Category Archives: Blog

Nostalgia For Play

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.” –Pablo Neruda

There’s nothing that evokes immediate nostalgia like vintage children’s toys. The primary colors of Chinese Checkers, a game of Twister, and Monkeys in a Barrel. Metal Jacks with a ball, Dominoes to line up perfectly (and then be knocked down), army men scattered across the floor, a skipping rope, tiny toy cars, and colorful blocks: all these things conjure images of an idyllic childhood, before screens. Playing with dolls is wonderful for children to learn how to communicate and to imagine interactive scenarios, while puzzles and crossword games encourage literacy and promote intellectual curiosity. 

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” –Carl Jung

The Importance of Play

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The importance of play cannot be overestimated. When a child plays pretend and make-believe, they are able to imagine anything, and the possibilities are limitless. This type of freedom for the childhood mind is so precious as children are not pressured by restrictions set by society yet. They can leap from stone to stone imagining the ground is covered in lava or blow bubbles into the air without a care in the world. As Fred Rogers said, “When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.”

Here are some of our favorite toys for children: 

  • A Slinky: this spring-like favorite will inch its way down the stairs and, as a child, is endlessly fascinating. 
  • Dolls/Barbies/Paper Dolls/GI Joes/Plush Toys are wonderful for children to play with while creating social scenarios. Most children have a favorite doll, stuffed animal, or even a treasured blanket.
  • Building Blocks are the foundations for making just about anything. Of course, these are some of the most rudimentary toys in any nursery and never go out of fashion. The same sentiment goes for a spinning top, a cup with a ball on the end of a string, skipping rope, a tea set, etc. 
  • Colorful chalk and finger paints are essential for children to create whatever picture they wish. The grass can be purple, and this sort of creativity should be encouraged, not dismissed as wrong. Chalk should always be used for creating a schoolyard game of hopscotch!
  • Baseball cards are always fun to collect and, today, may have great monetary value.
  • A Jack in the Box that one twists as “Pop Goes the Weasel” plays—before the toy pops up—is completely classic. 

Board Games/Word Games/Puzzles 

Board Games (especially ones such as Scrabble, Boggle, and Crossword puzzles) are absolutely essential for children to learn language skills. The following are some we highly recommend and that never go out of style:

  • Monopoly
  • Scrabble
  • Crossword Puzzles
  • Picture Puzzles
  • Tic Tac Toe

Games from SGE 

Think Adventure!

Spartan and the Green Egg offers an array of beautiful and educational toys and prizes, including 3D puzzles, matching games, and playing cards. For the little geography lovers in your life, try the spherical 240-piece puzzle, Our Planet. If you know little adventure-seekers, they’re bound to love Spartan and the Green Egg’s Explorer playing cards, binoculars, and World of Amazonia Tin! For more on a 3D Grow a Garden flowerpot puzzle, a 3D egg-shaped puzzle, countless stickers, patches, explorer pins, and medallions, check out the many exciting gifts that Spartan and the Green Egg has to offer at the website

All About Teddy Bears

There’s nothing more comforting or snuggly than a teddy bear. It is, by far, the most classic of all children’s toys and treasures. Whether it’s an old, tattered bear many years old (with stuffing falling out) or a brand new Build-a-Bear, teddy bears are beloved keepsakes that never go out of style. What makes them so loveable? It must have something to do with the fact that they were one of the first branded toys with a story attached. They’re wholesome and traditional; there’s really nothing to dislike about a soft teddy bear.

“Oh baby let me be, your lovin’ teddy bear. Put a chain around my neck, and lead me anywhere; Oh let me be (oh let him be) your teddy bear.” –Elvis Presley

The Origin of Teddy Bears

Long before Elvis sang of being someone’s teddy bear, the popular stuffed toy was invented and dubbed “Teddy” after Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States (serving from 1901-1909) and, of course, a member of one of the most fascinating American families of all time. The story goes that, on a hunting trip in 1902, Roosevelt was the only member of his party to not kill a bear. When a black bear was found and tied to a tree by another hunter, Roosevelt refused to shoot it. Well, this news soon became newspaper fodder, and the teddy bear was born. In homage to Roosevelt and saving the bear on a hunting trip in Mississippi, a stuffed bear with his nickname became all the rage. Known as a huntsman, naturalist, conservationist, and all-around wild man, Roosevelt helped to invent the National Parks system and was constantly hiking, hunting, fishing, and going on expeditions to explore the country’s wildlife and rough, untouched terrain.

Famous Teddy Bears 

To this day, the teddy bear is one of the most popular gifts for a child. Our favorite teddy bears usually come from stories, such as Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear. Paddington is the protagonist in a series of children’s books (first published in 1958 by Michael Bond with classic illustrations by Peggy Fortnum) about a stuffed bear with a blue raincoat, red hat, and bright yellow galoshes. And let us not forget the Care Bears and Corduroy Bear, too! Now children and parents can even customize their very own teddy bears at Build-a-Bear shops.

The original Teddy Bear (made in 1902) was designed in Germany by toymaker Margarete Steiff. Toys of this sort, from this era, are highly sought after and collectible. If found in good condition, original bears are worth tens of thousands of dollars. Even though these heirloom gifts are expensive and rare, nothing quite beats nostalgia. 

Other Plush Favorites

The Velveteen Rabbit (from Margery Williams’ 1922 children’s book) is a favorite indeed! Anything velvety and soft is ideal for a child to cuddle, and stuffed rabbits are particularly popular as gifts for the Easter holiday. Other stuffed favorites inspired by literature include replicas of characters from the wild minds of Dr. Seuss (such as The Cat in the Hat) and Maurice Sendak (his “wild” things) and various Disney characters.

For more information about the origin of the Teddy Bear and Theodore Roosevelt, check out the links below: 

For further reading about one of our favorite stuffed bears, Winnie the Pooh, read this blog! For all your literary needs, visit

Global Warming Causes And Remedies

What Is Global Warming, and How Can You Stop It?  

Global warming is the general trend of the Earth’s surface temperature increases over time. It has many natural and manmade causes. Scientists are trying to develop ways of reducing global warming because they’re concerned that it could damage the environment in various ways. There are also many things you can do to help slow global warming.

Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is a key part of global warming. It’s so named because of its similarity to the way a greenhouse stays warm inside. A greenhouse is a type of building made mostly of glass panes that allow sunlight in but prevent heat from escaping. Certain gases allow sunlight to enter the atmosphere without allowing heat to escape to outer space. The most common greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane.


Animals naturally produce greenhouse gases, mainly by exhaling. Plants use greenhouse gases during photosynthesis, which generally kept greenhouse gases at constant levels throughout most of Earth’s history. However, their levels started to rise during the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. This technological trend resulted in the burning of fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil. These fuels are needed for many industrial processes such as powering factories, running cars, and generating electricity. In addition, many forests have been cut down to make land usable for humans, thus reducing the number of plants available to absorb greenhouse gases.


The exact rate of global warming is difficult to predict, but most scientists guess that the temperature of the Earth’s surface will increase by between 3.2- and 7.2-degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. This increase may not sound like much, but it would cause a large portion of the polar ice caps to melt. Sea levels would rise as a result, endangering people, plants, and animals near the coast.

Stopping Global Warming

Scientists throughout the world are concerned about the effects of global warming. They’re currently looking for ways to reduce the production of greenhouse gases, generally by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that we burn. Kids can also help minimize global warming by conserving energy, convincing other people to do the same, and continuing to learn more about this subject.

Save Energy

The best ways for you to conserve energy include closing outside doors immediately so that warm or cool air doesn’t escape your house. You can also turn electrical appliances like computers and lights off when not in use. Additional energy-saving measures include walking or biking as much as possible instead of having your parents drive you somewhere.

Convince Others to Save Energy

You must be careful when convincing people to save energy because they don’t often like being told what to do. It’s much better to set examples and make suggestions than it is to give direct orders, even when you’re talking to your family and friends. Starting a conservation club at school is a great way to raise awareness of global warming.

You can help save energy at home by asking your parents to keep the heat off as much as possible, especially at night and when no one is at home. Replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent lighting also saves money and energy over time. Encouraging your parents to run appliances like dishwashers in energy saver mode and turning the car off while waiting to pick you up from school are other ways to save energy. Recycling more material is also an important way to save energy since any type of manufacturing uses a lot of energy.

Continued Education

Continuing your education is essential for finding new energy sources that don’t contribute to global warming. Solutions to this problem can come from many bodies of knowledge, including science, technology, economics, and politics. A good education can also help you make good decisions in your daily life.

The World’s Most Unusual Bridges

6 Most Unusual Bridges in the World  

For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been using creative ideas and innovative building techniques to explore our surroundings. Often, that means creating ways to get across rivers, valleys, and canyons.

Bridges come in all shapes and sizes. Some have stood for centuries, like Greece’s Arkadiko bridge, crafted from stone in 1300 B.C. and still used today. Some of today’s bridges use amazing engineering techniques, while others look like beautiful works of art.

Here are 6 of the world’s most unusual bridges.

1. Helix Bridge

Singapore’s Helix Bridge looks like a massive double helix rolling across the water’s surface. That’s because the bridge’s creators had the shape of human DNA in mind when they designed it.

With a span of 920 feet, this gorgeous bridge allows people to walk easily from one side of the river to the other. Viewing platforms are perfectly positioned along the walkway. It’s an ideal place to stop and take a few photos of the surrounding city.

At night, strips of LED lights turn the Helix Bridge into a giant, glittering jewel. The bridge is so beautiful that it’s become a popular destination for tourists and Singapore residents alike.

2. Royal Gorge Bridge

Would you be brave enough to walk across 1,260 feet of wooden planks hanging 950 feet above a river below? That’s exactly what visitors to the Royal Gorge Bridge ask themselves!

Built-in 1929, this suspension bridge is the highest in the Western hemisphere. The bridge has two steel towers, more than 2,100 strands of wire cables, and spans a deep canyon 956 feet below. It’s been standing since 1929.

The walkway itself is made of more than 1,250 wooden planks. Each year, 26 million people visit the Royal Gorge Bridge… but we’re not sure how many of them are brave enough to walk across it.

3. Millau Viaduct

Spanning 8,071 feet across France’s Tarn River valley, the Millau Viaduct is a marvel of modern engineering. It’s the highest cable-stayed road bridge (a bridge held up by cables that cars can drive across) on the planet.

Its towers soar more than 1,100 feet into the air, making this bridge taller than the Eiffel Tower and almost as high as the Empire State Building! The bridge is so tall that, on a foggy day, it’s impossible to see the valley below. Drivers on the bridge say it feels as though they’re cruising above the clouds.

It only took three years to build this incredible bridge. The designers of the Millau Viaduct had to come up with an entirely new technique to make it work. Unlike other cable-stay bridges, the towers were constructed first, before the roadway was laid in place.

4. Chenyang Wind and Rain Bridge

For centuries, the Dong people of China’s Guangxi Province have constructed strong, sturdy bridges… without using any nails! These gorgeous covered bridges are topped by towers, porches, kiosks, and pavilions that are meant to offer shelter from the weather. That’s why they’re known as “wind and rain” bridges.

Among the most famous is the Chenyang Wind and Rain Bridge. Just over 213 feet long, the bridge spans the Linxi River. It’s made completely from wood and stone, without any nails or rivets.

The soaring pavilions — up to four stories high — sit on sturdy stone towers in the river. The Dong craftsmen were so good at making the wooden pieces fit together perfectly, that the bridge has been standing for more than 100 years.

5. The Twist

Is it a bridge? A building? A sculpture? The Twist is all three and more. Spanning the Randselva River in Jevnaker, Norway, this unique bridge is truly a work of art; part of the Twist’s interior space even houses an art gallery. 

The bridge is located in the middle of a forest, and designers had to overcome several challenges, including different heights at each end of the bridge. Architects came up with a clever solution: Twist the entire bridge by 90 degrees.

That means when you walk through the bridge, the ceiling and floor switch places. At the twist, the ceiling flows down the wall to become the floor, while the floor stretches up the other wall to form the ceiling.

6. Golden Bridge

Just north of Da Nang, Vietnam lies one of the world’s most unique-looking bridges. The Golden Bridge stretches for 500 (golden) feet across a beautiful forest. But the most amazing part about this bridge is that it’s held up by two giant hands.

Walking across this shimmering bridge is like entering your favorite fantasy novel. Though it’s just a few years old, the hands are crafted to look like ancient stone, carefully holding up a glittering golden thread. Adding to the fun, visitors take a cable car ride to climb slowly up the mountain to reach this magical bridge.

What Are Canyons

Learn About Canyons

Canyons are steep, narrow valleys that may also be known as gorges. They’re formed over millions of years by river movements, erosion, and tectonic movements. River canyons are the best-known type of canyon, but they’re also found under the ocean.

River Movements
A fast-flowing river can cut into a riverbed by washing sediment downstream, creating a deeper channel. This type of river becomes known as an entrenched river because they don’t change course like a typical river with a wide, flat floodplain. The Yarlung Zango Canyon in Tibet is the deepest River Canyon in the world. It’s more than 17,500 feet in some places and is also one of the longest canyons in the world, at 310 miles.

Erosion and weathering can also form canyons, usually in areas where water regularly freezes and thaws. This process begins when water seeps into cracks in rocks. The water freezes, causing it to expand and make the cracks bigger. The rock erodes and water fills the cracks again during heavy rains, causing more erosion. Over time, the canyon grows wider at the top than the bottom. This cycle repeats itself when the water freezes again.

Erosion like this forms slot canyons when it occurs in soft rock like sandstone. Slot canyons are unusually narrow and deep, sometimes less than three feet wide and 1000 feet deep. These types of canyons can be dangerous because the sides are often very smooth, making them difficult to climb. In some cases, canyons form in areas with soft rock lying on top of harder rock. When this happens, the canyons develop cliffs and ledges when the surface rock erodes, making the canyon walls look like giant steps.

Tectonic Activity
Tectonic plates are large pieces of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. They shift and collide with each other over millions of years, causing changes to the Earth’s surface. Tectonic activity can sometimes cause land to rise above the surrounding area, which is known as a tectonic uplift. They can create mountains that glaciers and rivers cut through to create deep canyons.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is the best-known canyon formed by tectonic activity. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide at its widest point. The deepest point in the Grand Canyon is 6,000 feet below the surrounding land. The Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River, which cuts through the Colorado Plateau. The age of the Grand Canyon is between 5 million and 70 million years, depending on which geologist you ask.

Submarine Canyons

Canyons on the ocean floor are known as submarine canyons, which are some of the deepest canyons on Earth. These canyons cut into the continental shelves and slopes, which are the edges of the continents that are underwater. Some submarine canyons were formed by rivers when that part of the ocean floor was above water.

The Hudson Canyon is one of the longest canyons of this type, at a length of 450 miles. It was formed by the Hudson River, which is located between the US states of New York and New Jersey. The Hudson Canyon was the riverbed of the Hudson River during the last ice age when sea levels were lower. Ocean currents that are strong enough can also form submarine canyons by sweeping away sediment.

Ocean currents that are strong enough can also form submarine canyons by sweeping away sediment. This process is similar to the way that rivers on land can erode riverbeds. Wittard Canyon, off the south coast of Ireland, is a well-known example of this type of canyon. Scientists believe this canyon was formed thousands of years ago when glacial water flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Tropical Birds Around The World

When we think of colorful, exotic birds a parrot (usually perched on a pirate’s shoulder) inevitably comes to mind. There are nearly 400 species of parrot. While they come in all sizes they usually have a long tail, are very intelligent, and some learn to speak (or at least mimic sounds they hear). Parrots are usually very loud, raucous creatures and make for good companions, although one should really not own a parrot as a pet. For one thing, they often outlive their owners! Parrots can live up to 80 years. 

“Tame birds sing of freedom. Wild birds fly.”

– John Lennon

Magnificent Macaws

  • Macaws are extraordinary and extreme in their amazing attributes. They can fly very fast (up to forty miles an hour) and have an impressive wingspan (more than four feet in width). They also have extraordinarily powerful curved beaks used for cracking hard nuts and seeds. 
  • There are the traditional macaws with mainly red plumage surrounding their head, neck, and back that flows into a rainbow of colors across their wings; these are known as the “Scarlet Macaws” while the “Red-front Macaw” is mostly green in color with a splash of red on its head. The “Hyacinth Macaw” is almost entirely blue and is longer than any other species of parrot. Then there’s the “Red and Gold Macaw,” which is extremely distinctive. Their unique shape—including long tail—is for flying quickly through the jungle. Of course, parrots are incredibly noisy birds; this is so they can screech and squaw throughout the tropics and other birds will hear their call.

Other Fine Feathered Friends

Some other popular exotic birds include cockatoos and toucans.

  • Cockatoos belong to the parrot species, Cacatuidae. These birds are distinctive due to the flamboyant plumage atop their heads (the most recognizable because of this attribute being the sulfur-crested cockatoo, with its black beak, entirely white body—except for cheeks that appear to be glamourized with yellow rouge—and bright matching crown of spiky plumes).
  • Toucans are tropical birds known for their impressively large rainbow bills and are a member of the Ramphastidae family. They can be found mostly in Central and South America.

Polly Wants a Cracker: Where to Find Tropical Birds

  • Amazon River Cruises: “What does 55 gallons of water per second look like? The Amazon River, that’s what! The Amazon is THE largest body of freshwater rivers in the world. The
    Amazon snakes through many countries, but the largest portion is in Peru, which is in South America. When exploring the Amazon River you’re likely to see brightly colored birds, such as parrots and macaws, as well as towering trees, exotic flowers, and some of the most unusual wildlife to be found on the planet.”
  • Lake Retba in Senegal: “is among the splendid lakes of the world that have water that is pink!” Located near the country’s capital, Dakar, the lake is known for its abundance of salt. With a gray head and yellow and green body, the Senegal parrot is known for being smaller than most, a little less vocal (although they can be taught to mimic) as well as incredibly affectionate and playful.
  • Scoresby Sound, Greenland, is the world’s largest fjord and is surrounded by incredible craggy cliffs. Some of the wildlife that can be found there includes the Atlantic Puffin. Although it looks similar to a penguin, they are completely different. Puffins are seabirds that can fly over 50 miles per hour and are characterized by their black and white bodies juxtaposed with a colorful beak. Because of this, they have been called “sea parrots.”

For more information on the exotic birds mentioned in this blog, check out the websites below:

For more information on the sites mentioned in the blog and to collect corresponding explorer pins, check out the following Spartan and the Green Egg links:

Our Favourite Fictitious Haunted Houses

What makes horror movies so scary? Tales of vampires, the creature from the black lagoon, ghosts, mad scientists, and wolfmen awaken something within our psyche that speaks to us on a deeper level, and the most frightening Halloween story trope is the haunted house. 

With supernatural happenings and shadows dancing on a wall in the flicker of candlelight, drafts of wind blowing down a corridor, unexplained voices, creaking old staircases, dark, damp cellars filled with lurking monsters and closets filled with skeletons (literally), haunted houses make for amazing (and incredibly frightening) storytelling. The idea that a home we live in, where we’re meant to feel secure, is haunted by something paranormal, is always terrifying. These tales of spooky old mansions sure make for a spine-tingling good time! 

Some of the most famous haunted houses in literature (and in films) that we love include (but are not limited to) Hill House (from The Haunting of Hill House, 1959 by Shirley Jackson), The Overlook Hotel (from Stephen King’s The Shining, 1977), The House of Usher from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), The Bly House from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, and even Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter book series. 

  • Many of these places aren’t even houses, but they are rivetingly scary nonetheless. Poe’sHouse of Usher is a gothic mansion inhabited by twin siblings Roderick and Madeline. After Madeline’s death, her body is entombed in the house. Then a powerful storm comes, a glowing paranormal lake that surrounds the house is described, and Madeline (who was actually buried alive) arises from her entombment. In the end, the house crumbles and is split down the middle as it sinks into the lake. 
  • Hill House from Shirley Jackson’s novel was made unforgettable when the story was adapted into a classic black and white 1963 film (not to be confused with The House on Haunted Hill starring Vincent Price). 
  •  The House on Haunted Hill is unforgettable; with the castle’s eccentric owner and a slew of guests (who are all promised $10,000 if they can stay overnight), a vat of acid, ghosts of former residents who were killed, and a swinging noose to suggest suicide, this is a frightening and over-the-top ride. 

When it comes to real life, there are actual houses that are supposedly “haunted”—whatever that means—and they’re open to tourists! 

Spartan and the Green Egg have even traveled to at least one! 

  • The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California: Filled with “Secret passageways, stairs that lead to nowhere, miles of twisting corridors all delight thousands of visitors to the Winchester Mystery House. Built by Sarah Winchester around 1882, the house has 160 rooms and was built without a blueprint. Each evening Mrs. Winchester would have a séance, and each morning she would tell the builders what the spirits said needed to be built. As a result, Sarah believed she was building a place where she could never be haunted.”
  • So, if you’re a lover of the macabre and get a kick out of spooky sights, don’t forget to collect your Explorer Pin depicting this mysterious house! 

For more information on all sorts of fascinating places around the world, visit Spartan and the Green Egg at the website and read more on the blog.

Poetry To Instill A Love Of Nature

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, /For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. / I loafe and invite my soul, /I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”

 –Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (1892)

(Illustration by Maurice Sendak, from “Open House for Butterflies” by Ruth Krauss)

  • Sometimes we all need to get quiet and centered. The great outdoors are perfect for just that, so go sit in a garden, park, or your very own backyard, grab a book of poetry and unwind. Sharing this with the children in your life is not only fun and educational but also incredibly beneficial. 

Learn about the Beauty of Nature

Learn from the best! Read the naturalist poets such as Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, William Blake, and William Wordsworth. 

Reading poetry to your children and encouraging them to read on their own when they’re old enough is so important. It instills a love of and appreciation for nature. 

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson viewed nature as the “Universal Being.”
  • Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (first published in 1855) is a vast collection of poems that Whitman wrote and then rewrote over and over throughout his life:

“A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.”

  • Robert Frost’s “Birches” (1915) is an incredibly well-known and beloved poem that is often recited by school kids: 

“I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, /And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk/ Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, /But dipped its top and set me down again.”

  •  Of course, Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Nothing Gold Can Stay” are just as popular, if not more so.
  • William Wordsworth was one of the English Romantic poets whose 1807 poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” has endured and become a favorite for the ages. His mediation on nature (specificaly daffodils) is lyrically beautiful and extremely well-known, as it is one of his most anthologized poems.
  • William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience is a collection of poems that were published together in 1794. They are known for their words but not entirely. Blake actually created impressive engravings that he painted by hand to correspond with each poem! “The Blossom” (from Songs of Innocence) is a joyful and light-hearted ode to nature. This is exactly the sort of poetry that children can enjoy.
  • William Butler Yeats—one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century—wrote of nature and its majesty, its simplicity, and beauty. His vision of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (written in 1888) makes us all want to retreat there with the honeybees: 

“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, /And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; / Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, /And live alone in the bee-loud glade.”

For more information on what to read, great children’s literature, and other literary tips, visit Full Cycle Publications at the website.

Spooky Cemeteries

“I am a cemetery by the moon unblessed.” –Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

Why do we visit cemeteries? Well, we visit the gravestones of the ones who have gone before us, the ones we miss and love. Cemeteries don’t have to be morbid or scary, they can be comforting, and the ones mentioned in this blog are incredible places to visit…they just happen to be graveyards! Did you know that people would actually have picnics in graveyards before public parks because it was the only place with a nice lawn where friends and family could gather?

(The entrance at the Catacombs of Paris)

  • The Catacombs, Paris: ‘Arrète!  C’est ici L’empire de la Mort’ is a phrase at the entrance of the Catacombs in Paris so, whenever one visits this incredible site, this is the first thing they see, but what does it mean?  “Stop! This is the empire of the dead.” “The Catacombs are a series of underground tunnels formerly part of a mining operation. In 1785, a portion of the labyrinth-like tunnel system was used to house human remains moved from the Saints-Innocents Cemetery. Remains from other cemeteries continued to be moved to the Catacombs throughout the 1800s. Today, the Catacombs of Paris have been turned into a tourist attraction and are affiliated with the Carnavalet Museum.” Can you imagine visiting a place (underground, no less) filled with skeletons? How cool is that? Victor Hugo wrote that “Paris has another Paris under herself” (in reference to 1300 miles of sewers, caverns, catacombs, alleys, and intersections beneath the city). Why were all these people buried deep underground in these old quarries in the first place? Well, the cemeteries of Paris were overflowing during the 18th century, interfering with the water system, and infecting people with plague, so they had to be moved. Figures of the French Revolution are buried in the catacombs, including Molière and Robespierre.  

(Photo courtesy of Paris Tourist Office)

  • Père Lachaise Cemetery, also located in Paris, is one of the most famous burial places in the world.  The largest cemetery in Paris, it is the final resting place of icons such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf. Still unknown for certain, there could be as many as 1 million people buried in Père Lachaise! Built-in 1804 and named for Père François de la Chaise (a French Jesuit priest who was also the confessor of Louis XIV), the cemetery is an extremely popular tourist attraction and doubles as a beautiful park. 

  • Beethoven’s Grave in Vienna, Austria. “The famous composer Ludwig Van Beethoven passed away in 1827. He was buried in a cemetery called Währinger Ortsfriedhof at first, but his body was later moved to his current resting place in Vienna, Austria, at the Zentralfriedhof cemetery. Visitors can find his grave together with the graves of Schubert and some other famous composers.” It has been said that Beethoven’s last words were “Pity, pity—too late!” (as he had just been told of a present of twelve bottles of wine from his publisher). 

For more information on the sites mentioned in this blog (along with Spartan and the Green Egg’s explorer pins), consult the links below:

All Cool For School

“Fall is here, hear the yell/ Back to school, ring the bell/ Brand new shoes, walking blues/ Climb the fence, books and pens/ I can tell that we are gonna be friends.” –Jack White


Back to School Fun

There’s nothing more exciting than the promise of knowledge and new adventures. A whole new world opens up for children in the fall. Crisp red apples, sharpened pencils, reams of parchment paper, and blackboards with fresh chalk all make for a lovely, quaint schoolhouse tableau. Even in times of uncertainty, it’s ideal to make the best of any situation, and a safe, joyous learning environment is truly magical. Making new friends, discovering new interests, and reading lots of cool books are all stepping-stones for children; these are the things that make school years (especially grade school) enjoyable and eye-opening. A new pair of shoes and a colorful knapsack makes school in the fall all the more fun.

Express Yourself  

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” –Lily Tomlin

There’s nothing more fun than laying out clothes and effects the night before school! Explorer pins, stickers, embroidered patches, lanyards, and medallions are all wonderful accessories for school children to embellish their belongings. Whether it’s a backpack, lunch pail, thermos, three-ring binder, or even a mandated mask, all children enjoy decorating their personal effects. This way, you can go learn in style! Spartan and the Green Egg offers all sorts of original educational embellishments that fit the bill. 

  • Outer Space Patches: “Blast off with Spartan and the gang as they, and Egg, escape Earth’s gravity to explore the Solar System. Learn about the solar system and Earth’s place in it as you reach for the stars! The Explorer Outer Space Patch Collection is the perfect addition to the full line of Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Collection pins and patches.  This collection includes fourteen patches: International Space Station, Rings of Saturn, Asteroid Belt, Mars, Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune, Venus, Mercury, Earth, Sun, Pluto, Solar System, and the Moon.”
  • Oceans Pin Collection: “Dive right into Earth’s greatest oceans with this exclusive Ocean Pin Collection. Each collectible pin is epoxy coated and polished to be shiny and soft to the touch. Explore the oceans of the world today!”
  • SGE Explorer Stickers Set #1: “Plan future adventures all around the globe with the Explorer Stickers Starter Kit. These 120 vibrant world stickers are nestled in a colorful explorer tin. They are fun and educational. Perfect for all young explorers. Collect the Explorer Stickers starter Kit to see how many destinations you have yet to discover!”
  • SGE Explorer Lanyards:Proudly collect and display all of the Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer pins on this lanyard that is available in several different colors.”
  • SGE Medallions: Deck out yourself and your personal effects with a flying carpet, rocket ship, submarine, and butterfly medallion! 



For more information on all the educational gifts that Spartan and the Green Egg has to offer, visit the website (along with the links below):


Places And Cathedrals Of Russia



Russia is known for its vast size, extreme cold, great novelists, and amazing architecture that will truly knock your socks off. 

