Click on the poster below and you will be able to watch a video of the changing of the guards at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
There are so many places to visit in Washington, D.C.! There is one large chain of places to visit just within 2 miles of each other on the National Mall called the Smithsonians. The Smithsonian Institution is made up of 19 museums, 9 research centers, 12 public gardens, and a zoo! This castle, pictured on the left, is the welcome center where you can plan your visits and itinerary to make sure you are able to visit all of your "must sees." Each museum/site is full of incredible information, hands-on activities, amazing sights, and many historical items! James Smithson, a English scientist who loved to learn, left his fortune as a gift to the U.S. He never actually set foot in the U.S. while he was alive. However, you can visit his crypt at the castle on the National Mall. He wanted to share his love of learning with people and didn't want them to have to spend any money in order to learn; and that is where the Smithsonian Institution came from! This is why all of the Smithsonians are free to visitors. Before I decided where to begin my Smithsonian journey, I used the Smithsonian Trip Planner (see picture below). Here you could follow the directions on a screen and select your topics of interest, the "must sees" that people come to view, and then decide how long you plan on visiting in D.C. Next, you can email yourself the list of information and it will plan out your route for you! This resource was pretty helpful! Also in the castle building, there was a fun mosaic screen that would take your picture and then turn it into a mosaic using thousands of mini pictures of your choice of interests at the Smithsonians. You can see our picture below. It was quite unique!
I decided that the American History Museum would be a good starting point for my journey. The museum is made up of 3 floors with two wings that make up several different displays. Each exhibit is so well done and contains a lot of information! In short, it took me three different visits approximately 2 hours in length to finish going through the whole museum! And, I didn't even read everything! I had to skim over parts of the museum and choose what was the most interesting to focus on (which was hard!)! Otherwise I would have been there all summer! Check out the photos below and the descriptions to see a bit of my journey through the American History Museum!
Traveling Around the City
Living in Washington, D.C. is definitely way different than a typical life in central Illinois. Every time I go outside to travel somewhere, I have to decide the best way to get there either via walking, biking, bus, or metro. Once I have decided how I will travel, I have the privilege of seeing many incredible sights on the way to my destination. I have encountered many unique parts of the city within this first week. One of my favorite things to do is to travel around at different times of the day to see the monuments, because they carry a different type of beauty based on the weather and time of day. I am comfortable riding the metro now as well as using the Capitol Bike system. The city is definitely a busy place with cars, busses, and taxis rushing from one place to the next. Yet, there are places that you can find that are quiet and beautiful even in the middle of all the business. For example, right off of the National Mall is a butterfly garden that you will see below in a picture that provided a beautiful and calm walk. There are also so many choices of places to eat around the city, it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to go! The trick is to just ask people about their favorite places and then try it out! We found a cute little ice cream place the other night after doing a little research!
Library of Congress
While I am here in D.C. I needed to find a place to study and work on my assignments for my online class. I found the perfect place to study: the library! The crazy thing is that the Library of Congress is huge and contains almost every single book you could want! It is incredible! In fact, there are 3 buildings that make up the Library of Congress and each building is named after a president who contributed significantly to the collection of books: Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. The main building that you see pictures of below is the Jefferson building. Each of the pictures below show a bit of what it is like to be in the library.
On Sunday, I was able to check out a church a few blocks from my house down Constitution Ave and A street. The church is beautiful and the people were very welcoming! They belted out the hymns singing praise to God. The sanctuary was set up in an interesting way in that it almost wrapped clearly around the pulpit so that pastor had to turn around almost 360 degrees to address all of the congregation. Later that afternoon, I learned the Circulator bus system and my roommate and I happened upon a Eastern Market that occurs every weekend! Merchants come with their produce and set up their tents. Stores along the road open their doors and the atmosphere is fun as people walk around and shop through many diverse options. For a break in-between shopping, I stopped at a French bakery called "Le Pain" and had a lemonade with a chocolate chip twist pastry. On the sides of the street, different musicians play different genres of music adding to the experience! One group called the Capitol Hillbillies were my favorite!
What an incredible opportunity to be in Washington, D.C. over a holiday like Memorial Day! There were so many things happening in the city to honor the men and women who served our country and those who continue to sacrifice for us. We remember what they did and are grateful! Around the National Mall on Monday morning, there were bands, horses, buses, floats, men and women in uniform, flags, and people all preparing to participate in the annual Memorial Day parade. Although I wasn't able to go to the parade because of a scheduled tour (see more below), I tried out the Capitol bike share system and rode around to capture a bit of the excitement. Throughout the day, I was able to hop on the bikes and ride around the city to travel places more efficiently as well as to go grocery shopping!
