Thursday, March 31, 2011

Herr's Potato Factory Tour with kids!

Last week to help celebrate National Potato Chip Day we took the kids to the Herr's Potato Factory. The kids were able to learn how potato chips were made and packaged before being shipped out to the stores. We were surprised that they were also making pretzels and corn chips this day as well. During the tour, our tour guide disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a tray of freshly made potato chips for us to try. The really exciting part of this was that the chips were still warm! None of us have ever tasted anything like it. The kids got to see how the chips were seasoned, divided for packaging and even labeled. Most of the work is done by computers but there are workers standing by monitoring the process.

 The kids got to learn that each truck load of potatoes is placed on a hydrologic lift and then the potatoes are rolled off the back of the truck into the basement section of the assembly plant. We also were informed that a computer can hand pick and immediately toss out any potato slices that have green or brown on them. Our tour guide told us that the green on potatoes meant they received too much sun while growing in the ground and the brown colored means they had too much sugar and got caramelized during their cooking process. Someone on the tour asked “what happens to the chips that fall on the floor during the process?” and our tour guide told us that the Herr’s family actually has Angus Cows on the farm and they feed them to the cows. I guess even the cows in Nottingham get to have their afternoon snack too. 

After the tour was over we had a simple but yummy lunch in their lunch room. We then got back in our cars and drove a little more south to the Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant and Dam. Unfortunately, the plant is now closed for public tours. We were able to take a nature walk along the river. We posed for pictures with the Dam and the very fast moving water in the background. We also witnessed a spectacular surprise – a Bald Eagle soaring above us! We watched as the parents took turns leaving and protecting the nest.

We all had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our day!

Kids favorites for today ……..
Lauren "I LOVED the potato chips"
Matthew "Eating the fresh new potato chips was totally AWESOME"

Our hike:
During our hike around the dam we were on the watch for what was around. We studied the ecosystems within the biomes. They were full of many interesting things. First there was a great deal of wonderful mushroom specimens and other fungus. We admired the bright green moss covered on some trees and rocks. The kids especially liked finding tadpole eggs in a very large water puddle along the path.

Lying all over the ground we found coarse woody material or fallen dead wood pieces. If you have grade school children you’re probably already aware that they serve as carbon holders which is vital to our ecosystems and forests. These provide places for seeds to grow as well as natural mulch for the earth. Add that with all the fungi which would keep moisture and you have a happy little ecosystem.

What is a Biome?
A biome is a large area with similar flora, fauna, and microorganisms. Most of us are familiar with the tropical rainforests, tundra in the arctic regions, and the evergreen trees in the coniferous forests. Each of these large communities contain species that are adapted to its varying conditions of water, heat, and soil. For instance, polar bears thrive in the arctic while cactus plants have a thick skin to help preserve water in the hot desert. To learn more about each of the major biomes, click on the appropriate heading to the right.

What is an Ecosystem?
Most of us are confused when it comes to the words ecosystem and biome. What's the difference? There is a slight difference between the two words. An ecosystem is much smaller than a biome. Conversely, a biome can be thought of many similar ecosystems throughout the world grouped together. An ecosystem can be as large as the Sahara Desert, or as small as a puddle or vernal pool.
Ecosystems are dynamic interactions between plants, animals, and microorganisms and their environment working together as a functional unit. Ecosystems will fail if they do not remain in balance. No community can carry more organisms than its food, water, and shelter can accommodate. Food and territory are often balanced by natural phenomena such as fire, disease, and the number of predators. Each organism has its own niche, or role, to play.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pencil Day

Hymen Lipman Pencil Patent
Innovation in the pencil industry

Today we celebrate the first patent on the modern pencil. There have been many innovations in pencil design or methods of production through the last several hundred years. March 30th, 2008 marked the 150th anniversary of a famous patent which was the first patent to address the installation of a rubber eraser at the end of a wood-cased pencil. The patent filed by Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia, PA was granted on March 30th 1858. An interesting feature of this design was that the eraser was actually installed within the wood of the pencil opposite from the writing core end. In this manner, the pencil could be sharpened on both ends to refresh either the graphite core or eraser.

As it turns out, there were countering claims from another inventor who developed the use of a ferrule to attach an eraser. Faber claimed these were not patentable innovations since pencil and erasers previously existed. The combination did not change the basic function of these two items. The case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pencils have been mass produced in Europe since 1622, but they weren't in production in the United States until 1812. Pencils began being painted yellow because it is a color often associated with royalty and honor. During this time, a yellow pencil became known as the best type of pencil you could buy.

