALS, the journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association, with Shannon Peterson of the Kitsap Regional Library in Washington State about its Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box program, which was funded through IMLS grant. The grant proposal made the point to identify “librarians as co-explorers and community builders instead of experts” when it came to STEM/STEAM participation.
As I read those words a weight lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have a strong background in math or science, but I certainly know how to explore new things.
About this time I’d been preparing for what we call Slimeology. In studying about polymers and slime making, I happened on The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science by Sean Connolly (2008, Workman Publishing). In it, Connolly uses everyday items to create catchy-sounding experiments, like Frankenstein’s Hand, which simulates a gloved hand coming to life under an acid (vinegar) and base (baking soda) mixture. This was the activity that inspired Scream STEAM.
Once I had a theme, it wasn’t too difficult to find other experiments that could be tailored for a Halloween program. I used the Balloon Banshee (a lesson about friction and sound) from Connolly’s book, re-named Slimeology to Troll Boogers and discovered a fantastic dip-your-hands-in-it blood tray that I christened Werewolf Blood from the I Can Teach My Child website. I wanted to do a candy dissolving experiment as well, but thankfully the Youth Services Coordinator and STEM/STEAM Librarian reigned me in a bit and helped me design a workable forty-five-minute program.
We started with Frankenstein’s Hand because I knew the kids would enjoy it through the entire program. I prefilled cups with the vinegar and the baking soda in the latex glove. The kids then placed the glove over the mouth of the cup, shook the fingers and waited for the hand to come alive. I used this time to talk about chemical reactions, acids, and bases and share some facts about sodium bicarbonate.
Next, we moved on to Werewolf Blood (I chose the name due to how closely related humans and werewolves are). I’d hydrated the water beads (from the floral department at Michael’s) the night before in a large plastic tray. The beads have this fantastic soft, slimy feel to them and shimmer in the right lighting. These were the red blood cells. We added white blood cells (ping pong balls) and platelets (small foam rectangles) and renamed the leftover water in the tray plasma. The kids had a blast running their hands through the mixture but I didn’t manage to convince everyone it really was Werewolf Blood.
After cleaning our hands, we moved on to ghost lore with Balloon Banshees. Most of the kids had never heard the word banshee before and were interested in this Irish lady specter, but I did modify the facts slightly and said she signaled bad news, rather than death. This experiment uses only a balloon and a small hexagon nut but does require adult-level balloon blowing skills. The nut is placed inside the balloon and it is blown up. Then you grab it from the tie end and move your hand in a circular motion and wait for the shrieking to begin. The friction as the sides of the nut move along the inside of the balloon produces an eerie sound. The rate of motion effects the sound, so the kids were able to try a variety of speeds. We had a few balloons pop and rather than cause a fright, that served to increase the excitement level.
Before we moved on to our last experiment, we checked on the hands to see if they were still alive. They were.
By far the best experiment in terms of interest and ick-factor was Troll Boogers (Slimeology in disguise). The experiment failed. I’d poured too much water in the mix, resulting in a blob of glue and starch boogers in a watery soup. This gave me a great opportunity to talk about mistakes in the lab and how important they are to learning. The kids still had a blast with their creations and delighted in picking the right color to add to the mix based on the type of troll whose boogers were in your bowl. (For example, Garden Trolls have green boogers.) The kids loved all my snot and booger facts. The most expressive looks and groans came when I held up my one-quart pitcher as a visual aide to demonstrate how much snot your body produces in a day. We talked about polymers, liquids and solids as well. Everyone’s hands were filthy with sticky goo and I don’t think I’ve seen a happier group.
My takeaway from this program is that there is definitely a place for a variety of STEM/STEAM programs in the library. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean boring, and for systems or schools without the funding for robotics materials, household science packs a big punch in terms of payoff for children to see, feel and understand. Adding a seasonal or pop culture theme can create more interest and draw bigger attendance. The response was positive enough that we’re creating another seasonal program this February, You Gotta Have Heart.
Dawn Treude is a Library Assistant in Youth Services at the Arabian branch of the Scottsdale Public Library in Scottsdale, Arizona. She enjoys creating themed programming for youth of all ages and has been known to create wizard wands and lightsabers when the need arises.
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Libraries across the country are celebrating Halloween with spooky stories, devilish decorations, and clever costumes. Some are even adding an educational twist to the festivities through the use of enriching Halloween STEAM activities.
What is STEAM?
