That if all the dung beetles left the plains of Africa, within a month the whole place would be waist-deep in excrement!
I found this information on page 25 in the book 1,339 Quite interesting Facts to make your Jaw Drop by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harkin. I have had so much fun reading this! Other tidbits include Chinese checkers were invented in Germany, Frank Beard is the only member of Z.Z. Top who doesn’t have a beard and a glass of milk left in the Lut Desert in Iran will not go bad because the heat is so intense it kills all the bacteria.
Ancient Egyptians believed Dung beetles were sacred. The beetle pushing the dung ball reminded them of the Egyptian gods pushing the sun across the sky. They called it a scarab. For having such a “dirty job” these insects are fascinating. You can read all about them in Dung Beetles by Clint Twist.
There are more than 300,000 different types of beetles. Fireflies and lady bugs are a couple of the better known varieties.
Of course, the most famous “beetles” are the Beatles! Photographer Bill Eppridge shares his photos of the band in The Beatles: Six Days that Changed the World. The photos in the book were taken during the 6 days the Beatles were in America to perform on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. In celebration of the 50th anniversary,The Beatles are Here! by Penelope Rowlands is a compilation of remembrances of that event by writers, musicians and fans.
There is also the Beatles Anthology on DVD. It is a visual history of the Beatles beginning in 1940 and ending with the breakup of the band at the end of the ’60s. It includes their songs, successes and failures.
After that, if you’d like to watch more beetles, how about Herbie the Lovebug? I mean really, who doesn’t love a car with a mind of its own? We have the 4 movie collection on DVD. These are Walt Disney favorites that your family will enjoy, and watching Herbie and his escapades will make you all laugh!
That piggy banks are named for the clay material pygg that money jars were originally made from?
I found this information on page 36 in the book Ceramics for Kids by Mary Ellis. Eventually the shape of the jar became a pig, since for most hardworking peasants their most valuable asset was the family pig. Kids will also enjoy doing some of the projects in this book. Also look at Mudworks by Mary Ann F. Kohl which has recipes for making all kinds of unusual modeling materials. You can use sawdust or cotton balls or even make some edible dough!
If you have a piggy bank, you’ll need something to put into it. The Teen Money Manual by Kara McGuire is a young adult book that is a guide to cash, credit, spending, saving, work, wealth and more. I loved that it really simplified the concepts of interest, credit scores, insurance premiums and other financial terms making them easier to understand.
You can learn the basics about pigs in the book Pigs by Sharon Dalgleish. One famous pig is Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith. Babe decides he is going to be a ‘sheepdog’ and ends up winning the Grand Challenge Sheepdog trials. A cute story with a happy ending!
Another popular pig is the peppermint Christmas pig. The tradition of the famous Peppermint Pig started ages ago in the 1880’s with candy makers in Saratoga Springs, NY. It’s a festive way to celebrate the holidays. When families gathered together at Christmas for the holiday meal, the tradition was to break the Peppermint Pig after dinner (inside a small cloth pouch) using a miniature hammer. All family members would then share in eating the sweet candy pieces, hoping for good fortune in the coming year.
And then there are guinea pigs, which aren’t really pigs at all. They most likely got the name pig because of the squealing noise they make. They make excellent pets and you can read all about them in Animal Planet’s Guinea Pigs by Julie Mancini.
Lastly, let’s not forget the ever popular children’s song “This little piggy went to market.” We have this on the children’s CD Banana Ram Sam interactive by Johnny Only.
That a spider web strand reaching all the way around the world would only weigh 12 ounces?
I found this information on page 9 in the book Spiders’ Secrets. Their silk is twice as strong as a steel cable of the same thickness!
There are more than 35,000 kinds of spiders. Spiders and their Web Sites by Margery Facklam shows us fishing spiders, spitting spiders, jumping spiders and more. This book has very nice artwork of some of the spiders, and excellent diagrams of the body parts. Spiders Spin Silk by Elaine Pascoe shows us what kind of web each of them spins.
