Monday, February 25, 2013

Booking Across the USA in Connecticut

Hello from Connecticut!

Thank you to Jodie of "Growing Book by Book" for creating this wonderful project! Her hard work and perseverance is a great tribute to all authors whose books have been selected to represent our 50 states and to the participating teachers who recognize the importance of stressing literacy throughout the world.


Connecticut is located on the northern shores of Long Island, 
on the east coast of the United States. 

It's in the region called New England.
 When the settlers first came to this country, they decided that "NEW" England was an appropriate name because it was the beginning of a new life, with new freedoms and
away from the religious persecution inflicted on them by the King of England. 

                                                                   photo credit info please


The Connecticut book I selected is called "The Legend of Hobbomock, The Sleeping Giant".  This legend is very dear to me. Why? Because I grew up about two miles from the place where this legendary sleeping giant was said to have roamed. Being so close to Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Connecticut, I had heard many tales and legends about this New England mountain that looks like a great giant lying on his back.

Children often conjure up their own everlasting visions of giants and huge creatures roaming around dark shadowy forests when they hear tales like The Legend of Hobbomock.  Who could ever forget the Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel and how they were lured into the witch's cottage in the dark pine Schwarzwald  (Black Forest) of Germany.

Jason Marchi, an award winning Connecticut author, poet and journalist wrote the legend and skillfully retells the story of the mountainous giant through the eyes of Blackbird, a young Native American boy of the Quinnipiac tribe.

Hobbomock, friend of the Quinnipiac, had taught The People, how to fish, hunt and stressed they must cherish the land. When he discovers they no longer respect it, he angrily abandons them and vows to take revenge when he returns. The first person to encounter Hobbomock when he returns is Blackbird. The young boy is suddenly faced with an adult like problem and must save his people from Hobbomock's wrath!

Jason and his very talented artist/illustrator, Jesse Bonelli, must have taken a time machine journey back to the 1600's and walked in Hobbomock's basalt shoes. Imagine them hiking up the giant, to better understand the legend. Imagine them examining the ancient rock formations to experience the essence and spirit of this great giant. The combination of Jason's masterful storytelling and Jesse's illustrations, capture the heart and soul of Hobbomock and makes one wonder if the Quinnipiac people of long ago, sat around night camp fires whispering the legend among themselves.

Further research said this gifted team worked with historians, Native American experts, and linguists, who understood their quest. Who were the Quinnipiac Native Americans who roamed the sleeping giant's forests? How did the legend come to be? What did their language sound like?  Was there a boy like Blackbird who had an eerie encounter with this massive mountainous man?

Great books, like "The Legend of Hobbomock, the Sleeping Giant" make us want to burrow under a down comforter with a flashlight and read until dawn. They paint an everlasting picture that vividly remains with us throughout our lives.

The Legend of Hobbomock, The Sleeping Giant won a Connecticut Press Club Award in 2012, in the Children's Fiction Book Category and was a best seller at the Barnes & Noble store in North Haven, Connecticut.

The book was also selected as the only title to represent all of Connecticut for this project, "Booking Across the USA" a children's literacy program, which launched nationwide, today, on February 25th. 

Click on the cover to learn more about The Legend of Hobbomock, The Sleeping Giant.
If you decide to order a copy, fifty cents of every copy purchased is donated to 
the Sleeping Giant not-for profit Park Association to help with the land preservation. 

photo of The Legend of Hobbomock The Sleeping Giant, pdf, Native American, Jason Marchi, Jesse Bonelli,

Historic and Interesting Places to Visit in Connecticut! 

Mark Twain House

Mark Twain moved to Hartford, Connecticut, in 1871, and while he and his family lived there, he completed some of his most famous books such as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer",  and "Life on the Mississippi". 
Pictured is the Mark Twain house. 
Click on the photo to view the museum's website.

photo of The Mark Twain House, Connecticut history, Samuel Clemens
                                         photo credit: Mark Twain House & Museum

It's great teaching in a town where there are many historic buildings, one of them being the oldest stone house in Connecticut and New England. 

