Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: 8 US states that once were part of Mexico

Many people know that California and Texas have large Mexican-American populations. In fact, one county is Texas is 97% Hispanic. Did you know that California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Colorado and Wyoming used to belong to the Viceroyalty of New Spain, later to become part of the Mexican Republic? The Spaniards lived among, and even integrated with, the Native Americans who were already living there. The Mexican-American War led to the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and The Gadsden Purchase in 1853 which gave the United States control over what is now the states listed above. The Hispanics living in those areas were given the choice of moving to the Mexican Republic or staying and becomming full US citizens. Most of them chose to stay in the US.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Math Monday: Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month started on September 15th and goes through until October 15th. The reason it starts mid-month is because Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all celebrate their independence on September 15th; Mexico declared their independence on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. This week we will study Hispanic Heritage.

-This is a great website for Hispanic American "numbers". Which can then be used for graphing or other math problems.

-Learn to count in Spanish (cero, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez are the numbers 0-10). Older students can do math problems in Spanish (y means and, menos means subtract)

-Cooking is also a fun way to incorprate math. Here are some yummy Hispanic recipes to try:
Corn tortillas
Mango Shake
Fresh salsa

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scouting Sunday: Plants Brownie Girl Scout Try-It

As with many of the other badges, we have done some of the requirements already during this weeks activities. Here is what we are doing to earn this Try-It:

1-Seed Race: We will plant 6 different types of seeds in half an egg carton (1 type per egg section). The kids will make daily observations, including measurements of plant, about what is happening in each section. Once the plants are large enough, we will transplant them into small pots.

2-Plant Rubbings: Using crayons and paper, we will make rubbings of the bark and leaves of various trees. We will then look at and compare any patterns we see.

4-Leaf Hunt: This involoves finding leaves and writing about one of them. The child then describes the leaf to a friend and sees if they can identify which leaf is
being described.

5-Simple Plants: This activity involves making mold. Start by dampening a folded paper towel. Take a slice of bread and wave it through the air and sprinkle it with dust. Place the bread on the paper towel and wrap it all in foil. Put the packet in a dark spot. Every day, look at the bread with a magnifying glass and then rewrap it. Be sure to not touch the bread without latex gloves on or using a "tool" (toothpicks work fine) and wash with soap and water afterwards. Draw pictures of what you observed. Write down any colors you see and desribe the smell.

Science Saturday: Fall/Autumn

This is a great time to teach the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees. Basically, deciduous trees lose all their leaves for part of the year and evergreens are green all year long. This is not to say evergreens do not ever lose their "leaves", they just don't lose all of them at once.

Changing leaves also make great objects to practice classifying. Leaves can be classified according to shape, size, color, etc. You can also have one child write a description of a leaf and see if others can identify which leaf it is based just on their description. Afterwards, make leaf rubbings and use them to identify the main parts of the leaf: vein, blade, apex, base.

This is also a good time to discuss why leaves are green and why they change colors in the fall. Chlorophyll is made by leaves for energy. It is a naturally green substance and it gives leaves their green color. As the weather gets colder, the leaves stop making chlorophyll and the yellow and orange pigments are able to be seen.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Science Saturday: Postponed until tomorrow

Unfortunately, I am once again postponing a lesson this week. We had an unexpected car problem today and just returned home (at 11:30PM) after leaving the house at 9:45AM. I will post two lessons tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Field Trip Friday: Fall/Autumn

This is a great subject for frugal field trips.

-Take a nature hike and observe the changing leaves, the squirrels foraging for nuts, and other signs of fall.

-Go apple and/or pumpkin picking. See if the farm offers tours. We had a great lesson a few years ago on the benefits of bees to apple farms. We also learned the best way to pick apples without harming the bud.

-Go on a hay ride.

-Visit a farm that owns a cider press and learn how cider is made.

-Rake leaves for an elderly family member or neighbor.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Autumn

-Animals begin preparing for winter during this time of year. Imagine you were going to be unable to leave your house for anything during the entire winter. Write about how you would prepare for the upcming winter. OR Write a story about a squirrel as he is preparing for winter.

-Using adjectives (words that describe something), write a letter to a friend expressing your favorite things about fall. Be sure to include all 5 senses.

