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Saturday, April 22, 2017

I'm Chicken Crazy... I Don't Care... And Here's Why You Should Be Too

Buying Chicks

Two weeks ago today we took home our four baby chicks who were only a few days old.  Before bringing them home I did a lot of research on chickens, and there is a lot to learn.  We wanted chickens that were good egg layers and friendly with children.  The kids were so excited to pick the chicks out so we went to a local nursery to pick them up for $5-$7 each.  You can get chicks straight from the hatchery for much less but we wanted the experience of picking them out and we live near to the nursery so the drive home wouldn't add stress.  We brought home a Rhode Island Red because of their exceptional egg laying ability.  We also have a Golden Wyandotte, a Cochin, and a Barred Rock.
3 day old chicks

2 week old chicks


It's only been two weeks but chickens don't require a lot of preparation.  We bought a coop on Facebook Garage Sale. We bought feed with high protein, a feeder, a heat lamp, a water feeder, and cedar chips.  We started with a regular size tote but the water feeder kept tipping over.  It literally was insane because every time I checked on them the water was empty and the entire tote was soaked.  They needed more space so my husband dumped out his jumbo hunting tote and it became their new home.  It has worked great the past week.  They have more room to play and the water doesn't get tipped over.

Things to Look Out For

A few days after we brought the chicks home I noticed the little Rhode Island Red Shaking.  He didn't look good.  I picked him up and noticed a dark clump stuck to his butt.  Little chicks can get pasty butt from stress or the cold.  The first week we had them the weather was cold.  They need to be kept warm (90 degrees).  The chicks were kept in an insulated garage with a heat lamp, but the stress and cold may have contributed to pasty but.  I brought him in a kept running warm water on his bottom until it came off.  Then I blow dried him and used a q-tip to dab olive oil on his bottom.  I also put a few drops of apple cider vinegar in their water.  I'm not sure where I heard to do this, but it worked.  He seems to be doing much better.

Now it is becoming warmer and at two weeks old we are enjoying bringing them outside to play.  We are trying to introduce the dogs to them at a distance but have not brought them too close.  One barks at them and licks his lips which makes us a tad nervous.  I cleaned the coop with bleach water a few days ago and painted it.  Soon I plan to move the chicks to the coop with straw when it warms up.

Why You Should Get Chicks

Chicks are so much fun, and such a good experience for the kids. They have already provided our family with so much happiness.  Taking care of our chicks is one of my new favorite outdoor activities.  Once you experience it you will know why.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017

5 Spring Activities For Kids

1) Kite Flying on a Lake

Take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and get out on the lake before the fishermen and water skiers. We like flying our 5 foot shark kite out on the lake when there is no one else in the lake. We got it at the biggest toy store I have been to in Kellogg, MN.

2) Puddle Jumping

It's the little things in life and sometimes we forget about that. I remember the rejuvating feeling of jumping in the puddles.  My kids could jump in their rubber boots for hours.

3) Listen to the birds

Spring is the best time of year to be outside and listen to the birds without mosquitoes. 

4) Start Garden Indoors

Plant seeds indoor and transplant outdoors in May through June.

5) Chickens

Even if you live in city limits you may be able to have chickens. Sounds like a good lesson for kids, and I heard the eggs are the best. We don't have chickens yet but I'm thinking this is something we want to do. I'll keep you posted. Anyone have chickens?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Does The Ice Say?

Ever wonder what that cracking sound is when you are out on the lake? Many of us hear the ice crack and fear we will break through the ice. The ice actually makes a cracking sound when it is forming. Check out the video below to hear what ice forming sounds like. There is no editing done to the video. It's all natural. Who needs music when you have nature?

Friday, January 6, 2017

STEM: Teaching the Engineering Process

So far this year I've been integrating at least one STEM Activity into every unit in my 6th grade classroom. I should have been doing this eight years ago when I started teaching. This keeps them practicing the engineering process throughout the year. In our health unit we designed stretchers to rescue someone from a mountain. In our matter unit we designed canoes and analyzed the physical properties of materials. In our energy unit we are building catapults, paddle boats, and roller coasters.

It would be fun to design and test the structures outdoors. We will be building our paddle boats this year in below zero weather so I set up a testing pond in my classroom by using an old steam table.

For each activity I recommend setting up a general store in your classroom where students can buy supplies with fake money that you supply them. This teaches students to analyze trade-offs such as cost and durability. It also makes students conserve the resources they buy and encourages them to plan before building.

Testing and redesigning is important. First students research, plan, build, and then test and redesign before the final test. After students do their first test I reopen the store for exchanges, refunds, and additional purchases. This process is an important learning step.

Whether you are a teacher or parent these activities are beneficial to kids of all ages. The best part is you could have fun testing the structure outdoors. Below are some activities I use and would like to share with you.

