Anansi is an African folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the spirit of all knowledge of stories. He is also one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore.
He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy. He is a spider, but often acts and appears as a man.
The Anansi tales originated from the Ashanti people of present-day Ghana. The word Ananse is Akan and means “spider”. They later spread to other Akan groups and then to the West Indies, Suriname, Sierra Leone (where they were introduced by Jamaican Maroons) and the Netherlands Antilles. On Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire, he is known as Kompa Nanzi, and his wife as Shi Maria.
Anansi is depicted in many different ways. Sometimes he looks like an ordinary spider, sometimes he is a spider wearing clothes or with a human face and sometimes he looks much more like a human with spider elements, such as eight legs.
(Excerpts above from the Wikipedia article.)
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Tagged African tales, Ananse, Anansi, Ashanti, Caribbean, cartoon, children's books, Infotoon, michael kline, spider, stories
Think that archaeology is your cup of tea? Better be prepared to wear a lot of different hats. Archaeologists—people who study human history—are required to understand and practice a variety of skills, including: linguist, mathematician, historian, architect, art expert, photographer, detective, rock climber, scuba diver, spelunker (cave explorer), and biologist.
Straight hair or curly hair is based more on chemistry than environment. It’s made up mostly of proteins produced in a follicle, or sac, at the base of a single strand. Each protein contains the element sulfur, the atoms of which push toward each other to bond, or connect. If the atoms are far from each other, the protein bends and the hair curls. If the atoms are close, the protein does not bend and the hair is straight. So much for hair gel, eh?
Though they weren’t the largest reptiles in the ocean during their time on Earth, ichthyosaurs (IK-thee-oh-SAWRS) were most likely in great abundance. A cross between a modern day fish and a dolphin, they roamed the oceans of our planet between the lower triassic and the late cretaceous periods, and were thought to be warm-blooded. Below the illustration is the text from Howard Temperley’s There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere, available at amazon.com and other bookstores. Click the image for a larger, classroom friendly version.
Dinosaurs were a varied lot,
Some showed initiative and some did not,
But of all the many dinosaurs
Credit goes to to the ichthyosaurs
for being the first to see
The attractions of the open sea,
And as their ancestors long before
Had hoped to benefit from life on shore,
So they set out to find if they
Could benefit by going another way
And so embarked on new careers:
Roving maritime buccaneers.
Thus ichthyosaurs came to be
The premiere hunters of the sea,
As they acquired supple skins,
Shark-like tails and dorsal fins,
The first of their species to explore
The riches of the ocean floor.
Then along came other dinosaurs,
With longer teeth and stronger jaws,
Predators for bigger than they,
So the ichthyosaurs sadly slunk away,
And by the mid-Cretaceous age
The last of them had left the stage.
After Word War II, the United States, Canada, and other eastern rim countries became strong trading partners with Japan, China, Taiwan, and several other Asian nations, where well-educated and relatively low wage workers were easily able to learn new skills and methods of producing everything from air conditioners to laptops. Millions of dollars of goods are traded each year between the countries in this dynamic economic model. Click the image for a larger, printable version.
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Tagged Australia, Canada, China, dock workers, economies, factories, Indonesia, international commerce, Japan, longshoremen, Malaysia, Mexico, pacific rim, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, trade routes, United States, workers
Feeling a bit under pressure? Join the club. You might not think so, but the atmosphere has weight. In fact, about one ton of air is always pressing down on you. Earth’s atmosphere has a lot of work to do, so you can hardly blame it for being so heavy. It absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation, keeps the surface of the planet warm, and serves to regulate the wild swings in temperature between day and night. It also contains oxygen. (You know, that stuff you breathe.) For more information on air pressure, see the Rain and Snow issue of Kids Discover magazine.
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Tagged air, air pressure, atmosphere, barometric pressure, diurnal, greenhouse effect, Infotoon, oxygen, photosynthesis, temperature, ultraviolet radiation
You might not think it, but your lungs are very complicated pieces of biological engineering. And given the job they’re tasked with (that being to deliver oxygen into the bloodstream and to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere), it’s easy for things to go wrong. Asthma, allergies, bacteria, viral infections, and air pollution can all be blamed for a shortness of breath. And if it must be said, smoking doesn’t help either. (Click the image for a larger version, and check out the issue of Lungs from Kids Discover magazine.)
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Tagged airways, alveola, asthma, bronchioles, bronchitis, hilum, human lobe, Infotoon, kids discover, lower lung mediastinal, lungs, phlegm, pleurisy, pneumonia, pulmonary, respiratory
This year (as in several years past) I was asked to design and illustrate a kid-friendly playbill for Music Theatre of Wichita’s Special Needs show—a performance where under-privileged children in and around the Wichita area are given free passes to a matinee showing. This year’s show was the classic Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat. If you’d like to download a free copy for educational purposes, simply click the the image. All I ask is that you credit Music Theatre Wichita, Christopher Clark (photos) and myself (Michael Kline–design and illustration). Enjoy!
The Special Needs performances of Music Theatre Wichita are graciously underwritten by a grant from The Lattner Family Foundation. Thank you.
When it comes to fats and proteins, they have more “juice” than one might think. Both are nutrients that the body needs, and both can come from animal and plant sources. But your body does not require as much protein and fat as it does carbohydrates. In short, a little goes a long way. Here are some of the more popular sources of fats and proteins. (Click for a larger version.)
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Tagged beans, diet, fats, foods, grains, health, Infotoon, muscle, nutrition, nuts, proteins, vegetables
Below is a sketch and an excerpt from a book that author Howard Temperley and I are working on. It’s a rhyming exposé of the presidents… Enjoy!
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
Imagine that your father
Is president of the United States
And that he writes you a letter
In which he clearly states
That if you don’t follow in his footsteps
By becoming president too
It will, in his opinion,
Be verentirely due
To your lack of moral fibre,
And of application too.
(Had I received such a letter,
I have to admit,
It would have taken me aback
More than a bit.)