Activities & Lesson Plans - 5th & 6th Grade Newsletter 1/22/10 - How Kids Use Cell Phones

Grade: 5th-6th

January 22, 2010 | Grades 5 & 6

In This Issue: Cell Phone Survey; Wild Weather Hits Los Angeles; Dracula Sneeze and Other Words of 2009

Toddler on a cell phoneCan You Hear Me Now?

A recently released study found that in the past five years, children's cell phone ownership has increased 68%. Twenty percent of 6- to 11-year-olds currently own a cell phone, as compared to 11.9% of children in 2005. The increase among 10- to 11-year-olds is off the hook, up 80.5%. TheAmerican Kids Study surveyed approximately 5,000 participants.

Activity Ideas - Math 
  1. Look at the photo (above), which ran with the Wireless and Mobile News report on the MRI cell-phone study. Would you say that the photo is a good representation of the data? (No. Even though the photo represents the largest jump in cell phone ownership among boys, it is ultimately misleading because it shows a toddler boy on a cell phone, while the study was among children ages 6-11.)
  2. Imagine that the survey was only sent to children whose parents worked for Sprint, Verizon or another cell phone carrier. Would this sampling be biased or unbiased? (Biased—it would only measure cell ownership among kids whose parents work for cell phone carriers; these children will be more likely to own cell phones than the general population because their parents work in the industry.)
  3. Imagine that Taylor wants to see how the kids in his social studies class compare to the survey. He asks: "Are you more likely to call your parents with your cell phone or take pictures?" Is this survey question biased or representative? Please explain. (Biased because he puts 'call your parents' first, close to 'more likely,' while 'take pictures' is buried at the end of the sentence.)
  4. If Taylor asked "What are you most likely to do with your cell phone?" would this question be biased or representative? Explain. (Unbiased because it does not suggest any of the activities and allows the respondent to answer without direction.)

Learning Tips:
Misleading Questions and Graphs

Game: Whammy Awards

California Weather MapWild Weather Out West

On January 21, residents of Los Angeles, California, braced themselves for the area's fourth powerful storm of the week. The sopping forecast included winds up to 45 miles per hour and heavy snow in the mountains. Officials continued to urge more than 1,000 people living in already flooded coastal communities to evacuate. Meteorologists from the National Weather Service said that Southern California hadn't weathered a front as powerful as this one since 2005.  

Activity Ideas - Math
Collect & Analyze Data

  • Have your child select a time in the morning and in the evening that he or she plans to measure the temperature. 
  • Make a table: label two columns with the temperature-taking times and label seven rows for each day of the week. 
  • Record the temperatures in each time/date cell, for one or two weeks.
  • After the designated length of time, study the table. 
  • ASK: Does the data here provide any insight into how the temperature might change from morning to night over the next several days? Explain. (Yes or no, as per data. For example, there is a pattern—the temperature rises throughout the day.)


As above, have your child track wind direction, but at more frequent intervals over several weeks.

  • Make a wind sock. Use a compass to mark north, south, east and west. 
  • Note that a north wind comes from or blows out of the north, a south wind comes from the south, etc. Record the weather that follows. 
  • Analyze Data after designated time period: What is the prevailing wind for the area (direction from which winds in your area typically come). What weather fronts do these winds tend to bring? Use this information to predict the type of weather you are likely to have.

Kideo Video: "Rain, Rain, Go Away!" Can a song change the weather? It doesn't hurt to try. 


Tweet This: Words of Year Here 

In 2009, good parents in the U.S. reminded their children to Dracula sneeze, which was especially important during the H1N1 scare. Well-behaved, well-traveled adults, on the other hand, avoided becoming bragabonds. And for anyone who would like to succeed in twenty-ten, take note: Don't refer to 2010 as oh-ten. Don't call fish sea kittens. And for goodness sake, stop reading slow media! The American Dialect Society has released its annual Words of the Year List, which includes Most Outrageous and Most Creative words, Words Most- and Least-Likely to Succeed, as well as other categories. 

 NPR Interview With American Dialect Society's Chairman

Activity Ideas - Language Arts
Share the above paragraph with your child. 

  • If he or she is unfamiliar with any of the words, challenge him or her to use context clues to figure out the definition of each. 
  • Print the Words of the Year list from the Society website and cover up the definitions. Have your child identify what the words mean. (Dracula sneeze: Covering one's mouth in the crook of the elbow when sneezing—evokes popular images of Dracula covering lower half of his face with cape. Bragabonds: A person who travels a lot and brags about it a lot. Slow media: Newspapers and other paper-based periodicals.) 
  • For any unfamiliar words, write a sentence with contextual clues and challenge your child again to define the words.
  • Have your child write a paragraph or two using at least 10 of the words from the list.

Learning Tips: Use Clues to Determine Meaning of Unknown Words
Game: Figurative Language Baseball

Game of the Week

Disaster Math FEMA Game
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