Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!

Welcome back to Poppins Book Nook for the month of April 2014 where we are all about planes, trains, and automobiles.

This month we came across a copy of Tupelo Rides the Rails. I never heard of this one before but since my boys love trains, I was sure this would be a winner. And it was – on many levels!

This is by far the sweetest story. And so many lessons within too! Melissa Sweet does an excellent job of telling a story of Tupelo and his adventures after he is abandoned by his owners.The story follows his travels as he searches for a home; we get to meet the BoneHeads and Garbage Pail ex who shares what little he has with this group of loveable misfits. As they ride the rails together we see how they become a family of their own in many ways. It ends in a most amazing way showing that sometimes the most uusual things (and people) can be the greatest blessings in life!

My boys both gathered right away how important it is to take good care of our pets and give them the love they need. It was so sad to both of them and opened up a discussion immediately about how some animals just do not have a loving and caring home. Even more it brought into discussion responsibility; how to manage and care for our pets. This became such a great discussion point in fact that we ended up spending a couple days on it and using some amazing worksheets we located on the website for The Humane Society.

Another beautiful and surprising part of this book was the little astronomy lesson within the pages. All canine related of course! 🙂 A couple of the pages open, revealing more details and images of the night sky with the constellations renamed just a bit. Quite creative and a fun way to inspire an interest, in younger children, in the stars above. This turned into a project to create our own star wheel and each of the boys sure enjoyed it!

First, you’ll need to display (left mouse click) or download (right mouse click) the two parts for your Star Wheel (also known as a planisphere). Make sure your computer can display PDF files; if it can’t, download and install the free Adobe Reader.

Part 1, which is a circular map of the sky. Click here for the circular sky map.

Part 2, which is the colorful outer sleeve. Click here for the star wheel’s outer sleeve.

Each part for the Star Wheel is sized to fit on a single sheet of letter-size paper. Print out both sheets and cut out the parts. For the sky map (Part 1), trim away the gray corners so that you’re left with a circle 8 inches across. For the outer sleeve (Part 2), make sure you keep the large white rectangle at the bottom; also, cut out the white oval in the middle.

To assemble your Star Wheel, fold the white rectangle at the bottom of the outer sleeve so it’s underneath the front. Then staple the rectangle to the front at the locations marked by short white lines to either side of the oval. Now slip in the circular sky map so it shows through the oval. That’s it!  Easy as an be right?

We also found a fun and handy interactive sky chart to help us see what’s in the sky for our very own location, and time too.

What a fun way to read for the month right? Catch up with us again next month for another great read, this time folktales galore!

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