Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer road trip 2017 #8

We made it to Custer State Park! This park was amazing! I seriously don't have other words for it.  Our plan was to stay three nights/four days at Legion Lake Campground. We ended up adding an extra night at Center too. 

Our first activity was to go on a scavenger hunt with "Scatman" Ranger Andrew.   He gave a wonderful presentation regarding wild animal scat. We learn to look for clues telling us about the animal diet, and location.
 Then, we headed to wildlife road and saw our first pronghorn pictured above.  On the road, besides the pronghorns, we saw deer, bison, and donkeys.

That afternoon we hiked most of the Prairie Trail.  We were unable to finish it because we met about 30 wild bison on our path and decided to give them their space. Regardless, we had stopped at a trail Challenge box, got our card, and our first stamp.

After dinner, the kids worked on the Custer Park Junior Ranger booklet.  Technically, Little Guy is too young for it, but he was up for the extra work. 
Later, we attended Ranger Pam evening presentation at Game Lodge campground. She properly introduced us to the Custer Park trail challenged.  There are 8 easy to strenuous trails ranging from a mile to a bit over 3. The goal is to hike all of them and collect the stamp located in a box at about half  way of the trail loop, or at the end of the one-way trail. We were encouraged! My kids said: "let's do it!"  Luckily we had already gotten a stamp that morning.  We only needed 7 more. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer road trip 2017 #7

Our next stop was at Crazy Horse Memorial. Above, our Little Guy is dressing up in the hands-on children's learning area.  The kids got to see artifacts, play drums, learned about the tribes' flags, and see Native American artists create jewelry.

The memorial is still in the construction stage.  So far you can see the face, and one arm. Nevertheless, it is huge! To put it in perspective, all four heads from Mt. Rushmore would fit in Crazy Horse's head!

A Lakota family made a presentation about their beliefs, their music, their clothing, and other aspects of their culture.  We learned from the stories, and even participated in a dance at the end of their performance.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer road trip 2017 #6

Next, we went to Mt. Rushmore. It is impressive! We visited the artist's workshop, listened to the historians, and learned about what it took to make it. 

The museum and the children's area are very interesting and fun. 
Note: The kids became Junior Ranger at Mt. Rushmore. I highly recommend the program to guide your exploration and learn deeply about the national monument. From learning about the tools used to create it, to learning about each one of the presidents, it was a wonderful learning opportunity. 

Summer road trip 2017 #5

Here is a picture of the visitor center. The kids had a Junior Ranger booklet and went around the exhibits answering questions. 

Our last hike was at the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. This trail gives you an opportunity to see the vegetation around the badlands. We saw lots of small birds and wildflowers. 

At the end of the day we drove to the Sage Creek Campground.  The treacherous gravel road had me scared (I would not recommend it for those with RVs), but the opportunity to see wildlife was priceless. 

We stopped at a prairie dog town to take pictures, and to look at bison roaming near the road. 

Here is a picture of the view from our RV in the morning.
  Note: the campground is free.  

Here you can see the washboard-looking gravel road.  I drove at about 3-7 mph for over one hour. Was it worth it? You bet.  Will I do it again? No thank you!

Summer road trip 2017 #4

We started our day with a 8:30 Geology Talk by the Door Trail. My favorite part of exploring National Parks is meeting all the experts in a variety of fields.  The night before we listened to a biologist's presentation about the important role of the prairie dogs.  During the morning talk, we hiked the trail with a geologist (pictured above) who shared an abundance of information regarding the rock formations, preservation, and future of the park. 

After the talk, we headed out on our own to the Notch Trail.  It is described as "moderate to strenuous" hike.  My kids had no problems.  We were told by our guide that the whole park has no restrictions on where you can go to explore.  Apparently the rate of erosion is so high, human impact does not make a difference. 

At 11:00 am, we participated in the Junior Ranger Program.  We got to learn from a paleontologist. He talked about how fossils were recovered, and what types of fossils were found in the park. Then, he had the kids geared up to do their own excavations.  The kids earned a badge for participating. 
I also wanted to add that the Paleontology Lab and visitor center are a must stop in the Badlands National Park. We were able to see paleontologists at work, and learned from all the exhibits. 

Summer road trip 2017 #3

Sioux Falls

One of the rest stops. 

We made it to The Badlands National Park.  

We stopped at the visitor center and checked in at the Cedar Pass Campground.  Tip: when selecting a campsite look for the ones closer to the amphitheater.  The night programs, and the view of the badlands are amazing.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer road trip 2017 #2

Note: We are home already after 4 weeks on the road.  I tried to blog using my phone, but I decided to wait until we returned. 
On day two we made it to Minnesota very early in the morning.  

We stopped in Austin to visit the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. We truly enjoyed our time there exploring the nature center, hiking in their grounds, and having a picnic lunch.  We got to see poults! (we learned it is the name of baby turkey). 

Later that day we made it to South Dakota. 
We spent the night at Big Sioux Recreational Area. The campground was lovely. Tip: almost every campsite was perfectly leveled, and with nice trees to provide a bit of privacy. We opted to stay near the back cabins because there is a walking path that takes you directly to the recreational grounds.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer road trip 2017 #1

Welcome along our newest adventure. We left our semi rural town in Illinois behind, and are on our way to explore some national parks. So far we drove thru Wisconsin stopping at the welcome center,  Cabella's, and a rest stop were the kids spotted the caterpillar from the picture below.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wood and Paper Unit #1

The next posts will be covering our experiments based on the FOSS Unit Wood and Paper.  The first experiment had the kids exploring 5 types of wood blocks.  It included pine, basswood, red cedar, plywood, and particleboard.  After some observation, they learned that some of the wood came directly from trees, while particleboard and plywood were fabricated.
The kids decided to figure out which piece of wood was the heaviest, softest, prettiest, darkest, etc. I had pictures of the linden, pine, and cedar trees.  I also had illustrations of the processes to make plywood, and particleboard.