Friday, December 19, 2014

What Is Sound?

Sound, of course, is what we can hear. But what if we could see sound?

We can't, but since sound travels in invisible waves, it is possible to make those waves visible. Vibrations can be shown with many materials, but fire is one of the coolest. Check out these two videos that use fire to show sound waves.

Now that we can see the actual waves, what happens if we use sounds that are more complex, like music? Check this out!

Far, Far Away

Today's reading talks more about the planets that are farther from the sun, also called the outer planets. Yesterday's video showed information about both the inner and outer planets, so there's no new video today. (Sorry!)

Just to save you from another click back to yesterday's post, here's the video again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Planets Close to the Sun

The next two readings talk more about the planets in the solar system. They are divided into the inner planets, or the four closest to the sun, and the outer planets, or the four that are farthest from the sun. This video explains some characteristics of each of the planets. Pay attention for the differences between the four inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) and the four outer planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune).

And keep a look out for poor Pluto. Even though Pluto is not considered a planet anymore, he still makes an appearance in the video.

Playing on a Simple Machine

Levers are simple machines that, like pulleys, change the direction of a force. If you push down on a lever, you can change the force's direction to go up. A lever has a board or pole and a fulcrum. The fulcrum is where the change in direction happens.

Today's reading uses a seesaw, or teeter totter, to demonstrate how a lever works. This video shows three performers using a seesaw - they call it a teeterboard - to do things you'll never see on the playground. (At least I hope not!) When one person pushes down on the lever, what happens to the person on the other side? Remember, the direction of the force changes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Sun

Our reading today talks about the sun. There are telescopes focused on the sun all the time, and they capture some pretty incredible images. Here is an amazing example of a solar flare. Check out how big the Earth is compared to the solar flare and the sun itself.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, just because it's related, here's one of my favorite songs of all time! It was originally written and recorded in the 1950's. Listen for the line that tells how big the sun is compared to the Earth. Ta-daaaaa......!!!

Pull Down, Lift Up

It seems strange that by pulling down you can lift something up, but several simple machines work with a change of direction. Pulleys are one of them. Here is a great video - short, to the point, well illustrated, good explanations.

And funky music!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Simplest Machine of All

Ramps make it easier to get to high places. You have to travel a longer distance, but it's much easier to travel on a slant than to go straight up. Think about loading something really heavy into the back of a truck. You could lift it straight up, but that's hard. Instead, walking it up a ramp would be much easier, even if you have to go a little farther.

Science and skateboards? Here's a short clip from a longer video about simple machines. This one just focuses on ramps, or inclined planes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Where Do You Live?

As we will read today, there are many ways to explain where you live. Your home. Your street. Your city, state, and country. But think even bigger? There's a lot more out there then just our city, state, and country.

What about where we live in space? Here's a short, silly video about the planets in our solar system.

Here's another cool video that shows our planet, Earth. This video was created by NASA. It's amazing to think of Earth as a living creature, but it is covered by living things - like you and me!

The Most Important Machine of All

We're in the middle of a science unit about simple machines. Yesterday we read about wedges. Today is about the wheel. So, yeah, it's round and rolls. Yippee.

Tell that to these guys. Boring? Uh, I don't think so.

As you watch, look for the wheel (easy) and the axle (not as easy). An axle often connects two wheels, like on a wagon, but there is an axle here even though there's only one wheel. Remember, a wheel rotates around an axle. Do you see it?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What Is a Simple Machine?

Today I faced a difficult choice. Should we watch a science video that explained what simple machines are (which might be a little boring) or watch two awesome examples of simple machines in action?

I went with awesome.

Now, not everything you see in these videos are simple machines, but there are many, many of them if you watch closely. Can you spot some?

The first video is a commercial for a Honda Accord.

The second is a video from the band OK GO. I don't know much about the band, but I do know this is an awesome and hilarious video. (Watch for the simple machines!)

Monday, December 8, 2014

An Invention that Keeps Changing

You all have probably used a calculator before, but check out this commercial from 1970's. It's the smallest calculator you can get and it has a price to match. (Check out that price!)

Now take a look at the price on this calculator app for an iPad. (Calculators come with every iPod and iPhone already.) Calculator App

Friday, December 5, 2014

Underwater Earthquakes

Think about this: if earthquake vibrations can cause the ground to move, which is a solid object, what can those vibrations do to water? What if an earthquake happens underwater?