  • The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel (a core fortified area of a city) of St. Petersburg. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, it is known for its unique design by Swiss architect Domenico Trezzini in the Petrine Baroque style. It is also known as the birthplace of St. Petersburg and shares a picturesque view of the Neva River. Once used as a prison, it is now part of the St. Petersburg Museum of History, where visitors can enjoy festivals and concerts. 

“At the center of all that is Russia – of its culture, its psychology, and, perhaps, its destiny – stands the Kremlin, a walled fortress a thousand years old and four hundred miles from the sea. Physically speaking, its walls are no longer high enough to fend off attack, and yet, they still cast a shadow across the entire country.”

― Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow


  • The Moscow Kremlin is a fortified complex and the heart of Moscow. Built between the 14th and 17th centuries, it is one of the most impressive examples of architecture anywhere in the whole world. Complete with twenty towers (nineteen of which have spires). It is a symbol of Russian power and pride. The word “Kremlin” (meaning “fortress inside a city”) is forever linked to the most pivotal political moments in Russia since the 13th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.



  • St. Basil’s Cathedral “is officially called Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat. It is located in Moscow’s famous Red Square. The cathedral has a unique shape, almost like a bonfire rising into the sky. That makes it one of Russia’s most unique buildings. Part of the building is now a museum, but special services are still held there occasionally.”



  • St. Isaac’s Cathedral, built in honor of Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, is located in St. Petersburg and is known for filling the skyline with its magnificent golden dome. The cathedral is so vast that it can accommodate up to 14,000 people! Although it is now only rarely used as a place of worship, it is mainly a museum and boasts a fantastic monument to Nicholas I.


For more information on the sites discussed in this blog, visit the links below. To collect your explorer pins, and to read about adventure and exploration, visit Spartan and the Green Egg at the website.

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Learn About Astronauts

Interesting Facts About Astronauts

For about sixty years there have been astronauts. They have traveled in ships, stayed on space stations, and even walked on the moon. When you think about them, you might think of their special spacesuits or picture them floating around in their spaceships, but that is not all there is to it. There is a lot more to being an astronaut than just putting on a suit and flying in space.

The truth is astronauts go through a lot of tests and training. They also have to deal with unusual things happening all the time. Whether you want to be an astronaut one day or are just curious about space, there are a lot of fun things about astronauts and astronaut training to explore. Here are some interesting and educational facts you may not have heard before about specific astronauts and astronauts in general.

What is an Astronaut Really?

An astronaut is sometimes thought of as anyone in a space program. However, in some countries, to really be an astronaut a person has to actually fly in space. In fact, the rule in the United States is a person has to go at least 50 miles up from sea level to be an astronaut. Even though that is the official rule, people training to fly in space are also usually called astronauts.

Astronauts Versus Cosmonauts

If you have ever heard of a cosmonaut, you might wonder what the difference is between cosmonauts and astronauts. It might surprise you to find out there really isn’t much of a difference at all except for where they train. The word “cosmonaut” is just what an astronaut in the Russian space program is called. Here are some famous cosmonaut facts:

  • Yuri Gagarin was the first person on Earth to launch into space when he took off in 1961.
  • The first woman anywhere in the world to go into space was cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1962.
  • The first untrained guest space traveler in the world was Vladimir Remek, who went to space as part of the Russian cosmonaut program in 1978.

Famous Female Astronauts

It might surprise you to know there have been a lot of famous female astronauts besides Valentina Tereshkova. Although, she famously went into space long before any other female. Here are some other famous females who took flight since:

  • Sally Ride became the first U.S. woman in space in 1983, 20 years after Valentina.
  • Christa McAuliffe is a now-famous civilian teacher who got the opportunity to go into space in 1986, but she died during the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
  • Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space in 1992.
  • Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman in space in 1993.

Astronauts of All Ages (Almost)

There is no age rule for being an astronaut in the United States. However, some programs do have age limits. An astronaut in the European Space Agency’s program has to be 50 or younger. Even though there is no age limit in the United States, astronauts still have to pass a lot of tests to make sure they are healthy enough to fly. So far, the ages of accepted astronauts in the United States have ranged from 25 to 77.

Keep Finding Fun Astronaut Facts

There is a never-ending list of fun facts about astronauts. Some are so weird it is hard to believe them, but they are true. Most of those facts are about how astronauts survive in space and the habits they have. For instance, there are no showers or bathtubs on spaceships. Astronauts use shampoo they leave in their hair and pouches or squirt guns with water to clean up. Other facts have to do with how space changes their bodies, like the fact that astronauts get a couple of inches taller in space. If you love astronauts, you can never run out of things to learn about them, so keep studying.

Explore Space Science



Amazing Outer Space Science Experiments

People have always loved space, but it is full of mysteries. That is why places like The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are so busy. Since it was founded in 1958, many space experiments have been performed by NASA. One of the most famous things NASA astronauts did was land on the moon in 1969. But the experiments performed in space do not just happen on the moon.

Space is a very big place. Astronauts and scientists perform experiments all the time on space stations and in spaceships to learn about outer space. Some of those science experiments have to do with how space works. Others are about what happens to people and animals when they go into space. Here are some of the best outer space experiments done so far.

The International Space Station (ISS) Itself

The International Space Station is like one giant space experiment. There are things happening there all the time. It has been home to astronauts from different countries since November 2, 2000. In that time, around 3,000 science experiments have been done there. Many of those had to do with how our bodies change in microgravity. Microgravity makes people, animals, and objects float in space or spaceships because Earth’s gravity is not the same in space. Scientists care about microgravity because someday people might want to go live on other planets. We need to know how our bodies, pets, and belongings might react to that. So far, microgravity experiments on the ISS have shown a lot of changes, like:

  • Muscles and bones do not have to work as hard in space, but that means they can get weak.
  • Plants grow differently without Earth’s gravity.
  • Fire has a different shape when it burns in space.

The Space Rose Experiment

You might not think of flowers and space going together, but for one fun experiment, they did. In the 1990s, a company called International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) wanted to know if a flower smelled different in space than on Earth. They sent a rose up on the space shuttle Discovery to find out. The answer was yes. The company made a new perfume from the oils gathered from the space rose.

The Space Sloshing Experiment

Have you ever sloshed your drink against the sides of your cup? Imagine getting paid to do that in space. Some scientists do. In fact, scientists from two colleges and NASA came together once to test how liquids move in space. They used robots to study liquids in space for a very important reason. Liquids do not move the same way in space as on Earth. They wanted to learn as much as they could about how to make it safer for astronauts flying in ships with liquid fuel.

The Hammer and the Feather

If you have heard the phrase “light as a feather” before, you might like this experiment. In 1971, an astronaut on the moon dropped a hammer and a feather at the same time. They both hit the surface of the moon at once. That proved the pull of gravity had nothing to do with the weight of an object.

The Blob

One of the most fun experiments that took place in outer space in the last 10 years was the green blob made by astronaut Scott Kelly in 2015. He put food coloring in water. Then he added a fizzy tablet to it. In the microgravity of space, the water floated in a perfect ball shape. The tablet started releasing gas bubbles into the water, and a video camera recorded the results. On top of being fun to watch, it also taught the astronauts a lot about how water interacts with other materials in space.

The Experiments Continue

Some outer space experiments last for minutes. Others last for hours or days. There are even many that started years ago and are still happening today. In fact, some of the most important take years because they show how a long time spent in space can change people, animals, plants, and even bacteria. So, the next time you look up in the sky, think about the experiments that might be going on somewhere up there.

Discover The Intrigue Of India



Taj Mahal scenic sunset view with moody sky. A UNESCO World heritage site at Agra, India.

“India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.”

– Mark Twain

(Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson Srinagar, Kashmir, India, 1948)

India is a country in the south of Asia known for many things: the awe-inspiring Himalayas, a million spice markets and colors, women wearing sarees and bindis, incredible festivals and weddings that last for days on end, henna, spirituality complete with many gods, diverse culture, the Ganges river, an extremely large population, the train system, and, of course, the Taj Mahal: one of the most famous structures on earth.

And then there’s Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was a non-violent political leader who led India to its independence from Great Britain and is one of the most famous figures throughout modern history.

In India, people bow, place their hands together in a prayer-like fashion and say “Namaste” (a Sanskrit word) when greeting one another. This literally means “I bow to you.”

In India, you’re taught that there are certain qualities that make you a divine human being.

 – Deepak Chopra

Discover India with Spartan and the Green Egg!
And don’t forget to collect your explorer pins!

  • Roopkund Skeleton Lake in Uttarakhand, India, is known by the locals as ‘Mystery Lake’ or ‘Skeletons Lake.’ This glacial lake in the Himalayas of India is famous for the hundreds of human skeletons found at the edge of the waters. With a depth of around six feet, the skeletal remains can be seen when the snow has melted. At the high altitude of 16,499 feet, it is uninhabited.”

  • Chand Baori is located in Rajasthan in India. It is considered a stepwell, which means there’s a series of steps that ends in a pool of water. The Chand Baori is a very popular tourist spot during the summer since after the walk down the stairs tourists get the chance to cool off in the refreshing pools of water below.”

  • “The Nohkalikai Falls are located near Cherrapunji, one of the wettest places on Earth. The plunging waterfall is 1,115 feet tall, making it the highest in India. The source of the falls is entirely rainwater collected at the summit during the wet season. In the dry season, the falls are not as strong as the rest of the year. At the base of the waterfall is a waterhole that was carved by the cascading water.”

  • “The Lotus Temple, New Delhi is a large temple which can be found in New Delhi, a part of India. It is the primary house of worship for the Bahá’í religion. The Bahá’í religion is centered around the belief of spiritual unity between all people. The temple is meant as a place of worship, but also just a general gathering place where people can spiritually come together. The church is shaped like a gigantic lotus flower, which is where the name of the temple comes from. At night, the temple is lit up and resembles a giant star in the shape of a flower.”

  • The Taj Mahal: “Rising above the Yamuna River in Agra, India, the glistening white dome of the Taj Mahal welcomes visitors to its doorways, winding paths, and beautiful gardens. Created by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz upon her death, the Taj Mahal stands as one man’s undying statement about his love for his wife. With its jewel encrusted walls, ornate details, set against the turquoise sky, the Taj Mahal is considered to be on one of the Seven Wonders of the World.”

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Save Water

Simple Ways to Save Water

Although much of the earth is covered by water, most of it isn’t water that we can use. A lot of it is saltwater in the oceans, and some of it is frozen water. We rely on freshwater supplies for drinking water and for water that we use around the home. Since there’s a limited supply of freshwater, it’s important to watch how much we use. There are plenty of things you can do to save water.

Use Bathroom Water Wisely

Between flushing toilets, taking showers and running faucets, a lot of water is wasted in bathrooms. You can help cut down on water use in this part of your home by doing the following:

  • Take showers instead of baths. Showers use less water. You can help even more by limiting your showers to five minutes or less.
  • Don’t let the water keep running while you’re brushing your teeth. Turn it on to wet your toothbrush, then shut it off. Turn it on again to rinse off your toothbrush when you’re done.
  • Shut faucets off all the way. When you’re done washing your hands or brushing your teeth, make sure the faucet is turned off all the way. Otherwise, it could leak and waste water.

Cut Down on Kitchen Water Use

The other main area of homes where water is usually wasted is in the kitchen. You use water to wash dishes and for drinking. How can you and your family lower the amount of water wasted in the kitchen? Try the following:

  • Use the same glass or cup throughout the day for drinking water. If everyone in your home does this, there won’t be as many glasses and cups to wash later on.
  • Don’t run water when you’re washing dishes in the sink. Fill one sink basin with water for washing, and fill up the other basin with water for rinsing.
  • If your family uses a dishwasher, don’t run it until it’s full. The less you run the dishwasher, the less water you use.

Other Ways to Help

Here are a few more ways that you can save water:

  • Be on the lookout for leaks. Tell your parents if you discover a leaky faucet in your home.
  • If you help out with laundry, only run the washing machine when it’s full. Wash dark clothes in cold water to cut down on both water and energy use.
  • If watering the lawn is one of your chores, do it early in the morning or in the evening. Watering it when it’s sunny and warmer out wastes more water.

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Road Trips With Kids


Getting to your destination safely and quickly means well-behaved passengers are a must, but young kids rarely travel according to plan. Even if you plan to take a leisurely, scenic route with plenty of stops along the way, backseat boredom is always looming. When your focus needs to be on the road, some pre-trip planning can help minimize distractions while making the drive a more positive experience for your youngest travelers.

If your child or children struggle to stay happy, comfortable, and quiet on the road, these five items will help you turn your road trip around: – proverbially, not literally.

  • Food and Drink

Some parents limit the food and drink their children have access to on the road, with the idea that this keeps the car interior cleaner and limits bathroom breaks. While both of those outcomes are true, they may just as easily lead to a hangry, dehydrated youngster as a dry, clean one. Embrace the occasional food-chaos and consciously pick up non-staining / no-dye-added juice boxes and unlikely-to-crumble treats like fruit leather or carrot sticks.

  • A Change of Clothes

Even if your children are well past the diaper stage, no parent has ever been sorry to have spare clothes on hand in case something happens. Motion sickness and car nausea do occur, and so do all the symptoms that accompany them- including the “reappearance” of the aforementioned snacks. If your child has a bout of nausea, you’ll be glad you had clean, dry clothes to change them into afterward. Additionally, if they become too hot or cold, having options to help with temperature control will help limit crankiness.

  • Plastic and Zip-Top Bags

Waterproof bags for trash are a must, particularly if an unexpected cleanup occurs. Zip-top bags can seal in potentially foul odors or sticky residue, helping to keep your car smelling, looking, and feeling fresh. These bags can also be used to isolate dirty laundry, wet socks from the lake or beach, or to keep valuables clean and isolated. Resealable bags can also be filled with ice and used as cold packs in a cooler or as compresses for bumps and bruises.

  • Back Up Batteries / Charge Cables

If your child is bringing along a gaming system, tablet, laptop, or smartphone, you can count on the batteries giving out on the longest, loneliest stretch of your journey. Rechargeable “power bank” style batteries will help stave off the dreaded low battery indicator, as will cigarette-lighter power cables with the appropriate adapter(s) attached. Even if you plan on limiting screen time while on the road, their devices can be charged while they nap or watch the scenery.

  • Something New

While it’s a great idea to bring along favorite toys, books, and games from home, there’s a good chance they’ll lose interest or become bored after playing with said item on a long road trip. A new book, game, or toy will hold their interest longer, and start the trip off on a great note. Savvy parents may even want to promise the new item at a milestone – say, the midpoint of the trip – to give their child something to look forward to, other than the end of the trip.

Explore your world and the universe though the Spartan and the Green Egg Series. Join the Explorer’s Club, enjoy interactive games, collect travel pins and more! Learn about the world and the SGE Explorers Today!

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Discover The Magic Of Iceland

With unique architecture, rugged coastlines, hot springs, mountains, fjords, volcanoes, lagoons, icebergs, glaciers, geysers, the Northern Lights, and waterfalls, Iceland is truly one of the most amazingly beautiful and extreme countries on earth. A Nordic island nation in Europe, Iceland has a vast Viking history and is known as a thrilling destination for explorers everywhere.

“I have fantasies of going to Iceland, never to return.” – Edward Gorey

Unbelievable Sights

  • Hofskirkja Church in Iceland is “the most recent grass-roofed church to have been built. Originally constructed in 1884, the roof stretches from its pointed top all the way to the ground.” Complete with stone slabs for steps, this style of architecture is unique to Iceland and is an effective way of staying warm during cold winter months.

  • Gullfoss is a famous waterfall that can be found in a canyon made by the Hvítá River. What makes the waterfall so famous is the way the water flows. Instead of just going downwards, the water flows in a unique shape that makes it look like a three-step staircase. The water then descends deep into a crevice that goes down over one hundred feet. When translated, the name of the waterfall is ‘Golden Falls.’” Gullfoss Falls is the most famous of all the waterfalls in Iceland and is a popular tourist attraction.

  • Landmannalaugar is “an encampment located on the dark edge of a rhyolite lava field in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Surrounded by mountains, the encampment can only be accessed in the summer. There are many volcanic phenomena in the area, including a geothermal pool nearby that is popular for bathing.”
  • Did you know that Iceland has more hot springs or “solfataras” than any other country? These geothermal pools/alkaline hot springs are heated by volcanic vents. They are incredibly desirable destinations but can also be very dangerous because of boiling water. The largest of these is called “Deildartunguhver” and “emits nearly 50 gallons of boiling water per second!”

Ancient and Extreme

The earth in Iceland is underlain by a type of igneous rock called basalt; some of these rocks were formed over 16 million years ago!

(Follow Me Away)

  • The Westfjords region of Iceland is a peninsula that is definitely out-of-the-way so it’s difficult to navigate and is very vast. Famous for its beaches, the Westfjords boasts one with pink sand called “Rauðasandur.” Another beach with black-sanded shores called Reynisfjara is more well-known but no less extraordinary.
  • The nature to be seen is astounding! Puffins, whales and arctic foxes are all a part of the landscape and can be observed on cliffs near the Arctic Circle.
  • Haukadalur is a geothermal field or valley of hot springs known for its amazing geysers, Geysir and Strokkur (which have been active for about 10,000 years).
  • Earthquakes are actually common and frequent in Iceland but are rarely very serious or damaging.

(Atlas Obscura)

  • Jökulsárlón is a lagoon known for its beautiful and otherworldly ice floes and blue glaciers. It is also the deepest lake in Iceland (over 900 feet deep!).
  • Askja is an active volcano and is nestled within a group of “calderas” or volcanic craters surrounded by the Dyngjufjöll Mountains. One of the smaller calderas is home to a famous lake called Öskjuvatn. Located in the Highlands, this is the second deepest lake in Iceland (after Jökulsárlón).
  • The Northern Lights or “aurora borealis” can be seen in Iceland and is one of nature’s most majestic phenomena.

For more information on certain mentioned sights in Iceland and collectible pins from Spartan and the Green Egg, visit the links below:

For more information on geographical wonders of Iceland cited in this blog, consult the links below:

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Set Your Sights On Sweden


Sweden is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. Give it some consideration when choosing your next travel destination!

Sweden is a European country located on the Scandinavian Peninsula, next to Norway. Located between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea, Sweden is known for its many coastal islands, lakes, rivers, moose, and Swedish meatballs. When we think of Sweden, we think of herring, Viking and Nordic culture, sleek and efficient interior design, and impressive educational institutions. Did you know that Sweden’s residents have an exceptionally high quality of life compared to the rest of the world?

(The city of Stockholm,

Explore Sweden with Spartan and the Green Egg

  • Visby is the most well-preserved medieval city in Sweden. It is full of historical remains, including the city “ring” wall that dates back to the 13th century, many church ruins, and cobble stone streets. Visby is only accessible by boat or airplane. Every year there is an annual medieval festival complete with tournaments, camping, and an old-town marketplace.
  • Old Tjikko “is a 9,550-year-old Norway spruce tree that can be found on the Fulufjället Mountain in Sweden. Historians believe that the Old Tjikko is almost ten thousand years old. Scientists were able to get a rough estimate of the age of the tree by examining the gigantic roots that run underneath the earth.”

Neat and Nordic


  • Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sparsely populated, Sweden is a nature lover’s dream as there is lots of green space.
  • “At the peak of summer, the northernmost region of Sweden experiences a phenomenon known as the midnight sun. This is when the sun doesn’t completely dip below the horizon, creating 24 hours of daylight.” There is another natural phenomenon that occurs but, instead of lots of sunlight, there’s something called “polar nights” where twilight lasts for months on end. This is when the Northern Lights or the “aurora borealis” can be seen and is one of nature’s greatest spectacles.
  • According to ancient Norse Mythology, the first two people on Earth were tree logs brought to life by the pagan god, Oden. Sweden is famous for being nearly completely covered in forests: “Every year, 340 million trees are planted.” Not only is Sweden sustainable, but it is the perfect destination for hiking, camping, and tree-hugging!
  • “In 1994, a law was added to the Swedish constitution stating ‘everyone will have access to nature according to Allamansrätten (All man’s rights).’ This means that legally, anyone and everyone can hike, sleep for at least one night, forage, and swim pretty much anywhere in the country.”
  • Sweden is also home to the Nobel Prize ceremony (funded by Swedish businessman, chemist and engineer, Alfred Nobel). Nobel was an inventor and is most well-known for the creation of dynamite.

For more information on Sweden, exploration, world travel, and adventure, visit the website and consult the links below (and don’t forget to collect your explorer pins!):

To read more about the aurora borealis or the “northern lights,” check out Spartan and the Green Egg’s blog:

To read more about topics discussed in this blog, refer to the links below:

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Have you ever wondered about the best way to recycle? Learn good recycling tips

The Correct Way to Recycle

It’s no secret that recycling is good for the planet. Recycling is turning trash into something else. When trash is turned into something else, it keeps that new item from being made from scratch. That helps save the Earth’s resources. But what is the best way to recycle? That can be a hard question to answer. All recycling is good, but the more recycling you can do, the better.

Some materials are recyclable. Others aren’t. There are also some that you have to recycle in special ways or special places. Learning the correct way to recycle can help you do your part to save the planet. Here are some things you need to know before you start recycling.

Recycling Versus Reusing and Reducing
When you hear the word “recycle,” you might also hear “reuse” or “reduce” at the same time. Reducing means that you use fewer new things. Every time a new thing is made, it uses energy and resources. It takes time to replace those resources. There are lots of ways to reduce, like:

  • Buy used items you need instead of new ones.
  • Share items that you only need sometimes with friends or family members instead of getting your own.
  • Have your parents help you fix broken or torn things, like shirts. Then you can buy less of them.
  • Tell your parents to buy items for around the house in bulk. It saves money and reduces waste. They won’t have to throw out a lot of packaging materials all the time that way.

Reusing is exactly what it sounds like. It means you need to make sure as many items in your house as possible are reusable. Sometimes you can reuse the same item for the same purpose many times. Other times you can reuse the item in different ways. A water bottle is a good example of both because you could refill it with drinking water. You could also fill it with juice or another drink. When you’re done drinking out of it, you can use it to water plants, too.

Using a Recycle Bin

Recycling is really important, especially in areas where dumps or landfills are filling up fast. Most town leaders want to do anything they can to reduce the amount of trash that is thrown out. That is why many neighborhoods have curbside recycling. If yours does, it means you can put items in a recycling bin. The bin gets picked up on certain days each month. Curbside recycling protects the planet. Usually, any item with a triangle-shaped recycling symbol on it can go in your bin. Some other items often can also, but some companies have different rules. No matter what, items like these can never go in a recycling bin:

  • Batteries
  • TVs and Large Electronic Devices
  • Cellphones and Small Electronic Devices
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Plastic Grocery Bags

Where Else You Can Recycle
A home recycling bin isn’t the only place to recycle. You can also visit your local recycling center if you have one. If not, your town dump may have certain days when they let you drop off items to
recycle. Your parents may have to pay to go on those days since there are usually charges for recycling items like appliances on those days. Another place you can often recycle is at a store that sells electronics, like TVs. A lot of those stores let you bring in broken items to dispose of them safely. Some also take dead batteries. Some makers of batteries also let you mail back dead batteries for recycling.

There are always opportunities to recycle, either officially or unofficially. For example, you can use items around the house for art projects if you want. You can also find people that need the things you want to get rid of. To find official recycling events, check your local paper and message boards to see when the next ones in your town are.

Doing Your Part for the Planet
There is a good feeling that comes from recycling and reusing items. You can know you are doing your part to protect Earth for yourself and all the people in the future. Recycling keeps the air and oceans cleaner. It also helps ensure resources won’t run out. That is why you can be proud of yourself whenever you recycle.

Learn more about how to save the planet with Spartan and the Gang! Go on adventures, rescue reefs, save the Amazon, and much more!

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I Want To Be An Astronaut!


Have you ever thought about space travel? Find out more about astronauts.

So you want to be an astronaut.

There are a lot of interesting and exciting jobs you can do when you grow up. Most of them are here on Earth. For instance, you could take care of animals as a veterinarian or people as a doctor. There are even jobs that let you work outdoors, like being a park ranger, an adventure tour guide, or a NASCAR mechanic.

If you really love space, what could be more thrilling than exploring it as an astronaut? Space is fascinating because so few people have actually traveled there, and there is still so much to discover about it. You might dream of becoming an astronaut and making some of those discoveries yourself when you grow up. But being an astronaut takes a lot of hard work and requires specific skills. Here’s what you need to know about being an astronaut.

The First Astronauts

There haven’t always been astronauts. In fact, it’s a pretty new job, compared to many others. The first American astronauts were named by the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA) in 1959. They had to go through a lot of grueling training. Two years later, in 1961, two of them went into space in two different ships. Two astronauts from the USSR also went into space that year, but on one ship. Those four astronauts were:

  • Alan Shepard of the USA
  • Virgil Grissom of the USA
  • Yuri Gagarin of the USSR
  • Gherman Titov of the USSR

Between 1959 and 1969, astronauts made a lot of discoveries. One of the most important trips astronauts from the USA made was on a ship called Apollo 11. In 1969 it landed on the moon. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first men to walk on the moon. This remarkable event was live-streamed to many millions of viewers in multiple countries back here on Earth.

What Astronauts Need to Know

It’s great to love space. You can collect space pins or space patches to show your enthusiasm for space. But it takes a lot to become a real astronaut. You need to know many different things. That means you have to study really hard in school. Science is a very important subject to study. You can’t explore space if you don’t know about science.

Being an astronaut also means you have to know how to fly space vehicles. They have a lot of different buttons, switches, and machines onboard. If you are on a space station, you and your crew are the ones who will have to fix any problems that arise, so you will also need to know about computers and engineering. And it also helps to know a bit about medicine, since you have to take care of yourself and your crew if any of you become sick or injured.

Astronauts Need to Get Along

If you want to be an astronaut, you also need to be patient and friendly. You might be on a ship with only a small crew for a long time. You can’t work safely and efficiently if you are fighting with your team. There may even be times you need to talk to or work with astronauts from other countries. Learning another language can help you do that.

Start Early

If you really want to be an astronaut, tell your parents now. They might be able to send you to space camp or guide you towards studying the subjects you need to know. Astronauts have to take basic training in many subjects. If they pass those courses, they need advanced training in flight procedures. They also have to take tests to make sure they are healthy enough to go into space. Since it takes years to train to be an astronaut, starting to study early can help you reach your goal faster.

Find out more about the sun, moon, stars, and planets at Spartan & the Green Egg Website! Join Spartan and the Explorer gang as they and their alien friend EGG travel to amazing places around the world.

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Sensational Sights In Southern France

“The diffused magic of the hot, sweet south had withdrawn into them -the soft-pawed night and the ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below.…a sea as mysteriously coloured as agates and cornelians of childhood, green as green milk blue as laundry water, wine dark.”

–F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

The South of France: Explore with Spartan and the Green Egg

(Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Sticker)

  • Èze, a medieval hilltop village, is one of the most beautiful sights in all of southern France. Overlooking the French Riviera, Èze is known for its spectacular views and is nestled between Nice and Monaco. With narrow, cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, and houses painted bright colors, this charming and rustic village is one of the loveliest villages in all the world.

  • The Millau Viaduct, located in southern France, is the tallest bridge in the world. Spanning the entirety of the Tarn River Valley, the bridge is roughly one thousand and a hundred feet high (at its highest point). Made of concrete, steel, and cables, the Millau Viaduct was officially open for business in 2004 and is taller than the Eiffel Tower.
  • Pont du Gard in Nîmes is an ancient aqueduct and is a prime example of awe-inspiring Roman engineering. This magnificent structure was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
    This gorgeous structure, when summited, offers views of the sparkling Gardon River and is incredibly impressive in its history. At 2,000 years old, the ancient Roman aqueduct was an incredible undertaking. With arches that span “15 to 24 meters in the lower level, constructed at a time where the average span would have been four to five meters,” it is astounding that this structure was ever realized. Standing at a height of 50 meters (161 feet) and 274 meters (899 feet) long, the Pont du Gard is not only a remarkable bit of innovative architecture but a must-see sight, if only for its immense beauty.

