Results of our Read-a-thon

We just completed our third annual read-a-thon!

 

Insha's drawing, which she sent in with her collection for Aschiana

Insha’s drawing, which she sent in with her collection for Aschiana

Insha, Ruby, and Lulu, we missed you at our wrap-up party.  And we’re so proud of your great reading!  Thank you for your contribution to our good work!

Here are some pictures that Aschiana sent to show us how important and helpful our donation to their aid efforts are…

Aschiana's photo of a refugee camp in Afghanistan

Aschiana’s photo of a refugee camp in Afghanistan

Aschiana's photo of some of the displaced children in Afghanistan's camps

Aschiana’s photo of some of the displaced children in Afghanistan’s camps

Aschiana's photo of their aid workers handing out clothing to displaced children in the camps

Aschiana’s photo of their aid workers handing out clothing to displaced children in the camps

For more info about Aschiana’s great work, visit Aschiana Foundation

Click here to see Ina Kozel’s artwork

Love the world!

Spring! Don’t Walk.

The Black Creek Preserve is not only great for hiking, but environmentalists also do research to learn things about the animals that live there and their environment. We went to Black Creek the other day (around Earth Day) and took a hike with our friend, Abi, the environmental educator from Scenic Hudson.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group explore a vernal pool with Scenic Hudson environmental educator, Abi.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group explore a vernal pool with Scenic Hudson environmental educator, Abi.

On our hike, we saw several vernal pools. Vernal pools are pools of water that are only around in spring (vernal means spring). Types of animals, such as frogs and salamanders, come to vernal pools in the spring to lay their eggs.  So vernal pools are an important part of many animals’ reproductive life.  In the vernal pools, we saw two small peepers, one salamander, two big toads, and a lot of salamander eggs!

When we got to the Creek where the environmentalists were studying the eels, some kids put on waterproof suits and went out into the water to help capture the eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help an environmental scientist catch eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help an environmental scientist catch eels.

Then, we counted and weighed the eels. The environmentalists were doing this because they wanted to know how well the eels were doing, how many there were, and to learn more about their development.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help environmental scientists count eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help environmental scientists count eels.

We learned that eels are born in the ocean.  Then they swim to the Creek where they grow up, and then they swim back to the ocean to have their own babies.

Of course, we put the eels back.  We carried them upstream in a bag and then let them go in the water.

– Zoe

Keeping the River Clean


We had a meeting the other day about the Hudson River.   We learned that the Hudson River is an estuary. An estuary is a body of water where salt water and fresh water mixes together. Another thing about estuaries is that they’re tidal, and so the water gets high and low throughout the day.  At high tide, the water can take garbage a person might have accidentally left on the beach and sweep it out into the water.

We also learned that there is a food chain in the Hudson River that leads to us, and the younger kids drew food webs, which show how everything in the wild is connected and how everything relies on everything else in order to survive.

Ari with food web showing connections between all elements.  Ari said, "Without the sun, there wouldn't be anything at all!"

Ari with food web showing connections between all elements. Ari said, “Without the sun, there wouldn’t be anything at all!”

The older kids made charts to show how much bacteria was in the water and when.

Guin's frequency chart, which shows how often water samples taken by Riverkeeper were acceptable, possible risk and unacceptable levels of enterococcus.

Guin’s frequency chart, which shows how often water samples taken by Riverkeeper were acceptable, possible risk and unacceptable levels of enterococcus.

You can see that the samples tested acceptable more often than unacceptable, which means that the River isn’t so polluted as it used to be.

My chart also shows that the amount of rain that falls the week before the sample was taken (the orange line) can have an effect on the amount of bacteria in the water.  And the purple line shows that they don’t take samples when it’s raining because that stirs up the bacteria in the water which affects the sample!

So all of that means, you probably shouldn’t swim in the Hudson River after it rains.

There are many reasons to keep the Hudson River, or any other river, clean. Here are some:

*all bodies of water are connected so any garbage we throw in the river will end up in the ocean and become an even worse problem (for the animals and plants that live there, and for our food web and health)

*garbage can kill animals and fish that live in the river

*we swim in rivers

*we drink from rivers

*it’s pretty to look at rivers without garbage in it

You see , it is important to keep the river clean. When we keep the river clean, we are keeping the river, animals, and humans safe.

If you are interested in keeping the river clean, you can meet us at Kingston Point Beach on May 11th. We have signed up to be part of the annual community action day called the Riverkeeper Sweep. Different groups like ours are given a part of the beach to clean up. We hope we’ll see you there!

-Zoe

Wildlife Rescuers!