-Create an advertisement offering your services for raking lawns. With parent, permission, you may even post these and earn some extra money this fall.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: The seasons

There are two main activities I was able to come up with regarding fall and social studies. First, study why we have different seasons and how the northern and southern hemispheres experience opposite seasons at the same time. Second, study the Greek myth about why we have seasonal changes.

hemisphere: half of the Earth; can be north/south or east/west
Equator: an imaginary circle around the "middle" of the Earth, an equal distance from both the North and South Poles

-Here is a lesson plan to show how the seasons change.

Greek Mythology
Hades, the god of the underworld, fell in love with Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Hades carried Persphone off to the underworld to be his wife. Demeter searched everywhere for her daughter before Zeus, king of the gods, finally told her where Persephone was. It was finally decided that Persephone would spend half the year living with Hades and half the year living with her mother. During the time that she was living with Hades, Demeter was so miserable, all the plants withered and died, but when Persphone was with her mother, Demeter rejoiced and the the plants could thrive again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Johnny Appleseed

Ripe, juicy apples are a sure sign of fall in our area (western NY). What better person to study than Johnny Appleseed?

-A great website for an abridged biography of John Chapman (AKA Johny Appleseed) is here. Another one is here.

-Some great books about Johhny Appleseed are:
Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh
Johnny Appleseed by Carol Ottolenghi
Who Was Johnny Appleseed? by Joan Holub
Johnny Appleseed: My Story by David L. Harrison (This is a level-3 reader book)

-After reading the story of Johnny Appleseed, give your child a blank US map and have them draw in rivers, mountains and other natural barriers (or just look at a relief map of the US and locate them). Discuss how they impeded westward expansion and how Johnny Appleseed and others may have gotten past them. Have the kids map out a route (or more than one route) that may have been taken by Johnny Appleseed from Massachusetts to Ohio.

-Here is a coloring page/seek and find picture of Johnny Appleseed that can either be printed out or "colored" on-line.

-A good DVD to watch about Johnny Appleseed is the Disney movie from 1948. Currently, I believe it can only be bought on the American LegendsDVD which also has the stories of Casey Jones, Paul Bunyan and John Henry.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Math Monday: Fall/Autmn

Since today is the first day of fall/autumn, that will be our topic this week.

-Divide up an apple into wedges
-Make and divide up and pumpkin pie

-Make a bar graph (older kids can make a pie chart) showing everyone's favorite type of pie
-Collect a bunch of leaves and graph them by color and/or leaf type (maple, oak, etc)

-Rake (BONUS for parents, combining yard work with schoolwork!)up a pile of leaves and estimate how many there are. Count them. How close were you?
-Look at a peck(new vocabulary word) of apples and estimate how many are in a peck. Count them and see how close you were.

-Using a string, measure the circumference (new vocabulary word) of an apple and/or a pumpkin. You can also estimate the circumference before hand.
-Weigh a pumpkin on a scale. Again, you can practice estimating first. This can also be expanded by challenging the kids to find other items that weigh about the same and then have them weight those items as well.

Money-Compare the price of "raw" pumpkin and canned pumpkin. Figure out the cost to make a pumpkin pie (either with raw or fresh pumpkin) and compare that to the cost of a pre-made pumpkin pie (either "fresh" and/or frozen).

Early arithmetic
-Use acorns to display basic arithmetic problems.

Word Problems
-If it takes you 30 minutes to rake the front yard and 45 minutes to rake the backyard, how long does it take you to rake the entire yard?
-You and 3 friends go apple picking. You each pick one dozen apples. how many apples did you pick in all?
-John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, was born Septmeber 26, 1774 and died February 18, 1845. How old was he when he died? (70 years, 4 months, 22 days)

Scouting Sunday: Space Explorer Brownie Try-It

For this badge, we will do the following activities:

1) The Night Sky: This activity will be performed during our field trip to the planetarium to use their telescope. The activity calls for night sky watching and identifying and locating constellations.

2) The Moon: We did this activity Saturday when exploring the different phases of the moon and through the month, when we drew the "shape" of the moon each week.

3) Ready, Set, Jet: We will do this activity in conjunction with designing a lunar life station. The activity calls for designing an outfit to be worn to a Girl Scout center on the moon. The girls should take into account how they will move in space and how they should dress.