(lavender fields in Provence,

  • Provence is a region in the southeastern part of France that borders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. Known for its charming villages, olive groves, lavender fields, sunny weather, and friendly people, Provence is one of the most magical places in the world. Some amazing towns in Provence include:
  • Arles: is known for its Roman amphitheater and the Camargue region. Once a port city, it is now an area filled with salt marshes, brown bulls, white stallions, and pink flamingos. Imagine seeing all of these incredible creatures together in one place!
  • Avignon is probably most well-known for the Palais des Papes (Palace of Popes). A must-see!
  • St. Remy de Provence was founded by the Romans (the ruins of the ancient Celtic-Roman city of Glanum can be seen nearby, along with an arch “dating back to the first century B.C.”) and is right next door to the Ancient Monastère de St- Paul-de-Mausole (a monastery built during the 12th century). Vincent van Gogh also painted Starry Night here, one of his most beloved works.

Don’t forget to collect your Cannes explorer pin (sold individually).

Cool in Cannes
Think of all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood but it’s situated on the French Riviera. Is there such a place? It’s Cannes—home of the annual film festival! With white sand beaches brimming with movie stars and European sophisticates beneath brightly-colored umbrellas overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Cannes is the coolest place to be.

To collect your Spartan and the Green Egg explorer pins (sold individually) and travel stickers (sold as a set), visit the websites listed below:

For more information on the sights mentioned in this blog, consult the following websites:

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Best Virtual Tours for Kids

Travel Without Leaving Home: Top 5 Virtual Tours for Kids

Travel to some of the world’s most exotic locales, view some of Earth’s most impressive treasures including natural wonders, art museums and architectural miracles. And who knows….maybe these will inspire you to plan a trip in person one day!

The San Diego Zoo

Did you know that the San Diego Zoo is listed as one of the most visited Zoos in the U.S.? There’s a good reason for that. With more than 3,500 animals, many of them a part of a conservation program, their live streams are wonderful! Koalas, baby orangutans and penguins are some of the live cameras you can pop in on. Since these are live steams keep in mind the time of day it is. Most animals are more active in the morning hours, and during scheduled feeding times.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Enjoy a virtual visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where you can view sea otters as they play, sharks as they swim slowly overhead, or view the shimmering jelly fish. Monterey is located in California, so keep the time zones in mind when accessing the live streams. The Aquarium offers 10 different web cams to choose from. And, to take your tour a little further, there are educational booklets games & activities as well as curriculum to use with your virtual tour.

Go on Safari!

This virtual tour puts you in the seat next to a safari guide as he takes you through the habitat of lions, hyenas, leopards, elephants and wildebeest. Rangers tell you what you’re seeing while ‘traveling’ in the all terrain Jeep. Hosted through Facebook’s platform, the tour takes place twice a day. Keep in mind for younger children, that these safaris depict animals in their natural habitat, doing what they do, including eating animals they’ve killed. You can also ask the guide questions while the tour proceeds…just as if you were there!

The Louvre

Located in Paris, France, the Louvre is one of the world’s greatest collections of art. View the iconic Mona Lisa’s smile, ancient Egyptian Sphinx, and take a tour of the Louvre’s moat…a remnant from when it was a Medieval Castle. The museum offers free educational videos about works of art, many geared specifically for children under 12 years of age. You can also virtually tour much of the museum without leaving home!

The Great Wall of China

Stretching 4,000 miles, the Great Wall of China is considered a must see for any traveler. Check it out ahead of time with this virtual tour. It is easily one of the greatest wonders of the world. You can enter the virtual tour from several entrances, including Beijing, Mutianyu, Jinshanling and others. They were all built between the 14th-17th centuries.

Take the Tour with a Friend

If your child is missing his or her friends, then why not arrange for a virtual tour together? Coordinate times to login to the virtual tour site, then tour the rooms ‘together’. If you are tech savvy, you can use Zoom’s screenshare feature so that a whole group of friends can take the tour. If you’ve found yourself inside for longer than you’d hoped, there are many ways to travel and escape….and on the plus side, there’s no passport needed, no lines to wait in, and best of all….it’s free.

For more ideas, games, puzzles and activities, check out the Spartan & the Green Egg Graphic novel series by Nabila Khashoggi. Enjoy the adventures of the Explorers club, learn about conservation efforts, endangered animals, and foster a tolerance for others. Learn more at or

Traditional Houses Around The World

Where do you hang your hat and rest your head at night? There are all sorts of fascinating houses and architectural structures that vary around the globe, depending on climate, culture, etc. Where would you like to live…in a sturdy tent, perhaps? Or maybe even in a house perched on stilts above a rain forest?

A Yurt (also known as a “Ger”) is a popular Mongolian dwelling made up of latticework, poles, and felt-covered walls: it’s basically a sturdy tent. The nomadic peoples of Mongolia—an Asian country bordered by China and Russia—have lived in this traditional type of housing for centuries. “The capital city is the uniquely named Ulaanbaatar. It is named after the founder Genghis Khan, a famous Mongol conqueror from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Mongolia has a fascinating history since it has been inhabited by different civilizations for over forty thousand years.”

A Zulu hut or “Nguni homestead” is a common dome-shaped dwelling of the Indlu, or Nguni-speaking South African peoples. This exotic home resembles a sort of beehive and is common in countries such as Angola, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Join Spartan and his friends to learn more about other sights in South Africa (including the capital city of Cape Town and one of its most prominent attractions, Table Mountain) with Spartan and the Green Egg! Collect your Explorer Pin (complete with charming touches inspired by vintage travel labels) depicting the mountain “famous for having a completely flat plateau at the top. The plateau is roughly two miles long from side to side. The cliffs to the east are called Devil’s Peak, while the ones to the west are Lion’s Head.”

Longhouses are known for being homes to Native Americans as well as for tribal peoples in Indonesia and Malaysia, including Borneo. “The longhouses in Borneo are where the native Iban people reside and were some of the first structures that the Iban people built. The Ibans originated from the Dayak people, who were once a Malaysian tribe. While the traditional longhouses might not look impressive, they have a great deal of historical significance to anyone living in Borneo.” Longhouses are (hence their name) long, narrow homes and are particularly important because their architecture is so old; these were some of the earliest forms of structure ever built in cultures around the world. The Traditional Tribal Longhouse in the state of Sarawak houses up to one hundred families (each in separate rooms)! Because of the area’s beaches and rainforest, the house is built on stilts, high above the jungle.

Minka means “House of the people” in Japanese and is a type of lodging constructed in a traditional Japanese style. “Machiya” refers to townhouses while “Nōka” means “farmhouse”: these are the two types of buildings that constitute this form of architecture known as “Minka” and are very common in Kyoto (the former capital of Japan). “The city has a rich history and is filled with many ancient temples and shrines, as well as beautiful parks and gardens. There is over one thousand years worth of Japanese culture and history in the city of Kyoto.”

For more information about the countries and dwellings mentioned in this blog, consult Spartan and the Green Egg (along with the links below).

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The Origin Of St. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love when people the world over express their affection with greeting cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and flowers (most traditionally red roses). So, how did it originate?


St. Valentine’s Day
The holiday has origins in the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia. The pagan festival celebrated the coming of spring after a long winter and was filled with feasting and even sacrifice. It wasn’t until the 5th century that Pope Gelasius I replaced this festival with St. Valentine’s Day. It has been a day to celebrate romance since the 14th century.

Who was “St. Valentine”?

  • “Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred about 270 CE by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus.”
  • As legendary folklore goes, the priest wrote a letter with the inscription: ‘From your Valentine’ to his friend (who was also the daughter of the man who imprisoned him). This is most likely why we ask the ones we love to be our valentine or refer to loved ones as our valentine.
  • According to other sources, the social custom was named after “St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop.” It is conceivable that these two saints were, indeed, actually the same person.
  • Another common myth is that St. Valentine married off couples in secret to save husbands from having to fight in battle.

How to Celebrate
Of course, when Valentine’s Day is concerned, we all immediately think of sparkly red and pink hearts, lace-trimmed greeting cards emblazoned with the words “I Love You” and “Be My Valentine,” and cupids wielding a bow and arrow. What else do we think of? Bouquets of long-stemmed red (and pink) roses, stuffed animals, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, to name a few!

Cupid: Just a Chubby Cherub?

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” –William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595)

  • Cupid is associated with the Greek god of love, Eros (son of Aphrodite).
  • In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus: “And by and by she called her winged son Cupid.”- Apuleius
  • The Latin word for Desire is “Cupido.”

Valentine’s Greetings

“She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew, And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forest grew.” –Edmund Spenser, “The Faerie Queen” (1590)

  • We all know that we surprise the ones we love with romantic Valentine’s Day greetings but did you know that a “Vinegar Valentine” was a popular token to send to someone who was disliked? This was a common practice during the Victorian era.
  • Don’t forget to sign your loving Valentine’s Day cards with X’s and O’s or the acronym SWAK (Sealed With A Kiss).

For more information on Valentine’s Day, its origins, and facts mentioned in this blog, consult the websites below:

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Collecting Is Fun!

Collecting as a Hobby
Have you ever felt a little bored? When you have run out of ideas for things to do, it’s usually time to find a hobby. Collecting is a fun and satisfying hobby that you can enjoy for many years to come, and there are so many great things in the world for you to choose to collect. The things you decide to start collecting now might still be your favorite things to collect when you get older, or you might also decide to collect something totally different when you get older. But for now, any collection can be a lot of fun.

Some things you might think about collecting are small and some are large. So, you need to make sure you have enough space for your collection. Smaller things might be extra fun because you can take them places easily and show them off. Here are some ideas about what you can collect.

Things to Collect
You can collect anything you want, as long as your mom and dad give you permission. One really interesting item to collect is stamps. Stamps come in many different colors and sizes. If you have a pen pal, you can even ask him or her to send you stamps from wherever he or she lives. You can also ask your friends and family members to save their stamps for you. Other popular things to collect are:

There are so many options and lots of different reasons to start your own collection. Here are some of the best.

Collecting Helps You Remember Things, People or Places
One reason to collect things is to remember something, somewhere, or someone you care about. When you go on a trip, you might want something to bring back home with you. Something like a t-shirt, a postcard, or a hat lasts a long time and brings back great memories. Another good thing to collect is a pin that shows where you went on your trip, like this one of the Grand Canyon.

Collecting Helps You Learn
There are lots of things you can collect that can help you learn about history or the world around you. For example, many coins have pictures of famous people or places on them. Some have images of other symbols representing certain places or times. Stamps also teach us a lot about history and important people who have made a difference in the world.

You Can Use Your Collection to Make Friends

Collecting is a great way to make new friends. You can talk about your collection at show and tell in school or even show it to other kids on the bus. If you collect things like stamps, coins, or pins, you can give any duplicates you have to friends as presents or trade with friends who collect the same thing. That way, you can all build your collections faster.

Collecting for Fun or Later Value
The most important reason to collect something is FUN! But, after time, some collections can become very valuable. For example, a baseball card you add to your collection today could be worth a lot of money many years from now. But because you can’t predict what something will be worth in the future, for now, it’s best to focus on collecting just for the fun of it.

Taking Care of Your Collection
No matter what you collect, you need to take care of your collection. Make sure you learn how to do that. Some collectibles, like comic books, can fade if left in the sun. Some collectibles shouldn’t ever get wet. Some items also break easily, so you have to be careful about how you store and carry them. Taking proper care of your collection will ensure that you can enjoy it for a very long time.

Find amazing collectibles at the Spartan & the Green Egg website, where Explorers can find adventure awaiting.

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Unique Animals Of Australia

The Unique Animals of Australia

Australia is both a continent and a country. It is also a group of islands. There is one large island, which is most commonly called Mainland Australia. Then there is the smaller island state of Tasmania, which is also part of Australia and just one of Australia’s many islands. Since it is so isolated from larger pieces of land, Australia was once used by the British as a place to send prisoners.

Something else that makes Australia unique is its wildlife. Many of its animal species are not found anywhere else on Earth, except in zoos. The reason for that is that they have no way to get from Australia to other countries or continents without people bringing them on boats or planes.

Australia is a dry continent. In fact, it is the driest of all the continents. Many species that live there have adapted to those dry conditions. Here are some fun facts about some of the most unusual animals in Australia.

Tasmanian Devils

You may have heard of the cartoon character named Taz, who is a Tasmanian devil. Don’t let his appearance fool you. A real Tasmanian devil is a small marsupial, which means an animal that carries its babies in a pouch. You can only find a Tasmanian devil in a zoo or on the Australian island of Tasmania, where they are often called tazzies. Here are some quick Tasmanian devil facts:

  • They make loud screaming noises.
  • Their jaws are strong, so they bite hard.
  • They often sneeze right before fighting with each other.
  • They are currently in danger of becoming extinct because of a rare and contagious tumor disease that only Tasmanian devils catch.


Like Tasmanian devils, Kangaroos are marsupials. They raise their babies in their pouches. Kangaroos come in different sizes and species. The much smaller wallaby is part of the kangaroo subfamily. It is estimated that before the devastating brush fires of 2020, about 50 million wild kangaroos called Australia home. That meant, the continent had more kangaroos than people.

Most kangaroos have back feet that look way too big for their bodies. They need them because Kangaroos jump a lot, and those big feet help them hop from place to place. Kangaroos can jump about three times their own height. They also have long, strong tails to help keep them balanced.

Another Australian marsupial is the Koala. Koalas are cute, cuddly-looking animals, but don’t let them fool you. Most of them are not very friendly. They live high up in eucalyptus trees. That’s because their favorite food is eucalyptus leaves, which are poisonous to other animals. They are very picky eaters and only eat the best leaves they can find. Koalas often run into trouble finding enough food because people and brushfires destroy their habitat.

Platypuses are Austrian animals with duck-like noses and bodies that look like little beavers. In fact, they are sometimes called duck-billed platypuses. Platypuses love the water. One thing that makes them pretty unique is they are part of the monotreme family. A monotreme is a mammal that lays eggs like a bird does.

One interesting fact about platypuses is they have poisonous spurs on their feet. They usually can’t kill people, although the venom is really painful, but they can kill some animals, including small dogs. Another odd thing about platypuses is nobody can agree on what to call two or more of them. Most people call them platypuses, but some people use the word “platypus” for both a single platypus or for more than one. There are also people who say “platypi” when talking about two or more at once.

More Australian Wildlife
The animals above are just some of the fun and interesting wildlife species found in Australia. For example, Australia is also home to a lot of unique birds. Among them are the cassowary and the kookaburra. There are also many amphibians and reptiles that live there, like the red-bellied black snake. So, if you ever visit Australia, there will be lots of great wildlife to see.

Explore Australian animals and more with Spartan and the Gang! Collect all of the pins, patches, and stickers from some of the most interesting places around the world.

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Thanksgiving: Traditions And Origin

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

–John F. Kennedy

Thanksgiving: A Day for Giving Thanks

 “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth,” from 1914, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday and, while a successful harvest yielded a great feast celebrated by the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621, it didn’t become a national holiday until 1863, when it was declared so by President Abraham Lincoln. Now, in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving annually on the third Thursday of November.

Even though the feast in 1621 was bountiful and lasted for three days, this was not unique because festivals had been held after reaping a successful harvest for centuries by Native Americans and Europeans alike.

In 1620, frustrated peoples fled England in search of the New World where they could obtain religious freedom, so they set sail on a ship called the Mayflower. After a long and arduous journey, the pilgrims established a new village for themselves on what they called “Plymouth Rock.” After a fruitful harvest, they celebrated with a great feast to give thanks for their plentiful crop.

“While the tradition is mainly connected to the feast of the Pilgrims, the Puritans started the tradition before coming to the New World.” The Puritans rebelled against the Catholic Church and wished to only celebrate days of Thanksgiving or days of fasting, so, originally, Thanksgiving was not a day of feasting but of exactly the opposite.

Thanksgiving Rituals: It’s All About Gratitude

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”
– William Blake

Although the feast is what we generally think of on Thanksgiving, there are other traditions. Many go to church for a special service and, of course, we give thanks. Families and loved ones travel to be together and sit around the dining room table relishing over their blessings. People also attend football games and parades (most specifically, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, complete with enormous inflatable floats). Of course, upon giving thanks, we should also give back, so participating in charitable events is also common.

Festive Thanksgiving Decorations:

  • Cornucopia: A “horn of plenty” is a classic symbol of abundance. Overflowing with fruits, vegetables, and nuts, the horn is a representation of a well-reaped harvest.
  • Flowers (such as chrysanthemums, dried grasses, hypericum berries, asters, and daisies—all in festive colors such as orange and yellow)
  • Natural seasonal objects such as fallen leaves, Indian corn, acorns, etc.
  • Turkeys made of papier-mâché
  • Pumpkins and gourds
  • Pilgrim regalia, such as black hats with large, shiny buckles
  • Images to honor Native Americans such as items of ceremonial dress, feathers, etc.

Thanksgiving Food

Oddly enough, turkey most likely wasn’t served at the first “Thanksgiving” gathering in 1621. More likely, foods such as lobster, seal, and swan were eaten by the Pilgrims. Today we usually associate these foods with the holiday:

  • Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes with gravy
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pies (especially pumpkin)
  • Fruit cake
  • Ham
  • Nuts
  • Apple Cider
  • Plum Pudding

For more information on how Thanksgiving came about (along with the information discussed in the blog), consult the links below:,Thanksgiving%20celebrations%20in%20the%20colonies.

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Autumn Scavenger Hunt

An Autumn Scavenger Hunt

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Brontë

  • One important thing to remember when going on a scavenger hunt is, first of all, always go with an adult and, if you can, some friends. These sorts of activities are always more fun with loved ones.
  • Make a list of things you’d like to see and, as you discover them in the wild, check them off. Or, if you’d rather go without a list and simply write down what you see as it presents itself, that’s fine, too. The only rule is to have fun and to let nature reveal her wonder.
  • And don’t forget to watch the leaves dance on the breeze!

For Country and City Dwellers

  • Scavenger hunts and nature walks are ideal for everyone—in the country as well as the city. If you live in a rural area, it is definitely easier to distance yourself and find a pasture, open field, or forest, but that doesn’t mean that city-dwellers can’t witness nature in all her glory too. If you live in a city, go to a nearby park or nature conservatory.

What to Look For

  • A list of things to look for should definitely include: leaves of all shapes and sizes (you can be as specific as you like and even name the types of trees or simply identify the changing colors you observe), acorns, pine cones, birds’ nests, animals and insects—such as birds, deer, squirrels, rabbits, beetles, butterflies and worms— animal tracks, spider webs, stones, seed pods, wildflowers, berries, and mushrooms.
  • Either check off what you find on your list or make notes of what you discover. Briefly describe what strikes you! This makes for an excellent journal entry. After your walk, you can then research what you’ve found and its purpose in the natural world. This may spark an interest in something completely new and exciting.
  • If you walk by houses or buildings, take notice of holiday décor. Are there wreaths on front doors? What about Halloween decorations? Keep an eye out for pumpkins and scarecrows!
  • If you’re able to walk by a pond or stream, take some time to be still and look at the water. What do you see? Are there fish swimming or perhaps a frog sitting on a rock nearby? Who knows what you’ll observe if you’re quiet and patient.
  • Take a pair of binoculars with you on your journey and look for birds high in the treetops.

Don’t forget to take a token from your walk/hunt: a brilliantly colored leaf that has fallen to the ground is perfect for putting in a scrapbook while a smooth rock is an ideal relic for your treasure chest.

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Halloween: Origins And Traditions

All Hallows Eve

Halloween is synonymous with children dressing up in fun, frightful costumes, gathering a haul of sweets while Trick-or-Treating, carving spooky Jack-o’-lanterns, bobbing for apples, haunted houses, and maybe catching sight of a witch flying through the night sky on her broom!

It’s a time for the celebration of the macabre: of ghouls and goblins, of sitting around a fire telling ghost stories, of watching scary movies and shouting “Boo!” to passersby as the falling leaves blow hither and thither on the misty evening breeze.

So, why exactly does Halloween have these connotations, and where does it come from?

Halloween: Origins and Traditions

The original tradition of Halloween started with the Celts in Ireland, Scotland, the UK, and the north of France over 2,000 years ago. A festival called “Samhain” was celebrated where people would dress up in costume to ward off ghosts and build bonfires. Instead of October 31st, this celebration took place on November 1st. Did you know that “Samhain” (pronounced “sow-in”) literally means “summer’s end” in the modern Irish language and that the Jack-o’-lantern is attributed to the Irish as well?

Halloween in America
Due to the strict religious beliefs of the Protestants in New England, Halloween was not widely celebrated. As the customs of different Europeans and Native Americans co-mingled, Halloween emerged and became a uniquely American notion. People would gather to celebrate the harvest with parties filled with food, drink, and music. Today Halloween parties are elaborate fun complete with over-the-top costumes, spooky decorations, and delicious treats.

Love Spells and Bats

Because bats are attracted to light as well as bugs, they mistake bonfires for the light from the moon and fly nearby. Ancient peoples took notice of this and immediately associated bats with their celebrations. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, women would try and conjure a husband using love spells. Bobbing for apples became a tradition and the legend went that the first woman to reach an apple with her teeth would marry. Her future husband’s reflection would supposedly then appear in the water.

Halloween Celebrations and Festivals Around the Globe

  • Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico and in certain parts of Latin America. This is when lost loved ones’ graves are visited, tended to, and, according to tradition, spirits walk the earth for twenty-four hours to reunite with their families. Altars filled with marigolds, sugar skulls, and other goodies (including pan de muerto or “bread of the dead”) are erected to honor the dead.
  • Romanians celebrate their most well-attributed character on the Day of Dracula. Count Dracula (from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel) is known for residing in his eerie mansion in Transylvania, where he sucks blood from his victims using sharp fangs, loves to listen to the howling of wolves, and transforms into a bat at will.
  • The Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong (from mid-August to mid-September) is a celebration for restless or “hungry” ghosts, so food offerings are made and people have an excuse to feast.
  • Families in Cambodia pay their respects to the dead as well as the elderly on Pchum Ben. People visit temples and leave offerings such as flowers and sweet rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves.

For more information on Halloween and its origins, consult the websites listed below:

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Awaken Your Curiosity: The Wonder Of Caves

Marble Caverns of Carrera Lake, Chile

(Marble Caverns of Carrera Lake Explorer Pin)

  • Carved into the Patagonian Andes, the “Cuevas de Mármol” (as the locals call them) or “The Marble Caverns are made entirely out of different colored marble.”
  • Created over several thousand years from the nearby waves causing erosion, “the swirling blue of the cavern walls are a reflection of the lake’s azure waters.” With other shades of eye-popping color (such as white, gray, blue, and even pink), the caves change color depending on the time of year and water levels. The shades of blue intensify and, between the months of September and February, the ice melts in Lake Carrera (a glacial lake spanning the border of Chile and Argentina) and causes the water to turn a brilliant turquoise.
  • Reachable only by boat across waters too cold for swimming, the first sight of the caverns is a gorgeous spectacle and marvel of nature.

Giant Crystal Cave, Mexico

(Spartan and the Green Egg Giant Crystal Cave Explorer Pin)

  • The Giant Crystal Cave or “Cave of the Crystals” is an underground cave below the Sierra de Naica Mountain in Chihuahua, Mexico. “It is connected to another underground network, the Naica Mine, which is filled with selenite crystals.” These crystals fill the cavern and are massive in size (some are large enough to walk across); they are basically huge pillars made of the mineral gypsum. Discovered in 2000 by miners, these crystals are utterly amazing but very difficult for tourists to see due to hazardous conditions in the cave (mainly the unbearable heat).

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

(Batu Caves Explorer Pin)

  • The Batu Caves in North Kuala Lumpur is a major tourist attraction. The three large caves are situated in a limestone hill (complete with smaller caves, temples, idols, and statues). The Cathedral Cave is the largest and most popular of the Batu Caves, and its entrance is guarded by an enormous gold statue of the Hindu deity Lord Murugan. This ancient site (with limestone formations said to be 400 million years old) is very important to Malaysian peoples and practitioners of the Hindu faith all over the world.

Piusa Sand Caves, Estonia

(Piusa Sand Caves Explorer Pin)

  • The Estonian village of Piusa is known for many different things, but most travelers will know it for “the unique sand caves that are visible among the Piusa River.” Because of all the nearby sand quarries, there are many glass objects made in Piusa. The awesome caves are also known for the large colony of bats that hibernate there! What a creepy but amazing sight! Literally thousands of bats of several different species have been counted, and scientists come from all over to study them.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

(Waitomo “Glowworm” Cave Explorer Pin)

  • The Waitomo Caves are also sometimes known as the ‘Glowworm caves’ by natives to the Northern King County in New Zealand.”  The limestone caves are New Zealand’s most magical natural attraction; with thousands of glow worms, the caves are lit from within with an eerie green light. The thousands of tiny living stars give a magnificent light show, so boat rides through the grotto are common and nothing short of magical.

To travel vicariously through Spartan and the Green Egg and with the help of your imagination, collect your Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Pins! To learn more about the pins as well as Spartan and the Green Egg, visit the websites below:

For more information on the caves mentioned in this blog, consult the websites below:

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In Awe Of The Aurora Borealis

“And the Aurora Borealis was out. I’ve seen it only a few times in my life. It hung and moved with majesty in folds like an infinite traveler upstage in an infinite theater. In colors of rose and lavender and purple it moved and pulsed against the night, and the frost-sharpened stars shone through it. What a thing to see at a time when I needed it so badly!”

– John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, 1962

Awesome and Awe-Inspiring: the Aurora Borealis

  • The Aurora Borealis or “the Northern Lights” is one of nature’s most incredible spectacles: imagine a fireworks show created by Mother Nature!
  • With Spartan and the Green Egg and their collectible explorer stickers, you can learn about one of the night sky’s most awesome displays of colorful shimmering lights. “The Northern Lights in Alaska are named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora. They can be seen in Alaska late at night or very early in the morning. The lights are a beautiful mix of green, blue, or red.”

(the Northern Lights: a vivid green hue)

What Causes this Ethereal Phenomenon?
Sparkling, dazzling, eerie, beautiful, magical…all of these adjectives are used to describe the Northern Lights. So, what causes them?

  • “Electrons from solar winds mixing with gasses found in the atmosphere” are what causes the awesome light show. In more complete terms: “The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere.”
  • And what causes the incredible colors?
  • “Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.” What’s your favorite color in the Aurora Borealis?


Where to See the Northern Lights
Set out to see this miraculous marvel of nature! Other than Fairbanks, Alaska, “the best places to watch the lights (in North America) are in the northwestern parts of Canada, particularly the Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories. Auroral displays can also be seen over the southern tip of Greenland and Iceland, the northern coast of Norway, and over the coastal waters north of Siberia. Southern auroras are not often seen as they are concentrated in a ring around Antarctica and the southern Indian Ocean.”
Here are some specific places where the lights are visible:

  • Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Tromsø, Norway
  • Lapland, Finland
  • Orkney, Scotland
  • Yellowknife, Canada
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

(the Aurora Borealis seen in Iceland)

Myths and Legend: Spirits and Reflections
As with everything beautiful and mysterious in the world, there is usually some sort of fantastical myth surrounding its existence. As for the Northern Lights, there are ancient legends from around the globe that people have believed for centuries.

  • “The Maori of New Zealand shared a belief with many northern people of Europe and North America that the lights were reflections from torches or campfires.” The soft glow of a campfire in the cold night was a sign of survival.
  • “The Menominee Indians of Wisconsin believed that the lights indicated the location of manabai’wok (giants) who were the spirits of great hunters and fishermen.” Can you imagine giant glowing spirits roaming the earth and night sky?!
  • “Native Alaskan Inuit tribes used to believe the lights were spirits of whales, seals, salmon, and other animals in the region” while it is also believed, by other aboriginal peoples, that the lights were ancestral spirits.
  • In Norse mythology, the reddish colors of the aurora were thought to be a bridge made of fire in the sky, built by the gods.

For more information on how to collect your Spartan and the Green Egg explorer pins and stickers, visit the website below:
For more information on the Aurora borealis, what causes it and where to see it (along with other topics), check out the webpages that were consulted in this blog:

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The Fascinating Sun

All About the Sun

When you look up at the night sky, it’s easy to see all the stars. Did you know there’s a star you can also see clearly during the day? It’s the sun, the star in the middle of our solar system. In fact, the word “solar” means “relating to the sun.” Without the sun, the Earth couldn’t exist. It gives us light and heat.

