The Night Sky

This week’s night sky
(Northern Hemisphere)

“You cannot teach anybody anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves.” ~~ Galileo ~~ (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642)

I love to go outside on a clear night and observe the stars and planets. Last night the incredibly beautiful full moon was so bright that it was hard to see any constellations! I took a walk in the moonlight and thought about how strong the light from our sun is that our moon can reflect enough light for me to see where I am going at 10:00 at night. Awesome! In the 7th grade science curriculum, Oak Meadow students investigate the moon, its phases, and its gravitational pull on Earth. Students also learn to compare the characteristics of the planets in our solar system. The study of astronomy is so fascinating!

Sky viewing is a great time for gathering friends on an evening and doing some star watching. If you know there will be a clear night for star viewing, it’s a great time to HAVE A STAR PARTY!

Send invitations, make “star” snacks, and put lots of blankets on the ground for friends to sit down on for good viewing. It’s fun to have some binoculars, a telescope, or one of the free astronomy apps available. Make sure you have flashlights for looking at books of constellations!

Some towns have astronomy clubs and the people in the clubs are usually very willing to come join in the fun and help answer star gazing questions. The Astronomical Society of Northern New England can be contacted for Star Parties!

“This Week’s Sky at a Glance” at the Sky and Telescope website is really helpful for learning what is visible in your own evening sky. Check it out for the constellation guide covering the whole evening sky. Observing the night sky is such a fun activity on a sparkling clear night!

Exploring Science through Illustrations

“A natural science illustrator is an artist who works in the service of science, creating images of animals, objects and complex processes that teach, inform, and create understanding of our world.” Guild of Natural Science Illustrators: https://www.gnsi.org/

7360_571848169505984_493224923_n-350x225

From the Oak Meadow Archives

I’ve become fascinated with the illustrations my Oak Meadow students did this year in conjunction with their science lessons. Many were exceptional in the intricate details of the drawings and I could tell that a lot of effort, time, and research was put into them. In the 7th grade Earth Science, a student researched the structure of a leaf, found which part was responsible for transpiration, and drew a diagram of the leaf showing the process. Another student created an illustration of the ecosystem in which she lives that included the various habitats within her ecosystem. In 8th grade Physics I am continually amazed with the details students include in their sketches of wet cell batteries! In the study of color, 8th graders discover the shortest and longest wavelength of the colors of the rainbow and I receive the most beautifully illustrated and colored rainbows! Through artistic exercises students clearly depict scientific concepts in their intricate drawings.

As you explore and observe the natural world around you, take some time to illustrate what you see! It can become a most wonderful pastime, or even a career! The website of The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators explains: “The principle task of the scientific illustrator is to prepare accurate renderings of scientific subjects. These illustrations are designed for reproduction in professional or popular journals in the field of natural sciences, textbooks, as museum exhibits, web sites, and many other applications. Scientific illustrations in both traditional and digital formats provide a visual explanation and aid the viewer by clarifying complex descriptive information. The function of a scientific illustration, therefore, is essentially a practical one: to inform, to explain, and to instruct — in short, to communicate.”

 Below is a wonderful example of a scientific subject illustrated and then put into digital format. ENJOY the Metamorphosis of the Butterfly from http://artorium.com/:

http://www.metamorphosis.urban-parks.org/

Summertime Poetry Challenge!

A Summer Challenge! (For my Northern Hemisphere Friends!)

When I was in kindergarten, my school had one requirement in order to move on to first grade. Each child had to memorize ten nursery rhymes before “graduating” from kindergarten! I recall that this wasn’t such a hard thing for me to do since I delighted in the joy and rhythm of the nursery rhymes. Little did I know that not only was I enjoying the beautiful rhythmical patterns, but I was also building my memorization skills, my vocabulary, and my language comprehension skills at a very young age.

Memorizing a poem can just be so satisfying! The poem’s lines can come to you when you least expect it. Just this spring I saw a group of daffodils and the lines of William Wordsworth’s poem, “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” sprang into my mind:

“I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”

And truly, when geese fly overhead in the autumn at my house, I quickly say the first lines of Rachel Field’s poem “Something Told The Wild Geese”:

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “snow.”