5) Star Maker: We will do this activity prior to visiting the planetarium to view constellations. In this activity, we will make star makers, by drawing our favorite constellation on the bottom of an oatmeal container (the cylinder-shaped ones, not a box) and then poking a pin or needle through the "stars". The girls can then use their star makers in a dark room by sliding the container over a flashlight and shining it on a blank wall.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scouting Sunday postponed

Due to an awful migraine, Scouting Sunday will be postponed until tomorrow. I will still be posting Math Monday for the new unit as well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Science Saturday: The Moon

Here are a bunch of different ideas related to the moon and space rockets:

Make a paper rocket.

Learn about the four phases of the moon (new moon, 1st quarter, full moon, last quarter). Have the kids draw the moon every Friday (or whatever night works for you) night for one month so they can see the different phases.

Demonstrate why the moon appears to change shape. Use a flashlight to represent the sun, a baseball to represent the moon, and a soccer ball to represent the earth. Turn on the flashlight and turn off the other lights in the room. Shine the "sun" right at the "moon" (which someone is holding). Have someone hold the "earth" in between the sun and the moon. Keeping the sun and earth stationary, have the moon "orbit" around the earth. Have the kids make note of the light and shadows on the moon to show how the moon "changes" shape.

Make a solar eclipse with a flashlight, a grape, and a grapefruit (these same objects would probably work in the previous activity as well).

Design a lunar settlement. This may be a little advanced for younger students, but could lead to a good discussion of the problems faced with designing a lunar settlement.

Dehydrate foods and/or sample dehydrated and/or rehydrated foods (Tang was invented originally for astronauts). Some examples are pudding mix, Jell-O mix, dried fruit, jerky, Ramen noodles, and any powdered drink mix.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Field Trip Friday: The Moon

There are several space centers around the country that allow visitors and/or offer tours. Here are a few that I found:

NASA Ames Exploration Center in California, south of San Francisco Bay

Goddard Space Flight Center, just east of Washington D.C. in Greenbelt, MD

Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, east of Orlando

Marshall Space Flight Center, a musuem and home of Space Camp, in Huntsville, AL

Wallops Flight Facility, in Wallops Island, VA

Johnson Space Center, in Houston, TX (currently closed due to Hurricane Ike, but will be re-opening when they get power back on)

Another field trip idea is to visit your local planetarium or observatory and use their telescope to view the moon. You could also do this at home, but the telescopes at planetariums and observatories tend to allow for more detailed viewing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Think About It Thursday: The Moon

Imagine you have the opportunity to interview Neil A. Armstrong. What are some things you would ask him. Read a biography written about him and see if any of your questions are answered.

Imagine you can take a trip to the moon. Write about your preparations, what you will do on the trip and what you will see.

Read a non-fiction book about what the moon is like.

Spanish for moon is la luna.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Russia

It was a Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, that was the first human to enter outer space. To honor that, we will take a quick look into Russia this week.

cosmonaut= a Russian astronaut
-Russia is the largest country in the world today, covering 1/8 of the land on Earth. It makes up the entire northern part of Asia and 40% of Europe.
-Current President is Dmitry Medvedev, pictured below.

-Moscow is the capital of Russia and the money is called rubles. One US dollar is equal to a little less than 3 Russian rubles.
-We will also do a little Russian cooking including: Borscht,
Pirozhki, and Stroganoff.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: 1st walk on the moon/Apollo 11 mission

On July 20 1969, the Eagle, the lunar module for the Apollo 11 mission, landed on the moon.

Neil Armstrong (left)and Buzz Aldrin (right)

Neil Alden Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 mission and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr, took man's first steps on the moon, about 6 1/2 hours after they landed. It was upon stepping on the moon that Armstrong said, the now famous line, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." For the next 2 1/2 hours Armstrong and Aldrin, took notes, drilled core samples, and took photos. The astronauts left scientific equipment, an American flag, an Apollo 1 mission patch, and a plaque that had 2 drawings of the earth on it, the signatures of the astronauts and President Richard Nixon, and an inscription which said, "Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind". Upon leaving the moon's surface, the Eagle rendevoused with the space shuttle Columbia, and the astronauts returned to Earth.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Math Monday: The Moon

In honor of the full moon, we will be studying the moon this week.

Depending on age and ability, this is a good time to learn about circles and spheres. My 1st and 2nd graders will learn there are 360 degrees in a circle and we will practice drawing them with a compass. We will discuss what diameter and radius are and I will introduce the number pi (3.14), but will save actually doing equations with pi for when they are older.