The sun doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes there are special events that change how it looks. Solar flares and eclipses are a couple of examples. The sun also changes things here on Earth, like the weather and the seasons. Here are some fun facts you should know about the sun.

Quick Sun Facts

You might have a lot of questions about the sun. How old is it? How large is it? How hot does it get? What is it made of?
Here are some answers:

  • The sun is about 4.5 billion years old, according to scientists.
  • The sun’s diameter is 864,000 miles.
  • The surface of the sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The sun is mostly made up of the two gases hydrogen and helium.

What Solar Flares and Sunspots Are
Even though the sun’s surface has an average temperature of about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the whole surface isn’t that temperature all the time. Some areas are colder. From Earth, those areas look dark. Sometimes, the sun’s energy causes heat to increase and make string-like energy bursts near those cooler spots. Those are solar flares.

Seeing the Sun and Moon at the Same Time
Maybe you have your Spartan and the Green Egg sun and moon patches sewn closely together on your backpack or jacket. You can see them together in the actual sky, too. The sun and moon only appear to show up and disappear in the sky at certain times. They are both always in the space that surrounds Earth. They don’t go away. That’s why, when there is enough light reflected off the moon’s surface, you can sometimes see both at the same time.

What a Solar Eclipse Is

Unlike this fun sun pin, which you can see anytime, the real sun is not always totally visible in the sky. You can’t see it at night, and you also can’t see it during a solar eclipse. A solar eclipse sometimes happens because the Earth goes around the sun. That is called orbiting. The moon orbits the Earth. As the moon and Earth move, sometimes the moon gets in between the sun and the Earth. For a few minutes, that blocks the sun from view. That’s different from a lunar eclipse, which happens when the shadow of the Earth and the orbit of the moon meet.

Why People Get Sunburns
Have you ever been to the beach or outside too long and gotten a sunburn? You might wonder why. The reason is the sun’s rays cause your skin to heat up. Your body tries to protect itself from the sun by changing the color of your skin. It does that using something called melanin, which gives your skin its color. People with dark skin usually tan, and people with light skin usually burn. That’s because of how much melanin there is. No matter what color your skin is, too much sun is unhealthy for your skin, so you should always wear sunscreen when you are outside a lot. And never look directly at the sun. Not only is it painful to do so, but it can also cause serious damage to your eyes, even blindness.

What Would Happen if There Was No Sun?
A lot of bad things would happen if there was no sun. Without the sun, our world would be completely dark as soon as our electricity runs out. Plants need a lot of sunlight to grow, so without the sun, all plant life on Earth would eventually die, as would all the animals and humans. The oceans would also freeze over because Earth would get so cold. The sun keeps the Earth, and all the other planets, in orbit. So, without the sun, all the planets would fly off and possibly collide into each other. As you can see, the sun is very important to our existence, so take some time to appreciate it.

Learn more about the Sun and the Planets on the Spartan & the Green Egg website! Join the Explorers and collect solar system pins, patches, and stickers. See if you can collect them all!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

Explore Magnificent World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Lost City of the Incas: Secrets and Fun Facts

Spartan and the Green Egg explorer pin

Machu Picchu: One of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site, this Incan city is located above the Urubamba River Valley high in the Andes Mountains in Peru. Machu Picchu, often called the “Lost City of the Incas” was built in the 15th century and later abandoned. During the extraordinary construction of Machu Picchu, the Incas did not use animals, iron tools, or the wheel. It is said that hundreds of men were used to push the stones up steep mountains that are almost eight thousand feet above sea level. It is known for its brilliant engineering, intelligent astronomical alignments, and panoramic views.

Actually, “When the explorer Hiram Bingham III encountered Machu Picchu in 1911, he was looking for a different city, known as ‘Vilcabamba.’ This was a hidden capital to which the Inca had escaped after the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1532.”

  • When it comes to archaeology, Machu Picchu is one of the most important sites in the world. It is known for its Temple of the Sun, ruins of palaces, plazas, and temples. The citadel (or fortress built on high ground) was so expertly built (without mortar) that the joins between its granite stones cannot be penetrated, even with a blade.
  • Machu Picchu is known as a historic sanctuary and evidence of the Inca Empire at its height of accomplishment. The ruins sit atop a high ridge complete with many peaks above the Urubamba River in Peru’s Andean Highlands.
  • It’s a mystery: because the Incas had no written language, there are no records of why this incredible city was built. There is also no evidence as to why it was abandoned.
  • Hidden high in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is located near the Amazon River basin and is covered in tropical forests. It is one of the most popular sites in the world. And how does one get there? On foot, of course.

Hidden Secrets

  • Built on top of two fault lines, the ruins of Machu Picchu are said to move around when earthquakes hit, but, somehow, the stones remain intact.
  • Many of the secrets of the site are underground: it is thought that as much as 60% of the site was constructed beneath the ground.
  • The small green peak “Huayna Picchu” is one of the most popular pinnacles to climb but it’s not the only one: at the opposite end, there’s another peak commonly referred to as “Machu Picchu Mountain” that stands 1,640 feet tall. The bird’s eye views from these points are spectacular.

Don’t forget to collect the Spartan and the Green Egg Machu Picchu explorer pin and, while you’re at it, experience the amazing World Heritage Site without leaving the comfort of your home by taking a look at this SGE video:

For more information on Machu Picchu, consult the websites mentioned on the blog:
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The Oldest Living—And Non-Living—Things On Earth, Part II

The World’s Oldest Living Plants and Animals

(Jaya Sri Maha Bohi (fig tree),

One of the oldest living trees on Earth can be found in Sri Lanka. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is the name of the oldest living tree on record and began as a cutting from the fig tree that Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) was said to have prayed and meditated beneath in India. That original fig tree (or “Ficus religiosa”) is long gone, but the one that remains in the Mahamewna Gardens (Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka) is said to be 2,300 years old.

(The “Thousand-Year Rose,”

Hildesheim, Germany, is the home to the world’s oldest living rose. At 1,200 years old, this rose bush is still blooming! Growning alongside a Catholic Cathedral dedicated to Saint Mary, the rose is known as “The Thousand-Year Rose” or the “Hildesheim Rose.” It is thought to have been planted sometime around the year 800 by King Louis the Pious.


The Galápagos Tortoise is one of the most extraordinary creatures imaginable. Not only do they grow enormous in size (up to five feet in length and over 500 pounds) but are also known to live a very long time. Many in the wild live to be 100 (or more) years old! Many Galápagos Tortoises have been killed off throughout the years and are now an endangered species, so it’s extremely important that we educate ourselves on the plight of these incredible animals; thanks to The Charles Darwin Research Station much-needed assistance is being provided for these magnificent tortoises that, of course, live on the Galápagos Islands in South America. The Islands are actually an archipelago located in Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean. To learn more about the Galápagos Islands, collect your very own Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Travel Sticker today!

(Galápagos Islands Explorer Sticker)

One of the World’s Oldest Structures

(Sigiriya Explorer Sticker)

Speaking of Sri Lanka, the ancient city of Sigiriya is also located in the island country of South Asia. Sigiriya Citadel Rock is an ancient fortress that sits atop a rocky plateau formed from the magma of a now extinct volcano. This plateau was formed way back during the 3rd century BC (over 2,000 years ago). Amidst the jungles of Sri Lanka, this fortress is an incredible sight to behold as it sits 200 meters high and has walls that measure over six hundred feet in height. “A lion was carved into the stone by King Kasyapa, who was responsible for building the palace.” The word “Sigiriya” originally comes from “Sihagri” (which means “lion rock”). For more information on this amazing and awe-inspiring structure, visit your friends at Spartan and the Green Egg and collect the Sigiriya Explorer Sticker (along with the Sri Lanka Explorer Flag Pin).

For more information on the oldest living things mentioned in this blog, historical sites, and Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Stickers, visit the websites listed below:

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Extreme Camping And Travel Destinations

Ready, Set, Adventure! Africa: Mountains, Hills, Lakes and Waterfalls

“No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”
-Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1936

Don’t forget to collect your Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Stickers to inform and entertain as you imagine your next journey!

Mount Kilimanjaro: Located in Tanzania, East Africa, this 19,000-foot tall wonder has three distinct peaks and is of great interest to scientists because of the effects of climate change, including melting icecaps and shrinking glaciers. Ernest Hemingway—famous not only for his brilliant writing but life as an avid explorer and hunter—wrote of the magnificent mountain peaks and dormant volcano in his short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to climb a mountain or even a dormant volcano?! Mount Kilimanjaro is technically a “stratovolcano.” As it is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain on earth, climbing Kilimanjaro is a popular feat for climbers but is not to be taken lightly as, without the proper training and equipment, it can be extremely dangerous. ClimbingKilimanjaro offers services for explorers who wish to successfully climb the mountain and has a 96% success rate (you must be at least 10 years old to climb Kilimanjaro.) Experienced guides have helped over 15,000 adventurers to safely reach the summit, Uhuru Peak—the highest in all of Africa! Also, on the way up the stratovolcano, there are campsites where climbers can pitch a tent and rest. Imagine camping at high altitudes on your way to Africa’s greatest peak.

Lake Nakuru: Located in Kenya, this small alkaline lake provides a home for hundreds of species of birds. As many as two million flamingos have been seen all gathered together on the lake, feeding on algae in the warm waters. Imagine this magnificent scene in nature filled with pink flamingos!

Great Wildebeest Migration: Every year, nearly two million wildebeest travel across the plains in the Serengeti to find new grazing land in Masai Mara. This amazing migration is considered one of the seven wonders of the world.

Green Hills of Africa (1935) is a non-fiction work by Ernest Hemingway about his two-month safari in East Africa. If one is interested in African safaris, wildlife, and breathtaking adventure, The Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda will bring Hemingway’s accounts to life. Complete with the magnificent waterfall, Murchison Falls (also known as “Kabalega Falls”), the River Nile, sandbanks where crocodiles and hippopotamuses sunbathe and the Budongo Forest, this National Park is truly one of the most amazing places to visit and explore. One can also gaze upon giraffes, cape buffalo, chimpanzees, elephants, warthogs, and hundreds of bird species in their native habitat.

• “The Rwenzori Mountains are part of East Africa, found along the border between Uganda and the Congo. The Rwenzori Mountains are very important to both regions because they support glaciers that feed water into the river Nile. The highest peaks of the mountains are over sixteen thousand feet high and are constantly covered in snow. Historians believe the mountains were formed over three million years ago. Locals often refer to them as the Mountains of the Moon.”

Sand and Sea

“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

– Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, 1952

• “Cuba is most well known for having gorgeous sandy beaches and producing high-quality adult products, such as fine rum and cigars. The Caribbean island has a very rich culture, and is filled with many great clubs and cabarets. Due to political reasons, Cuba has mostly been cut off from travelers and tourists in the past, giving the island a mysterious allure.”

Hemingway also wrote of Cuba in one of his most well-known books, The Old Man and the Sea. The short novel details the story of an old fisherman who struggles to catch a giant marlin in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream off the Cuban coast.

Cuba—which is now open to travelers—is a beautiful destination known for warm, crystal clear waters and beaches, such as Varadero (one of the most popular in the Caribbean) and caves (Cueva de Ambrosio and Cueva de Musulmanes). Cuba is also known for its underwater park, Cayo Piedra, which is ideal for exploration. Snorkelers can discover underwater worlds filled with shipwrecks and all sorts of colorful fish!
There’s also deep-sea fishing and even skydiving!

“Water, water, water…There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.”

– Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, 1968

Death Valley is a land of extremes. It is the hottest, driest, and lowest national park. According to the National Park Service, “this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes.” There is, surprisingly, a certain balance as “each extreme has a striking contrast.” There are actually occasional rainstorms, and, from these, wildflowers bloom. There are also frosty mountain peaks covered with snow, and wildlife can sustain on fish found in lush oases.

Sailing Stones at Racetrack Playa: The Sailing Stones are found in Death Valley, California and are sometimes referred to as the moving or sliding stones. The stones earn their name because they move completely on their own. The sliding stones always leave a noticeable trail of sand where they have traveled. Most of the rocks slide to a dry lake bed called the Racetrack Playa. These stones and the marks they leave in the sand are a sight to behold for any traveler.

For more information on what Spartan and the Green Egg has to offer (including Explorer Stickers) along with more helpful insights on the extraordinary destinations mentioned in this blog, consult the websites listed below.

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog #littleexplorers #explorerstickers #mountkilimanjaro #deathvalley #greatwildebeestmigration #cuba

Explore Scotland: Lighthouses, Castles, Fortresses And Ancient Villages!

My Heart is in the Highlands!

Scotland is known for its rolling green hills and mountain ranges, highlands, lowlands, castles, ancient ruins, fortresses, lochs (lakes) such as its most famous Loch Ness, and glens (or valleys). When one thinks of castles, we think of fairytales with kings and queens, princes and princesses. We think of medieval times, ancient history, and maybe even an underwater monster!


Edinburgh Castle (

  • Edinburgh Castle sits on top of Castle Rock (which is actually the remains of an erupted volcano) and is truly a sight to behold. It has been occupied by royalty since the 11th century and is known for its majesty and grandeur. It was attacked until the 19th century and was known as one of the world’s “most besieged” places in Great Britain. Today, it is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions.

Inverness Castle (

  • Inverness Castle is a structure built in the neo-Norman style and has been since the 1800s. An original structure was built as long ago as the eleventh century AD and was then rebuilt in the 18th century.

Dunnottar Castle (

  • Dunnottar Castle is a fortress now in ruins as it sits atop a cliff on the North Sea. Its walls were once impenetrable.

Balmoral Castle (

Kenmure Castle (

  • Kenmure Castle is located near New Galloway in southwest Scotland. The oldest part of the castle—its tower—was built in the 16th The castle ruins have witnessed many fires and stands upon rock and marshy ground.

Other Sights to Behold: Collect your Corresponding Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Stickers Today!

  • The Antonine Wall is a structure made of stone that was built by the Romans around 140 AD. The ancient ruins remain standing and, in some places, are as high as ten feet.

  • Fingal’s Cave is a sea-cave rising 72 feet tall and 270 feet deep. Its interior walls are made of hexagonal columns of basalt which are shaped as six-sided pillars. The cave is known for its colorful interior as well as the wonder it provided the ancient Irish and Scottish Celtic people while the island of Staffa is known for the puffins that nest there.

  • The Bell Rock Lighthouse is located off the coast of Angus, Scotland, and was built between 1807 and 1810. It is the oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse in the world. During the first and second World Wars, the lighthouse exhibited a light when ships were expected to pass the Inchcape reef.

  • Loch Ness is famously known for the myth that an enormous underwater monster lives within its deep waters. Existence of the Loch Ness Monster has never been proven. The first sighting was in 1933, and since then it has become a tourist attraction. The actual lake is known for the immense depth of the water.  Located in the Scottish Highlands, the freshwater lake is nearly 800 feet deep.

Shakespeare’s Scotland

“Yet do I fear thy nature;

It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness.”

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1.5

(“Lady Macbeth” by James Parker, 1800)

  • Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth (1606-07) is about a young general who is told (by three witches no less) that he will, one day, be king of Scotland. Shakespeare’s play is a masterwork of drama as it explores the effects of political power and just how far one will go to get it.

For more information on Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Stickers and how to collect them, visit the websites below:

For more information on Scotland, its castles, other amazing attractions and ancient ruins, consult the websites mentioned in this blog post:

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Learn About Egypt

Learn MORE About the Pyramids of Egypt

What is square on the bottom, has four sides, and four triangles that come together in a point at the top? A pyramid of course! Most people think that pyramids were only built by the Egyptians, but actually they were built by many different groups of people throughout history. But the Egyptians took the art of pyramid building to new heights, building them bigger and stronger. To this day, nearly all of the pyramids that have stood the test of time are located in Egypt.

Fun Facts about the Pyramids of Egypt

The most famous pyramids today are the Great Pyramids of Giza, which are specifically located at a place named Giza along the west banks of the Nile River in Egypt. There are three pyramids that make up the Great Pyramids of Giza. The largest among them is called the Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu) and is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Did you know that it took more than 100,000 people and close to 20 years to make the Great Pyramid, alone? The Great Pyramid has two million stone blocks, and each block weighs 5,000 pounds. Another amazing fact is that millions of blocks weighing all together between 2.5-5.5 million tons were cut, and transported to the construction site before they were precisely assembled to make pyramids. The Great Pyramid currently stands 451 feet high. To this day no one knows exactly how ancient Egyptians managed to build such massive structures, and no one today has been able to build one exactly like they did.

Pyramids Were Burial Chambers

So why did ancient Egyptians bury their dead in pyramids? It was not just the body of the dead who were placed in these pyramids, but their treasured belongings as well. Ancient Egyptians were so loyal to their pharaohs that they wanted them to live forever. They believed that if they mummified the pharaohs after death and placed them in the tombs then they would live forever. Throughout most pyramids there are star chambers to allow the soul of the dead to pass out of the burial chamber and join their ancestors in the sky. The steep sides of the pyramids were made so that they could assist the kings’ souls to ascend easily to heaven.

Egyptian Pyramids and Treasure Hunters

A pharaoh’s tomb was filled with all types of precious metals, jewels, and artifacts during burials. Throughout the centuries graverobbers stole most of the contents within the pyramids in Egypt. However, those pyramids that were covered with sand before the graverobbers could find them are still being discovered today, full of rich treasures and artifacts from thousands of years ago. Scientists become excited when they make such a find because it gives them a look back at the history of an ancient time, and tells them how people lived and what was important to them.

The Egyptian Pyramids are Guarded by a Lion

At the pyramids of Giza, there is a sphinx that rests in front of the pyramids. The sphinx is a sculpture that has the body of a lion but the face of pharaoh. It is believed that the sphinx protects all the pyramids of Giza.  The sphinx is approximately 238 feet long, and over 65 feet tall. His ancient name translates as: The Father of Dread.

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Explore your world and the universe though the Spartan and the Green Egg Series. Join the Explorer’s Club, enjoy interactive games, collect travel pins and more! Learn about the world and the SGE Explorers Today!

Winter Sports And Activites


Fun Winter Sports

There’s nothing more exciting during the winter than sports! If you and your children are looking for something filled with adventure and fun, look no further.

  • Ice skating is the perfect winter pastime; it can be as athletic or as fun and playful as you like. One doesn’t have to be a skilled skater to love the activity. It’s all in the doing and enjoyment!

(Spartan and the Green Egg’s “Poiana Braşov” Explorer Sticker)

  • Skiing (alpine and cross-country): one of the most spectacular ski resorts in the world is called Poiana Brașov. Located in Romania, this is an incredibly popular destination for tourists throughout all of Europe as the trails are very long and wide. There are other popular winter attractions there as well, such as ice skating, luging, and snow tubing. To collect the Spartan and the Green Egg Explorer Sticker featuring the majestic ski resort Poiana Brașov, visit!

(Spartan and the Green Egg’s “Faraya” Explorer Sticker)

Faraya is a magnificent village in Lebanon and is a winter-time destination for any explorer as that’s where the region’s ski resorts are located. One of the most well-known resorts in the area, Mzaar (in the Mzaar-Kfardebian mountain range), is also one of the largest in the Middle East. It overlooks Bekaa Valley as well as famous peaks such as Zaarour and Laqlouq. If skiing isn’t your favorite winter activity, there are cable cars where tourists can ride high above the landscape while admiring the snow-covered mountains below. Spartan and the Green Egg also offers a Faraya Explorer Sticker to add to your collection!

  • Snowboarding: It has been said that skiing is easier to learn than snowboarding but that it’s more difficult to master. So, if skiing isn’t your cup of tea, snowboarding may be a fun and exhilarating way to make the season fly by. And, if neither is your forte, that’s okay: curl up by the fire at the ski lodge and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa.
  • Ice Hockey is a more rigorous team sport played in a rink and is definitely a winter option when it comes to competitive sports.

Whimsical Activities Unique to Winter

(Film still from Edward Scissorhands, 1990)

(Spartan and the Green Egg’s “Sapporo Snow Festival” Explorer Sticker)

  • Ice sculptures: the idea of carving ice into a sculpture is a whimsical and extremely specialized one. It is also rare because, as we know, ice melts, so a work of art created from a block of ice is transient and uncertain. Every year, in February, millions of people attend the week-long Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan. Located in Odori Park, the festival is filled with the world’s most elaborate snow and ice sculptures. There is even a snow sculpture contest! It began and 1950 and, to this day, is one of the world’s most anticipated winter festivals. Don’t forget to add Spartan and the Green Egg’s Sapporo Snow Festival Explorer Sticker to your collection!

To join Spartan and his friends on the numerous adventures mentioned in this blog (and to collect the corresponding travel stickers), visit the websites mentioned below:

For more information on the sports and locations mentioned in this blog, consult the following websites:

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Mayan Ruins In Tulum, Mexico

(Photo: Tulum, Mexico,

Who were the Mayans?

The Mayans or “Maya” were a group of peoples indigenous to Mexico and Central America. They inhabited what is now known as modern-day Yucatán (as well as other parts of Mexico) southward through Guatemala and El Salvador (to name a few countries). The Maya Civilization was cultivated as far back as 7000-2000 BCE. The history of Mesoamerica and its many periods throughout time is vast and quite impressive. The Mayans are known for their building of great pyramids as well as their belief system, where everything is cyclical.

(El Castillo,

What Mayan Ruins are there to discover in Tulum?

Tulum, Mexico, is known for its amazing archeology and well-preserved ruins built by the Mayans.

  • El Castillo” is literally translated as “the Castle” and is the remains of the largest façade in the ancient walled city of Tulum. On the edge of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, this structure is one of many surrounded by a wall measuring 16 feet in width.
  • The Temple of the Frescoes is a truly sacred destination. This temple of “frescoes” (paintings) depicts important Mayan gods and goddesses and is located directly in front of the castle (mentioned above).
  • The Temple of the Descending God is a structure so intricately designed as reverence for one of the Mayan gods that, to this day, the carvings of the upside-down god are not only intact, but, are more prominent at this site than any other (there are only three other known archeological sites where this god is depicted).
  • LabnaHa Echo Park is filled with cenotes and is basically an underwater cave adventure ideal for diving and snorkeling.
  • The House of the Columns or “The Palace”: What was once the dwelling for Mayan leaders is one of the most impressive sites in Tulum.

(Cenotes Dos Ojos,

What Other Wonderful Sights are in Tulum?

  • Caverns and caves: Tulum is filled with the world’s largest underwater system of caves (including The Sac Actun System or “white cave system”).
  • Beautiful ocean views: Tulum is located on the Caribbean coastline. With views of the beautiful, vast turquoise ocean and islands, it is a truly magical place.
  • Cenotes are natural sinkholes usually formed in caves and filled with groundwater (very much like an underground river). They are usually formed from limestone and are incredibly beautiful, mysterious places to explore and swim. “Cenote” is translated as “sacred well” as these sites were sometimes used by the ancient Mayans for sacrificial ceremonies and offerings. They are only found in the Yucatán Peninsula (there are more than 6,000).
  • Cenotes Dos Ojos or “Two Eyes Cenotes” is located on the Maya Riviera on the northeastern part of the Yucatán Peninsula coastline. It is one of the world’s most desirable destinations as it is probably the most beautiful and famous of all the cenotes. A stairway leads one down into the body of a cave that is also a secret swimming hole filled with abundant blue water and limestone walls. This is a hugely popular destination for swimmers and divers.

For more information from Spartan and the Green Egg (on caves in particular) you can collect travel pins that document amazing destinations all over the world, including The Cave of the Crystals in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico.

For more information on Mayan Ruins and Tulum, Mexico, visit the websites consulted in this blog below:,

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World’s Largest Beach Clean-Up

Imagine going to your favorite beach or park and finding it covered in trash. Now imagine that trash is so deep, when you try to walk on it, you sink up to your shoulders — or higher. That’s what it was like on Versova Beach in Mumbai, India. Over the years, thousands of tons of plastic and other debris had washed ashore on Versova Beach, covering the once-beautiful sand and making it a place where no one wanted to hang out — that is, until two friends decided they’d had enough.

Big Journeys Start with Small Steps

In the fall of 2015, Afroz Shah, a young lawyer, and his friend and neighbor, 84-year-old Harbansh Mother, headed to the beach with bags and gloves and decided to start picking up trash. At that time, there was so much filth stretched over so much coastline, the two friends thought there was little chance they’d make any kind of difference in how the beach looked. After all, how could they even begin to clear away the layers and layers of trash that were, in some areas, five feet deep? But they didn’t let that stop them; they knew they had to do something. And they decided that, on every Sunday, they’d head to the beach to do what they could to collect, bag and dispose of as much trash as they could carry.

As their work progressed, people would stop and ask them what they were doing. And soon, others had joined in. Shah and Mother realized they were doing something important — not just to them, but to others, as well. Shah began talking to his neighbors, his friends, local business people — pretty much anyone who would listen. He explained the problem of ocean pollution, and he also talked about how it was up to them — the people who lived and worked in the area — to make a difference. He reminded them of the beautiful beach, how for years, people gathered to swim, have picnics, and just hang out.

All this time, he still went to the beach every weekend to pick up more and more trash, filling hundreds of bags with waste. Soon, his dedication and enthusiasm attracted others. And before long, the two friends found they had company — at first, just a few volunteers, and then dozens, visiting the beach every Sunday with gloves and bags, ready to dig in — literally — to the seemingly endless piles of trash.

Now, four years later, the little project started by two old friends has had remarkable results. The beach is clean — and just last year, dozens of rare sea turtles returned to the beach after decades of absence, laying their eggs and reclaiming a beach they abandoned when the trash started showing up many years ago. Since the clean-up began, more than 12,000 tons of trash have been bagged up and removed.

Change Starts with You

As the world’s largest beach clean-up, Versova is a good lesson for everyone. It shows how just one or two people can make a big difference, not just to other people, but to the global environment, too. With the internet, you don’t need to visit the beach to save marine wildlife. The Ocean Conservancy offers lots of tips for keeping the seas clean. One you can do right now: Give up plastic drinking straws. It might sound surprising, but straws are one of the biggest pollutants in the world’s oceans and each year, they kill hundreds of fish, birds, and mammals. The Ocean Conservancy has started its own drive to get people to stop using straws and help preserve marine wildlife. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, visit the conservancy’s website and sign their pledge (but ask your parents first). It’s one small way you and your friends can make a really big difference.

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Let’s Explore the Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, and it is still growing and always changing. It is home to many different species of fish, animals, and plants, as well as strange underwater structures like coral reefs and entire underwater mountains. Let’s explore the Atlantic Ocean and all of the things that make it special.

The Size and Temperature of the Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is made up of about 41,100,000 square miles of salt water. It is so big that it is often split into two categories, which are the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic. The South Atlantic is the warmer part of the Atlantic Ocean, and the North Atlantic is the colder part. The water in the South Atlantic near the Equator can reach temperatures of 82 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, which is great for swimming. But you wouldn’t want to swim in the North Atlantic unless you were a penguin or a polar bear. The water up there can drop to below freezing temperatures, which is far too cold for people to swim in.

Countries and Cities of the Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean flows past the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Iceland, France, and Cuba also border the Atlantic Ocean, along with more than a dozen other countries. In fact, many countries have been trading goods for centuries using the Atlantic Ocean for boat travel. Christopher Columbus first discovered what is now North America by traveling across the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the world’s most well-known cities are also located right on the Atlantic Ocean. Havana, Cuba, Seville, Spain, and New York City in the United States are a few of them. Without the Atlantic Ocean for boat travel, many of those cities might never have been founded.

Landmarks of the Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is made up of two basins, which you can think of as two giant pools. The two pools are split by an underwater mountain range called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. But water and sea life can still pass between the two basins through gaps in the mountains. Another landmark which can be found in the Atlantic Ocean is the Bermuda Triangle, which is a famous area where many ships and planes have mysteriously vanished. The Atlantic Ocean is also home to the second largest coral reef in the world, which is located off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.

Creatures of the Atlantic Ocean
The manatee is one of the most unique creatures living in the Atlantic Ocean. Manatees are also sometimes called “sea cows.” They are often seen in the warm waters of the Atlantic, especially off the coast of Florida. Other Atlantic Ocean creatures that prefer the warmer southern part of the Atlantic include tropical fish, seahorses, anemones, and many types of dolphins.

