Monday, November 30

Rocket Man (Elton John)

I see no need to reinvent the wheel....so follow us here to our HUGE free space & astronomy unit study!!  We've got lapbooks, literature, science, physical education, math, more rabbit trails, and even music videos.  If your kids are as space-crazy as our's, they're going to love it!

On to Alabama!!!  
En route to our Virginia job, we stopped off at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.  It was a rainy day, so the outdoor activities were off the table, but a very friendly docent gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the newest section of the museum, which will open next summer.
The main exhibit is a really interesting, futuristic look at scientific applications.  We explored the role of DNA in general disease, and created our own virtual selves.  The boys also tried their hands, er heads, at mind control.
The Space Camp section of the museum will soon be open to the public for tours, and this friendly docent led us behind-the-scenes to check out all of the new stuff.  It's so new that some of it wasn't even finished yet!
While we were in town, Rocket Boy lost a tooth...and the tooth fairy brought him a gift certificate to the museum store.  Unfortunately, the one thing he wanted was not in stock, so he's holding on to it until we can find a space helmet...  (We've been to three NASA centers and still can't find one.  If you live near one, and they have one in stock, please drop us a line!)

Thursday, November 19

Computer Age (Neil Young)

Short and sweet today....



We passed through central North Carolina en route from west to east, and I had the chance to catch up with an old friend.  You know how they say that the best friendships can pick right up where they left off, even a decade later?  It's true! 
E. and I were both in the same scholarship program, and had oodles of time to hang out during the mandatory 'bus ride across the entire state' excitement after freshman year.  It's a bonding experience...  We are complete 180's of each other, which always worked out nicely.
Today, he works for a company called SAS (which looked an awful lot like Google to me, from the outside).  If you're a computer person...I recommend checking it out for a job!!  Our boys were working on the Digital Technology badges for Boy Scouts, and I thought "Who better to help them with this than E.?"  He loved the idea...and the boys loved visiting!  I have to be honest, though, and tell you that about 3/4 of what he explained to the boys was Greek to me!!  I sure hope they understood!

At the very least, they did learn a few things this day, including what an awesome job you can have if you work hard and apply yourself.  They got to see things that I could never show them, and I got to take an old friend to lunch and catch up.  All in all, a beautiful Carolina-blue-sky kind of day!!!!!!

Thursday, November 12

The Lighthouse Tale (Nickel Creek)


Hatteras & Bodie Island Lighthouses
During our stay at the Outer Banks, we coasted (like the pun?) down Highway 12, through Hurricane Joaquin floodwaters, to Hatteras Island.  Our mission?  Visit one of the most iconic symbols of the eastern seaboard....the Hatteras Lighthouse. 
The poor park rangers had to evacuate their home when it flooded!  You can see the hose emptying it out.  And since there were no park rangers on site, the museum and the lighthouse itself were both closed.  It was a bit of a bummer to drive so far and be denied access, but we still enjoyed visiting this iconic landmark! 
As you can see, we still enjoyed ourselves immensely...having a Silly Day!!!
We found some fabulous historic references, including the very first Hatteras Fresnel Lens from the 1854 lighthouse.  There was also a very nice rendition of the North Carolina lighthouses.
Bodie Island was more of the same....while it wasn't flooded, the lighthouse was closed due to high winds.  We were able to talk with a park ranger for a bit, getting some history of the area, and were thankful that we'd taken the time to pop in last year!

Lighthouses Unit Study Writing Prompts
  • You are commissioned to design a new lighthouse.  Describe the design, including the daymark, height, signal, location, and other details.
  • Before electricity, lighthouse keepers lived on the premises and kept the lights burning.  Write about your life as a lighthouse keeper in the 18th century.
  • Why was the Fresnel lens such an innovation?  What did it do better than previous lenses?
  • Choose a lighthouse, and write a story from ITS point of view.  The story can be set in present day or a historical era.  What did it see and hear?
Reading List