Why are Pencils Yellow?
The true story behind the yellow pencil

Pencils have been painted yellow ever since the 1890s. During the 1800s, the best graphite in the world came from China. American pencil makers wanted a special way to tell people that their pencils contained Chinese graphite.

In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty and respect. American pencil manufacturers began painting their pencils bright yellow to communicate this "regal" feeling and association with China. However, according to Henry Petroski's history of the pencil, the European producer Koh-I-Noor was the first to paint one of their pencils yellow.

The rest, as they say, is history.


When was the pencil invented?
Some time prior to about 1560, graphite was discovered near Borrowdale, England, supposedly when a large tree was uprooted in a storm, exposing a black substance beneath its roots. The usefulness of graphite as a marking substance was quickly realized. Though the exact date is not known for certain, the year 1565 marks the first record of a pencil consisting of a piece of graphite inserted into a wood shaft, making the first ancestor of today's pencil.

Where was the pencil invented?
Since graphite was discovered in England, it is most likely that the first pencils were made in England, though this is not known for certain. The pencil was further developed by European craftsmen.

Who invented the first pencil?
It is not known who invented the first pencil. The pencil was first documented in 1565 by Conrad Gesner, and its invention is sometimes attributed to him, though this is unlikely. European craftsman (woodworkers) were the first known pencil manufacturers, and it wasn't until the late 1700's that manufacturing techniques similar to those practiced today were developed.

Why is the 'lead' so called?
Before the discovery of graphite, soft metals such as lead were often used for writing. One early name for graphite was 'black lead', and the name 'lead' has remained in use.

Can one get lead poisoning from pencil lead?
No. The 'lead' in lead pencils is actually graphite, which is a form of carbon and is non-poisonous.

What do the numbers and letters on pencils mean?
The numbers or letters refer to the hardness or softness of the lead. Read the article 'Grading Pencils' for more information.

What is a 'carpenter' pencil and why are they shaped so funny?
A carpenter pencil is usually a large, flattened pencil used by carpenters. Their shape helps prevent them from rolling.

How are pencils made?

The picture at left illustrates the steps involved in the manufacture of a wood pencil. 

It starts with a block of cedar (1) which is then cut into slats (2).
The slats are then stained (3) and grooves are cut into one surface (4). 

Prepared leads are placed into the grooves (5) and a second slat is placed on top and bonded with the first (6). 

This 'pencil sandwich' is then passed through a milling process (7) to separate the individual pencils (8). 

The pencil is painted and finished (9 & 10), a ferrule crimped onto the end (11), and finally, an eraser is crimped into the ferrule (12).

 Also On This Day:
 - The 1st recorded passing of Halley’s Comet (240 B.C.)
 - Florida became a U.S. territory (1822)
 - Anesthesia was used for the 1st time in an operation (1842)
 - Alaska was purchased from Russia for approximately $0.02 per acre (1867)
 - The 15th Amendment went into effect, giving Black men the right to vote (1870)
 - The Queensboro Bridge opened (1909)
 - Jeopardy premiered on NBC (1964)
 - President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest outside of a hotel in the Capitol (1981)


Monday, March 21, 2011

Johann Sebastian Bach: Baroque Composer

Johann Sebastian Bach (March 21, 1685-July 28, 1750) was a German Baroque composer. He was one of the greatest composers of all time, but during his lifetime, he was little-known and was mostly recognized for performing on the organ. Bach composed in many established musical forms, including, for example, the cantata and fugue, and developed them into complex and sublime pieces. He composed over 1,100 works in almost every musical genre (except opera).

Bach was born and died in Germany, and spent his entire life there, working as an organist, teacher, and composer. He had over 20 children, including four who became famous musicians in their own right, including Carl Philipp Emanuel, Wilhelm Friedemann, Johann Christoph Friedrich, and Johann Christian.

Bach's Early Life:
Bach was the youngest of eight children. His father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, had been a town musician, and probably gave Bach his early music lessons. His mother, Maria Elisabetha, and his father died within a year of each other (in 1694 and 1695, respectively). Orphaned at age 10, Bach moved in with his an older brother, Johann Christoph, who was the organist at St. Michael's Church, Ohrdruf. This brother probably taught Bach much about the organ.

