Monday, April 27, 2015

National Geographic Giant Traveling Map

     Every year our district Social Studies specialist, Chip, comes out to the sites with a National Geographic Giant Traveling Map. Chip came out in March and brought the Giant Europe Map. My class had about 45 minutes at the end of the day to go down to the school gym and do some interactive activities with the map.

     The students learned about some different current events going on in Europe and the surrounding areas and they got to see a comparison of Alaska land mass and population to the land mass and population of some European countries. They also got to break into small groups and have a little race. All the groups had cards with different points on the map, they had to use a map key to locate and place the card on the correct location. The students and I had a lot of fun exploring the Giant Map. The maps are a great way for students to learn more about different aspects of a map and geographical features. I had never heard of this before and I though it was an awesome way for the students to explore other parts of the world in a hands on way.

Chip demonstrating longitude and latitude using the students.

Some of the props used for the activities and a smaller population density map of Europe.

The kids got a kick out of Chip pulling them around the map!

These students are being mountains.

I think this is when we compared the size of Alaska to Europe, everything inside the colored chains would be Alaska.

The kids doing the activity where they used a map key to find specific locations on the map.

Here are some pictures of the elementary students doing activities with the map too!

This big tube is how they get the map from place to place. As you can see from the pictures it is REALLY big.

     I thought the Giant Map was super cool. The students had a lot of fun and I had fun learning too. I hope I see some more of these Giant Maps throughout my time teaching.

Musk Ox!

     So a little while back our principal went to another village to go musk ox hunting. Sure enough he got one and brought it back with him. It was a little excitement on our normally calm weekend. Musk ox is an arctic mammal that have a very thick coat and emit a strong odor during certain seasons. They are not an overly large animal, but they are pretty cool looking. They have a very soft undercoat that people use to make scarves, buffs, and other cold weather items. My roommate bought a musk ox scarf type thing and it is very soft and very warm.

I sent this picture to my mom and tried to tell her I got it, she didn't believe me...

Cutting up the meat. Brett was very generous and gave all of the teachers some of the meat, he even invited us over for musk ox burgers one night. They were DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


     Last month Kayla and I went to Anchorage, she had to go in for a training and I just wanted a little weekend getaway. It was nice to have a little break and head to the big city! Our friend, Heather, from Quinhagak was there for spring break so we all got to hang out together. We went out to eat, did a little shopping, took in some of the beautiful scenery, and I even went to a movie. It was a pretty great weekend!

The first thing we did the morning after we got there was go to Snow City Cafe. Best breakfast in Anchorage hands down. And according to Yahoo it is the #1 diner in Alaska. I would have to agree, their stuffed french toast is out of this world! If you ever go to Anchorage, go have breakfast there! Make a reservation though because they tend to be very busy.

I believe this body of water is Cook Inlet.

Driving down the Seward Highway.

Stopped at a pull off and did a short hike.

Nice lookout area. The scenery is beautiful!

Our short little hike...

The stream was frozen in time.

     We had dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse, which is another great place worth going to if you ever make it to Anchorage. I also had an eye appointment to go to(I know, exciting stuff). I went to the movies to see Cinderella and then I just relaxed in the hotel. The hotel we stayed at has a fitness club where you can go swim or sit in the sauna or steam room and just relax. All in all it was a great weekend! Anchorage is a lot of fun and I wish I could have seen more, but there is a lot to see. It is really beautiful, I think that about Alaska in general though.

Basketball and Snowgo Ride!

     Basketball season came to a close in early March. As I've said before, basketball is a BIG deal up here in the villages of rural Alaska. The kids love to play basketball. The season is pretty quick and exciting. It is a little different than in the Lower 48. There are over 20 schools that make up the Lower Kuskokwim School District and are spread over an area the size of Ohio. Every school would not be able to play each other, it would just involve too much traveling. So within the district there are several small conferences that play against each other. Kind of like how all the schools in one county will typically play against each other in the Lower 48.
     We had a junior high team and a boys high school team. In February, I got to travel to Quinhagak, a nearby village, with the junior high team one weekend. We left Friday after school, I believe there were two other schools that traveled in as well. All the teams play against each other on Friday and Saturday and then you typically head home on Saturday. Well that weekend the weather was especially windy and Quinhagak is on the coast so it was even worse there. The wind chills were in the -30s. Since the wind was so bad the planes were not flying. So we got to spend an extra night. It was actually pretty fun to hang out with the students and chaperones from other schools and the kids had a great time.

Headed to the airport.

Quinhagak from the sky, past the village you can see the sun shining off the Bearing Sea.

Getting warmed up, go Cougars!

They have a school bus! This is for my mom!

Playing ball, Quinhagak has a new school and there gym was really nice 
(and a lot bigger than our gym here in Eek).

This was the weather when we were stuck, notice the wind chill.

     When we were leaving on Sunday, we were loading the plane and I set my bag down, because it was so icy and windy my bag started blowing away! I also made the mistake of only wearing a thin glove on one of my hands instead of putting my glove on as well and by the time I got on the plane I though my hand was going to fall off it was so cold. I had only been outside for about five minutes, shows you how fast below zero temperatures can affect you. It was a little bit of a bumpy plane ride getting back to Eek, but we finally made it safe and sound.
     We also ended up having our own junior high basketball tournament in Eek a week or so later. It was fun to go and watch and help out, but it was also nice to sleep in my own bed that weekend. :)

     One of the other teachers, Dirk, had a snowmobile or snowgo (as the locals call it) and before he got rid of it he took Kayla and I out for a ride. This was back in February so everything was still frozen, but it was a really nice day. It was a lot of fun, we went up river a ways (around 10 miles maybe) and Dirk even let me drive!

The river and someones fish camp.

The snowmobile and me having the time of my life!

The beautiful mountains, that was the closest I've been yet!
(other than being in an airplane)

This is the tower in Eek, it looked so far away.

     The Eek river is partially affected by the tides, so we get overflow on the river. This is where the river is frozen and when the tides go in and out water pushes up through the cracks in the ice and flows over the ice. It appears as if the ice is very thin and water is coming through, which is kind of scary. In reality it is just water sitting on top of a very thick layer of ice. The river was definitely frozen and safe to ride on, but we did have to go through a little overflow water. Basically the only thing bad about it is that you get a little water on you, which can be very cold. I took a video of us driving through the overflow water.

Enjoy! As always, thanks for reading!