Monday, September 29, 2008

Topeka Zoo, Rainforest & Park

We spent a 2nd day in Topeka visiting the zoo, their rainforest exhibit (which is part of the zoo) and the "animal" themed park which is next to the zoo. We'd intended on eating lunch there, but it is a small zoo and their only small restaurant was closed! So, we ended up at McDonald's, which was just fine as we've been collecting the Madam Alexander Wizard of Oz figures.

a cute porcupine

As we entered the rainforest exhibit, we were greeted by some flamingos just walking around!

A fruit bat - they're so big!!! I had to ask one of the workers where I might find the bats...

...and this sloth! He's just hanging around in the exhibit. We'd actually walked past the hippos earlier in the day and when we came back, this big guy (or gal?) had actually gotten out of the water and was sunning himself! I sure wish we would have been around for that. I'd loved to have seen him walk that big ole body and then plop down. :-)

This photo has 5 Monarchs! They are beginning to migrate and I couldn't believe how many of them I saw as I drove down the highway.

After McDonald's, we headed across from the zoo to the park. I found this lovely "thing" - Alexandra pointed out that it was probably a gall. I believe she's right! I didn't see anything else on the whole tree. And, this was pretty big - a little bigger than a walnut.

With her baby cousin (4 1/2 month old), Baby H.

We were so happy to have found this elephant! I had been singing "We went to the animal fair" to Baby H all day long. In it, the song says "You should have seen the monk... it sat on the elephant's trunk... the elephant sneezed, and fell on his knees (like this one)... and that was the end of the monk." I guess it was a sad ending for the monk, but Baby H was just fine.

That evening, we went out with my sister-in-law to have some Greek food. Now, I'm not a very adventurous eater and I've never had Greek food. She ordered us some humus and flaming cheese for an appetizer, and even Alexandra loved them both! Alexandra ate American food for her meal, but I had grilled chicken & pork. I don't eat very much pork, but this was delicious! And, I tried some of my mother-in-law's lamb and "OH!!!" it was incredible. So, I'm sold on Greek food. :-)

We walked through the old town that evening and even stopped at a toy store and a book store and bought a little something at each. We just cracked up when we saw this (real) cat relaxing in a store window. Now, that's relaxing!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

While in north Kansas, we visited both Topeka and Kansas City. One of our visits in Topeka was to Monroe School, a national historic landmark which is home to the Brown v. Board of Education museum. (This site has lots of information if you're studying this subject.) It is also a national park and Alex earned her 3rd Junior Ranger badge there. (The website says you will need to complete 3 of 4 activities, but we were surprised that she just had to read about 8 pages of information and there were NO activities to complete. They also said they'd ask her questions at the end, so we "studied" hard... BUT, they didn't ask her any questions. We all learned a lot though!)

Brown v. Board (1954) was actually not a single case, but a consolidation of 5 cases. In 1954, Brown v. Board ended legal segregation in public schools. This case overturned an earlier Supreme Court decision from 1896, Plessy v. Fergusen, which set the precedent for "separate but equal" facilities. (Follow the Plessy link... it's a fascinating story!) (This photo of Alexandra is showing 10 things which were separated as to "white" or "colored.")

The above photo is of a "data sheet" by Dr. Kenneth Clark. The "test" was given to many black children who showed results like Ethel Mae Brown's... that she thought the white doll was "nicer"; she'd rather play with the white doll; the white doll was a nice color; and the black doll looked bad.
Here's another photo from Dr. Kenneth Clark's research which showed "an 'unmistakeable preference' among both African American and white children for the white doll." Isn't that sad!

We bought one workbook that we are working through: "I Want to go to School! Brown v. Board of Education" by Carole Marsh, an American Milestones book. (There are also books on other topics - I'm not sure if this is a complete list.) It has 28 pages on each of the pages it has several paragraphs about some aspect of this case and then something to do like a crossword puzzle, mapwork, matching, etc. We're learning a lot with this book!

Monday, September 22, 2008

We have power!

Hi, everyone. Our power got restored on Saturday, which was a suprise as we'd heard on Friday that it'd be at least a week. But, Alex and I had planned on going to Kansas, so we are up here having fun. Today, we went to a museum that covers Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Alex even earned her 3rd Junior Ranger badge. Unfortunately, I haven't loaded software to download photos on our new computers, so I guess it'll have to wait. I can't wait to share all of our adventures with you!!!