Friday, December 21, 2012

Wonderful Winter Solstice, 2012!

In the Northern Hemisphere, winter is the 
coldest season of the year. 
It begins about December 21 and lasts until about March 21. Around December 21 or 22, 
the sun's rays fall directly over the farthest point south of the equator - marking the first day of winter. 

Winter days have fewer hours of daylight because of the path the earth takes as it revolves around the sun. The earth completely revolves around the sun during 365 days. The earth's axis always tips about 23 1/2 degrees from a line perpendicular to its path. 

In the Southern Hemisphere, winter begins in June.
Different regions have longer winters than others. For example, in the polar regions, winter takes up half the year. In the Temperate Zones winter takes up about one quarter of the year. 

In regions where there is cold weather, it causes many changes in the environment. Water may freeze and become ice, snow, sleet or icicles. Most plants and animals become dormant and rest. 
Some animals hibernate. 
The only plants that grow and remain green are evergreens. 
People protect themselves from the cold climate with winter clothing when they go outdoors. They enjoy a variety of indoor activities or outdoor winter sports such as skiing, skating, or sledding. 


Here are some fun winter links!

Want to make an online snowflake? Click here! 

BrainPop has some great winter and snow movies! Click here! 

Snowflake Workshop? Click here! 


What do you enjoy most about winter?

How will you be celebrating the holidays?

What activities will you be participating in this winter break?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Variety of Van Allsburgs!

Recently in our reading text books, we read The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, Chris Van Allsburg's first children's book. It is a clever and mysterious story about a dog named Fritz who runs into Mr. Gasazi's garden. Fritz is possibly turned into a duck by Mr. Gasazi, but the reader never really knows for sure. Mr. Van Allsburg leaves that up to the reader to decide.

Because Mr. Van Allsburg is such a talented writer and has written so many wonderful books, Mrs. Ranney read three more to us.

* * * * * * * *

The first one we listened to was called Two Bad Ants. Through their experiences in the jar of crystals, which turn out to be sugar, these ants learn that they are better off staying with their colony rather than venturing out on their own.

* * * * * * * *

The second book we enjoyed was Bad Day at River Bend. The story seems to take place in an old western town. Everything and everyone in town is being covered by a colorful greasy slime. However, at the end it is revealed that all the characters are in a young boy's coloring book!

* * * * * * * *

Finally, Mrs. Ranney read The Widow's Broom to us. It was an eerie tale in which a witch's broom comes to be owned by a widow. The neighbors are very upset about this enchanted broom who does all the widow's chores and want to do away with it. However, the widow comes up with an extremely clever plan to trick the neighbors and keep her broom!

* * * * * * * *

Which of these stories did you like best and why?
What other books by Chris Van Allsburg have you enjoyed?
Please leave a comment and give us your opinions.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Enormous, Enthralling Endeavour!


Space Shuttle Endeavour is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration),
 the space agency of the United States. 

Alex at the Space Shuttle Endeavour temporary display.
Before it was even available for public viewing, 
 our classmate Alex was able to visit Endeavour in its
temporary new home!

Last month, I visited the California Science Center and was astonished by the sight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. While the permanent display is being built, it is in its temporary display.  

My dad’s company is designing and building the permanent building for the Space Shuttle Endeavor, so that’s why we were invited to see Endeavour the day before it opened to the public.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Close up picture of Endeavour.

When I saw it, Endeavour was on its wheels, like when it lands.  In 2 to 3 years, once the permanent display is built, Endeavour will be in launch position.  It will have the rocket boosters and external fuel tank attached.

A picture of the planned permanent display for Endeavour.  It will be displayed in launch position with its 2 solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank.

Before I went in to see the Space Shuttle, there was a display room.  It has real Space Shuttle tires, a Mission Control display, a simulator, which I got to ride in and a video that shows how Endeavour was driven from LAX Airport to the Science Center.  I took pictures of all these areas of the display.  

Endeavour’s used tires.  A lot of rubber gets burned off when it lands!

A picture of Endeavour from when it was transported through the streets of Los Angeles – from LAX to the CA Science Center.

A replica of Mission Control.

Two more views of Mission Control.
After I visited the display area, I went downstairs into the temporary building where Endeavour is located.  It was so interesting and amazing!  We took lots of pictures, and my mom even bought me an Endeavour shirt!

Here are more of the photos we took:
Endeavour’s 3 engines....

and an engine display.

The heat resistant tiles that save Endeavour from burning up during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Here is a video of the Space Shuttle taken by my mom
  for you to enjoy!

(Photos and video taken by Alex's mom!)

After I got home, I  looked up some facts about Endeavour on!   

Did you know:

1) Endeavour was the last space shuttle built.  It replaced the Space Shuttle Challenger.  It flew 25 missions.

2) Endeavour’s name was selected from a competition held among elementary and middle school students. It was named after Captain James Cook’s ship the H.M.S. Endeavour.

3) Endeavour was built using many spare parts from two old shuttles, Discovery and Atlantis, but it still cost $1.7 billion!

4) Endeavour helped fix the Hubble space telescope. It was taking blurry pictures, so the Endeavour crew flew to it and used 5 spacewalks to fix it.

5) Endeavour helped create the International Space Station. It flew the Unity node to the ISS and then installed it.  On a later flight, it took the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS.  The AMS still needs to be installed.

6) Endeavour was the first Space Shuttle to have an African American astronaut, a Japanese astronaut and a married couple as astronauts.

What do you think of Alex's awesome post?
Have you visited the Space Shuttle yet?

If so, what did you enjoy most?

 Do you plan to go see the Endeavour at the 
California Science Center?

Do you have any other facts to share?






A picture of the permanent display for Endeavour.  It will be displayed in launch position with its 2 solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Incredible Italian!

This week Mrs. Ranney's class continues with their unit on incredible stories that are too wild to be believed

The story of the week is called The Mysterious Giant of Barletta by Tomie dePaola.

The story takes place in the real-life town of Barletta, Italy, located on the Adriatic Coast.

 In the middle of the town square of Barletta stands a giant statue.
Every night  Zia Concetta tells the statue, "Buona notte, Colosso!"

According to the story, the statue comes to life and saves the city from an attack. When he goes out to confront the army, Zia Concetta sends him off by saying, "Buono fortuna!" 

 Colosso fools the army into thinking he is just a 
minuscolo debole!

After the giant returns to the city, all the towns people shout,

Finally they throw him a bella festa!


During the story, we learned some Italian words and phrases.

Do you know the meanings of the ones used in this post?

Can you share any other Italian words or phrases?

Can you share any facts about Italy?   

(Here is a link to a very special post on Mrs. Yollis' Blog about