A Day to Remember: Memorial Day

Memorial Day, celebrated in the United States on the last Monday of May, is a day in which we honor those men and women (and service dogs) that died while serving the country in the United States armed services.

The day actually started as a way to commemorate those that died during the U.S. Civil War. In 1868 it was established and it was called “Decoration Day.” At that time it was on May 30th and was a day to decorate the graves of those that died in the Civil War.

In 1967 Memorial Day became a national holiday. In 1971 the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May. On the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website, it states: “In December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed, and the president signed into law, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.”

The law actually requires that U.S. citizens pause, for one minute at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, and honor those that have died in service to our country.

 

Celebrating the School Year – Part One

Memorial Day was first established as a United States holiday for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. It is also a benchmark for the end of another school year and the beginning of summer break – not only the US, but also for countries in Europe, Asia, and South America. The reasons for summer vacation has changed and evolved throughout history, yet the more popular 180 day, 9-month calendar was firmly established and has been mainly utilized since the beginning of the twentieth century.

Oak Meadow honors enrollment periods year-round; however, most families still follow the normal schedule of beginning school in August or September and completing the school year by May or June. This means that many Oak Meadow families are currently in the process of completing the final lessons and preparing for a long summer break.

The end of the school year can often be a time of exhaustion for both the student and the home teacher.  It is very important that you and your children take the final week to fully embrace the magic of the school year. It is an opportunity to celebrate all that has been learned and accomplished. How you complete the school year will carry you and your children into the new school year, so PLEASE finish the school year on a positive note! You will feel much self-gratitude in doing it this way, and so will your children.

Photo Credit: Leslie Ann Daniels

One of my favorite ways to celebrate the end of the school year is by decorating my home with fresh garden flowers, performing a student play for family and friends, singing favorite songs learned throughout the school year, viewing the main lesson books, and making special treats. This year, my strawberries were ripe at the completion of the school year, so we made star-shaped fruit cookies. We used our favorite traditional whole-wheat sugar cookie recipe, spread the cookies with cream cheese icing, and decorated them with our favorite fruit. Be sure to include your children in the preparations of the festivities for it makes it extra special and exciting to share the success of their school year.

Last year, our main Oak Meadow blogger, Amanda Witman, posted a very helpful article on “10 Ideas for Making the End of the Year Special”. It includes many wonderful ways to conclude an industrious and productive school year.

Read Part Two of this article here.

http://oakmeadowblogs.com/blog/2016/06/12/10-ideas-for-making-the-end-of-the-year-special/

Pi Day and Albert Einstein

“Wherever there is number, there is beauty.” – Proclus (410-485 A.D.)

Today, March 14, is Pi Day! It’s a notable event that is celebrated all around the world. Pi is a Greek letter and symbol that represents the famed irrational number 3.14 – the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

March 14 also happens to be the birth date of Albert Einstein, one of the most renowned physicists and mathematicians in history. Because pi is 3.14159…, many math lovers begin their Pi Day celebrations at exactly 1:59 p.m. You can make the day an extra special one by planning math challenges and creating math fun with your children. Here are some activities to help celebrate Pi Day.

Don’t forget to make your favorite pie (or pizza pie) in celebration of this special day!

Women's History Month

In the United States, March has been designated as Women’s History Month, and it can be a great time to spend time learning about important women who have made, and are making, contributions to our world.

In celebration of the contributions of women in the United States, our blog post this week is written by Deb Velto, a teacher with Oak Meadow. She shares a special interest in the contributions of a woman named Temple Grandin. Thanks to Deb!

Temple Grandin is an animal scientist who was recently inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame because of her work to improve the welfare of animals in the meat industry. Temple has a special ability to understand the animals she observes. Because of this gift, Temple was able to design a method of holding animals at a slaughterhouse that was more humane and would reduce the stress the animals experienced. She could see the stress the animals were experiencing and understand what would help them. Today, her methods are used by the meat industry throughout the world. Temple Grandin’s mind works differently than most scientists because she has autism. Although she has had to overcome many challenges related to being autistic, she attributes the way her mind works with her ability to understand animals.

