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The Magic Key, February 2010

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The Magic Key (http://kessemmagickey.blogspot.com) includes references to unique websites, creative activities, home science experiments, books and more. …

The Magic Key (http://kessemmagickey.blogspot.com) includes references to unique websites, creative activities, home science experiments, books and more.

It forms a collection of personal suggestions and recommendations for a magical world of contemplation, challenge and fun for curious, creative and thinking kids: crafts, tips and ideas for parents who want to preserve their children's enchantment, wonder and gusto toward the world around us.

The Magic Key also includes a weekly post titled "This Week in History for Kids", published each Monday and presenting various events attractively for kids.

This document contains posts that appeared in The Magic Key during February 2010.


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  • 1. The Magic Key, February 2010 The Magic Key includes references to unique websites, creative activities, home science experiments, books and more. It forms a collection of personal suggestions and recommendations for a magical world of contemplation, challenge and fun for curious, creative and thinking kids: crafts, tips and ideas for parents who want to preserve their children's enchantment, wonder and gusto toward the world around us. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for "This Week in History for Kids" published each Monday - a weekly post presenting various events attractively for kids. You are more than welcome to add your own comments, suggestions and ideas! ©
  • 2. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 2 of 17 A Family Valentine Activity: Cards to Remember What's so special about these cards? - It's what's inside them that matters: Celebrate Valentine's Day as a family day, engaging the kids and yourselves in preparing cards for each one of you, and then personalize them through a fun family activity: - Add a photo or an image representing that person, their hobbies or interests, or their names (as in this photo, representing Adva by ripples - the Hebrew meaning of the word "Adva"). You can turn this into a quiz - whose card might each of them be?... - Have each family member write in all other cards one thing s/he loves about them, one thing in which they resemble, one love they share, etc. What other ideas do you have? Happy Valentine's Day! ©
  • 3. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 3 of 17 How and Why to Introduce Your Kids to Dancing? Ilustration originally from here Whether your kids dance or not, it is good to be aware of the potential of dance activities for kids. A nice "HowStuffWorks" article explains that "Dancing is easy, great exercise, and just plain fun for all ages. It's also a simple way to introduce kids to many different styles of music". I might add that dancing is great for developing creativity, a better sensory perception, self-discipline (when learned seriously over time) and is a great way to release excess energy. Did I mention it is great fun?... The above-mentioned article includes several interesting suggestions for fun and useful dance activities. For those with artistic tendencies or a profound interest in dancing, classical ballet is highly recommended for developing a basic technique. The New York City Ballet has developed a nice "Ballet Alphabet" explaining to kids about basic Ballet terminology and history. Don't miss out on their very nice coloring book! After you've tried out some online ballet puzzles, and if you haven't so far - it's time to get up and move! Try, for instance, some Hip-Hop moves, and if you dare, go on to pirouette. Try not to fall... There are innumerous dancing styles for you and your kids to try out. Listening to as many different musical genres is a first step toward finding your favorite. Keeping an open mind comes next, allowing for thrilling new discoverings. Not being afraid to look silly is a must! Enjoy your dance! ©
  • 4. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 4 of 17 La Vie en Rose Easy, clear and fun! Best done together with the kids: take a transparency sheet or two, and cut into squares or rectangles in a size that can cover the child's both eyes. Paste one piece of cellophane to each transparency square. Have the kids hold one square in front of their eyes, then another, then two together, or all of them together, and experiment with blending the light colors. Isn't science fun? :-) ©
  • 5. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 5 of 17 Build Your Own Water Clock Did you know that water can be used to measure time? Watch to learn how to easily build your own water clock and measure the time with it. Have a great time! ©
  • 6. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 6 of 17 Create Various Hexagon Tangrams Click here to download the file. An easy craft, creating an interesting "hexagon tangram": Choose any of the 7 different drawings, print and glue onto craft paper, cut and color the shapes... now try to recreate the hexagon! :-) Use the "empty" hexagon in page 1 to print and create your own geometrical puzzle. Share your creations here! :-) ©
