Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 4 of the Exciting Adventures of Flat Tucker!

We woke up to Day 4 of Flat Tucker's DC Adventure to some very different weather. Lots and lots of rain! Fortunately we did not have a lot of outdoor activities on our agenda!

After breakfast at the hotel we took the subway to the Holocaust Museum. There are no photos allowed in this museum. This museum is a very interesting, yet disturbing museum. You learn and see a great deal about the Holocaust, the persecution of the Jewish people from Nazi Germany from 1933-1945. To comprehend this history and to see it visually can be disturbing and very sobering. It is important to learn about this history though, because as people we need to learn from it so as not to repeat it.

After leaving the museum we trekked in the rain, which seemed fitting after that subject matter, over to the Air and Space Museum. The mood here was much more upbeat.

This museum is very large and full of planes and space artifacts. We got to touch a moon rock, saw the Command Modules from John Glenn's first orbit of the Earth and Apollo 11's flight to the moon. We also saw a model of the Lunar Module that Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used to land on the moon.

Apollo 11 Command Capsule
Apollo 11 Lunar Module

From space to the very first flight we saw the plane of the Wright Brothers. It was amazing in the fact that they must have been crazy to have the guts to actually ride on such a thing! You'd certainly think looking at this plane that one or both of the brothers surely ended up dying in a plane crash or some other risky accident, but Wilbur died at the age of 45 of Typhoid Fever and Orville at the age of 76 of a heart attack.

The Wright Brothers Plane
After touring the museum we stopped in the gift shop to purchase some space ice cream and headed back outside to more rain and to find the temperature had dropped significantly! Thankfully the subway was only a couple blocks away!

Took the subway over near the White House to have a nice dinner at a restaurant, The Old Ebbitt Grill, that boasts it is "The Oldest Saloon in Washington"! It was established in 1856! It was a neat place. There were animal heads over the bar, one was a walrus, that are said to have been bagged by Teddy Roosevelt! I had delicious crab cakes and Joey had "the Good Burger" which he said lived up to its name! We may even try going back again before we leave DC!

Even though we were in the restaurant for quite awhile the rain was still holding strong outside so we made a mad dash the few blocks back to the hotel to warm up for the night! Thank goodness Flat Tucker is laminated!  Weather forecast says it will be cooler for the rest of our stay, but supposed to be dry! I hope the weather forecaster is correct!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 3 of the Exciting Adventures of Flat Tucker!

Up very early today. We wanted to make sure we had no subway mishaps so that we would arrive at Senator Johann's office at 8:40 as expected for our guided tour of the Capitol. Thankfully all transportation issues went smoothly and we arrived before they even unlocked the doors!

Felt like we were back in Nebraska once we walked through the doors of the Senator's office with all the Nebraska Cornhusker memorabilia everywhere! He even had a football signed by coach Bo Pelini on his fireplace mantel.

In the Senator's office we met our guide, Jacob. I have emailed often with Jacob over the past few months to set up all our tours and he was really friendly. He is from Springfield, NE, which is not far from our home in Gretna, both of which are basically suburbs of Omaha, so we had a lot in common.

Jacob took us to the basement of the Senator's office building where we found a mini-subway that transports senators underground into the Capitol building. We were able to ride over that way. It was really interesting. Jacob explained they do this for convenience, but mostly for the security of the Senators. The other Congressional office buildings are connected to the Capitol Building in a similar manner for the same reasons.

Once in the Capitol we watched a short film explaining how the building was built and the significance it has to the history of our nation. After the film Jacob walked us through and pointed out the architecture, artwork, and shared many interesting facts. One interesting point he showed us was a spot where a crypt was built that was designed for George Washington's body to be placed as the Father of our Nation. It is in the center of the Capitol Building and it also marks the exact center of Washington DC. Due to the will that George Washington left behind and the feelings of the Washington family President Washington's body was never placed in the crypt. It remained where it was buried at Mt. Vernon, Washington's home. The crypt in the Capitol remains empty.

Statue inside the Capitol replicating the one on the top of the dome.

Jacob also walked us around the outside of the Capitol Building grounds and showed us the different carvings in the building and explained their meaning. He also showed us where the president stands for the Inauguration. Jacob was able to attend the Inauguration of President Obama in 2013 but he said he was so far away he could barely see him! He said it was neat to be in attendance though!
The front of the Capitol Building

The back of the Capitol Building facing the National Mall. The Presidential Inauguration takes place at the top of the stairs under the center of the dome.

Finally, we returned inside and we were able to sit for a short bit inside the Gallery of the House of Representatives. This is where the House of Representatives meets to debate and vote on the laws that they set. Congress is in recess right now for the Easter holiday so there weren't any members of Congress present, but if it were a regular working day we would have been able to watch them debate and discuss the present bills that are up for debate. We were not able to take any pictures during this section because photos are not allowed. They actually take all electronic devices from you; cameras, phones, etc. and lock them up before you can go in!

