Sunday, July 28, 2013

The End

A learning experience

I thought I knew a lot about the world, and I felt like this project would be a breeze.  Well, as I've done the last 52 (!!) weeks of learning about the world, I've realized that I had and still have a lot to learn.  If anyone takes anything away from this blog I hope it is the lesson to NEVER STOP LEARNING!!  I am so glad we took this challenge.  Yeah, I wanted to make a million dollars and have a million fans (doesn't everyone?) but I am more than happy knowing that the family has stepped out of our comfort zone on many occasions and learned more about the different cultures of the world in the past year than some people learn in a lifetime. 

I hope I have started a love of learning in the kids that lasts forever.  I hope we have inspired you to try that new exotic fruit or restaurant, to go to that festival or store, to visit another country or learn a new language.  I hope we gave you some new dinner favorites or fun ideas. We have really enjoyed this experience, in fact, my son asked if we could start all over again.  But, we've been on our journey long enough.  I will continue to update the blog as ideas, recipes, amazing facts or field trips happen, but we won't be doing a country each week.  Probably, never say never, right?

We live on an amazing planet with AMAZING people, places and animals - get out there and check them out- you'll be glad you did

Thank you for following along on our adventures!!  It was the thought that people were actually reading this that made me keep it up on those days when it got to be a lot of work.  I hope you got something out of the experience :) Please use this blog as a resource but know that most, if not all, of the information was taken from the internet and, even though I saw the same info on multiple sites, I cannot verify it's factualness.
Is "factualness" even a word?  See? Never stop learning :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Saving the Earth...

The FUN way!!

If there is one thing I think we can all agree on, it's that the Earth is a beautiful planet.  But, I must say that we (humans) are acting like spoiled teenagers- leaving our stuff laying all over, selfishly using whatever we want and not thinking about leaving any for others, basically, taking our future for granted because we think we will live forever!  Well, it's time we all grew up and acted our age, well, maybe not 2.5 million years old, but you get my point!  We need to think about what we are doing to the planet and not worry so much about money and the power that comes with it.  Don't worry, that's about as political as I'm going to get.  We all know deep down what we need to do, we just need to, well, DO IT!!

So we visited a place in San Francisco that is doing their part to keep usable items out of landfills.  It's called SCRAP and it is cool!!  You know that drawer (or in our case, room) where you put stuff that isn't really needed but you just don't want to throw out?  This a whole warehouse of stuff like that!!  Companies, individuals, stores, etc. donate items that they no longer need and SCRAP sells the items to teachers, artists, or crafty people who can use it.  And they sell it cheap. We've been there a few times (and every time we come back with fun stuff) and I don't think I've ever spent over $20.  Here are a few shots of some of the finds we saw and then the details on the project we made.

Who doesn't need a coconut monkey?

or a headless mannequin?

Perhaps some items for dress up?

You are sure to find something useful (or maybe not useful but fun).  We went with the goal to find things to make an "Earth".  You never know what items will be there, so we went with an open mind.  We decided to make a fabric collage using scraps of fabric and a large rattan round platter, or lid, or, well, I don't know what it was supposed to be used for ?!  Anyway, here's what we made...

Recycled Earth
For the project you will need:

  • something round that would normally have ended up in the trash.
  • scraps of paper or fabric that don't have any other use.  Greens, blues, white.
  • Glue *
  • scissors

1.  Cut up the scraps into small pieces.  You will need a lot of blue since the Earth has so much water :)
2.  Spread the glue on the round "thing" and place the blue fabric scraps all over. * We planned on gluing everything but I decided that it would be more recyclable (sp?) if it was reusable. We are going to use it like a flannel board and make different scenes, so we didn't use glue.

3.  At both the top and bottom make some polar ice caps.
4.  Using green scraps make the land masses.  We tried to make it look like North and South America but with minor success.

It turned out really pretty, but since we didn't glue anything down it's only ours for a little while.....kind of like the real thing :)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Around the World in 1 Day!!

Field Trip :)

We started our week of fun field trips with one of our favorite places-- the Zoo!!  Sure, it's fun just to look at the animals and ride the carousel, but there is so much to learn at the zoo.  Since this was a special trip to commemorate finishing our year-long journey around the world, we really focused on WHERE the animals came from.  We checked the informational signs at each enclosure and we were able to check off every continent!!  I was so proud that the kids were even able to tell me some of the homelands without looking and my 6 year old could name the continents by shape.  We have ALL learned so much this year!

