language learning

5 Ways to Learn A Lanuage in Your Spare Time

Knowing a second language is a great asset. It can lead to better career opportunities and improve your brain function. However, learning to speak a new language can seem overwhelming. Most people do not have days or even hours to spend learning their target language.


The good news is that you can learn a new language without quitting your day job. By integrating some easy strategies into your spare time, you will become bilingual in no time. Do you have 20 minutes a day, or even just five? If the answer is yes, you have exactly what you need to reach you language learning goals.




There’s an app for everything today. Language learning is no different. While many promise results, few are as comprehensive and accessible as Duolingo.


Duolingo covers all the bases of language learning–reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This gamified platform keeps you motivated and engaged. Set a daily goal and track your progress.


This is microlearning at its finest and it really works!



Watch videos in target language

Watching your favorite television show may be the way you unwind at the end of a long day. Television and movies is an excellent way to learn a language because you will learn by immersion, the same way babies learn language.


Video streaming services such as Amazon offer a variety of movies and television series in many languages. (Listening to radio or a podcast is also a great way to learn, however having the visuals of a show really helps in the learning process) Find one you enjoy and start to learn without trying.



Join a Facebook group

Love it or hate it, Facebook is a resource for connecting people around the world. Aside from learning the latest news and marketing your business, Facebook can be a way to learn new skills, like a new language. Many groups exist for language learners to interact with each other and practice.


This method takes only minutes a day, but give you real world experience for free, without leaving your home. Simply search for a conversation group in your target language, for instance “French learners conversation group.”



Play a game

Learning should be fun! Playing a game, whether virtual or a good old fashioned board game is a perfect way to practice language skills and pick up new vocabulary. Try playing a classic, like Uno, but use your new color and number vocabulary. Or, find a game produced in the target language and play your way to your learning goal.



Read in the target language

It may seem that reading is something that comes late in language learning, however reading in the target language is the best way to learn vocabulary in context and also develop an understanding of grammar.


Start small, as in kids books, and work your way up from there. Reading for just a short time each day will really boost your learning efforts and give you greater confidence in conducting conversation. It will also teach you everyday language and cultural norms.


Do you have a goal of learning a new language in 2018? Have any tips to share?



Please follow and like us:
Did curiosity kill the cat?

The Curious Case for Curiosity

The old saying that “curiosity killed the cat” has been used as a cautionary tale for generations. The take away being, go with the flow and follow the rules if you want to survive. In an age that prizes digital data and measurable outcomes, curiosity seems to be an enigma relegated to mad scientists and those prone to daydreaming. However, curiosity is essential to true education.

What makes an education true?

Is it the ranking of grades and scores, the completion of levels and requirements, or the meeting of standards and accomplishments? Actually none of the above are education. Each is a way to measure a finite amount of learning in a prescribed program, they are the framework for justifying the completion of a degree or attainment of an award–in a word, school. School may be where an education begins, but it is never where it ends.

The goal of a true education is not just to impart facts but to ignite the spark of learning that builds a habit of lifelong learning in the ever growing passion to know and understand more. This is why true education begins and ends with curiosity, because curiosity is infinite in nature.

What Does Curiosity in Action Look Like?

The Wright brothers are the picture of ingenuity and achievement.  When they finally made their successful flight, a friend remarked to Orville that he and his brother would go on to be shining examples of what can be achieved even without and special advantages. Orville reproofed his friend by responding, “to say we had no special advantages … the greatest thing in our favor was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiosity.”

The encouragement of curiosity, especially in the realm of intellectual pursuits, must be the first aim of all education because curiosity not only prepares the brain for learning, but makes all subsequent learning more enjoyable. Enjoyable learning leads to a lifelong love of learning something new which is not only good for the brain but essential to a successful career, especially in the 21st Century.

How Do We Encourage Curiosity in Education

The encouragement of curiosity must always be accomplished apart from assessment. This is more difficult in our current educational system, but not impossible. Giving students, and ourselves, freedom to be bored and also to potentially fail opens to door to a curiosity driven endeavor.

