All posts by Katie Sindt

Reading Enrichment #42: Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

Based on this information, you can see that traditions cover centuries and adapt to the changing times.

What Halloween or Fall traditions does your family practice?
Share in the comments below!

Source: https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

Early Enrichment #41: Spooky Halloween Tongue Twisters!

Tongue twisters are a great way to practice and improve pronunciation and fluency. They’re not just for kids, but are also used by actors, politicians, and public speakers who want to sound clear when speaking. Below, you will find some spooky tongue twisters. Say them as quickly as you can.

Spooky Halloween Tongue Twisters

  • He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.
  • Creepy crawler critters crawl through creepy crawly craters.
  • Dracula digs dreary, dark dungeons.
  • Ghostly ghouls gather gleefully to golf on ghostly golf courses.
  • Gobbling gargoyles gobbled gobbling goblins.
  • Horribly hoarse hoot owls hoot howls of horror in Halloween haunted houses.
  • If big, black bats could blow bubbles, how big of bubbles would big black bats blow?
  • If two witches would watch two watches, which witch would watch which watch?
  • Professional Pumpkin Pickers are prone to pick the plumpest pumpkins.
  • Transylvanian Tree Trimmers are trained to trim the tallest Transylvanian trees.
  • Several spooky, slimy spiders sulkily spun by the sea.
  • The ochre ogre ogled the poker.
  • Which witch wished which wicked wish?

Now that you’re an expert at saying them, can you write your own Spooky Tongue Twister?

Add it to the comments section!

Social Studies Enrichment #31: Jack-O’-Lanterns! Did you know the tradition came from Ireland?

I’ll bet many of you out there carved into a pumpkin this week!  I just learned today that the tradition of carving Jack-O’-Lanterns comes from Ireland! (Should’ve guessed that – O’-Lantern!)

Did you know that they didn’t use pumpkins? When the tradition first originated, in the 1400s, they used turnips or potatoes!

The name jack-o’-lantern comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack.

According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack-o’-lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.

Did you carve a jack-o’-lantern this year? If you did, share a picture of it in the comments section!

Source: https://www.history.com/news/history-of-the-jack-o-lantern-irish-origins

 

 

Social Studies Enrichment #30: Fifty Stars!

We’ve all heard the legend of Betsy Ross. But, who created and designed our current American flag?

Believe it or not, the designer was a 17-year-old boy from Lancaster, Ohio, who did it for a school assignment!

Yep, the year was 1958, and at that time, there were only 48 states. Robert G. Heft was riding the bus home from school one day that year. He was thinking about the assignment his history teacher, Mr. Pratt, had given the class—a project that demonstrated their interest in history. Something visual. Something original. By Monday.

As Robert rode through downtown Lancaster, he saw the flag on top of Lancaster city hall. “That’s what convinced me,” he said. “I would design a new flag.”

Robert was interested in politics. He knew that Alaska was likely to soon become the 49th state. “But I knew that Alaska was heavily Democrat,” he says. “The Senate would have to approve the addition, and it was dominated by Republicans at the time. Everyone was saying that they would be adding another state to balance it out.” He had a hunch that then-Republican Hawaii would soon become the 50th state.

At home that night he sketched out a grid for 50 stars. “I couldn’t just throw them in anywhere.” So he came up with a design. Five rows of six stars with four alternating rows of five stars. He even went so far as to sew a flag with the new design!

You would think he earned an “A”!  “Not on your life,” he said. “My teacher, Mr. Pratt, was a taskmaster. He looked at what I’d done and said it wasn’t the real flag. Not with 50 stars. I explained my reasoning, and he still just barely gave me a passing grade, so for the first time I really spoke out. I told him I deserved better. I had a friend who’d done a collage of leaves and got an A. What I’d done showed a lot more imagination. Mr. Pratt looked at me coolly and declared, ‘If you don’t like the grade, go get the flag accepted in Washington!'”

And that’s exactly what Robert Heft set out to do. He biked over to the home of his congressman, Walter Moeller, knocked on the door, gave him the flag and explained what it was for.

“I asked him if he would take my flag to Washington, and if there were ever a contest to determine the design for a 50-star flag, would he present mine? He was so bowled over that he agreed, probably just to get rid of me.”