                       The Henry Whitfield House - Guilford, CT

The Henry Whitfield House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
It's the oldest stone house in Guilford and New England.

In 1639, the Reverend Henry Whitfield left England with 25 other families in pursuit of religious freedom. They chose Guilford and paid the local Sachem with everything in 12's. Twelve silver spoons, 12 pieces of wampum and more. 

The families built the Whitfield House using fieldstone from the area. To hold the stones in place, they crushed oyster shells, mixed them with water and used them as an early type of mortar. It is said that Native Americans in the area might have helped them build it. In the corners of the house there were small windows that were to be used as lookout stations and where they could use a gun if any "unfriendly" people attacked. 

Archaeology digs show the remains of Native American structures on the property as well as many other artifacts.

When one of the principals I taught under, was digging a chimney foundation on his waterfront property, he discovered bones about four feet down. He had them carbon dated and was told they were approximately 900 years old. 

They were the remains of a Native American woman and next to her were the bones of her infant. Our principal became well known for touring around to schools to talk about his historical find. From what we heard, he refused to donate them to museums in the area. They very well could be in a museum now, because he's since past away. 

photo of Henry Whitfield House, Guilford, CT, historical home,
                                                       photo credit ACS archaeology

The Thimble Islands are just off the coast of Stony Creek which is a small village of Branford, Connecticut. There are 100+ islands that are made of pink granite rocks, ledges and outcroppings, the largest being 17 acres. 

One year, I had a student whose family has a home on one of the Thimble Islands called Money Island. It's been in their family for generations. His parents offered us an end of the year party on the island, so all 80 students on our team, and staff piled aboard a ferry that dropped us off at this unusual island. By the way, their "town" island library is an English phone booth! Money island has 32 homes, most of which, or maybe all, are summer homes only. 

It's on Money Island that legend says Captain Kidd buried his TREASURE!! Who doesn't love a treasure hunt???

For years many people have searched this 12 mile island. 
Check out all the interesting facts about the islands on the website. 

Be sure to click on the video of the Thimble Island Tour (by boat) near the bottom of the page! 

It's a great ride! And who knows? Maybe you'll see where the treasure is buried!

                                                                    photo credit active rain

The Guilford Green
A few years back, Yankee Magazine featured the Guilford green as being one of the most beautiful and largest of all the town greens in New England. From the earliest times, greens around New England served many purposes. 

Facts about the Guilford green:

It's 12 acres in a rectangular shape

It was communal grazing ground for cattle 

Many of the early settlers were buried on the green

An area for the drilling practices of the early militia (There were no police in those days!)

A public punishment area for whipping posts and such OUCH!

A place with hay scales for farmers to weigh the salt hay and other hay that was harvested

A place to worship in churches that were built around the green. 
The first churches were called "meeting houses" and were strategically placed at one end of the green.  

They were used as meeting and worship places. Guilford's first church was built in 1643 and still proudly stands today. It was first called a Congregational Meeting House.

In 1817, it was decided to no longer use the green as burial grounds and instead, two cemeteries would be used. 

By 1824, the gravestones were removed and the mounds denoting the graves were leveled.  It's said that only the headstones were moved to the cemeteries and the remains of the early citizens remain beneath the soil of the green.

Because the green is very close to Long Island Sound, it's been said that when high tide rolls in, so does sea water roll into the oldest home's basements, many of which aren't full basements. When high tide rolls out, the sea water leaves the basements. 

Horses could no longer be tied up to trees and only certain cows, with owner's tags, were allowed to graze.

Even though the green has changed in appearance over the years, it's still a meeting place. People walk their dogs, talk with friends and visit the stores and restaurants that surround the green. 

Below you'll see the Congregational Church that still stands today. I often think.. If only walls could talk, what we could learn from this beautiful building!