Bach's Early Career:
Bach's early career involved playing the violin and organ at a low-level position in the ruling court in Weimar and in Neukirche, Arnstadt, beginning in 1703.

The Re-Discovery of Bach's Works - Bach's Back:
Bach's works were soon forgotten (but then again, they were hardly known during his lifetime - many of his works were not published until a century after his death). In March, 1829 (almost 100 years after Bach's death), the composer Felix Mendelssohn performed Bach's St. Matthew Passion, spurring a world-wide interest in Bach. Soon, Bach's works were appreciated by the world - essentially for the first time. 

To learn much more about him visit the official website here - http://www.jsbach.org/
To listen to some of Bach's works visit this website that lists many websites that contain files - http://www.jsbach.org/websites.html

Here is a video of Rostropovich Bach Cello Suite No.1 Prelude -

Another video of Bach, Air on the G string, string orchestra)

Book and Music CD's:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is here!

We were very fortunate to have Spring like weather the past several days. We decided to make the most of it and take the kids to the beach for some overdue beach-combing!

The March Equinox Explained

The March equinox will occur on March 20 in 2011, marking the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and fall (autumn) in the southern hemisphere from an astronomical viewpoint. The March equinox will occur at 23:21 (or 11:21pm) at Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on this date.

This illustration, which shows an example only of the March equinox, is not to scale.
Twice a year, around March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23, the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are nearly equal in all parts of the world. These two days are known as the March(vernal or spring in the northern hemisphere) equinox and the September equinox.
To find the March equinox date in other time zones or other years, please use the Seasons Calculator.

What does equinox mean?

The word “equinox” derives from the Latin words meaning “equal night” and refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator. At such times, day and night are everywhere of nearly equal length everywhere in the world.
It is important to note that while the March equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, it is the start of autumn in many parts of the southern hemisphere.

March Equinox Explained

The March equinox is the movement when the sun crosses the true celestial equator – or the line in the sky above the earth’s equator – from south to north, around March 20 (or March 21) of each year. At that time, day and night are balanced to nearly 12 hours each all over the world and the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun.
In gyroscopic motion, the earth’s rotational axis migrates in a slow circle based as a consequence of the moon’s pull on a nonspherical earth. This nearly uniform motion causes the position of the equinoxes to move backwards along the ecliptic in a period of about 25,725 years.

Nearly Equal?

During the equinox, the length of night and day across the world is nearly, but not entirely, equal. This is because the day is slightly longer in places that are further away from the equator, and because the sun takes longer to rise and set in these locations. Furthermore, the sun takes longer to rise and set farther from the equator because it does not set straight down - it moves in a horizontal direction.
Moreover, there is an atmospheric refraction that causes the sun's disk to appear higher in the sky than it would if earth had no atmosphere. timeanddate.com has a more detailed explanation on this topic. timeanddate.com has more information on why day and night are not exactly of equal length during the equinoxes.
During the March equinox, the length of daylight is about 12 hours and eight to nine minutes in areas that are about 30 degrees north or south of the equator, while areas that are 60 degrees north or south of the equator observe daylight for about 12 hours and 16 minutes. Many regions around the equator have a daylight length about 12 hours and six-and-a-half minutes during the March equinox.
Moreover, one day does not last for the exact same 24 hours across the world and due to time zone differences, there could be a small difference in the daylight length between a far-eastern and far-western location on the same latitude, as the sun moves further north during 24 hours. For more information, find out the length of day in a particular city. Select a location in the drop-down menu below to find out the length of day around the time of the March equinox.

Vernal Equinox vs. Autumnal Equinox

The vernal equinox occurs in the spring while the autumnal equinox occurs during fall (autumn). These terms are derivatives of Latin. It is important to note that the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox is in March while its autumnal equinox is in September. In contrast, the southern hemisphere’s vernal equinox is in September and its autumnal equinox is in March.
This distinction reflects the seasonal differences when comparing the two hemispheres. timeanddate.com refers to the two equinoxes simply as the March and September equinoxes to avoid false assumptions that spring is in March and fall (autumn) is in September worldwide. This is simply not the case.

