Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic. – Adrienne Cook

Every year, on March 17th, people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day don their greenest garb, search for four-leaf clovers, eat corn beef and cabbage, dance the Irish jig, march in parades, and search for the leprechaun and his pot of gold. There are many famous Irish sayings and blessings that come to mind. One of my favorites Irish blessings is: “May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more. May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.”
Whether you are Irish or not, it can be a joyful occasion for both young and old. As a child, my favorite part of this celebration was wearing a bit of green (so I wouldn’t get pinched). I also delighted in imagining how a leprechaun might appear, as well as hearing the legend of this mythical creature.
Since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, there is the expectation of extra revelry. One of the oldest worldwide celebrations is a parade. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States was held in New York City in 1762, which was before the Revolutionary War and prior to its independence. If you’d like to join one in your area, here is a list for every state and throughout the world.
If you prefer to enjoy a quieter celebration, perhaps your family would like to host a gathering that includes educational games and fun-filled activities. You could have a treasure hunt to search for a “pot of gold”. Instead of playing “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, you could have a geography lesson by pinning the country of Ireland onto a map of Europe.
Playing group games can be a lot of fun, too. Here are the rules for “Leprechaun, Leprechaun! Where’s Your Shamrock?”

  • One child is the leprechaun, who sits in the middle of the circle with eyes closed.
  • One of the children in the circle hides the shamrock behind his/her back. It’s suggested to have an adult distribute the shamrock so everyone gets a turn.
  • Circle children say: “Leprechaun, Leprechaun! Where’s your shamrock?  Somebody has it in their pocket!  Guess who?  Maybe you?  Maybe a monkey from the zoo!  Come on, Leprechaun, find your shamrock.”.
  • Leprechaun opens eyes and has 3 guesses as to who has the shamrock.
  • Child with the shamrock becomes the next leprechaun.

A St. Patrick’s Day gathering could also include a healthy green treat, such as a Mint Patty Shake that will delight the palette of all your guests. Here is a simple recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup refrigerated coconut milk
  • 1 pint mint chip ice cream
  • 2 cups packed baby kale

Instructions:
In a blender, combine coconut milk, ice cream, and kale. Cover and blend until smooth. (Makes 2 – 8 oz. servings)
While you are sipping on your green beverage, you could share some St. Patrick Day jokes and riddles:
Q: Where can leprechauns always find gold on St. Patty’s Day?
A: In the dictionary!
Q: Why are leprechauns so concerned about global warming?
A: They’re really into green living.
Here’s a few more theme-related riddles and jokes, just for the fun of it!
At the end of the festive day, you might enjoy reading some special books about St. Patrick’s Day. The site, Fireflies + Mud Pies, has an excellent source of books that will be a delight to story readers and listeners, alike.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

"Mr. President" and "The First Lady"

In 1782, the American bald eagle was adopted as the national bird symbol for the United States of America. It was selected because it is native to most of the North American continent, but also due to its majestic beauty, great strength, and long life span of 70 years. According to American Bald Eagle Information: Bald eagles are found throughout most of North America, from Alaska and Canada to northern Mexico. About half of the world’s 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska.
If you haven’t yet heard, there is a very cool live webcam (video camera) showing a pair of American bald eagles who have currently chosen to build their nest site within the United States’ National Capital (the White House) in Washington, DC. The eagles, whose names have been appropriately given as “Mr. President” and “The First Lady”, have successfully hatched their two eggs in the nest. It’s amazing to see the minute by minute activities of our National Bird and their eaglets! Here is the link for you to enjoy: dceaglecam.eagles.org

November 19, 1863

The Gettysburg Address was given on this day on November 19, 1863 by the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.images
“In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to deliver remarks, which later became known as the Gettysburg Address, at the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, on the site of one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the Civil War. Though he was not the featured orator that day, Lincoln’s 273-word address would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history. In it, he invoked the principles of human equality contained in the Declaration of Independence and connected the sacrifices of the Civil War with the desire for “a new birth of freedom,” as well as the all-important preservation of the Union created in 1776 and its ideal of self-government.”  http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/gettysburg-address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow, this ground – The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
(The Library of Congress owns this copy of the manuscript. There are many different copies.)
 
 
 

Amazing Corn Mazes

1usamapmazeCorn (also known as maize) is amazing! It is one of the most versatile vegetables and was originally cultivated in Mexico over 7,000 years ago. According to the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University, the Europeans first discovered corn in 1492, when Christopher Columbus and his sailing crew discovered this new grain in Cuba. 
1corn cakesFresh corn on the cob is a summer favorite for many corn lovers; however, corn can also be enjoyed any time of the year in soups, salads, salsas, breads, muffins, fritters, pancakes and casseroles. It can be used as cornmeal, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn silk tea, corn oil, and popcorn. Did you know it is also used in glue, ethanol, whiskey, and penicillin? Even decorating with colored corn, creating cornhusk dolls, weaving cornhusk baskets, and making corncob toys can be fashionable artistic activities. You can find cornhusk craft projects throughout the Oak Meadow curriculum.
1corn-mazeIn the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, corn mazes became another featured aspect of corn usage. These popular configurations are currently found in every state in the US. The biggest maze in the country is the Richardson Adventure Farm, located in Spring Grove, Illinois.  Along with enjoying fall festivals and viewing the beautiful fall foliage, you might like to make plans for packing up a picnic and visiting a farm near you to enjoy some old fashioned family fun meandering through a corn maze. Here is a list of corn mazes for each state in the US.