This summer, why not challenge yourself to memorize at least 6 poems? (You might also enjoy memorizing the lyrics to favorite songs!) You can choose some of your own liking, or try the ones listed on the Mensa For Kids website. There are 12 poems listed there and each one has an explanation of the idea of the poem, definition of specific vocabulary words in the poem, and then great ideas to help you memorize the poem more easily.

Dig It!

images-1Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are heading into summer and many are looking forward to growing vegetables in their own gardens. In my state we have a Cooperative Extension Service that provides lots of information and offers activities about farming in my area. Since I’m in the city, I’ve started small this year with a few tomato plants in big pots, and some spinach and onions in a small bed. I look forward to my tiny harvest to make some spaghetti sauce! images

We know that the planet’s climate may change on its own, and we also know that humans do pollute the environment that can cause climate changes. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one way of helping to limit climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by growing your own food so that you don’t drive so often to the market. Many of you using the Oak Meadow curriculum are exploring types of soils in your science lessons. Here’s a fun game to play to try and maintain a sustainable farm that grows healthy crops and reduces emissions!

This website from the Smithsonian National Museum of History is awesome: Dig It! The Secrets of Soil.

Let us know:

What are some ways that you help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your community?

Summertime and the Listening is Easy!

sync-logo

SYNC is once again offering free downloadable books for teens!

SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+

The 2016 season is May 5th – August 17th 2016.
SYNC 2016 will give away 30 titles – two paired audiobook downloads a week!

Week 1 * Summer 2016

This summer’s theme is: “It’s the Circle of Life!”
The mystery of human evolution is looked at from very different points of view.
Download the free pair from SYNC »here.

This Week’s Audiobooks are:

Vivian Apple at the End of the World By Katie Coyle
Read by Julia Whelan
Published by Dreamscape Media
Great Tennessee Monkey Trial By Peter Goodchild
An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance
Published by L.A. Theatre Works
Remember these titles will be replaced by a new pairing on 5/12/2016. Download the MP3 files, and then you can listen any time you want!
Thank you to Dreamscape Media and L.A. Theatre Works for generously providing this week’s titles.

Downloading Tips:
Get the OverDrive App to access free SYNC audiobooks. The app is available for every major desktop and mobile platform, including Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, NOOK, Windows 8 PC and tablet, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.

© 2016 * AudioFile Publications, Inc. * All Rights Reserved

 

 

GO FLY A KITE!

images-1Imagine you’ve gone back in history and it is the year 1899. You are with the Wright brothers at their bicycle shop, the Wright Cycle Company. They’ve been making, repairing, and selling bicycles at their shop since 1892. As they work, you hear them talk freely about their new passion of flying. Orville and Wilbur have been observing birds in flight and they’ve noticed that birds tilt their wings to one side or the other depending on which direction they want to go. So now the brothers are talking and thinking about some experiments they are going to try. That’s when you notice they’re not working on bicycles; they’re building kites! Yep, kites! You try to follow their conversation about how they are building a kite with wings that can be controlled by strings, just as birds control their own wings in flight. Jump ahead 5 years and all their observing, questioning, building and experimenting with kites resulted in the first piloted glider and then the first powered aircraft!

Each year there is a kite festival in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where the Wright brothers experimented with their kite flying. It looks like great family fun and The Wright Brothers National Memorial Park grounds there would be wonderful to visit.

APRIL is KITE FLYING MONTH! Make some kites! Try some of these: http://www.bigwindkites.com/20kids/

Enchanted

images-1

It seems as though every library shelf or bookstore shelf I see in the youth section these days is a retelling of a fairy tale. I LOVE THEM!

Maybe you’ve read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, or The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.

I’ve just gotten A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce and I’m looking forward to reading it. In 2009 it won ALA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award. If you want to try some of these retellings, I’ve come up with a list for you. If you have some to add, please let us know!

Try these: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, East by Edith Patou, Breath by Donna Jo Napoli, The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley, Straw Into Gold by Gary Schmidt, and the Sisters Grimm series. Fans of Neil Gaiman may enjoy The Sleeper and the Spindle.

BOARD GAMES!

images-1

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Einstein

After the holidays, the one memory that lingers the longest for me is the fun my family had playing a board game together. There is something about sitting together, watching each other smile, laugh, grimace, and pout!