Here are some practical ways that curiosity can be encouraged in the classroom, homeschool, or personal learning environment:

  1. Allot unstructured time with no expectation of what gets completed
  2. Create a makers space with a wide array of materials and no instructions
  3. Allow the pursuit of personal interests
  4. Practice self-directed education
  5. Use open ended projects
  6. Try something new, turn a routine on it’s head
  7. Explore the world of cultures, foods, traditions, and societies
  8. Encourage questions to be asked
  9. Question the answers


Are you a curious learner? How do you encourage curiosity in your home or classroom?

*Please join the discussion in our Friends of Global Learn Day Facebook Group!

Please follow and like us:
why everyone needs a pen pal

Why Everyone Should Have a Penpal!

Did you ever have a pen pal as a kid?  Maybe it was a school project. Do you remember your pen pal’s name?

Having a pen pal is a powerful experience. Long before the Internet, pens and paper connected people and cultures that would never cross paths otherwise.

Why Everyone Should Have a Pen pal

Having a pen pal is not just for kids anymore. Access to the Internet does not make pen pals obsolete. Here are some of the benefits.

Learn Something New

One of the best reasons for connecting with someone far away is to learn something new.  By writing letters and asking questions, you will learn first hand information.

Learning is a never ending process. Pen pals give you the opportunity to learn more about your own interests. Who knows what other interests and information you will discover from your pen pal!

The More You Know, the More You Grow

Learning something new isn’t the only benefit. As you learn, your brain grows and changes. These changes improve the physical makeup of your brain.

It’s not just your brain, your mind changes, too. Learning and exploring open your mind to new ideas. It sparks curiosity, which leads to more learning.

Letter Writing Is a Dying Art

What was once common practice is now a dying art. Writing letters has been replaced with email, Skype, and texting. These are all efficient and helpful in many ways. However, modern technology is lacking the human touch of a hand written letter.

While pen pals do not have strictly use a pen, it is a nice touch.  The bonus is your handwriting will improve with practice. Writing by hand also stimulates brain connections that make your brain better.

Start a Global Collection

Pen pals are a great way to start or add to a collection. The easiest collection to create is stamps. Stamps are essential to get mail from one place to another. They also tell the story of their country of origin. Celebrities, common plants and animals, geographic features, holidays, and historical events are all featured on stamps.

If you are looking for something a little different, you could try a tea exchange. Tea bags are light and easy to enclose in a letter. Now that is a delicious project!

Get Some Real Mail

Seems like there is continually more mail in the mailbox. However most of it is not anything you really want. Bills, advertisements, and catalogs make up the bulk of each delivery.

Having a pen pal can put excitement back into getting the mail. Now when you open an envelope, it will have pages you actually want to read and savor.

The Human Connection

Pen pals can grow into great friends. Even if you never meet face to face, lifelong friendships are possible.  We are more familar with this type of friendship because of social media. However, letter writing pen pals enjoy a privacy that cannot be found online.

Cross culture friendships build understanding.  Understanding each other leads to a new peace. It also encourages cooperation.

Northern Ireland has been torn apart with misunderstanding and conflict for generations. To help end the strife, programs have been developed to bring young people from both sides, Catholic and Protestant, together in a neutral location to just get to know each other.

Knowing leads to accepting.  Once you can see your similarities, it is harder to focus on your difference. Globally minded people see what unites us.

How to Find a Pen Pal

Finding a pen pal may sound difficult in a world that is so interconnected yet very isolating. There are still many ways to get yourself involved in a pen pal project.

It’s All about Who You Know

Start thinking of friends or family who have connections in another part of the world. Perhaps they are business contacts or college friends. However they know each other, this is an easy way to find a pen pal.

Missionaries are also a great resource. They can serve as pen pals wherever they are stationed. They can also find locals from their mission field who are interested in being a pen pal.

Websites to Use

If you have exhausted your personal connections and still haven’t found a pen pal, there are website that can help. Here are a couple to try. Each of these offers a slightly different pen pal experience.

  • Snail mail Penpals: This site will match you with a pen pal that has similar interest. It’s a traditional pen and paper pen pal set up with a twist. Participants craft and send creative mail for pen pals to enjoy.
  • Postcrossing: This is not a pen pal service but you could find a pen pal here. Postcrossings allows you to send postcards around the world to random people. In return, you receive postcards back. Talk about global mail!
  • Global Penfriends: This website will match snail mail and internet based pen pals. It is free to join. Global Penfriends is open to all ages. It allows you to search by interest and age group.