After saying thank you and goodbye to Jacob we headed over to take a look at the Supreme Court building. The Supreme Court is also on break so we just walked through the building a bit.

Next, we went to the Library of Congress building which was a very impressive building. The entire ceiling is painted and the design inside is very intricate and ornate. It is very, very beautiful! The visit here was neat for me because the US Copyright Office is housed here and I just recently received my final certificates for the registrations for the copyrights of the novel units that I have written. It was cool to know that my work was housed in this beautiful building and has a place in history here!

We grabbed some lunch and took a subway ride to the International Spy Museum for the afternoon. Saw some really cool things there and learned all about spies and how they operate from communication, disguise, weapons, all kinds of cool stuff! There was a big James Bond exhibit and Flat Tucker was able to get a picture with James Bonds' Aston Martin decked out spy car!

We finished our day at a nearby pizza place called District of Pi (pi as in 3.14). It was really good! Picked up some dessert on the walk back to the hotel and are resting up for another big day tomorrow with the Holocaust Museum and the Air and Space Museum on the agenda!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Day 2 of the Exciting Adventures of Flat Tucker!

Day 2 was a beautiful spring day. Sunny with highs in the 80's with a slight breeze. The weather was so warm I had to break out the shorts! A little scary after this long winter. My legs are whiter than the White House and I was worried I would blind everyone in Washington DC with my pale legs! I risked it anyway because the weather couldn't have been more perfect for what we had planned first, walking the Tidal Basin to view the Cherry Blossoms!

The sight was as beautiful and walking right under the thick canopy of pink flowers is as neat as it has been described in all the research I did. Also found in the thick canopy of flowers was the thick crowds of people! Again, from my research I knew it would be very, very crowded, but the crowds started to wear on our nerves a little! Handy tips when walking in crowds: Walk on the right, don't stop in the middle of the walkway to take a picture, text, read email, or anything else that will distract you from paying attention to what you are doing! If you are going to get in the way then step off the path! Flat Tucker didn't seem as bothered by it as Joey and me, but he was being carried in my purse! He did really enjoy the fragrant cherry blossom blooms!

Along the Tidal Basin we stopped at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

We also stopped at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Flat Tucker got a picture there and it turns out it appeared he was almost eaten by FDR's dog, Fala!

We left the Tidal Basin and headed over to the Reflecting Pool area in front of the Lincoln Memorial to see the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

Flat Tucker stopped for a photo at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial at a spot where a child had left a memento thanking the service people for their sacrifices.

At the World War II Memorial Flat Tucker stopped for a picture at the pillar for his home state of Oklahoma!

Next, we left the National Mall to go to Ford's Theater, which is where President Abraham Lincoln went on April 14, 1865 to watch a play and was shot by John Wilkes Booth. President Lincoln was taken to a boarding house across the street from the theater and died the next morning, April 15, 1865. The theater is still a working theater with a museum in the basement and another museum across the street in the Peterson House, the house where he died.

Right above Flat Tucker is the Presidential Box Seats where President Lincoln, his wife, and two guests sat when John Wilkes Booth came in from behind and shot him. John Wilkes Booth then jumped over the balcony onto the stage to escape. He caught his foot on the picture of George Washington which caused him to land badly and he broke his leg. He still managed to get away but was found and killed 12 days later.

The gun that John Wilkes Booth used to shoot President Lincoln.

We walked many miles today so we ended our evening at the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner next to Ford's Theater and then headed back to the hotel for rest and recovery. Flat Tucker has us all tuckered out! We need to get up early and be at Nebraska's Senator Johann's office in the U.S Capitol building by 8:30 tomorrow for our tour!

The Exciting Adventures of Flat Tucker!

I was so excited when I saw a post in the seller forums on Teacher Pay Teachers from Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie's Danielle Sanders asking for volunteers to participate in her class Flat Stanley project. My father had taken Flat Joey, Flat Ally, and Flat Sam on vacations with him for all three of my kids when they were in first grade and had such fun, so with an upcoming Washington DC trip on my agenda I jumped at the chance to sign up!

A couple weeks ago Flat Tucker arrived at my house in Omaha. I prepared Flat Tucker for his upcoming travels by laminating to keep him fresh and dry! Don't want him looking shabby in the nation's capital!

The trip to DC is for my 8th grade son, Joey, and myself. Joey is studying American History this year in school so I decided to take him on a mother/son field trip! Mix some learning in with some bonding! Honestly I love to travel so I'll do just about anything to come up with an excuse to take a trip! At first Joey was a little apprehensive about bringing Flat Tucker along on our vacation because that might not be so "cool" for a teenager you know! I convinced him it would be fun and I promised I wouldn't tag the pictures on Facebook!