Web sites are more than where the spider put its web… Today, a good web site can make or break a business. Teach yourself Visually Web Design by Rob Huddleston is an excellent resource for anyone needing to make a web site for any reason. We have other books, such as Design Accessible Web Sites by Jeremy J. Sydik, that are a little more technical if you need to fine tune your new or existing web site.
Of course we all know that spiders spin their webs with silk, but it is not used for making clothes. This is because long strands are needed to make clothing, and spiders spin only short ones. Spider silk is used to make various items such as sewing thread, kite string and fishing line. You can read more about the history and process of making silk in the book Silk by Adele Richardson.
And lastly, spiders spinning webs makes me think of Spider-man! Spider-Man the Ultimate Guide by Tom DeFalco tells you all about the way Spider-Man shoots the web and goes flying from building to building high above the city… what a way to travel!
That the difference between noodles and macaroni is eggs?
Noodles are made with egg solids and a finely ground semolina flour called durum. Macaroni is made from only normal semolina and water. This information is from the entry on ‘Pasta’ in the 2015 World Book Encyclopedia.
Macaroni is just one type of pasta. There are hundreds of different shapes for pasta and thousands of names for those shapes. Each region of Italy has its own name for certain types of pasta. Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way by Oretta Zanini De Vita and Maureen B. Fant has a nice section on pasta types and directions for making them as well as the best recipes for the types of dough you will need.
According to The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes by Amanda Grant there are two main types of pasta: fresh and dried. Fresh is made with flour/egg and dried is flour/water. This book has wonderful recipes and easy directions for the future chef in your house. I think kids will really enjoy making the dishes in this book.
Pasta Modern by Francine Segan has some wonderful recipes for some nontraditional pasta uses. Examples include making mock pasta “pretzel” sticks or little pasta bird nests. They seem like fairly easy recipes that you can make with either your own homemade pasta, or start with store-bought.
We cannot talk about pasta without mentioning macaroni and cheese! Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord has dozens of recipes for this comfort food and variations of it you probably would never have dreamed of!
Besides being a delicious food, macaroni was historically used as a definition for a young British man who had travelled abroad in the18th century and exaggeratedly imitated continental fashions. Everyone called them dandy’s. This leads us to Yankee Doodle sticking a feather in his hat and calling himself “macaroni”.
We have several books with the poem “Yankee Doodle”. The original poem was written in the mid 1750’s and can be found in the book American Poetry: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries but the version we have all heard and know so well is actually a parody. Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger is a very fun story version of the poem that parents will probably enjoy more than the kids!
Lastly, Mac and Cheese are two characters in a series of kid’s books written by Sarah Weeks. Mac is fun and lovable while Cheese is grumpy. These are perfect beginner reader books.
That elk have two ivory teeth? The two well-defined upper canine teeth (also called buglers, bugle teeth, whistlers or tusks) of elk are rounded, extremely hard and ivory-like. I found this information in the book Elk by Erwin A Bauer on page 35. A lot of this book was researched and photographed in Yellowstone Park. I found it very interesting with beautiful pictures.
Technically, ivory is the term for any animal tusk used as material for art or manufacturing. Elk ivories are indeed tusks, of the same material and chemical composition as those sported by walruses, wild boars and elephants.
Elephants by Sally Morgan tells us how ivory has been collected from elephant tusks until the animals were nearly extinct. There are now laws to stop the import of ivory. She also gives other facts about the largest land mammals on earth. Ivory’s Ghosts by John Frederick Walker gives an in-depth history of the hunting/poaching of elephant tusks and discusses the controversial issue of the ivory ban, and what to do with the stockpiles of tusks from elephants that have died from natural causes.
Walruses have also been severely hunted for their ivory tusks. Peter Knudtson tells us that their tusks are primarily used for pulling themselves out of the water and onto the ice in the book The World of the Walrus.
Carved ivory can hold “special” properties, as in the Nancy Drew book The Mystery of the Ivory Charm by Carolyn Keene. Ivory is also used in the album title and the title of song #5 on the music CD Black Ivory Soul. It is a wonderful CD by Angélique Kidjo who is one of the world’s best-loved African singers.