The colder parts of the Atlantic Ocean are home to many species of seals and sea lions. The North Atlantic right whale, which is an endangered species, also makes its home in the North Atlantic. Lots of fish live in the colder Atlantic waters too, along with lobsters, crabs, and other creatures, many of which humans eat.

We need to be careful because fishing for too many of those creatures can cause them to become harder and harder to find. Some species have already become extinct or close to it because of overfishing. The Atlantic Ocean will only stay healthy if we find ways to protect it and its creatures.

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Learn About Submarines


Mysterious and odd-shaped, submarines give workers ways to explore the deep sea. Submarines don’t just allow others to see the hidden parts of the world’s oceans though. They are also used to do many things in workplaces around the world.

At first glance, submarines look pretty special. The vessel can travel deep distances underwater. Inside the submarine are special tanks known as ballasts that hold large amounts of water. Submarines also have a power source. A power source is what helps power the vessel when it operates. A submarine may have different power sources: batteries, engines, or nuclear power. Some submarines use more than one of those power sources.

A submarine uses sonar to navigate through the darkest depths of the oceans in the world. Sonar puts out sound waves that bounce off objects around the submarine as it travels. When the sonar wave bounces off the objects, it sends back a signal to the vessel. A submarine usually has other equipment stored inside for crew

members. Inside, clean water, air, and various supplies are kept for the crew on board.

History of The Submarine

Submarines have a pretty cool history. Did you know the first submarine was not actually a submarine? The very first working submarine was a rowboat covered in leather!

Cornelis Drebbel, an inventor, made this early submarine in 1620. The vessel traveled depths as deep as 4.5 meters (15 feet).  In 1776, a US inventor named David Bushnell also made an early submarine. The submarine was later used in the American Revolution. A few years later, Robert Fulton built a small submarine named the Nautilus. The Nautilus helped attach small explosives to ships.

During the 1900s, inventors and engineers continued to make submarines that ran on newer power sources. By then, a submarine could run on an electric motor powered by a battery if the vessel was travelling underwater. Submarines could also run on diesel engines for traveling on water surfaces.

Both types of submarines were used in World War I and World War II.

The US Navy’s vessel, the USS Nautilus, was first deployed in 1954 and ran on nuclear power.

Submarines Today

Military around the world use submarines. Submarines protect the ships used in the Navy and also do other tasks. Scientists and researchers famously use submarines to conduct deep-sea research. A lot of the information about deep-sea creatures would not be available without submarines! Submarines are also used by salvagers to recover lost ship parts. Some places even allow tourists to ride in a submarine to see the deep sea first hand!

How Submarines Stay Underwater

Ever wonder how a submarine stays underwater? The ballasts inside a submarine help keep the vessel underwater. When the vessel wants to sink, the ballasts fill up with water.

Water is very heavy. When it fills a submarine ballast, it helps the vessel become much heavier. When it’s time for the submarine to rise, the water in the ballasts is emptied. When the water leaves the ballasts, it makes the vessel lighter, so it can rise out of the deeper parts of water. To move around, a submarine usually has a propeller on its back end.


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Learning a Foreign Language

(photo courtesy of

·      Why Learning a Foreign Language is Rewarding:

Learning a foreign language may be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things a person can do. It comes naturally to some and is more difficult for others but one thing is certain: it’s easier when you’re young. It’s also a lot easier to learn a foreign language if one is immersed in the sounds and is among native speakers. It is incredibly rewarding to learn another’s native tongue as it helps us to understand the nature of language and what it truly means to communicate with each other. It is also rewarding to try and expand one’s mind as much as possible and to have learning challenges: always learning is like setting out on a constant adventure where your mind is the mode of travel.

There are many benefits to learning a new language and the Eton Institute (one of the most well-known and respected language schools in the world) has a whole list that may be of interest and encouragement for one embarking on this journey.  It has been proven that studying language keeps one sharp and helps to improve memory while even helping with the ability to multitask. Those are just a couple of amazing rewards one will reap when seeking out this particular kind of knowledge.

·      What To Do When Studying In a Classroom Is Not An Option:

Of course, taking classes or having a personal tutor is always an optimal way of learning but is not available for everyone. If one cannot learn in a classroom there are audiotapes and films available where one can listen and study. Of course, there are also books and the Rosetta Stone (an educational software company that helps to develop language and literacy). The Rosetta Stone has proven to be incredibly effective and is very popular among those studying foreign languages.

·      Fun and Inventive Ways to Actually Remember What You Learn:

If one cannot physically be in the country in which the language they’re learning is spoken then watching films is always a wonderful and artistic way to grasp the culture, landscape and, of course, the language. Another way, as aforementioned, to help enhance the learning process and to spark the imagination is to watch educational films and to sing songs. FluentU (Foreign Language Immersion Online) offers tips on how to learn a foreign language while watching movies regardless of skill level. Simple songs and nursery rhymes such as Frère Jacques are also helpful when learning a new language. Of course, materials such as flash cards are ideal for studying and it’s always more fun to work with a partner.

(photo courtesy of

·      Finally, Why One Should Want to Study a Foreign Language:

There are many reasons to learn a foreign language and they’re all pretty exciting because they all include discovering new and wonderful things about the world. Imagine being able to communicate with all sorts of different people while learning about exotic cultures and traditions across the globe. What an amazing opportunity! It’s incredibly important to know about the world around us and the people in it: learning a foreign language helps us to understand different ways of living and, in turn, we understand more about ourselves and where we come from. It’s also the perfect excuse to travel. To explore all kinds of world destinations, visit Nabila K’s Spartan and the Green Egg website for travel stickers and videos that include colorful images and information galore. Global Graduates is a wonderful website that focuses on studying world languages and studying abroad; it also offers helpful advice for encouraging children to learn a foreign language. For more information, look no further:

For further reading and to visit the sites mentioned in this blog, follow these links:

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Learn About Horseback Riding

Horses are wonderful creatures! You may have seen horses featured in a variety of different books, television shows, and films. Did you know that long before cars, trains, and busses people used horses as a common way to travel? People often rode on horseback or as passengers in a horse-pulled carriage.

History of Horseback Riding

People have tamed and trained horses for many purposes. Throughout the history of the world, people have trained horses to use them as a way to take people from one place to another.

As early as 4,000 years ago, people who lived in central Asia began seeing the benefits of using horses to travel everywhere. However, something was different about their horses. The horses they raised were more pony than a horse and not well suited to carry people because of their small size.

By 2500 B.C., people began breeding horses to grow larger and stronger in size. Larger and stronger horses let people use them for different kinds of early travel. People in Western parts of Asia were said to have connected horses to wagons. Horses soon came to Greece and later came to Troy, where they fast became a part of their culture and daily life.

The Egyptians also used horses with chariots to invade the Amorite territory. Hundreds of years later, horse travel became better when riders came up with the bit, a part that goes into a horse’s mouth. The bit makes controlling a horse much easier.

As society around the world grew, horseback travel became a common way to go places. In cities, horses were used to pull stagecoaches for wealthy passengers. By the 1800s, horseback travel began to overlap with the use of early motor vehicles. As the price of motor vehicles began to decline, horses soon became less popular in the early 1900s and after the World Wars in the early 20th century.

Horseback Riding Today

Although horseback riding isn’t as popular these days, it’s still useful in many places around the world. Horses are still used to help people travel and move cargo from place to place for many reasons.

Police forces in large cities sometimes use trained horses for travel in special situations. You may see police riding a horse for special events or situations where they need to control a growing crowd. Some police use horses in search and rescue missions. Although not usually travel, horseback riders often race their horses in many contests. You may see horses complete in regular racing competitions, barrel racing, and roping events.

Horses are commonly used on farms and ranches for labor. It’s not uncommon to see a farmer or ranch worker using a horse to move heavy cargo across a large area.  Some places rent horses to people who want to learn to ride a horse. There are even dude ranches that let people pay to become a cowboy for a day!


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A Kid’s Guide to Making Compost at Home

What Is Composting? How to Try It at Home

Did you know that some of the scraps left over from lunches and cooking aren’t really garbage?
Some waste can be turned into healthy, nutritious soil for plants. This is done by composting, and you can try it for yourself.

What Is Compost?

Compost is a type of fertilizer for plants. It’s made of organic materials, which means parts of other living things. Bacteria feed on these scraps and help break them down. When they’ve done their work, the compost no longer looks like plants. Instead, it looks like moist, dark soil. Gardeners often call compost “black gold,” because it’s such a valuable source of nutrients for plants.

Why Is Composting Important?

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency’s job is to keep our air and water clean and to protect the earth from harm. They estimate that about 1/3 of all the garbage we throw away is made up of organic materials like food scraps and grass clippings. This takes up space in landfills and adds methane gas to the air. If we set aside these scraps for composting,

we help stop that pollution.

Composting also helps keep your yard and garden healthier. It helps build soil that holds water to protect plants from drought. It also feeds plants so they grow stronger and faster. When you use compost instead of chemical fertilizers, you help protect wildlife, too.
How to Try Composting at Home

Composting is easy! You can make your own compost bin with some help from your parents. Keep it outside, in the basement, or in the garage.

Here’s what you need:

  • A sturdy plastic container with a lid. Using a clear container will let you watch the process of how scraps turn into compost, but it’s not necessary.
  • A drill
  • Mesh for repairing window screens
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue

Here’s what to do:

  1. Ask your parents for help drilling holes into the lid of your container. This gives the bacteria air to breathe as they break food scrapes down into compost.
  2. Cut a piece of mesh to fit on the inside of the lid.
  3. Use the hot glue gun to dab glue around the edges of the lid. Then press the mesh in place. This will keep fruit flies and other insects out of your compost if you’re keeping the bin indoors.

Here’s what to put in your compost bin:

  • wilted flowers
  • vegetables that went bad
  • eggshells
  • cooking scraps that come from plants (carrot tops, green spots on potatoes, avocado pits, banana peels, etc.)
  • autumn leaves
  • grass clippings from mowing the lawn

Taking care of your compost:

  1. Once a week, use a garden trowel or small shovel to stir the compost. This helps keep bacteria moving around.
  2. If your compost smells bad, cover the scraps with a layer of dried leaves or shredded newspaper.
  3. When your bin is full, stop adding scraps but keep stirring.
  4. When everything in the bin turns black and looks like moist dirt, you’re done!
  5. Use your compost to mulch garden plants to help them grow.

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Insects Eaten Throughout the World

Entomophagy” is the act of eating insects and is incredibly common throughout the world, even in the United States. People have been eating bugs, their larvae, eggs, and pupae since prehistoric times. We often think that people around the world eat insects for survival where other food is scarce, but it’s also a source of protein and, even in first world countries, can be a popular snack for many. Crickets with spices are a crunchy treat that can be devoured like popcorn while beetles are also commonly eaten just about everywhere around the world. It’s been said that eighty percent of the world’s population eats insects as a part of their regular diet. This is actually very healthy as insects are filled with protein and contain little to no fat.

The Most Popular Bugs to Eat

Many types of ants are edible; the Chinese eat them in a hot soup during the winter. Bee larvae are a favorite in Vietnam and are usually eaten while still alive. Water Beetles are very popular in Thailand, while caterpillars are dried and eaten in Botswana. Many people enjoy eating cicadas with a sweet mustard sauce – which are said to taste like asparagus. Of course, cockroaches are not only very popular menu additions in certain parts of the world, they also have medicinal uses (a cream made from cockroaches is said to alleviate burns). Dragonflies are popular snacks in Indonesia and China.

Alleviate World Hunger: Eat Bugs

Whatever the insect and culture it’s very important to know how other people around the world live. Eating bugs may seem odd to some of us, but it’s actually incredibly common and not strange at all to the estimated two billion people who eat them as part of their daily diets. The United Nations urges people around the world to eat insects as they are nutritious and could help to alleviate world hunger. For more information on this topic, consult this National Geographic article found at this website.

For fun viewing, watch Nicole Kidman eat bugs (including hornworms, mealworms and fried grasshoppers) in this video for Vanity Fair on YouTube.

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Learn About Bikes

One of the world’s most popular ways to travel is by riding a bicycle. Around the world, more people ride bikes than drive cars! Bikes also save more energy than other vehicles such as cars and buses. Bikes help riders save their energy as they ride.

Bikes are not only for travel. People use bikes in races, during exercise, and for recreation to ride through much of the world’s wide-open spaces. You’ll find that bikes exist in many different shapes and styles. Road bikes, racing bikes, mountain bikes, and other hardy bikes, are among the common bikes in the world. Tricycles, two-rider bikes, and unicycles are some not so common bikes that people have used.

History of the Bike

Bikes have a history that goes as far back as 1490. Leonardo da Vinci imagined a machine that looked remarkably like the bikes we know today. His sketches of what could be the bicycle were not found until the 1960s. He didn’t attempt to build the vehicle during his lifetime.

In the late 1700s, Comte de Sivrac invented the Celerifere, a crudely built wooden hobby horse. The wooden hobby horse had two wheels that were joined by a single beam. A rider could sit on the beam and propel it by pushing their feet against the ground while they moved.

By the 1860s, bicycles evolved into nearly full-fledged vehicles. Bicycles became better vehicles when inventions like metal-rimmed wheels, solid rubber tires, and four-speed gears arrived. Other important bicycle developments in the 1800s were coaster brakes and the addition of freewheeling. Freewheeling made biking easier by allowing the wheels to spin without pedaling.

In 1890, the basic elements of modern bikes were already in place. In the 1970s, mountain bikes were invented, which combined elements from older balloon-tire bikes with sturdier frames and rear suspension. Today, standard bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes all exist.

What Bikes Are Made Of

The most important component of the bike is the diamond-shaped frame. The frame is what links all the parts together. It keeps the bicycle rigid and improves its handling. A bike frame has a back and front triangle, the front triangle is mostly formed by the four tubes (Seat tube, Head tube, Down tube, Top tube). The back triangle contains the seat stays, chain stays, and the rear wheel dropouts. The head tube on the front triangle holds the steering and fork tube.

Bikes throughout history have been constructed using strong heavy materials like steel and alloy. Frame materials improved to become lighter, stronger, sturdier, and more durable. The bike parts,

like the brakes, chains, and the wheels are usually made of stainless steel. Many companies that make bikes have their bike parts made by other companies, instead of making these parts themselves. After buying these parts, bike manufacturers assemble the parts to create different sorts of bikes for their consumers.

Bikes have a bright future. Computer technology has taken bike making processes and made them even better than before. You can find all sorts of new bikes made with these processes in stores today. If you can, why not try one for yourself?

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The Magic of Tree Houses

To live in a tree must be one of the most magical things to a child and spending time in a lavish tree house is an even more fantastical notion. Truman Capote’s 1951 novel The Grass Harp details the lives of an orphaned boy and two elderly women who live in a tree; from up high, as they retreat from society, they observe the lives of others. Capote was actually inspired by his own childhood and a tree house in which he spent time in Alabama. The tree house where Capote spent many hours (daydreaming, no doubt) was located in a walnut tree in his cousin Jenny’s yard and featured an antique spiral staircase and tin roof.

The 1960 Disney film Swiss Family Robinson (which is loosely based on the 1812 novel by Johann David Wyss) details the adventures of a shipwrecked family who, on their way to New Guinea, must escape pirates and build a tree house in which to live with their animal friends, including an elephant and a capuchin monkey. The Swiss Family Tree House is a tourist attraction featured at several Walt Disney theme parks including The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. For the film, the tree house was built in a “saman” or “rain tree” in Tobago that reached 200 feet. For more information on the incredible tree house that was built for the film, visit this website:

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Exploring Europe Through Food

Europe is a continent full of very different cultures.  The climates in various parts of Europe, from the warmer Mediterranean region to the colder areas of Scandinavia and Russia, have a lot of impact on the types of foods people eat.  Other factors, like religion, also influence cultural diets throughout the continent.

Central Europe

You might recognize some of central Europe’s traditional foods, such as fondue, which comes from Switzerland, or goulash from Hungary.  This part of Europe is also home to more than 1,500 types of sausage, many of which are found in Germany. Poland is also associated with several fulfilling dishes, such as cheese or potato-filled pierogi, and kielbasa (Polish sausage).  If you have a sweet tooth, then you’ll also appreciate Switzerland’s production of cocoa and chocolate.

Western Europe

Western Europe is home to several foods and dishes that have influenced other cultures.  Italian pasta dishes, French cuisine, and Spanish tapas are favorites in many parts of the world. Belgium’s famous waffles also come from this region.  People here also use food as part of cultural traditions, such as Italy’s Feast of the Seven Fishes and Spain’s Three Kings’ Day.

Eastern Europe

Cabbage is a staple food found throughout the countries of eastern Europe, but the recipes it’s used in vary widely.  Eastern Europeans also tend to eat a lot of bread and pickled vegetables. In Bulgaria, you’ll find spicier foods, such as spiced lamb and sausage dishes.  And yogurt is a favorite snack among Bulgarians. In Russia, people enjoy traditional dishes, such as Chicken Kiev, and kasha, a type of porridge.

Southern Europe

Southern Europe offers a lot of flavorful and filling foods from Greece, Turkey, and other countries.  Some of the dishes prepared here also have a strong Asian influence, especially in Albania. The climate of southern Europe is ideal for growing grapes, olives and several other types of produce, which can be eaten on their own or added to different recipes.

Northern Europe

In northern Europe, seafood is a common part of people’s diets, thanks to the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and other bodies of water that border the UK, Scandinavia, and other regions. Foods here tend to be hearty in order to help people stay warm during the colder months of the year.  Some of the dishes you’ll find in northern Europe include shepherd’s pie, Swedish meatballs, and corned beef and cabbage.

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Learn About Hot Air Balloons

Ever wonder how it would feel to float above the ground? Riding in a hot air balloon can make you feel that way! A hot air balloon is an incredible way to see the places around you. These floating rides are known for their large, strong baskets and colorful balloons filled with hot air. The large balloon helps the floating basket rise into the sky. People around the world have enjoyed hot air balloons for many years.

Hot Air Balloons Came to Be

Did you know the hot air balloon first came to life through a simple experiment? In the year 1782, brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier came up with the idea for the floating ride. During that year, Joseph discovered that holding up his shirt above hot air made by a chimney fire caused his shirt to float. Both brothers then came up with an idea and made a globe-shaped object. Although only a meter-squared, the object floated as high as 30 meters into the air.

The next year, the brothers tried another experiment. They made a balloon with about 900 cubic meters of material sewn onto paper. They also attached a basket filled with wool and straw to the balloon. Then, they lit the wool and straw on fire. After the fire became hot enough, they cut the ropes that held down the balloon, and the basket began to float.

The balloon rose as high as 9,144 meters (about 30,000 feet) in the air. The balloon stayed in the air for 10 minutes and came back down after the air inside cooled. The brothers also sent the first passengers on hot air balloons: a duck, a chicken, and a sheep! The animals stayed in the air for about 8 minutes before they landed safely.

The first human passengers in hot balloons were Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and Francois Laurent d’Arlandes. Both stayed in the hot air balloon for over 20 minutes!

How Hot Air Balloons Work

Hot air balloons don’t use an open fire anymore. Today, hot air balloons use liquid propane that turns into a gas. The propane fuel helps the floating ride rise high into the air. At the bottom of a hot air balloon basket, high-pressure propane tanks sit inside. Hoses are placed on each side of every propane tank. The hoses run up into a burner that sits below the skirt of the balloon.

To make the hot air balloon float, the pilot turns on the propane tanks, causing the fuel to move into each burner. The burners then ignite a small flame or pilot light. Steel coils then heat the liquid propane, turning the fuel into a very hot gas.

As the hot air moves into the balloon, it causes the hot air balloon to start rising. Hot air rises much faster than colder air. To stay in the air, the pilot continues to feed propane to the burners. To float back to the ground, all the pilot needs to do is let the balloon cool down while in flight.


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Discovering Venice

Venice is a city filled with adventure and endless possibility for lovers of beauty. One can take a calm ride through the city’s canals in a gondola while listening to the music of the lapping water and if you’re lucky, a singing gondolier. Canals filled with turquoise water instead of streets bustling with cars and bicycles come to mind when one thinks of the sinking city. The poet Joseph Brodsky only visited Venice in December for he longed to celebrate the beginning of a new year with “a wave hitting the shore at midnight.” He explained, “that, to me, is time coming out of water.” Brodsky also described the city as being “part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers” and he described the canal-side structures as “upright lace.”

Venice is also home to the Piazza San Marco which was, according to Napoleon, one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe and remains, to this day, one of the most visited sites in the city. Saint Mark’s Basilica lies within the square and is one of the most gorgeous examples of glorious Italo-Byzantine architecture; it is even embellished with three majestic bronze horses that were once stolen by Napoleon and taken to Paris (they were brought back to Venice many years ago). Saint Mark’s Square is also home to the Palazzo Ducale (or Doge’s Palace) with its Bridge of Sighs and a nearby campanile (or bell tower) where one can climb to the peak and look out over the canals, palazzos, bridges, and rooftops. Because Venice is literally sinking into the sea due to rising tides or “acqua alta” it is important to visit the city and all the beautiful museums and treasured sites it has to offer.

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Exploring Australia Through Food

Australia is the smallest continent, but it has plenty to offer when it comes to food. Some of the foods Australians eat are derived from traditional English meals. After all, colonists from England settled here hundreds of years ago. However, Australians have managed to give these foods, such as meat pies and biscuits, their own spin.

Australian Favorites
Australians eat a variety of foods, ranging from seafood to Vegemite spread. While you’ll find tons of recipes available for Australian cuisine, some are considered more traditional than others. Anzac biscuits, made from oatmeal and coconut, are one example. Australians with a sweet tooth also enjoy a dessert called pavlova, which has meringue, fruit and whipped cream.

Australia also has its own traditional version of bread, called damper, which is meant to be baked over a campfire. What else do those living Down Under enjoy? Pumpkin soup is a local favorite, as are hamburgers topped with beetroot. Australians enjoy pumpkins in more than just soup, though. It’s a favorite vegetable and side dish, whether it’s mashed up with potatoes or baked on its own. Australians also make seasoned beef patties known as rissoles for informal dinners with friends and loved ones.

Seasonal Switches
Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that Christmas takes place during summer. Instead of cooking up hot comfort foods, such as ham and potatoes, Australians enjoy warm weather foods, including seafood and salads. They might spend the holiday feasting outdoors or even at the beach, rather than sitting around a dining room table.

Although June, July, and August are associated with wintertime in Australia, the weather is usually mild all year long. This gives Australians plenty of opportunities to have their meals outdoors, which many like to do. The mild weather makes it ideal for Australians to fire up the barbecue, or barbie, and cook up some shrimp or burgers.

Food Customs
Some Australians enjoy tea and biscuits in the late afternoon just as the English do. For Australian children, this serves as their snack when they come home from school. They don’t fill up too much, though, since they typically eat a large dinner a couple of hours later.

Australians have adopted elements of other cultures into their food in more recent years. That’s why you’ll find plenty of dishes that have influences from Greece, East Asia, the Middle East and more.

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Manpupuner Rock Formations

Manpupuner may not look like any word you’ve ever seen. That is because it is not an English name but a Russian one, and is pronounced, “Man-pupu-nyer’. The Manpupuner Rock Groupings are found in the Ural Mountains of the Komi Republic in Russia. The name Manpupuner means ‘seven strong men’ and therefore Manpupuner means Seven Strong Men Rock Formation. There are 7 huge and shapeless stone pillars that make up the Manpupuner Rock Formations. But these aren’t just any group of boulders. These stones have a story.

Fun Facts about Manpupuner Rock Formations

The Seven Strong Men Formations are so badly shaped that if you walked in the area at night they would cast 100 meter-long monster shadows and give you the creeps. Many who have done this swear that the shadows really do look like giant men! These formations are incredibly tall, ranging between 30 and 42 meters high. They may not be part of the Seven Wonders of the World but they are definitely recognized among the Seven Wonders of Russia.

The Story of the Giants that Formed Manpupuner

What everyone always asks is how the Seven Strong Men Rock Formations came to exist on a very flat part of the Ural Mountains. The Manpupuner Rock Formations are on the plateau part of the Ural Mountains, which is a fairly level part at the top. The local legends stat that one of the Mansi people who lived near the Urals crossed the border and encountered some giants. The giants started chasing the lost man near the Pechora River, but the tribe of Mansi blocked the paths of the giants and a powerful Medicine Man turned them into large pillars of stone. To this day they are frozen in place.

No Climbing on the Seven Strong Men Rock Formations

Anyone visiting Manpupuner Rock Formations is always advised against trying to climb the sculptures. There are helicopter tours that are arranged for visitors who would like to view the Manpupuner from air. But otherwise, visitors are told that the legend of the formation says that anyone that attempts to climb them will become just like them…frozen like stone!

Komi Forest: Home of the Seven Strong Men

The Seven Strong Men formation resides in the Komi Forest, which is a colorful home to over 200 species of protected plants and animals. That means on your trip to the formations you may encounter a brown bear, reindeer, or other rare types like the northern pika, golden eagle, or white-tailed eagle. The area is also surrounded by other mountains, rivers, and forests. This means that it is possible you will find more than the Seven Men Rock formations to interest you. Some courageous visitors hike up to the top of the plateau to view the formations from above. This hike can take up to three days! Helicopters can also take people up to view the formations from the air, if they can’t make the hike up the mountain.

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Learn MORE About the Great Bear Rainforest

Roaming freely among the 250 miles of rainforest in Canada is the Kermode Spirit Bear. While it has the name ‘spirit’ this bear is very real and very white. Many First Nations peoples honor the white bear as a spiritual sign and as such protect the bear. But there are other wondrous animals and plants living in this one of a kind area. Some of the trees are more than 1000 years old.

Fun Facts about the Great Bear Rainforest

The Great Bear Rainforest is the only remaining coastal temperate rainforest on the planet that has not been destroyed by people. It is called the “Amazon of the North” because there is no other rainforest in North America that has natural wildlife like the Great Bear Rainforest. The forest stretches for more than 250 miles along the British Columbian coast. Great Bear’s wilderness sits on a total of 21 million acres of land!

Other Animals in the Great Bear Rainforest

The all-white Spirit Bear is not the only interesting animal that makes this area its home. There are also cougars, sea lions, coastal gray wolves, Sitka deer, mountain goats, humpback whales, sea otters, orca, and salmon. Many of the animals who live in this area cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. That makes this area especially precious since once the special plants and animals from this area are gone, they will be gone forever. To this day, many scientists are discovering special plants that only grow there, and whose special properties may offer a cure for many diseases that cause mankind to suffer. The people who live in the Great Bear Rainforest believe that all life is connected, so by being cruel or unpleasant to other living creatures one is actually being cruel and unpleasant to oneself.

Waterfalls and Thousand Year Old Trees

Within the park, you will find wise, old cedar trees that were planted before even electricity was discovered. That is because many of these grandfather trees are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. The beautiful landscape is also covered with colorful moss that spreads all over the mountains and rivers like a thick, green carpet. Where there are rivers and mountains, you cannot fail to find waterfalls. Water at some of the Great Bear Rainforest rivers is as dark as granite and a lot of ice can be found on the peaks of the mountains.

Visit the Great Bear Rainforest

People say it is best to visit the Great Bear Rainforest between the months of August and October. Do you know why? It is because at this time there are thousands of salmon returning to the rivers from the ocean. For this reason, grizzly bears and Kermode bears are easier to see. It is always hard to spot a Kermode bear (Spirit Bear) and sometimes even the efforts of an expert tracker does not yield any results. The T’simshian people who live in the Great Bear Rainforest believe that the Kermode bear is a sacred animal. When something is sacred, it means that it is connected to God in some way and therefore no one should interfere with it.

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Learn About Trains

Trains take people to places cars and buses normally can’t reach in short a period of time. Some people prefer trains over planes even for visiting faraway places.

Trains are made up of several railway vehicles that move along railways. The vehicles help transport passengers from one place to other faraway places. A train railway is usually a set of typical train tracks. Other types of trains like monorails usually have a special type of pathway designed for its use. The train is usually powered by a separate locomotive vehicle. Some trains are powered by motors built inside a train car that pushes itself.

