Monday, February 18, 2013

2013 Presidents’ Day quiz

Presidents’ Day is something of an odd holiday, given that there is no universal agreement on which presidents are being honored, on the actual name of the holiday or whether there is an apostrophe in “presidents.”
To the U.S. government, Presidents’ Day is still recognized as “Washington’s Birthday,” though in some states the day jointly honors the birthdays of Washington, born Feb. 22, and Abraham Lincoln, born Feb. 12. And in other states the day is meant to honor Washington and Thomas Jefferson but not Lincoln — or all of the presidents.
Whatever, here’s the annual Presidents’ Day quiz:
1) Which president was the first to be born as a United States citizen?
a) James Madison
b) Martin Van Buren
c) John Quincy Adams
d) Andrew Jackson
2) Which president had to borrow money to get to his own inauguration?
a) George Washington
b) John Adams
c) James Madison
d) Abraham Lincoln
3) Who was the youngest serving president?
a) Ulysses S. Grant
b) Bill Clinton
c) John F. Kennedy
d) Theodore Roosevelt
4) Which president also served as the chief justice of the United States?
a) William Howard Taft
b) Thomas Jefferson
c) James Madison
d) John Tyler
5) Name all six presidents with the first name of James.
6) Who served as president with a musket ball stuck in his shoulder?
a) George Washington
b) Andrew Jackson
c) James Monroe
d) Ulysses S. Grant
7) How old was Abraham Lincoln when he was assassinated in 1865?
a) 56
b) 57
c) 58
d) 59
8) Who was the first president to be seen on television?
a) Woodrow Wilson
b) Franklin Roosevelt
c) Harry Truman
d) Dwight Eisenhower
9) Four presidents were assassinated. Six survived assassination attempts. How many can you name?
10) Which two presidents said they saw an unidentified flying object?
a) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon
b) Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter
c) Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan
d) Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford


1) a. Martin Van Buren, the 8th president. The previous presidents were born as British subjects.
2) a. George Washington. He was inaugurated in New York City on April 30 but before he left his native Virginia he had to borrow money from a neighbor to pay off his debts.
3) d. Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest serving president, assuming the job at the age of 42 in 1901 when president William McKinley was assassinated. Kennedy, at 43, was the youngest to be elected, in 1960.
4) a. William Howard Taft, the 27th president president, from 1909–1913, served as chief justice from 1921-1930. He was also dean of the University of Cincinnati Law School and U.S. secretary of war.
5) The six Jameses: Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield and Carter.
6) c. James Monroe, who dropped out of college at age 18 to fight in the Revolutionary War. On December 25, 1776, Monroe crossed the Delaware and led a charge at Trenton, getting wounded in the battle. He was hit in the left shoulder with a musket ball, which cut his axillary artery. Doctors tried to remove the musket ball but couldn’t, and he lived with it for the rest of his life.
7) d. Lincoln was 56 when he died on April 15th, 1865.
8) b. Franklin Roosevelt, on April 30, 1939, at the opening of the World’s Fair in New York.
9) Presidents who were assassinated: Abraham Lincoln (1865), James Garfield (1881),  William McKinley (1901), John F. Kennedy (1963)
Presidents who survived assassination attempts: Andrew Jackson (1835), Theodore Roosevelt (1912), Franklin Roosevelt (1933), Harry Truman (1950), Gerald Ford (1975), Ronald Reagan (1981)
10) c. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan
Carter spoke years about the 1969 incident years later. “”It was the darndest thing I’ve ever seen. It was big, it was very bright, it changed colors and it was about the size of the moon… We watched it for ten minutes, but none of us could figure out what it was. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never make fun of people who say they’ve seen unidentified objects in the sky.” Reagan told a Wall Street Journal journalist that he was in a small plane in 1974 when they spotted a UFO.
---  The Answer Sheet by Valerie Strauss

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Legend of St. Valentine  

The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and--most importantly--romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine's Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--which probably occurred around A.D. 270--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat's hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine's Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”--at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine's Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine's Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap." Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top 5 fun books to read to kids

 By Lauren Zachary, contributor

Whether you are a elementary school teacher in need of a new book to read to you class, a stay-at-home parent searching for that perfect bedtime story, or a children's librarian conducting story time next week, finding the right book that not only captures the short-attention span of little kids, but also yours as well can become daunting.
As a librarian, I am always on the search for fantastic books to read, whether they be novels or short picture books. Here are five books that not only I have enjoyed, but have been recommended to me multiple times by various parents and elementary teachers as they check them out for their kids and/or students.
1. "Chrysanthemum" written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
When Chrysanthemum was born, her parents decided to name her the perfect name that describes all her wonderful qualities. Over the years she grew and bloomed just like her name sake, believing her name to be the perfect name. That is, until she went to the first day of kindergarten.

