Friday, January 7, 2011

Benjamin Franklin

- Read Benjamin Franklin, American Genius: His Life and Ideas. Choose at 3 of the activities listed in the book and do them.

- Benjamin Franklin was a great inventor. Many of his inventions are still used to today and many others have been improved on to become products we use today. Choose one of Benjamin Franklin's inventions and write a short report on it. Try to answer when he invented it, why and how he invented it, if he worked with any other people on the invention, where he invented it, if we still use it, or any form of it, today, and any other interesting facts that you find. Some of his inventions include: bifocal glasses, the Franklin stove, the lightning rod, and the glass armonica.

- "A penny saved is a penny earned", is a saying from Benjamin Franklin. It means that if you do not spend a penny, it is the same as earning it. If you invest (see vocabulary words) that penny, you can earn more money on it as long as you leave it in the bank long enough. The money you earn on your investment is called interest (another vocabulary word). Interest is money that the bank gives you for letting them hold onto your money (they are actually borrowing it from you, but you will learn about that much later in your education). Take a "field trip" to a bank and speak with a bank representative about interest and how it works. If you do not already have one (and you have your parent's permission), see about opening your own savings account.

- For a fun activity about electricity and circuits, have an adult help you with the lesson plan listed here:
- Benjamin Franklin founded the first public library. Contact your local library and find out if there is any service project you can do for them. Some ideas: help prepare craft materials for an upcoming program; wipe down book covers; help clean up toys in the children's room, or help out with a program for younger children.

  • invest- to put money into something in an attempt to earn even more money
  • interest- money paid in exchange for borrowing money
  • taut- tight
  • alternate- switch back and forth
  • apprentice- a person who works for another person in order to learn their trade
  • brayer- a small roller used for inking
  • bifocals- eyeglasses that have 2 types of lenses, one to see close and one to see far, in one lens
  • armonica- a musical instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin that uses a series of spinning glass bowls that the player runs moistened fingers over; also called a glass harmonica
  • Philadelphia- a city in Southeast Pennsylvania
  • colonial- refers to the early years of the US, when the colonies still belonged to England

- Another famous saying from Benjamin Franklin is, "An apple a day, keeps the doctor away." This tells us that a healthy diet will help us to avoid bigger medical problems. It is recommended that we eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Keep a journal of all the foods you eat for one day. Are you eating the recommended amount? Look through a cookbook or look online for a recipe that is fruit or vegetable based and make it for your family.

Social Studies
- Ben Franklin spent a lot of time in Philadelphia and there are a ton of sites there that one can visit to learn more about Ben Franklin and his life. For those who cannot visit Philadelphia, I have listed an alternative activity that involves Netflix and another one that does not.
- Watch episode 10 of Liberty's Kids (currently available for instant streaming on Netflix) to learn about Benjamin Franklin's involvement in the Post Office. Many, if not all, of the episodes at least mention Ben Franklin and help teach about life before and during the Revolutionary War. I highly recommend watching the entire series at least once.
- Play the True and False game on this website: This will be easier if do the reading assignment first. There are a few other games as well that will help you learn more about Ben Franklin.

Language Arts
- Ben Franklin was the publisher of the "Pennsylvania Gazette", one of the most successful newspaper of the colonies. Visit this website: and create your own family or classroom newspaper.

- Another saying of Ben Franklin's is, "God helps them that helps themselves." What does this statement mean to you? Do you agree or disagree with it?

- A game similar to jacks was commonly played in colonial times. This game was called jackstones and was played with small stones or small fruit seeds, like apples or pumpkin. On the first turn, the player tosses a small stone into the air and scatters the seeds on the ground in front of him, catching the stone before it lands. The next player then tosses the stone in the air and picks up as many seeds as possible and catches the stone before it lands with the same hand. Play continues until all the seeds are picked up. The one with the most seeds wins. Play a few rounds of jackstones with a friend or family member, or practice by yourself.
- Hopscotch was another common game played during the colonial era. Draw, or find, a hopscotch board and play for a bit. If you live in a colder climate, see if it is possible to draw or paint a board on a large piece of cardboard or ply wood or even the basement floor (GET AN ADULT"S PERMISSION FIRST!!!)

Domestic Arts
- Make a whirligig, a toy common in the colonial days. Find a large, circular button and then string 2 1/2 feet of string through the holes of the button and tie the ends together. Then hold each end of the strings and twirl the button until the string is taut (tight) and then pull apart, letting the button spin. Alternate (switch back and forth) between pulling and relaxing to keep the button spinning.

- Benjamin Franklin spent many years working as a printer. Practice the art of printmaking by making your own prints. To do this like Franklin did, you will need to get a brayer (a small roller), but if you do not have one, there are other ways to do this project. Find, or make, some alphabet stamps. Arrange them to spell a short word, like your name. Then using a brayer, apply ink to the stamps and place the paper on top of the wet stamps. Gently apply pressure to the paper by placing a block on top the paper. Carefully remove the paper by lifting it straight up off the stamps and allow it to dry. If you do not have a brayer, you can apply the stamps directly to the ink and apply them to the paper one at a time.

- Learn about the armonica, a musical instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin, by watching this video:

  • lightning- el rel├ímpago
  • glasses- las gafas
  • newspaper- el peri├│dico

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