There are many more pen pal sites on the web. For more information. Visit our Pinterest Pen Pal board.

Have you ever had a pen pal?


Please follow and like us:
fun ways to learn phonics

5 Fun Strategies to Develop Phonics Skills

Phonics Skills are the backbone to all reading.  There are workbooks, DVDs, music CDs and videos all devoted to teaching phonics to young children.  Many of these are great, but for some children even the best of these isn’t enough.  Everyone has their particular learning style and for many young children the method that works best is a tactile, hands-on one.  We have been teaching subjects like science and mathematics like this for years.  But have you ever considered teaching reading hands-on?  Well, you can and here are five ways how.


  • There are two basic sets of rules for phonics, the long vowel rules and short vowel rules.  These rules are represented below by combinations of consonants ( c) and vowels (v)

Long vowels:

        • cv- Whenever a vowel comes at the end of a word or syllable it is long as in the word “he.”
        • cvce – This is the magic “e”  or silent “e” rule.  The “e” makes the preceding vowel long but is not pronounced, like in “cake.”
        • cvv—Two vowels went walking and the first one did the talking.  The first vowel is long and the second is silent.  Think “sea.”

Short vowels:

  • vc—With the vowel before the consonant, in words like “at,” the vowel becomes short.
  • cvc—Same as the rule above. The middle vowel is short as in “cat”

Now, here’s the hands-on part.   Create two signs on typing paper or index cards, one for each set of rules.  Then purchase or make flash cards with a variety of short words.  Explain the rules and then show how a sampling of words, one for each rule, follows the rules.  Then have your child sort the remaining cards according to rules.  Sound out the words together.  This turns rule memorization into a game instead of a chore.


  • Word families are another way to teach phonics and boost vocabulary.  Make a simple wheel game by using two circles cut from poster board.  On one circle cut out a small window and write the word family next to it (-at, -an, -ug, etc.).  Around the other write letters that when placed before the word family ending create a word.  For instance, for the –at family write b, c, f, h, m, p, r, s, and v.  Just make sure you are creating child friendly words.  Place the window circle on top of the other and push a brass fastener through the center.  Now you have a wheel.  Spin the wheel and create new words.


  • Have your child illustrate her first book.  Fold a sheet of typing or white construction paper in half forming a card.  Using short words that are easy to sound out and the child’s name create a little story with one sentence on each “page”.  (Example: Mary ate cake.) Have your child sound out the words, with your help as needed, and read the sentences. Then, have her draw a picture of what she just read on each page.  Kids love having their own books.


  • Plays Guess that Letter.  With your child facing away from you, trace a letter on his back.  Have him tell you which letter you just traced.  It may take a couple of tries but once kids get the hang of this game they love it.  Next, switch places (you may need to sit down to make it easier for your child to reach your back) and tell your child a letter sound, like “ah” for short “o.”  Have your child trace the letter that corresponds to the sound on your back.  This is a game that is sure to result in giggles and learning.


  • Find that letter!  Write each letter of the alphabet on an index card (to make this even more hands-on create tactile alphabet cards using items that begin with that letter, like cotton balls for “c” to create the letter) and place them in a large shoe box.  Shake the letters around to mix them up well.  Then say one of the letter sounds and have your child dig in the box to find the correct card.  You can advance this game by giving your child a short word to spell and having her find the correct letters and, using clothes pins, clip them to one side of the box in order.  Best of all, once the lid is replaced; everything is safe and sound for next time.


Phonics is a great tool and once the world of reading is unlocked for your child the potential for learning is endless.  With a little creativity and basic art supplies, you can create a learning experience that will last the rest of their lives.

Do you know fun ways to learn phonics?

Please follow and like us:
What are you achieving?