Today’s trains are usually powered by the use of diesel engines. Some train systems commonly use electricity powered systems that sit on the side of the tracks. Throughout history, trains have historically used steam power to operate in various countries around the world.

Types of Trains

Steam engines helped make trains more popular throughout the world. The widespread use of steam engines made far away travel much easier and less expensive than other travel methods. However, steam engines soon went out of style. Diesel engines eventually replaced steam engines in the 1930s. Diesel powered trains use diesel fuel and electricity to operate.

By the 1960s, diesel-powered trains were introduced to most of Europe. Today, many freight trains use diesel power to operate and pull large cargo. In the 1950s, another type of train came into use. The electricity-powered train was first invented in Europe. Electricity-powered trains could reach speeds as fast as 128 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour).

The History of Trains

Trains have a long history around the world. The earliest trains were only a set of carts joined together. This type of train worked along wooden tracks and was usually pulled by horses, mules, and in some cases, people.

In 1775, many places began experimenting with steam as a possible power source for trains. By the early part of the 1800s, steam engines were finally invented and put into trains. Steam engines made moving cargoes much easier. Trains with steam engines also ran much faster. In Great Britain, workers began to lay down railroad tracks in major cities. That helped spark the train craze in the country. People in Great Britain could now travel to different places, while businesses were able to transport products from place to place.

In 1860, the United States began building railroads throughout the vast country. Railroad businesses began booming during this highly active period. Railroads didn’t cross the entire country until a few wealthy individuals wanted to connect the Pacific and Atlantic coast with a long railroad. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific railway came up with a plan to connect both railways. They started laying tracks from Nebraska from the West and Northern California from the East, with a plan to meet in the middle. Thousands of migrant workers worked in all sorts of weather conditions over a period of six years. By May 1896, the first transcontinental railroad was completed!


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Newgrange, Ireland

Built more than 5,000 years ago, this tomb is considered to be pre-historic. That makes this construction older than Stonehenge in England, or the Pyramids in Egypt. Scientists call Newgrange a passage tomb, but only recently have they changed their minds as they have discovered that it is also a temple. Who built this place of worship and remembrance, and where did the people go?
Fun facts about Newgrange
Newgrange is shaped like a kidney bean, with the distance from one end to another being 85 meters. How high is the Newgrange tomb passage? The distance between the floor and roof of the tomb is 13.5 meters high. There are 97 large stones known as kerbstones that hold the roof of Newgrange. The circular roof of Newgrange is estimated to weigh 200,000 tons. That simply means the roof is as heavy as 100,000 large elephants! The entire structure covers over an acre of land. During the Winter Solstice, the sun lines up with the carved windows and openings and lights up the entire chambers within. More than 200,000 visitors visit this incredible tie to the past each year.
Newgrange as a Temple
Though scientists originally thought Newgrange was a type of tomb, much like the pyramids, they now believe that it was used as a temple for worship just the way present churches use cathedrals for worship. It was also used for special ceremonies and there is enough evidence to show that Newgrange was used for burying important people in the Boyne Valley in Ireland.
Decorations inside Newgrange
Stone 52 at the entrance of Newgrange is so well decorated that it is considered among the best art pieces in the whole of Europe. Art carvings are not just found at the entrance of Newgrange but also in the 19 meter-long passage that runs through the building. Newgrange tomb also has two sister tombs close by called Dowth and Knowth. Throughout the country of Ireland, and Europe, there are similar mounds. This is one of the most decorated and largest mounds, however.
What was Newgrange Used For?
It is said that Newgrange passage was used to mark calendar dates. Right above the entrance of Newgrange there is a roof box that lights the dark passages at a specific season of the year. Every year before, during, and after December 21st, (Winter Solstice) a beam of light enters through the roof box and lights the dark passage at dawn. Ancient people of Newgrange who were farmers used this signal to mark the start of a new year. Some few people do not agree that this is the purpose that the roof box served. They say that the purpose of the roof box was to assist the spirits of the dead to ascend to life after death. Regardless of the reason for the openings, in current times there are so many people who want to be there for the Winter Solstice that the park has had to go to a waiting list and a lottery system to make it fair.

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Let’s Explore the Antarctic Ocean

The Antarctic Ocean, which is also known as the Southern Ocean, surrounds the continent of Antarctica near the South Pole. It is the only ocean that completely surrounds a continent, but there are also many other things that make it special. Let’s explore some of the Antarctic Ocean’s special secrets.
The Antarctic Ocean’s Strange Formation and Naming
One thing that makes the Antarctic Ocean special is its age. It is the youngest of all the Earth’s oceans. Scientists say it is only about 30 million years old. It formed when South America split off from the continent of Antarctica. The strange thing about the Antarctic Ocean’s formation is that it is bordered by three of the Earth’s four other oceans. Parts of the Antarctic Ocean border the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean. Those oceans are all bordered on many sides by land, but the Antarctic Ocean is almost completely bordered by water. That’s why scientists had to decide where its boundaries actually are. The northern limit of its boundary is defined as 60 degrees South latitude.

Another interesting fact about the Antarctic Ocean is that it wasn’t even called an ocean until the year 2000. Part of the reason why it was officially called an ocean is that its water is very different from the water that feeds into the area from the oceans and waterways around it. But some scientists still don’t think of it as an ocean.

The Water in the Antarctic Ocean
The water in some parts of the antarctic ocean is colder than anywhere else on Earth. The salt in it makes the water freeze at a colder temperature than fresh water. But even though Antarctica’s water is very cold and often ice covered, it is also home to something called the Antarctic Convergence. The Antarctic Convergence is a spot where the freezing cold water in the Antarctic Ocean meets the very warm southern waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. If you went swimming at the Antarctic Convergence it would be like swimming through a water curtain where one side was nice and warm and the other side was too cold for you to stay alive.

The Antarctic is also home to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), which is an ongoing flow of water that circulates around the continent of Antarctica. It is the strongest current found anywhere on Earth, and it also moves the most water. Within the ACC, which is also called the West Wind Drift, the water is not very salty at all, even though the Arctic Ocean, like all other Oceans, contains saltwater.

The Creatures That Live in the Antarctic Ocean
Some people think that penguins live at the North Pole, but most penguins actually live near the South Pole. They make their homes on the ice, but they swim and fish in the Antarctic Ocean. They have special layers of feathers that help them to stay warm and dry off quickly. They eat squid and krill, which are like tiny shrimp.

Most fish can’t live in the Antarctic Ocean because it is so cold, but a few types have adapted to the cold water. Some of them include the mackerel icefish and the Antarctic toothfish. Toothfish are often hunted illegally by humans, but Australia, France, and other countries are trying to protect them.

Another creature that lives in the Antarctic Ocean is the squid. Squid are found in all of the world’s oceans, but they are among the few animals that can survive the cold temperatures in the Antarctic Ocean. Giant squid can grow to be over 30 feet long. They eat smaller types of squid, as well as fish. They are well known for having the biggest eyes in the animal kingdom, which can be as big as beach balls when they are full grown.

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Learning About Other Cultures

Learning About Other Cultures While Traveling

Do you have a trip or family vacation coming up? If you’ll be traveling to another country, you’ll have the perfect chance to learn all about the local culture. While it might be easy to find fast food places or other familiar restaurants in other countries, eating at these places won’t really teach you anything about the people who live in that area. Besides, you already know what to expect from these restaurants. Take the opportunity to try something new, and enjoy restaurants that serve local foods instead.


Check Out New Foods

One of the best things about eating at local restaurants in other countries is you get to try foods you’ve never had before. You might even see foods you’ve never heard of. This gives you a chance to explore different kinds of foods, ranging from vegetables to spices, and experience new flavors while you’re at it. You might also get to eat more familiar foods that are prepared in ways that are much different from what you’re used to. Eating local dishes also means you might get a chance to check out food combinations you would never have thought of, like pairing certain vegetables with noodles or sauce.


Enjoy Local Traditions

Dining in local restaurants when you’re traveling is about more than just sitting and eating. You also get to experience local customs and traditions that revolve around food. When you’re at one of these restaurants, look around at how the place is decorated and set up. Do people eat in smaller groups at different tables, or is everyone seated around one larger table? Does everyone have their own meal, or do they share one big dish?

The restaurant’s menu can also tell you a lot about the local culture. Before ordering your food, look through all of the menu options to get a better idea of the types of foods people in the area eats. How are these foods prepared? What kinds of foods are usually served together? What do people usually drink with their meal? Keep in mind that you can always ask your server or the restaurant owner more about local foods and customs.

As you travel, keep a notebook or journal handy, so you can keep track of the foods you’ve tried and the customs you’ve experienced in each area. When you get home, you can look up recipes for these foods and make them at home.

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Keep Our Oceans Clean

Over the years, human beings have polluted the world’s oceans and beaches quite a bit. We have also caused changes to the ocean food chains by fishing some species to extinction or endangerment. But we need our oceans, and it’s important that we work hard to keep them clean and make them healthy again. Here are some things you can do to help protect the ocean.


Remember Where the Water Goes

One of the biggest things you can do to keep the ocean clean is remember where the water goes, especially if your house is connected to a sewer system or near an ocean. Any water that runs down your drains can make its way to the ocean or to rivers that flow into the ocean, like the Mississippi River. That’s why you should never pour anything down your drains that is bad for the ocean, like cat litter or chemicals.

Conserve Water When You Can

Another way you can do your part to keep our oceans clean and protect the world’s watersupply is to conserve water. That means only use the water that you need. Try keeping your showers under a certain amount of time, brush your teeth without running the water the entire time, and tell your parents to get leaky pipes fixed fast. You can even get your whole family to start collecting rainwater to use for things like watering your garden.


Don’t Use Chemicals

Chemicals like the ones farmers use to fertilize their crops or the ones found in cleaning supplies you use around the house can easily get into the water runoff that eventually goes to the oceans. Any pollutants that get into the air can also be moved on the wind or with the rain until they get to oceans and beaches. So, talk to your family about natural ways to grow your gardens or clean your house. Try to get them to use fewer chemicals that can hurt the oceans.

Be Careful When You Visit the Ocean or Beach

You can also help to keep our oceans clean by being careful whenever you visit them. If you go outon boats always keep your trash on board. Throw it out only when you get back to land and find a trash bin. Also, try to remember that the wind can be strong out on the water. Keep hats, plastic bags, and other light things in places where the wind can’t blow them into the water.


If you are just spending time on the beach you can also help to keep the ocean clean by keeping the beach clean. Remember, any trash on the beach can be blown into the water by the wind or sucked into the water by the tide. Trash in or around the water can also be eaten by the animals or hurt them, which isn’t good for the ocean either.


If you are just visiting a beach then make sure that anything you bring there goes home with you or goes into trash bins. But if you live near the beach then you could help to keep the beach and ocean even cleaner by getting your friends and family together for a beach cleaning day. Together you can all clean up the trash and keep it from getting into the ocean. If everyone who lived near the beach did that then all of the world’s beaches and the oceans would be cleaner.


Learn and Teach About the Ocean

The very best way to keep our oceans clean for a long time is for you to learn all you can about the ocean and teach your friends and family members about how important clean oceans are. You don’t have to be a teacher, or even an adult, to help people learn how to protect the water. The more you learn about all of the important things the oceans do for the world, the easier it will be to find ways to protect them.

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Learn MORE About the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar has been an important piece of land for centuries. It’s first claim to fame was that it was where two huge, skyscraper-sized rocks stood, almost like giant pillars. These were called by the ancient people, the Pillars of Hercules. One of the pillars has long since washed away, but the other remained. It is after this pillar and the body of water around it (called Gibraltar) that the area is named. This area has been held by many different countries including, Arabia, Spain, France, and England.

Fun Facts about the Rock of Gibraltar

If you are lost and wandering in the Mediterranean Sea, you can see the Rock of Gibraltar even if you are several miles away from it. Why? It is because the Rock of Gibraltar is as high as 426 meters. It protrudes out of the Mediterranean Sea the way candles stand upon a birthday cake. The Rock of Gibraltar is made of limestone which is the material that companies use to make cement, so it is very strong.

The Rock of Gibraltar Preserves Past History

Bones and the remains of animals that lived more than 100 million years ago have been found preserved right there on the Rock of Gibraltar. Even though fossils were preserved in the Rock of Gibraltar, they are not in good shape because they have decayed so much that only scientists can study them and know what they really were millions of years ago. Also found in the area are some of the oldest manmade artwork the world has ever known. They are still discovering new artifacts each year.


The Caves of Gibraltar

Did you know that there are more than 100 caves that can be found under the Gibraltar rock alone? There is also a network of tunnels and underground passages that were dug by warlords during times of war in Gibraltar. These passages are known as galleries and are currently being used as archives for tourists who visit the rock. In fact, if you are in these passages or halls you might see the Spanish coast which is not too far off in the distance. It is in some of these caves where some of the most ancient discoveries have been made. Artwork, pottery, even bones have been found, which are very old and tell scientists what life was like for the people who used to live there.

Monkeys and the Rock of Gibraltar

There are many ideas as to how the monkeys first found their way to Gibraltar, but the most widely accepted idea is that the monkeys used one of the tunnels under the rock that leads 15 miles to Africa. Regardless of how the monkeys first arrived there, it is said that as long as the monkeys live on the Rock, it will always be under British rule. The monkeys have no tails and are a type of Barbary Ape. The park maintains their populations and makes sure that they are given their immunizations and are kept healthy.

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Learn MORE About the Roman Coliseum

The Coliseum was what ancient Romans called a skyscraper because there was no other structure as big as a coliseum back then. That does not mean there were no other amphitheaters in ancient Rome. In fact, there were more than 250 amphitheatres but none was as big as the Colosseum. It is located in Piazza del Colosseo on the eastside of the Roman Forum. While it is a beautiful place to visit, this beauty came at a price, and there is much tragedy that surrounds this structure.

Fun Facts about the Roman Colosseum
The Emperor Vespasian started construction on the Roman Coliseum after a victory in battle. The money to build the Colosseum came from selling the treasure that the soldiers had taken from the defeated foes in Jerusalem. Vesparian came up with the idea and started to build in AD 72. To be more specific, the construction began more than 1900 years ago. However, Vespasian did not complete the construction and his son, named Titus, took over the building project and completed it in AD 80. After the completion of the amphitheater, it was 188 meters long and 156 meters wide, which is as high as a 12 -story building. That means that it so large that it could hold more than 50,000 visitors. It was so huge that it was held upright by 240 masts.

Gladiators, Swords, and Lions, Oh My!

When Vespasian constructed the Coliseum, he had in mind that he wanted to stage dangerous sports which would entertain the people in the city. So he made the Coliseum a ground for gladiators to fight and kill each other using weapons such as swords and daggers. Sometimes, the fight was between humans and dangerous animals like lions. If the ground became too stained, crews would simply pour more sand over the soiled areas and the fighting would continue.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Entertainment at the Colosseum was free for spectators and those who were invited. This is because all of the free food and drinks were paid for by the wealthy politicians in the city in order to remain popular with those who had voted for them. Sometimes the games would run for 100 days straight, with different people coming each day. That means that the city of Rome was very large with a lot of people. Though the ruins of the Colosseum are beautiful if you visit you should also not forget that many lives were lost within its walls.

Secret Passages and Special Effects

The Colosseum was cleverly constructed with secret passageways underneath the main staging area. This was where the gladiators waited for their time to go into the ring, and it was also where the animals were kept. In later years there were 36 trap doors added, and a water pump so that the fighting area could be flooded with water to make a water fight for the people to watch. Today, there are no shows going on, but tourists in the thousands flock to see this historic area in Rome, Italy. The Colosseum is considered one of the new 7 Wonders of the World.

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Protecting the Planet Through Composting

Think about how much food you and your family throw out every day. It might not seem like a big amount, but it adds up over time. All those food scraps you throw out end up in landfills, where they pollute the environment.

If you want to cut down on this waste and do a bit of natural recycling, consider composting. When you set up a compost pile, you add food scraps and other materials to it that will break down over time. These materials then become nutrients that keep soil healthy. Composting also keeps these materials out of landfills, which helps protect the environment.

So, how do you get started? Here’s some helpful information on setting up a compost pile in your own yard. Keep in mind that you can also compost indoors in a special bin if you don’t have space outside.

Choose Your Spot

Choose an area in your yard that’s shady, dry and close to a hose or other water source.

Make a Container

Ask your parents to help you set up a compost container with bricks, chicken wire or another material. Make a square-shaped container that’s around four feet high and four feet wide.

Gather Your Compost Materials

Compost materials come in two groups: brown and green. Brown items include branches, pine needles, twigs, and leaves, while green items include leftover fruits and vegetables, grass clippings and coffee grounds. It’s also ok to compost some other materials, like eggshells, paper, cotton rags and even hair.

What shouldn’t you include? Don’t add anything that makes your yard smell bad, which could attract rodents, flies and other pests. This includes dairy products, meat, fish, grease, and fats. You also shouldn’t add pet waste, since it can have parasites or harmful germs. Keep diseased plants out of your compost, too, since they can infect healthy plants.

Begin Building Your Compost

Start with a layer of brown materials, then add a layer of green materials. Add a little bit of soil, then keep putting in layers of brown and green until you run out of materials. Water each of the layers after putting them in, and mix them around a bit.

Stir Your Compost

Stirring your compost pile every other day and giving it some water to keep it damp will help it break down faster. It should take about six weeks for the bottom layers to become dark, which means it’s done.

When your compost is ready, you and your family can use it in your garden to keep the soil in good shape and prevent weeds from growing.

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What is Valentine’s Day Anyway???






Valentine’s Day is a day in February when people give each other nice gifts to show their love for someone. This can be a mom or a dad, a brother or sister, or for grown-ups, it can be a gift that they give to their partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, wife or husband. Did you know that over one billion Valentine’s Day cards are given and received each year? But how did it start and where did this flower, card and candy-crazy holiday come from? The answer might surprise you.

The holiday is named after a holy man, named Saint Valentine, who lived in England many centuries ago when the Romans ruled the land. The Emperor decided that he needed more soldiers and that single men made better fighters. He outlawed marriage for men under a certain age. St. Valentine did not listen to this order and secretly married young couples. The Emperor found out and St. Valentine was sentenced to death. It was reported that he sent a letter to someone from his jail cell before his death. He signed it, “From your Valentine.” To this day the notion of honoring someone you care about by giving them a Valentine card comes from this first action.

Today, Valentine’s Day is officially celebrated in Canada, England, the U.S., Mexico, Australia, and France. In America, a woman named Esther Howland was the first to make Valentine’s Day cards to sell and she is considered the mother of the Valentine’s Day card. Her cards were all handmade with lace and knitted decorations. Making a Valentine’s Day card for someone is a great way to let them know that you care!

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Learn About Airplanes






Ever wanted to fly? Boarding an airplane is an easy way to fly today. It wasn’t an easy journey to get there. For years, flying seemed too hard. That didn’t stop people from trying out many ways to fly. After going through trial and error, humans finally flew the early airplanes. Today, we still enjoy many ways to fly high in the sky, going to many amazing places on airplanes with our families.

How Airplanes Came to Be

The history of airplanes started earlier than you think!

In 400 A.D., the Chinese first experimented with flight by inventing the kite. The invention of the kite made many Chinese scientists look into how kites and wind currents worked together. By 1485, Leonardo Da Vinci, the artist, famously drew many pictures of flying machines. Although people began experimenting with building an airplane that worked, the first successful motor-powered aircraft flew in 1903. The Wright brothers famously invented the first aircraft that ran on motor power.

Orville Wright rode in the first aircraft after it came to life. He flew as far as 120 feet (36 meters) in about 12 seconds. The Wright brothers’ achievement showed that true flight in an aircraft was now possible in the western world.

How Airplanes Work

An airplane can defy gravity!

Gravity is an invisible force that holds down everything on Earth. Gravity also affects everything on and around the planet. Getting an airplane into the air involves defying this very strong force. The length and shape of airplane wings make this happen.

Airplane wings help make the device lift in the air. The airplane body is thin and long, which helps the airplane defy gravity. The engine helps give the airplane enough power to thrust forward and travel through the air. When each part of the airplane works together, the entire airplane can move past the drag caused by air currents and the heavy pull of gravity to fly freely.

Types of Airplanes

From gliders to fighter jets, airplanes come in many different forms. It’s because the design of airplanes changed over time!

The glider used to be motorless. It worked by being pushed forward by a sharp gust of air when a rider jumped off a high place. Gliders today have a small motor engine that helps them stay off the ground and boost their flying time.

Passenger airplanes are what people first think about when they imagine airplanes. These large aircraft hold dozens of people at a time. They travel all over the world during every hour of the day.

Helicopters are also common types of planes. They are known for their large propeller blades that sit on top of the body. The blades create motion and help lift the aircraft when they work. A helicopter is usually built to carry a few people at a time.

Like helicopters, fighter jets and planes are also designed for a few passengers. They are used in special industries like the military. They are known for their incredible speeds. Many jets can reach speeds as fast as 2,574 kilometers (1,600 miles per hour)!


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How the Ocean Connects Us All

How the Ocean Connects Us All







If you don’t live near an ocean then you may not know how connected to oceans you really are. But we are all connected to oceans in many different ways. That’s why it’s so important for us to keep our oceans healthy. If our oceans are not healthy then we won’t be healthy either. In fact, many of the plants and animals on Earth might die. Here are just a few of the many ways the world’s oceans connect us all.

Oceans Are Our Main Sources of Water and Air

Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the surface of the Earth, and many parts of the world’s oceans are very deep. That’s a lot of water, which we all need in order to stay alive. That goes for both human beings and animals.

Oceans are also the biggest sources of air. The world’s oceans produce so much oxygen that more than half of the air we breathe wouldn’t exist without them. They keep us alive just by existing. They also help us to keep a balance with nature. When we breathe out we make carbon dioxide, which plants need in order to live. So, oceans really help all plants, animals, and humans on the planet to stay alive.

Oceans Are Huge Filters and Environment Regulators

Oceans naturally absorb heat from the sun and hold onto it. Then the natural water currents in the oceans circulate all of the world’s water and regulate the water and air temperatures around the world. If there were no oceans then the sun’s natural heat would escape back into the atmosphere, and many creatures on Earth would die.

Oceans Give Us a Lot of Our Food

No matter where you live in the world, you have probably eaten something that comes from the sea. Fish, crabs, lobsters, and many other creatures people eat as food live in the ocean’s waters. When the ocean is unhealthy in a certain area, the seafood becomes contaminated or the numbers of fish and sea creatures available drop. That leads to seafood shortages or people being too scared of getting sick to eat certain types of seafood. That’s one of many reasons why we have to keep our oceans cleaner.

Oceans Provide Opportunities for Work and Trade

In the days before airplanes, boat travel across the oceans was the only way for countries to explore or sell and trade goods with other countries. Even though planes allow fast transport of some materials today, the boating industry is still essential for transporting a lot of cargo from one country to another. Oceans also provide many opportunities for fishing and boat-related work that help to support local economies in countries around the world.

Oceans Provide Opportunities for Travel and Play

It’s not just goods that are transported across the oceans. People also use the oceans for travel and play. Imagine what the world would be like if nobody could swim, surf, or scuba dive because the oceans were too polluted. What if some of the ocean dried up and there weren’t fast sea travel routes between some ports anymore? Those are real problems that could happen if we don’t care for our oceans.

How to Use Your Ocean Connection

Now that you know some of the way the oceans connect us all, you can use your ocean connection to help protect the world’s oceans. Tell your friends and family to be more careful and not pollute the air or the water, even if you aren’t close to the ocean. Anything you can do to keep your part of the world healthier will help the ocean because everything is connected.

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Caring About Climate Change

Caring About Climate Change





If the weather in your area seems unusual or extreme at times, you can blame it on climate change. While our planet’s climate goes through natural changes over long periods of time, people are making things worse by burning fossil fuels. These changes are making the Earth warmer overall, which is causing quite a few problems. Climate change is an issue that affects everyone on the planet, so doing your part to help stop it is important.

How Are People Causing Climate Change?

People burn oil, gas and other fossil fuels for many reasons, such as producing electricity, driving cars around and heating homes. When we do this, the fossil fuels we use give off gases that trap heat in our atmosphere. This makes Earth’s temperatures warmer, which leads to climate change.

What Kinds of Changes Happen?

Higher temperatures overall doesn’t mean that every place on the planet becomes hotter. Instead, we experience a wide range of changes, including:

  • Colder winters in some areas
  • More droughts
  • More tornadoes
  • Stronger hurricanes and other storms

The rising temperatures are also causing glaciers to melt and sea ice to shrink, making it hard for animals who live in the Arctic region to find food and shelter. The oceans’ temperatures are becoming warmer, too, which affects many marine creatures. Sea levels are rising as well, leading to higher risks of flooding in areas that are close to shorelines.

How Can We Stop Climate Change?

There are many steps you can take to help stop climate change, including:

  • Using less energy: Shut lights off, replace regular lights with CFL bulbs and turn electronics off when they’re not in use.
  • Using less water: Keep your showers short, and don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth or do the dishes.
  • Recycling: Recycle as much as possible to reduce the amount of waste that ends up going to landfills.
  • Planting trees: Trees are our environmental allies. They absorb carbon dioxide, one of the gases given off by fossil fuels, which helps slow climate change.
  • Eating locally grown food: Food that’s grown in or near your area doesn’t have to go far to get to your home, which lowers a number of gases given off by the trucks that transport it.

While these steps might seem small or easy, they add up to big changes when more and more people start doing them. Talk to your family and friends about how they can join you in stopping climate change and making the planet healthier for all of us.

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Keeping Our Oceans Safe

Saving Our Oceans






You might have heard that a large amount of our planet is covered in water. In fact, 71 percent of it is! Most of that water is found in the earth’s oceans. The bad news is that our oceans are in trouble for a few reasons. The good news is that you can do something about it.

What’s Hurting Our Oceans?

Litter from land sometimes ends up in the water, and some people toss garbage right into the water. Litter can hurt the animals that live in the ocean. Some animals eat these items and become sick, while others become trapped in rope or rings from plastic bottles.

Coral reefs are also in danger. These colorful reefs play an important role in the ocean’s environment. When they become damaged, many other marine creatures are affected as well. The main threats to coral reefs come from harmful substances that are washed into the ocean, such as pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals and sewage pollution.

Some areas of our oceans have very little oxygen or none at all. These are called dead zones, and no marine plants or animals can live in them. These areas are growing larger, which means that more and more marine creatures are being forced to find other places to live. Dead zones develop when fertilizer applied to crops makes its way into rivers, then oceans.

What Can We Do to Help?

There are several ways that you can help protect our oceans and all of the wonderful creatures that live in them. These include:

  • Eating seafood that is sustainably caught. That means eating fish that comes from areas where there are plenty of them around and where safe fishing methods that don’t hurt other marine animals are used.
  • Choose paper instead of plastic. By using less plastic, you’ll be helping to reduce the amount of litter that ends up in the ocean. If you do use plastic, recycle it.
  • Buy organic foods. Farmers don’t use harmful chemicals or fertilizers on organic foods, so you’ll be doing your part to protect coral reefs and stop dead zones from spreading.
  • Switch to organic sunscreen. Chemicals from regular sunscreen products wash into the water and hurt coral reefs.
  • Support marine sanctuaries and protected areas. These provide safe places for marine animals and plants to live. Learn more about these areas, and look for ways that you can help support them.