STEAM is an acronym that stands for the integration of an A for the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. STEAM activities help equip kids with essential 21st-century skills that will help prepare them for the job market. The creative arts component — the “A” — in STEAM activities can engage students and spark interest in science and technology. STEAM is especially useful for helping students develop skills that are necessary to prepare for creative industries, including digital games, software, design, and marketing. However, research reveals the importance for all employees, not just those in creative industries, to demonstrate creativity in the workforce.
Libraries to Inspire You
Are you working on a STEAM Halloween project and need a little inspiration? The libraries below caught our attention for adding STEAM to their Halloween.
Today (October 26), middle school and high school kids will be creating 3D pumpkins from 3:00 to 5:00 at the main library. Sarah Butt, the library associate we contacted at the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, Illinois, explained that she created a pumpkin template in a program called Sculptris. The kids are then able to use the tools and create faces for their pumpkins. Once they are finished, the files can be printed on the 3D printer and ready for the kids from the middle school next door to pick up.Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL):
SMPL (Yes, the very same library we blogged about that has a summer beach library!) is also holding STEAM events at their Ocean Park and Fairview branches.
Also today, in connection with Star Wars Reads, SMPL’s Ocean Park branch is holding a Star Wars STEAM program from 3:30 to 4:30 for kids and teens. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes at the event.
Youth librarian Julia Casas, who is coordinating the event, has planned several activity stations that will give kids the chance to explore science concepts at their own pace. Among the activities are an “Ewok Launcher” (marshmallow launcher), which helps kids to learn about force, motion and gravity, and a “Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite” (lego minifigs trapped inside a baking soda mixture), which explores chemical reactions.
Children’s librarian Jennifer Boyce let us know that on October 31, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Fairview Branch will be featuring a program, “STEAM Craft: Glow-in-the-Dark Slime,” for children ages four and up. According to Ms. Boyce, the program will explore science concepts (in this case, chemistry) in a “fun, unstructured way.” Fairview’s Halloween STEAM event is part of their monthly STEAM programs, which in the past have included events such as a DIY Girls Club that focused on creative electronics and a “Build with Minecraft” program.
Children’s librarian Michelle Zimmermann of North Mankato Taylor Library in North Mankato, Minnesota, hosted a spooky science lab for their Halloween STEAM event, which was held on October 20th. The event, for ages eight to 12, was part of a monthly program, STEAM Rollers.
The mad scientists — some of whom had an evil laugh down perfectly — learned how sound is made with vibrations by making eerie sound devices with plastic cups, yarn, paper clips and water. They also made slime to learn about chemical and physical properties and examined how using different ratios changed the composition of the material they were making. The third activity involved making pumpkin lava lamps and dealt with the concepts of polar and non polar molecules. Kids also learned about how oil and water don’t mix. According to Ms. Zimmermann, the lava lamps seemed to make the biggest impression on the young scientists.
More Halloween STEAM Activities
Still looking for inspiration? Below are five spooktacular links you can use to incorporate STEAM into your Halloween event:
- Pumpkin Geoboard
- Pumpkin Optical Illusion
- Batwing Challenge
- Witch-Inspired Salt Crystal Science
- Spider Web Science
Special Guest Post
And be sure to check back tomorrow for another wicked STEAM/STEM post with featured blogger Dawn Treude. The Library Assistant in Youth Services will explore the Halloween activities at the Scottsdale Public Library. She will be discussing how to create science-based projects by using everyday items with a spooky theme.
If you’ve implemented a Halloween STEAM activity in your classroom or library, let us know what you’re doing in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.
On September 8, 1966, NBC aired the first episode of a show that lasted only three seasons. The network could not have predicted that the show, whose introduction announces a five-year mission, would spawn a franchise that would persist for 50 years and have a profound effect on culture and science.
Of course, the show was Star Trek. And, to celebrate its birthday, here are some easily digestible bullet-pointed facts:
-The show was created by Gene Roddenberry and starred William Shatner as the dashing Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as the logic-driven Spock and DeForest Kelley as grumpy doctor Leonard McCoy, who resumed their roles in the movies of the 1980s. In the reboot films, those roles are played by Chris Pine, Zachary Qunito and Karl Urban.
-Desilu Studios, the company founded by famous TV couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, produced the show, and the call to go ahead with production was made by Lucy herself. She was running the company following her divorce from Arnaz and decided to pull the trigger because she she thought Star Trek promised something different from the average TV fare.
-Trek fans have been devoted from the very beginning. Due to low ratings, the show was threatened with cancellation in the second season, but a write-in campaign by fans helped keep it on the air for a third. All these years later, fandom is still strong.
