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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We Saw the Northern Lights!

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights?  When we were in Canada, we did!  They were so beautiful!

Mom woke up about 2:30 in the morning.  She looked outside and saw dancing green lights.  She woke both Dad and me up to show us.  We got out of our camper and stood in the cold.  It was so exciting! 

The Northern Lights were like crazy rainbows.  They danced and shimmered.  They shot across the sky.      Sometimes there was one beam.  Sometimes there were two.  

The beams changed colors.  Most of the time they were green.  Other times they turned almost pink and blue.  Wow!

Here are some photos that Mom took of the Northern Lights.

We wanted to know more about the Northern Lights.  What are they?  Why can't we see them in Texas?

We found out that Latin name for the Northern Lights is aurora borealis.  The lights come from our sun.  Electron particles escape from the sun.  These electrons are attracted to earth's magnetic field.  When the electrons collide with the gases in our atmosphere, we see Northern Lights. 

Northern Lights occur during times of high solar activity.  The closer you are to the earth's magnetic north, the more often you can see the Northern Lights.  It is easy to see Northern Lights in Alaska and Canada.  You can sometimes see them in the northeast United States several times a year.  Because we are so far south in Texas, we may only see them once every ten or twenty years!  I'm so glad that we got to see them in Canada!

If you would like to learn more about the Northern Lights, just click here:

You can also check out this book about Northern Lights from your library:

Auroras by Donna Walsh Shepherd

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Seeing All that We Can See

It has been wonderful to see so many animals on our trip.  I saw eagles flying.  I saw horses running.  I saw bears eating berries.  I saw sea stars and bison and moose.  Just look at the photos in our last post!

When I think of all the animals that I have seen, it helps me to remember how important my eyes are to me.  We need to take special care of our eyes.  We need to be safe when we play sports.  We also need to have our eyes checked every year by a doctor.

To learn about eye safety, please click here:

For more information about your eyes and healthy vision, please click here:  http://www.nei.nih.gov/activitybooks/pdf/activityguide6to8full.pdf

Do you want to learn ways to fool your eyes?  Just click here:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Animals We Have Seen!

We are still on our trip to Alaska and Canada.  Soon we will head for home.  It has been so much fun!

We have seen many animals on our trip.  We have seen moose and bear.

Bull Moose
Grizzly Bears
We have seen eagles and wood bison.

Bald Eagle
Wood Bison
We have seen fox and caribou.

Cross Fox
Some of the animals that we have seen are very special.  They are called endangered animals.  When an animal is endangered, it means that there are only a few of them left in the wild.  Bald eagles, grizzly bears, and wood bison are all endangered animals.

If you would like to learn more about endangered animals, we found some fun activity books for you!  Just click here to download them:


Why should we save endangered animals?  Read these and learn!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Should You Be Afraid of Bears?

I like bears.  I think they are amazing animals.  

Up here in the north, bears hibernate.  That means that they sleep when it is cold.  Here in Canada and Alaska, bears hibernate for seven months.  That's a LONG time!  When they hibernate, they don't eat, or drink, or go to the bathroom.  

When bears wake up, they are very hungry.  They eat most of the time when they are awake.

Bears have very good noses.  Their nose is 100 times better than my nose.  And my nose is 70 times better than yours.

Bears are also very smart and curious.  

Most importantly, bears are very powerful.  They are also very fast.  They can run much faster than a boy or girl.

Because bears are almost always hungry, and have good noses, and are very smart, it is important for us to know how to keep them and us safe.

First, never feed a bear.  Also, never leave food where a bear can get it.  If a bear begins to like human food, he may become dangerous.

When you hike in bear country, it is important to make a lot of noise.  Most bears will move out of your way if they know that you are in the area.

Also, never get between a mother bear and her baby.  She may think that you want to hurt her baby.  If she does, she may hurt you to keep her baby safe.

I think that we need to respect bears, not to fear them.  Once we learn how to be careful around bears, the bears and we will all be a lot safer!

Here are some great activities to keep you and bears safe in bear country:




Saturday, August 20, 2011

What's the Difference between a Brown and Black Bear?

So what's the difference between a black bear and a brown bear?

Brown bears:  Brown bears range in color from black to blonde.  Brown bears are larger than black bears.   Some brown bears weigh over 800 pounds.  Most adult brown bears weigh about 500 pounds.

Brown bears are sometimes called grizzly bears because they have special fur.  Their fur catches the light in a special way, called grizzled.  Grizzled fur shines.

