Do you like Chocolate? Do you eat Peanuts?

We investigated Chocolate and how it was first introduced to the world.

Do you like Chocolate?  We learned today that Europeans eat more pounds of Chocolate each year than the USA.   Even through when it was first delivered to Spain they did not like the bitter taste of the Cacao so they added sugar to make it taste better in their drinks.   They keep it a secret for a long time.  The Europeans did not learn about this secret until 100 years later when they hear about adding the sugar.   Do you know where cacao beans grow?  How many beans does it take to make a pound of Chocolate?  Do you know how much Chocolate is eaten at Valentine’s Day?

Some ways we like Chocolate are in candies, Chocolate ice cream, pudding, chocolate chip pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, hot cocoa, chocolate milk, Chocolate muffins.  What is your favorite type of Chocolate?


Where did the peanut originate?  How is it used?

We like Snickers candy bars which has chocolate and peanuts.

We like to eat roasted peanuts.

Some of us have allergies to peanuts.

Peanuts do not grow on trees like nuts do.  They are related to beans and peas.

Do you eat peanuts in your country?  How do you like them?


North Carolina – Agriculture All Around Us

Agriculture picture for consumers

North Carolina is one of the 50 states in the USA.  Asheville NC is in the blue NC is green.

North Carolina is one of the 50 states in the USA. Asheville NC is in the blue NC is green.

This emblem tells consumers the product is grown in North Carolina and encourages us to buy products locally grown.  You can find this a local farmer’s markets.

North Carolina grows many agriculture products because we are located in a diverse climate area with many different types of soil.  We have three regions in NC- the Appalachian Mountains, the Piedmont and the Coastal Plains.  The coastal plain is next to the Atlantic Ocean.   We have growing seasons from 130 days in the very northern mountains to 270 days near the coast.

Those 3 regions vary with their topography, soils and climate.  About 2/5 of the state is called Coastal Plain and Tidewater.  Another 2/5 is the Piedmont (which is where we live in the Piedmont plateau).   To the west of that area is the rolling rugged hills and the areas of the Appalachian Mountains which is home to the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountains and this makes up the last 1/5 of the regions. Asheville is a town in the mountain area and is shown in blue.   The highest point is Mount Mitchell at 6,648 feet above sea level.  The lowest is where NC meets the Atlantic Ocean sea level in the Coastal area.  There are large farms of many acres and smaller family farms across the state.  NC has small gardens to larger farms raising food for people to consume and sell.  The average farm size is 163 acres and there were 52,400 farms in 2009.

Did you know that NC ranks….

  •  1st  in the nation for production of flue-cured tobacco and sweet potatoes — there are less farmers growing tobacco these days than in past history when it was a popular product.  Sweet potatoes are growing in popularity so more are being harvested each year.
  •  2nd in production of Christmas trees.   The Fraser Fir is the most popular type grown.  1,300   NC growers produce about 19% of the real Christmas trees in US.  It was named for John Fraser,   a Scot botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains in the late 18th century.  This is another product not for eating but with a great income potential for farmers. It is also second in the nation in production of pigs and hogs with pork as a popular meat dish.  NC is known for it’s barbecue pork and chicken dishes.
  •  3rd in the production of strawberries and cucumbers. We have a large pickle company called the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, Inc., established in 1926, which produces a full line of quality pickles, peppers and relishes.  They sell their products in over 45 states making it the second bestselling brand of pickles in the country.  You can go to farms to pick your own strawberries and buy them at local markets.
  •  4th in product of upland cotton.  Cotton is one of the main crops not totally for eating.  Parts of it is used in salad dressings and oils.  Mostly it’s used for jeans, shirts and other clothing products.   Parts are used to feed animals.
  • 5th in peanut production and broilers (chickens for eating).   Some people are allergic to peanuts.  Many types of peanuts are produced but a large portion of those raised are used as peanuts in the shell.   Restaurants often have a bucket on the table for eating before the meal comes.