New Year, New Goals, New You

Many of our readers may be coming off the high of Christmas. In the US, following Christmas there are HUGE clearance sales and then a need to purge and prepare for a New Year. I’m always left feeling a bit anxious this time of year. I find myself thinking about my priorities. How can I learn more, improve myself and bring more good to the world in the upcoming year?
Of course, moving into the new year, many of us tighten our budget to prep for all our new year plans. Today, here are a few ways to improve yourself educationally, professionally and personally in a low cost way!

Think of it as Global Learn Day’s New Years Gift to you, our readers.


1. Improve your writing game.

Hemingway App is available for free when used online. It helps you improve your writing skills, focusing on readability and structure. In fact, I used it on this blurb! This is at a 5th grade reading level, for your information.There are so many uses for this both personally and professionally, no matter how old you are. Take some time and check it out!

2. Continue your Professional Development in January.

OnLine Training Institute is running a special on Professional Development Courses for the new year. Perhaps you see a need to improve your image or your ability to make successful business connections. These courses are self-guided ways to work on those things and many more. Use code SOCIAL through January 31, 2018 for 33% off!

3. Keep up with the Global Learn Day!

Did you know we keep a Learning Resources Page updated? GLD believes education should be available to everybody and we share free learning resources on this page as a way to help you embrace your full potential!

4. Live Your Truth!

Live Your Truth is a program by Carol Tuttle to help individuals learn how to dress comfortably and confidently. You may be asking why our movement that celebrates education would include a self improvement site. This course helps you learn about yourself and in doing so many have found that they are more confident.

5. Learn a New Language!

ASL University has free online courses to help you learn a new language! American Sign Language is a fantastic and often intuitive language used widely in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities. It is also useful for parents in theaters, museums, churches and virtually anywhere Silence is Golden because it is silent. This could be your year to learn a new language!

So, what are you doing in 2018! I hope we have inspired you to try new things, to learn even more and to embrace One Planet, One People in all that you do!

Happy New Year and keep learning!

Please follow and like us:

Education Has Flipped Out!

Has your classroom flipped?  Like desks on the ceiling you might ask.  No, flipped in terms of structure and instruction.  Flipped education is the latest trend but how is it really done?

The History of the Flip

Though the general idea dates back to a thesis paper from University of Miami professors in 2000. Although the true flipped learning movement took really took root in 2007 when Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, Colorado High School teachers, began using technology to record their lectures for absent students.

Shortly after, they came up with the idea of prerecording all their lectures for students to view at home, so classroom time could be spend on in depth projects and collaborative learning.  Originally called pre-broadcasting, it eventually became known as a flipped classroom.

What It’s Flipping Not!

As the trend has grown, so has the misconceptions of it’s aim and practice.  Flipped education does not simply mean watching videos and answering multiple choice questions.  Neither does the idea of “school work at home, homework at school” capture the true essence of the technique.

The recorded classes are a means to the method’s end but not the whole method.  The technology serves the purpose to make flipping possible but does not define the shift in educational practice.

Reservations and Requirements

One of the top concerns with starting a flipped classroom is the requirement for all students to have the Internet at home.  However, founders Sams and Bergmann say the Internet should never be a sticking point.

Videos can be loaded onto thumb drives, burned onto CDs, or uploaded to Ipods.  In addition, students should have the option of how they will learn the material.  Learning the material from a textbook or series of worksheets is just as valid as from a video.  The importance is how classroom time is spent.

Classroom Time in a Paradigm Shift

Flipped classrooms provide the space and time for teachers to interact on a more interpersonal level with students.  Affording students to indulge in project based learning, hands-on activities, lab experiments, and collaborative experiences.

Instead of the teacher being the center of the classroom time, learning and projects are.  The teacher becomes a facilitator as opposed to a lecturer.

Four Pillars of a FLIP

Authentic flipped education contains these four elements:

  1. Flexible Environment
  2. Learning Culture
  3. Intentional Content
  4. Professional Educator

With these four elements and a drive to provide accessible resources for student led study outside of classroom and student driven learning within the classroom walls, flipped education has the potential to revolutionize schools.

All of this innovation and initiative is aimed at one very dire epidemic–the high school drop our rate.  In the United States alone, 7,200 students drop out of high school each day.  That leads to 1.3 million young adults with incomplete educations every year.

