Category Archives: Kids

Kids Read Comics, Chelsea District Library, June 18-19, 2011

Here's the poster for the Kids Read Comics event in Chelsea Michigan, June 18-19, 2011. More information, and printable posters for you to put up yourself in full-color glory, at . Organized by Edith Burney, this event is brought to you by the Chelsea District Library and is promised to take over all of historic downtown Chelsea with activities for kids and teens. 

As the event gets closer, follow @krcomics on Twitter for details.



Notes from a construction project

An old bicycle wheel makes a good pulley wheel.

An old modem, of any sort, can be repurposed by attaching a single RJ-11 cord to both ends of it; you now have a loop, and the RJ-11 threads through the bicycle wheel.

An RS-232 cable should be thought of as a very strong wire rope with helpful screw connectors. 

A transformer makes an excellent counterweight.

There is no piece of old electronic junk that doesn't have some possible usefulness as a part of a kinetic sculpture, whether it works or not. Remember, kids, the connector is the artwork.

The smallest piece of lego

is still worth fighting over, if you and your brother both want it.

What’s the smallest piece of lego?

A eurobricks forum suggests it is a flower petal.

Lugnut says a gold coin, weighing in at just over 0.056 g; the flower petal is a hefty 0.064 g.

For reference, a 1×1 plate is 0.176 g and a 1×8 brick is 3.06 g.

You’ll need a lot of legos to build a lego mosaic. I don’t even want to thing about the cost of lego bricks per kilogram, or maybe I will; this package of 25 1×8 bricks has an MSRP of $6, or about $80/kg, or $36/lb. This discussion on classic-space suggests mixed lego goes for $9-12/lb in 2009 dollars.

LEGO is a registered trademark owned by the LEGO Group. And don’t you forget it.

Ten more places to have a birthday party in the Ann Arbor area

I wrote up a list of ten places to have a birthday party for kids in Ann Arbor about a year ago; it’s proven to be a popular post.  I thought I’d do a new list completely different from the first.  As always check for availability and pricing before you plan.

1.  Frisinger Park (summer and fall).  A few picnic tables near the playground with lots of things to do for
kids (slides, swings, a merry-go-round, a sandbox) and a big field to run in. Shady for
those hot days. Avoid it on football Saturdays. Free.

2.  Gallup Park (summer and fall).  A dock on the Huron River is perfect for a party where the kids go fishing. (worms work great).  There’s a snack bar with coffee for the adults, and a play area with lots of things to climb and bounce on.  Free.  Get your fishing license online with the Michigan DNR E-License.

3.  Exhibit Museum Planetarium (indoors).  They’re closed as of this writing, preparing to install a new all-digital projection system; sign up for their mailing list to find out more. 

4.  Michigan Firehouse Museum, Ypsilanti (indoors).  Old fire engines are the draw in this museum located in an old fire house near Ypsi’s Depot Town. 

5.  Jiffy Mix factory tour, Chelsea (indoors).  Tour the factory, see how Jiffy Mix is made.  Age 6 and up, tours Mon-Fri, so it’s probably a summer time event or a holiday event.

6.  Southern Michigan Railroad Society, Clinton MI.  Museum train runs from Clinton to Tecumseh on the old Jacksonburgh and Palymra track; there’s a museum in Clinton with old railroad stuff on the main floor and a working shop downstairs for repair of their rolling stock.  Call them to see how they handle groups.

7.  Wasem’s Fruit Farm, Milan MI.  Take the crew out for apple picking or pumpkin picking, watch the donut robot make delicious donuts.  Call ahead to see if they will be making cider, they don’t always do it on busy weekends.

8.  Dexter Cider Mill, Dexter MI.  No apples to pick here – they bring them in – but a great old cider press in the basement of this old mill on the Huron River.  Again, donuts.  (Mmm, donuts.)  Watch for flying insects!

9.  Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor.  Take the team to a University of Michigan baseball game during the spring season. 

10.  Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor.  Look for wintertime open skate times.

Elliot Soloway on the Scoble Show

Elliot Soloway on the Scoble Show talked about building educational software for cell phones. (and a bunch of other stuff). I had the good fortune to be walking down the right street in Ann Arbor this morning and spent twenty minutes with him talking about his new company, GoKnow Learning.

More reactions to this video on Ideas and Thoughs from an EdTech.

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Back to school roundup 2007

Time for back to school! Here’s a roundup of the best posts I’ve found.

Our school year has started well, and we’re adjusting to new routines. I went to the first day of school with Saul at Burns Park, met a bunch of parents at the PTO coffee, and am eagerly awaiting the new school directory so we can know who our new neighbors and schoolmates are. Days have changed, wake up time has changed, pretty much everything says school and not summer.

I went through a bunch of back-to-school stuff on the net – mostly not the back-to-school shopping things, but the first week of school stuff – and pulled out a bunch of highlights relevant to this year.

S569697710 7501. Buttoned Up’s Alicia Rockmore & Sarah Welch write in Back To School – Need A Family Calendar Solution?