Historical Fact

A Greek astronomer and mathematician named Hipparchus (ca. 190-ca.120 BCE) was attributed by various sources to have discovered the precession of the equinoxes, the slow movement among the stars of the two opposite places where the sun crosses the celestial equator. Hipparchus made observations of the equinox and solstice. However, the difference between the sidereal and tropical years (the precession equivalent) was known to Aristarchus of Samos (around 280 BCE) prior to this.
Astronomers use the spring equinoctial point to define their frame of reference, and the movement of this point implies that the measured position of a star varies with the date of measurement. Hipparchus also compiled a star catalogue, but this has been lost.

March Equinox across Cultures

In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth. Many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays and festivals around the time of the March equinox, such as the Easter holiday period.
The astronomical Persian calendar begins its New Year on the day when the March equinox occurs before apparent noon (the midpoint of the day, sundial time, not clock time) in Tehran. The start of the New Year is postponed to the next day if the equinox is after noon.


Spring FREEBIE!  Don't forget that if you live near a Rita's Water Ice store they are giving everyone a FREE Regular-sized Italian Water Ice today! - http://www.ritasice.com/

Spring Craft:

Stained Glass Tissue Paper Flowers

Tissue Paper flowers from Ninth Street East
Ninth Street East shows you how to make these beautiful flowers with only black construction paper and colorful tissue paper!
Gather together:
-black construction paper
-light colored pencil crayon
-tissue paper of various colors
-glue stick
-exact o blade

Fold a piece of black construction paper together, so it is two layers thick. Draw out your flower design onto the folded paper.

Cut out the flower with scissors on the outer edges and an exact o blade for the inner design. Being careful to hold the two pieces of paper together.

Here is what it will look like once all the parts are completely cut out.

The top flower and the bottom flower, when lined up together fit perfectly.

Choose your petal color of tissue paper and begin to cut out, and glue onto the petals. 

Once all the petals have been finished, turn it over and it will look like this.

After finding the first way to be a lot of work, I decided to just take a larger piece of tissue paper and glue it completely on.  However, if you wanted to make a rainbow flower, glueing individual petals on would work great.

Turn it over and cut off the center and outer edges. Do the same thing for the center, then glue on the other black outlined flower and tape onto your windows. Because they are completely finished on both sides, you could also make a wicked cool mobile or just hang them from the ceiling or window frames.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patricks Day with kids!

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that can be celebrated by everyone; they say “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s day!”  The holidays we celebrate with the kids are infused with crafts, foods and many decorations so they can feel the culture behind the holiday as well as having fun!

The kids love to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. This year we had a great time during our craft day.  We threw Corned Beef with potatoes and carrots in the crock pot and served with Shamrock Shaped Crescent Rolls.  Back by popular demand, we made the Green Punch we made last year.  For dessert last year we made rainbow cupcakes that turned out to be a hit!  This year we attempted to make chocolate cupcakes with a rainbow made from Twislers but we didn’t have much luck getting the rainbows to stand up straight.  Of  course St. Patty's wouldn't be complete with out our Irish Potato Candy tradition!  These super sweet candies are so easy to make and Lauren loves to roll them in her hands.
Irish Potato Candy

Lauren's Salt Dough Shamrocks
Corned Beef with Shamrock Rolls

Green Punch
The table setting was created using a gold table cloth, bright green charges, and lime green plates with black dessert plates.  For the napkins we used green ribbon and gold scrapbooking paper to create a faux gold belt – these were too cute and so simple to make!!!

Lauren created shamrocks on sticks using Salt Dough.  She loves this craft.  She rolled out the dough and used a Shamrock shape cookie cutter to cut out the shamrocks.  She then skewered each one onto a wooden skewer.  After baking them she then painted them sparkling green paint.  Lauren then went around and placed them in a few of our house plants.  She had a great time making these and it was a fun project that she is proud of.  

We also had several funny hats and other props that the kids had fun wearing and having their pictures taken.  

Watch this 3 minute video we found on the History Channel that explains the history of St. Patrick's Day:


St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

National Potato Chip Day with kids!

National Potato Chip and National Chip and Dip Day

Potato chips (known as chips in American, Australian, Canadian, Singapore, South African, Hawaiian English, Indian English and Jamaican English as well as most European languages; crisps in British and Irish English, chippies in New Zealand) are thin slices of potato that are deep fried.