  • 7. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 7 of 17 Paper Plate Masks The photo is quite self-explanatory: Use the natural concave shape of a paper plate to use it as a mask. Cut holes for the eyes, mouth and nose, decorate as you please, and attach a string to allow wearing around the face. It would be great to see your own creations; you can post them as comments! :-) ©
  • 8. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 8 of 17 "This Week in History for Kids", published Mondays: This Week in History for Kids - Vinyl Record Bowls, CD Clocks and Music Games (Feb 1-7) In February 2nd, 1949, the first 45 RPM record was released. But who said vinyl was obsolete? Here are some ideas for the craftiest among you, who still hold on to their vinyls: Various bowls… … A container, an earrings’ hanger, a “Dali clock”… ©
  • 9. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 9 of 17 Nice stuff, isn’t it? One of the differences between vinyl records and CD’s is that the latter aren’t as bendable. However, they are much shinier… Here are some neat ideas for much-more-practical crafts with your kids: A CD clock: you’ll need a simple clock mechanism (which includes a hanging hook) - quite cheap, can be bought in craft stores and elsewhere. decorate the disk as you please (or leave as is), then put the mechanism in its place through the hole: Listening to recorded music is certainly a start, but why not let your kids actively engage with music? Whether they play some instrument (highly recommended!) or not, they might enjoy these online games: for instance, an auditory memory game; matching the instrument to its sound; a matching memory game. Enjoy, and have a musical week! ©
  • 10. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 10 of 17 This Week in History for Kids - Jules Verne, Science Fiction and Cryptograms (Feb 8-14) February 8th, 1828 was the day Jules Verne was born. What an imaginative man! Undoubtedly, we are to thank him for some of the greatest inventions of our times, as well as the important invention (along with some other early writers) of… science fiction. Come to think of it, altough science fiction is not usually targeted at children, there is an obvious connection between the two. Who better than kids can imagine and invent future machines, future needs and future behaviours? Try engaging your kids in questions like: - What do you think the world would look like 10 years from now? 20? 50? 200? - What do you think people would want more than anything? ©
  • 11. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 11 of 17 - Where will people live? Will there still be people? And so on… In A Journey to the Center of the Earth Verne incorporated this Runic cryptogram: This was not his sole use of cryptograms in his books. Why was he so drawn to them? You may understand once you try them yourselves, but don’t forget to give the kids a try, too: the NSA, believe it or not, has created this worthy site for young codemakers and codebreakers. The great Exploratorium site also has a ciphering section; scroll down the page a bit to get some ideas for coding and decoding. You might also enjoy Codes for Cubs and Scouts, and if your kids come up with interesting code ideas or sci-fi stories or ideas, don’t forget to post them here! :-) ©
  • 12. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 12 of 17 This Week in History for Kids - Socrates, Truth, Knowledge and Courage (Feb 15-21) This highly expressive painting of Jacques-Louis David, entitled “The Death of Socrates”, actually depicts his life much more than it does his death. In February 15th in the year 399 - 1,611 years ago - a Greek court decided Socrates should die. For what reason? “defying the gods and corrupting the young”, said his prosecutors. How true was this accusation? In this case, as in many other cases ever since, the charge arose from the accused’s attempt, and subsequent success, in educating the young to critically examine everything they might otherwise have taken for granted. ©
  • 13. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 13 of 17 The remains of the Athenian Agora’s “Stoa” (porch), where Socrates used to conduct his teachings (photo from Kidipede) Socrates used to roam the agora - the marketplace - wearing rags, and challenge his friends, his enemies and anyone else to an intellectual duel: a dialog. These dialogs, or others resembling them in nature, were later written down by Socrates’ most prominent student - Plato. Anyone wishing to look into them - highly, highly recommended - might enjoy starting with The Symposium or Meno. How were Socrates’ dialogs conducted? Usually, he would start with a seemingly simple concept. Try “justice”, for instance. What is justice? Can you define it? Socrates, or his interlocutor, would offer a definition, but ususally, Socrates would point to a counter- example, or a flaw in the definition. In David’s painting shown above, Socrates’ friends surround him, apparently thinking that his execution - using a hemlock - is unjust. Socrates, however, seems strangely at ease, and explains to his disciples that since he lived in Athens, he - by definition - accepted the Athenian law, even if it meant losing his life. This, he explained, is a just act. Do you agree? Can there be one definition of justness, valid in all cases? Should there be? ©