Monday Duck Tour and Intern Exploration
We (the ISU interns) had a scheduled Duck tour in the afternoon while the parade was happening. We were able to see quite a few interesting things that we normally wouldn't have been able to see since we had to detour due to the parade route. Traffic is pretty crazy in D.C. when a major road has to be closed and so many people are in town for the holiday. You might be wondering what a "Duck" tour is. Well, a "Duck" is a vehicle that can travel on both land and water. When we drive from the land to the water, nothing changes on the vehicle in that the tires and engine and everything that makes a car drive is under water creating a lot of drag. This makes the boat ride quite slow, but a lot of fun! As we drove around town, we passed major memorials, the original building where our currency was printed, museums, the White House and more. We also went into the Potomac River where we were able to see the Pentagon building, several other memorials, the beautiful Catholic church (the highest point in the city) and even watched planes landing right above us as they flew into the Ronald Reagan National Airport. While on the river, we received "quackers" that we could make duck sounds with; but when the captain is yapping, no one is quacking. It was quite an experience!
Later on in the day, we decided to do some exploring and hopped on the Metro at Union Station. We attempted to visit Arlington National Cemetery, but we made it there right at closing time. We were still able to see each of the graves marked with an American flag, but hope to visit again. Instead, we went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Wall Memorial. This was a very touching and inspiring time. As we approached the bridge to cross the Potomac River, we saw an incredible view of the sun setting which illuminated the bridge and the Lincoln Memorial. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I was able to stand where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech, "I have a Dream." To end our time, we walked by the Vietnam Wall Memorial. It was incredible to be here on Memorial Day because there were letters, photos, flags, and tokens people had left to remember and honor these heroes. I was able to read a few of the letters. Some were written by children, others were written by family members, war buddies, and others. They shared stories of their experiences with these men, shared regrets, asked questions, honored, and thanked them for what they did for our country.
After much anticipation and excitement building up to this day, I have finally arrived in Washington, D.C. It is absolutely a beautiful city just like I have heard. As I flew into the city, I scanned the ground for sights of the Capitol building, or the Washington monument, but I couldn't see anything. Due to heightened security in the last few years or so the routes the planes take are not right over the city, according to a lady sitting next to me on the plane. However, once we landed, I was so excited when I saw the Washington Monument from the airport. I couldn't believe that I was actually seeing it in person. I have seen it in so many pictures, but here it was in front of me! Later on I realized that I was also looking at the Jefferson Memorial which is the white dome building in the airport picture shown above.
After settling into my apartment, my friends and I went to eat a delicious lunch at the cute cafe two doors down called "Romeo and Juliet." Our waiters and many people we encountered today have unique accents. There are so many people from all over the world that come to live in D.C. They each have a different story and it is amazing to be apart of it!
The rest of the day today we spent walking around the city learning where everything was located. We saw amazing architecture in museum buildings, walked around the National Mall, learned how to ride the metro (the underground transportation system), saw The White House which was surrounded all over by guards, and enjoyed watching the sun set behind the Washington Monument. It has been quite a day!
The End of the Beginning is a book title by one of my favorite children's authors: Avi. This school year in 3rd grade was very special to my class and I, because we had the opportunity to Skype with Avi! We had previously read his book entitled Poppy and completely fell in love with the story! We couldn't wait to tell him about it and talk to a real author! In preparation for the Skype visit, we read several of his other books including parts of The End of the Beginning. Although the year in 3rd grade is coming to an end, it is actually the end of the beginning of many incredible new experiences for these students! I have learned so much from this crew! They absolutely love to learn and are constantly asking questions, searching for answers, and finding new passions and interests. My hope for these students is that they would make the most of every opportunity that comes their way and continue to learn their whole lives through. So, third graders, this is not goodbye nor the end. It is just a door opening to the beginning of many new experiences. Congratulations on your graduation from Primary School and I can't wait to hear about where life takes you in the future!
During a math lesson about estimation today, the librarian visited our classroom and told us there was a really cool bug outside the window by the office. We couldn't resist a trip to visit this creature and make quick observations before getting back to our math work. The students begged me to catch it so that we could do closer observations of it in the classroom, so at lunch time I went back to see if it was still there. It was still there and I was able to catch it in a pencil box. There was a lot of excitement and learning this afternoon as the students rotated through stations taking turns to make observations of yet another incredible bug! We learned how to make good observations about creatures by making good guesses why the bug looks like it does and why it is a certain color. We decided that it is a praying mantis. Some of the students got to see the aggressive behavior that it shows when it feels like it is being attacked. We saw it has two sets of wings on its back and can make itself look a lot bigger to scare its predators. It was amazing to see! It made us afraid of it! After school, our librarian was brave enough to pick it up to see if it would fly and let her touch it. She did get pinched a little bit, but not too bad. That made me, Miss Coon, brave to touch it too! I picked it up for a closer look and learned that if I moved slowly, I wouldn't scare it and it wouldn't pinch or hurt me.
So, what do you know about a praying mantis? Have you held one before? What were some observations that you made of the mantis when he was in our classroom?
Honoring Our Grandparents
Peace Pole Dedication at Pekin Library
Meet Miss Coon
I love to learn new things! One great place to learn is by spending time in nature and the outdoors! Any opportunity that I can get to take a bike ride, hike, or walk I will gladly do it! I also love music and enjoy playing my flute at church and singing with my sisters. But most of all, I love kids. My passion is to teach children to inquire, and to love learning about this incredible world as I do. My students tend to think I love to learn just because I am a teacher. By modeling the struggle of learning and researching my own interests, I hope my students and others can follow my example and be empowered to seek after their questions to find answers in the midst of the struggle.