Paddle Boat Engineering

Paddle Boat Engineering is a complete STEM Activity ready to handout to your students. Students go through each step of the engineering process and construct paddle boats. It uses cheap supplies probably already in your classroom. This activity is available in word format so it can be adapted to any grade level.

Catapult Engineering

Catapult Engineering is a complete STEM Activity ready to handout to your students. You can test using marshmallows. Students go through each step of the engineering process and construct catapults. It uses cheap supplies probably already in your classroom. This activity is available in word format so it can be adapted to any grade level.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Promoting Engineering in K-12

Getting kids engaged in engineering has many benefits. There are many ways to integrate engineering with science, technology, and math. Here are some helpful tips for teachers, parents, schools, and cooperations. 

Benefits of Promoting Engineering in K-12

Engineering promotes critical thinking and problem solving. During each unit my 6th graders compete in an engineering competition. I pose a question for them to solve, and they research, design, test, redesign, test, and communicate results. This teaches them to think creatively.

STEM activities teach collaboration. Students learn how to work together as a team to solve a problem. They learn that they must make compromises and give and receive input from group members.

At the end of each competition students communicate results whether it be in writing, online, or verbally. This teaches students how to present their findings and analyze tradeoffs.

Integrating Engineering in the Classroom

Group engineering competitions help students actively participate in the engineering process by giving students motivation to design and build the best prototype. Competition sparks creativity by motivating many students.

Teachers can incorporate an engineering activity into each unit. I've had students design rafts, canoes, towers, bridges, and compete in many engineering competitions. We use any items I can find. Students discuss tradeoffs and select the best material for the prototype.

Parents and teachers can seek help from cooperations. I'm looking into grants to help fund supplies for engineering activities in K-12. Many places also offer outreach programs to get students interested in engineering.  The science museum and amusement parks like Valley Fair offer programs for schools. I'm taking 180 6th graders to the Science Museum to build Super Structures this winter.

If you have any resources you'd like to share to help promote engineering at the K-12 level please share them. I'd love to hear your ideas on inspiring students to use the engineering design process.
(Minnesota 6th Grade Science Teacher)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Disney World With Kids

I've been going to Disney since I was a kid, and each time it keeps getting better. I've stayed at many Disney Resorts and offsite.  Here are some of my tips for traveling to Disney.

Disney World
Stay Onsite

Staying onsite is far more magical, and has many extra perks. Staying onsite is an all around better deal. You can make your fast past selections 30 days earlier. Staying onsite is well worth it, and sometimes staying offsite can actually be more expensive. Look for onsite deals and take advantage of onsite perks. Many Disney Resorts have fun events right at the resort. When we stayed at Coronado Springs we enjoyed character experiences right at our resort. There were many Easter events right at the hotel.  When we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside we Trick or Treated at the resort and enjoyed character experiences. These all are included in your room price. If you come during a holiday check out special events at Disney's Parks. Check out The Not So Scary Halloween Party if you come around Halloween. We enjoyed trick or treating at Magic Kingdom, The Not So Scary Parade, and much more.

Take The Magical Express

There's nothing more relaxing than not driving and finding parking spots on vacation. Hope on the Magical Express at the airport and it wil bring you to your Disney Resort. The Magical Express also goes from each Disney Resort to each park and back. You don't have to wait long to get on. It's very convient and stress free. Some resorts also offer boat rides. For example Port Orleans Fremch Quarter and Riverside offer boat rides to and from Disney Springs. Again there are many boats so you don't have to wait long.

Leave the Carseats at Home

If you take the Magic Express there is no need for a car seat. This makes for a hassle free trip. You don't need to carry car seats and kids through the airport and install them in rental cars.

Get the Rapid Fill Mug

When you get to the resort stop at the food court or gift shop and get a Rapid Refill Mug. You can get unlimited refills for up to two weeks. You can fill it at any Disney resort, but not at the parks so make sure you refill before you leave the resort.  This includes coffee, tea, and soft drinks. You get to keep the mug too. It's a $17.49 well spent, and saves a lot on drinks.

Fast Passes

Get the Disney Expericence App and make your fast pas selections. This allows you to skip the line. You can make up to 3 fast pass reservations a day. After you use them you can find a kiosk at the park and make more fast pass selections. You can make fast passes for character experiences, rides, and shows. With some rides and attractions you will find that lines are short with or without a fast pass so they aren't always needed. For popular attractions and during peak tunes Fastpasses are a must.
Visit During a Holiday

Watch for Deals

Check Disney Worlds website for specials. I kept checking until their fall deals came out and was able to get a trip in the fall that was longer than our last spring break Disney Trip but much cheaper.

Disney also offers cruises. I have not been on one but have it on my list to check out. What are your favorite Disney experiences?