-Roddenberry, hoping to break from the tired tropes of TV, intended Star Trek to explore topics that weren’t normally allowed on the air. “You really couldn’t talk about anything you cared to talk about. It seemed to me that perhaps if I wanted to talk about sex, religion, politics, make some comments against Vietnam, and so on, that if I had similar situations involving these subjects happening on other planets to little green people, indeed it might get by, and it did.”
-Which brings us to …
Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura engaged in what is often referred to as the first televised interracial kiss. This was, of course, controversial in 1968, and there were efforts to avoid showing the actors’ lips touching before the scene was allowed to run as written.
-The Original Series, or TOS, predicted and even directly influenced many technological developments, including mobile phones, computer tablets and plasma TVs. For example, Martin Cooper, inventor of the first cell telephone, said that the Star Trek communicator was the inspiration for the now-ubiquitous device.
-From over-budget to big profits: The pilot for TOS went over budget and cost $616,000 ($4.7 million in 2016 dollars), and then was scrapped by NBC before it greenlighted the series. The 2009 reboot movie brought in $385.7 million.
Besides those found in the links above, here are some more resources you can beam up from eLibrary:
A great way to foster critical thinking and engaged learning in your students is to help them learn to ask good questions, to push beyond the obvious, to see purely factual data points in a broader context. Asking good questions promotes independent thinking, stimulates curiosity, increases understanding, and helps people see how seemingly disparate ideas connect.
We encourage teachers to use CultureGrams to promote critical thinking in their classrooms. There are many ways to do so. You might ask students, for example, why many major metropolitan areas are often located in coastal areas or near major waterways. Take Australia, China, Canada, or Brazil, for example. Look at where many of the largest cities are concentrated. Why aren’t the cities scattered more evenly across these countries? The answers to these questions may vary, depending on the country. You could discuss the significance of trade and access to foreign markets; the importance of water to sustain life and as a means of travel; the influence of history, geography, and climate on settlement and growth; etc. Encourage students to ask why things are the way they are. This can lead them to insights they may not have had previously.
You could also ask students to think about what countries in a particular region have in common besides just occupying a particular part of the world. Have students think about the many of the island nations of Oceania, for instance. Do they share common geographical features or similar climates? Are there common languages, a common religion, or similar cultural attitudes? How do their economies compare? What common challenges do countries in Oceania face? Also, what differentiates countries in the region? And what is the impact of these similarities and differences on the region as a whole?
Another fruitful area of exploration might be to ask students how the content in one CultureGrams category impacts the content in another. How does the land and climate in a particular country influence the economy? How has a country’s history shaped its linguistic or religious development? How do a culture’s attitudes about family affect how they view dating and marriage?
And lastly, you could ask students to compare statistical data between two or more countries. What does the data reveal? How can the differences in data be explained? For example, below is a customized table that provides data related to health and life expectancy for Belgium and Uganda. What does the data reveal? What might be some of the root causes for the differences in the numbers?
To be clear, teachers will need to monitor these kinds of activities/discussions to make sure that students are coming to sound conclusions and not speculating wildly about cause and effect. But that process in itself can be useful in teaching students how to analyze factual information.
Of course, there are many other areas in CultureGrams that you could use to foster critical thinking, but we hope this gets you started thinking of some of the possibilities. Please let us know if you have any great ideas on this topic or if you come up with interesting activities that foster critical thinking.
We celebrate the U.S. Constitution each year during the week of September 17, in honor of its signing on September 17, 1787. The Constitution’s significance on U.S. government and laws is momentous and central to our rights and responsibilities as citizens.
Do today’s young students understand the importance of the U.S. Constitution? Do they know where and when it was written? Can they name a few of its creators and signers? Can they name and define any of the constitutional amendments? Would they understand how the Constitution and its amendments impact our daily lives?
In honor of Constitution Week, SIRS Discoverer’s September Spotlight of the Month highlights the product’s constitutional content and provides students an easy way to research the Constitution and its amendments. Perhaps you and your students could celebrate Constitution Week with a fun research assignment. There are several amendments out of the 27 that seem to be cited most often. How about asking your students to choose one and learn more about it?
The 1st amendment establishes our right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. What does this mean for us? We can worship as we choose, we can express new and different ideas with no repercussions, and news outlets can report on what is happening in our country and our world. Question: Before the Revolutionary War, did colonial America have freedom of the press?
The 2nd amendment, which protects the right to own guns and use them for self-defense, may be the most debated of all of the constitutional amendments. Question: Where did the concept of “the right to bear arms” originate?