Temple Grandin eventually became an important advocate for people with autism because she was one of the first people who was able to explain to others what it was like to be autistic. Her insights have helped parents and teachers learn to improve the way they interact with and teach autistic children. She invented something called a “squeeze box” which is still used today to comfort children and adults who have autism. Because her parents and others took the time to learn the way her mind worked, Temple was able to succeed. Today, Temple works to help people better understand autism through her books and lectures. She also continues her work for animals as a scientist and professor at the University of Colorado. Temple Grandin believes that the world needs all kinds of minds.  Do you agree? Do you know anyone like Temple, who may have a special gift, but also faces challenges because of the way their mind works? How do you think we can help people better understand and appreciate these kinds of differences?

If you would like to learn more about Temple Grandin try:

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals by Temple Grandin

The Temple Grandin website: http://www.templegrandin.com/

http://the-art-of-autism.com/temple-grandin-named-to-the-national-womens-hall-of-fame/

In Honor of Barack Obama

“What I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children – all of our children – a better world.” – Barack Obama

Last week, our nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This week, it’s important to honor former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama. A proponent of higher education and an advocate of literacy in children, one of his major goals as President was to work diligently in doing what was necessary to give every child a chance to succeed. This included responding to letters written by children that were sent to him at the White House. Last year, a second grade Oak Meadow student sent an essay to President Obama (“If I Were President”). On January 8, 2017, during a very busy time before stepping down from his duties as President, he responded with the following letter:

Photo Credit: Checa-Sacasa Family

Dear Carlos:

            Thank you for writing. Letters like yours mean a lot to me, and they remind me why I ran for this Office in the first place.

            Being President has been the greatest privilege of my life, and while my term is coming to an end, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop fighting to make sure doors of opportunity are wide open for you and your generation. That is a promise I will never stop working to keep. And once I leave the White House, I’ll be counting on young people like you to step up and get involved – because we all share a lasting responsibility to bring about real and meaningful change that will make our Nation stronger.

            Wherever your talents and interests take you, always remember that nothing is beyond your reach so long as you are willing to dream big and work hard. America is depending on students like you to build a brighter tomorrow, and I know there are no limits to what you can achieve.

            Thank you, again, for your kind note. Your generation gives me great hope for the future, and I trust you’ll stay engaged in our democracy.

            Sincerely,

            Barack Obama

Like Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other great contributors to our society, Barack Obama is to be honored for all he contributed and accomplished during his eight years as President. Inspired by others, he also brought inspiration to the young and the old – both in our nation and all around the world.

If you and your children are inspired to read more about Barack Obama, there are several children’s books available about his life. This even includes the book he wrote, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, which was inspired by his own daughters, Sasha and Malia.

“I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.”  – Barack Obama

Dots and Dashes

http://publicdomainvectors.org/en/tag/morse-code

It is so easy to send a message these days by way of cell phones or the internet that it is hard to imagine that at one time there was no way to communicate with other people a distance away unless you used the postal mail. When Samuel Morse invented a way to send messages that were a code of electrical impulses, our lives changed forever! Those dots and dashes could be sent and translated over a distance making it possible to send emergency messages to places throughout the country. Many Oak Meadow 7th grade students in the first semester of their world history lessons have the opportunity to learn about Morse and his code. I found this fun website that translates a sentence that you write into Morse Code. You can then click “play” and hear the dots and dashes of the message. Send something to a friend! Here’s the Morse Code Translator.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – A Special Day and a Special Man to Honor

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and it’s a perfect time to explore and discuss the qualities and characteristics of a good leader. It is also a good time to delve into history and focus on what it takes to make a difference. If you are interested in sharing the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. to your children, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. by David Adler is a good book for elementary level students. The Reading Rockets website also offers a wide variety of books for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I was delighted to find one of my favorite books on the list: Miss Rumphius, which is beautifully written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It easily relates a young child to the dreams and legacies that each one of us can offer.

The quality of good citizenship and leadership is exemplified throughout Oak Meadow’s social studies lessons. In first grade, stories of Abraham Lincoln, John Chapman, Clara Barton, and George Washington are presented. The second grade curriculum provides specific lessons that focus on individuals who made a difference in fairness and equality, such as Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the third grade curriculum, a lesson block on civics offers awareness towards the development of laws, the importance of governing for protection, and the characteristics of a good leader. The list goes on and on, for the topic of civics and quality leadership is displayed throughout every level of the Oak Meadow coursework.

In the “Let’s Grow Leaders” website, Karin Hurt wrote an inspiring article on “Children’s Books on Leadership– Questions to Inspire Young Thinking.” It includes many suggestions for books that are categorized by the various qualities of leadership.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is dedicated to celebration and remembrance. It is an excellent day to educate and pay tribute to his dreams and visions of a world that embraces the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, and humility. It is also a day to offer service and volunteer to help the less fortunate.

