A Note To Parents: We make every effort for Roxanne's blog to be a SAFE site for children. Whenever possible, activities are in pdf format or link to safe sites for children. Please feel free to use the information in these posts for homeschool studies! All rights reserved by author and nature photographer, Virginia Parker Staat.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Can Your Dog Become a Canine Good Citizen?

Being a Canine Good Citizen is fun. You and your dog might enjoy it, too!

I like it best when I get to do tricks. I can jump over a stick. I can jump through a hoop. I can climb a ladder. I can yodel a song.

Sometimes when I visit a nursing home, some of the people are afraid of me when they first see me. I am a very big dog.

I have learned to sit politely in front of people. If they move a little closer to me, then I put my head in their lap. As soon as I do, they aren't afraid of me any more. They begin to pet me. I love to be petted!

That's really what being a therapy dog is all about... love. A Canine Good Citizen loves people. Most people also love dogs. Whether they are young or old... whether they are sick or hurting... petting a dog can make them feel better.

Would you and your dog like to join in spreading love around? Your town may already have a therapy dog organization. They need handlers and their dogs to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and special need facilities. Therapy dogs can also help children learn to read (see http://www.tailsofjoy.org/readpdfs/qualitiesreadteams.pdf).

If you would like to learn more about therapy dogs, check out these great books from your local library:
Therapy Dogs by Linda Tagliaferro
Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby's House by Barbara Gail Techel
The Adventures of Sheila the Therapy Dog by Debbie Fedorovich

If you would like to train your dog to become a Canine Good Citizen, check out these books from your library:
The Canine Good Citizen: Every Dog Can Be One by Jack Volhard
Citizen Canine by The American Kennel Club

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm a Canine Good Citizen!

I did it! I passed my Canine Good Citizen test today. Here's a picture of me in my graduation cap.

The test was fun. I think that Mom was more nervous than me.

The teacher who gave me the test was very nice. She brushed my coat. She tickled my toes. She petted my head.

She asked Mom to walk around with me at her side. I sat. I came when Mom called. I laid down and stayed until she said that I could come to her.

The teacher banged a pot to see if I was afraid. She had Mom and me walk around a group of people. The teacher's husband took me away from Mom for three minutes. He was also very nice.

The hardest part of the test was when the teacher brought out her dog. His name is Eagle. The teacher walked Eagle by us. I wanted to touch noses with him but I just sat next to Mom. She was very happy with me and gave me LOTS of hugs and pets.

Now I am a Canine Good Citizen. I can go anywhere in the US and work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and all sorts of places. Mom ordered a jacket for me. I'll show it to you when it arrives.

It has been a VERY good day!

To learn how your dog can become a Canine Good Citizen, click here:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wish Me Luck on My Test!

Saturday is a big day for me. I will take my Canine Good Citizen exam. I must pass every part of the test. Mom and I have been practicing so that I will be ready.

It is a hard test for a Golden Retriever. I must sit next to Mom when a stranger and another dog come to greet us. I cannot say hello to the stranger or the dog unless Mom tells me that it is okay. That is VERY hard for a friendly Golden!

All of the other parts of the test will be easy for me. I must sit, stay, and come when Mom tells me to. The teacher will brush my fur to make sure that I like it. (And I do!) She will pick up my feet and look in my mouth to make sure that I don't bite.

The teacher will use a wheel chair or make a loud noise to see if I am afraid. Mom will leave me with the teacher for a few minutes to see if I am calm.

I took a test like this several years ago for Critters for Christ. I took the test so that I could go into nursing homes and visit sick people. Critters for Christ is a Texas organization. I am taking the Canine Good Citizen test because it is a national organization.

I will tell you tomorrow if I pass my test. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jupiter Lost a Stripe!

Jupiter has lost a stripe! One of the bands along Jupiter's equator has disappeared. It is known as the South Equatorial Belt (SEB).

The belt began to fade last year. Now it is completely gone.

The stripe has faded before but it normally doesn't disappear. Scientists think that the stripe is hiding under some clouds. Jupiter is a very stormy planet.

Sometimes Jupiter's stripe comes back quickly. Maybe you will be the first to see it! Remember that you can take a photo of Jupiter. Just visit our Thursday, November 5, 2009, "Beautiful Moon" post to learn how.

To learn more about Jupiter, go to

To learn more about Jupiter's lost stripe, go to

Photo courtesy NASA.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Touchdown, Atlantis!

Space shuttle Atlantis made a perfect landing today. Unless the White House gives the okay, Atlantis will never fly again.

