Monday, September 10

American Man (Trace Adkins)

What happened on 9/11?
On September 11, 2001 .... Terrorists attacked the US.  They hijacked 4 airplanes in mid-flight, and flew two of the planes into two skyscrapers at the World Trade Center in New York City.  The impact caused the buildings to catch fire and collapse.  Another plane destroyed part of the Pentagon (the U.S military headquarters) in Arlington, Virginia.  The 4th plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Officials believe that the terrorists intended to destroy either the White House or the U.S Capitol building.  Passengers on the plane fought the terrorists and prevented them from reaching their goal.  In all nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks.
When people think of 9/11, they commonly think of NYC, but let's not forget the other two planes that carried victims that day.

Who attacked the United States?
A total of 19 terrorists hijacked the 4 planes on 9/11.  All of the men were from nations in the Middle East.  They belonged to a Terrorist group called Al Qaeda, and were led by Osama Bin Laden.  Al Qaeda practices an extreme version of the religion of Islam.  The group is intensely opposed to the US and other western, democratic nations.  They are especially against the military presence of these countries in Arab nations.  Since the group's creation by Bin Laden in the late 1980's, Al Qaeda has helped coordinate and fund numerous bombings worldwide.

How did America respond to September 11th?
In October 2001, the U.S and it allies invaded Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda was based.  The extreme Islamic group that ran Afghanistan's government, known as the Taliban, was protecting Bin Laden and allowing Al Qaeda to run training camps in the country.  U.S-led forces soon brought down the Taliban.  They are still working to help rebuild and stabilize the nation.  Since 2001, many Al Qaeda members have been captured or killed.  On May 1, 2011, U.S troops killed Bin Laden when he was hiding in Pakistan.
The U.S invaded Iraq in 2003.  Then-President Bush and other U.S leaders believed that the country's dictator, Saddam Hussein, was hiding terrible weapons that could be given to terrorists.  Hussein was captured and later put to death by an Iraqi Court.  No weapons of mass destruction were found.

How did America change after September 11th?

Following 9/11, the U.S government  took many steps to try to make the country safer.  It tightened security at airports and in public buildings.  For example, no longer could you drop off or meet loved ones at the airport gate.  A new cabinet-level department, the Department of Homeland Security, was created.  It works to protect the U.S from terrorism.

September 11th Unit Study Resources

**If you only choose one resource, we recommend the Memorial Museum, as it has excellent resources.**

Video should be screened by parents before showing to young children

Come back tomorrow for more September 11th...

Wednesday, September 5

Christmas Must Be Tonight (The Band)

Yes, it IS a bit early for Christmas......but if you'll read to the bottom, you'll see why we're posting this now.

Christmas is one of our favorite times of the year!  We love almost everything about - from the smells and tastes of holiday cookies to the joyful sounds of Christmas carolers...the delight of children on Christmas morning and seeing the children's pageant at church.  (Pretty much the only two things we don't like are the crazy over-commercialism and airport traffic on the 23rd.)  There's a new kid in town on the Christmas scene, though, and we got to meet it early and want to introduce it to you!!
We have always used our family keepsake advent calendar, but plan to add this new (and oh-so-beautiful!) One Night advent calendar to the tradition this year, too.  While our family calendar has little square for candies, treats, RACK projects, or Lego minifigures, the One Night calendar tells a story, so it will be very easy to use them both without any overlap.  

Check out 'One Night' -   

The calendar tells the Christmas story, broken into twenty-four parts (each of the days). You can read one part each day or (as our family did) read the entire thing in one beautifully-illustrated story. (Part of the fun of reading it this way is trying to find the next part on the board!) Like all advent calendars, reading it in small parts is how children will count down the days until Christmas.

This is a sturdy board that works well in both coffee-table format (lay down flat) or in display format (stand up as a trifold). It could easily be considered a Christmas decoration, and used as both a storybook and advent calendar. It would make a beautiful, and unique, gift!

Honestly, I was only familiar with the surface of the story in Luke 2:8-20. This is where the angels appear before the shepherds and tell them to visit the newborn savior. This calendar takes those few verses and develops them into a full-blown story -- the story of those shepherds on that winter's night. It's a story of ancient history, Judea and the Roman rulers; a story of regular people who were just doing their jobs, and their journey deep into the countryside to search for a baby. The pictures have a common-man / draftsman feel, and the black and white coloring lends it a timeless quality.
One of the things I was surprised to learn was that creating this advent calendar was a three-year process. Four people worked very hard to create this, from the ground up, ALL by hand. An art direction adapted the story and a designer arranged everything so that it worked together perfectly (all those tiny doors). But two folks that just blew me out of the water were the lady who hand-rendered all of the lettering and calligraphy, and a painter who hand-illustrated every single image in One Night using pen, ink, and charcoal!! The beautiful artwork here - and knowing that it's hand-drawn rather than computer-generated - make this an even more special keepsake.

Currently, there is a Kickstarter program for One Night, which will help get the initial printing completed in time for folks to have their own copy by Christmas.

Oh, and while we have your attention............don't forget to look out for the Twelve Days of Christmas, which will be kicking off in early December with giveaways and goodies for everyone!