When you’re putting together the perfect family schedule, you have to do more than just tack up a Puppy Of The Month calendar on the wall.

The Regular Schedule

Book clubs. Soccer practices. Or, if you’re like us, physical therapy appointments. Some appointments are regularly scheduled, and the times don’t change week-to-week, but rather month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter. Rather than write down the same information every week, have one whiteboard or poster board with everybody’s regular schedule Mon – Sun.

Let us know your thoughts. Send us your organizational questions to answer.

Deb and I maintain our calendars two different ways – hers is paper, mine is mostly electronic – and there are enough standing dates on the calendar that this sounds like a great idea.

S606837591 10982. Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani posts Top 10 Back to School Tools for the Organized Student

Top 10 Back to School Tools, #9: Perfect your note-taking skills this semester—get a primer on how to take study-worthy lecture notes using the Cornell method, and customize and print Cornell templates to get started.

I’ve written about Cornell Notes before, but somehow missed Ryan Stewart’s The template is nifty. Another nifty thing I’ve found recently in the print-your-own-pages world is Page Packer for making pocket-sized books from PDF files.

2007090714063. Cool Mom Picks Back to School Guide 2007 is a shopping guide. Saul ended up with a new used bike (garage sale plus brake work rehab at Ann Arbor Cyclery) and new backpack from Land’s End. Cool Mom Picks found this source for book plates to put in your books from One Good Bumblebee:

Library card bookplates are so so cool, and help insure that the books your kids brings to school come home with them too.

4. Parent Dish’s Angie Felton notes that here in Michigan schools start after Labor Day (to make sure that tourist dollars flow freely) and unearths this fun MasterCard commercial on the backpack theme:

5. Mommy Track’d Parental Tips for Back to School links to a page from the Miami Herald with tips. Echoing the calendar theme:

Lisa Wever Koski, a Miami-Dade teacher, is surprised that more people don’t use this simple tool — a monthly calendar. She prints hers from the computer, attaches a magnetic strip and hangs it on the refrigerator where everyone will look at it several times a day. She puts all family members’ activities, meetings, appointments and birthdays on it. “I see that kids do not consult their parents about their schedules. They will sign up for an activity, pay the fee, then back out because they didn’t know it was their grandmother’s birthday.”

2007090714236. Techmama’s Beth Blecherman wrote What Tech Gadgets do K-8 Grade School Students Need? this spring. She notes the technology standards in the classroom in Silicon Valley schools:

Starting in 1st grade, schools with computer labs allow children to spend time creating pictures on computers. In second grade students start to do research for projects using the school computer lab. Before third grade they are allowed to store files on the school’s hard drive related to the work they are doing in a computer lab. In 4th grade, the school tech office creates private (password protected) folders for students to store their work. I have heard some students using word processing or spreadsheet software for school projects as early as 3rd grade but defintely by 4th.

Saul, who is starting 2d grade, has been using a computer for a while now – some of his drawings of Ann Arbor Fairy Doors are up on Flickr.

2007090714577. BlogHer ’06 keynote speaker Jennifer Satterwhite posts The sigh heard ’round the world. Back to school time! with a roundup of first week of school mom experiences.

It’s that time of year again. Back to school. Some Moms are thrilled. Some Moms unsure. Some are just in a state of shock over the hit the wallet takes. One thing consistent about it all: there are moans from kids heard around the country that their summer is ending. But the Moms? Ahhhh, the Moms have other ideas.

Personally, I always get a bit freaked out as if it was my first day of school when they start up. But that probably has more to do with the fact that they have not yet instituted a “start at noon” school day with our public school system. Now that would rock my socks off! Alas, my cries to let my kids (and when I say my kids, I of course mean me) sleep in late and then go to school.

2007090714428. ModernMom’s Lolita Carrico Back to School Dos & Don’ts

DO plan a get together with other families before school starts. Get a class contact list from the school and invite the parents and kids over for a play date. My friend, Laurie, invited new classmates to her daughter’s birthday party (which happened to fall two weeks before the first day of school) — it presented the perfect opportunity for the parents to get to know one another and for the kids to get to know each other before the big day.

The Burns Park PTO organized a picnic at the playground for each of the incoming classes, and we all had a great time talking to the other 2d grade parents. I’m organizing our Math / Science Night this year – and the PTO has an event calendar that it looks like you can subscribe to with iCal.

200709071556 9. Some random fun stuff: Dawn at Because I Said So ran the most awesome auction of the season on eBay:

I‘m selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn’t notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

The winning bid was $142.51 (with 53 bids), which just goes to show you how much writing well can help you.

10. It wouldn’t be back to school without a discussion of how schools and school programs get funded. The Ann Arbor Public Schools Education Foundation gives grants system-wide for programs – the deadline for applications by teachers is October 5, 2007. – and is embarking on a major campaign to raise private funds to support public education. Ann Arbor Parents for Schools is group of AAPS parents who are worried about the funding problems our schools face and the consequences this has for our kids and our community.

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