Literature Units
Science & Geography
Painting Lesson



 Build a Lighthouse


Supplies: (per child)
  • paper plate, 
  • 16 oz or larger Styrofoam cup, 
  • 1 inch toilet paper roll piece, 
  • construction paper, 
  • scissors, toothpick, 
  • wooden bead or pony bead, 
  • glue (foam or tacky glue works best), 
  • scotch tape, 
  • regular markers, & permanent markers
Assembly:
  • You can start by coloring your island with waves breaking over the shore and rocks and trees around the island. If a number of children are making the lighthouse and you want to identify the builders, put their name on the other side and set it aside. 
  • Using the bottom of your “tower”, draw a circle on a piece of construction paper for the Dome [Note: you should use the same color paper you plan to color your lantern room]; cut the circle out and set it aside. 
  • Now you decorate the tower. Using the permanent marker (fine point works best) draw the door and windows. At this time you can color your tower with stripes or other patterns to display your daymark (see examples below). 
  • Glue your tower to the island and set it aside. [Note: If you are making a large number of lighthouses for a group of children, it is recommended that you pour some white glue into a small plastic container that the bottom of the tower fits; dip tower lightly into the glue and place it on the island.] 
  • Next prepare the lantern room. Cut 2” piece of paper roll and cut a 5 ½” x 1” piece of yellow construction paper to make your storm window. Using the permanent marker, make a border along the long edges and, if you choose, down the center of the strip. Tape one end of the strip at the top of the lantern room, wrap it around, and tape the other end. Draw in the astragals (metal frame running vertically or diagonally that divides the lantern room glass into sections) with the permanent marker. 
  • Color your lantern room below the window strip. Using the circle cut earlier for the dome cut a slit to the center and slide one edge over the other to form a peaked cap; tape it together. 
  • Glue the lantern room to the top of the tower and the dome on top. [Note: If making a large number, use the white glue in a plastic container, and dip both ends of the lantern room, place on tower, and attach dome.] 
  • Now take the vent ball and carefully put some glue into the hole [Fast drying glue works best], about ½ full, set it on the peak of the dome, and stick the lightning rod (a 1” piece of toothpick, sharp end up) into the glue in the ball. 

Tuesday, November 10

Little Jack Frost (Frankie Carle)

It’s my favorite time of year!  The leaves are falling and the breeze is chilly.  This is when I schedule my marathons, because it's a great time to be a runner!  But it can be a frustrating time if you've just started running and have never had to brave the elements.  

Just like you need to prepare for the heat of summer, you’ll want to take precautions in the icy winter.
  • Get Motivated – Enter a race.  Make a running date.  Tell yourself “just five more minutes.”  Find a tree, and pick it off.  Find what motivates you.
  • Arm Your Feet – Try to find shoes with Gore-Tex uppers, or at least very little mesh.  Wear socks that keep you warm, but not sweaty.  You can’t run on popsicles.
  • Get Dressed – Dress in layers of sweat-wicking fabric.  Here is a general guide :
    • 30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm. Tights (or shorts, for polar bears).
    • 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights.
    • 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket.
    • Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.
    • Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses. Or, says Arribas, "Stay inside."
  • Be Seen – It stays darker and gloomier, generally, in the winter.  Snowbanks may make it hard for drivers to see you.  So wear reflective, neon-colored clothing, and light yourself up (if it’s dark)!
  • Warm up Pre-run – Jump around inside the house before heading out.  Get the blood moving, and don’t start out cold.  You wouldn’t turn on your car and hit the highway without letting it warm up, would you?
  • Deal with Wind – Start your run into the wind, if possible, and finish with it hitting your back.  You don’t want a face-freeze when you’re sweaty, and maybe the gusts will give a little extra push!
  • Change Quickly Post-run – Strip down and get out of damp clothes as soon as you return.  Then drink something hot to warm you slowly.

Take it to the Next Level :  Maximize the Cold Weather

  • Turn up Your Warm-up  Stay in constant motion.  Start with a jog that accelerates to tempo pace for the last two minutes, then continue with dynamic stretches and drills like high knees, butt kicks, and skipping.  Finish up with four to six strides, and jog the recovery.
  • Ease Into Speed  Even after a vigorous warmup, your muscles will be cooler than usual, which raises your injury risk. Start with a tempo run of 10 to 20 minutes, or several long intervals of 5:00 or more, and gradually transition to shorter, faster repeats.  Save all-out efforts for last, when your body temp is highest.
  • Think Effort, Not Pace  Knowing your pace can be demoralizing, thanks to slippery footing and/or your seven layers of clothing; so lose the watch, and focus on your effort.
  • Recover Actively  Alternating periods of all-out running with complete rest causes big swings in heat production. Keep the hot/freezing effect to a minimum with gradual shifts between easy jogging, moderate running, and hard running.
  • Head Uphill  Winter training demands flexibility. Postpone or move up workouts as Mother Nature dictates. And when deep snow makes sessions like long intervals impossible, run hills to mimic the intensity. Run up, jog down, and repeat. Focus on maintaining good form, springing forward with each stride.