Two years went by. In January 1959 President Eisenhower signed a proclamation announcing the admission of Alaska as the 49th state. As with all new states, the star would be added on the following July 4th.

That 49-star flag—seven rows of seven stars—was almost immediately obsolete. Because in August 1959, just as Robert had expected, Hawaii became the 50th state.

He’d already graduated from high school by then, the woeful grade still in Mr. Pratt’s book. Robert was working as a draftsman for an industrial firm and going to college at night. Whatever happened to my flag design? he wondered.

He’d heard that thousands of new designs had been submitted. A special commission of congressmen was screening them and choosing five for submission to President Eisenhower.

In early June, Congressman Moeller called Robert and said,  “Son, I’m proud to tell you that President Eisenhower has selected your design for our nation’s new flag. Congratulations.”

Robert flew to Washington to see his flag flown over the Capitol for the first time. Thousands of others had submitted the same design, but Robert Heft’s had been the first. Moreover it wasn’t just a sketch. It was an actual flag. That was a big plus.

What did his high school teacher, Mr. Pratt, think? “The day I returned from Washington, Mr. Pratt changed my grade. But you know,” Robert mused, “if I hadn’t gotten that bad grade in the first place I wouldn’t have given the flag to Congressman Moeller. And if I hadn’t done that, I never would have gone to Washington….”

For more than 40 years, longer than any other, his design has been the one we know. “But I’ve got a good design for fifty-one,” he said, “in case we add another.”

It’s good to be reminded that Old Glory is a work-in-progress. Always has been, I guess. From the 13 original Stars and Stripes to the star-spangled banner of today, long may it wave.

Your task: There has long been talk of adding another state – Puerto Rico.

Draw a design for an American flag that would include Puerto Rico with 51 stars.

Take a picture of your design and email it, or turn it into your EY teacher.

Source: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/inspired-to-create-a-grand-new-flag

 

Reading Enrichment #41: Who Was Johnny Appleseed?

With apple-picking adventures happening this month in orchards around and in Omaha, you might hear about the legend of Johnny Appleseed.

Who was this man? And, did he really exist? Read below to find out!

Johnny Appleseed was a folk hero and pioneer apple farmer in the 1800’s. There really was a Johnny Appleseed and his real name was John Chapman. He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1774. His dream was to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. Although legend paints a picture of Johnny as a dreamy wanderer, planting apple seeds throughout the countryside, research reveal him to be a careful, organized businessman, who over a period of nearly fifty years, bought and sold tracts of land and developed thousands of productive apple trees.

His adventures began in 1792, when John was eighteen years old. He and his eleven-year-old half brother, Nathaniel, headed west, following the steady stream of immigrants. In his early twenties, John began traveling alone, which is how he spent the rest of his life. Nathaniel stayed behind to farm with their father, who had also immigrated west.

John continued moving west to Pennsylvania. From there he traveled into the Ohio Valley country and later, Indiana. He kept ahead of the settlements and each year planted apple seeds farther west. He always carried a leather bag filled with apple seeds he collected for free from cider mills. Legend says he was constantly planting them in open places in the forests, along the roadways and by the streams. However, research suggests he created numerous nurseries by carefully selecting the perfect planting spot, fencing it in with fallen trees and logs, bushes and vines, sowing the seeds and returning at regular intervals to repair the fence, tend the ground and sell the trees. He soon was known as the “apple seed man” and later he became known only as “Johnny Appleseed”.

Over the years, his frequent visits to the settlements were looked forward to and no cabin door was ever closed to him. To the men and women he was a news carrier; to the children he was a friend. He was also very religious and preached to people along the way. His favorite book was his Bible. He made friends with many Indian tribes and was known to have learned many Indian languages well enough to converse. He lived on food provided by nature and he never killed animals.

Though appearing poor, he was not a poor man. He accumulated more cash than he needed by selling his apple trees and tracts of land. He never used banks and relied instead on an elaborate system of burying his money. He preferred to barter and trade food or clothing rather than collect money for his trees. It was more important a settler plant a tree than pay him for it.