Waves. A wave this big is called a tsunami. This video shows how large the waves can be. A tsunami isn't just one wave, but a series of waves as the water rises on the shore. Watch how much of the shore and the buildings on the shore get covered up, all in a matter of about 2 minutes.

Here is a short explanation of how an underwater earthquake can cause a tsunami.

An Invention that Saves Lives

Today we are going to read about a product called Kevlar that was invented by Stephanie Kwolek. Watch the video below and look for the many uses of Kevlar. How many can you remember? Watch how the gold dots travel over certain objects in the video (like on tire). Those gold dots show where the Kevlar is used.

Our reading talks about how Kevlar can save lives, but how can it also protect lives and keep people safe?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Duck, Cover, and Hold

We live in Wisconsin. We don't get earthquakes. Now, we know what to do in blizzards and tornadoes and thunderstorms, but not earthquakes. So, what DO you do if an earthquake happens? Here is a video that explains how to stay safe in an earthquake.

This next video is cool because it's got LEGOs! And it was made by kids! (Nice work, by the way.)

Solving a Problem

Two days ago it was glow-in-the-dark toilet seats. Now it's glow-in-the-dark clipboards. I wonder what else you could do with things that glow in the dark? (Although, I'm not sure if this is an example of solving a problem. Oh, well. It's funny!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Predicting and Measuring Earthquakes

We read about how scientists can predict when and where a bad storm, like a hurricane, can hit, but scientists can only predict where earthquakes might happen. It's too difficult to predict exact times when they will occur. Wouldn't it be nice to know when something like this is going to happen?

Earthquakes are measured on the Richter scale. The following video shows the basic idea of how that scale works.

Finding the Right Use

Today's reading tells about a man who invented a special kind of glue. It was so special that it DIDN'T HOLD ANYTHING TOGETHER. (Not a great glue, right?) But another person discovered that even though it didn't actually glue things together, it was strong enough to hold a piece of paper, his bookmark, in a book. He used to glue that was useless to make Post-It notes!

Just think, Post-It notes were invented only because another invention failed. I'm so glad they were invented because now we can stick notes everywhere and watch cool videos like this one.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What is an Earthquake?

Today's reading doesn't go into very much detail about what earthquakes are, but this video does an excellent job of showing what causes earthquakes and what happens because of them.

What Is an Invention?

Today's reading tells us that inventions happen when people try to solve a problem. Then the reading gives us an example. Something like this:

Hmmmm...  What is the problem? What is the solution? Would you use this invention, this solution to a problem?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hurricane Names

Ever since 1950 hurricanes have been given names. This helps us easily identify storms and everyone knows which storm you are talking about. There can be many hurricanes in one year, so you can't really say "that hurricane in 2014." There might have been ten. Or twenty!

Here are the names that will be used in the upcoming years. The lists are reused every six years unless there is a really bad storm. Then that name is retired and never used again. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pets in Hurricanes

Sometimes people leave their homes quickly when a hurricane is coming and pets get left behind. Pets might get scared and hide where people can't find them. This video shows some people who help rescue pets after a storm, care for them, and try to reunite them with their owners.

Many people go to hurricane shelters to stay safe during the storm, but most shelters do not allow animals. This shelter in Georgia is trying to change that. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hurricane Cleanup

Hurricanes, with winds over 74 miles per hour, can cause a lot of damage. This video shows just some of the things that need to be done in a house that has been damaged by a hurricane. It certainly looks like cleaning up this damage could take a long time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tracking Hurricanes

Meteorologists take information about the hurricane like wind speed, direction, and size, and use computers to make predictions about where a hurricane might go next. The first video shows a meteorologist's prediction about where Hurricane Gonzalo might go in October, 2014.

This second video shows us whether or not that meteorologist was right about where Hurricane Gonzalo would go.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What is a Hurricane?

Hurricanes are very large storms that form in the ocean. This video gives a great scientific explanation of how one starts.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Saltwater Crocodiles

Of all the animals we've read about, the saltwater crocodile is the scariest one to me. This video does nothing to make me feel better about them.

This video shows just how deadly the saltwater crocodile can be. (I plan to skip that part. It gives me the shivers.) More importantly, this video shows how gentle a saltwater crocodile can be with her babies. The most amazing fact in the video is that the saltwater crocodile's jaws are 7 times more powerful than the great white shark's jaws.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Giraffes are so tall they can eat food that other animals can't. Like the leaves in this tree.

This next video is short but gives a great view of a giraffe running. It's hard to tell how fast it is going, and it's size almost makes it look like slow motion, but giraffes can run up to 30 miles per hour!