By engaging students in meaningful learning and exciting class sessions, teachers like Sams and Bergmann hope to retain those who just are not being reached by the traditional model of lecture, homework, testing.  In addition, self directed learning leads to lifelong learning, the ultimate goal of any education.

What do you think?  Are you ready to flip?


Please follow and like us:

New Years Resolution Goals

Ring in the New Year by the Ringing of the School Bell

Resolve to Learn

The year is rapidly coming to a close, with it a flurry of activity and holidays are being celebrated worldwide.  This is a time of excitement and joy. It is also a time for introspection and goal setting.

Come December 31st, millions and millions will create resolutions with the intent of improving themselves and their lives in the coming new year.  Among the top resolutions are losing weight, exercising, quitting bad habits, and finding a job.

What if this year, you resolve to learn something new?  Learning exercises your brain, creates balance in your life, leads to better decision making capabilities, and could help you land that job or improve your chances of promotion at your current employment.

Surfing the Web to Learn

Continuing education is more readily available than ever, delivered directly to your laptop, tablet, or phone. Here are some resources to jump start your lifelong learning habit.

Udemy Like shopping on Black Friday for all the deals? Then this learning platform is for you!  Forget the latest craze, sign up for a class! Udemy has a Black Friday special going on right now with courses costing only $10!!  There is so much to learn, and with this deal, you could chose to learn more for less.

SkillshareSkillshare offers short courses on specific skill sets from photography to e-commerce, this website has opportunity to grow in your career and hobbies. The lack of long term commitment for classes makes this an ideal place to start.

Open Course WareVirtually every major university offers open courses online for the public to take at will.  These courses are free and are the same courses offered at the university itself. While you cannot earn a degree through these courses, you will still learn from top notch professors. In addition, you could test drive a program or major.  Lastly, you can use the courses to prep yourself for CLEP examination which can earn you college credit.

KHAN AcademyFree video based courses for kindergarten through adult education. KHAN Academy covers diverse subjects with an intense focus on science, math, and computer programming.

YoutubeAside from the funny videos and viral pranks, Youtube offers an immense amount of knowledge for free.  There are videos on every subject and many skills to be learned in a “one-on-one” setting.  Decide what you would like to know how to do in the new year and find an appropriate Youtube channel. You may have to dig around to find the presenter who works best for you, but don’t worry there are 300,000 new videos loaded every day!

Looking for more online opportunities?  Check out this list of 20 Places to Educate Yourself For Free! You are sure to find something to tickle your fancy and expand your mind!

Offline Learning

Online learning, elearning, and virtual coursework are all the rage right now. The Internet does surely provide unsurpassed access to information and is a flexible tool allowing educational opportunities to reach where traditional schools never could. However, online classes are not the only means of continuing education in the 21st century.

If online classes just aren’t your thing or your bandwidth doesn’t accommodate videos, learn the old fashioned way-through books and other people. Books are still just as valuable as they were pre-Internet days.  Find a good book on whatever you are yearning to master. Don’t have a skill you need to learn? How about you just read some good classic literature?  Your brain will get pumping and you will surely expand your vocabulary. All around, a worth while endeavor!

In addition to amazing books, see what learning opportunities exist in your area. Is there a club offering demonstrations? Could you sit in on a course offered at your local trade school or college to learn more about the study program?  Libraries offer a vast array of programs, course, and groups that can enrich your lifelong pursuit of knowledge, oh and they also have books–many, many books!

How will you resolve to learn this coming year?


Please follow and like us:

The New Classroom Must Have

Make Your List and Check It Twice!

It’s no secret that teachers spend hours planning and accumulating supplies for their classroom–many purchased with their own money.  In the 21st century, the supply wish list continues to grow in order to address the growing needs and interests of our digital age.

  • pens
  • notebooks
  • crayons
  • grade book
  • planner
  • stickers
  • chalk
  • folders
  • posters
  • paper
  • drone

Drone?!? Yes, drones are making their ways into schools and shaking up lessons across the globe.  No longer limited to police or military use, drones are becoming a common, yet still hotly debated, part of everyday life.

An Up and Coming Classroom Staple

Even thought they are common, what does a drone have to do with learning ABC’s and studying Algebra? More than you realize!