Potato chips were invented in Saratoga Springs in 1853 by an Irish chef named George Crum.  One day, a customer named Cornelius Vanderbilt; continuously sent the fried potatoes back to the kitchen, complaining that they were too thick and soggy.  Agitated, Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin so that they could not be eaten with a fork. The customer was so pleased with Crum's creation that they became a regular item on the restaurant's menu!

During the month of March we celebrate National Potato Chip Day, and National Chip and Dip Day along with Saint Patrick’s Day.  What better month to add a little fun and education about this incredible root vegetable. 

There is a lot of information around potato's that is educational and we are definitely going to spend some time learning more about them.  From Mashed Potatoes to French Fries to Potato Chips, they will learn general facts about this vegetable and how they are part of many cultures and celebrations. 

We plan on "visiting Ireland" in our school rooms and recreating the feeling, emotions and lives of the people during the Irish Potato Famine.  We will teach the kids the facts and try to delve into how it must have felt to live during that time.  

We will top off our study by going to visit the Herr’s Potato Chip Factory and seeing how potato chips are made, marketed and sold.  All and all, this added adventure to our month.   

Learn how to make your very own potato chips below and you can also season them with your favorite seasoning.

Homemade Potato Chips
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Peanut oil, for frying
2 potatoes, thinly sliced

In a large heavy saucepan, fill oil no more than halfway and heat the oil to 350 degrees F.
Add the potato slices in batches. Fry until light golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels, season with salt, and serve.

Poteki by Kazuhito Ishida

Poteki by Kazuhito Ishida

Another great find!  Poteki, a play on the Japanese word for potato chips (abbreviated as potechi) and the word for tree (ki). 

We couldn’t find the tutorial on this adorable potato chip tree but it looks very simple to replicate…we may give this a try! 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Mardi Gras 2011!

Today is Fat Tuesday!  Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday”, is the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  There is usually a carnival season that starts the day of Epiphany and ends on that Tuesday before Lent.

Mardi Gras is music, parades, picnics, floats, excitement ... and one big holiday in New Orleans!   Everyone is wearing purple, green, and gold; and adorned with long beads caught from the beautiful floats. They sit on the ground throwing balls, playing music, having a picnic, and watching the crowds walk by between parades.

How do we know which Tuesday it will be year to year? Ash Wednesday is always 46 days before Easter and Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25 with the exact date to coincide with the first Sunday after the full moon following a Spring Equinox! There you have it!

The Meaning and Origin of Purple, Green, and Gold in Mardi Gras

Rex selected the official Mardi Gras colors in 1872. The 1892 Rex Parade theme Symbolism of Colors gave meaning to the colors: purple represents justice; green, faith; and gold, power.

Here are some of our Mardi Gras Craft Party pictures from last year. 

Our King Cake
Mardi Gras beads on the light fixture
Our Punch
The kids made the centerpiece, its a Mardi Gras Float!
The kids are really looking forward to celebrating Mardi Gras this year.  We we be incorporating much of the same this year as last year. 


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Happy Birthday Wendy!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to Wendy!
Happy Birthday to YOU!

Friday, March 04, 2011

National Grammar Day!

March 4th is National Grammar Day, and while correct grammar is important every day; today is a great time to review the rules. 

As educators, instruction with proper grammar is vital in every class taught. No matter the age, no matter the subject, good grammar is the foundation for skillful writing, speaking and communication.
The best way to honor National Grammar Day is to hone your own skills, improve, and raise the standards of educators and teaching.

Visit the official National Grammar Day website by clicking HERE to find great tips and much, much more!  Here is an example:

What Is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?
Before we get to the memory trick though, I want to explain the difference between the two words.
It's actually pretty straightforward. The majority of the time you use affect with an a as a verb and effect with an e as a noun.

Basic Sentence Structure

In its most basic form, a sentence needs a noun (a person, place, or thing) and a verb (an action word). While this rule might seem elementary, even the best writers can mistakenly introduce fragmented sentences, or incomplete thoughts that are missing a crucial element, especially in long documents. If something doesn’t sound right upon re-reading it, your sentence is probably missing one of these essential ingredients, resulting in a confusing phrase.

Correct Usage of Commas with Adjectives

The general rule is that you should use a comma to separate two or more adjectives that modify one noun. For example: “We’re looking for a driven, detail-oriented, and organized candidate for the position.”

Proper Usage of Semicolons
Semicolons often cause confusion and should be used sparingly; however, if you use these comma-period hybrids correctly you can enhance the meaning of your words. Use semicolons anywhere you could use you a period, but want to suggest a strong connection between two independent statements.

