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19 Videos That Make Learning Fun

Labor Day generally marks the end of summer and the start of a new school year. These fun educational videos for all ages should ease the sting of returning to school and help make studying more enjoyable.

History

"Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage" by Soomo Publishing

This might be our favorite: a fantastic, well-produced women's suffrage parody of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" from the educational publishing company Soomo.

"Gutenberg" by History for Music Lovers

The Hawaiian-based history teachers behind History for Music Lovers created this text-only video, a parody of Blondie's "Sunday Girl," to teach about the creator of the printing press. Visit their YouTube channel for more great history-based parodies of popular songs.

"Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration" by Soomo Publishing

Yes, it's a second video from Soomo, but they're both too good not to include. This parody of One Republic's "Apologize" was actually the first educational parody music video they produced; after its success (it has received more than 3 million views on YouTube), they created the "Bad Romance" video.

"The Animated Bayeux Tapestry" by David Newton of Potion Graphics

Originally a college project, this video brings the Bayeux Tapestry to life.

"Famous Last Words" by Ransom Riggs for mental_floss

Of course we had to include our own fun clip about some of history's most famous last words!

Science

"Meet the Elements" by They Might Be Giants

This introduction to the scientific elements from They Might Be Giants is off the band's Grammy Award-nominated album Here Comes Science. Check out more of TMBG's videos on YouTube.

Bill Nye the Science Guy on Static Electricity

Visit TheRealBillNye on YouTube for more clips from the classic science show, and visit his web site for media and educational materials.

"Classification Rap" by T.H. Culhane

This video was made back in 1989, way before YouTube made it quick and easy to share educational videos. Culhane's Melodic-Mnemonic approach to education helped his at-risk students succeed in school; he has gone on to work with the State Department's Cultural Affairs program to hold science workshops around the world.

Math

"Pi: Each and Every Time" by Ignite! Learning

The educational company Ignite! Learning created this song to explain the concept of pi.

"Calculus Rhapsody" by Paul Kirk & Mike Gospel

This parody of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" explains calculus. Click through to YouTube for the lyrics.

Geography

"The Countries of Your Planet" by Marco Polo

For more videos exploring the world from Team Marco Polo, visit their YouTube channel.

"50 States Song" by Mallory Lewis & Lamb Chop

Mallory Lewis, daughter of Lamb Chop's creator Shari Lewis, has picked up where her mom left off, and tours the country performing with the beloved puppet.

"50 State Capitols" by Wakko on Animaniacs

This is one of the most popular Animaniacs clips on YouTube, with more than 5 million views. (Judging by the comments, quite a few people watch the video to study for their tests.)

English

"History of English" by The Open University

This 11-minute video combines all 10 parts of Open University's video series on the history of the English language.

"Celebrities Sing Alphabet Song" by Sesame Street

Over the years, many celebrities have sung the alphabet song on Sesame Street. To promote the 2011-2012 season of the children's show, they released this celebrity compilation video. You can watch many more Sesame Street clips on the official YouTube channel.

"Conjunction Junction" by Schoolhouse Rock

Who can forget this classic from the popular animated educational series Schoolhouse Rock?

Art

"Three Primary Colors" by OK Go on Sesame Street

The guys of OK Go teach kids about the three primary colors and how they mix. Watch more Sesame Street videos on the official YouTube channel.

"The History of Art in 3 Minutes" by LikeFilms.org

A brief and humorous overview of art history. Note: Contains some not-safe-for-children/work words.

"500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art" by Philip Scott Johnson

This video, nominated as Most Creative Video for the 2007 YouTube Awards, depicts the evolution of the depiction of women in Western art over 500 years. Follow along with the list of artists and paintings. (This is also one of the most popular educational videos, with more than 92,000 views on Vimeo and more than 12 million views on YouTube.)

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9 Things You Should Keep in Mind Around Someone Observing Ramadan
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To mark the ninth (and most holy) month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world observe Ramadan. Often compared to Lent in Christianity and Yom Kippur in Judaism, Ramadan is all about restraint. For one month, Muslims observing Ramadan fast during the day and then feast at night.

By abstaining from food and water (as well as sex, smoking, fighting, etc.) during daylight, Muslims strive to practice discipline, instill gratitude for what they have, and draw closer to Allah. To be respectful and not annoy observers, here are nine things you should never say or do to someone observing Ramadan.

