Black History Month – Black History Library by Charles A. Preston

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This information was originally shared here a little more than a year ago. The compiler of the information at the links has continued to update and maintained it so all of us can learn more about Black History throughout the year.

Author and activist, Charles A. Preston maintains this Google doc on his own. I discovered him from a random Twitter post last year, and feel fortunate that I did.

The multi-folder Google doc is chock full of information about many aspects of Black History from Afro-Futurism to Zora Neale Hurston and many others in between. I believe he is continuing to update it. When using his folders, remember to give him credit as well as linking to his Twitter or website (linked below).

Black History Month Library

In addtion, you can follow Mr. Preston on Twitter or visit his Website.

What to Do in Isolation/Quarantine (Updated 4/29/20)

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We’ve got our milk, bread, toilet paper, and kids home. It’s only been a few days, and we are in it for the long haul: two weeks, four weeks, six. We just don’t know right now. What can we do from the sanctity of our homes without risking our health or the health of others? Here are a few suggestions.

Imagineering in a Box – Free online course where you will “go behind the scenes with Disney Imagineers and complete project-based exercises to design a theme park of your very own.” (In collaboration with Khan Academy.)
Good Night with Dolly Dolly Parton will read weekly bedtime stories beginning on April 2 at 7pm ET. The first book will be The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper. The rest of the ten weeks of books will be: There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake by Loren Long, Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, I Am a Rainbow by Dolly Parton, Pass It On by Sophy Henn, Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell, Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen, Max & The Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, and Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

Children’s Book Authors Read-Aloud

National Aquarium in Baltimore – Livestreams of The Blacktip Reef, Jellies Invasion, Pacific Coral Reef

New York Public Library – (for NYC residents with a library card) (CONTACT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY ABOUT THEIR E-BOOK PROGRAMS)

NASA makes their entire media library publicly accessible and COPYRIGHT FREE

33 National Park Tours You Can Take Virtually

15 Broadway Plays and Musicals You Can Watch on Stage from Home (best filmed and where to find them)

FREE Coloring Books from 113 Museums

Virtual Field Trips – including San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone National Park, Mars!!!, Animal Cameras, Virtual Farm Tour, US Space and Rocket Museum in Hunsville AL, Discovery Education, The Louvre, The Great Wall of China, Boston’s Children’s Museum

12 Museums Offering Virtual Tours – including British Museum (London), Guggenheim Museum (NY), National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), Musee d’Orsay (Paris), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul), Pergamon Museum (Berlin), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), The J. Paul Getty Museum (L.A.), Uffizi Gallery (Florence), MASP (Sao Paulo), National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City)

14 Beautiful, Dramatic Waterfalls in North Wales (this is primarily a travel article, but they’re still pretty to look at! And Wales!

Metropolitan Opera offering Nightly Met Opera Streams – see the link for details and limits.

Five Gardens You Can Virtually Visit – Waddesdon Manor (Waddesdon, England), Claude Monet’s Garden (Giverny, France), Chicago Botanic Garden (Chicago, IL), Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden (Papaikou, Hawai’i), Kew Gardens (Richmond, England).

Hogwarts Digital Escape Room

Ivy League Courses Online for FREE

How to Be Happier in Your Daily Life (popular Yale University course – ONLINE FREE (Source: Business Insider)

Tour New York State Parks (virtual)

Activities at The Spy Museum

Twitter for Voice Actors Read. There are many voice actors reading books aloud to you and your children.

Tour The Winchester Mystery House (virtual tour)

Tour the Paris Catacombs (virtual tour)

I Love NY Landmark Coloring Pages

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
The Parents’ Guide to Google Classroom

What to Do with your Kids When Schools are Canceled

Harry the Dirty Dog read by Betty White

The Very Hungry Caterpillar read by author, Eric Carle

Outdoor Scavenger Hunts from Buttonwood Park Library

Easy Toilet Paper Roll Crafts (when you use up your stash of toilet paper!)

Outdoor and Indoor Scavenger Hunts from Leicester Library

Home Safari at the Cincinnati Zoo

50 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged at Home During the Coronavirus Shutdown

Miniature Bookshop DIY – cost $36.99

NASA Space Station STEM Activities

Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY (Safe at Home Program)

Virtual Tour of Auschwitz

Back to School Time

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​Another back to school season. I’ve been going or participating in back to school since before i was five years old. I did my time in preschool/nursery school, kindergarten, grades one through twelve, four years of undergraduate, two plus years of post graduate, and so far eighteen years of sending my kids back to school.

This year felt different. I’m not sure why. My two younger children are still in public school. My daughter is in her last year of middle school. My son is in his second year of high school. We saw them off on their buses yesterday. Maybe it’s that we’re barely home from vacation. All the laundry’s not quite finished. The sink is full of dishes, and we’re actually using paper plates this week!

I have my writing supplies. I’m mostly happy with my writing supplies, although that won’t keep me looking at new ones in the clearance aisles of Target and Staples.

Part of my back to school ritual is bringing change to my website. While I am an essayist, I don’t feel as though I keep a blog per se. I write articles. I follow themes. I offer something.

However, I’ve hit the block asking what is it that I actually offer? What more can I give? What can I do differently? And how can I incorporate my writing life into my children’s back to school life? Sometimes it flows, and other times, it really doesn’t. Today is one of those days. I’m going into the capital to see Dan Rather speak, and my daughter has a football game she’d like to go to, but doesn’t have a ride. This is one of the times where I give myself precedence. Normally, I’d acquiesce and change my plans. This can’t be one of those times.