Proper Usage of Colons
It’s best to stay away from colons when commas would suffice, but when you’re forced to introduce new thoughts, a colon can be helpful. For example: “The gist of the meeting was this: Managers need to stimulate innovation by enacting a rewards program for big ideas.”

Its versus It’s (and all other apostrophes)
According to a copy editing instructor for California-based copy editing service provider Edicetera, confusing “its” and “it’s” is the most common error in the English language. That one minuscule apostrophe (or lack thereof) drastically changes the meaning of the entire sentence. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” whereas “its” refers to possession. Also, watch out for “your” versus “you’re.”

Farther versus Further
While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish “farther” as physical distance and “further” as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean.

Their versus There versus They’re
OK, once and for all: “Their” is possessive; “there” refers to distance; and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are.”

Than versus Then
“Than” refers to a comparison, while “then” refers to a subsequent event. Example: Six is more than five; after five then comes six, for instance.

Who versus Whom
The rule is pretty simple: Use “who” when you’re referring to the subject of the sentence, and use “whom” when you’re referring to an object. For example: “Whom do you love?” is correct because you’re asking who is the object of your (the subject) love. Conversely, “Who loves you?” is correct because “who” is the subject and “you” is the object. This pesky distinction trips people up probably because they are unclear of the difference between a subject and object. Need a quick way to distinguish? A subject does the action while an object receives the action.

Fun with Grammar:

Punctuation Rap
© Ms. Lindsay Rivas of the University Charter School in Modesto, Calif.

Punk, Punk Punctuation
Punk, Punk Punctuation

Paulie, the period. Looks just a dot.
Every time you see her, you must stop!
Punk, Punk Punctuation
Punk, Punk Punctuation

Quincy question mark.
I wonder what he’ll do.
He’ s at the end of questions like
Where, what, or who?

Punk, Punk Punctuation
Punk, Punk Punctuation

Collin the comma.
Looks like a hook.
Every time you see him
Slow down and look!

Punk, Punk Punctuation
Punk, Punk Punctuation

Lexi exclamation mark is like, WOW!
If your writin’ so excitin’ then put her in now!
Punk, Punk Punctuation
Punk, Punk Punctuation

Quinn and Queeny quotation marks.
They’re in groups of two.
Every time you see them
Talking is what they do.
Punk, Punk Punctuation
Punk, Punk Punctuation

Seema the Semicolon
is a pause.
Who’s friends with two sentences.
She’s an independent clause.

Punk, Punk Punctuation
Punk, Punk Punctuation

Coaly the COLON,
has two dots.
She’s in between time and the introducer
to express your thoughts.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

National Anthem Day

The United States adopted the Star Spangled Banner as its national anthem on March 3, 1931.

Star-Spangled Banner was originally written as a poem by Francis Scott Key in 1814. Key wrote the verses after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by Royal Navy ships during the War of 1812. During this time, American colonists often sang Key's lyrics to the tune of a popular British drinking song titled "The Anacreontic Song."

The tune soon became a well-known patriotic song that represented America's strength and endurance during trying times. However, it was not until March 3, 1931 that the Star-Spangled Banner was designated by Congress as the National Anthem of the United States.

Found these ideas on how to celebrate today e-How:

1. Visit the flag that inspired the song at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The flag is on display for all to see, but don't try to see it until after Summer 2008. The National Museum of American History closed in late September for renovations and is scheduled to reopen Summer 2008.

2. Make a tax deductible contribution to help save the flag. The National Museum of American History is undergoing a major renovation. To do this, the Museum is in the middle of a $180 million appeal to all people who hold the museum close to their hearts. Once the museum renovation and flag preservation are complete, the flag will be housed in a new state of the art display case. Visit the Smithsonian website and give money to celebrate National Anthem Day.

3. Raise your flag on March 3. Follow proper flag flying etiquette. Fly the American flag above all other flags on display. Take down the flag in bad whether unless it is a weatherized flag. Never let the flag touch the ground.