A giraffe's size is pretty amazing, and when it comes to eating food, quite helpful. But what about when it needs to get a drink? There aren't any ponds or streams at the tops of trees.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Ostriches are the largest birds and the fastest birds on land. How big are they? Take a look at this video. (Did you know that ostriches, like cows, are raised for their meat? And, like chickens, their eggs can be used for food too?)

This video shows and explains just how fast an ostrich can run.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Julian Chapter Read Aloud Resources

Many, many classrooms have read Wonder aloud in their classrooms, and rightfully so. Last school year (2013-2014) was no different for us. We started our fifth graders’ year by reading Wonder, and just like countless other classrooms around the country and the world, we used its lessons and themes as a basis for building a strong classroom community. When The Julian Chapter was released in May, 2014 we thought it would be great opportunity to revisit those lessons. 

So just like I did for Wonder, I put together some online resources. Once again we used the songs, quotes, and images from the story - along with the occasional mini-lesson - to enhance our reading and understanding of the story. And once again, you are invited to use these resources with your students as well.

Below are links to the original Wonder resources and the added resources for The Julian Chapter. I hope they add to your enjoyment and understanding of both texts.

Thanks for reading and thanks for stopping by this little corner of the web. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to share them. 

Page numbers refer to the text as it appears in Auggie & Me by R. J. Palacio.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


In order to describe an elephant's size, our book compares elephants to cars. It says that elephants are as tall as three cars stacked on top of one another. What better way to see that than from a car? Watch this elephant walk right past this car. Also, listen to what one child says about its size right at the end.

Here's another video of an elephant walking by a family in a van. (Although I'm not sure about the "please tip the van" comment.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blue Whales

Blue whales are fascinating creatures. This first video just shows some footage of blue whales swimming by divers. What would it be like to have something like that swim past you?

This second video shows blue whales eating, which basically is them swimming with their mouths open. What are they really doing?

Finally, this last video gives some scientific explanations about why blue whales are so big. How can they get that big? Here's how:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Not all dinosaurs are ferocious and meat-eating or ginormous and plant-eating. Some are just little guys. Like the saltopus.

Yesterday we watched two videos about large plant-eating dinosaurs, but here is a little more about the brachiosaurus. I just thought this guy was sort of funny and goofy looking.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Julian Chapter: After - Pages 72-96, The End

Remember the quote from Lord of the Flies? It said, "Fear can't hurt you any more than a dream." In his email Mr. Browne said that maybe Julian was a little afraid of Auggie. Now Grandmère says that she thinks Mr. Browne was right, that Julian was afraid of Auggie. Julian, of course, denies it.

What do you think?

World War II was fought between 1939-1945. Germany was the main enemy in Europe. Paris was occupied by Germany in 1940. (This is the same as Germany occupying Denmark in Number the Stars.) 

The Maquis were groups of French Resistance Fighters. These were people who escaped to the mountains to avoid being forced into the German army and then fought back against them. Members were called maquisards or "armed resistance fighters." Partisan is another name for these fighters. As you can see in this image, they don't really look like soldiers.

photo source

According to Wikipedia (I'll leave the more in depth research to you.) there were about 200,000 Jewish people in Paris at the time. The Germans began passing laws against Jews in September of 1940, and they began taking Jews away in May of 1941. This continued until August of 1944. During this time nearly 76,000 Jews were taken from Paris and only 2,500 survived. (More on this later.)

Grandmère says her school had a chapel, which is a room like a church used for worship services, and behind that there was a crypt. A crypt is an underground room used for worship or as a burial site. This example is underneath the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

photo source

The sewers in Paris at the time, to the best of my understanding, were basically tunnels where waste drained out of the city and emptied into fields outside of Paris, so following the sewers would eventually lead to an open field, many times by a village. Today there are museums and tours you can take to see the sewers. Here are some examples of what the sewers look like.

Grandmère lived and went to school in Aubervilliers which is just north of Paris. 

Auschwitz was a concentration camp. When Jews were deported, they were taken to concentration camps. There they were held prisoner, forced to work, and most were executed. At least 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz.

The main gate says "Work Makes Free" - photo source

Prisoners forced to work - photo source

This shows how big the camp was.
photo source

The Germans didn't only take Jews. They took people that they felt were not perfect. This included people with mental and physical disabilities, gypsies, deaf people, people who disagreed with them politically, and some people with other religious beliefs. At many concentration camps, the people who were taken there were killed in gas chambers. This means they were forced to breathe poison gas.