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Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar- Istanbul, Turkey

How old is your local mall? Chances are it can’t come close to the age of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Bazaar is a word that means ‘market’, and the Grand Bazaar earns its name. This market is over 550 years old! It is so big that it has five mosques (a Muslim place of worship), a school, seven fountains, and forty hotels. Get your shoes on, because you will do some walking at this Istanbul landmark.
Fun Facts About the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar, also called the Kapali Cars, has almost 60 streets running through it. The combined area covered by all of the different retail stores in the Grand Bazaar is about 31,000 square meters. How many stores? Try 4000! That’s a lot of shopping!! More than 300,000 people visit this area of Istanbul each day. This miniature city within a city has also had a mysterious function, acting as a rendezvous point for spies from all sorts of countries who could meet at the Bazaar, and if necessary, could get away by using the maze-like streets to make their escape.
Exactly How Old is the Grand Bazaar?
The Bazaar was specifically opened in 1461and has never stopped selling its wares since then. However, the Bazaar did have its fair share of tragedies. In 1894, an earthquake occurred in Turkey and destroyed a good part of the market structures. There have also been fires that have ravaged buildings in 1515 and 1548. Finally, the city officials passed a rule banning fires in the marketplaces, and this stopped the widespread devastation caused by fires getting out of control each year. The good news is that the destroyed parts have been restored over the years and currently the market is in better shape than ever.
It’s A-Maze-ing!
If you go to the Grand Bazaar you’d better enjoy mazes. There are so many streets which look the same that you may take hours to find your way out if you are lost. This happens mostly to first-time visitors. Most don’t mind being lost, though, because there is just so much to see along the way. But, if you should ever visit, just remember that the streets are named according to the items sold there and there are two main streets as well as four entry gates to the Bazaar. This was originally done so that shoppers could find what they were looking for all in one section. Early visitors to the Bazaar were amazed that there were no advertisements or signs up over the shops to say what was inside.
Get a Good Deal at the Grand Bazaar
While walking through the Bazaar, it is common to hear people bargaining to get better prices. Should you visit the market, take time and bargain your way through anything. There is nothing to be embarrassed about bargaining because the seller wants you to do it anyway. Your little money goes a long way at the end of the day. What can you buy at the Bazaar? You can get anything from clothes, school bags, or belly-dancing costumes!

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Learn About Big Ben In England

Ask anyone who has walked the streets of London and most likely they heard the “ding-dong” chimes of the Great Bell nicked named Big Ben. That is if they happened to have crossed anywhere in the area of Westminster, London. Big Ben lives on the 320-foot (97.53M) Clock Tower, renamed recently as The Elizabeth Tower and is more than 150 years old. If you thought Big Ben was a person you thought wrong. It is a four-faced chiming clock and a bell placed at Westminster Palace and has been recognized as a beloved landmark in England for years. He’s been around for so long, it makes you wonder what he would say if he could talk!

Fun Facts about Big Ben

Big Ben was created at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry on the 10th April 1858 and took two weeks to cool down once it was poured into the mold. It was transported to Westminster on a horse drawn carriage and a mammoth crowd lined the streets to cheer as Big Ben passed by. Ben’s bell weighs a massive 13.8 tons, as heavy as two large elephants. The Bell is 2.2 meters (7 feet 2 inches) high and also has a diameter of 2.7 meters (8 feet 10 inches). The Big Ben clock is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. 31st May 1859 was when Big Ben started ticking and its four faces stand 55 meters above the ground. Each face of the clock is 7 meters (23 feet), the hour hand 2.7 meters (9 feet), and the minute hand 4.3 meters (14 feet) long.

The Immortal Big Ben

Yes, Big Ben seems to be immortal (living forever). He has had a couple of injuries, though. Just after his birth, Big Ben cracked during testing and had to be made all over again. The Bell has lived over 150 years and is still chiming in the streets of Westminster. Big Ben has three birthdays; that’s on 10th April 1858, 31st May 1859, and finally 11th July 1859 when it first chimed. None of the wars which have raged in Europe have ever destroyed him.

Musically Speaking, Ben is a Genius

The Big Ben Bell chimes the musical note of A, and the quarter bells at the tower chime G sharp, F sharp, B, and E. The sequence of pitches produced by Big Ben when chiming is named the Cambridge Chimes. The chimes are also programmed to sound like they are actual words from Psalm 37. Anyone who stands in the belfry as Big Ben chimes will experience musical vibrations running from their head, through their bodies, into their toes.

Big Ben is Celebrated all over the World

Big Ben is the pride of Londoners and has been honored for hundreds of years. Did you know that New Year’s celebrations in the United Kingdom are conducted at Big Ben’s he Elizabeth Tower? TV and Radio stations in London tune to the chimes of Big Ben during the New Year and audiences far into the country listen to the Musical Ben. England voted Big Ben the number one British landmark during a 2008 survey. Is there anyone who wants to try something magical? Well, stand with a portable radio at the bottom of Big Ben’s tower and try to hear the chimes from either the radio or the tower. The chimes will be heard on the radio first even before the ones from the tower are heard! Big Ben’s sound is as fast as light!

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What You Didn’t Know About The Eiffel Tower

Located in the heart of Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous monuments in history. But why was it built? Do you know how high it is? What does it weigh? Learn the answers to these questions, and more below. Begin your adventure with the Eiffel Tower NOW!

Fun Facts About the Eiffel Tower

Did you know that almost 7 million people visit the Eiffel Tower each year? That’s a lot of people. So, what makes the Eiffel Tower such an amazing place to visit? The tower was first built because there was a World’s Fair that was coming to Paris. It took more than two years to build. At first, most people who saw it didn’t like it because it was so different from all other buildings in the country. In fact, after the fair they almost tore it down! Today, people think differently and it is one of the world’s most amazing structures ever to be built. It takes over 500 people to keep it working and running properly.

The Eiffel Tower is 324 meters tall (that’s 1063 feet), and it weighs 10 tons. That’s as much as 5 cars stacked up, or two elephants. There are elevators in the tower to take you to the top for an amazing view of the city of Paris, but if you are adventurous, you can climb the 1,665 steps to the top. You WILL be out of breath.

The Amazing Shrinking Eiffel Tower

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower doesn’t stay the same size the year ‘round? When the weather gets cold in Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower, made of nearly 7000 tons of iron, can shrink almost six inches! The tower is a beautiful sight to see in the daytime, but at night nearly 20,000 light bulbs make the structure light up the night sky so much that it can be seen from space.

Painting the Eiffel Tower

With so much surface, guess how much paint is needed to paint the Eiffel Tower every seven years. 60 tons of paint are needed to keep the structure from rusting. That’s enough paint to fill almost two swimming pools that are four feet deep. Most don’t know this, but the Eiffel Tower is actually painted in three different shades of paint. The paint is lighter at the top, medium color in the middle, and the darkest at its base. This is to make it easier to see against the sky in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower Talks

If the Eiffel Tower could talk, the ‘Iron Lady’ would tell you about all of the history that she’s seen. It wasn’t all fun and games, either. In World War I she operated as a radiograph tower overhearing enemy radio messages. After serving an important role in many wars, the Eiffel Tower had a hand in the discovery of cosmic rays as scientist, Theodor Wulf experimented from the top of the tower. Later, the Eiffel Tower became a movie star when she was featured in the film, Slumbering Paris in 1923. Today, the Eiffel Tower has been featured in millions of movies, television shows, paintings, photographs, and sketches. Last, but not least, thousands have proposed marriage to someone at the top of this famous landmark in the city of lights.

Learn more about the Eiffel Tower and other important monuments around the world with the Spartan And The Green Egg Explorer Sticker Starter Kit!

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Learn MORE about the Statue of Liberty


Located on Liberty Island in New York, this American Statue has stood for liberty and freedom for the United States for many years. Millions of tourists come to visit the statue and to go to the top to view New York City. For many people who first come to the United States to live the Statue of Liberty stands as a symbol of welcome. But there’s much more to know about this lady made of steel.

Fun Facts About the Statue of Liberty

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty (called Lady Liberty) has an actual birthday? She does! October 28, 1886 was when she was built. She weighs 450,000 pounds (204, 100kg) and has 354 stairs which people can climb in order to have a bird’s eye view of New York Harbor, or New York City in the distance. Your parents can take the elevator to the top, too. If you climb to the top, you will be 151 feet (46m) up in the air. Once you are up there, you’ll have 25 windows to look out of.

Lady Liberty Has Big Feet!

The Statue of Liberty has big feet! She wears a size 879 sandal, and each foot is about 25 feet long. Most people think that this Lady standing on an island in the water is painted green, but she isn’t painted at all. Lady Liberty is made out of copper, a type of metal that turns green over time.

What’s With Lady Liberty’s Clothes?

The Statue of Liberty was created by an artist by the name of Auguste Bartholdi, who was from France. The statue was a gift to the United States from France in honor of the Declaration of Independence. Auguste created Lady Liberty from a picture he saw of a Roman goddess of liberty called, Libertas. Her crown has seven spikes on it to represent all of the continents of the world. She holds a torch over her head and a tablet in her other arm. The torch stands for being the light unto the world, and offering freedom and safety to everyone who decides to live in America. Last, but not least, there is a broken chain under her foot, which reminds people that they are to live freely.

Lady Liberty Was NOT Easy to Build

Auguste had many men who worked with him to build the Statue of Liberty. They worked seven days a week, for more than ten hours a day, for almost nine years in order to complete the work. Then, Lady Liberty was so big that they realized they couldn’t ship her unless they took her apart again. She was fit into dozens of crates and then put back together again when she came to the United States. If you want to go and see her, you have to take a ferry, a type of boat, to get to the island.

Learn more about important and FUN monuments and landmarks around the world with the Spartan And The Green Egg Explorer Sticker Set! Very special offer available, so CLICK HERE to see this incredible sticker kit!

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What In The World Is The Taj Mahal?


Ever wonder what the Taj Mahal is, or why it’s so important to India? Well, there’s a deeper, more powerful story behind it than you may realize, especially if you’re around Spartan’s age! So let’s look at how we can travel there together through this amazing story of love…

So let’s look at how we can travel there together through this amazing story of love…

The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, in India, and is considered worldwide to be one of the seven wonders of the world. Made of white marble, this large castle-like structure on the Yamuna river. For all its beauty, however, it was built out of sorrow and grief by the Shaah Jahan after the death of his wife. Find out why this grand building is called the ‘crown of palaces’.

Fun Facts about the Taj Mahal
The all white structure took more than 20 years to finish and is said to change colors throughout the day, depending on how the light strikes it. More than 20,000 people helped to build it in 1632 and included over 1,000 elephants. The center dome is very high, nearly 240 feet (73 m), and has four smaller domes that surround it. The building is called a mausoleum, which is a building that is dedicated to the dead and often houses the remains of those who have died.

Walls Worth A Million
So beloved was the Shah’s wife that he took precious gemstones and had them built into the walls around the building. The builders of the Taj Mahal thought about the future of the structure and built the smaller domes that surround the larger one so that in the event of an earthquake that they would fall away from the main dome, thus protecting it from damage.

The Taj Mahal’s Reflecting Pool and Secret Garden
The Taj Mahal is more than just a building. There are vast acres of gardens and pools surrounding it. One of these pools is called the reflecting pool, which is very shallow and reflects the image of the Taj Mahal. The Shah’s wife, Mumtaz Maha, is not actually buried in the structure at all, but was buried in the lush gardens, which he was sure she would have loved. This building was built so that all of those who would visit over the centuries would be reminded of his love for his wife.

The Building that Love Built
Shah Jahan first met Mumtaz when they were only 14 and 15 years old. Because they were so young they were made to wait five years before they were allowed to be married. Once they were married they had many children. Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to their 14th child and Shah Jahan was so sad that he ordered his court to be sad with him for two more years. Twelve years after the building was completed, Shah Jahan died, too. He was buried next to his wife. Now, everyone who visits can see the beauty of the buildings, walk through the lovely gardens and see the building that was built with love.

Want to learn more about other places in the world with powerful stories? Check out the Spartan And The Gren Egg Explorer Pin Set to find more places you can travel to!

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Caring About Climate Change


If the weather in your area seems unusual or extreme at times, you can blame it on climate change. While our planet’s climate goes through natural changes over long periods of time, people are making things worse by burning fossil fuels. These changes are making the Earth warmer overall, which is causing quite a few problems. Climate change is an issue that affects everyone on the planet, so doing your part to help stop it is important.
How Are People Causing Climate Change?

People burn oil, gas and other fossil fuels for many reasons, such as producing electricity, driving cars around and heating homes. When we do this, the fossil fuels we use to give off gases that trap heat in our atmosphere. This makes Earth’s temperatures warmer, which leads to climate change.
What Kinds of Changes Happen?

The higher temperatures overall don’t mean that every place on the planet becomes hotter. Instead, we experience a wide range of changes, including:
• Colder winters in some areas
• More droughts
• More tornadoes
• Stronger hurricanes and other storms

The rising temperatures are also causing glaciers to melt and sea ice to shrink, making it hard for animals who live in the Arctic region to find food and shelter. The oceans’ temperatures are becoming warmer, too, which affects many marine creatures. Sea levels are rising as well, leading to higher risks of flooding in areas that are close to shorelines.

How Can We Stop Climate Change?

There are many steps you can take to help stop climate change, including:
• Using less energy: Shut lights off, replace regular lights with CFL bulbs and turn electronics off when they’re not in use.
• Using less water: Keep your showers short, and don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth or do the dishes.
• Recycling: Recycle as much as possible to reduce the amount of waste that ends up going to landfills.
• Planting trees: Trees are our environmental allies. They absorb carbon dioxide, one of the gases given off by fossil fuels, which helps slow climate change.
• Eating locally grown food: Food that’s grown in or near your area doesn’t have to go far to get to your home, which lowers a number of gases given off by the trucks that transport it.

While these steps might seem small or perhaps too easy, they add up to big changes when more and more people start doing them. Talk to your family and friends about how they can join you in stopping climate change and making the planet healthier for all of us.

Want to learn more about how to contribute now? Visit our gift page and see how you can invest in educational gifts about the environment while giving back!

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SGE At Hudson Valley Comic Con, May 7th and 8th!


JOIN US THIS WEEKEND, Sat and Sun, May 7th and 8th, 2016, for the Hudson Valley Comic Con! We will be there, with the whole series (and the characters) and we can’t wait to meet you in person!

We are having a special t-shirt giveaway, as well as many other special gifts and prizes for those who visit us at booth 125!!!

Purchase your tickets and learn more about the event HERE!




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Easy receipe your children can get

Mother and child in summer cafe

While making sure your children are getting a great education as they grow up is crucial, learning the basics of math, reading, and science- it is also important to make sure your children are also getting a chance to use their imagination! As a child gets a chance to be creative and use their imagination, they are growing their brain in powerful ways that will help them in all aspects of their life. Here are 3 at home projects that will get your child in touch with their imagination.
The first project involves getting in touch with nature- and who doesn’t love that? Each season during the year presents nature in a very different way. At some point during each season, take your children outside and let them pick out things that they think represent the season the best (for example, a wildflower for summer, or a pinecone for fall). Let them pick what they want and have them explain to you why they chose it. Take all the items home and have your kids display them somehow. They may choose to press any flowers they pick, or make a display of pinecones they found. This gets your kids outside, in touch with nature, and having something to look forward to all year long!
This next project is great for a rainy or cold day when you are stuck inside- making homemade snowflakes! This is a great at home project that you probably did growing up, but is one that never gets old! What is so great about this project is that it allows your child to use their imagination to create any snowflake they want. After creating as many as you like, use any other craft supplies (like crayons, markers, or glitter) to decorate the snowflakes. Display them around your house afterwards and you have great holiday decorations for years to come! Click here for a great tutorial on how to make paper snowflakes in case you have forgotten.
This final project involves every child’s favorite thing- playdough! Take this favorite play item to the next level by using it in a learning environment. For this, ask your child what their favorite subject is in school. From there, have them select one or two of their favorite concepts, and then bring them to life! Using the playdough, have your children try to create representations of their selected items (for example, if they love outer space, have them create their own playdough solar system!) This activity will allow your kids to get creative with an art project, while also incorporating elements of knowledge they have learned in school.
If you are looking for a great at home activity that is pre-made, try out the Spartan and the Green Egg Egg Puzzle!

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5 Ways to Help Animals

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A big part of protecting our planet is making sure that it’s a good home for the animals we share it with. Animals both near and far need your help with this. From endangered species around the world to local wildlife in your neighborhood, there’s a lot you can do to help protect them.

Walk on the Wild Side

Wildlife refuges and reserves give animals a safe and protected place to live. They also give you the chance to see and appreciate these animals. Ask your parents to take you to a wildlife refuge or reserve that’s near you. You might even be able to go on a guided tour to learn more about the species that live there. National and local parks are another great place to see wildlife.

Be a Recycling Superstar

Make sure you and your family recycle paper products instead of throwing them in the garbage. When you recycle paper, it means that fewer trees need to be cut down to make more paper products. That means you’re protecting the homes of birds, squirrels and other animals that live in trees.

Zip Over to the Zoo

Many zoos are working on protecting endangered species from all different parts of the world. They do this by taking steps to stop these species from going extinct. They also help people become more aware of which species are endangered and why they’re endangered. When you visit a zoo near you, read the information about the animals posted near each exhibit. You can also ask a zookeeper about how the zoo is helping endangered species. You can then help raise awareness of these species by telling your friends, relatives and teachers about what you’ve learned.

Put It in Writing

Do you have a favorite animal species that is endangered? If you’re interested in helping them out, learn all you can about them by reading books and finding information online. Once you know what threats they’re facing, you can write to lawmakers about your concerns. Ask your parents to help you find out which senators or representatives to send your letter to. These lawmakers can help create laws that protect endangered species and the habitats they live in.

Get Involved by Volunteering

If you want to do even more to help local wildlife or endangered species, look for ways to volunteer. Some national parks and refuges have programs that let kids help keep these areas clean and safe for the animals that live there. Many zoos and wildlife organizations that work on helping endangered species have different ways for kids to help out.

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5 Ways to Fight Air Pollution

Air Pollution
The air around you probably isn’t something you think about a lot, but it can affect your health and the health of our environment. When people burn gas and other fossil fuels to heat their homes, drive their cars or use electricity, the air becomes polluted with harmful gases and particles. Air pollution is an ongoing problem that is damaging our environment. It can also make people cough, have watery eyes or develop other health issues. Thankfully, you can help fight air pollution in several ways.

Walk or Ride a Bike

Instead of having your parents drive you places, walk or ride a bike if possible. This cuts down on the amount of carbon dioxide your parents’ car gives off, which helps reduce air pollution. Encourage your family members to walk or ride bikes instead of driving cars whenever possible. Taking public transportation is another option.

Plant Trees

Trees play a big role in fighting air pollution. Their leaves and bark absorb pollutants, which helps clean the air. Talk to your parents about planting a few trees on your property to cut down on air pollution in your area. Your parents can suggest which trees to plant and where they should go. Having trees around can also help lower your family’s energy use. Trees help prevent the sun’s rays from making your home hotter in summer. In winter, trees can help your home stay warmer by blocking cold winds.

Lower Your Energy Use

Your local electric company burns fossil fuels in order to produce electricity, which results in more air pollution. You can lower the amount of energy needed in your home by reducing how much you use. Don’t leave lights on when you leave a room, and turn off electronics when you’re done with them. Talk to your parents about changing to CFL bulbs, which use less energy than other bulbs.


When you recycle plastic, paper and other materials, they’re used to make other items. This process requires less energy than the amount needed to make brand new items, which leads to less air pollution. Another way to help is by purchasing goods made from recycled materials rather than new materials.

Share What You’ve Learned

Talk to your friends and family members about the dangers of air pollution, and let them know how they can help fight this problem. You can also share what you’ve learned with your teacher and fellow students, so they can do something about air pollution, too.

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

Easy Recipes Your Children Can Get Involved With

Mother and child in summer cafe

As your children are growing up, one of the best things you can do to help increase their abilities is to get them involved in various activities that promote learning new skills. One such skill that will be necessary for them all their life is cooking! While at a young age your child won’t be on their own in the kitchen preparing a 5 star meal, they can start to help you with basic meals that will help teach them basic cooking skills. Next time you’re in the kitchen, try one of these simple recipes and ask for your child to help out!

First off, a simple breakfast dish you can enlist your child’s help with is one everyone will love- pancakes! While you will want to be in charge of handling the cooking process of the pancakes, a great job for your child to take over is the mixing of the ingredients. Pick your favorite pancake recipe and have them help with gathering the ingredients and measuring what you need of each. This will help introduce them to not only cooking, but also figuring out measurements!

For a fun lunch or dinner idea- try making hamburger sliders! With these, kids can help again with measuring out ingredients for the hamburgers, but they can also help form the hamburgers into the right shapes- something your kids will definitely love! For a healthy version of this dish, try this recipe for mini turkey burgers.

Finally, for the sweet tooth in all of us, try making homemade pudding with your children! The majority of the process involves mixing ingredients together, which again is something simple that your kids can help you with. Here’s a great easy recipe for chocolate pudding that is guaranteed to be a hit in any household.

As always- don’t forget to also increase your child’s reading abilities- introduce them to the Spartan and the Green Egg series today! Click here to view available books in the series.

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

4 Easy Ways to Start Saving Energy

Saving Energy

4 Easy Ways to Start Saving Energy

Your home uses a lot of electrical energy throughout the day. In addition to powering up lights, electronic items and appliances, your home also needs electricity for hot water. Your home’s furnace and air conditioner use electrical energy to make sure you and your family stay warm in winter and cool in summer, too.

All of this energy use comes at a price, though. The more energy people use, the more damage is done to the environment. While you can’t avoid using electricity, you and your family can do things that will lower the amount you use.

Turn the Heat Down

Ask your parents to lower the thermostat, so your furnace won’t have to work as much to keep your home warm. Don’t worry about being too cold. Even just turning the thermostat down by a few degrees will lower the amount of energy your home uses and save your family money on heating bills. Do the opposite in summer if you have central air conditioning. Turning the thermostat up a few degrees means the air conditioner won’t run as much, which helps save energy.

Don’t Leave Lights and Electronics On

Get into the habit of shutting lights off when you leave a room. The same goes for turning off TVs, computers and other electronic devices when you’re done using them. Remind your family members to turn off lights and electronics when they don’t need them. This simple step can end up saving a lot of electricity in the long run.

Watch Your Water Use

Using less water, especially hot water, helps save energy. Your town or city needs electricity to supply homes with clean water. The less water you and your family use, the less electricity the water company ends up needing. You can use less water by taking short showers and not leaving the water running when you brush your teeth. Also, let your parents know if any faucets in your home are dripping. Leaky faucets can waste a lot of water.

Use Better Bulbs

If your family isn’t doing so already, switch from using regular old light bulbs to energy-saving ones called Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs.) These are the bulbs with the swirly design that you might have seen in stores or in other people’s houses. They use much less energy than regular bulbs and last a lot longer, too. The next time a bulb stops working in your home, ask your parents to replace it with a CFL.

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Read Up on Recycling!

Read Up on Recycling!


When you open a new toy or finish off some cereal, what do you do with the box it came in? Hopefully, you’ve been recycling these cardboard containers. If not, it’s never too late to start. Recycling cardboard and other items, like cans and plastic bottles, means they’ll be used again. Here’s some more info on why recycling is so important and what items can be recycled.

Why Not Just Toss It?

Items that you throw in the regular trash get carried away by sanitation workers on garbage day and end up being dumped into a landfill. Once they’re in the landfill, they sit there taking up space and, in some cases, they also pollute air, soil or water. Over time, this is bad for the environment, and landfills only have so much space available.

What Happens When You Recycle?

When you put items in a recycling container, they’re taken to a recycling center that breaks them down and turns them into other items. This keeps the recyclable items from ending up in landfills. It also means that companies don’t have to keep cutting down more trees to make paper products or keep making new plastic bottles and containers in factories, which can pollute the environment. The items that recyclable materials are turned into can be a lot different from what they were originally. Plastic bottles, for example, can be used to make carpets and even clothing.

What Items Can Be Recycled?

That depends on the laws in your city or state. Your local recycling office can give you a list of items that you and your family can recycle. Paper and plastic are two of the most commonly recycled materials, since they can easily be used to make a wide range of new items. Other types of materials or items that you might be able to recycle include:

  • Metal
  • Grass clippings, dead leaves and other yard waste
  • Glass containers
  • Phones, computers and other electronics
  • Aluminum cans

What Else Can You Do to Help?

In addition to making sure you and your family recycle as much as possible, you can also buy items that are made from recycled materials. Check the labels on store items before purchasing them to find out what they’re made from. If they were made with recyclable materials, the label should say that. By purchasing these items instead of ones made from all new materials, you’re doing your part in protecting the environment.

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5 FUN Ways To Teach Your Children About The Environment


It’s never too early to be imparting on our children how to take care of the environment. Baby steps are the best way to begin. Here are five simple, FUN lessons you can teach your children on how to help Mother Nature, starting right now:

1. Learn to conserve water

Water is one of the most valuable natural resources that we can all benefit from building a greater consciousness around. Simple steps such as turning off the faucet when brushing teeth can go a big way in creating awareness and curiosity in our children. Whenever they see a dripping faucet, make sure they turn it off completely. And whenever they see a leak in any of the faucets, make sure to report it to someone immediately. Teach them the value of water and that every drop counts.

2. Save electricity

Electricity is also another resource that needs to be saved, as it is one of the utilities being paid monthly. To do this, one can start with switching off the lights when not in use. Remember to turn off the switch when one leaves the room. At the same time, encourage your children to use natural sunlight as much as possible. In terms of air conditioning, have them make sure all doors are closed at all times so that the cold air cannot escape, and warm air will not go in.

3. Learn to reuse and recycle

It’s good to have kids start early on segregating trash. Usually those reusable and recyclable items should be kept in a separate container, and kids must be taught about the concept of recycling. Explaining to them the reason why we should avoid using plastic bags, and using recyclable containers instead, especially for their lunch boxes in school, can build their knowledge quickly and effectively.

4. Walk or Bike

In order to cut on air pollution, instead of using the car, why not teach them how to walk or bike in going  short distances. This is a great way to exercise and bond with loved ones and friends as well.

5. Let your kids experience nature

Instead of giving expensive toys for gifts, try giving them “experience gifts” – take them out for a hike or a mountain picnic, or to the beach, or to a zoo. Let the kids feel, see, hear, and smell nature for themselves, not just through books or the TV or the internet. They will learn to care more for the environment the more they have great first-hand experience with it.

Have your children go on a reading adventure as well with the Spartan And The Green Egg series. Click here to get your holiday hardback copies now!

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3 Ways Stickers Can Be Rewarding And Educational For Your Child


Some people have been questioning if stickers are good for children, if using them as a way for positive reinforcement and motivation is the correct way. From how I see it, here are three good reasons why stickers may actually be helpful to parents.

First, in terms of reward system, stickers are very much convenient and affordable. They are also the least questionable, as stickers are much more harmless compared to little toys, candies, or trinkets. Parents and teachers can easily buy them in bulk, too.

Secondly, stickers give kids something to exciting look forward to. At an early age, young children may still not fully grasp the concept of achievement, and rewarding stickers may be a good start in terms of training them for this. At the same time, it makes them feel good about themselves, knowing they have achieved something and received a reward for it.

Third, stickers are educational because they often come in a wide array of colors, shapes, sizes, and styles. At the same time, they interest and excite children. And in choosing stickers for your little ones, why not go for the ones that are not just colorful and creative, but also informative and functional, such as the SGE Explorer Stickers. With 120 colorful world stickers in each starter kit tin, your kids will get to join Spartan and his friends in exploring and getting to know different amazing wonders of the world. Fun, rewarding, and educational all at the same time.

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Raising World Citizens: In Conversation With A World-Traveling Mom

Aimee Thompson 1

Aimee Thompson is a mom, blogger, freelance writer, communications consultant and world traveler who we were honored to have a chance talk with. She truly sets the bar for those moms who want to travel more with their children, and shares some of her secrets for making travel one of the best experiences to have with your children. We are thrilled to share her delightful and insightful conversation…

Your blog is so well written, and full of such valuable tips on how to create an adventurous life with your children. Can you talk a little about what prompted you to start writing your blog, “Raising World Citizens” via ChicagoNow?

My sons were born outside of Chicago. We moved back to the city when they were three and one years old. After having been away from Chicago for several years, I had a new appreciation for the city and all of the people, places and cultures who live and thrive here together.

Being back in Chicago energized me in new and unexpected ways. I wanted to be an urban explorer and use our regular explorations as a way to open my sons’ eyes, hearts and minds to the diversity that exists throughout the world – without even leaving the city limits. As a writer, it seemed only natural to want to share our experiences with other parents raising “world citizens” here in Chicago and around the world, too. And, I knew a blog would be an easy way to connect with others.

Now, after having shared our stories via “Raising World Citizens” for just over two years, I am thrilled to say that we’ve only scratched the surface. There is so much more to explore here in our hometown of Chicago – and in the rest of the world.

I feel fortunate to be able to chronicle our adventures and experiences, and to use them to connect with other families across the globe. And, I can’t wait to see what discoveries and opportunities lie ahead for us.