4. Enjoy your country. America has endured. From the bombardment of Fort McHenry that encouraged the Star Spangled Banner and National Anthem day to the present state of the union, be proud to be an American and hold your head up. Be thankful for what you do have and remain faithful to National Anthem Day.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" Song & Video
Download FREE audio and video of our the Star Spangled Banner below (click on links).  This is from the National Anthem Project - visit the site direction by clicking HERE
Listen to and Watch “The Star Spangled Banner” Performances
"The Star-Spangled Banner" Sheet Music

Standard-Based Lesson Plans
from My Music Class, MENC's Lesson Plan Library (MENC member login required)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Read Across America Day with kids!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!! What a great day to choose to promote “Read Across America”.  Reading is such an essential part of any education and life that I think it is wonderful to celebrate it.  We love to celebrate Read Across America Day and have so much fun coming up with unique ways to make it fun every year!

Lauren is a huge Dr. Seuss fan and in fact has read the books we have so often that she knows them by memory now.  One of the books that Matthew loved to read to Lauren was “The Lorax”.  This year Matthew decided he wanted to create Truffula Trees for our decoration in our Craft Day.  His thought was to paint some bamboo sticks black and yellow for the trunks.  Wendy created the tissue paper flowers for the tops of the tree.  These were really cute and added such great ambiance to our celebration. 

We made our own Dr. Seuss hats this year.  We bought Red and White Felt and sewed them together so it looked exactly like the real Cat in the Hat! 

We served Green Eggs and Ham for lunch – lol, we actually made sandwiches and ate green colored deviled eggs. 

We bought a box of Tri-Colored Gold Fish snacks and had Matthew separate them by color, he loved it!  We then placed each color in individual mini fish bowls for our “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”.  Lauren made Salt Dough and by using a fish cookie cutter she cut out a few fish and then stuck a popsicle stick through them, allowed them to dry and then painted them.  The adults helped her paint with puffy paint the wording on them.  They turned out so cute and went great with our centerpiece!

We served Blue Punch and Thing 1 & Thing 2 cupcakes as well.  The cupcakes were made using red colored cupcakes in Red cupcake sleeves, white icing on them and then Blue Cotton Candy, we punched out 1 ¼ white circles and using a black Sharpe painted the rim of them and then wrote Thing 1 and Thing 2 and taped to the cupcake sleeve ….very simple to make!

Along with our DIY Hats we also dressed as Thing 1 and Thing 2.  We just so happened to find these fuzzy blue hats at our local Dollar Tree store!  So because we had white felt circles left over from our DIY Hats we wrote “Thing 1” on one and “Thing 2” on the other…..too easy, lol!

When all said and done….Lauren had a fabulous time and loved being Thing 1 for the afternoon.  Matthew loved to eat all the yummy food and creating the fun atmosphere for the party.

Below we wanted to share the Read Across America information that is found at NEA National Education Association - http://www.nea.org

Our friends at Random House have put together a terrific Read Across America resources page featuring a teacher's guide, activities, games and so much more. Head to Seussville for a Seussational reading adventure.  

You're never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You're never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you've got. 

In schools and communities,
Let's gather around,
Let's pick up a book,
Let's pass it around.

There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.

Come join us March 2nd
Your own special way
And make this America's
Read to Kids Day.

Reader’s Oath
Words by Debra Angstead
Missouri-National Education Association

I promise to read
Each day and each night.
I know it’s the key
To growing up right.

I’ll read to myself,
I’ll read to a crowd.
It makes no difference
If silent or loud.

I’ll read at my desk,
At home and at school,
On my bean bag or bed,
By the fire or pool.

Each book that I read
Puts smarts in my head,
‘Cause brains grow more thoughts
The more they are fed.

So I take this oath
To make reading my way
Of feeding my brain
What it needs every day.

RAA Achievement Certificate - Click HERE to print out

RAA Appreciation Certificate - Click HERE to print out

The following song was written and donated to NEA by Glenn Weiss. Sheet music (PDF 1p, 68 KB) is available. Please feel free to use it in your Read Across America events. Enjoy!

Read Across America
©2003 Glenn Weiss
Read across America
We're so proud of our whole school
We're reading books across America
You know reading's really cool.
Every book unfolds a world
That'll take you far away.
Come join us young and old,
Boys and girls exercise your mind today.
Your imagination is something you should feed.
For growing inspiration let reading be your seed.
Read across America,
From sea to shining sea
Read across America
Will build a better you and me.

Read across America,
From sea to shining sea
Read across America
Will build a better you and me.
Will build a better you and me.

We had such a fantastic celebration to promote reading and just had fun celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss!

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