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When her name is read out loud by the teacher, all the kids in her class laughed at her long unusual name and Chrysanthemum begins to wonder if her name is not as perfect like her parents have said.
Days pass and Chrysanthemum self confidence begins to wilt, despite the daily hugs and kisses given to her by her parents. Will Chrysanthemum ever bloom to her name sake? Or will she let herself be trampled by the other children's teasings?
This picture book contains charming illustrations of Chrysanthemum accompanied by Henkes' cleverly penned story of a young mouse and her ability to overcome teasing by her peers due to the love expressed by her music teacher and her loving parents.
2. "Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble" by Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones is a little Siamese cat with over-sized ears and an intense imagination. In this picture book, he gets caught by his mama looking at a mummy magazine which she swears will give him nightmares. Skippyjon Jones goes to his room pouting and imagines himself in Egypt with his old friends, the Chimichangos on a journey "to the Under Mundo where mummitos rest in peas."
This fun-loving story filled with easy Spanish phrases and silly rhymes will have your kids giggling and laughing as Skippyjon Jones goes on wild adventure throughout Egypt and back into the loving arms of his own Mummito.
3. "My Friend is Sad" by Mo Willems
Mo Willems has written many books telling the story of a special friendship between two people, Elephant and Piggie. In "My Friend is Sad," Piggie notices her friend, Elephant, is sad and does what she can to cheer him up. She disguises herself as many different characters, and even though Elephant becomes excited with each one, he is depressed that he cannot share the experience with his best friend, Piggie.
Every page contains simple illustrations that resemble that of a comic book and the words, though they may be simple and easy to read, are still able to capture the hearts of little children as they begin to read.

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"Dealing with Dragons"

4. "Gregor the Overlander" by Suzanne Collins
Eleven-year-old Gregor and his little sister, Boots, have fallen through an old grate in the laundry room into a dark world located deep underground called the Underland. Here he meets pale-skinned humans with violet eyes, plus rats, cockroaches, spiders, and bats that are bigger than he is and that can talk.
All Gregor wants to do is get him and his sister back to New York City safely, but he soon finds himself becoming wrapped up in a prophecy where he becomes a warrior and his role will decide the fate of the Underland’s future.
This fantasy novel is well-written, fast-paced and action-packed with a story that will capture the imagination of everyone. Join Gregor on his journey as he becomes the enduring elder brother and a warrior that rises to every challenge.
5. "Dealing with Dragons" by Patricia C Wrede
Cimorene is princess of Linderwall, but she is too independent and tomboyish for everyone around her. Tired of lessons on etiquette and other feminine skills, she runs away from home and willingly becomes kidnapped by a dragon, Kazul, then to be returned back to the boring lifestyle of royalty. She turns away every determined rescuer and instead becomes the savior of dragons against all evil wizards and other abominable characters.
Wrede captures the hearts of readers everywhere with her unique voice and humor, creating a world where fairy tales happen, allusions abound in plenty and the imaginations of children can soar onto their own adventures.

Lauren is a recent college graduate from Southern Utah University with an English degree. Currently, she works as a librarian at a local city library.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Preschool: Valentine Number Sense


preschool valentine activity raleigh, chapel hill, caryPreschool in a Minute

Valentine Number Sense


One activity you can do with your preschooler in 1-5 minutes with something you may have in your home or easily get from the dollar store!  That’s it!  Preschool in a Minute!


Activity:  Valentine Number Sense

Materials:  Container with several compartments (an ice cube tray or egg carton work well), eraser or other hearts (all available at a dollar store)

Prep Time:  Less than 5 minutes

Age Level:  2 and up

Attention Span:  5-10 minutes (don’t be concerned if it is more or less!)

There are several ways to do this activity, but the idea is to be able sort by individual items or by numbers

When a child is learning to count items, it can sometimes be confusing for them to count one item at a time.  They need to get a "sense" of numbers, counting and what they both mean. Before even learning to count, you can work with your preschooler to put one item in each section of the tray you are using.  This way, it ensures that your child can put one item in one section.  This is called one-to-one correspondance.

So, sit with your child and talk about putting one eraser or heart (or whatever you have!) into each section.  Count them as you go.  1...2...3...etc.  Then take them out and see if your child can do it independently.  Put it away when not in use so no pieces are lost, then bring it out again during the week/month for some fun together.  My son always enjoyed it more when it wasn't out every day.

preschool number sense activityAs they advance, you can work with more number sense.  You can try these challenges below.

  • Put a small piece of tape into each section and put a number on them.  Ask your child to put the correct number of counters/hearts into each section.  If it is confusing, demonstrate what you mean by showing her.  If she is not able to count correctly, that's OK, but if this is very confusing move back to the counting exercise above.

  • Use a 2 section container (or 2 containers/bowls, etc) and have your child sort the items depending on design or color.  For example, you can have a set of pink hearts and red hearts.  Have him sort.  Then to challenge him further, ask him how many are in each category.

Do you have a great activity for developing number sense in children?  Leave your idea (and URL) below.

Would you like some ideas to help your child get ready for kindergarten?  Aimed at ages 2-5, this is filled with great ideas to help your child grow and develop in skills that teachers look for in Kindergarten.

Preparing Child for Kindergarten Download

Jen Benoit, MEd, loves Valentine activities and is using them with her preschool son.  She and her husband, Tim, co-own Tutor Doctor, providing in-home tutoring services to Chapel Hill, Apex, Durham, Cary, Raleigh, and the surrounding areas