Atlantis may retire, but the remarkable story of the shuttle missions will continue. The next shuttle launch is scheduled for September. The final shuttle mission will launch in November.

Once these missions are completed, the space shuttles will find homes in museums. They will proudly rest along with legendary space craft like the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo command capsules.

As the shuttles retire, more and more people are watching the final missions. I hope that we send the shuttles out with a great celebration!

Would you like to build a great space shuttle model? Click here: http://www.aiaa.org/kidsplace/kidsplacepdfs/Space_Shuttle_Glider.pdf

Photo courtesy NASA.

Our Coastal Waters

Our coastal wetlands, where the land meets the sea, are very important. They are home to lots of wildlife. They protect our shores. They clean the environment. They provide food for our tables.

There are many different types of coastal wetlands. They include the barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico, like Padre Island in Texas and Grand Isle in Louisiana. These long, narrow islands protect the coast from storms that wash away the shoreline.

Our coastal wetlands also include tidal flats, bays, marshes, and bayous. The water in these wetlands can be salty, a mix of salt and fresh, or fresh water. Normally they also have lots of plant life growing in them.

The Gulf of Mexico coast is filled with wildlife. Our coastal wetlands are home to millions of birds. Between 60-90% of all U.S. commercial fishers are located along the coastal wetlands.

Marine wildlife love the shallow bays and marshlands along the Gulf. They go to the wetlands to have their babies or to lay their eggs.

Oysters and clams grow in the wetlands. They filter out tons of pollutants from the Gulf waters.

Here are some great activity books to learn more about the Gulf of Mexico's coastal waters and wildlife:

To learn about Texas wetlands, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_k0700_0908.pdf

To learn about Louisiana's coast, go to http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/education/labook.pdf

To learn about Alabama's coast, go to http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/education/mbbook.pdf

To learn about Florida's coast, go to http://www.dep.state.fl.us/beaches/publications/pdf/actbook.pdf

Have fun!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oil Spill Update

Mom and Dad have been traveling and just came home. During their trip, they flew over the Gulf of Mexico. Mom told me that she saw the horrible oil spill.

She said that it looked like a dark cloud moving over the ocean. She said that it was very close to the barrier islands off Louisiana. It is so sad. So many animals, birds, and fish will be hurt by the oil.

The oil spill began on April 18. Crews have still not been able to stop the oil from gushing out of the well.

Almost 20% of the Gulf of Mexico is closed to fishing now. Scientists are afraid that the oil will make fish and shellfish sick. It can also make people who eat the seafood sick. Many of our fishermen friends are out of work. The waters that are closed to fishing are the areas where most fish are caught in the Gulf.

Since the oil spill began at least 154 sea turtles, 23 birds, and 12 dolphins have died. Workers in Louisiana report that the oil is washing into pelican nests. Pelicans are endangered birds.

PLEASE CALL (866) 557-1401.

If you would like to volunteer to help injured animals, please check with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana at http://www.crcl.org/ To help injured birds, visit Save our Seabirds at http://www.saveourseabirds.org/

If you would like to learn more about oil spills, please visit http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/School-Solutions/Eco-Schools-USA/Become-an-Eco-School/Special-Report/~/media/PDFs/Eco-schools/OilSpillActivity-Easy.ashx

For information about how oil affects wildlife, visit these sites:
http://alaska.fws.gov/media/unalaska/Oil%20Spill%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf AND

This May 24, 2010, photo of the oil spill is courtesy NASA. For more images, please visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/oilspill/oil_spill_gallery.html

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Campout Time!

Two of the shuttle astronauts will have an overnight campout tonight! They will spend the night in the Quest airlock to get them ready for tomorrow's space walk.

NASA says, "there won’t be a tent and there won’t be mosquitoes. But there will be s’mores, sleeping bags and some roughin’ it -- among the stars, not under them."

Astronauts Bowen and Good will spend the night in the closet-size Quest Airlock. The “camp out” will test procedures that could shorten the time it takes to prepare for future spacewalks.

Have you ever gone on a campout? Have you slept in a tent? Did you like it?

When we go to Alaska next month, we will do a lot of camping. I can't wait!

Here are some fun activities for you to do:

Would like to read some cool books about camping? Check out these books from your library:
Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids' Guide by Lynn Brunelle
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Photo of Quest airlock courtesy NASA.

Monday, May 17, 2010

America's Space Program - What's the Future?

