Countdown to summer: use one-a-day fun facts to keep kids learning

With only a few days left before the unofficial start of summer (e.g., end of school year), kids are both dragging and squirming their way through and definitely distracted. The main cure is vacation. However, this is also a great time to explore a Daily Fun Fact. The whole family can participate in collecting them! Share and discuss over breakfast or dinner. Take them on the road, too. Bookmark a couple websites or compile a list of facts to pull out anytime, anywhere. They get kids and adults alike thinking and are also creative conversation starters, as in, “Wow, if that’s true, just imagine if…” or “I wonder if that means…” Kids will hardly realize they are learning!

High Tech Science offers lots of great fun facts. Here are just 10 of them:

  • Armadillos, opossums, and sloths spend about 80% of their lives sleeping.
  • The ears of a cricket are located on the front legs, just below the knee.
  • If you could throw a snowball fast enough, it would totally vaporize when it hit a brick wall.
  • Velcro was invented by a Swiss guy who was inspired by the way burrs attached to clothing.
  • The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
  • If you stretch a standard Slinky out flat it measures 87 feet long.
  • When glass breaks, the cracks move at speeds of up to 3,000 miles per hour.
  • Which of the 50 states has never had an earthquake? North Dakota.
  • Due to gravitational effects, you weigh slightly less when the moon is directly overhead.
  • Hawaii is moving toward Japan 4 inches every year.

Another source, updated daily, is funfactz.com. The site posts tidbits such as, “There is a town called Okay, OK. It has a population of 600 people,” and “During the Black Plague, it was thought that bad smells were the cause of the plague. ‘Plague Doctors’ therefore wore masks with long beak-like noses stuffed with flowers or smoke to hide the smells.” (Here’s one especially for grown-ups: “It would take 76 work days (8 hours a day) for the average person to read the Terms and Conditions they agree to in a year.”

A third site is All Random Facts. They’ve compiled goodies such as “Owls are the only birds in the world that can see the color blue” (one wonders what the sky looks like to other birds!) and “A Rubik’s Cube has 43,000,000,000,000,000,000 (43 quintillion) possible configurations.”

As another source of fun facts, also consider workbooks such as Word Searches (ages 8 and up). It puts together snippets of info and related activities on 42 specific subjects or themes. For example, under Slime and Scales find a general paragraph about reptiles and amphibians. Then spy 15 names of scaly, slimy animals in a word search puzzle. Next, fill in the icon-letter “code” that answers clues such as: “This amphibian grips smooth surfaces with sticky suction pads on its toes.” Each subject/theme also includes an open-ended Think About It question that really does require thought. Other subjects include Natural Disasters, Gadgets and Gizmos, Going Buggy, and Author Trivia.

Get the entire family yukking it up with important and peculiar facts and near-facts. After all, some “facts” do merit challenging and double-checking. But what a charming way to learn more about countless subjects.