Drones not only provide a new and innovative way to express creativity, hone engineering and design skills, and inspire innovation; they also lend themselves to imaginative play and changed perspective.

When Am I Going to Need Math, Anyway?

Equations, proportions, fractions, geometry…students often groan over the “uselessness” of such arduous learning.  Projects like drones bring math to life. No longer are math lessons simply problems on a page, but a mission, an opportunity, an adventure.

Designing, planning, and using drones all require computations that give mathematics a real world, hands-on approach.  Need a little spice for your math class, consider adding a drone!

The Language and Rhetoric of High Tech Tools

Drones are not only for the science or math wings of the school, language arts can get a boost from some high flying antics, as well.  As drones allow for photography from angles never experienced before, these images can be used as writing prompts.  What a way to spice up your writing task arsenal!

In addition, drones are as controversial as they are fascinating.  Even enthusiasts have reservations of how and by whom they should be used.  Hosting a classroom debate or assigning written position papers will integrate the subjects and lead to critical thinking.

*Gasp* Sheer Brilliance! 

Another Masterpiece from Drone’s Blue Period

Art and STEM may seem to have nothing in common but as any supporter of arts education will tell you, the world need art!  Innovation and invention thrive on creativity.  Did you know art could use technology as well?

By attaching various tools, such as paint brushes, students can use a drone to create a new masterpiece.  This process will also require development of hand-eye coordination–a true cross-curricular activity.

STEM + New Technology = Lots of Money Spent

Drones, like all new technology, are expensive. With ever increasing demands on teachers’ generosity and school budgets, it may seem impossible for the average classroom to have its own drone.

Here is where Maker’s Stations shine in the darkness.  Creating your own drone is not only economical but an incredible learning opportunity.  If you have access to a 3D printer, your class could build a drone start to finish by their own design.  However, even low-tech school can add drones to the supply closet with low cost kits that use Legos to build functional but resilient drones for less than $200!

Good or bad, like it or not, drones are a growing part of the everyday landscape. Integrating them into the classroom not only provides new opportunities but provides tools for students to understand this rapidly advancing world of the information age.

How would you use a drone in your classroom?

Please follow and like us:

Five Reasons to Learn Another Language

Our world is shrinking. Not the physical world, but our connectedness and interdependence is bringing the far reaches of our planet right to our door step.  Global commerce and increased ease of travel, not to mention virtual communication, are creating a future where circumnavigating the globe will not only be possible at lightening speed, but necessary to maintain business and political relations on a daily basis.

Google Translate Is All I Need

With advances in Artificial Intelligence and intuitive software, the ability of computer generated translation has skyrocketed.  New programs are able to translate in real time via voice recognition. This leads many to believe that learning a second or third language is obsolete.

Just as understanding of geography and map skills should never be replaced with reliance on GPS systems, learning a foreign language can never be usurped by an app on your phone.  Technology has limitations. Even the best software will not be correct 100% of the time.  In addition, technology can fail due to user error, loss of power, or computer viruses.

The need for another language is growing, not shrinking. Here are five reasons why you should start to learn a new language today!

  1. Job Prospects: Knowing a second language has huge career advantages.  It not only makes you more employable, leading to greater choice of jobs in a difficult economy, being bi-lingual provides for higher salaries as well.  Employees able to speak more than one language are great assets to companies competing in the global marketplace.
  2. Brain Power: Learning something new is the best exercise for your brain. Moreover, language learning is the apex of brain development. Learning another language not only flexes your gray matter to keep it in top shape, it helps to stave off brain related disease such as Alzheimer and Dementia. By creating an infrastructure of multiple neural pathways, learning and using a second language has been show to push off development of brain disorders by over 4.5 years!
  3. Cultural Understanding: Learning the language of a country or region not only opens doors of communication but immerses you in the nuances of the culture. Language is a living organism. It grows, changes, and adapts to the ways and history of the people who speak it.  By learning the language, you will understand the people’s culture and be more able to interrelate on a personal level.  You will become integrated into the experience instead of just looking from the outside in!
  4. Understand Your Native Tongue: Since a first language is always acquired organically, the use of grammar is something that is understood and rarely analyzed. However, by studying a second language, you will gain an appreciation and proficiency in your native language that cannot be learned otherwise.  This leads to better communication in both languages and improved writing and reading skills.
  5. Build Bridges to New Gateways Where could another language take you? Anywhere you want!  Our technology affords us the opportunity to travel without passport or plane ticket. Features such as Skype, Facebook, and Youtube open the door to the world–a rich world full of endless learning possibilities.  Language learning is the key to this pathway, for if you get to the door but don’t know the secret password (in this case understanding to the target language) even the best technology will leave you out in the cold.