Following the Civil War, the 14th amendment was ratified. It legally protects the citizenship rights all Americans, regardless of race, and details those who are entitled to U.S. citizenship. Question: What “codes” did some Southern states create in response to the 14th amendment?
The 15th amendment guarantees people of all races the right to vote. It was the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments, which were adopted after the Civil War. Question: What state first ratified the 15th amendment?
The 19th amendment gives women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, helped to draft the amendment. Question: What two women pioneered the women’s suffrage movement by organizing a meeting in Seneca Falls?
Visit SIRS Discoverer during the month of September. Your students will definitely learn some facts about the Constitution. Who knows, you may learn something, too!
Did you know that there are over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide? Across this massive group, there is a considerable range of religious practice and doctrinal interpretation. Catholicism and Buddhism have similarly large and diverse populations whose adherents can be found in very different geographic regions and societies. To better understand how religious belief impacts people, students need to understand that most religions have a range of beliefs and practices. The following activity from the CultureGrams Activities PDF helps students to explore differences within one religion across different cultures.
Teaching Activity: One Religion, Many Practices
Preparation: 10 minutes
In-class : 1 hour and 30 minutes, two different days
Research and Writing
Grade level: 6–8; can be modified for other age groups
Objective: Students will compare the practice of a single religion across multiple countries and interviews.
Materials: CultureGrams Online Edition—Interviews
1. Have students read three interviews with people who practice the same religion. Some options are Islam (Qosimov: Uzbekistan, Djiba: Senegal, and Joud: Jordan), Catholicism (Javier: Bolivia, Trina: Costa Rica, and Petrosse: Mozambique), and Buddhism (Sai: Cambodia, Dawa: Nepal, and Chhun: Cambodia).
2. What differences do students notice in the way the interviewees practice their religion? Differences may be found in how often a person attends worship services, how important they consider religion in their life, ways they worship, and holidays they celebrate.
3. Now have students read the Religion section of each interviewee’s country in the World Edition report. What do these sections say about the religion? How does the information in the report compare to the information in the interviewees’ answers? How does the practice of the religion vary between countries?
4. Have students write a short essay on their observations about the ways a single religion varies in different areas and between individual observers of that religion. They may also speculate on why this could be.
*See pg. 55-56 of the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF to view the education standards that are targeted in this activity.
The Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin next week on August 5. Get your students excited about the Olympics by having them participate in some of our Olympic-themed activities, which can be found on our Teaching Activities PDF. One of these activities is included below, but our Teaching Activities PDF has more ideas to help students learn about different aspects of the Olympics.
Students explore and familiarize themselves with the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
In-class: 50 minutes
CultureGrams Kids Edition—Brazil
1. Introduce the activity by discussing the concept of the Olympic Games. Explain that the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Spend some time discussing with the class what qualities and conditions a city or country must meet in order to be chosen to host the Olympic Games.
2. Break students up into groups and have each group read through the Kids Edition Brazil report, paying particular attention to the sections that describe the factors that make it a good home for the Summer Games (e.g., the Land and Climate section) as well as the country’s unique cultural and historical aspects that might play a role during the Olympic Games.
3. Have each group summarize and present their findings. As a class, discuss what they have learned about Brazil and why Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Games.
Have students discuss whether or not they think their state has a suitable city to host the Olympics. What would make it a good place? What would be some of its drawbacks? Have students write a letter to the International Olympic Committee, explaining why their state should or should not host the Olympic Games.
Do want to impress your friends with the breadth of your cultural and geographic knowledge of the United States? Do you want to provide your students with a learning opportunity that is sure to engage their interest? One way to do that is to learn about the state symbols for your state. Or even better, become familiar with symbols for other states as well. You can find this content in the CultureGrams States Edition, under Fun Facts & Contacts in the left navigation bar. Once you’re there, you’ll find the state bird (and its associated bird call), the state tree, the state flower, and other state symbols for every state. Plus, you will find a list of other interesting state symbols. You may even find some more unusual symbols such as a state cookie, a state musical instrument, a state dance, a state insect, and even a state firearm. Who doesn’t want to know these fun facts?
For a classroom activity, you could assign students to dig a little deeper, assigning them to do further research on these symbols. They could find out more information about the symbols themselves, or discover why the symbols were chosen to represent their state. Furthermore, you could divide your students into small groups and ask each group to give a brief presentation on a symbol or make a poster to hang up in the classroom.
Whatever approach you choose, students are bound to be curious about the plants, animals, rocks, foods, fossils, and songs that represent their state.
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