Happy Fall and Happy Funtober!

14957141657_5db2b5632c

Let us know!

Tell us about your favorite corn maze.

Prepare for the School Year!

As school begins for many in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to get school supplies in order for the school year. For those of you in 7-8 grade, I hope you have your very own dictionary and thesaurus! Both will become your best friends as you go through the year. If you are looking for a good dictionary that will last you through the junior high years, find a Merriam-Webster’s Intermediate Dictionary. imagesAlso recommended is the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. (Try to get the most recent addition.) For a good thesaurus, try Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus.
Also really useful will be a good atlas for discovering new places in the world. I like Rand McNally’s Goodes World Atlas, but look through a bunch at the bookstore or library until you find one you like. These three items will serve you well for many years to come!
Have a wonderful beginning!
 

What on Earth is happening?

The first “pendulum seismoscope” to measure the shaking of the ground during an earthquake was developed in 1751, but it wasn’t until 1855 that faults were recognized as the source of earthquakes.
(From the U.S. Geological Survey Homepage)

If you have taken, or are taking, the 7th grade Earth Science course with Oak Meadow, then you know there is a lesson about earthquakes and plate tectonics. It’s a fun lesson because you get to eat pancakes while you perform experiments with the pancakes to demonstrate Earth’s movements!
I find it fascinating that the Earth, which I think of as so firm and steady under me, is actually in movement all the time. Every day the Earth’s movements are recorded and reported. If you are interested in seeing where in the world the biggest earthquakes have been this week, you can go to Earth Track.
Some scientists that have studied fracking have found that if fracking occurs near fault lines, it may be the cause of an increase in earthquakes in certain regions. injection-well-jpgOther scientific studies point to the injecting of wastewater into deep wells as the cause for an increase in earthquakes.The wastewater can come from fracking, or even from oil and gas production waste. These are called injection-induced earthquakes. Human made earthquakes! It is more than moving pancakes around in a frying pan, that’s for sure!
 
This is a controversial issue that is interesting to read about and discuss.
 
 
 
 

February 2nd is Groundhog Day!

Today is the traditional Groundhog Day that arrives every year on February 2nd. It began as a European tradition that was brought to the United States in the 1880’s. It has been celebrated every year since then! How is the weather in your area today? It is sunny or cloudy? Will spring come early or late? Now, let’s do some Monday Magic Math with a calendar. Whether we have six more weeks of winter or six more weeks until spring, what month of the year and what day of the week is spring predicted to arrive?
12359728519_763ca15a4c_zIn Oak Meadow’s second grade course book, science lesson 13 (with the focus on animal characteristics) suggests making a card game to teach children about familiar animals. On one side of the card, the student writes a question about a particular animal’s character qualities. The name of the animal is written and illustrated on the other side of the card. Since the groundhog is not included in the science lesson’s list of animals, you could add a new card for the groundhog with questions, such as: What animal is also known as the land-beaver, marmot, whistle-pig or woodchuck? or What mammal hibernates in the winter and is famously known as the prognosticator or weather forecaster? 
1Groundhog-Predicts-Six-More-Weeks-of-Winter-it-Shall-BeTo learn more about the history of this furry rodent, CBS news offers a wealth of information in the article, Groundhog Day Tradition Casts a Shadow Back to Medieval Europe. It includes a “Groundhog Day Expert” quiz and a “Fun Facts Interactive”. Canadians also celebrate Groundhog Day with their special furry friend, named Wiarton Willie. I discovered a delightful National Geographic Kids production video on Kids Love Groundhog Day that you and your family might enjoy.

Happy Groundhog Day!

1groundhog-day-hd-wallpapers-movies-1869213501

Cowichan, British Columbia

ca-bc-lc

Numerous Oak Meadow home teachers with students in first through third grade have commented on how much their children love the map work and studying about other places and cultures around the world. Geography and history are quite fascinating to me, as well, and when a certain place grabs my attention, I want to put on my “traveling shoes” to visit and experience the uniqueness of the place.

 

Cowichan

This is what happened when I recently watched the delightful, musical art piece and masterfully done video, “Once Upon a Day.” It captures the spirit and essence of the majestic Cowichan, a district on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The spectacular scenery, the diversity of live music played in various settings, the outdoor activities, the creative arts, and the scrumptious looking food offers great temptation for exploration of this inclusive and diverse community. So, put on your own “traveling shoes” and watch the magic of this inspirational video with your children.

 
Clayoquot-Resort-lake

^