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Friday, April 23, 2010

Garden Party: Spring is Springing


Our sprouts have sprung -- mostly. The carrot tops are full and green, but very little roots have appeared underneath. Three of the beans made it to the plant stage, but the sweet potato only got moldy. You can see the little bean halves on the stems under the leaves on the bean plants. We've moved them outside to get more sunshine now that the frosty nights are over. We're mostly just observing these plants, but in the past, we've gotten more detailed with out seed/plant study and actually measured and graphed their growth each day.

{Click here for a neat Germination Stencil Art Activity to accompany a study on seeds and plants.}

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap: Colorado

"O beautiful for spacious skies . . ."

Purple Mountain Majesties: The Story of Katherine Lee Bates
and "America the Beautiful"

Do you know the role Colorado played in the creation of America's "other" anthem, America the Beautiful?


Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write this song while traveling to Colorado Springs. Each stop along the way became her muse for writing the poetry that became a national treasure, from the "Columnar mist and glistening rainbow play,/A spendid thrill of glory and of peril" at Niagara Falls to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the "amber wheat fields" of the Great Plains.


After arriving in Colorado, a visit to Pike's Peak led to "For purple mountain majesties/Above the enameled plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee . . ."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap: More Great State Stuff

Some resources I found at the library to accompany our 50 states study and the Great American Postcard Swap:

United Tweets of America:
50 State Birds
Celebrate the 50 States
If you missed How the States Got Their Shapes on the History Channel,
you may want to check out
the book -- really interesting stuff.


Celebrate USA has some cute hands-on activities
about the history of America.
There isn't any specific state-related stuff in here,
but it has some good background information and simple crafts
about the founding and forming of the US,
as well as our national symbols.
Only basic supplies are needed for most of the activities.
Along with the book The Train of States,
we are using Fast Facts About the 50 States
to find information for our state notebook pages.
This book is full of fun trivia,
and the boys love its colorful layout.

And, here is a link for printable and interactive state maps http://www.yellowmaps.com/.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap {Colorado}



Colorado state flag
Facts about Colorado:

  • The colors on the Colorado flag stand for the red soil, white snow-capped mountains, blue skies, and golden sunshine.
  • In the Centennial State's southwest corner you can stand in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado at the same time.  
  • Colorado's state flower is the white and lavendar columbine, the bird is the lark bunting, and the tree is the blue spruce. 
Books and Activities:
  • You can download a labeled coloring sheet of the lark bunting here.
  • You can find a complete Colorado Unit Study with links galore here.
  • The Royal Gorge Bridge, 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River is the world's highest suspension bridge. You can learn more about it and see breathtaking images here.


  • The Santa Fe Trail runs through the state, and after gold was discovered near Pikes Peak in 1858, covered wagons nicknamed "prairie schooners" began displaying the slogan "Pikes Peak or Bust."  Cornerstones of Freedom: The Story of the Conestoga Wagon is a good resource for learning more about these covered wagons.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Great American Postcard Swap {California}



Facts about California:

  • California is the Golden State
  • The home of the only mobile national monument, the cable car, and home to the highest point in the continental United States (Mount Whitney, 14,491 feet above sea level) and the lowest point (Death Valley, 282 below sea level!)
  • The "uniform" for gold prospectors, blue jeans, were invented in California in 1853 by Levi Strauss -- and we are so happy they were invented :)


California state flag
Books and Activities:



  • I love the Cornerstones of Freedom books -- we have several we have accumulated, and they are a nice supplement to history studies. The photographs and illustrations are so good. This one on The California Gold Rush is perfect for learning more about the history of California. It also includes a glossary and timeline, making it quite kid-friendly.
  • Here is a link to all the California state symbols.
  • Hands and Hearts has a Panning for Gold kit, which is also part of their Westward Expansion History kit.
  • If you want to explore more about the California Gold Rush, this site is loaded with resources, including lessons plans and a virtual tour.

Follow all of our Great American Postcard Swap posts here!