                                                                     photo credit: sskies blog

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about 
our beautiful state of Connecticut! 

Have a great time viewing the other state blogs that are participating in "Booking Across the USA"!

Alabama: Everyday Snapshots Alaska: Little Wonders’ Days Arizona: Simply Kinder 
 Arkansas: Homeschooling in Arkansas 
 California: Juggling with Kids and The Outlaw Mom 
Colorado: Learners in Bloom and Living Montessori Now 
 Connecticut: The Teacher Park 
 Delaware: Mama Miss Florida: Teaching Stars Georgia: Fabulously First Hawaii: Teaching With Style Idaho: True Aim Education Illinois: Growing Book by Book
Indiana: Teach Preschool Iowa: Surviving a Teacher's Salary Kansas: KCEdventures Kentucky: Chicken Babies Louisiana: New Orleans Moms Blog 
 Maine: Maine Adventure Mom and Country Fun Child Care Maryland: Picture Books and Piourettes Massachusetts: Mama Smiles Michigan: Play DrMom Minnesota: The Wise Owl Factory 
 Mississippi: Hey Mommy, Chocolate Milk Missouri- Ready. Set. Read! Montana: The Honey Bunch Nebraska: The Good Long Road Nevada: Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts 
 New Hampshire: Elementary Matters New Jersey: The Pleasantest Thing 
New Mexico: Enchanted Homeschooling Mom New York: What Do We Do All Day 
 North Carolina: Realistic Teacher Blog North Dakota: ND HealthWorks 
 Ohio: Smart Chick Teacher’s Blog Oklahoma: Herding Kats in Kindergarten 
 Oregon: Journey of a Substitute Teacher 
Pennsylvania: Land of Once Upon a Time Rhode Island: Smiling in Second Grade 
 South Carolina: Cookies and Kiddos and JDaniel4’s Mom South Dakota: The Wise Owl Factory 
 Tennessee: No Monkey Business Texas: Curls and a Smile and Kid World Citizen 
 Utah: Teach Beside Me Vermont: Burlington Vt Moms Blog 
 Virgina: Once Upon a Story, and The Freckled Homeschooler 
Washington: Home Learning Journey and Boy Mama Teacher Mama 
West Virginia: This Week @ Great Peace Academy and Mamas Like Me 
Wisconsin: Reading Confetti Wyoming: No Twiddle Twaddle USA: The Corner on Character         Blogging Across the USA Blog Hop

Monday, February 11, 2013

Storm Nemo Turned Blizzard

Why we've had so many deadly storms in the last couple of years is a question everyone's asking. Especially Connecticut residents in our area. A few months ago, Hurricane Sandy roared in and left a path of destruction we never thought we see again in our lifetimes.


Storm Nemo has caused terrible conditions in New England. Connecticut has been one of the hardest hit with the most snowfall amounts. The thin path of the heaviest snow for this blizzard is the same path where Sandy left the most rainfall and destruction. 

The blizzard started off like a gentle lamb in the early morning, then later, morphed into a snarling, wild animal by early evening.  The morning’s tiny flakes of glittering soft snow hinted that the upper atmosphere was below freezing and ripe for a Nor’Easter. We, who have grown up in the Northeast, are accustomed to at least one Nor’Easter a winter. The blue print for this one, however, sent shivers up the spine. Two major fronts colliding with each other, right in our area, might prove to be a little more than we’re used to. It was like the movie "The Perfect Storm" right on top of us.

Schools across the state had been cancelled the night before. Up until 2:00 p.m. there could have been school, but not knowing when this storm would hit full force, the towns cancelled to be on the safe side. 

At 4:00 p.m. the snow became heavier. Still, it wasn’t a threatening storm. Heavier snow and a bit of wind was all that we experienced. We hoped it would miss us. Wishful thinking. 

Around 7:00 p.m. the winds picked up and the snow began barreling in, horizontally, from the Northeast. It was like someone was blasting it out of a huge fire hose. At first, it was like any typical Nor’Easter we’ve had, so we didn’t think it would be too bad.

I went into my usual "disaster" mode and grabbed the Coleman lanterns and the radio with all the emergency bands on it, candles, matches and batteries and put them on the family room table near the fireplace. I slid one of those mini flashlights in my pocket in case the power went out so I'd have light to see, then settled down to read, all the while, wondering what morning's light would reveal. 

We have many five gallon Poland Spring water jugs in the garage (thank goodness the garage is attached to our house!) and other things we keep for New England weather emergencies. Our freezer in the basement is chocked full of meat, bread and other foods we'd need if we lost power. 

Sleet began pummelling the area around 7:30. Horizontal sleet/freezing rain filled up the northern window next to our fireplace, so much so, we couldn’t see anything outside.
It eventually turned into a block of ice. Sleet then began enveloping other parts of the house. It was hitting the front bay window so loudly, the dogs began to bark. Off in the distance was thunder snow. Great booms of thunder with lightning bolts sparking across the white out sky. 

Suddenly, all was quiet. No sounds of sleet, thunder. Was it over? I rushed to the back deck door, turned on the spotlights and coming out of the sky was snow so heavy, I couldn't see anything but the spotlight's beam revealing the snow fall.

The winds were howling. the house moaned. Knowing there was nothing we really could do, we went to bed but who could sleep?
The first morning's light.... 
We woke up and groggily grabbed a cup of coffee, then looked out the window. What we saw was like something out of a science fiction movie. We couldn't identify anything. The white world was an artist's blank canvas. Where's the street? Where's our mailbox? Where's our neighbor's car? All was buried. I kept thinking an avalanche had occurred but no.. 

The huge town snow plows had stopped early in the evening.  The snow came down so fast and furiously the trucks had become stranded. There was so much snow they wouldn't have done much good because there was nowhere to put the white stuff. 

We still had power! Calling neighbors, we learned that some had to jump out of their windows because all of the doors in their homes were blocked by 7 to 9 foot drifts.

Farmers everywhere began to appear, using their John Deere equipment and pay-loaders to try and get our roads and streets cleared.  Our heroes! We're told the main roads are only half a lane and not cleared to the black top.  

Stores and gas stations are closed. Everything is closed.

From the looks of it, our schools will be closed at least to the end of the week or longer. 

Then begins the clean up...
We've been outside every day since then trying to remove snow from our roof and deck. The deck has 7 foot high drifts over most of it, so the weight is liable to collapse it. No birds or wildlife have been seen since the blizzard. In times like this, many of them perish which is very sad. 

This is a view from our garage looking down the street. The street however, is nowhere to be found. The only indication of where it is, is the telephone pole. It's difficult to see, but if you look at the telephone pole's bottom part, to the left of it, is a black dot. It's our neighbor's head.

                        It's difficult to imagine the depth of the snow using a photo.

This is our snowblower valiantly trying to remove snow from our the driveway just in front of our garage. That drift to the left of it,  is approximately 7 feet high. If you look at the end of the gray fence, you'll a dark figure. That's another neighbor standing in an area he cleared from his driveway. 

Hopefully I'll have energy to finish this posting. We've been in 17 degree temperatures for two days.. Every day it's been a struggle. Today, Monday, it started to rain. All the drains in the street are buried in snow so there's no where for the rain to go. Our roof has about four feet of snow on top. We need to rake it soon. There's always a tomorrow.... 


Celebrate Lessons from the Middle's first blog birthday!


$500.00 in Resources and Gift Certificates! 
Due to the blizzard, I'm sorry I'm late posting this! 

Click below to see this amazing giveaway 
There are only THREE hours left to participate! 
Keep scrolling down when you get there! There are many packets to choose from! 
I'm there! :)