Friday, January 30, 2015

What is a Rain Forest?

When I was a kid I love to go exploring in the woods. That meant going in my backyard. There were a lot of trees, but there were also neighbors and if you walked like a minute straight back from my house you'd hit a road. It wasn't really "the middle of nowhere."

Not my backyard.

But rain forests are much cooler than my backyard as a kid. There is an amazing variety of plant and animal life, it's always warm, and it rains a lot. Check out some of these links to learn more about rain forests.

What are rain forests?
When is a forest considered a rain forest?
Explore the canopy of a rain forest.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Looking Good in Ancient Egypt

Our reading today talks about fashion styles in ancient Egypt. The first paragraph is about makeup. Both men and women wore makeup, and one main part was paint around the eyes.

Next the reading talks about jewelry, especially the importance of gold jewelry.

The reading finishes by talking more about necklaces made from stones, glass, and clay. It says that men, women, and children all wore necklaces. What do you think? Would you wear necklaces like these? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oceans and Weather

Did you know that Mr. W. is a big soccer fan? Two of his favorite teams are the United States National Team and Southampton FC. The US National Team sometimes plays games in Denver, Colorado. Southampton is across the ocean in England, and England is much farther north than Denver.

You would probably expect a place that is farther north to be colder, but take a look at both teams' stadiums in the winter.

The US National Team playing in Denver in winter.

Southampton playing in England on January 1, in the middle of winter.

Why the difference? Why is it so much warmer in England where it's so much farther north? The grass is green! Shouldn't it be freezing there too?

Take a look at these two maps. What do you notice about where these two stadiums are compared to oceans? How do oceans affect the weather?

The Pyramids

The Egyptian pyramids are probably the most well-known part of ancient Egypt. Maybe that's because they are still standing today and you can go visit them! This video gives a short description of what you would see if you visited the pyramids today. (To skip the long, talking introduction, go to the 0:30 point in the movie.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Our reading today talks about the ocean's coastlines and it describes different kinds of coasts. One coast it describes has high cliffs that come right up to the ocean. Can you see how the water has begun to break the cliff into smaller rocks?

Over a long time the water breaks the stones into smaller and smaller pieces.

Finally, after a really long time, the ocean breaks the rocks down to sand making sandy beaches.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Mummies are much more than strips of cloth wrapped around a body. You know, like this:

There's also much more to mummies than horror movies. You know, like this:

There were many steps to making a real mummy. Today's reading goes through some of them, but not in too much detail. This video does a good job of giving a step by step description of what happens to a person from when they die until they are officially a mummy. After watching the video, ask yourself this: do you think everyone in ancient Egypt was turned into a mummy? Why or why not?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Writing in Ancient Egypt

I couldn't find anything short on YouTube or on other websites to teach more about hieroglyphics. Everything I found is very detailed and complicated.

Basically, Egyptians used pictures instead of letters. Pictures could stand for what they looked like (so an eye might mean "eye") or a picture could stand for a sound (like an owl could stand for the /m/ sound). One site said that there were over 7000 glyphs. (A glyph is one picture.) We have only 26 letters. They had 7000 pictures!

So instead of trying to show you something seriously educational, here's this:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Egypt in Ancient Times

The Nile River plays an important role in Egypt, both in ancient times and today. The first topic today's reading talks about is how the river floods each year. (But that has changed a lot since dams were built.) This image shows the difference between the Nile River when it is normal and when it is flooding.

The second paragraph talks about how important the Nile River is to transportation. People have settled along rivers all through history because they could ship things easily from place to place. This picture shows Egypt at night. Look where all the people have settled. 

Finally, the Nile River is still important to Egypt today. This map shows where the Nile River flows in Africa. (The size of the river has been made bigger just to make it easier to see.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Coral Reefs

Today's reading is about coral reefs. Corals are small animals, about the size of the tip of a pen, and they never move. When they die their hard shell is left behind and a new coral attaches itself to the old shell. In this way coral reefs are slowly built up over time.

What our reading does NOT talk about is all the other animals that live in and around coral reefs. In this video you'll see all sorts of fish and crabs and super-scary things and creepy-crawly things. None of those are corals, but they all rely on the coral reef to survive. Where is the coral in this video?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Can Sounds Hurt?

"Turn it down!" If you are like I was as a kid, your mom probably tells you to turn down the TV or the radio or the video games sometimes. It's true: sounds can sometimes be too loud, and sounds that are WAY too loud can hurt you. Loud sounds can damage the inside of your ears and your sense of hearing won't be as strong.

This first video explains what happens when your ears are exposed to sounds that are too loud.

This second video gives some examples of sounds, how loud they are, and how loud they need to be to do damage to your ears and your hearing.

The Ocean Floor

It's hard to see in our imaginations what today's reading is about. When we look at a globe, the ocean looks smooth and level. But under the water there are mountains, valleys, and plains just like on land.

What would the earth look like if all of the water was drained away? This video gives us an example of what the ocean floor looks like without the water covering it up.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sound Effects

Today's reading talks about two ways that sound effects are made for movies. Think about it. If your movie has a scene with a storm in it, can the actors and everyone just wait around for a storm to hit to film that scene? No! They might wait for days or weeks! So they film the scene, add some flashing lights for lightning, and then add sound effects to make it sound like a real storm.

Today movie-makers can use computers to add sound effects, but before computers they used everyday objects. This video shows what happens when kids are put in charge of the sound effects in some famous movies. The kids are using balloons, pots and pans, bags of chips, garbage can lids, a rolling pin, and tons of other crazy stuff to make movie sound effects. Check it out.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Ocean

Today's reading gives us some basic information about the oceans, but it only scratches the surface of all the cool information scientists have learned about the oceans. Check out these amazing facts about the oceans, and we'll take a moment to discuss each one as we watch.

Hearing It Two Times

We learned that sound travels in waves. Just like a ball, sound waves can bounce off smooth objects. If sound waves bounce back, then you hear them twice. This is called an echo.

Here's a guy in the mountains:

Here are some people in a tunnel.

The Hindenburg Disaster

I have to admit, even though 36 people lost their lives in the Hindenburg tragedy, this would make for an eye-opening science lesson, especially with an explosion caused by the same gas (hydrogen) created right in the classroom. Mr. Maxwell certainly prepared a good lesson, even if Mark gave away the ending to his classmates. 

This is the original footage including what has become very well-known commentary from a man named Herbert Morrison on WLS radio.

This is a colorized version of the same footage.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Learning About the Solar System

Our eyes are pretty amazing. According to this site, our eyes can see the light from one candle from 30 miles away. But the objects in our solar system are much farther away then that, and objects outside our solar system are even farther away!

Scientists use telescopes to see objects in space that are much farther away. Telescopes that are in space, like on satellites, can see an incredibly long distance and can also take some spectacular photos.

The Speed of Sound

Why can you see something before you hear it? Today's reading compares the speed of sound to the speed of light. Light travels faster than sound. This video is a great example. The person with the camera was 10 miles away from the launch of the Space Shuttle. They could see the Space Shuttle launch immediately as it happened because light travels so fast. But since sound travels about 1 mile in 5 seconds, it took about 50 seconds for the sound of the launch to travel to their ears.

Here's another example created by someone using a video game. A rocket is launched at the ground far away. You can see the explosion before you hear it.