Discuss the shapes of other moon phases (crescent and half-moon)

The moon's orbit around Earth is elliptical (oval-shaped)

Word Problems
Gravity is much less on the moon, so much less that a person weighs 1/6 of their "Earth" weight. Weigh yourself on a scale and then multiply your weight by 0.17. For older kids, they can show their work; for younger kids, this is a good opportunity to practice calculator skills.

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. This happened on July 20, 1969. How many years ago was that? (Hint: subtract 1969 from the current year).

Graph the number of moons each planet has. Older kids can do the research themselves, but for the younger crowd here is the information: Mercury and Venus have no moon, Earth has 1, Mars has 2, Neptune has 13, Uranus has 27, Saturn has 60, Jupiter has 63, and while it is no longer considered a planet, Pluto has 3 moons.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Scout Badge Sunday: Brownie Try-It All In the Family

I have been trying to include a variety of scouting badges, but due to time constraints, I am going to focus only on Brownie badges and awards for the time being. The simple reason is that I currently only have Brownie Girl Scouts and these are the things we are working on. However, if I am unable to find a Try-It that fits with the weekly theme, I will try to find one in either another age bracket of Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, or another scouting organization all together (Heritage Girls, Keepers At Home, etc). Also, if there is a badge in any other program that you are interested in earning and would like some ideas, e-mail me at ldsmom2201 (at) yahoo (dot) com and I will do my best to help.

1) Find out where your ancestors came from and find it on a map. Are they American Indian? Which Indian Nation and what area did it cover? Share a family tradition, story, dance, or food with your Scout troop. We did this during the week as we studied our heritage. We are choosing to share homemade flour tortillas with our scout troop as we share the girls' Mexican heritage.

3) Make gift coupons for everyone in the family and honor the coupons when redeemed. We are making these during craft time and the girls' are being encouraged to think about what each person would like, not just what they want to do. Some ideas are washing the car or taking out the trash for dad, chores or sharing a favorite toy with a sibling, and folding the laundry or sweeping the kitchen for mom. Of course the chores would be in addition to already assigned/regular chores. We will likely be using these certificates found on www.ivyjoy.com.

5) Help your family keep fit. We have done several of the suggestions already in the past few weeks (plan a healthy family meal; mini-Olympics), but we are also implementing a weekly family fitness day, which will consist of an after-dinner walk when weather permits or another fitness-type activity when weather is not conducive to walking.

6) (My personal favorite) Make a family time capsule. Make collages of things that represent each family members interests and be sure to label them. Include current photos and maybe even a short note written by each person. Put everything into a tube and seal it shut. Decorate the tube and hide it somewhere in the house. Remember where it is and in 5 years or so, open it together and see how much things have changed. A variation of this was something I did in high school: one of my teacher's had us write ourselves a letter the beginning of our freshman year. We could say whatever we wanted, but we were encouraged to write about what our likes and dislikes were at the time and our future plans. Upon graduation, four years later, the letters were mailed to us.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Science Saturday:A Family Dinner

Today's science lesson brings us into the kitchen and kills two birds with one stone, a science lesson and meal preparation.

-Mix up a batch of Red Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (or any vinaigrette dressing) and learn about emulsification.
-Emulsification= the suspension of small droplets of one liquid mixed in another liquid;
-Vinaigrette dressings are made of oil and vinegar, when left to settle, two separate layers form, but when shaken they form a temporary emulsion.

-Make a batch of pizza dough and study yeast and chemical changes.
-Chemical changes occur when a substance is changed in a way that prevents it from returning to it's original form, such as when yeast is added to sugar, flour and water creating dough. In contrast, a physical change is a change that does not change the actual make up of the item, such as water into ice (the ice can easily become water again).
-Function of yeast in pizza dough: carbon dioxide forms when yeast reacts with sugar. The release of the CO2 causes the air bubbles in the dough and is what allows the dough to rise.

-Shredding cheese and/or dicing up pizza toppings are great illustrations of physical changes. This is also a good time to talk about nutrition and healthy topping choices.

-Make ice cubes. Boil water for tea (herbal or regular). Make iced tea. All 3 steps allow for discussion of physical changes as well as the 3 forms of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.

-Make homemade ice cream. The 60 Second Science website not only has directions for an easy way to make this ice cream (without a machine), it also has the science lesson behind it.

Toss the dressing with some salad greens. Bake your pizza. Pour the iced tea and enjoy the ice cream. Several science lessons and dinner on the table.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Field Trip Friday: Family

This is an easy one for coming up with field trip ideas.