As One Planet, One People, let’s work for not only greater interdependence but greater understanding.  Learning is not a one way street. What you learn not only enriches your life, but connects you to others and builds bridges.

To where will you build a bridge today?

Please follow and like us:

Fractions Are a Piece of Cake

Mathematics and the Arts

Hands up for Hands-on

Education circles have made great strides in creating hands-on learning experiences for kids.  STEM challenges, math manipulatives, and makers stations are just some ways our schools have transformed to embrace different learning styles. At the same time, though, the practical and fine arts have lost their footing in priority, sometimes being cut all together.

However, these labor intensive fields are the true core to hands-on learning.  Science, mathematics, problem solving, and engineering are all practiced through the traditional arts courses.  The key really is to incorporate the disciplines.  A true liberal arts education has the benefit of covering every discipline so that connection can be made and all parts of the brain exercised.

How Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

Do you know how to cook or bake?  How did you learn? Cooking is a science and an art.  It incorporates the principles of STEM while lending itself to creative exploration.  A life skill, cooking also teaches self confidence and independence. Let’s look at three reasons why cooking may be the perfect addition to your STEM project repertoire.

Struggling with Fractions? Bake a Cake!

Fractions are one of those “Why do we have to learn this?” topics for many children. It can be hard to grasp that the bigger the bottom number the small the fraction.  However, knowledge of fraction is essential to baking. Not only that, but using measuring spoons and cups give a hands-on, visual lesson in what each fraction actually means.

Once your students have mastered reading the fractions and choosing the correct tool to measure them, up the anty.  What if you double the recipe? How about cut in half?  What if you convert all the measurements into 16ths?  A simple cake recipe becomes a lesson in multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction of fractions without the endless stacks of worksheets.  Best yet, at the end of the lesson, there is sweet victory to share if the calculations are correct. Now that is motivation to learn!

Order Operations Pizzas

Can you follow a recipe? Doing things in the correct order and quantities is essential for recipes to work.  The first time I made chocolate chip cookies, I just dumped all the ingredients in the mixer and baked. What came out of the oven tasted good, but was nothing like cookies. Order and procedure are important.

If you are trying to teach order of operations and getting moans and groans that it shouldn’t matter, make a pizza together as a class.  First give the students ingredients and measurements but no written recipe and ask them to make pizza dough. This can be done in small groups.  A recipe can easily be cut down to not waste so many ingredients and reduce the risk of huge messes from flour.

After their “dough” has been created ask them what they think about how well it would make a pizza.  Segue to reason to follow order.  Demonstrate how the same ingredients when combined in the correct order and procedure create a perfect crust.

Once the dough is ready; stretch, top, and bake. Serve up some lunch with a side of lessons.

Master Chef and the Secret Ingredient

As much as baking is a science, cooking is a scientific art.  While there are certain procedures and rules to follow, there is also more room for creativity.  Have you ever held a cook off?  What would students do if they were given 5 secret ingredients and had to make snack?

Cooking experiments are part hypothesis and part ingenious creativity. Have an easy recipe to make in class–what if one of the ingredients is missing and five other choices are in their place?  There’s garlic powder, all spice, black pepper, paprika, and sage on the shelf, what to do?  If you are making banana bread, all spice is the best option, but for chili it may be paprika.

How will they choose which one to pick.  Why does that one fit what is being made?  Hypothesis, experimentation, conclusion! Creatively solving problems in cooking can lead to better building of bridges later.  Life skills and STEM go hand in hand.

What kind of lesson can you cook up today?



Please follow and like us: