Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Alphabet Adventures: U is for Under the Stars and Unusual Animals

Amazingly, this post makes our one hundredth post at Kitchen Floor Crafts, hard to believe we've written that many already. And although it would seem symbolic to say we're finally wrapping up our Alphabet Adventures, we're still not there quite yet. But the good news is we haven't forgotten them and we're still determined to reach Z!

The Adventure
Even as we planned this summer for our adventures, we knew U was going to be a bit of a stumper in terms of an activity. It was actually Big Brother who gave me the idea when telling me one day "U was for under" which lead me to think of a local museum and planetarium we've been wanting to visit. We headed north to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium.

The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium was founded in 1889 and is located inside a giant, Victorian building. It contains over 75,000 natural science items, including many different stuffed animals collected from around the world in the late 1800s. Some of the animals found there are now endangered, and others quite "unusual" for our part of the world.

Fairbanks Museum is home to this giant, stuffed Polar Bear. 
The museum also contains a planetarium, which although housed in the upstairs of this old brick building, uses very modern technology to help you visualize and explore outer space. Big Brother and I started in the planetarium (while Little Brother and Daddy explored downstairs.) 

Clearly, we couldn't take pictures during the show, but it introduced us to what constellations we could see that coming evening, the different constellations and their stories in our night sky, and nearby planets. When showing us a constellation, the program first allowed us to see it connected by lines and then overlaid a picture of the object so we could see how the constellation got its name. As it was a small crowd we also had time to ask our own questions, and Big Brother's included getting closer to the moon. The half hour show provided a lot of information, and the information about finding pictures "constellations" in the stars has lingered with Big Brother. 

In the hall of animals, both boys were eager to look at all the different animals. In order to keep the animals in the best state, there is no flash photography, so the pictures are limited and a little blurry. Each of the boys had favorite animals as we went through the hall. 
Big Brother enjoyed the water animal exhibits, including the otters and the muskrats, and also the possum exhibit.

Little Brother enjoyed the birds, monkeys, and the giant tiger. 

Upstairs in the hall the museum also contains collections of cultural artifacts and even some dinosaur bones. Although we took a quick look at the items, it was really the animals which engaged the boys. 

We followed up our adventure by reading How Many Stars in the Sky? by Lenny Hort. The story tells of a little boy and his father who go on a late night adventure to try and determine how many stars are in the sky, only to discover they really can't. 

The Project: U is for Umbrella
We kept the project simple and created a paper plate umbrella to go into our Alphabet Adventure book. 

Other U Adventures: underwater, under ground, up in the air. 

Five more letters to go! We're hoping to reach the end of the alphabet by spring. Will we make it? 

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