  • 14. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 14 of 17 The Oracle of Delphi (The Pythia) A famous story of Socrates tells how he met with the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle had proclaimed Socrates the wisest of men. How can this be, wondered Socrates, when he clearly knew there was so much he couldn’t understand? Then it dawned on him: he was the wisest for knowing that he didn’t know. This, perhaps, was what drove him always to learn and explore more and more. A worthy drive, wouldn’t you say? However, it led him to a love of truth - philo-sophia - so intense, that even when he was given, during his sentence, an upportunity to “confess his crimes” and thus replace the death sentence by exile, he preferred to stick to the truth. If you are philosophically inclined, it would be wonderful to engage your kids in a Socratic Dialog - and actually, in any kind of dialog - on the nature of justness, truth, knowledge, love, beauty and other seemingly banal ideas. To ease it up a bit, I strongly recommend Jeremy Weate’s A Young Person’s Guide to Philosophy. For some fun ways to get acquainted with ancient Greece, try these links: Ph ilosopher’s Island; BBC’s “Primary History - Ancient Greeks”; Adventures in Ancient Greece; Design a Greek Pot - click “Ancient Greece”, then choose “design a Greek pot” (or, of course, any of the other interesting choices offered…) ©
  • 15. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 15 of 17 … Once you’re done with all the other definitions, can you come up with a definition of “philosophy”? This Week in History for Kids - Brothers Grimm, Walt Disney and everything in Between (Feb 22-28) Happy birthday, Wilhelm Grimm! Is he celebrating, along with fellow ghosts, in some dark, somber forest, or maybe in the graveyard? Seems rather fitting… Wilhelm Carl Grimm was born on February 24, 1786. He had not just his famous brother - Jacob Ludwig Carl, but 7 more siblings (only one of them a girl). All 9 were born within a period of 11 years. But the house wasn’t really so crowded: three of the brothers (including the first-born) died before they reached their first birthday. This left Jacob the eldest living brother, and Wilhelm - the second. ©
  • 16. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 16 of 17 Wilhelm (left) and Jacob (right) Grimm When Jacob was only 11, their father died. 11 years later their mother died as well, leaving Jacob, and soon after - Wilhelm as well, financial supporters of the large family. Both brothers studied Law and later Linguistics, and the latter sparked their interest in folktales. So, was it the brothers’ unfortunate personal tale that led to the violent and disturbing nature of the tales they published? No, for two reasons: First, they did not author the legends; they collected and edited them. Second, their life wasn’t so unfortunate: it was rather usual for Europe of these days. Either way, the stories were not all intended originally for children. The brothers themselves, however, lived fairly long lives for their times - 73 and 78 years. The tales have been vastly edited over the years, leaving out more and more of the original violence. If you wish to read some of the tales in their original 1914 translation, take a look here. For the kids, however, I would far prefer recommending this version, or any other, more recent one… “More recent” can still be rather old. The Walt Disney’s version of Snow-White - the studio’s first full-length production - was created in 1937, and what a beauty it still is. Here’s a charming contemporary short movie showing how “Snow-White and the Seven Dwarves” was made. Oh, you’ll have to excuse the “pretty girls” thing (twice). It was, after all, 1937: ©
  • 17. The Magic Key, February 2010  page 17 of 17 Alternatively, you can write your own fairy-tale with a little help from the Grimm sisters. Admittedly, not highly complex, and yet amusing. Or you could create your own homemade version of this trick: prepare cards with story sequences with missing words. Write many words on other, smaller cards. Now turn the smaller cards face down, and whenever you need a word to fill in the blank, randomly pick one. It will get even more amusing if you arrange the story cards so that they can be replaced, forming different possible chain of events. For fairy-tale costumes - in Halloween, Purim that’s just approaching, or just for year-round fun - check out these ideas, or ask right here, in the comments below, for further ideas. … May you always have a happy ending and live happily ever after! Keep in Tune with "The Magic Key": Follow Kessem's profiles for "This Week in History for Kids" each Monday, and more: The Magic Key RSS Subscribe Email Subscribe Tumblr Twitter Facebook ©

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