1. DON'T JOKE ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS.

A traditional iftar meal.
A traditional iftar meal.
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Although it might be tempting to joke about Ramadan being a good excuse to lose weight, it is a time for spiritual reflection and is a serious matter. Observers undertake the challenge of fasting for religious and spiritual reasons rather than aesthetic ones. And, once the sun sets each night, many Muslims prepare a hearty iftar (the meal that breaks the fast) of dates, curries, rice dishes, and other delicious foods. The suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) is often fresh fruit, bread, cheese, and dishes that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. So the idea of a cleanse is pretty far from their minds.

2. DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.

An Indian Muslim student recites from the Quran in a classroom during the holy month of Ramadan.
NOAH SEELAM, AFP/Getty Images

There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, but not all of them observe Ramadan the same way. Although most observant Muslims fast for Ramadan, don't assume that every Muslim you meet has the same methods, traditions, and attitudes towards fasting. For some, Ramadan is more about prayer, reading the Qur'an, and performing acts of charity than merely about forgoing food and drink. And for those who may be exempted from the daily fasting, such as pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, or those with various health conditions, they might not appreciate the reminder from nosey busy-bodies that they aren't participating in the traditional way.

3. SAY "RAMADAN MUBARAK" INSTEAD OF "HAPPY RAMADAN."

A sign which reads
A sign which reads "Ramadan Kareem" in Arabic is seen pictured in front of the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai.
GIUSEPPE CACACE, AFP/Getty Images

Rather than wishing someone a happy Ramadan, being more thoughtful with your choice of words can show that you understand and respect the sanctity of their holy month. Saying "Ramadan Mubarak" or "Ramadan Kareem" are the traditional ways to impart warm wishes—they both convey the generosity and blessings associated with the month. The actual party comes after Ramadan, when Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, an up to three-day festival that involves plenty of food, time with family, and gifts.

4. DON'T BE A FOOD PUSHER.

Muslim woman saying no to an apple.
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Even if the idea of not eating or drinking all day might be unfathomable to you, don't push food onto anyone observing Ramadan. While fasting all day for a month can cause mild fatigue, dehydration, and dizziness, don't try to convince participating Muslims to eat or drink something—they are fully aware of any side effects they may feel throughout the day. Instead, be respectful of their decision to fast and offer to lend a hand with something like chores, errands, or anything unrelated to food.

5. ACCEPT THAT WATER ISN'T ON THE MENU.

Dates and a glass of water.
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Muslims who observe Ramadan don't sip any liquids during daytime. No water, coffee, tea, or juice. Zilch. Going without water is even harder than going without food, so be aware of the struggle and accept it. It's all part of the sacrifice and self-discipline inherent in Ramadan.

6. RESPECT PEOPLE'S PRIVACY.

Pregnant woman doing yoga.
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Some Muslims choose not to fast during Ramadan for medical or other personal reasons, and they may not appreciate being badgered with questions about why they may be eating or drinking rather than fasting. Children and the elderly generally don't fast all day, and people who are sick are exempt from fasting. Other conditions that preclude fasting during Ramadan are pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menstruation (although, if possible, people generally make up the days later).

7. BE MINDFUL OF ENERGY LEVELS.

Woman running on the beach.
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Eschewing food and drink for hours at a time can cause lethargy, so be aware that Muslims observing Ramadan may be more tired than usual. Your Muslim friends and coworkers don't stop working for an entire month, but they may tweak their schedules to allow for more rest. They may also stay indoors more (to prevent overheating) and avoid unnecessary physical activity to conserve energy. So, don't be offended if they aren't down for a pick-up game of basketball or soccer. We can't all be elite athletes.

8. DON'T OBSESS OVER FOOD AND HUNGER.

Family playing in the park.
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One of the worst things you can do to someone on a new diet is to obsess over all the cheeseburgers, pizza, and cupcakes they can't have. Similarly, most Muslims observing Ramadan don't want to have in-depth conversations about all the food and beverages they're avoiding. So, be mindful that you don't become the constant reminder of how many hours are left until sundown—just as you shouldn't joke about weight loss, you shouldn't call attention to any hunger pangs.

9. DON'T BE AFRAID TO EAT YOUR OWN FOOD.

Coworkers discussing a project on couches.
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Although it's nice to avoid talking about food in front of a fasting Muslim, don't be afraid to eat your own food as you normally would. Seeing other people eating and drinking isn't offensive—Muslims believe that Ramadan is all about sacrifice and self-discipline, and they're aware that not everyone participates. However, perhaps try to avoid scheduling lunch meetings or afternoon barbecues with your Muslim colleagues and friends. Any of those can surely wait until after Ramadan ends.

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