The best way to tell if your bear is a brown bear is by his claws.  The claws of a brown bear are always out.  Brown bears also have a hump on their back.

A brown bear

Black Bears:  Black bears are smaller than brown bears.  Black bears normally weigh between 110 and 300 pounds.  Their claws do not show like brown bears.  

A black bear

If you would like more information about black bears, just click here:

If you would like to learn more about about brown bears, just click here:  http://yukondelta.fws.gov/pdf/brownbear.pdf

Friday, August 19, 2011

Videos of the Hyder Bears

Here are some videos that Dad took of the bears at Hyder.  It is fun to see how the bears move.

The first movie shows a young black bear.

The second movie shows Jaws, the older brown bear.

Can you see any difference between these two bears?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We're on Bear Patrol!

We have been traveling along the coast between Canada and Alaska.  It is really beautiful here.

We have also been seeing a lot of bears!  We went to the bear viewing platform in Hyder.  We saw two bears there.

Black bear eating berries.
Young black bear
We saw a little black bear eating berries.

Jaws, a brown bear
Then we saw an older brown bear.  His name is Jaws.  He has a droopy lip.  The park ranger thinks that Jaws got his lip hurt when he got into a fight with another bear.

When we left Hyder, we saw eight black bears before we got to Lake Kinaskin.

A black bear that we found along the roadside.
Then, yesterday, we saw a beautiful brown bear.

A brown bear that we saw along the roadside.
Do you know the difference between a black bear and a brown bear?  I'll tell you more in our next post!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tidal Pools

Today was the best!  Mom, Dad, and I took a hike on the beach!  We went to Beach 3 on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

Mom wanted to take some photos of the sea creatures living in tidal pools.  

Tidal pools are beautiful.  They are little colonies of life between the land and the sea.  When the tide goes out, you can see wonderful creatures in puddles or clinging to rocks.  

When the tide comes back in, these sea creatures and their homes go back under water.

The tide was just coming back in when we arrived at the beach.  Here are some of the photos that Mom took:

Sea star colony
A tiny pool filled with sea anenomes
A maroon sea star
An orange sea star
For some fun activities and information about tidal pools, just click on one of these sites below:


Saturday, August 6, 2011

World's Tallest Spruce Tree

We found the world's tallest spruce tree today.  It is fantastic!

The tree is over 1,000 years old.  It is over 191 feet tall and over 58 feet wide.  It is located in the Quinault Rainforest in Washington.

Just look at this photo of me and Dad at the base of the tree.

Now look at this photo.  See how tiny the people are compared to the tree?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Washington's Quinault Rainforest

Today we visited a beautiful rainforest in Washington.  It is on the Olympic Peninsula.  It is called the Quinault Rainforest.

The trees were old and beautiful.  I have never seen trees so big!  Just look at some of the photos that Mom took!

What is a temperate rainforest?  Temperate rainforests have mild, moist climates because of the ocean.  

The Quinault Rainforest receives over 100 inches of rain every year.   Because the ocean meets the high mountains on Washington's Olympic peninsula, they receive a lot of rain.

Temperate rainforests also have a lot of needle-leaf trees.  They have lots of moss and fungus and lichens.  They also have lots of fallen and dead trees.  These dead trees make a very fertile soil for new plants.

Washington has over 66 percent of all of our world's temperate rainforests.  

If you would like to learn more about temperate rainforests, just click on one of these links below:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Walking on the Craters of the Moon

Most of you know that my dream was to be the first dog on the space shuttle.  Now that the space shuttles are retired, I thought that I would never make it into outer space.

Well, today I almost did…  I walked on the craters of the moon!  And we did it right here on earth!

We visited one of the strangest places.  It is called Craters of the Moon National Monument.  It is located in the Pioneer Mountains in Idaho.

 This strange place is full of lava flows.  It has high towers called monoliths.  It has globs of lava that hardened into cones.

It all happened during the “Great Rift.”  About 15,000 years ago, a volcano erupted here.  Some of the volcanic activity happened only 2,000 years ago.  It made an ocean of lava rock that looks like the craters of the moon.

In fact, it looks so much like the surface of the moon, astronauts trained here years ago.  They came here to learn about volcanic geology before the Apollo missions.

If you would like to learn more about Craters of the Moon National Monument, just click here:

If you would like to be a Junior Geo-Ranger for Craters of the Moon, just click here:

Monday, July 25, 2011

We're On Vacation!!!

It was hot in Oklahoma.  It was hot in Missouri.  It was REALLY hot in Kansas.  It was hot Colorado. 

