All Fun

Going to the Zoo!

May is the perfect time to visit a zoo. It's not too hot or crowded, and the animals are at their springtime best. If your kids are begging for pandas, then the National Zoo in Washington is the place to go, but there are some places about an hour's drive from our area where kids can get a different kind of beastly experience.

MonkeyShines

Whether leaping through the vines of a rainforest or the pages of a book at the library, monkeys have lots to teach us about the ways animals live, our responsibilities in caring for the last wild places, and just how to have fun.

I'll bet you know that monkeys are furry, cute, and swing in the trees, but there's so much more to learn about them:

A Monkey is NOT an Ape

Monkeys have tails, but apes do not. Chimpanzees, gibbons, orangutans, and gorillas are all apes. They use their powerful arms and legs to swing through the trees. Many New World monkeys from South America can use their tails like another hand to swing. Monkeys from Asia and India can't do that! Monkeys, apes, and humans are all part of a family group called primates.

Bread to Bake

March yourself into the kitchen, and start making some delicious bread! We have recipes for kid favorites teamed with fun books for a smart, sweet weekend treat.

A Room of Your Own

It's the first thing you see when you get up in the morning and the last thing you see when you go to bed at night. It should be a space that really expresses you, not just a collection of random backpack kibble.

With the right paint color, some interesting fabric, cool posters, and one or two fun yet functional light fixtures, you can create a room that's perfect for your daydreaming self and may even make homework time a little easier to take.

To get started, think about what you need to make your room work for you. You may think a calendar and a desk are pretty dorky, but you have to have some place to put your work stuff, yes? And your room is a MUCH better place to get down to school business than the dining room table or the den. So figure out where you're going to put the hafta's and then feel free to play with the rest. After all, Mom and Dad are going to be much sweeter about springing for a few decorating extras if the purpose is to improve your studies. ; )

Time to Get Popping

Popcorn was grown by Native Americans long before the Europeans came to the New World. The Aztecs used it, strung into garlands, in their religious ceremonies. Peruvians toasted and ate their popcorn, which was called pisancalla. During the 1830's, it was "discovered" by American farmers who, using a new kind of plow, planted acres and acres of it during the 1850s. By the turn of the 19th century, popcorn vendors could be found in every big city. They'd sell their wares by the bag or the ball and make a profit of about 70 cents on every dollar!

An American Thanksgiving

Everybody knows that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, right? Well, probably not, but it was the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving that gave us our Thanksgiving holiday as we know it today.

The Pilgrims came to the New World looking for a way to worship God as they wished. They were not Puritans. Puritans wanted to change the Church of England to do away with its bishops but keep its ties to the government. The Puritans went on to settle the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Colony were Separatists.

All Fun: Red Planet Day

Each November 28 is celebrated as “Red Planet Day.”  Red Planet Day commemorates the launch of the Spacecraft Mariner 4 on November 28, 1964. Its 228-day mission brought the spacecraft within 6,118 miles of Mars on July 14, 1965, sending us back the first close-up photos of the red planet.

Mars is a very bright planet, and when it’s in range, you can usually see it without a telescope.  Of course, if you have a telescope—or binoculars—you will get a better look.  Fortunately, in November the skies are usually clear, and Mars can sometimes be seen in the early morning.  With the Internet, you can find a star chart or other guide to show you where the planets should be in the night sky. If you can’t see the stars where you are because of light pollution, ask if your parents can take you out in the countryside where the view is better.

All Fun: It’s National Pizza Month

As if we needed an excuse to eat pizza, there’s actually an official month for it—and that month is October.  Time for football games and harvest fairs, and there’s enough of a cool nip in the air that hot, fresh pizza is the perfect fit for a busy night.

However you like your pizza, one of these books is sure to be to your taste.

How It’s Made

Extra Cheese, Please! Mozzarella's Journey from Cow to Pizza by Cris Peterson
The cheese is supreme and in this book, Cris Peterson tells how the favorite ingredient gets from her family farm to your dinner table.

Pizza at Sally’s by Monica Wellington
With vegetables from her own garden and other fresh ingredients, Sally mixes and bakes hot and bubbly pizzas for her customers to take home or eat in her pizzeria.

Pizza Man by Marjorie Pillar
Black and white photographs highlight the steps in making a pizza pie, from the moment the pizza man starts mixing the dough until he serves a slice to a hungry customer.

The Pizza That We Made by Joan Holub
What could be better than pizza? A pizza you make all by yourself! Three ambitious cooks, with a little help from their dog, get together to make a pizza topped with all kinds of yummy things-and they have a great time doing it! A book for beginning readers.
 

Stage a Puppet Show

There are all kinds of puppets: marionettes on strings, hand puppets that fit like a glove, and tiny finger puppets. They can be made with so many things: paper plates, index cards, straws and yarn, and even old socks! Puppets have been around for ages throughout the world. Read on to learn more about the world of puppets and how to make your own.

Stargazing

Great stars above!

From our place beneath the heavens, the stars seem to be tiny pinpoints of light. People have seen patterns in the stars for thousands of years. In the storytellers' imaginations, warriors and princesses, flying horses and laughing coyotes all found their way to the stars. Some soothsayers still tell fortunes based on the mysteries of astrology, or the alignment of the planets.

Astronomers know that the real mysteries of space are much greater than the accidental alignments of the stars. Stars, in all their blazing glory of red, blue, green, yellow, and more, are pulsing and moving, swirling around in their galaxies which, in turn, move around the Universe. The stars themselves may be ages old, but we continue to learn more about them all the time. Recently, scientists discovered ten new planets--one of which is orbiting a very young star.