Johnny Appleseed is described as a man of medium height, blue eyes, light-brown hair, slender, wiry and alert. Folklore has also described him as “funny looking” because of the way he dressed. It is said he traded apple trees for settler’s cast-off clothing. He was known to give the better clothing to people he felt needed it more than he. This could be why legend says he wore only coffee sacks with holes cut out for his arms as clothing. He rarely wore shoes, even during the cold of winter. It is said he could walk over the ice and snow barefooted and that the skin was so thick on his feet that even a rattlesnake couldn’t bite through it. Another legend says he wore a mush pot on his head as a hat. This is unlikely since pots of the time were made of heavy copper or iron, but it is more likely he wore someone else’s castoff hat or made his own out of cardboard. He rarely sought shelter in a house, since he preferred to sleep on bare ground in the open forest with his feet to a small fire.

In 1842, Johnny made his last trip back to Ohio after spending 50 years walking throughout the countryside. While there, he moved into the home of Nathaniel, the half brother with whom he began his remarkable journey. On March 18, 1845, he died of pneumonia at the age of seventy-one. He was visiting his friend, William Worth, in Indiana. Legend says it was the only time he was sick in his whole life. He is buried in an unmarked grave near Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Click the link below to print out a crossword puzzle with words from this story. Turn it into your school’s EY teacher when you are finished!

johnnyappleseed_printout

Early Enrichment #40: Mary DID Have a Little Lamb!

Everyone knows the nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” but you probably didn’t know this was based on true story!!

The nursery rhyme, which was was first published in 1830, is based on an actual incident involving Mary Elizabeth Sawyer, a woman born in 1806 on a farm in Sterling, Massachusetts. Spoiler: its fleece WAS white as snow.

Birthplace of Mary Sawyer and the Little Lamb

In 1815, Mary, then nine, was helping her father with farm chores when they discovered a sickly newborn lamb in the sheep pen that had been abandoned by its mother. After a lot of pleading, Mary was allowed to keep the animal, although her father didn’t hold out much hope for its survival. Against the odds, Mary managed to nurse the lamb back to health.

“In the morning, much to my girlish delight, it could stand; and from that time it improved rapidly. It soon learned to drink milk; and from the time it would walk about, it would follow me anywhere if I only called it,” Mary would later write in the 1880s, many decades after the incident. And, yes, the lamb would indeed follow her wherever she went and did have a fleece as white as snow.

Sometime later, Mary was heading to school with her brother when the lamb began following them. The siblings apparently weren’t trying very hard to prevent the lamb from tagging along, even hauling it over a large stone fence they had to cross to get to Redstone School, the one-room schoolhouse they attended. Once there, Mary secreted her pet under her desk and covered her with a blanket. But when Mary was called to the front of the class to recite her lessons, the lamb popped out of its hiding place and, much to Mary’s chagrin and to the merriment of her classmates, came loping up the aisle after her. The lamb was shooed out, where it then waited outside until Mary took her home during lunch. The next day, John Roulstone, a student a year or two older, handed Mary a piece of paper with a poem he’d written about the previous day’s events. You know the words (except maybe for the 3rd verse):

Mary had a little lamb;
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out;
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.

Watch the video below to hear the tune that goes along with the words above.

Now, here’s your task:

Write your own words to go with that tune in the style of the poem above.  Submit your poem to the EY coordinator at your school!

Social Studies Enrichment #29: The NEW Seven Wonders of the World

NEW Wonders of the World? Does that mean they were built in the last few years? NO! It just means they’re different from the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. The new Wonders could be anything built before the year 2000!

So, what ARE the NEW Wonders of the World? WONDEROPOLIS knows!

Read the article (click on the Wonderopolis link above) and then test your knowledge by taking Wonderopolis’s quiz – report your score down below in the comments section, along with the most interesting thing you learned from the article!

 

Reading Enrichment #40: Female Cyclist Wins The Grueling Transcontinental Race For The First Time!

Enjoy riding your bike? Fiona Kolbinger from Germany sure does! She just won the ultra-endurance Transcontinental Race on August 6, 2019! The cancer researcher from Germany outrode 225 men and 39 women to complete the approximately 2,485 mile-race from Bulgaria to France in 10 days, two hours, and 48 minutes. Even more impressive, Kolbinger crossed the finish line almost 11 hours ahead of the second-place winner, Ben Davies of the United Kingdom.