I’m talking about an actual game that has a board that one unfolds from a real box. I’m not talking about a video board game! I know there are some, but we played the real board game in which one can feel the pieces and move them with one’s own hand. I like a game with a lot of pieces that have to be set up before the game can begin. I also like a game in which I could choose to be two or three players, and I also like a game with a bit of intrigue! The games of Clue and Monopoly happen to be favorites of my family because they can take so long to play. We start a game and take a break for a snack or lunch and go back to it when we’re ready. Sometimes we even finish a game the next day.

A board game is a lot more than fun. It’s imagining strategy, thinking through moves, and creating logical outcomes. It is also practice for some important skills that we all use in our daily lives. We practice cooperation, we learn how to compromise, we work together through collaboration. Playing a board game with family and friends also gives us time to practice sympathy, compassion, and empathy with our fellow players. images-2

I’ve played so many fun games! I love Scattergories, Apples to Apples, and The Settlers of Catan.

10 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Your Child

As loving parents, we want our children to develop their creative potential. But sometimes we may get stuck in worrying about what our role should be in that process.

Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is offer a starting point with many possible outcomes and allow the situation to evolve on its own.

Here are ten starting points for encouraging creativity:

  1. Let your children get bored. Do not rescue them from their boredom by giving them something to do; instead, let them rescue themselves. This is one of the best opportunities for a child to be creative! “Know that this means that your child has an opportunity to discover something about what and who they are, what they like to do and can do, and how to manifest ideas into reality,” says Oak Meadow teacher Amy Fredland.
  1. Get outside! Go for a walk or just sit outside and observe. Sometimes the best creative play opportunities arise when there is nothing around but nature. Changing the environment can give us a new perspective on ourselves and all sorts of other things.
  1. Invite your child to tell a story, compose a poem, make up a song, create a play, or invent a dance. Give them your attention when they are ready for an audience. If they ask you for a topic, invite them to come up with one on their own. Make it a family tradition to tell stories, sing songs together, and entertain with funny, made-up jokes.
  1. Consider that freedom follows form. Help your children learn established techniques which they can later experiment with. Help them gain confidence with craft tools and methods. “If we give a child some structure, but not too much, it opens more doors for creative expression,” says Oak Meadow teacher and former homeschooling parent Julia West.
  1. Keep appropriate supplies handy. Got crayons? Cardboard? Paper? Tape? Clay? Paint? String? Scissors? With safety and age-appropriateness in mind, make it easy for children to access materials when the creative urge strikes.
  1. Provide natural and recycled materials on an ongoing basis. The more varied, the better. A jumble of odds and ends can spark a series of creative ideas. What can you make? What can you build? What does this remind you of? What could someone do with this? The stories our children tell and even their most impossible ideas can be as important to their creative development as the things they actually make.
  1. Start creating something and invite your children to join in. Make a card, decorate something, or create art just for the joy of it. Make up a silly song, tell a funny joke, try out a new craft idea. Do you have creative hobbies that you can share with your children? Leading by example is one of the best ways to encourage our children to be courageously creative people.
  1. Allow things to get messy, disorganized, and cluttered. Creativity can be messy. “Don’t allow your need for cleanliness to take over your life! Many of us parents develop a feeling that it’s our job to keep things clean and ‘fight the mess’ continually. You could inadvertently be sending a message that kids are being inconvenient to you by playing or creating art,” says Oak Meadow teacher Sarah Boggia. But at the same time…
  1. …set the stage for clean-up success. Keep a plastic tablecloth, aprons or smocks, and old newspapers in a handy place, and help your children learn to prep and protect the area where they are working. Keep a trash can, a recycling bin, and some rags or paper towels in the area where arts and crafts most often take place. If extra-messy projects make you nervous, consider setting them up outside. It’s okay to encourage a balance between expanding creativity and keeping the cleanup job manageable.
  1. Offer possibilities and let things happen organically. Once your child’s creative juices are flowing, step out of the way. Be quietly available for support if it’s needed, but let them do the rest. If the end result is nothing like you thought it would be, congratulations! You did a great job encouraging your child to own his or her creative process and allow it to be separate from your own.

What are some other ways to foster creativity in yourself and your children?