Here are some snapshots of the day and an animal we found from each continent-

Here is one of the Magellenic penguins found in the most southern parts of South America and Antarctica.

Of course, the beautiful giraffes from Africa!  It's hard to tell from the picture but this is a baby giraffe born about 1 1/2 months ago.  The SF Zoo also has an amazing Lemur exhibit, and we know that lemurs only live in Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa.

They were all snuggled up because this is San Francisco in the summer, which can be foggy :)

You can't talk about Australia without mentioning Kangaroos but have you ever seen a Cassowary?? 
They look like something from the dinosaur era! They are also found in Papua New Guinea.

South America is represented by the Alpaca we found in the petting zoo and the beautiful flamingoes. 

I love flamingoes!  I got into a little debate with an 8 year old over whether or not flamingoes could fly.  FYI- they can :)


The kids found a very tame camel from Asia- just kidding it's a sculpture of a one-humped Dromedary camel. They are found in the Middle East which is considered Asia, but also found in Africa.  The 2-humped Bactrian Camel is found in other parts of Asia. 

The beautiful snow leopard can also be found in Asia.  Did you know that it has the softest fur of any animal?  The chinchilla has the second softest.

For North America, we visited the always adorable prairie dogs! 

They even got to pretend to BE prairie dogs :)

The zoo also has a great Grizzly Bear exhibit!  These bears are so beautiful but I sure wouldn't want to come across one in the wild!!

This polar bear can be found in both North America, Northern Europe and Russia, so we are using it as our representative from Europe.  This is one BIG animal!!

This super fluffy owl is a Eurasian Owl.  It is so beautiful and soft but the claws are crazy-long!!

That's our trip around the world in one day!!  Want a fun way to teach your kids about the animals and areas of the world?  Print out a map of the world, head to the closest zoo and check off as many continents as you can.  If you check off all the continents treat yourselves to something fun!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 52!!!

It's A Small World After All!!

Well, we did it!!  We spent 52 weeks learning about different countries, cultures, cuisines and crafts, and you know what we learned?  That it really is a very amazing planet we live on.  The diversity of animals, climates, landscapes and cultures is just overwhelming when you really think about it.  This one planet holds so much amazing-ness (is that a word?) that "The Earth" is going to be our theme this week

 We are going to go out in style this week....that means FIELD TRIPS!!!  Yeah! ;)  For those of you who don't live in the San Francisco Area, sorry you won't be able to join us, but go out and find some new exciting adventures wherever you live!  Just be outside in this great big wonderful world!! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Art: Antarctic Style

When life hands you ice....

.... Do ice painting, of course!!  If there is one thing Antarctica has more of than penguins, it's ice.  A layer of ice permanently covers 95% of the continent and can reach a thickness of a mile.  So you'd think that the only color as far as the eye could see would be white, right?  Actually, the ice reflects the sky and beautifully creates shades of blue that are amazing.

The water runoff when the ice melts, and the surrounding seas are so pure and clean that the water is the clearest shade of blue you'll see.  Cold, but beautiful.

So we made a project.

Antarctic Ice Painting
For the project you will need:

  • ice cube trays or small disposable cups
  • water
  • blue food coloring
  • white paper
  • toothpicks
  • cling wrap or foil
1.  Pour the water into the ice cube trays (or small disposable cups) and add a small amount of blue food coloring to the water to make various shades of blue.  So pretty.

2. Cover the tray with wrap and poke toothpicks through for handles.

3. Put into freezer.  Wait, wait, wait.

4. When properly frozen, use the ice to paint all over the paper to make beautiful shades of blue.  We went through a few sheets of paper just painting and then I drew an orca so we had an underwater scene to paint.

This is a very relaxing painting activity that would be great on a hot day or with different colors to show color mixing.  Clean up is easy and leftover "paint" can be used to cool off your drink :)

Cheers to Antarctica!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Just for fun!

Don't Break the Ice!

We were playing around today and rediscovered a game we haven't played in a few months.  Coincidentally, it matched our theme of Antarctica so we thought we'd share it with you.