Watch the video below to find out more about the Transcontinental Race, then click on the link below the video to read the entire article about Fiona’s amazing win!

https://www.dogonews.com/2019/8/12/fiona-kolbinger-is-the-first-female-cyclist-to-win-the-grueling-transcontinental-race

Finally, play the game at the bottom of the article!

In the comments below, write a note to Fiona, including what you found most impressive about her win!

Social Studies Enrichment #28: School Now vs. School in the 1800s

Source:  http://mentalfloss.com/article/58705/11-ways-school-was-different-1800s

Summer break is coming up for most students in the United States, but did you ever wonder what summer break looked like for kids in the 1800s?  There are so many differences between school now and school in the 1800s! This blog post will explore those differences, and it may just convince you how much tougher it could be – and just how good you’ve got it!

  • In the 19th and early 20th centuries, one room schoolhouses were the norm in rural areas. A single teacher taught grades one through eight together. The youngest students—called Abecedarians, because they would learn their ABCs—sat in the front, while the oldest sat in the back. The room was heated by a single wood stove.
  • Most of the time, there was no transportation to get to school. Most schoolhouses were built to serve students living within 4 or 5 miles, which was considered close enough for them to walk. So when your Grandpa says, “I used to walk 5 miles to school”, he might not be exaggerating.
  • The school year was much shorter back then! When the Department of Education first began gathering data on the subject in the 1869-70 school year, students attended school for about 132 days (the standard school year these days is 180) depending on when they were needed to help their families harvest crops. Attendance was just 59 percent. School days typically started at 9am and wrapped up at 2pm or 4pm, depending on the area; there was one hour for recess and lunch, which was called“nooning.”
  • Forget iPads and gel pens—there were no fancy school supplies in the 19th and early-20th centuries. Students made do with just a slate and some chalk.
  • Lessons were quite different than they are today. Teachers taught subjects including reading, writing, arithmetic, history, grammar, rhetoric, and geography. Students would memorize their lessons, and the teacher would bring them to the front of the room as a class to recite what they’d learned—so the teacher could correct them on things like pronunciation on the spot—while the other students continued to work behind them.
  • Teachers sometimes lived with their students’ families. According to Michael Day at the Country School Association of America, this practice was called “boarding round,” and it often involved the teacher moving from one students’ house to the next as often as every week. One Wisconsin teacher wrote of boarding with families in 1851, “I found it very unpleasant, especially during the winter and spring terms, for one week I would board where I would have a comfortable room; the next week my room would be so open that the snow would blow in, and sometimes I would find it on my bed, and also in it. A part of the places where I boarded I had flannel sheets to sleep in; and the others cotton. But the most unpleasant part was being obliged to walk through the snow and water. I suffered much from colds and a cough.”
  • Discipline was very strict. Sure, stepping out of line in the 1800s and early 1900s could result in detention, suspension, or expulsion, but it could also result in a lashing. According to a document outlining student and teacher rules created by the Board of Education in Franklin, Ohio, from 1883, “Pupils may be detained at any recess or not exceeding fifteen minutes after the hour for closing the afternoon session, when the teacher deems such detention necessary, for the commitment of lessons or for the enforcement of discipline. … Whenever it shall become necessary for teachers to resort to corporal punishment, the same shall not be inflicted upon head or hands of the pupil.” Not all places had such a rule, though; in other areas, teachers could use a ruler or pointer to lash a student’s knuckles or palms. Other punishments included holding a heavy book for more than an hour and writing “I will not…” do a certain activity on the blackboard 100 times.
  • No lunch was provided by the school, even if families had the money for it; kids brought their lunches to school in metal pails. Every student drank water from a bucket filled by the older boys using the same tin cup.  GROSS!!
  • For many, education ended after just eighth grade; in order to graduate, students would have to pass a final exam. You can see a sample of a typical 8th grade exam in Nebraska circa 1895 in this PDF. It includes questions like “Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications,” “A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?,” and “What are elementary sounds? How classified?”

Try the test yourself and let us know how you did in the comments!