Now we are in Idaho.  It is cool enough for Mom to wear her sweatshirt!  

Best of all, I got to go on my first swim.  We are VERY happy girls!

On the Road Again!

Dear Friends,

My family and I are traveling again.  We are going back to Canada and Alaska! 

I will try to keep posting every week.  Sometimes it is hard to find an internet connection while we are on the road, but I will keep trying.   

We want to tell you about the animals that we see.  We want to tell you about our wonderful adventures.  We want you to join us on our trip!

So far, we have been camping in very hot weather.  Yesterday, it was 102 degrees at our campsite in Kansas.  Mom and Dad hosed me down with water to help keep me cool.  At least it turned cooler when the sun went down.

Today we are in Colorado.  It is a little cooler here, but not much.  We have friends here to visit.

Next, we will drive to Washington State.  It is suppose to be VERY cool there!  I can’t wait!

Until next time!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Did We Learn from the Shuttle Missions?

Did we learn anything from the shuttle missions?  Some people ask if the money  spent on the shuttle program was worth it.

The shuttle program helped us learn many things about space travel.  It helped us build the international space station.  It has helped us learn more about our planet and universe.

Many people don’t know that America's space program has also changed our world for the better.  Because of our space program, we have learned many new things. 

Scientists have used this new information to make America's space program better.  They have also used many of these discoveries for earth.  These new discoveries are called NASA SPIN OFFS.

NASA spin offs have made our world better.  Some have made our lives more fun.  Some have made us safer.  Some have helped make people we love healthy again.  Below are just a few spin offs:
   ·   Special fire fighting suits to keep our fire fighters safer
   ·   Satellite television
   ·   Smoke detectors
   ·   Helmets to protect us when riding bikes
   ·   Invisible braces to help straighten teeth
   ·   Medical tools to help doctors know when someone is sick

If you would like to learn more about NASA spin offs, please check out these sites:
Here’s a fun online NASA game to play.  It is called Search for Spin Offs:  http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/kidsclub/flash/games/levelfour/KC_Spinoffs_Hidden_Pictures.html

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why We Explore

The last shuttle flight landing.  Photo courtesy NASA.
Today Atlantis landed safely.  It landed by dawn’s early light.  Isn’t this picture beautiful?

I am sad.  This was the last flight of the shuttle spacecrafts.  The shuttles were the first crafts to go into space, come back to earth, and launch again.

For thirty years, the shuttles flew.  They carried pieces and parts to build the international space station.  The astronauts who flew on the shuttles repaired satellites like the Hubble Telescope.  They conducted many experiments that have helped humans on earth. 

Some people wonder why we explore in space. 

Some people think that it costs too much money.  Some people think that it is too dangerous.

So why do we explore space? 

People are curious.  They want to learn and see new things.  They want to learn more about our wonderful universe.  They want to learn more about our beautiful earth.  They want to make our planet and our people safer.

We have found some wonderful information for you.  We hope that you will read it so that you can decide if we should keep traveling in space. 

I know that I think that we should!   

Check out this game on NASA Kid's to find out why we explore:  http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/kidsclub/flash/clubhouse/Why_Do_We_Explore.html

Here are two more sites with good information about why we explore:  

This is an activity book about launching to the moon and beyond:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Star-spangled Banner in Space

Atlantis STS-135 crew with International Space Station astronauts.  They are holding the flag that flew on STS-001 in 1981.  Photo courtesy NASA.

The Atlantis shuttle astronauts gave the crew of the International Space Station a very special gift today.  They gave them a very special American flag.

This flag flew aboard the very first shuttle flight.  It flew aboard mission STS-001, on shuttle Columbia in 1981.  Atlantis is the last shuttle mission, STS-135.

The astronauts will keep this special American flag on the International Space Station.  Hopefully, they will give it away again one day soon.  They have been asked to give it to the next astronauts that launch from the United States.

When Atlantis lands, we will have no more shuttle flights.  America will have no spacecraft to launch into space.  Let's hope that we fly again VERY SOON!

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
(Words to the U.S. national anthem)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Last Shuttle Launch

Atlantis' last launch.  Photo courtesy of NASA.
Space Shuttle Atlantis launched today.  It will be its last flight.  It will also be the last launch of the space shuttles.  In many ways, it is a wonderful day.  For many, it is also a very sad day.

It is a wonderful day because it was a successful launch.  Atlantis has flown for 25 years.  It has flown over 115 million miles.