Back to School is also about priorities. Choices. As a Mom, I feel as though I give up so much. Most of it isn’t anything earth-shattering or heartbreaking. As a Mom, I choose my kids first even if as teenagers they’re hardwired to put themselves first as well.

Overall, this week has been positive.

And that’s great because next week is the first full week of school, the first full week back from vacation, the first full week of Suicide Prevention Awareness month – a serious subject to tackle, but also one that needs tackling, more and more often. Awareness is Prevention, and I’ll need all my energy to plan out useful posts and resources.

I’ve been walking paths recently. All kinds of paths and roads and journeys. My six week memoir workshop is focused on paths this semester, but paths are always within my sight. We are all walking a path, sometimes like a tabletop game board. We’ve passed GO, we’ve collected something, probably not quite two hundred dollars, and we are on the square that says Back to School.

Roll the dice, and see how far we go!

My Pin Collection – 3

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L-R: Kids playing, the initial K (this was the first gift I received from my students as a teacher), Teacher’s desk, Child, Wooden heart, 2 figures dancing, NY’s Odyssey of the Mind, inside the Odyssey pin, Fall cornucopia, US Navy MWR name tag. (c)2017

Flowers, Clockwise: Starburst in purple and green, Daisy, Daffodil, Rainbow stones in a butterfly. This one was my mother’s. She collected butterfly pins and other accessories. I think this one is my favorite. (c)2017

Christmas Collection, L-R: Spode porcelain wreath, Silver penguins, Clay/ceramic SNopwman, Copper-colored wreath with snowman, Streetlight. (c)2017

Clockwise: Delaware, Winnie-the-Pooh, Strasburg RailRoad, Duran Duran, Daffy Duck. (c)2017

NY Birds with Outpost #4

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On Friday, I met a bird lady at a local event here in the Capital District. Actually, while she only brought birds for her demonstration, her husband describes their work as from mice to moose. And to be fair and less flip, she wasn’t a bird lady, she is a wildlife rehabilitation specialist.
Linda, and her husband take in almost any and all animals that need rehabilitation services. Their aim is to get whichever animals can, get back into the wild.
While my kids played at the Carnival going on, I spent my time with Linda learning about the birds and other animals that they care for.

I was fascinated by the birds.

They’re all predators, and in the wild, or at the rehab center, do not hang out together. Their being well fed keeps them from looking for food among each other at the demo. At home, they’re kept in separate cages, like birds together, etc. Of the five birds I met, all but one are New York State natives. Two of the birds are only here in the summer, so when the cold weather comes along, they’re moved indoors until the warm weather returns.

Only native birds are released locally.

I could get pretty close and take photos, even with a flash, but was warned not to go behind them. They don’t like that.

I was surprised at how much training and licensing goes into running a rehabilitation center and taking care of the animals. There’s state licensing and for the birds you also need federal. After taking coursework, there’s a test that must be passed. To teach and have the demos like the one I attended, you need additional training and licensing, even for a former teacher like Linda.

I called the smallest a grumpy cat owl. Look at his face, and you’ll see what I mean. She’s a Screech Owl named Maid Marian.

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Maid Marian. Screech Owl

The Kestrel Falcon is Mr. Piffles, and there’s a Mrs. Piffles back home. He’s one of the summer birds.

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Mr. Piffles. Kestrel Falcon.

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Mr. Piffles. Kestrel Falcon. Showing off. He did this for me several times so I could get a good picture.

Pygmalion, or Piggie is a Broadwing Hawk. He’s also a summer bird.

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Pygmalion or Piggie. Broadwing Hawk.

Shakespeare the Barn Owl was the most regal, the most uncaring, keep looking but don’t touch me aristocratic looking when he wasn’t turning his head regally or falling asleep.

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Shakespeare. Barn Owl.

Last but not least, we have the oldest of the group, twenty-year old Annabelle. She’s a Prairie Falcon from the desert. She was a breeder in Texas. When she passes, she has a home in a museum in western New York.

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Annabelle. Prairie Falcon.

Visit their Facebook or Website to learn more about what they do and how you can help them.

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Summer Fun

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The great thing about most of these activities is that even though they may seem too young for you elementary age child (or even middle school), when you couple the activity with a younger child, your older one will have just as much fun.

Find activities that are active, outdoors, and hands-on, not to mention creative.

1. Water Play

Even without a pool, you can still have water fun on those really, really hot days. Use a sprinkler. Use water sprayers or water guns. Use small bowls or containers of water. If you do use containers, some very important CAUTIONS to keep in mind:

Do NOT leave children unsupervised no matter how small the container is. Children can drown in as little as two inches of water.

Do not leave your containers standing out when they’re not in use. The standing water breeds mosquitos and other icky things. Pour out the containers. If you must leave them outside, store them upside down. Rinse them out before and after each use.

2. Movies

Grab some movies ahead of time from the library for that inevitable rainy day.

3. Craft Projects

Visit the Nifty (for crafts) and the Tasty (for recipes) Facebook pages for fun activities.

4. Pinterest

Visit the Summer with Bubba board for some great activities, both fun and educational.

5. Barnes & Noble

B&N has a summer reading program that will give your child a free book after they read for so many hours. It is a limited selection but they are all age appropriate and free books are fabulous!

Put any other suggestions/links in the comments below.

Have a great summer!