Calvin Lawrence Jr. (Coordinating Producer at ABCNews.com) wrote an excerpt on “5 Ways to Honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.” He lists them as:

Give Something

Learn Something

Teach Something

Commit to Something

Dream Something

What way do you and your family honor this special day? Share one of your dreams of service. It could be an offering to your family, to your community, to the environment, or to the world as a whole. Encourage your children to think about their own dreams or visions of helping something or someone. Encourage them to complete the sentence… “My dream for the world is…” Then, draw or paint a picture of this vision. Oak Meadow teacher/blog writer Lesley Arnold also composed a “Dear Martin” post in the Oak Meadow blogsite that encourages students to write a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. This could be another inspirational activity you could offer to your children.

Martin Luther King, Jr. strove to achieve these goals as often as he could. These honorable actions are something we can also strive to do every day of our lives, not just on this one particular day of recognition for such a noble man.

The Thanksgiving Holiday

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. 

Native American saying

For those of you who celebrate the upcoming holiday… Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a thumbprint in history which offers a vast pool of historical information that dates to the beginning of our nation and continues on today with well established traditions that are embraced with thankfulness and gratitude.

If you would like to sharpen your knowledge of this holiday, History.com presents a family friendly educational “Bet You Didn’t Know” video on the history and timeline of significant events surrounding Thanksgiving. You might also have fun testing your knowledge with an eleven question Thanksgiving quiz.

We can feast, we can be merry, and we can enjoy the full company of family and friends. Giving thanks is the most cherished part of this holiday event. A recent “Family Education” article offered a family Thanksgiving activity, “Pass the Talking Fork!”, which allows everyone the opportunity to express their thanks.

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. Cicero

Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Velociraptors, and Turkeys? HUH?

images

I’ve been thinking a lot about turkeys lately! If you are in the United States, you might be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. It is a celebration of thanks commemorating the first harvest feast the Pilgrims had in 1621. Today families often gather to have a big feast of foods and that meal might include a roasted turkey.  So, I’ve been thinking about turkeys.

One of my first thoughts led me to wonder where the word “turkey” originated. Why are they called turkeys? An article in the Atlantic Monthly had a good explanation. You can read it here. I was pretty surprised to find that the origin of the word is debated by etymology experts.

Then I was wondering if turkeys can really fly and I started to investigate. Sure enough, they can fly! This investigation led me to thinking about the wishbone in the turkey at our family Thanksgiving celebration. It’s the “wishbone” that is the bone that connects the wings of birds allowing them to fly.

So what do Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Velociraptors, and turkeys all have in common?  I was amazed to find out that many dinosaurs, including the newly found “Mud Dragon” had wishbones. Yep! The wishbone is actually called the “furcula” and is found in birds and in DINOSAURS!

Next time you eat a turkey and find the furcula, remember that scientists have found that the wishbone dates back more than 150 million years!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Election Day & Leadership

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 marks the historic day for the 58th quadrennial US Presidential Election. For many citizens in the United States (as well as around the world), it’s an exciting day for each community and state, and especially for the nation! It’s Election Day!

Although US citizens cannot vote until they reach the age of 18, the Presidential Election is still a valuable lesson to share with young children by getting them involved and helping them to feel an important part of the election process. Sarah Coyne, who writes writes about life and motherhood in her personal blog offers activity and discussion ideas for teachable moments with your children in her blogspot, Sarah Coyne: Use the election to connect with kids.

If you prefer to include interactive sites to aid in teaching about Election Day, the following sites offer opportunities for voting and other activities centered on the 2016 presidential election:

PBS KIDS: The Democracy Project

Scholastic: Election 2016

Kids.gov: How to Become President of the U.S.

TIME For Kids: Vote for President

In Oak Meadow’s second grade social studies coursework, the students learn about the importance of a being a good leader, and Oak Meadow’s third grade social studies course includes a study block on the founding of our country and the importance of great citizenship/leadership. If you are inspired to share some ideas on leadership, “Let’s Grow Leaders” Karin Hurt contributed a list of children’s books that I highly recommend. She categorizes them in separate topics for more personal interest: Authenticity, Perseverance, Creativity/Problem Solving, Servant Leadership, Empowerment/Process, and Teamwork.