Spartan and The Green Egg aims to encourage children to find and embrace adventure in every moment of their lives, wherever they may be. It seems you do the same through your writing. Can you talk about the message behind your title, “Raising World Citizens?”

My family was at an important crossroads when I first thought of starting “Raising World Citizens.” My sons were going to start at a new, French international school in the fall. We were taking our first family trip abroad to France in the summer. My sons just picked up their German passports. And, we were set to put new roots in the ground here in Chicago. After taking a step back, my husband and I saw that we were heading down a path towards raising two boys who were going to be poised to grow and thrive in the global world.

It felt good. It felt right. And, it felt like we were on to something important. That was when it really hit us. We, as parents, felt the urge to raise two world citizens. And, that was when the name of my blog was born.

But, before I officially christened my blog as “Raising World Citizens,” my husband gave me one important piece of advice. He told me that it would be important to define “world citizen.” To this day, I have a page on my blog solely dedicated to share my personal definition of “world citizen.”  It says that “… a world citizen is someone who has a firm grasp of the breadth, depth and true diversity of the world around them and strives to seize any and all available opportunities to make a true impact on the global community.”

I went on to say that “as parents, we can serve as our children’s tour guides and give them amazing, diverse experiences that will help them grow and thrive – no matter how the world evolves. Whether your travels take you to far and distant lands or you never leave the Midwest, there are vast opportunities to expose your children to the world – its cultures, people and communities. It’s all about finding them, embracing them, learning from them – and taking a global view that will help you cultivate your unique viewpoint of world and your place within it.”

Now, two years into “Raising World Citizens,” I am glad to continue to be on the path towards opening my sons’ hearts, eyes and minds to the world.

Aimee Thompson 2

What do you love the most about raising two boys to become World Citizens?

By exposing our sons to the world through our travels in Chicago and abroad, they’ve come to realize that the world is so much bigger than them. They’re open to trying new ethnic foods. They’ve set their sights on studying aboard. They appreciate the cultural traditions, dress and customs of others. They want to “master” French and also learn other languages. They love learning about and playing international sports like bocce, petanque and gaga. And, they’re friends with children from many different backgrounds.

Just as important, my sons appreciate people for their differences, but know that we’re really all the same – no matter if we live in the US or India. For me, I believe that helping my sons head down the path towards being a “world citizen” has encouraged them to embrace their own culture and their own differences, too. I’d also like to think that it will enable them to grow into more confident and compassionate young boys and have them feel good about and at home in the world for the rest of their lives.

Can you share a bit about your background and how you came to write and blog for other mothers?

I am a communications professional, having worked in public relations at an agency or on my own as a consultant for my entire career. It was always the ideal profession for me since it allows me to combine my love of writing with helping brands, companies and individuals share their stories with their employees, customers and consumers via the media, articles, their websites, and other channels.

For many years, I’ve tried to let my own writing run wild outside of my professional life, and blogging has proved to be an ideal medium to do so. At the same time, I became a new mom to two young, impressionable boys, and I experienced firsthand the trials, tribulations and joys of parenting. As a new mom learning the ropes, I knew that blogging and social media was a powerful way to show parents that there are others out there just like us, and to enable us to learn from, and connect with, each other.

It has been one of my greatest joys to meet other parents who are also seeking to raise “world citizens,” and I treasure each comment or post I receive from them. I’ve always known the power of words to connect with, or illicit emotions in, others. Blogging for other parents via “Raising World Citizens” has shown me the impact it can have on all of us, and that is just priceless.

What is the best experience you’ve had so far as a mother with your sons?

Hands down, I can easily say my best experience as a mother has been traveling with my sons. It is amazing to see their reactions to new people, new languages, new foods, new TV shows, new parks and everything else that appeals to young children. It helps to give me a new appreciation for the city we’re all standing in together – and the larger world that surrounds us.

Plus, it’s given us so many memories that are so precious to all of us. No matter if it’s riding the Staten Island ferry in New York City, making our own CUP NOODLE soup outside of Tokyo, playing petanque along the Seine in Paris, seeing how the Harry Potter movies are made in London, or attending a neighborhood festival in Chicago’s Greektown, each moment was special and something that I hope will influence my sons for the rest of their lives.

Recently, my older son wrote in a letter to a pen pal that he loves to travel the world. He put that up there with watching the Avengers movie and reading the Percy Jackson books. And, that made me immensely happy and proud.

Aimee Thompson is a Chicago mom raising two world citizens. She is a blogger, freelance writer and communications consultant.

Through her blog, Raising World Citizens, she chronicles her efforts to open her sons’ eyes, hearts and minds to the people, places and cultures of the world. She also provides local insight on multicultural family-friendly events to enjoy in Chicago and offers helpful travel tips for other cities she’s been fortunate to visit with her family.

You also can follow Aimee and her family’s multicultural adventures via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

5 Ways Puzzles Improve Childhood Development

Puzzles are not just colorful toys, they are actually great tools for your kids’ development. Here are some great advantages of puzzles and how they are one of your child’s greatest learning tools.

1. Eye-Hand Coordination.

In solving puzzles, a child gets to enhance his ability to coordinate what he sees with what his mind wants him to do, and what his hands should accomplish. Puzzles are a great way to train and exercise this skill, and at the same time, learning to do things on his own.

2. Fine Motor Ability

Puzzles are also a great fun way in enhancing your kids’ motor ability. In moving around and putting together the puzzle pieces, they grasp and hold onto them, enhancing their fingers’ muscle strength. Later on, it will be easier for them to hold pencils, or crayons or pens.

3. The Value Of Persistence

Puzzles are not easy to complete and finish, and through this, kids are able to learn the value of persistence and hard work. Once a child successfully completes a puzzle, he builds his self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment comes in.

4. Abstract Thinking

When a child is putting the puzzle pieces together, he tries different ways of doing so and by doing this, develops his deductive reasoning skills. In seeing the blank spaces and figuring out which piece fits in, he enhances his abstract thinking skills.

5. Imagination
Puzzles are also a great way to spur kids’ creativity and imagination. The various designs, colors, shapes, and sizes he is exposed to stimulate his brain cells and keeps him engaged in the puzzle solving activity.

Puzzles improve childhood development and are definitely a great educational toy and tool in enhancing your child’s various skills and abilities. Do check out Spartan’s 3D 40-piece egg puzzle and power up your child’s imagination!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

Book 2 Has Arrived: The Reefs Of Mindoro Island (and a special offer for you!)

Extra! Extra! It has arrived, and the gang is going on a new adventure that will really knock your socks off!

Spartan And The Green Egg: The Reefs Of Mindoro Island is here, taking Spartan and his friends on an entirely new adventure of education, discovery and a world deep below the sea.

Share with us your desire to read the book and why in our comment section below. The first 10 people to share with us will receive a free book!

Just in time for Easter, this book is sure to keep your kids reading and in deep discovery through another great adventure to a far-off place in the world.

Again, leave a comment with why you want to read the book and receive one as a gift from us, now!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

How Child Wall Climbing Develops Better Writers


Does it sound such a far fetched idea? How can climbing walls make your child better at writing?

Dear moms, you have to remember that the muscles a writer needs to develop apart from his or her “brain muscles” are those of the hands. In order to write anything (on paper, sans electronic items!), you have to be able to learn how to grab and hold pens properly and confidently. Developing our children’s psychomotor skills in writing does not have to be limited to holding pens and crayons and asking them to draw or copy letters on sheets of paper.

Take your children to a leisure park where they have walls or crates, which they can climb. While our kids try to go up the wall or up one crate to the next, their psychomotor skills are gradually strengthened. As they get a tighter grip on things, so to speak, their hands are able to appreciate the task of manual writing.

Because of climbing, our children will have more improved psychomotor skills, which will then make them more confident in writing letters and words on a sheet of paper; all because they are able to hold pens properly.

And, who knows, the next Shakespeare or Austen might just be your own child!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

Tracking Your Child’s Exercise Routine Builds Self-Esteem, and Math Skills Too!


Spartan and his friends take an amazing trip to the Rainforest with their friend Egg, the friendly alien who guides them on their second adventure in Book 2 of the series. This time around, the group is more practiced, less frightened and more open to the adventure that awaits them in this far area of the world.

They say practice makes perfect. But, the truth is, practice makes permanent. This holds really true most especially in the character, attitude, and aptitude that we will develop in our kids while they are at that age when they are impressionable. A good execution of this practice-makes-permanent mantra is exercise. To complement this mantra, it’s a great idea to keep track of our kids’ progress in the exercises and challenges we will give them. At first, as moms we will be the ones to set the target or goal. Then, little by little we can pass on to them the task to challenge themselves to accomplish more than what they have achieved in the previous days.

We definitely still have to be there to show them support not to back down from the challenge and run fewer miles today, bike shorter distances, swim fewer laps, or do fewer summersaults. In the end, this makes our children more confident and builds their self-esteem. While all this emotional and psychological progress is happening, we are also teaching them basic skills in math.

By continuously challenging our kids to do better every day, we are making them realize that each day is a chance for them to be a faster runner, a more dedicated swimmer, or a more capable gymnast. They learn to value their abilities and build a healthier sense of self.

Was this article helpful for you and your child? Let us know by telling us what you see in the comments section below this post!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

3 Adventurous Exercises For Children That Challenge While Nurturing

In this age when our children are intensely devoted to checking their Facebook page or tweeting just about anything that happens in every minute of their lives, exercise comes in drizzles. As moms, it is important that we make them realize that it is not only their thumbs and other fingers that should get exercise. We also have to show our kids that the world outside is so much better than what they see in their smart devices.

What better way to accomplish these two than to give them challenges that will get them exploring the natural environment and at the same time feed their sense of adventure? Use weekends, if not after school time, to go to the park or to your community clubhouse and create a scavenger hunt-type of activity for your kids. Let them look for a treasure by running, swimming, or hopping from one spot to another. Not only will you let them get those muscles developed, you will also be able to tickle that inner adventurer and explorer in your kids.

You can also give them a pretty vague task or goal to accomplish. In this way, you will be stimulating your kid’s creativity and innovativeness. You might be surprised what they can do.

The possibilities of adventures are limitless. These little adventures we will give our kids will test not only their physical strength but they can also build a positive character and attitude towards life.

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

Special Guest: Mom Blogger Mary Anne of

maryanne at mama smiles - square

We are honored and thrilled to have the chance to interview Mary Anne, creator of Mama Smiles Blog, a blog that celebrates everyday parenting through creativity, learning and play! Mary Anne is pediatric cancer survivor who used her Masters in education and PhD in medicine to look at how music programs could help rebuild post-war communities. She is now raising her four children and sharing her day to day knowledge and wisdom on her blog, as well as running her own charity, World Culture For Kids. Here is more about Mary Anne’s journey to an adventurous motherhood:

1. What motivated you to start your blog, Mama Smiles?

I was home all day with two small children, and wanted a way to connect with the outside world. Blogging was a way to keep my mind busy, while also sharing my reasons for choosing to stay home with my children, as well as activities that our family enjoys.

2. Can you share a bit about your own experience with pediatric cancer and how it has influenced your approach to motherhood?

I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 21 months old. I was enrolled in a clinical trial that proved highly successful – a similar treatment is used to treat this same cancer today. I was very fortunate, but sometimes felt sad about losing much of my early childhood to this illness. Having children of my own felt miraculous, since it was unknown at the time whether or not the drugs I had been given would cause a loss of fertility, and it has also given me a chance to experience the joy of the childhood that I lost. Watching my life hang in balance at an early age taught me to never take life for granted. It always amazes me, also, that I can be a cancer survivor yet have perfectly healthy children.

3. Tell us a bit about what you learned from your work helping to rebuild communities in post-war regions and how it enhances the ways you teach your own children about life.

I remember visiting someone in an apartment building and walking up to the sixth floor – and seeing bullet holes in the walls on the sixth floor. This was a building where families lived, and it breaks my heart that someone would run up six flights of stairs to terrorize innocent civilians. I met local and international artists and musicians who were using creativity to bring together groups of people who had been pulled apart, and was able to see some success in getting the different ethnic groups to interact. War creates tremendous trauma, and trauma takes time to heal. I saw a lot of resilience, and hope against tremendous odds. I learned that creativity can be a tremendous aid in fighting fear by providing a healing voice, that change takes time, and that the best things in life require hope and a lot of hard work. With my children, I like to focus on kindness, empathy, and the importance of listening. We also spend a lot of time on creative activities, which I believe helps develop introspection and self-expression.

4. Tell us about Small Hands Creating Hope and how we can help!

I created the Small Hands Creating Hope project as a way of celebrating 30 years of cancer survivorship! My cancer story ends happily, but I have lost friends and family members to this disease, and there is still a lot of work to be done. Several blog friends and I joined together to create an ebook of simple, hope-inspiring projects that can be created by adults or children. We send this ebook to anyone who donates at least $15 through this link.

5. What do you think is the single most important action a mother of adventurous children can take each day to take care of herself in order to be at her best for her kids?

Find something that you enjoy, and make time for that – even five minutes will make a huge difference! Also find activities that you can do with your children that you enjoy. It may be reading books, crafting, science experiments, cooking… what the activity is doesn’t really matter – it’s spending the time together! I also highly recommend getting out in nature with kids as frequently as possible. Being outdoors has a calming effect on everyone, and is a wonderful way to build family connections and make time for talking.

Find more about Mary Anne and

Was this post helpful for you and your adventurous child?  Let us know by leaving a comment below!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: The Perfect Easter Egg (For Your Adventurous Child!)

Easter egg 3d puzzle

MOMS: Order now, for a year-round Easter egg, with benefits! Our unique Egg Puzzle from the Spartan And The Green Egg book series offers your child a unique perspective on the world while giving them a chance to exercise their minds and imaginations.  Let them have candy in their baskets, and keep their Spartan And The Green Egg Puzzle for their own fun!

Easter egg usb flash drive


And while you’re ordering for your child, you can gift yourself with our unique Egg USB Flash Drive with Book 1 on the series on it.  Perfect for when you’re on the go and you need an educational and entertaining outlet for your child to indulge in.  Carry it in your purse, and use on any computer.

What are your thoughts on puzzles for your adventurous child?  Let us know in the comments section below!


#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

Book 2 Has Arrived: The Reefs Of Mindoro Island (and a special offer for you!)

Extra! Extra! It has arrived, and the gang is going on a new adventure that will really knock your socks off!

Spartan And The Green Egg: The Reefs Of Mindoro Island is here, taking Spartan and his friends on an entirely new adventure of education, discovery and a world deep below the sea.

Share with us your desire to read the book and why in our comment section below. The first 10 people to share with us will receive a special offer of a free book!

Just in time for Easter, this book is sure to keep your kids reading and in deep discovery through another great adventure to a far-off place in the world.

Again, leave a comment with why you want to read the book and receive one as a gift from us, now!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: A New Way Of Embracing The Moment (And One Essential Action You Will Love To Hear!)

mom embracing the moment

Moms, now that  you have been practicing the art of breathing, meditation, and taking loving action without disrupting your daily routine, it’s now time for the final step in your new approach to your life and your child’s: Embracing The Moment.

As you move forward into the rest of the year, you have the chance to continue this practice in all you do. But when you get caught up in life’s unexpected challenges or feel you haven’t been able to practice enough, this week’s lesson will help nip those negative feelings in the bud. It goes like this:

The moment you begin to feel like you may not make it past this moment, stop right there, and embrace the moment with all you have.  The idea that there is something outside of this moment, right now, is an illusion, and one that tends to overcome us when we are rushed into having the handle too many things at one time. Stop in this moment, do exactly what you need to do, and then take your first deep breath and carry on again with your practice.

Your child will respond to this as well, and we think you will be surprised at how many loving hands step in to help you that you could have never imagined.

Wondering if it’s true?  Let us know by practicing for this week and telling us what you see in the comments section below this post!



#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: Finding Time For A Break (And How This Will Help Your Child Respect You More!)


In Week 6 of our 7-Week New Year’s Challenge, we are looking at ways in which you can take all the work you have done to stop, pause, breathe, listen and take loving action to let it manifest in your daily routines until it becomes a habit.  The best way to do this is to now find time within your day to take a deliberate break from everything, and make absolutely no apologies for doing so.

When you take action in ways that is truly good for you and serves your highest self, regardless of what that may be, everyone around you will be unable to do anything else than respect you for it, even and most especially your children.  Children sense power, regardless of where it is coming from.  When they see that power coming from a place of strength and authenticity within you, they will grow in respect and honor for you and your decisions.

When Spartan makes the choice to go with Egg to a far away land he has never visited before, he makes his decision based on his instincts, and his friends choose to follow because they know he is making a choice based on genuine faith and trust.  His story offers such an important lesson for children to model, and when they are able to see that kind of choice coming from you as well they will automatically gain a deeper self-trust for listening to their instincts.

So for this week, we ask  you to practice the following:

Choose a time in your day when you know you will most likely want and need a break, but don’t normally take one.  Figure out a way to take one, pencil that time slot into your calendar along with what exactly you will do during that time (sit quietly, visit your favorite store, buy yourself a wonderful drink from your favorite coffee shop).  When the time arises, let your child know that you are now taking a break, and if they are with you that you’d like them to help you honor that time by practicing this time out with you.  Perhaps give them a Spartan book and let them take their time reading through the story once again.

Watch what happens, and let us know in the comments section below! We are confident you will find great insights, great release and a renewed sense of self!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: How To Persuade Your Child To Love Taking Action


We know that you are really in a flow now if you have been following the first 4 weeks of our 7 week New Year challenge.  But in case you are just joining us now, and for those who are already on board, here is a brief refresher of what we’ve covered these last 4 weeks:

Week 1: Breathing (the simple, rewarding way)

Week 2: Meditation (the seriously enjoyable way!)

Week 3: Listening (while conserving energy!)

Week 4: Contemplating (let your child show you how!)

And now in week 5 we have the climactic step of the program that will not only help you feel at ease with yourself and your power as a parent, but will put your child at ease as well.  How, you ask?  One simple, yet incredibly powerful way: leading by example.

There is no doubt that when you are breathing, calm, in the flow of your own life and the world around you and, most of all, present in the moment, that your child has started to model this behavior, even if on a very subtle level.  If you don’t believe this to be true, because perhaps you haven’t actually seen evidence of this yet, now is the time to test the waters by putting them to the test and watching what happens.

Egg has an excellent way of putting the kids at ease in the Spartan series by showing them that he is calm because he is confident he knows what he is doing in a foreign land, with foreign situations.  The same is true for you, moms, with your child, whether you realize it or not. Your child is subconsciously relying on you every step of the way to guide him or her through new situations on a daily basis.  When resistance comes up it is because they are challenging something small to you that feels way outside of the norm for them. Now is your time to understand that on a deeper level and use it to your, and their, advantage.

Try this and let us know what happens:

The next time you want your child to do something you think they may have a resistance to, such as cleaning up their toys, try this:

1. Take three deep breaths

2. Put yourself in the meditative state you have been practicing daily (described in this post)

3. Switch your energy entirely onto your child, so you are in deep listening mode

4. Begin a conversation with him or her from your state of complete contemplation, genuinely curious about what they have to say

5. Tell them in the midst of that conversation that you would like them to continue telling you more about their feelings about this topic, but that you will be better able to listen once they clean up their toys (or whatever activity you want them to do)

6. Lead them to the activity and while they do it, stay with them consciously, even if you are in the other room

7. When they are done, thank them from the bottom of your heart, making sure they know how much this means to you, and ask them if you can continue your conversation, still actively listening from before.

Does this approach make a difference for you?  Please tell us your story. Let us know by leaving a comment below this post!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: A New Action Step For You To Chew On (And Let Your Child Teach You How!)


So now that you have your daily meditations down and have been practicing them within your daily routines, along with taking those deep breaths and letting yourself listen to the pauses when your child talks, we want to give you one more incredible tool that will give your mind a new way to chew on all that information it is taking in and wanting to process.

We know you don’t ever want to go back to the old way of feeling like you’re in a state of overwhelm, so we want you to take this next step as seriously as the others.  This will likely come as a welcome surprise so we are excited to share it with you:

We want you to practice contemplating your thoughts (and let your child teach you how!!).

Have you ever watched your child stop to contemplate something?  They are learning at such a rapid speed on a daily basis and sometimes they have to stop for a moment and go into deep thought to take in and process something.  This may be something they’ve just realized from a moment ago or two weeks ago that they are just now understanding.

Our very own Max has this practice down better than any of the others, and if your child can relate to him then you have the perfect teacher to observe and learn from.

The beauty of contemplation is that it is a tool for how we all learn, we just tend to forget that as adults and expect way too much of ourselves without giving ourselves a chance to process new information.  But once we start to practice that kind of interruption within our daily routines, we can break that pattern in a heartbeat, just like your child does.

So for the next week, we want you to listen to your instincts and each time you get the urge to chew on something you hear that is new, take a moment to contemplate that to yourself, regardless of where you are or who you’re around.  Take this private moment seriously, and if you’re with your child you can let them know that you need a moment to take in what they’ve just said to you.  We promise this kind of mental time-out will not only give you moment to rejuvenate your mind but will allow your nervous system to relax and energize you to carry on with whatever activity you’re in the middle of.

Wondering if it’s true?  Let us know by practicing for this week and telling us what you see in the comments section below this post!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: A New Way To Communicate With Your Active Child (And Make Them Take A Pause!)

Communicate With Your Active Child

Moms, we know that you have been practicing your daily meditations, working on how to slow down a bit and take a moment or two for yourself during the day.  But what about your beloved child, who is action-oriented and ready for adventure at every moment of the day?  We have the PERFECT recipe to communicate with your active child in a new way that will have them feeling loved, empowered, and make them take that pause you have been hoping they would take!

Your child has something to do, say and show every moment of the day because he or she is active, smart and learning at the speed of light.  Now is the perfect opportunity to take the mediation skills you’ve been practicing daily with your own activities and put them to use with your child.

Here is what we want  you to do: take the same meditation practice you’re using when washing the dishes or driving in your car and apply them to your child in the form of listening.  Try to NOT respond when your child is talking and practice listening only to the spaces between each word he or she is saying.  Focus on this, and watch what happens.  We guarantee you will hear every word they say while remaining in a much more calm and meditative state, and that your child will notice you tuning in to him or her in a completely new way. He or she will feel heard, loved and even take a pause in response to your holding such a sacred space for him or her to express his or her thoughts.

Wondering if it’s true?  Let us know by practicing for this week and telling us what you see in the comments section below this post!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: A New Way To Communicate With Your Active Child (And Make Them Take A Pause!)


Moms, we know that you have been practicing your daily meditations, working on how to slow down a bit and take a moment or two for yourself during the day.  But what about your beloved child, who is action-oriented and ready for adventure at every moment of the day?  We have the PERFECT recipe for communicating with your child in a new way that will have them feeling loved, empowered, and make them take that pause you have been hoping they would take!

Your child has something to do, say and show every moment of the day because he or she is active, smart and learning at the speed of light.  Now is the perfect opportunity to take the mediation skills you’ve been practicing daily with your own activities and put them to use with your child.

Here is what we want  you to do: take the same meditation practice you’re using when washing the dishes or driving in your car and apply them to your child in the form of listening.  Try to NOT respond when your child is talking and practice listening only to the spaces between each word he or she is saying.  Focus on this, and watch what happens.  We guarantee you will hear every word they say while remaining in a much more calm and meditative state, and that your child will notice you tuning in to him or her in a completely new way. He or she will feel heard, loved and even take a pause in response to your holding such a sacred space for him or her to express his or her thoughts.

Wondering if it’s true?  Let us know by practicing for this week and telling us what you see in the comments section below this post!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: The Perfect Valentine’s Day Present For Your Adventurous Child! (And A FREE Gift To Go Along With It)


Moms, we know that Valentine’s Day at school can be exciting and filled with love notes, chocolate and those special Valentine’s Day boxes your child spends time crafting to reflect his or her unique and special personality.  We also know that as a day that symbolizes love, there is no better way to express your love through the act of gifting, especially when that gift shows you put extra thought into it for your child’s one-of-a-kind persona.

So to help you with that, we have our VERY SPECIAL Spartan And The Green Egg egg-shaped puzzle with beautiful and fun illustrations from the series.  We know this is the kind of token your adventurous child will take to heart, and be able to share with you for years to come. That’s why we have it on sale for you to order now, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

For the first 14 people who order before February 14 we will include our E-book Collector’s Egg USB Flash Drive free of charge, so you and your child can enjoy the first book of the series wherever you go!


So order now, so your shipment will arrive right on time to surprise your child with a gift straight from the heart of the Spartan Explorer Series!

When your gift arrives, let us know how your child likes it by leaving a comment and/or a picture in the comments section below!



#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

MOMS: A Secret Recipe For Meditation (And The Trick To Fitting It Into Your Daily Routine!)


We know as a parent your days are adventures in and of themselves!  There are days when you wonder how you will ever find the time to breathe, let alone take time out to meditate or allow yourself the space you need to come back to a state of balance.

For this week, we are taking a moment to look at the simplest and most powerful tool of meditation that will not only let you breathe but empower you right back into a place of blissful control.

When you implement this simple tool into your daily routine, you will most likely be blown away at how expert you already are at it.  In fact, the secret is that we meditate all the time naturally throughout our days. The trick is to learn how to bring your self into those moments fully to experience the incredible benefits waiting to appear.

We get a great taste of this when Spartan and his friends go with Egg on their first journey.  The level of trust they give over includes the secret tool for which you can change your life for the better.  Katie in particular demonstrates her ability to come back to the present moment, which is part of this uncanny action step that many people don’t realize they are already doing.

Meditation Recipe For Busy Moms:

Did you know that taking action around something we are familiar with puts us into an automatic state of meditation?  Many people don’t realize this. Whenever you are in the middle of a routine task in your day- ironing, washing dishes, driving your car, picking up your child from school, shopping- you are meditating.  The only difference is that you are not aware of it so you find yourself zoning out.  This actually creates extra space for your brain to go into overdrive, and takes away your precious energy.  The trick is to simple bring yourself to the moment and allow your thoughts to pass in and out, hence become fully present in your meditation.

The next time you find yourself in this kind of routine, say these two words to yourself:

“I’m back!”

And see what happens.  We predict unexpected bursts of energy, joyful self-discoveries and deeper self-awareness will begin to surface into your conscious life.  But you will have to let us know for yourself!  Try this for the next day and let us know what you discover in the comments section below!

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

Moms: How To Avoid Overwhelm In The New Year With One Essential Secret Recipe


1GB USB flash drive with book 1 (epub & mobi) preloaded.

1GB USB flash drive with book 1 (epub & mobi) preloaded.

For all the moms out there who are settling down from the holidays and feeling a sense of overwhelm when it comes to gathering up the remnants of a busy holiday, the year ahead can seem completely daunting and overwhelming for what you want to accomplish for your children, your family and yourself.  Well, take a deep breath and say “Thank you world!” because we have the one essential secret recipe that will alleviate your sense of overwhelm right in the moment.

The secret ingredient is one you know, deep down, to be the answer, but our minds tend to block it out with the everyday stresses of life.  That ingredient is this simple truth: you are enough.  Sound too simple?  Think about this: there is essentially nothing outside of this very moment we are in right now.  The skill the most successful people in the world know and use on a daily basis is they know how to plan something, then trust the plan and move through it, moment to moment.  If something goes awry along the way they move through it as best and as quickly as they can and reflect later upon how they can plan differently next time.  This is ironically the exact lesson The Egg teaches the kids in the Spartan And The Green Egg series, and one your kids can practice along with you through each book.

In working with that sense of deep self-confidence and self-trust, successful people know in each moment that what they are doing for the time being is enough.  This is the same for every single mom who is committed to making her family life the best it can possibly be.  So take the below recipe with you and let us know what happens when you implement it into your life daily:

How To Avoid Overwhelm:

1. Three Deep Breaths

2. One minute of eyes closed, letting your mind pause

3. Repeat these words to yourself 10 times in a row: I Am Enough.

Studies show it takes seven weeks to form a new habit.  We challenge you to make this a habit for the next seven weeks, and let us know what happens as a result.  We have a feeling you will feel more in control, more at ease and begin making fantastic choices as a result.  But let’s see if we’re right by leaving your results in the comment section below!

Sign up for free giveaways and get info about the SGE Explorer’s Club here!


#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg  #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog