We Love Trees

we love trees

May 16th was Love A Tree Day. While it’s probably an unofficial holiday, it’s one worth celebrating. I love trees. My favorites being the giant Redwoods and Sequoias. When I lived in Santa Cruz I used to take my son walking on the Redwood Grove Trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. This was where my little boy learned to run and explore, searching for the numbered posts along the self-guided nature trail. It was perfect because it was flat and wide with fences along the sides. And walking with my little one through the majestic giants was peaceful. Everything was ok there.

Now, living in southern California, we don’t get to see the big guys much. Occasionally we spot a grove of redwoods at nature centers and parks  like Shipley Nature Center, Fullerton Arboretum, or Carbon Canyon Regional Park. There are even a few at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. But they are few, and many of them show the wear of the drought. Now we are mostly surrounded by palm trees and when we hit the trails we often find large oak trees and evergreens.

We studied trees at the beginning of the year when we covered plants in our science book, but we never really stop learning about trees. I can’t for the life of me identify most trees on the streets in our neighborhood, but I love what they do for us. We recently picked up a tree identification guide at a nature center and we plan to take a special tree hike to learn more about the trees in the area. I think I might even add on a “What Tree Is This?” activity where we take sample of trees near our home and take them to the nursery to find out what they are.

What are your favorite trees and what do you commonly see in your area?

Questions for Conversation

How do trees help people?

What types of trees do you see in your neighborhood?

What is your favorite tree?

What can you do to help trees?

 

General Information

http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/forests/types_of_trees.cfm

http://www.kidsdiscover.com/spotlight/trees-for-kids/

http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/olympia/kids/terrific_trees.htm

 

Activities and Printables

http://www.kidzone.ws/plants/trees.htm

http://www.education.com/workbook/tree-mendous-trees-workbook/

https://www.forestfoundation.org/family-activities-in-nature

http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/packs/trees.htm

 

Books – Click on the images for more information

the giving tree   secrets of the apple tree   this is the tree   rainforests   secrets of the rainforest

science with plants

International Museum Day

international museum day

May 18th is International Museum Day. This day is organised to draw attention to the importance of museums. Informative and educational exhibits displayed in countless ways expose us to art, music, and lifestyles of cultures here and around the world, from the past to the present and beyond. There are museums everywhere, including historic places, art centers, and more. We are currently taking classes at an art center and have enjoyed browsing the exhibits. A few weeks ago they had a lot of sculpture and art created by children from our community. Last week the exhibit changed and as we browsed we noticed a lot of art showing our community from the past, and several landscapes from the beaches and open space preserves nearby.

My first grader had the opportunity to join his den on an overnight sleepover at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. What an amazing opportunity. While they were attending the sleepover they were free to explore the museum as they wished and most of the time, they had entire halls to themselves, free to explore the animals from our past and present, to touch and read through exhibits without distraction.

Being close to LA county, we have a ton of options for museums. On my list for this summer – The Getty, The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

What are your favorite local museums?

 

International Museum Day Information

http://icom.museum/events/international-museum-day/

http://network.icom.museum/international-museum-day

 

Museum Activities for Kids

http://www.si.edu/kids

http://www.getty.edu/education/kids_families/

http://www.minimonetsandmommies.com/2015/04/famous-artist-collage-activity-for-kids.html

http://www.kohlchildrensmuseum.org/education/classroom-activities

 

Questions for Conversation

What is your favorite museum?

Why do you think museums are important?

What different types of jobs do people do at museums?

What are three things you can see in a museum?

Armed Forces Day

 

Armed forces day

This post is a little late, but well worth posting despite the delay. Yesterday was Armed Forces Day. A day that we honor all of the brave men and women who serve in the military. Thank you for your service.

In the beginning of the year, I was teaching my first grader about citizenship, the United States, our government and our military. One of the things we did was take some time to sit down together to learn about the many branches of our military and what the role and history was for each unit. We talked about the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard. Then we talked about people we knew that served in the military. My grandfather earned a purple heart in the Marines, and my uncle served in the marines as well. My father was an electrician in the Army. Many of our friends, past and present, have a parent serving in the military. We are thankful for their service.

Many families relocate all over the country and the world every few years as military assignments change. And for many families one parent is gone for months at a time. It’s not an easy job on either end for these families. They all make sacrifices.