Julian says that in his dream the Nazi officials looked like Darth Vader's Imperial officers. What do you think?

Darth Vader's Imperial officers. photo source

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Julian Chapter: After - Pages 61-71

The second section of The Julian Chapter also begins with two quotes. The first is from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

"That is only tears such as men use," said Bagheera.
"Now I know thou art a man, and a man's cub no longer.
The jungle is shut indeed to thee henceforward.
Let them fall, Mowgli. They are only tears."

Original book cover - photo source

In The Jungle Book Mowgli is raised by wolves and is accepted as a member of the pack and a part of the jungle, although not without some conflict. In time Mowgli realizes that he must leave the jungle and live with people. He is crying because he must leave everything he knows. In this quote Bagheera is telling Mowgli that he is no longer a child (man-cub) but a man. Mowgli has grown up, and he must leave the jungle (and his childhood) behind. How might this foreshadow what is coming in After?

The second quote is from the song "The Partisan" by Leonard Cohen. It reads:

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.

The song is about a French man during World War II who runs away and becomes a partisan rather than surrender to the German army. A partisan is a person who remains loyal to their country and fights against the country who has attacked them. Looking at the quote from the song, the partisan believes that freedom will one day come back to their country, and he will be able to leave the shadows, or come out of hiding.

What other kind of freedom is there? Is there some kind of freedom coming in Julian's story?

Julian says that usually he hated staying with Grandmère (Grandmother), but this time was okay. He was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted to take his mind off the school year, including "spend the entire day in my PJs playing Halo." It's interesting that for all their differences and disagreements, Julian is playing the same game Jack wants to play at Auggie's house when they were supposed to be doing their homework. Why is that?

Here is the introduction to Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary released in 2011.

Julian sends his precept, "Sometimes it's good to start over," to Mr. Browne on a postcard with a picture of a gargoyle at the top of Notre Dame. Growing up I thought Notre Dame was just a football team, but it's also a Catholic cathedral in Paris. It has some amazing architecture, and some pretty cool (or creepy) gargoyles looking down from the outside walls.

photo source

 Here are two actual postcards featuring the gargoyles.

photo source

photo source

On the morning Julian gets an email from Mr. Browne, Grandmère is having breakfast. It's not an important detail to the story, but she had a croissant and café au lait. A croissant is just a flaky, buttery bread shaped like a crescent. Café au lait simply means coffee with milk.

photo source

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Julian Chapter: Before - Pages 25-59

When Mrs. Albans presents Julian with the new and improved (from her perspective) class picture, she reminds him that she used Photoshop to change the pictures from their trip to Hawaii. Even though it rained every day, the pictures show blue sky. But think about this: Does changing the pictures change what you know or change your memories? What does Julian think?

 Check out this example of taking a gray, cloudy day and making the sky beautiful.

See both photos and learn how it's done here.

I wrote about the Plague more here, but I wanted to share another piece of artwork. This painting from the medieval time period shows something called the Dance of Death. Artists during that time tried to show that death was always near or walking around with the living. Almost like at any point, Death could reach out and take you. People lived in fear. Compare that to Julian's game.

photo source

In Jack's section he says, "It's just a baby tooth" referring to the tooth that Julian loses. In this section the doctor says that Julian "lost a lower first molar, but that was on its way out anyway." Here's a diagram - do you see the lower first molars?

Julian says that his family skipped their winter break trip to Paris because his mom didn't want their relatives to see Julian looking like he had been in a prize fight. Prize fight is another name for a professional boxing match. Do you think the scene between Julian and Jack looked like this?

photo source

When meeting with Mr. Tushman and Dr. Jansen, Mrs. Albans muttered, "This is a witch hunt," and Julian has no idea what she's talking about. According to the dictionary, witch hunt is defined as "the act of unfairly looking for and punishing people who are accused of having opinions that are believed to be dangerous or evil." What does Julian's mom believe about Mr. Tushman and Dr. Jansen?

The Salem Witch Trials occurred from 1692-1693 in Massachusetts. Over 200 were accused of practicing witchcraft, and 20 people were executed. Much of the evidence was sketchy at best and the definition above fits well. People were suspected of witchcraft and punished because others believed they were evil or because their beliefs were different than the accusers'. Only 4 years later, in 1697, the court began to question what had happened. In 1702 the trials were declared unlawful, and in 1711 a bill was passed that said all the people accused were innocent. In 1957, the state of Massachusetts officially apologized for the trials.  

