Monday, April 24, 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. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic # 9

Here is my last post from the Dominican Republic.  The pictures are from the Punta Cana airport. It has two cute play areas for kids to run around, and musicians to play for you as you board your plane.
  My last 3 thoughts: 
1. The best part of the Dominican Republic is by far its awesome people.  It was a great pleasure to get to know them, and to this day, be able to keep in touch with one of them.  The people we met were hardworking, friendly, honest, and extremely helpful. Everyone from the shuttle driver, the housekeeper, the police officers, the museum guides, etc. They simply took me by surprised with their kindness, and genuine love for children.  
2. The Dominican Republic is so much more than All-inclusives! If you go there, please venture out. 
3. The local food is delicious. I loved tostones, empanadas, and sancocho. It remind me of my homeland. 

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #8 Isla Saona

On our way back to Punta Cana, we stopped at Bayahive to take a special day tour of Saona Island. We found a local guy who gave us a great discount on transportation and food (If you speak Spanish, please support the locals). First, we went on a speed boat to a natural pool where Big Sister spotted a star fish.  The water was spectacular! At the island, we were able to relax, eat lunch, and play at the beach.  Our way back to Bayahive was in a lively catamaran.  Big Sister was dancing while her brother took a nap. The guide, who was also a photographer, was very kind and professional. She took special care to make sure we were having a good time. 
It was a unique experience that I highly recommend.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #7 Santo Domingo

Our last stop in Santo Domingo was the National Aquarium. I am not a fan of places where animals are kept in captivity; but this aquarium has a lot to offer. Their rehabilitation program strives to rescue, care for, and release animals back to their natural habitats. The aquarium grounds are also the home of free roaming rhinoceros iguanas who apparently enjoy human company.  The kids ate Popsicles while one of the iguanas came to visit.
One of my favorite parts of the aquarium was the outdoor exhibits. The kids favorite part was the marine-themed playground. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #6 Santo Domingo

We spent a wonderful time at Museo Trampolín.  It is a children's museum located in the colonial zone.  It has dinosaurs, earthquake simulators, replicas of the local ecosystems, a miniature town, and many more exhibits. The kids and I truly enjoy museums with employees to guide us through the experience or answer our questions. The guides at Trampolín were friendly and very professional.  We learned about Domincan history and its society, energy sources,  the human body, the impact of pollution, and the importance of recycling. It was very educational and fun!

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #5 Santo Domingo

In the middle of Santo Domingo, we found an incredible gem.  The Three Eyes National Park .(click here for a video) It has three "Ojos" (eyes: or covered lagoons), and an open lake.  The eyes are "Azufre" (blue one), "Dama" (lady because it is the smallest one), and "Nevera" (fridge since it is always cold).  Between all these underground caves and lagoons, we found fish, turtles, beehives, and birds. The kids particularly enjoyed the raft that took us from the three lagoons to the open lake (see last picture).  It is well preserved, very clean, and amazingly cheap to visit.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #4 Santo Domingo

If you are headed to Santo Domingo with kids, there is a wonderful interactive experience waiting for them.  The place is called Peképolis. It is an educational park where they can take on many roles: T.V news anchor, veterinarian, pediatrician, chef, firefighter, consumer, archaeologists, police officer, detective...etc.  It is very similar to Divercity in Colombia with a few additional community worker stations.  The kids got to pick jobs, and earned money by performing tasks.  Our kids loved it.  I would love one of these museums here in Illinois.  
Each of the different stations, like the bank, or ice cream parlor, gives the kids a chance to interact with a guide and learn a little bit about the trade. The kids took care of babies, and rescued treasures all while learning and having fun!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #3 Santo Domingo

Since the Dominican Republic has so much more than beautiful beaches, we moved for a few days to the capital, Santo Domingo, to soak up some culture. Santo Domingo is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. In fact, it has the first paved street in the new world! The government and private sponsors have done a marvelous job at restoring, and preserving the original colonial buildings. 
The colonial zone feels like a museum in which we were able to walk and learn. 
Pictures above:
1. Statues of the founding fathers: Sanchez, Duarte, and Mella.
2. Plaza leading to entrance to the pedestrian street "el Conde."
3. Parque Colón and Cathedral.
4. National Pantheon
5 and 6. Fortaleza (fort) Ozama
7. Plaza de España y Alcazar de Colón
8. Calle el Conde.
Note: I am putting all the pictures in one post, but it took us several days to explore the colonial zone. 
Check out UNESCO's webpage :