I found this website for kids with military parents to connect with others, learn about deployment and other military-related topics, play games, and more. Check it out here: http://militarykidsconnect.dcoe.mil/

Here is the same site with the link to the educators page where you can get lesson plans and resources about the military: http://militarykidsconnect.dcoe.mil/educators

You can find out more about the military at the Department of Defense website here: http://www.defense.gov/afd/

 

Questions for Conversation:

Do you know anyone in the military?

Do you have friends with a parent in the military? If so, what do you think their life is like?

What are the different branches of the military?

What are the roles of each branch of the military?

 

 

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

national choc chip cookie

Tonight when I was putting my daughter to bed, she told me she “loved me better than chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip muffins, and anything with chocolate chips.” It was super sweet, but I also knew how fitting it was since I was planning this post for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.

May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, though some will say it is National Chocolate Chip Day. Either way, it’s a delicious day to celebrate! Do you bake with your kids? Mine love getting into the kitchen. I don’t do it as often as I probably should, but sometimes I like to get things finished and, well, you know, with kids baking takes twice as long and you’ve got double the mess to clean up. The memories and fun are usually worth it though. Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? What other things do you make that you add chocolate chips to? Once in a while we make chocolate chip pancakes or muffins, and I have a closet addiction to strawberry smoothies with chocolate chips mixed in.

We have a busy Friday so we won’t be doing any baking, but I found this blog with an awesome series on chocolate chip cookies. She talks about how to make your favorite cookie by using different pans, flours, sugars, etc. Check it out here: http://www.handletheheat.com/ultimate-guide-chocolate-chip-cookies-part-4/

We will however end the day with my favorite smoothie. I usually make it without chocolate chips for the kids, but once in a while I add them when they have been extra good. Tomorrow they’ll get the chocolate chips.

I couldn’t find much on the origin of Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, but here are some fun questions for conversation for you to jump-start your chats with the kids.

 

Questions for Conversation

What meal would you add chocolate chips to and why?

Do you know the difference between semi-sweet, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate chips?

Do you prefer mini chocolate chips or standard size chocolate chips?

What came first – the chocolate chip or the Hershey’s Kiss?

 

Baking With Kids 

http://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/bakewithkids

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/baking-with-kids.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/kids-baking-championship.html

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/kids-baking

 

What’s your favorite chocolate chip recipe?

Police Week 2015

police week

This week is National Police Week. During this time we pay tribute to the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This year 273 officers have died.

Police all over the country are earning bad names for themselves. Some of the situations are well deserving of the criticism, but others are questionable. The fact is, there are still lots of great police officers out there and their job is to protect and serve. Their jobs aren’t easy and they put themselves at risk everyday. And we still need to teach our children about safety and that policemen are our friends. If our children are afraid, or lost, or in an emergency they need to be able to trust our policemen and it’s our job to help them gain that trust.

We’ve attended several open houses at the fire station, and police officers have come to the school for a safety talk. We also were invited to tour a police station with our Cub Scout den. A few years back we even got to meet the K9 side of the Long Beach Police when we got a demonstration by the Long Beach K9 Officer’s Association. If you are in the area, they do a car show and fundraiser every May (the Saturday before Mother’s Day). At the event they do a training demonstration and you can meet the dogs.

Does your area have a special program or event that gives children the opportunity to meet their local police officers? Please share with us!

 

Police Activities and Information

http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2011/10/police-office-prek-and-kindergarten/

http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2010/05/preschool-corner-police-lapbook/

http://livingmontessorinow.com/2013/08/15/free-police-printables-and-montessori-inspired-police-activities/

http://www.anaheimcops4kids.com/

 

National Police Week

http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/11/us/gallery/national-police-week-pictures/

http://www.nleomf.org/programs/policeweek/

http://www.policeweek.org/

 

Questions for Conversation

Have you ever been helped by a police officer?

What kinds of things do you think police officers do when they are on the job?

Why do we go to police officers for help?

If you were lost would you be able to tell a police officer your full name, address and parent’s phone number?

 

Books and Apps

emergency services   police hens

Bicycle Safety

bicycle safety

I live in Southern California, and while lots of people choose to ride their bikes, I admit, I’m terrified to ride anywhere near a main street. Especially with my kids. Even the bike paths are clogged with traffic (fortunately not automobiles). Still, with May being National Bike Month and both of my children now being comfortable on bicycles, I feel I owe it to them to let them ride once in a while. We may cruise around our neighborhood without venturing onto the main street, but most likely we will stick to the bike path at the beach. During the early morning hours on weekdays it doesn’t seem to be as crowded so I think we will give it a try. But what are the laws about bike safety? I know they need helmets, but aside from that are there specific rules we have to abide by? Do you know the laws in your area? The laws I mention here may be different from the laws in your area, so part of your homework today is to research bicycle laws in your city or state. We’ve got readers from all over so please share your most important safety rules with us!

