Snow Island: The Christmas lantern walk
On one particular night in December, Orion and Capella were allowed to stay up late. This was because they were taking part in Snow Island’s first-ever lantern walk. Trailing behind their parents, they followed other hikers through the woods along the Star Trail. Soon, the group would arrive at the observatory where they would be able to admire the night sky and, if they were lucky, catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
Illuminated by the glow of their lanterns, the twins happily joined in as the crowd sang Christmas carols. The mood was merry, and it was a perfect night for a stroll.
Suddenly, someone cried out in pain.
“Mrs. Isla twisted her ankle,” a man called out.
Several people turned back to help the mayor, who’d been keeping stragglers company at the back of the group. Orion, Capella, and their parents quickly followed. While the mayor apologized profusely for having ruined the hike, the adults discussed what to do. Some thought that one person should wait with her until help arrived, while others offered to help her hobble the rest of the way to the observatory since it wasn’t far.
Just then, Orion had an idea: “Hey, why don’t we make her a stretcher?”
“Yes, we learned how to make one this summer at the Little Explorers’ Day Camp,” his sister added.
“It won’t be easy to do by lantern light, but I think we can make it work,” one woman responded cheerfully.
Excited to put their knowledge to the test — and to help Mayor Isla — the twins began explaining what to do. For many, the activity brought back memories of their own childhood out¬door survival lessons, and a sturdy stretcher was built in no time.
A few people carefully helped Mayor Isla onto the stretcher, and the stron¬gest members of the group carried her up to the observatory while others lit the way. Soon, they joined the rest of the crowd who’d gathered around the observatory and extinguished their lanterns.
Capella was disappointed not to see any northern lights, but then her brother pointed to the sky and cried out with excitement: “Look, you can see Orion from here!”
“You’re right,” she replied, gazing up at the constellation her twin was named after. “Help me find my star!”
“Your star?” asked the mayor, who’d been positioned on the ground nearby.
“Yes, Capella is the brightest star in the Auriga constellation,” the girl explained.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” the mayor replied. “Your parents must really like stars if they named you after one.”
“It’s because they met here,” Orion said. “Dad took his class on a field trip to the observatory, and Mom was their guide.”
“How romantic,” Mayor Isla exclaimed, following the girl’s finger as she pointed up at the star that was her namesake.
After gazing at the stars and sipping hot chocolate, the hikers prepared to make their descent.
Suddenly, the sky lit up with flashes of fluorescent green. “Oohs!” and “Aahs!” resounded through the crowd as all stood mesmerized by the marvel.
There was little doubt that the first edition of the lantern walk had been a great success, especially for Capella and others who got their first look at the northern lights.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague
Spring is in the air! Test your knowledge of this sunny season with this short quiz.
1. What’s the first day of spring called?
a) The vernal equinox
b) The spring solstice
c) The Easter equinox
d) The Easter solstice
2. On the first day of spring, day and night are nearly the same length. How long are they?
a) 10 hours
b) 12 hours
c) 14 hours
d) 8 hours
3. Is spring considered the year’s first, second, third, or fourth season?
4. Which of the following holidays doesn’t happen in spring?
b) April Fool’s Day
c) Mother’s Day
d) Valentine’s Day
5. What does spring symbolize?
6. Spring is often associated with allergies. What’s considered the biggest allergy trigger?
1. a). In the northern hemisphere, spring usually begins on March 20 or 21 but can sometimes start early on March 19.
2. b). The day is slightly longer than the night on the first day of spring.
3. a). The seasons go in order from spring, summer, fall, and winter.
4. d). Spring lasts for about three months and ends on June 21.
5. c). Spring is all about new beginnings and starting fresh.
6. c). Hay fever is what you call a pollen allergy.
3 interesting migratory birds
Migration is when an animal moves from one region or habitat to another during a particular season. Many birds migrate twice a year. During the winter, they go south; in the spring, they return to the north. Here are some facts about three interesting migratory birds.
