Take a deep breath and say “Lungs.”

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.)

Lungs1 Take a deep breath and say Lungs.

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat Kidsbill

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!

Cover Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat Kidsbill

The Special Needs performances of Music Theatre Wichita are graciously underwritten by a grant from The Lattner Family Foundation. Thank you.
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Fats and Proteins

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.)

Proteins and Fats1 Fats and Proteins

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Presidents

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!

AdamsJr Presidents

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
(1825-1829)

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.)

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Night After Rain

I recently came across a very weathered book of poems by Philip M. Raskin. Several pages were missing or otherwise destroyed, but I see a certain beauty in things that have survived. I felt this particular poem might have been interpreted differently; say, by the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Enjoy!

Night After Rain1 Night After Rain

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The Name Game

Mike Kline Teachers 21 The Name GameEducators salaries are set to raise by 75% this year!

Sorry. That is likely untrue. I just wanted to get your attention. Though I do hope your pay is commiserate with your duties, I will ask your forgiveness and indulgence for just a few more sentences. Just stick with me.

Do you know the names of your students? I know the question is a bit odd. Of course you do, correct? The Britneys, the Ashleys, the Emilys… the Matthews, the Tylers, the Davids. I’ll bet you can’t even toss an eraser without hitting someone named Michael, eh? Then there are the last names. Smiths, Nguyens, Washingtons, etc.

So, if you could change the names of your students, would you? Should you, and why? Though I am a person that likes to take the long view of everything, the curriculum of your local school district may not look favorably upon you reassigning titles, not to mention the ire of parents that perused baby-name books for months in search of the perfect moniker. Yikes!

What I’m suggesting is that you change the names of your students for just one day. And doing so in a manner of what I term Stealth Teaching, or teaching without the kids necessarily knowing that they’re being taught. Sound tricky? Ohhhh, yes.

Find some name labels (the kind that stick to clothing if possible), or you can use mailing labels, or even some type of tape (now we’re getting frugal) and tag your kids. But instead of having the students write out their names, assign each a math equation, as in 3 x 6, or 40 – 7, or (depending upon the grade level) the square root of 49. Those students would then be (in order) 18, 33, and 7.

The idea is that–for the day at least–no one can be addressed unless by their “new” name. To be sure that it involves everyone, I must ask that you play along as well (I see you frowning, but do it). This activity presents a bit of a mnemonic device in that kids will soon begin to associate the answers with the faces behind the name tags. In this manner it also requires a distinct answer. Read on…

Should you feel compelled to add to the confusion (oh heck, why not?), you can assign an answer to each student (say, 12 or 365), at which point students would need to be addressed as potential questions, á la Jeopardy (what is 3 x 4, what is 10 + 2, or what is 400 – 35, how many days are there in a year?). Be prepared as this approach can have many solutions, but is a wonderfully creative approach. And you don’t need to stick with one the entire day. If it’s getting too easy, give everyone a new tag after lunch.

You can also choose a day when your charges are geographically named (the capitol of Nebraska, the Southernmost continent, etc.) and so on. The list of topics is nearly inexhaustible, and you can ask your students if there exists a theme that they would like to visit one day, though I would personally discourage “names of popular video games” or “shoe stores at the mall.” LOL!

Give it a try, and don’t forget to use your imagination. And if it were up to me, you’d get that 75% raise.

Teach. Learn. Enjoy!

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Heavy Lifters

When you speak of the muscle-bound champions of the animal kingdom, your first thoughts may head in the direction of the African elephant. But you would be incorrect. That particular pachyderm doesn’t hold a candle to the rhinoceros beetle when it comes to heavy lifting. The 6-ton African elephant can hoist around 1.5 tons (roughly 1/4 of its weight) while the 1 oz. beetle can lift over 53 pounds (about 850 times its own weight). Much of that ability comes from the fact that the insect has very little body mass, so very few of its muscles are used to support its own body weight. So, how much can you lift? Is it more like an elephant or a beetle?

Heavy Lifters Heavy Lifters

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How Air Pressure Works

Wind tends to move from high pressure areas (H) to low-pressure areas (L), kind of like two very energetic children on a teeter-totter–with balance being the main objective. Also, the closer a high and low are to each other, the faster the winds move. If you’d like to experience this phenomenon in the real world, here’s a simple experiment you can perform: Stand outside with the wind to your back (hold out your arms to get a better feel). You will be facing the area of lower pressure, even if it’s hundreds of miles away.

Pressure How Air Pressure Works

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The Dew Point

The temperature at which water vapor in the air condenses, or turns to liquid, is called the dew point. There is no single dew point however. It depends on how much water vapor is in the air. If there is a lot of water in the air, the dew point is a high temperature. If the air is dry, the dew point is a low temperature. Once the dew point is reached up in the sky, it causes clouds, rain, snow, and other precipitation. If it happens near the ground, condensation causes dew, frost, or fog. Either way, it’s a wild and wet time when the dew point and temperature meet. For more information on the dew point, see the Rain and Snow issue of Kids Discover magazine.

DewPoint The Dew Point

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Punzle!

I posted this a few months ago, but thought it might be worth mentioning again. This is one of several Punzles (Pun Puzzles) in my book WordPlay Cáfe. Here’s how it works:

Highlighted in RED in the story below the image (click for a larger version) are words that describe items within the image, but instead of being literal clues, they are phonetic puns. As an example, for the word apparent, think “a parent.” See how many words and images you can match. When you think you’ve solved it (or if you need some help), drop me a note and I will let you in on the surprise.

89 Punzle Punzle!

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