Atlantis launched the Magellan spacecraft to planet Mars.  Atlantis sent the Galileo spacecraft to Jupiter.  Last year, Atlantis made the final flight to the Hubble Telescope to make upgrades.  On this trip, Atlantis brings a new Russian-made research laboratory to the international space station.

It is also a sad day because it is the end of America's manned space program.  In my home of Houston and also Florida, many of the people who worked on the shuttle program will lose their jobs.  For the first time in fifty years, America will not be able to send astronauts into space.

Thank you to all of the brave and creative people who worked on the shuttle program.  Each of you had a part in something amazing.  Each of you had a part in helping us to learn more about our remarkable earth and our awesome universe. 

If you would like to watch the last shuttle launch, just click here:

If you would like to learn more about the last shuttle launch and about the shuttle program, just click one of the links below:

This is a great poster about Atlantis' missions:  http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/488843main_2atlantis_full_full.jpg

Click here to learn about the last shuttle mission:  http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/pdf/565676main_sts135mission.pdf

Here's a chart that tells about every shuttle mission:  http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/537939main_063011Shuttle-Wall-Chart.pdf

Here's a fun game to learn how to load the shuttle:  http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/227841main_Load_the_Shuttle.pdf

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We Found an Acrobat Bat!

It has been a very special day.  We saw something that we have never ever seen in our yard... a bat hanging upside down!  We call him our acrobat bat because he was hanging by one foot!

An Eastern Pipistrelle bat

I found the bat.  Mom and Dad were sitting on the deck when I smelled him.  

I went to take a closer look.  He was hanging upside down in a little tree.  He looked like a big cocoon hanging there.  When I touched him with my nose, he moved.  And I jumped!

Mom came over to see what it was.  She was very worried at first.  She was afraid that the bat had bitten me.  Bats can carry rabies.  But the bat didn't bite me.  He just opened up his wings and startled me.

Mom rushed into the house to get her camera.  She wanted to take some photos.  She was so excited!

We have been trying to find out what kind of bat he is.  He is very tiny.  We think that he is an Eastern Pipistrelle bat.  These bats are the smallest bat in the eastern United States.  

Dad measured the bat by putting a ruler close to him.  The bat was only about 3 inches long.  He was much bigger when he opened up his wings.

We have been learning a lot about bats today.  We discovered some very interesting things about them.  Bats are the only mammal that fly.  When they sleep, bats hang upside down.

Bats may look scary, but they are very helpful.  Most bats are insectivores.  That means that they eat lots of bugs.  We sure hope that our acro-bat stays around our house!

Just remember that you should NEVER pick up a bat.  He may bite you.  The bat also may have rabies.  Rabies is a very bad disease for both dogs and people!

If you would like to learn more about bats, we found some really wonderful activities for you.  Just click the links below:

Here are some bat fact sheet:

These are bat puzzles:

This is a fun book about Frankie the Free-tailed Bat, written by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tippy Canoe and Water Safety

I love the water.  When we went camping last weekend, I spent a lot of time in the water.  Our campsite was right on the lake.  It was wonderful!

Mom and Dad brought my blow-up swimming pool to keep me cool.  

We also brought our canoe.  A canoe is a boat with pointed ends.  You use paddles to make it go.  

Mom and Dad have a rule.  When anyone uses their canoe, they must wear a life jacket.  In fact, every person in the boat must wear a life jacket.    

Why is it important to wear a life jacket?  Canoes are very tippy.  If the canoe tips over, you will get very wet.  A life jacket will help to keep your head above water.

It is important to learn about water safety.  Just click here for some great activities about water safety:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Seatbelt and Your Seatbelt

 Every time we ride in a car, we need to wear a seatbelt.  Do you remember to wear your seat belt?  I do! 

Because I am a dog, I wear a special seatbelt.  It is called a safety harness.  The harness goes between my front legs, up my chest, and around my shoulders.  Mom clips my harness to the car's seatbelt.

Here are two photos of me in my harness.

There are many kinds of seat belts for dogs.  Little dogs normally ride in pet carriers.  Medium size dogs and big dogs need to use a harness.  

I am a very big dog.  I weigh nearly 100 pounds!  A harness is the safest seat belt for me. 

The same is true for children.  If you are very little, then you need to ride in a car seat.  When you get a little bigger, you can use a booster seat.  When you get to be a "big kid," then you can ride in the car with a regular seat belt.

If you would like to learn more about seat belt safety, we found some great activities and coloring books.  Just click on one and start to have fun!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Road Trip!

