Saturday, April 4, 2009

What's Special About This Week--April 6-9

I won't be telling you about Friday this week. Good Friday is good for more than one reason this year, at least as far our school is concerned. It will be good to begin break then. The weekly happenings will return after break is over. Happy Spring.

April 6, 1992--"Barney and Friends" premiers on PBS Whether you love him or dread hearing his cheery voice, Barney has had a huge impact on television for children. Barney's website offers games, songs, activities and more.

April 6,1930--The Twinkie invented Here is another icon that is loved by some and mocked by others and has changed the way Americans find sweetness for their lives. The Twinkie, a Hostess product, was invented when a baker was looking for a thrifty way to keep in use pans that were previously only used to make strawberry shortcake. The season for strawberry shortcake was very limited so James Dewar used the pans to make cakes filled with banana filling. During World War II there was a shortage of bananas so the filling was changed to vanilla cream. In 2007, a banana flavor of Twinkie was offered again so now you have a choice of Twinkie when your sweet tooth starts complaining. The Twinkie even has its own space on the Hostess website. If you want to laugh about a sweet tooth, pick up Sweet Tooth by Margie Palatini. Poor Stewart keeps getting into trouble because his sweet tooth keeps shouting out for more sweets. Never fear, Stewart finds a way to give his sweet tooth its just desserts in this boldly illustrated and hilariously funny picture book. Don't just take my word for it. Read some of the reviews here from our library website.

April 7--No Housework Day Hmmmm...this is a day I try to celebrate as often as possible. I am not a woman who finds housework exciting. Some suggest that those who do not usually do housework--like a few kids I have met--take over all the housework for one day. What do you think? Will that catch on with your friends?

April 7, 1864--First Camel Race in the United States Believe it or not, there are still camel races in the United States--mainly in the desert states of the Southwest--but the first was an excuse to do something with the remaining camels from the U. S. Army's American Camel Corps. Everything that I know about the first camels in America comes from reading the great book Exiled by Kathleen Karr. Written in first person as if told by the camel, this book for readers ages 8 and up tells of the capture, transport, and resettlement of camels in the Mojave Desert before and during the Civil War. I found it to be very interesting. Imagine being taken from your home to be handled by a person who really did not understand camels in a new and different land. Nonetheless, this is one camel who keeps his wits about him and stays true to his heritage and his future. You can learn about camel racing in the United Arab Emirates here.

April 8--Hana Matsuri in Japan It is primarily in Japan that Buddha's Birthday is celebrated on April 8. It is called Hana Matsuri which means "flower festival" so it makes sense that it comes in the spring time when Japan is filled with beautiful flowers. Some of our Middle School Japanese students are heading to Japan on Friday. Sensei is hoping that early warm weather will not mean that they will miss the blooming of the cherry trees for which Japan is famous. Maybe some recent cooler temperatures will keep the blooms around for them to enjoy during their week in Japan. Read about Hana Matsuri and see some beautiful pictures here.

April 8, 1730--First Synagogue founded in North America Jewish people came to what is now New York City when New Amsterdam (as it was called at that time) was still very young, but it was not until 1730 that the first synagogue was built. The Mill Street Synagogue was built by Jewish people who had mostly come from Spain and Portugal as early as 1654. They were the only Jewish Congregation in New York City until 1825. You can see pictures of the Mill Street Synagogue and read about its history as here.

April 9--Thank Your School Librarian Day Actually, there is no need to thank me. I should thank you for all the fun I have every day. In looking for more information on this vitally important day, I discovered that there are many School Librarian Days and Librarian Days. Maybe you should thank a librarian more often so they don't feel the need to keep creating special days for themselves.

April 9--Longest Word Day As a true blue word lover the idea of a longest word day is especially appealing to me. When I was a kid we all thought that "antidisestablishmentarianism" was the longest word in the English language. It has 28 letters. Then along came Disney's version of "Mary Poppins" and we were all singing about "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" with its 34 letters. My personal favorite long word is "hippotomonstrousesquipedalian" (30 letters) which means, appropriately enough, "pertaining to a very long word". The Fun With Words website has many more long words and arguments about makes a word a real word. Are chemical names real words? Does the word have to be in the Oxford dictionary? Can I make up a long word and call it the longest word?

Enjoy the week and then enjoy the week of Spring Break.

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