Today the big day finally arrived. We were up and ready for the airport at 5 AM! The flight from Omaha to Ronald Reagan National Airport with a stop in St. Louis went smoothly and we even arrived a little early!

Got our luggage and found the Metro for Flat Tucker's first subway ride! Headed for the Hilton Garden Inn only blocks from the White House!

After getting settled we walked over to check out the White House. Joey and I have been here before, exactly 14 years ago. Joey was only 4 months old so he doesn't remember a thing! His impression of the White House was the same as mine was the first time; it's much smaller than you expect it to be, but cool nonetheless! Flat Tucker was pretty impressed too!

Some cute college girls offered to take our picture when they saw the Flat Stanley project! Joey decided it wasn't so uncool when it attracted cute college girls!

It was a beautiful day so we walked from the White House to the Smithsonian's American History Museum. There were saw Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Miss Piggy, many things that belonged to different presidents and first ladies, and much, much more. The picture of Flat Tucker and Miss Piggy didn't turn out well due to the dim lighting.

After touring the museum we had our first mishap! The subway station we planned to use was closed so we had to take another and in the confusion we got on the train going the wrong direction! Fortunately we weren't on a time crunch and had time to get off and re-board going the right direction! Needless to say we got a good lesson on subway riding and got to experience lots of it!

After finally arriving at Union Station we ate a quick dinner and then found the spot to board our trolley for the Monuments by Moonlight tour with our driver, Mr. History! Mr. History knew it all! He even knew trivia about the states that everyone was from on the tour! We drove by the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court Building, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Monument, Arlington Cemetery, the White House, and we stopped and got out at the Iwo Jima Memorial, the MLK Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.

The tour got over about 11, even though that was only 10 Omaha time we were all pretty tired so we took the subway (no wrong way this time!) and headed back to the hotel. Need to get rested to walk around the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms tomorrow, the Ford's Theater, and maybe a bit of the Air and Space Museum!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Simone Ryals: I'm One of the Worst Teachers in My State

Just read a very powerful blog post showing just how out of control the high stakes standardized testing in education has gotten. Simone is a fantastic educator and it is shameful how the uneducated media is treating her and other wonderful educators just like her! Check out her post at the link below. It is worth your reading time!

Simone Ryals: I'm One of the Worst Teachers in My State: I didn’t think I’d like teaching, but instantly loved it when I gave it a shot; and was immediately acclaimed as having a natural a...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Could you be a Real Life Flat Stanley?

Real Life Flat Stanley’s of the Past

In the book Flat Stanley, Stanley was mailed to California instead of going by train or plane in order to save money. This idea seems hilarious and crazy, and a wild stretch of the author’s imagination, but did you know that back in 1913-1914 it was legal to send children through the mail? There are some cases of “real life Flat Stanleys” in the United States Postal history.

In 1913 the U.S. Post Office introduced a Parcel Post service for Americans to send larger packages through the Post Office. Before this time all you could send was a normal letter. This was great for businesses and farmers but a few people took advantage of it to ship their children! On January 26, 1913, the New York Times reported that a mail carrier in Batavia, Ohio, delivered a baby “mailed” by his parents to his grandmother who lived about a mile away:

Vernon O. Lytle, mail carrier on rural route No. 5, is the first man to accept and deliver under parcel post conditions a live baby. The baby, a boy weighing 10-3/4 pounds, just within the 11 pound weight limit, is the child of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beagle of Glen Este. The boy was well wrapped and ready for "mailing" when the carrier received him to-day. Mr. Lytle delivered the boy safely at the address on the card attached, that of the boy's grandmother, Mrs. Louis Beagle, who lives about a mile distant. The postage was fifteen cents and the parcel was insured for $50.
            *The New York Times. "Baby Boy by Parcel Post." 26 January 1913

There's more to this crazy, but true story! Please check out this new addition to my Flat Stanley unit, "Could you Be a Real Life Flat Stanley?". It is included with the full Flat Stanley Novel Unit, or available alone. It includes a reading informational article detailing the longer, complete version of this interesting factoid of our postal history as well as a math and writing follow up activity where the student will work to determine the cost to deliver themselves to a travel destination via mail, car, train, or plane! Crazy, fun, and educational all in one!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Celebrating 3 Million Teachers Strong with a Sale!

Teachers Pay Teachers has just surpassed the 3 Million registered users mark! What better way to celebrate than to have the big once a quarter sale? 

Whittle down your wishlist and turn your winter blues into the clear skies and blossoming flowers of spring with tons of new learning with the myriad of fabulous activities available at TpT!

Thursday, February 27 - Friday, February, 28 take 20% off EVERYTHING in The Teaching Bank's TpT store. Use code TPT3 at checkout for an additional 10% off everything in your cart!

Don't miss out on all the great deals! Feb. 27- 28, 2014!