Space shuttle Atlantis docked with the international space station yesterday. Today astronauts completed a space walk to install a new antenna. The astronauts also grabbed the mini research module with the shuttle's robotic arm.

It's amazing to think how far the space program has come in fifty years. We started with a dog in space (see our Thursday, November 19, 2009, post). John Glenn was the first American to orbit earth. The Apollo missions took us to the moon. The space shuttle has helped us complete the international space station.

As the shuttles retire, we can look to the future and wonder... what's next? I'm excited to see where we go from here!

Would you like to learn more about America's space program? Go to

Friday, May 14, 2010

Atlantis on Her Last Mission?

Space shuttle Atlantis launched into orbit this afternoon. Atlantis has launched 31 times. She has spent 282 days in space. She has been in service for nearly 25 years. This may be her last flight.

On this 12-day mission, Atlantis and her six astronauts will dock with the international space station. They will install a Russian research module during space walks. To learn more about this mission, go to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

Our two other space shuttles are Endeavour and Discovery. They each have one more flight planned before the space shuttles are retired. The goal of these last three shuttle missions is to complete building the international space station.

The next shuttle launch is scheduled for September. The last one is scheduled for November. To learn more about the remaining missions, go to http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/428128main_2010.04.27b%20Remaining%20Shuttle%20Missions.pdf

Would you like to know more about the space shuttle program? Check out these great books from your library:
Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System The First 100 Missions by Dennis Jenkins
To Space and Back by Sally Ride
America In Space: NASA's First Fifty Years by Steven Dick

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We have company visiting this week. We're having so much fun! Today Mom and her niece visited a butterfly exhibit.

Here are a few photos that Mom took. Butterflies are so beautiful. They are also little miracles.

Butterflies start out as little eggs. The eggs are normally laid on leaves. When the eggs hatch, they come out as caterpillars.

Caterpillars look a little like worms. They can be dark and fuzzy. Some are green and have little horns. A lot of people don't like caterpillars.

Caterpillars eat and eat. They munch leaves. They grow and grow.

When a caterpillar gets really big, a miraculous thing happens. He builds a little house around himself. It is a called a cocoon. For the next several weeks, the caterpillar lives in its cocoon.

While it is inside the cocoon, wonderful things happen. The caterpillar changes from a squirmy wormy into a beautiful creature.

When it comes out from the cocoon, the caterpillar has turned into a butterfly. It has wings and can fly!

To learn about the butterfly life cycle, go to

To learn how important butterflies are to earth, go to

To learn how to plant a butterfly garden, go to http://www.usbg.gov/gardens/upload/butterfly%20handout_FINAL%20to%20GPO.pdf

You can also check out these books from your library:
Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert
Born to Be a Butterfly by Karen Wallace

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lazy Bird

It looks like I'm not the only one who is hot!

This is a photo of our squirrel friend Bird. She is having a lazy afternoon.

For more information about Bird, check our March 22 and February 8 posts.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Water Dog

It's starting to get hot in Texas. I think that the best way to keep cool is to get wet!

Every few days, Mom changes out the water containers in our yard. We have two bird baths, a bucket, and a bowl for our wildlife friends. They enjoy the fresh water. So do I!

Yesterday, Mom let me play in the water while she emptied the water bowl. I LOVE to play in the water. After all.... I AM a water dog!

I just need a bigger bucket so that I can get wet all over!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Cool Drink of Water

This is a video of our squirrel friend Bird, taking a drink of water this morning. A drink of water... animals need it, whether we live on the ground, in air, or in sea. Water is necessary for life.

This week's news has shown us the danger we face if we don't protect our waters. We must work together to protect this precious natural resource.

Today's post will look at the beauty of water. Water covers two thirds of our planet. Water is one of the most important reasons there is life on earth. Water circulates through our land, nourishing it and carrying away waste material.

Water has a wonderful cycle. Water evaporates from the sea. When conditions are just right, the evaporation becomes rain. It falls to the earth and runs back into the sea.

Enjoy this fun activity about our wonderful water cycle at http://www.ci.tucson.az.us/water/docs/swabfg02.pdf

NASA also has a fun online game. It is called "Droplet and the Water Cycle." Just go to http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/droplet.html

To learn more about earth's water cycle, go to http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/educators/cloudsat_web.pdf

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Can You Help?

Our oceans make life on earth possible. We must do everything that we can to keep them clean.

Our oceans give us food. They are home to most of earth's creatures.

Our oceans help control earth's weather. They provide rain. They provide half of our earth's oxygen. They also help to control our temperatures.