This coming weekend we are going camping.  I am very happy.  We will be camping with two of my favorite people in the whole world, Alex and Derek.  Alex and I are the same age.  Derek is just two years older.

We are going to sleep in our little camper.  We are going to go fishing in our canoe.  I know that Alex and Derek will also play ball with me.  It will be so much fun!

Since it is already very hot in Texas, Mom and Dad want to make sure that I am safe when we camp.  I have a very heavy fur coat.  We must be careful that I don't get too hot.

They will bring my blow-up swimming pool.  Sometimes they even put ice in the water to keep me cool.  The ice makes me cool down fast!

If it is too hot at night, they put an ice pack on my tummy to help me cool down when we sleep.
They have a special pouch that they fill with ice.  They put the ice pack on my belly because that is where my fur is the most thin.

I need to drink lots of water when it is hot.  So Mom and Dad pack a big jug of water just for me.  They bring my food, my bed, and a toy for me.  They also bring my leash.  When we go to parks, I must always be on my leash.

They also make sure that I am safe when we travel.

When I ride in the car, I wear a safety belt.  A dog seat belt is different than people seat belts.  I wear a special harness.  Then Mom clips my harness to the seat belt.

Cars get very hot in the sun, so Mom and Dad never leave me in the car alone.  If we drive a long time, they stop every few hours so I can get out and stretch.

Do you travel with your dog or cat?  Here are some great activities to help you learn more about traveling safely with your pet:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Swim Party

It is already hot in Texas.  Since I am a water dog, Mom and Dad got me a new swimming pool to help keep me cool.  Yesterday, I had my first swim party.  It was so much fun!

I love to lay down in my pool.  I also like to dive for my golf ball.  I can even dunk my head under water.  Can you do that?

I wanted Mom and Dad to join me.  They think the pool is too small.  What do you think?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spiders are Orbiting the Earth!

There are spiders circling the earth!  REALLY!!!

When space shuttle Endeavour launched yesterday, it carried some very special cargo.  Two young spiders were on board.  NASA calls them spidernauts.

The golden orb spiders (Nephilia clavipes) will be part of an experiment.  The human astronauts want to know how the spiders will spin their webs in microgravity (little to no gravity).

Golden orb spiders build very beautiful webs.  Will their webs look the same in space?

The spiders live in special boxes on the shuttle.  Once the astronauts dock with the space station, they will transfer the spiders and their habitat boxes onto the space station.

Part of Endeavour's cargo also includes food for the spiders.  They will eat fruit flies.  Fruit flies don't sound very tasty to me, but my spider friends love to eat them!

If you would like to learn more about the spidernauts, just click here:  http://solarsystem.jpl.nasa.gov/scitech/display.cfm?ST_ID=2378

By the end of the week, you can see the spiders in their new home on the space station.  Just click here:   BioEd Online 

The BioEd site also has lessons and other activities for you to use.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Space Shuttle News!

Dear Friends,

Today the space shuttle Endeavor launched into space.  It was so exciting to see it go!

If you would like to watch the video, just click here:

The Endeavour astronauts have lots to do.  During this mission, they will bring spare parts for the space station.

They will also install a new scientific tool.  It is called an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.  It will help us to study cosmic rays and other kinds of matter.

If you would like to follow Endeavour's mission, just click here:

It is hard to believe that the United States will only have one more space shuttle launch.  Atlantis is scheduled to launch in July.  I am trying not to be sad.  I wanted to be the first dog on the space shuttle!

NASA has some very fun space shuttle activities for you.  Just click on one of the links below and have fun!

Space Shuttle Activity Book:

Space Shuttle Glider Kit: 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sad Day

We have had a very sad day.  We lost one of our favorite trees.  He was a red oak that was nearly two stories tall and about two feet across.  Mom always called him our "grandpa tree."

Over the past few years, he has been losing limbs.  When spring came around this year, the entire middle was bare.  We called in a tree doctor.  The doctor said that our old red oak had a canker, which is kind of like cancer in people.  He said that trees are like people.  They get old and sick and die.

The tree doctor said that we needed to take the tree down.  He was afraid that if a hurricane came that the tree would fall on our house.  Today some men came and cut down our old friend.  Mom cried.

Already the squirrels are playing on the stump.  But it isn't the same as having our old friend.  The back yard looks so empty without him.

Dad says that we'll plant a new tree this fall.  We will plant it behind the stump.

We have been reading about how trees age and why they die.  If you would like to learn more about trees and why they are important, just visit one of the following sites.