Julian says that he and his family live about a half-hour drive from Beecher Prep, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Here you can see the Upper West Side, to the west of Central Park.

I chose a random street on the Upper West Side to see what it's like there. Feel free to click the arrows and take a self-guided tour.

Julian says he spent a lot of time watching SpongeBob reruns and playing Knights of the Old Republic, a Star Wars game that takes place 4,000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, or as I understand it, basically 4,000 years before the Star Wars movies. (Help me out if I'm mistaken.) You can read more here and you can watch the introduction below.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Julian Chapter: Before - Pages 17-24

Let's be honest. If you were still a five-year-old relaxing on the couch one day and watching this on TV:

when suddenly this appeared:

you would probably be pretty freaked out. (And that's a pretty tame zombie compared to some images I found. The zombie stuff out there freaked ME out, and I'm a little older than five.)

And if the zombie had already freaked you out, than seeing this at a friend's house would probably add to your freak out. (Remember, you're a five-year-old.)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - photo source
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - photo source

Then after the situation at the movie theater with Scary Fairy, Julian is frustrated with himself for being scared of fairies. He wonders what could be next. Flying ponies? Snowflakes? Cabbage Patch Kids? Cabbage Patch Kids were hugely popular toys in the 1980s when they first came out. Here's a Cabbage Patch Kid. You decide if it's creepy.

Okay, let's be serious. Night terrors usually happen in the first 3-4 hours of sleep. A person will react as if they are very scared. They might sit up, scream, kick and thrash, sweat, their heartbeat may race, and may even get up and run around the house. But they aren't really dreams. Someone who has a nightmare can wake up and remember the dream, but since there's no dream during a night terror, there's nothing to remember. In the morning parents might ask kids what they were dreaming and the kids won't know. They might not even remember having the night terror.

Night terrors can be very scary for parents. A child having a night terror usually doesn't wake up, and the best thing for parents to do is simply wait patiently for it to end. (Trust me, that's hard for parents.) Night terrors usually happen to kids between the ages of 4-12, but only about 3-6% of kids experience them.

From the description in the book, it seem like there are both night terrors and nightmares. More can be read at Kids Health and the Mayo Clinic.

Night terrors can be triggered by stress, and images can be stressful. Ever try falling asleep, but every time you close your eyes you see the same image? Could Darth Sidious from Star Wars be a stressful image to see? What about Gollum from Lord of the Rings?

Darth Sidious - photo source

Here is a picture of Ian McDiarmid's
makeup for the Emperor/Darth Sidious.

Gollum from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Julian Chapter: Before - Pages 3-16

Two quotes begin this section. The first is from the short story The House of Asterion by Jorge Luis Borges. It reads:

"Perhaps I have created the stars and the sun and this enormous house, but I no longer remember."

The House of Asterion is a pretty short story, and when I read it the first time it made me think of Julian. Then R. J. Palacio said on Twitter that the story helped her find Auggie's voice. (Hmmm . . . more to think about.) What do you think? The House of Asterion was originally published in 1947 and can be read here

The second quote is from Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It reads: 

"Fear can't hurt you any more than a dream."

In Lord of the Flies, the quote continues with "There aren't any beasts to be afraid of on this island." Those of you who have read Lord of the Flies, was there anything to be afraid of on the island? Were they afraid? Did fear affect them? Did fear hurt them? Most importantly, how might fear play into Julian's story?

Julian says, "Put a mask on, Auggie!" and says that Auggie should keep his creepy little face hidden away like in The Phantom of the OperaThe Phantom of the Opera was published as a novel in 1910 and was made into a movie in 1925, but it is probably best known for the musical that came out in 1986. Here's the phantom from the musical.

When Mr. Tushman calls Julian's mom about meeting Auggie at school, Julian says she acts like he won an Oscar. The Oscars are awards given to people in the film industry like actors, actresses, directors, and for the best movies. It's a pretty big deal - red carpet, interviews, TV cameras, screaming fans - and Julian says this is how his mom reacts to getting the call from Mr. Tushman.

Julian, Charlotte, and Jack wait in the Nurse Molly's office. They're all a little nervous before talking to Mr. Tushman, and Julian says he resists the temptation to make a balloon out of the latex gloves, even though he knew it would make the others laugh. I agree, it is funny, but do you think this is a good time to be funny?