-Visit family members
-Visit the cemetary to clean up/decorate/visit the graves of deceased family members
-Plan or attend a family reunion
-Any trip, a day trip or longer, you want to take as a family

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Family

posterity: A person's descendants; future generations
generation: all descendants that are the same stage of descent from an ancestor (all grandchildren of one person make up one generation, all of their kids are another generation)
descendant: a person who can trace their ancestry or lineage back to another person

-This is a good time to introduce journal writing as a way for your posterity to know who you are/were.

-Have your child interview family members and "write" their biographies for them. They can then have a lesson in bookbinding by making them into a book.

-Start a family newsletter. This can be a newsletter for just your household or one that includes news of extended family as well.

-Write a letter to a distant family member.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Family

There are two ways to go with this. 1) You can study the family structure in other cultures (arranged marriages, extended families living together, etc) or 2) You can study the culture of your heritage. We are going to focus on our heritage. Both my husband and I are first-generation American on our mothers sides. My mom was born in England and immigrated as a child. My husband's mother was born in Mexico and sold as a child to a Mexican-American woman.


-Flag is often called "Union Jack"
-Capital: London
-located in Europe
-part of Great Britain with Scotland and Wales and the United Kingdom which consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
-England is a constitutional monarchy, currently Queen Elizabeth is Head of State (laws are made and passed by Parliament though); other prominent royalty are Prince Charles and his sons Princes William and Henry (learn more about the Royal Family here)
-We will read a small bit of Shakespeare and listen to some Beatles music
-soccer is a very popular sport in England, but it is called football there
-One day this week we will prepare a traditional English Sunday dinner consisting of Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, roasted potatoes, gravy, and rutabaga (a squash)
-Famous landmarks and other sights of interest include:

Big Ben (shown with a double decker bus)

Buckingham Palace

a palace guard


-located south of the United States, in North America
-Capital: Mexico City
-Current President is Felipe Calderon
-Spanish is the most common language spoken in Mexico
-native civilazations of Mayans and Aztecs were located in Mexico
-Aztec Pyramid of the Sun can still be visited today

-Several examples of Mayan architecture can also still be visited today

-We will try our hand at making flour tortillas from scratch this week and will serve them with menudo (a Mexican soup).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Family History

Genealogy: The study on a family's ancestry
Ancestry: lineage, or family who came before you
Maternal: related to the mother
Paternal: related to the father

-Create your family tree, going back to at least your grandparents. There is free, downloadable family history software through My Heritage. I have used it and really like it. You can also find blank, printable family trees, going back to great grandparents and with a variety of backgrounds to choose from, here.

-Gather stories from the lives of several family members, either as video clips, audio clips, or written. Compile them into something that can be shared with other family members.

-Learn about the (or one of) country of your family's origin. Make a meal or learn a dance/song/craft that is traditional to that country.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Math Monday: Families

Yesterday, was Grandparent's Day, so this week we will study families.

Draw pictures of clocks showing the times certain events occur in your family. Include the time mom/dad leave/come home for work, meal times, bed times, activities, etc

Make a bar graph showing the "size" (# of people) in the ouseholds of your extended family (aunts/uncles, grandparents, older siblings, step-families, etc)

Measure how tall each member of your family is. If you need extra practice, measure everyone's foot/thumb/arm, etc. Older kids can also lern how to convert inches to centimeters (# of inches times 2.54=centimeters).

Make (also helps measuring skills) a pizza, pie or casserole and divide it into equal sized pieces according to your family size. For example, if there are 6 people, divide the pizza into 6 even pieces.

Word Problems
Add up the number of children each of your aunts and uncles have. That is how many cousins you have. Now add just the children of your mother's siblings (brothers and sisters) and the number of children your mother has and you will find the number of grandchildren your mother's parents have. Do the same thing with your father's siblings to find out how many grandparent's his parents have. (When presenting this problem, it is probably easier to use the names that your children use to refer to their aunts and uncles and grandparents. For example add up the children Aunt Sue has and the children Uncle John, now add in you and your siblings. That is how many grandchildren Nana and Papa have)

If Kevin is 12 years old and his younger brother, Michael is 7 years old, how many years older is Kevin than Michael?

