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


Museum Activities for Kids


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:

Here is the same site with the link to the educators page where you can get lesson plans and resources about the military:

You can find out more about the military at the Department of Defense website here:


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?



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


National Police Week


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

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


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:

What could you do to help others during a disaster?


Resources and General Information


Emergency Preparedness for Kids

Click to access KidsPreparednessGuide.pdf

Click to access color.pdf



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


Education and Activities



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


Activities and Printables




Celebrating Cinco De Mayo!


cinco de mayo

Cinco de Mayo comes around every year, and people celebrate with Mexican food and drink. As if we really need a reason to enjoy tacos or carnitas. But do you know why Cinco de Mayo exists? What is the celebration all about? Some common responses I’ve heard are Mexican independence day and the day Mexico became free from Spain. Cinco de Mayo is actually the day that celebrates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Mexico was already free from Spain, but they owed a lot of money to France and other European countries thanks to the loans they received during the Mexican War with the United States and the Mexican Civil War. Mexico got tired of paying their debt in the early 1860s and stopped sending payment to France. On May 5, 1862, Napoleon III’s army faced an ill-equipped Mexican troop who defeated the French, postponing Maximilian I’s title as Emperor of Mexico. A year later, the French returned and accomplished what they had set out to do, but the underdog’s victory at the Battle of Puebla is what we celebrate every Cinco de Mayo.

Questions for Conversation

Can you think of any other battles or disputes in which the underdog won?

Why do you think the Mexican army was able to defeat the French?


General Information

Home ALT


Activities and Printables




Download the May 10-Minute Teacher Calendar and follow along with us this month as we teach and talk with our kids everyday! May 2015 10-Minute Teacher

Celebrating Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press

Freedom of speech

Today’s discussion about Freedom of Speech is a topic on the May 10-Minute Teacher calendar. Download a copy from the link below, hang it on your fridge, and use it to initiate a conversation with your kids anytime. 

May 2015 10-Minute Teacher

Today, people are always expressing themselves. Sometimes we do it in a blog post, other times we share our thoughts on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. We also talk to friends, family, and strangers about our religious beliefs, our political views, and everything in between. Freedom of speech is one of the most basic elements that allow us to continue in a democratic state. We have the right to talk about our choices and share our opinions with others, and to oppose things that we feel are detrimental to our liberties. With this freedom, we can speak out when we feel there is a wrong and ask others to help us make things right.

The first amendment was included in the Bill of Rights, a document that was created to address important elements that many felt were missing form the new Constitution and was implemented in 1791.

The First Amendment to the Constitution includes Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Here is a brief description from

Freedom of Speech. This freedom entitles American citizens to say what they think, provided they do not intentionally hurt someone else’s reputation by making false accusations. Neither may they make irresponsible statements deliberately harmful to others, such as yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. There are many issues about which Americans disagree, from child-rearing practices to baseball teams to Presidential candidates. Freedom of speech enables people to state their opinions openly to try to convince others to change their minds.

The First Amendment also gives you the right to disagree with what others say without fear of punishment by the government authorities. However, if you make an outrageous statement, such as, “The earth is flat,” free speech will not keep people from making fun of you. If you express an unpopular opinion — for example, that students do not get enough homework — don’t be surprised if your classmates avoid you. The First Amendment does not prevent social or peer pressure to conform to what others think.

Freedom of the Press. This freedom makes it possible for Americans to keep informed about what is going on in government. It helps them to be responsible citizens. Reporters and editors can criticize the government without the risk of punishment, provided they do not deliberately tell lies. Newspapers, magazines, and books, as well as television and movie scripts, do not have to be submitted for government inspection before they are published. This censorship would violate the First Amendment.” (Source:




Questions for conversation:

1. What do you think life would be like if we did not have freedom of speech?

2. What kind of news do you think we would see in the newspaper if there were no freedom of the press? Do you think there would be a newspaper?

3. What kind of speech or communication is not protected by freedom of speech?



New for May: 10-Minute Teacher Calendar and Space Day

space day

Happy May! I’ve got a lot going on this month, as I’m sure you do too. Our calendar fills up quickly and we are all full of activities and weekend events. One new thing I will be implementing is my 10-Minute Teacher Calendar. Everyday during the week there is a new calendar topic (and one for each weekend) that you can use to engage with your children. Maybe it will include a 10-minute discussion over dinner, or maybe it will turn into something you want to explore deeper to learn more. The hope is that we can use this calendar to add a few minutes of education to our day, as well as giving us the opportunity to connect and have a quality discussion with one another. Want to give it a try? Download the calendar here: May2015 10 minute teacher and hang it on your fridge. Everyday I will be posting here about that topic with links, resources and books you can use to further your discussion and exploration, and sometimes a few extra topic ideas. Let’s get started!

10 minute teacher

May 1st is Space Day, generally celebrated the first Friday in May. This day was created to remember the advances and discoveries we have made through space exploration. Here are some links you might be interested in:

Space Day Information and Events


General Space Information


Games and Education


Books, Sticker Books and Flash Cards

Click on the images for more information

Usborne Book of Astronomy & Space  Astronomy and Space Sticker Book   Sun, Moon and Stars   living in space   100 things to spot in the night sky   look inside space   space   build your own space ships sticker book   First sticker book space   big book of stars and planets   solar system   on the moon