The oceans also are highways to move many of the world’s goods. More than 90% of the world’s trade comes from ships.

It doesn't matter if you live near the ocean or not, you can help to keep our oceans clean. To learn more about what you can do to save our oceans, check out these sites:
http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/education/pdfs/ogab.pdf (for grades k-3)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rescuing Marine Mammals

Planes are flying over the Gulf of Mexico, looking for injured marine animals from the oil spill. When an injured mammal or sea turtle is spotted, boats will be sent to attempt rescue.

Gulfport's Institute of Marine Mammals is leading the effort to save mammals and turtles injured and oiled. Other networks from Texas to Florida have joined them.

No one knows how many animals will be treated. Twenty-eight different marine mammals call the Gulf of Mexico home, including dolphins, manatees, killer whales, and even sperm whales. Five of the seven varieties of sea turtles can be found in the Gulf.

1-888-SOS-DOLPHIN (1-888-767-3657).

To learn about the different species of whales and dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, go to http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/regulate/environ/marmam/Cetacean.pdf

To learn about the different sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, go to http://www.nps.gov/pais/planyourvisit/upload/turtles%20in%20the%20gulf.pdf

To learn about the protected fish and marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico, go to http://www.offshoreoperators.com/marinedebris/Protected-Species-In-GOM-NOAA.pdf

The Institute of Marine Mammals has some educational and fun activities for you to use.

To learn more about the danger of oil spills, go to http://www.imms.org/downloads/teachers/The_Danger_of_Oil_Spills.pdf

To understand more about the Institute of Marine Mammals, go to http://www.imms.org/downloads/CMEREducationBooklet_v2.pdf

To make an origami dolphin, go to http://www.imms.org/downloads/DolphinOrigami.pdf

To make a 3-D fish bowl, go to http://www.imms.org/downloads/3-DFishBowl.pdf

To make an origami sea turtle, go to http://www.imms.org/downloads/SeaTurtleOrigami.pdf

Cleaning Oiled Birds

Birds covered in oil from the big spill are already being found. They are rushed to special cleaning stations around the Gulf Coast.

An oiled bird must be cleaned in a very special way. Only a trained volunteer knows how to save an oiled bird.

First the bird must be given a special liquid mix. This liquid helps to rehydrate the bird. It also has special medicine in it to break up any oil that the bird may have eaten. The bird will rest about 24 hours.

Once the bird is healthy enough to be cleaned, volunteers begin washing the bird. It is a very long process. The bird's body is put in water mixed with a little Dawn dishwashing liquid.

Each of the bird's feathers must be cleaned. When the water becomes dirty, the bird is put into another tub of warm water. Sometimes the bird needs to be put in 10 to 15 tubs of clean water. It may take four people over 45 minutes to clean one bird.

After it is cleaned, a bird must wait to become strong again. It usually takes two weeks before the bird is released back into the wild.

Here's an interesting article about cleaning oiled birds:

The good news is that volunteers do a wonderful job saving oiled birds. In June, 2000, there was a big oil spill off the coast of South Africa. Thousands of pelicans were in danger from the spill. Volunteers were able to save 90% of the pelicans!


PLEASE CALL (866) 557-1401.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oil Spill

There is a giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The size of the oil spill has grown to be bigger than the state of Rhode Island. The spill is still growing because workers are having trouble shutting off the underwater oil well. An oil rig explosion started the spill. Sadly, many people were hurt and some are still missing.

The spill is a danger to everything in its path. Marine animals, sea birds, and coastal plants are in danger.

I swim in the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I hope that the Coast Guard and oil workers can stop the oil spill very soon.

There is good news. Volunteers from around the country are coming to Gulfport, Mississippi. The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies has large tanks to clean injured animals. These volunteers will clean manatees, sea turtles, and dolphins. Volunteers from the Save our Seabirds group in Sarasota, Florida, are leading the bird rescue operations.

PLEASE CALL (866)557-1401.

If you would like to volunteer to help injured animals, please check with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana at http://www.crcl.org/ To help injured birds, visit Save our Seabirds at http://www.saveourseabirds.org/

To learn about the problems with oil spills, go to http://www.praguepost.cz/PPEF/02SC020918.pdf

To learn about the 400 species of coastal wildlife in the path of the oil spill, go to http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/education/labook.pdf

You can also check out these books from your library:
Oliver and the Oil Spill by Aruna Chandrasekhar
Oil Spills: Damage, Recovery, and Prevention by Laurence P. Pringle