 

Bicycle Laws for California

https://calbike.org/bicycling-in-california/sharing-the-road/

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl37

 

Bicycle Safety For Kids

http://www.safekids.org/bike

http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/KidsandBikeSafetyWeb/

 

Questions for Conversation

Why is it important to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle?

Do you know the hand signals for left turn, right turn, and slow/stop?

What type of equipment must be on your bike if you are riding at night?

 

Leprechaun Day

On another note, May 13 is apparently Leprechaun Day. I thought the only day we celebrate little green elves was on St. Patrick’s Day. The origin of St. Patrick’s Day was to serve as a religious feast honoring St. Patrick, who also has a mysterious background and there are several tales about who the holiday actually celebrates. Somehow, the holiday evolved into a day to celebrate all-things-Irish, which includes leprechauns. So how did they get a whole day to themselves? That too is a mystery. After much research I was unable to find a definite origin of the holiday, which isn’t much of a surprise. Besides, I’ve had a hard time finding a leprechaun!

Questions for Conversation

Do you think leprechauns are real?

Why do you think we should celebrate leprechauns with their own day?

What are some fun stories you’ve heard about leprechauns?

If you could build a leprechaun trap, what would you make it out of?

 

 

 

 

All Aboard! The Transcontinental Railroad

All Aboard the Transcontinental Railroad

I hope all the moms out there had a fantastic Mother’s Day. I took the weekend off from the computer, but I’m ready to get back on track. Speaking of tracks, did you know that this month marks the anniversary of the connection of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads, creating the first transcontinental railroad. The golden spike was driven in a ceremony in Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869. The decision to link the east and west coasts was driven by the discovery of gold in California, and while progress was slow, the decision to move forward with the railroad changed the lives of all Americans. It took seven years to lay tracks from Sacramento, California to Omaha, Nebraska. Imagine the work that went into this development: blasting through mountains, building bridges over rivers, the clearing of forests. It’s both astounding and sad – amazing because of the huge accomplishment the development of such a railroad is, but sad because of the destruction of wilderness. The beginning of an uncontrollable trend.

By 1850, there were already some 9000 miles of train tracks in the east, but some wanted easier access to the west coast. Before the railroads, people were forced to push through dangerous wild lands and mountain passes, fast-moving rivers and scorching deserts. The alternative was to travel by sea on a six-month journey around the tip of South America. The transcontinental railroad increased opportunities and decreased travel costs.

Transcontinental Railroad Information

http://www.history.com/topics/inventions/transcontinental-railroad

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/goldenspike.htm

http://www.ducksters.com/history/westward_expansion/first_transcontinental_railroad.php

 

Questions for Conversation

How did Americans benefit from the creation of a transcontinental railroad?

What types of opportunities may have appeared with the creation of the railroad?

What do you think train travel was like in the early days?

How do you think the view from the window of a train is different today from 1869?

 

Books (click on images for more information)

big book of trains   look inside trains   on the train   see inside trains   trains sticker book   trains

World Red Cross Day: Thank You!

world red cross day

May 8 is World Red Cross day. But I have learned that the Red Cross is so much more than just a disaster relief team. The Red Cross is part of a movement called the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day honors the 7 Principles of the Red Cross – Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity, and Universality.

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement consists of more than 100 million volunteers and supporters in 189 National Societies. They collect and donate blood, they assist people in emergencies and disasters all over the world regardless of race, religion, or wealth, and that is only a fraction of the assistance they provide. They’re putting in the hard work right now in Nepal following the major earthquake that occurred nearly 2 weeks ago, just as they pitched in at Ground Zero on American soil the day the World Trade Centers fell.

We recently studied Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, during Women’s History Month (read more about that here). It wasn’t until tonight though, that I learned that the original movement began in Switzerland with Henry Dunant. Dunant wrote a book about the Red Cross concept, presented it at a conference with the Geneva Society for Public Welfare and several other European nations, and the Geneva Convention was soon signed creating a global society that assisted those in need. Clara Barton learned of this concept, and adopted the idea for America after seeing the soldiers being lost and wounded here during the Civil War. The Angel of the Battlefield began her work in 1861, and officially founded the American Red Cross in 1881. The U.S. Senate ratified the Geneva Convention a year later.