1. Hummingbirds. Calliope hummingbirds are the world’s smallest long-distance migratory birds, traveling 5,000 miles annually. They leave central and southern British Columbia in late summer, flying south along the Pacific Coast and the American West to reach Mexico. Their long purplish-red throat feathers can identify adult male calliope hummingbirds.
2. Arctic tern. Arctic terns migrate yearly from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle. This round-trip journey of about 18,500 miles makes it one of the longest migrations of any bird species on the planet. Arctic terns can sleep and eat while gliding. They can also hover in midair, much like hummingbirds.
3. Bar-headed goose. Every spring, bar-headed geese fly from India through the Himalayan mountains and above Mount Everest to their nesting grounds in Tibet. They must cross some of the highest peaks in the world, rising to nearly 23,000 feet in altitude. Bar-headed geese rely on flapping their wings, not on gliding, and can fly over 50 miles per hour without wind to help them.
Which migratory birds do you see where you live?
Spring into action: 4 fun activities
Spring is a great time to get outdoors and have fun. Here are four fun activities that may inspire you to get some fresh air.
1. Go on a nature hunt. Challenge yourself to collect unique items like pinecones, leaves, rocks, feathers, and wildflowers. You can use what you find to make crafts, gifts, and spring decor.
2. Watch birds. Birdwatching is a great way to study nature. Borrow a bird book from your local library and see how many different species you can spot in your neighborhood.
3. Dance in the rain. Spring is often associated with rain showers. Next time it rains, put on your rain gear and play in puddles. Don’t forget your umbrella!
4. Go on a picnic. Spring is the perfect time for a picnic because the weather is mild and there aren’t many insects. Bring a blanket and some delicious snacks while enjoying the sounds of nature.
Invite your friends and family to join you outdoors.
What makes it rain?
Ever wonder why drops of water fall from the sky? Here’s an explanation.
The sun heats large bodies of water like seas, lakes, and rivers, causing the water to evaporate and rise as vapor. As the moisture moves upward, it cools and condenses to form clouds. These clouds are blown toward land by the wind. As the clouds move, they gather water droplets and become heavy. Eventually, gravity makes the water droplets fall as rain. The water returns to earth, and the cycle starts all over again.
It rains more in the spring and summer because it’s warm. Warmth produces more evaporation, producing more clouds that make rain.
How are rainbows formed?
Rainbows are beautiful optical illusions. Have you ever seen one before and wondered how they’re made? Here’s a quick explanation.
Although sunlight looks clear, it’s a blend of many different colors. A rainbow is created when white light enters a water droplet and splits into many colors. This happens because the water scatters the light waves through a process called refraction. The pattern of colors starts with red on the outside and chan¬ges through orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet on the inside.
The rainbow effect can be seen when water drops are in the air, like after a big rainstorm or near a waterfall. If you want to see a rainbow, your back must be to the sun. The lower the sun is in the sky, the higher the rainbow’s arc will be.
Keep your eyes out for a rainbow in the sky next time it rains.
Spring craft: an egg carton garden
Do you want to learn about where your food comes from? Planting an egg carton garden is a great place to start.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need:
• A cardboard egg carton
• A pair of scissors
• A pencil
• Good-quality potting soil
• A spray bottle
• A plastic bag
• Vegetable, herb, or flower seeds
Follow these steps to start your very own garden:
1. Cut the lid off an egg carton with scissors
2. Poke a drainage hole in the bottom of each egg cell using the tip of a pencil
3. Place the egg carton lid under the bottom to create a drainage tray
4. Fill each egg cell about half full of potting soil
5. Drop two or three seeds into each cell
6. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil
7. Write directly on each egg cell to keep your seeds organized
8. Mist the seeds lightly with a spray bottle
9. Place the carton in a plastic bag to keep the seeds warm
10. Water the seeds regularly until they sprout
11. Once the seedlings are about an inch tall, place them in a sunny location
When the seedlings have two or three sets of leaves, ask your parents to help you transfer them to a permanent location outside. Separate each egg cell and plant them directly in the ground with the seedling. The cardboard will decompose in the soil.
All that’s left to do is watch your seedlings grow into mature plants.
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