If Katrina is 5 feet tall and her daughter, Chantelle, is 2 feet tall, how many feet shorter is Chantelle? (for older kids use feet and inches in the heights)

Calendar Skills(and more graphing)
Get a calendar for the upcoming year. Mark down all the birthdays in your household (older kids can add cousins/aunts/uncles/etc) on the right day. Find out what day of the week each birthday will be and make a bar graph to show what you have learned.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Scout Badge Sunday: Junior Girl Scout Weather Watch Badge

Some of the requirements for this badge have been covered in activities this week. These are the activities we would do to earn this badge:

1-Learn how to read a weather map

4-Build a weather instrument: I gave a link to make an anemometer/wind meter in Saturday's post

5-Learn about weather related emergencies: This is what we have been doing all week

7-Create a game about weather: With the knowledge we gained this week, we would create some sort of game, probably a board game or a tag style game.

8-Help others be be weather-prepared: I have a few ideas from creating a skit for younger kids to holding a winter clothing drive.

10-Make weather: Make a cloud in a bottle

Science Saturday: Weather and Storms

I apologize for the last posting of this. I am working on getting the posts typed up ahead of time so I can just submit them on busy days, but I haven't quite gotten there yet. Thanks for understanding.

Hurricanes are formed over warm water (79 degrees or warmer) and occur when a warm, wet air mass begins to evaporate. The heat, air and water combine to form a large, violent, swirling mass of clouds, wind, and rain. In the center of the storm, is a relatively calm area called the "eye". Hurricanes are also called tropical cyclones.
Here is a photo of Hurricane Ivan over the US September 15, 2004

Tornadoes form as an area of high pressure meets an area of low pressure. Increased wind speed in the low pressure area form an invisible, horizontal tube of spining air. As the high pressure area moves in, it pushes that tube of air, making it vertical. Tornadoes can have wind speeds up to 300MPH and move forward at a rate of up to 75MPH. Most tornadoes (75%) occur in the US and most commonly between 3 and 9PM. Tornadoes formed over water are called waterspouts. Here is a photo of a tornado near Oklahoma:

Hurricane Cloud Formation
Soda Bottle Cyclone
-In middle school, I remember making a smaller scale of this same project, but only used 1 soda bottle (any size except the tiny ones). We filled it with water and some glitter (you could use beads too), added a penny, and then capped it. Then you swirl the bottle around, creating a vortex in the water.

Here is one to study the weather and climate in your area.

Make your own anemometer (wind meter)

Here is one that is good for emergency preparedness. It tests fillers for sandbags to find the most effective one. It is written by a kid and is a good example of writing up a scientific experiment, including using the scientific method (hypothesis, observation, conclusion, etc).

Here is a good book for more weather-related science experiments:

Friday, September 5, 2008

Field Trip Friday: Emergency Preparedness

I came up with several varieties of field trip ideas:

First, you could check with your local science museum to see if they have a meteorology exhibit. If not, check with your local news station and see if it is possible to watch a taping of the news and/or meet with the meterologist or tour the meterology department. You can also check with your local colleges and see if the meteorology professor (most colleges offer at lest a basic weather course)would be willing to meet with you.

Second, you could tour your local American Red Cross and/or other local disaster relief agencies. Fire departments are another place that often respond after a disaster. Ask them how they help the community other than fighting fires.

Third, if you are close to an area recovering from a storm (they can take many years to recover from), you can find out a way to help the recovery efforts. If you do not live near a "recovery area", you could still find out ways to help and spend a day helping (organize a clothing/food/water drive, make personal care packages, etc)

The last idea is not really a field trip idea, but a good activity to go along with this topic. You could hold emergency drills, similar to a fire drill, but for other emergencies. See how quickly you can get everyone and all the necessary items into the vehicle in case of a rapid evacuation. See how quickly you can get everyone to a safe room in case of a sudden storm or tornado. These would be good to practice regularly, not just for this unit.

Hopefully, none of us will ever experience a major storm, but it is likely some of you have and most of us will. Preparedness is the best "defense" we have. Learning about the weather and the agencies available are a great way to familiarize ourselves with what can happen. That way, if it does happen, we at least know what we should expect.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Think About It Thursday: What would you do?

Imagine a big storm is coming and the mayor of your town/city has suggested you evacuate. Write a story about the evacuation. Tell what you will bring, where you will evacuate to, and how you will get there. What are you feeling during the evacuation?