Today the Red Cross helps people every day. Whether they are delivering meals, collecting blood, or teaching others how to be prepared for an emergency, the Red Cross is making a difference in lives all over the globe.

 

Questions for Conversation

Are you prepared for an emergency? What emergency skills do you have?

Do you have an emergency/disaster plan with your family? If not, talk about how to develop one. Need help? Here is some guidance: http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

What could you do to help others during a disaster?

 

Resources and General Information

http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/significant-dates-in-history

http://www.ibtimes.com/world-red-cross-day-2015-facts-how-it-got-started-henry-dunant-1912968

http://arcblood.redcross.org/new_site/quick_facts.htm

http://www.ifrc.org/en/who-we-are/the-movement/

http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

 

Emergency Preparedness for Kids

http://www.ready.gov/kids

http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/ready

https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/34411

http://www.cspdc.org/programs/disaster/documents/KidsPreparednessGuide.pdf

http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/color.pdf

 

Books 

emergency services   rescue missions   earthquakes and tsunamis   storms and hurricanes   weather   true stories of heroes

Walking Among the Wildflowers

walking among the wildflowers

I love hiking. And one of my favorite things to do is take my kids hiking. It was tough during the early years but now, with no stroller requirements or restrictions, we are blazing trails all over Orange County. I love seeing how the trails we travel change, especially the ones we frequent. And when the flowers begin to bloom it’s like a magical transformation. We see them popping up at the nature centers that we visit, and along trails and hillsides throughout Irvine and Laguna. California’s state flower is the California poppy and one of the best places to see this flower in all its glory is at the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve.

Do you notice wildflowers blooming in your area? I can identify a Redwood tree and a poinsettia, but beyond that, I’m pretty uneducated about plants and flowers. On our last hike at Laguna Coast we picked up a guide to the local plants and flowers on the trails. I hope to take a trip out this weekend so we can focus on learning about these plants. What are their names? What are their uses? It surprises me every time we go on a guided hike at the nature center and they pull pieces of a plant off and eat it, explaining how it’s great in salad or to use as bug repellent. I should know these things!

What wildflowers are common in your area? Do you take time to explore the open space and enjoy walking among the wildflowers?

 

Where to See Wildflowers

http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/viewing/

http://theodorepayne.org/education/wildflower-hotline/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/best-places-see-wildflowers-around-us-180954459/?no-ist

http://www.modernhiker.com/la-hiking/5-best-wildflower-hikes-in-southern-california/

http://gocalifornia.about.com/od/topcalifornia/a/california-wildflowers.htm

 

Education and Activities

http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/kids/

http://www.wildflower.org/youthactivities/

http://www.education.com/activity/article/everyday-darwin/

http://www.education.com/worksheet/article/flower-identification/

 

Books

flowers to color   wildflowers to color   how to grow flowers   gardening for beginners

Wild About Birds!

wild about birds

Birds are pretty amazing creatures if you think about it. Tiny hummingbirds buzz around looking for nectar reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour. During dives, they can hit 60 miles per hour. They can fly backwards and even upside down. We like to watch them as they zip around our yard.

Passenger pigeons were once the most abundant bird in America. There are accounts of people hearing what they thought to be thunder, only to find themselves instead in the path of thousands of passenger pigeons as they soared overhead. As America grew and people searched for food and commerce, the passenger pigeon became a hot commodity. Eventually, settlers poisoned and hunted the birds to near extinction. The last passenger pigeon died in captivity in 1914. Read an exceptional article about the passenger pigeons here.

Can you identify the birds outside your window? I can’t identify most of them, but we are planning a bird watching hike with some friends at the San Joaquin Marsh and the Sea & Sage Audubon. I love the trails there, and you can spot over 200 bird species. Hopefully I will learn a thing or two about identifying birds. What are your favorite spots for bird watching?

 

Questions for Conversation

Can you think of any other birds that are extinct? Endangered?

What do you think poses the biggest threat to birds today?

How can you help protect birds?

 

General Information

http://www.audubon.org/

http://www.defenders.org/

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/

http://kids.sandiegozoo.org/animals/birds

 

Activities and Printables

http://www.nationalbirdday.com/g_activities.php

Free Bird Printable Set of Hunting Red

http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/birds.html

http://www.education.com/results/?q=birds

http://www.birdsleuth.org/pennington/

 

 

 

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