Last week our Roots & Shoots group went to a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. There were lots of awesome birds. I counted them. There were four bard owls, one barn owl, two screech owls, one black vulture, a seagull, a morning dove and a swan. There were a couple of ravens, a small hawk and five other red-tailed hawks, along with two great horned owls. In all, there were twenty birds!

Each animal had its own, amazing story and hardly any animals had the same. One red-tailed hawk had lived as a pet in someone’s living room for two years. You can watch the movie we made to hear a couple of the stories.

I was always sad when I heard that an animal couldn’t be returned into the wild. All these animals belong in nature and when an animal can’t survive it is sad. Luckily, they have Ellen to care for them!

Thank you, Ellen, for taking care of birds, big and small, and for showing us the birds. I also want to thank everybody who came for your cooperation, interest and donation.

-Zoe

Note from Hillary:

Our visit to Ravensbeard was also a fundraiser where each family contributed a little bit and together we were able to donate almost $50 to the center and Ellen for her great work!

Be sure to check out Ellen’s website to learn more about simple things you can do to help wildlife as well as how you can help wildlife in trouble.  You can be a rescuer, too!

Also, contact Ellen for your own group’s educational program or for your child’s next birthday party!

R&S with Ellen

Reading for the Kids in Afghanistan

For our Read-a-thon, we decided to raise money for the kids in Afghanistan. These children are in refugee camps because of the ten-year war in their country. But this is not the fun camp you go to in the summer. The refugees live in tents during winter and are freezing. They have hardly any coats, blankets, food or medicine. Many kids die from the cold. In fact, last year at least 100 children died in refugee camps.

Now you may be asking,”Why help the kids in Afghanistan? Why not help the kids in Africa or Haiti, or right here in America?” Well here’s the thing; if we go one step at a time and each help a cause we really want to help, and if you combine all that, then you’ll see we have all made a difference in the world together.  One person’s $20 to support one of our readers might not feel like a lot.  But when you put it with everyone else’s contributions, it can really help.

-Zoe

HVHS Readers 2013_0007s

7 of our 12 readers (+1 baby brother), ready to begin!

Recap from yesterday’s read-a-thon launch meeting from Hillary:

We started with a game to get to know each other better where we had 
to self-edit into groups who either agreed, disagreed or were undecided on
various issues.  Issues were as simple as "I prefer night to day", as 
complex as "It is necessary to get a college degree to lead a happy,
productive life" and as fun as "I would rather be a forest than an ocean." 
We talked about how it felt to make those kinds of value judgements on
the spot and how our minds were sometimes changed based on what we saw 
others in the room choosing.

We discussed the four options people brought to the table: the SPCA (the 
local Dutchess County shelter is a no-kill facility); local wildlife
rehabilitation centers (the one we're going to visit in Saugerties in February); 
Global Giving; and the idea of giving aid to children in the refugee camps 
in Afghanistan.  All the ideas were interesting to the kids, and all the 
organizations are amazingly deserving.  In the end, the vote ended up 5 for 
Afghani kids, 3 for wildlife rehab centers, and 1 for Global Giving.  (It was 
a kids-only vote.)  We also touched upon the ideas of giving locally versus 
nationally/internationally, and giving 100% of your donation to a cause/paying 
organizations' overhead costs. 

We also talked about the calendar and figured out which projects we'd like
to schedule in for the spring.  Just wait and see!

Stttuuuuuuuuuufff

Today was the day of our faaaaaaabulous workshop on upcycling!

Zoe made a sock doll, showing the rest of the girls her own secret method, and we introduced them to Sock and Glove which has some wonderful designs (thanks to Jayla and Kerin for introducing it to us). Amber made a beautiful dress for her doll!

People brought in sweaters, and we talked about all the different things you can make from them – some of the best ideas were in Alterknits. Athena got started re-purposing a sleeve right away.

We admired Judith’s crocheted grocery bags and Willow’s refrigerator pockets. And we loved hearing about the handbags Amanda made from jeans.

While the girls were working on their projects, we watched The Story of Stuff, a movie made by native Woodstockers who run Free Range Studios.

In parting, we did a demo of how you can make stylish beads using a straw, glue stick and wrapping paper. Just in time to rethink throwing out your holiday gift wrapping.

Cut a piece of wrapping paper the width of your thumb and the length of a straw.
Coat the back of the paper with glue.
Place the straw at one end of the paper and roll tightly until all the paper is stuck on the straw tube.
Wait a minute for it to dry, then cut the tube into beads.
String the beads on embroidery thread or yarn.
Makes a great necklace, friendship bracelet or keychain!
Thanks to the Recycled Crafts Box for the great idea!

The Woodstock Library has some extra copies of our collection of upcycling patterns. Check it out when you go there next!

Love the world!
-Hillary

DIY: Upcycled Fashion Show

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