Imagine a storm is coming, but you and your family have decided to sit it out in your house. Tell what you will you do to keep the house safe and your self safe. What will you do during the storm? What feelings are you having before and after the storm?

A big storm has hit a community a few states away and caused a lot of damage. Think of some ways you could help the people in that community. Imagine you have gone to help. Write a letter home to a friend telling about what you are seeing and doing.

Meteorology= study of the atmosphere, particularly the weather and climate
Atmosphere= the gases surrounding the earth
Forecast= to predict an occurrence
Hurricane= a tropical, cyclonic (spinning) storm in the western North Atlantic ocean with winds of at least 72 MP
Tornado= a localized windstorm with a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground
Typhoon= a hurricane occurring in the western Pacific Ocean or the China seas

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: FEMA and the Red Cross

Today, we are going to look at two organizations that are in place to help after a disaster, FEMA and the Red Cross.


-Federal Emergency Management Agency
-Part of the Department of Homeland Defense since March 2003
-Mission: "The primary mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation." (from Fema's website)
-Most of us will only ever use FEMA as a preparedness resource, but it is important to note they are also there to protect us, respond after a disaster (natural or manmade), help us recover and get back on our feet.
-Vocabulary word: mitigate-to ease or calm; to lessen or make less severe

The American Red Cross

-International relief organization; also known as Red Crescent
-Services offerd: provide relief and assistance after a disaster, help families who have lost their home, provide relief for emergency personnel (juice, cookies for firefighters), help collect and maintain blood supply, training people in first aid and CPR, help unite or bring closure to families of missing persons (particularly after a disaster or war)and help get deployed military personnel home during a family emergency
-History: Clara Barton: was a field nurse during the Civil War; founded (vocab wod=started) the American Red Cross in 1881 and led it for 23 years; a nice age-appropriate biography to read is Clara Barton: Spirit of the American Red Cross by Patricia Lakin and Simon Sullivan.
-Much more information on the Red Cross website, including a coloring book of Red Cross posters

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Storm preparedness

At the elementary level, I do not think kids are really ready to delve into the details of storm history. Instead, we will discuss how to keep history from repeating and the need to be prepared for disasters that could strike our area.

The first thing to do is to learn about the types of disasters that your area is subject to. Obviously, those who live way inland are not likely to experience a hurricane and those who do not live near mountains are not likely to experience volcanic activity or an avelanche. However, basic preparedness is pretty much the same: have your vehicle ready for an evacuation, have money readily available, and have enough food/water/supplies on hand to last several days, both at home and in the vehicle. So how do you turn these into lessons for the kids?

- This is a good time to teach some minor vehicle maintainence to the kids. Show them how to check tire pressure and how to know what the pressure should be (older kids can also learn how to add air). This is also a good time to clean out the vehicle and teach the importance of keeping it clean. Together, brainstorm what sorts of things you should keep in the vehicle at all times and then work on gathering/buying those items and putting them there.

- As for the money aspect, discuss what you may need money for should a disaster occur and how much you may need for each thing (gas, tolls, lodging, etc). Think of a safe place where the money could be stored (banks may be closed and ATMs not working).

- Work on putting together 72 hour kits for each member of the family. Pack them in backpacks that can be easily grabbed in an evacuation. Discuss what you would need in each kit (clothes, food, water, medications,etc) and also in a family kit (birth certificates, tools, first aid supplies, etc). Gather them up and put them in a central location.

For more great lesson plans and games the kids can play check out the FEMA website.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Math Monday: Weather/Storms

With a major hurricane hitting Louisiana today and another forming and set to hit the US this week, I have chosen to study weather, particularly storms, this week.

If you live in an area that receives rain fall this week, put out containers to measure the rain fall.

Graph the weather this week. You can use bar graphs for weather type (sunny, cloudy, rainy, etc) and/or line graphs for temperature and rainfall.

Check the temperature a few times throughout the day or day to day and have the child figure out the temperature difference.

Watch the clouds and find ones that resemble certain shapes. A fun book to go with this is It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G Shaw. You can turn this into a lesson on cloud types (cumulus, Cirrus, stratus, etc) as well.

If you are interested in introducing percentages, have the child watch the weather on the news each day and note when the weather person is correct in their forecast (probably easiest if they follow one aspect of prediction such as rain or no rain). At the end of the week, or 5 days which would be easiest, have them figure out the percentage of times the weather person was correct.