It's called Don't Break the Ice and is pretty fun and easy for all ages, although a grown up (or patient kid) will probably need to set it up.  It features blocks of "ice" held by tension in a square rack. There is one large square that holds a figure of an ice-skating polar bear that you DON'T want to let fall as you knock out the surrounding blocks of ice one by one.  Since there are no polar bears in Antarctica (they are in the Artic) we subbed a small stuffed penguin.  We found another stuffed penguin who we let observe :)

It's a fun game and, if you can stand the noise of the little hammer tap-tap-tapping the ice, the kids will enjoy setting up different configurations and seeing how much of the ice they can chip away before it all goes crashing down!!


Fun times!  Well maybe not for the penguin!

Another fun Antarctica themed idea would be to rent Happy Feet.  It's a cute little movie about a young penguin who feels he just doesn't belong.  He goes on a quest to find himself and ends up saving the whole penguin colony.  It gets a little into the overfishing and illegal poaching that goes on in the Antarctic region and the leopard seals (and other penguin eating animals) are a bit frightening in some scenes, but, overall, it's a pretty good movie that would make a good platform for teaching about Antarctica and the animals that live there.  Click here for a small clip from the movie. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 51: Antarctica

The Ice Continent

So we have spent almost an entire year (!) learning about a different country each week, yet we left out an entire continent!!  Well, we are going to remedy that this week, we are studying Antarctica!!

The continent of Antarctica is the windiest, driest, coldest, highest and emptiest place on the earth.  It doesn't really qualify as a country because no one lives there and there is no government or capital, language or culture.  So what is there? 

Actually, there's a lot going on.  There are numerous scientists and explorers doing experiments on wind, cold, the animal life, astronomy, etc. etc.  There are 21 different species of penguins that can be found on or around the 5.4 million square miles that make up the vast continent.  Over 95% of that land is covered by ice, some of that ice is over a mile deep.  90% of the world's ice and 70% of the freshwater is held here.  

There are no land mammals or native people on Antarctica.  But around 50 million (give or take) years ago, the region had a temperate climate and forests and animals.  Those fossils are somewhere underneath that ice!  Think of all the cool new scientific finds just waiting to be discovered!! 

The waters surrounding Antarctica are full of interesting creatures - there are numerous seals, whales, sea birds, and fish all feeding on the billions of krill (or the fish that eat the krill) that live in the COLD water!  These teeny tiny little crustaceans are perhaps the most important creature in the Antarctic seas. 

So, what I thought was going to be a boring region is actually a pretty amazing place.  Hope you join our exploration!

Beautiful isn't it?


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Viva La France!

Happy Bastille Day!

Just happened to notice on the calendar that today, July 14, is Bastille Day in France.  Bastille Day celebrates the storming of the Bastille Prison that was the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of absolute monarchy for the King.  It is celebrated all over France as a national holiday.  So click here or here or here for some fun ideas to celebrate France!! 


Friday, July 12, 2013

A Little Luck For You

Moroccan Good Luck Hands

I came across this symbol when I was looking up some art projects for Morocco and it seemed perfect for us to do this week.  I mean who doesn't want more good luck?  Not me, I could use all I can get!  The symbol is called a Khamsa (Hamsa) and is a open right hand that can be decorated any number of ways. They are commonly made from precious metals, like silver or gold, and can be worn as an amulet or hung over doorways. 
They serve both to give the owner good luck and protect from the "evil eye".  You know, the "evil eye", that malicious stare that will (supposedly) cause illness, death or awful bad luck to the recipient.  Bad juju.  So it's better to be safe and make your very own Khamsa in case you run afoul of some big meanie giving you a bad look.  Lucky for you, you read this blog :)  See the good luck is already coming.

For the project you will need:
  • aluminum foil (unless you have some extra silver or gold lying around)
  • skewer or pencil
  • markers
  • glue
  • scissors
  • glitter or gems (optional- we didn't use)
1.  Take a piece of aluminum foil that is about 12 inches long and spread a thin layer of glue around it.  Fold the foil in thirds making sure that it's big enough to trace a hand on.  The glue will keep the layers of foil from separating once it's dried.

2. Trace your (or your kid's) right hand onto the foil with the skewer.  Or you can use a pencil or pen.  Cut out the shape.

3. Decorate your Khamsa with spirals, eyes, hearts, whatever.  I used the skewer first and then colored it in with the markers.  I think it gives a nicer texture and more dimension.  Or it would look pretty with some glitter or gems glued on. 

4. There, now you are protected and safe and have a cute little handprint keepsake. 

You're welcome.  Have a wonderful day!!!