And lastly, ivory also refers to color; there are so many different shades of white! Many brides choose ivory, champagne, diamond white, ecru, vanilla or candlelight for their wedding dresses instead of just plain white. Look at some beautiful choices in the book It’s All About The Dress by Randy Fenoli.
Jerusalem artichokes, serviceberries and blue camas roots are just a few of the plants you can eat to survive. Sacagawea taught Lewis and Clark about them and other plants on their expedition. This information is from the book Plants on the Trail with Lewis and Clark (chapter 3 “Plants as food”) by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent.
We have a lot of books about Lewis and Clark and their journey, but I was particularly impressed with all of the sketches and copies of their original journal entries in Lewis & Clark: an Illustrated History by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns. The DVD of this book is based on is also available.
Cooking on the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Mary Anderson has a recipe for Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes and some other simple recipes that were probably staples in the men’s diets along the trail. I also discovered that there are no Jerusalem Artichokes in Jerusalem! However, looking at the Eyewitness Travel Guide for Jerusalem & the Holy Land with all the historic and cultural places that you can visit, really makes me want to travel there.
Without Sacagawea, everyone on the expedition probably would have starved. There are many books about her. Most of them mention her finding and digging up roots and plants to help feed the men. Sacagawea: Westward with Lewis and Clark by Alana J White also tells the story of a near disaster with the boats and how she happened to save many books, clothes, a magnet, a microscope and the captain’s journals that were washed out of the pirogue. A few days later the two captains named a branch of the Musselshell River ‘Bird Woman’s River’ probably in her honor.
Northwest Foraging: the Classic Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Doug Benoliel lists many plants that you may even have in your yard. There are drawings and directions for using the plants, and information about whether you use the bulbs, the stalk, the leaves or flowers.
We have many areas in Washington where you can “get away from it all.” In case you decide to go hiking or camping up in the mountains, you may want to take SAS Survival Handbook: for Any Climate, in Any Situation by John “Lofty” Wiseman with you. You will learn how to harvest and safely prepare food, make a camp, basic first aid and many other things that you hope you will never need to know!
The Kitchener stitch used in seamless knitting was designed by Lord Kitchener, a British military hero of the Boer War and WWI, to keep the toes of socks from irritating his soldier’s feet. I found this information on page 91 in the book The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square.
Ghosts of the Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng has a chapter that talks about Lord Kitchener. It begins: “Perhaps no figure represented the British Empire at its late Victorian zenith better than Lord Kitchener. Even today, his image is familiar because of the most famous poster campaigns of all time, in which the caption reads ‘Your Country Needs You’….” Although I learned a lot about his military career, it did not talk about him knitting, or having socks made for the soldiers.
The Kitchener stitch is mostly used in knitting socks and underarms of sweaters. Sometimes in patterns they use the term “graft” instead of “Kitchener stitch”, this is the case in the book Socks to Knit for Those You Love by Edie Eckman. Knitters who make socks know about the dreaded ‘second sock syndrome’ (where you just can’t make yourself start the second sock) and as a solution to this problem, there is now a big trend in making socks two at a time so matching is no longer an issue, as in 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Making them from the toe up eliminates the need for the graft at the toe, as Knitting More Circles Around Socks by Antje Gillingham teaches you to do.
If you think that you can’t knit, and would just end up with a tangle, perhaps you should take a look at Why Knot? by Philippe Petit and just learn to tie knots instead. He shows how to tie more than 60 different knots, with easy directions and practical uses for each one.
Good foot care is very important, especially if you are diabetic. 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and your Feet by Neil M Scheffler, DPM, FACFAS tells us that there are now socks with a copper or silver weave that helps prevent bacteria and fungus from growing (example: athletes foot). Also your socks should not be too tight. The best design has no seams, so the socks will not cause an ulcer in the skin where they rub.
Socks are educational too! There are sorting and counting songs, such as “Sorting Socks” a song on the MathJam. K Music CD by Judy & David to play for your little ones.