Julian says that he, Jack, and Charlotte were nodding their heads like bobbleheads at Mr. Tushman's questions. Here's what he was talking about, an actual bobblehead.

After Mr. Tushman says, "It's good karma to do good. It's a mitzvah, you know?" Jack says he doesn't know what heck either one of those is. Neither did I, so I looked them up.

Karma is the idea that when a person does good (or bad) things, then good (or bad) things happen back to them in the future. It's the idea that "what comes around, goes around."

"It's a mitzvah!" basically means "It's a good deed." According to this site, someone might say "What a mitzvah!" when a person is helpful or generous or kind or compassionate.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wonder - The Julian Chapter

Take a moment and remember how it felt reading Wonder. Remember the parts that made you happy and sad? The parts that made you angry or frustrated? Remember feeling overjoyed? What about the parts that left you wondering, "Why?"

Now think about the scenes with Julian. What emotions did you feel during those parts? Did any of those situations leave you wondering "Why?" Did you ever try to answer the question? Why did Julian act that way? Take a moment and think about it. Take 30 seconds to turn to your neighbor and talk about it.

And now, on to the story. The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story begins with a quote from Ian Maclaren. It reads:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Who do you think this quote is referring to? The quote is under a picture of Julian, so is the quote telling Julian to be kind? Or maybe the quote talking to you and me, the readers? If the quote is talking to us as readers, then who are we supposed to be kind to? And no matter who the quote is for, what does it mean that everyone is "fighting a hard battle"?

Ian Maclaren was the pen name for Rev. John Watson who lived in Scotland in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was an author and minister. The quote was slightly different at first. It originally read:

"Be pitiful, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Break that word down. Pitiful. Full of pity. Be full of "the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others" for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

(Personally, I like "kind" better just because it fits with Choose Kind, but "pitiful" gives us something more to think about.)

Ian Maclaran: source

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mississippi River Flood of 1993

After reading a short piece about the Mississippi River and the Great Flood of 1993, I thought the fifth graders would be interested in seeing some images and reading a bit more about the flooding that year.

Here you can see satellite images that compare the amount of water usually in the Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers and the amount of water during the flood.

Here is a good example of a broken levee. There was so much rain that spring and summer, that sometimes the water flowed over the levees which then washed them out. Sometimes the pressure from the water caused a break to happen. Then the water would flow through the break and wash away more of the levee. In the background you can see the levee that was not broken.

Many more images can be found at this simple Google Image search, but the picture below shows how the flooding affected cities. This is Dubuque, Iowa which is located just across the Mississippi River from the southwest corner of Wisconsin. You can see the bridge that crosses the river, but it is hard to see where the actual river is.

For additional reading, here an article on Wikipedia about the 1993 flood: Great Flood of 1993

Here is an article written last year on the twentieth anniversary of the flood: Mississippi River Flood, 1993

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

United States Population

Hey, fifth graders! Since we have been studying population, I thought we should take a look at the United States Census Bureau's "population clock." It shows both the United States population and the world population. It also shows how the population of both is changing.

If you click here you can see even more information like which states and cities have the highest population. You can even look up the United States' population on any given day in history. Pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Earth's Atmosphere

Fifth graders read about Earth's atmosphere today. We learned that it is 300 miles thick, but the troposphere, the layer that contains the air we breathe and that is closest to Earth, is only 11 miles thick. This video shows Felix Baumgartner's jump from a stratospheric balloon. He was more than 24 miles above the Earth's surface when he jumped. That's through the troposphere and into the stratosphere. This happened on October 14, 2012.

Friday, January 3, 2014

City Birds

So why are some birds able to adapt to living in big cities while others don't? Of course, if a city is never built in a bird's habitat then that bird won't need to adapt to living in a city, but scientists have found that some birds adapt to cities better than others. Why?

For even more information about birds living in cities, click here.

Central Park is a huge park in the middle of New York City. For more information about those birds, click here.

Click here to open a PDF file called Kids Guide to the Birds of Central Park.

Wilma Rudolph

After reading about Wilma Rudolph, I thought you might want to know more about her. Here is some information from the official Olympics YouTube channel about her historic performance in the 1960 Olympic games.

Her weak leg was due to a disease called polio. She also had scarlet fever and pneumonia as a child. She was healthy by the age of 12, was in the 1956 Olympics at age 16, and won three gold medals at age 20 in 1964.

Click here to watch her win two of her 1964 gold medals

Click here for more information about Wilma Rudolph from the official Olympics website.