Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Make Your Own State Puzzle

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


You can make your own state puzzle by cutting out each state from a wall map, gluing the pieces onto poster board, and cutting them out again. The pieces are then more durable, and your kids can put the puzzle together over and over until they learn the location of each of the states. The fun thing about this puzzle is that it’s like a floor puzzle–it’s so large. You can store the pieces in a Ziplock bag.


Other geography activities you can do with this puzzle:

  • Hold up a state, and the child has to name the state from the shape.
  • Name the capital of the state you are holding up.
  • Blindfold the child and hand the child a state. See if the child can figure out which state it is.
  • Hold up a state and name the bordering states.
  • Time yourself to see how fast you can put together the puzzle. Hold races between children to see who can put the puzzle together the fastest.
  • Hold up a state and have the child say the two-letter abbreviation for the state.
  • Grab a slide projector or an overhead projector. Hold up each piece and look at the silhouette. Name the state.

Take a look at how you can make your own state puzzle:

Trip Across the USA

Friday, July 9th, 2010

trip-across-the-USAOn our trip home from Tennessee, more disasters awaited us. While visiting my sister’s family, we had gotten our air conditioner replaced, because it had stopped working, and it was July. Keep in mind we live in Washington, and the trip back would take a week. The temperatures were scorching.

As soon as we crossed the border into the next state over, we heard what sounded like a small explosion. We pulled off the freeway into a parking lot. My husband opened the hood and told me something had exploded. It was the brand new air conditioner. Green liquid covered everything like an invasion from outer space. My husband asked me for a rubber band, a bag, a twistie, and other odd objects. He thought to himself out loud, “I need a bungie cord.” Keep in mind that I was praying the whole time because it was around 7 pm, and all repair shops were closed. We would be stranded in the middle of nowhere if God didn’t help us.

Suddenly a little old man materialized. He had a bungie cord in his hand. He helped my husband jerry-rig the exploded air conditioner in place so that we could limp to the next town and not be stuck. He had such a cheerful disposition that I couldn’t help asking, “Do you know Jesus?”

“Yes,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. As he walked away, I had an odd feeling that he was an angel. I told my husband what I was thinking as we pulled away.

He answered, “The man had a pickup truck.”

“Oh,” I said.

I was glad that it was evening, even though it was still light outside. It was sweltering hot, 89 degrees even with the windows down. I looked behind me at the children. They were beet red with sweat dripping down their faces. I’m not joking when I say that all four of them had wet hair. They looked like they were going to faint. Once again, I cried out to God in desperation.

I had barely finished speaking my prayer when a boom of thunder cracked overhead, and rain started pouring down. Within five minutes, God had cooled the car by 10 degrees. I had a lump in my throat as I looked at my husband. There’s no way that wasn’t God.

We had just studied weather in our homeschool, and we were in “Tornado Alley.” One of my sons said there was a funnel cloud off to the right hand side in front of us, and he started crying. I asked my husband if we were driving into a tornado. He calmly answered, “That’s not a tornado.” The rain was pouring down so hard, our windshield wipers weren’t fast enough.

At long last, we arrived in the next town. We found a Motel 6, and my kids, after staying in motels for two weeks said, “Home sweet Motel 6.” We slept well that night with the air conditioner cranked up.

Driving Across the USA

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

A few years ago, my sidriving-across-the-usaster’s daughter was having a wedding, and we couldn’t afford to fly our family from Washington to Tennessee. So we decided to take the long road trip. Because of our tight budget, we stayed at Motel 6 in most cities. The first night (Rapid City, SD) our room was the size of a closet, with two supposedly double beds against each wall with one foot between them. Two kids with sleeping bags were on the floor. Needless to say, they occasionally got stepped on. The air conditioner stopped working, and it was the month of July. Sweat trickled down my face as I stared at the bullet hole in the curtain. I didn’t exactly feel safe. All four children were asleep, and I was glad that my husband had his gun.

After seeing Mount Rushmore and other fun sights, we spent the second night at the same motel. I dreaded going to bed. The children were all happy and tired from a day well-spent, full of bright and interesting adventures.driving-across-the-usa-2

For some reason we left the next morning without getting coffee. I hadn’t gotten much sleep due to the sweat on my skin and the occasional sound of sirens. My husband agreed that it was a bad part of town when I pointed out some shady-looking characters as we packed up the car.

As we drove for mile after mile with nothing in sight in either direction, I asked my husband when we would be stopping for a potty break. He said there was nothing anywhere for a long time. Oh, my. I needed to go diarrhea, and I was going to have to go behind a tumbleweed in full view of my boys. No, I was not going to let this happen. I prayed like crazy.

Suddenly there was a billboard in the middle of nowhere. It said, “Coffee 5 cents; Wall Drug; Exit 8 miles; Restrooms.” If a rainbow appeared behind it with a pot of gold, I couldn’t have been more happy. Billboard after billboard proclaimed the same happy news. My husband said this wasn’t on the map. I said, “Drive faster.” After all, I’ve given birth four times, and you mothers out there know what I’m saying. You just can’t hold it forever.driving-across-the-usa-3

We finally got to the exit. My husband slowed down to 20 mph. I said, “Alan, I’m not going to make it if you don’t speed up. Every second counts. You think I’m kidding. I’m not.”

He sped up slightly, saying, “I’m going to get pulled over.” As if on cue, a police car flashed his lights and pulled us over. I’m not making this up. It really happened. As the policeman came to my husband’s window, I said to him, “Please, I need to go diarrhea really badly!” He walked back to his police car with my husband’s license and registration and proof of insurance.

I waited as the precious seconds ticked away. Miraculously, the policeman returned to the car and only gave my husband a warning. We were on our way again. When we arrived at Wall Drug, I got out of the car. It was too dangerous to run, so I just walked quickly.driving-across-the-usa-4 When I reached the restrooms, they were closed for cleaning. I’m serious.

I said, “Excuse me, I’m sorry. It’s either diarrhea in the toilet or right here on the floor…” I didn’t stop walking. I barely clicked the latch and didn’t even care that there was a man in the bathroom. I think he exited right away.

I tried to find my family by going out to the car. The van was empty. I had no money and no keys. I felt like I was going to faint not only because of the heat, but because of my lack of coffee. All I needed was 5 cents. I looked at a pile of pennies and had no access to it.

If you have ever been to Wall Drug, you know that it is an enormous mall that seems like an amusement park. There is a dinosaur that roars, panning for gold, teepees, and many other amusements. I walked through shop after shop after shop. I couldn’t find my family. I wanted to cry. I thought to myself, at least I found a bathroom.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, I found my family. “Coffee,” was the only word I could say, holding back the tears.

That is not the end of this story. After I had coffee, we looked around the shops because I was collecting Christmas ornaments that represented our trip. For example, I had bought an ornament with Mount Rushmore on it. Oddly, I found an ornament of an outhouse. I didn’t buy it at the time, and now I regret it. What a hoot that would be! How symbolic of that experience! (My husband couldn’t believe I didn’t get it. I told him as we were entering the on-ramp for the freeway.)

I’d like to say that things got better, and maybe they did. But that night my husband and I slept in a broken bed. I felt like I was trying to pull myself out of a ditch all night. The following night the toilet overflowed all over the floor, and my son hadn’t even put any toilet paper in it. Thankfully, we were given a room next door for free, so we had two rooms with a connecting door. We felt rich. The bed wasn’t broken, the air conditioner was working, and we could close the door and have some privacy. Maybe this trip wouldn’t be so bad after all.