Other agriculture products in NC  include the greenhouse/nursery industry and crops of soybeans, corn, wheat, peanuts, blueberries, potatoes, and tomatoes.  We also raise hogs and pigs, turkeys, cattle and calves and chickens (broilers for meat).  It is 2nd in the nation in production of pigs and hogs, trout and turkeys and 5th for broilers.  We raise chickens for eggs.  North Carolina produces a large amounts of sweet potatoes, cucumbers to make pickles, lima beans, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, strawberries, bell peppers, blueberries, Chile peppers, fresh market cucumbers, snap beans, cabbage, eggplant, watermelons, pecans, peaches, squash, apple, and grapes for millions of people in the United States and numerous other countries.  North Carolina has become a major producer of trout and catfish with the popularity of eating healthy and eating fish.   Throughout the state farmer’s markets set up for the various seasons and sell produce.   NC sends other produce to grocery stores and other states and countries.

blueberries for blog sweet potatoes for blog biltmore 3Gymanasticsschool october 119

Union County produces hay, corn, soybeans and wheat as top crops.  It is also a large producer of broilers, layers (chickens for eggs), turkeys and cattle. There are about 1,000 farms with about half the total acres being farm land.

chickens for blog800px-Map_of_North_Carolina_highlighting_Union_County.svghay field for blog800px-Map_of_North_Carolina_highlighting_Union_County.svg

Why is agriculture important to everyone?

Do you know why agriculture is important to you?  Why is it important to others around the world?

Think about your day!  What did you have for breakfast?  Where did it originate?   Is it something grown in your country?

Think about what you are wearing?

What’s for lunch and dinner?

What agricultural products are in your home, school, business?

Each day we all use, eat, or wear something made from an agricultural product.

Many things do not resemble the original product because of the way things are processed.

Do the items you listed come from somewhere else?   If so what country did it come from?

Tell us what you had to eat today.   Did you have to import any of it?

We would also like to know what it would cost in US dollars to feed your family for the day and for a week?   Do you eat fresh foods, pre-packaged meals, lots of snack foods, meats?  What is special about meals at your location?   Tell us about a typical meal.


Agricultural Around the World

What can we learn about agriculture around the world and food production? If we produce so much of the  top commodities like wheat, corn, sugar cane, rice, why do some people go hungry?     Students will begin exploring and investigating these and other questions in our integrated unit of study.

What are the top foods produced in your location?

Do people face a shortage of food and go hungry where you live?

Students in my classes  (K-5th grade) are coming up with many questions as we begin our unit during the season of harvest festivals around the world and study of The First Thanksgiving in America.

If you can help answer our questions we’d love to have a comment from you.  We want to learn about agriculture around the world.

Greek Civilizations and Greek Gods and Goddess

Second grade students started a reading unit learning about Ancient Asian Civilizations then moved on to an introduction about Greek civilizations.   Students gathered together to view videos from Discovery Streaming to start the study about Greek civilizations.  They were able to see the architecture and buildings in ancient Greece and see buildings in the USA using the same architecture.  They learned that Democracy started in Greece before the Romans brought it to the New World.   During reading time they continued to learn about the civilizations and inventions they shared with the world.  As they became engaged in the unit they learned about the Gods and Goddess and their influences.

Greek Gods and Goddess As a culminating activity on October 29th, students were allowed to dress up as their favorite God or Goddess.  This is what some students said about the experience.

Stephanie G. and Chauncey in Ms. Dunleavy’s , Mrs. McNeill’s class told about their favorite character.  Students from other classrooms told how much they enjoyed the event.

Athena is a very important goddess of many things. She is goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill.

Stephanie said she “picked Athena because she liked war and wisdom a lot.  She seemed really royal because she was Zeus’s daughter.  I really like dressing up as Athena and it made me feel like a real goddess.”

Chauncey said,” he liked being Zeus because he was the god of lighting and a leader.  I felt happy because everybody dressed up like their favorite God or Goddess.  I learned he was like a father to all the Gods because he was a leader.”

Kami said, “It was awesome.”

Diana said,” It was cool.”

Bryson said, “It was good.”  “It was fun dressing up.”

Faith said, “It was cool and exciting.”

Kendall said, “It was super fun and they had super powers.  She thought she looked awesome as Hera.”

Aiden said, “They were very powerful.  Zeus was the most powerful.  Zeus could throw thunder, lighting and rain.   There were 12 main Gods and Goddess.  I felt weird at first dressing up as Zeus then got used to it.  They have human looks and have super powers.”

Gods and Goddess Greek Civilizations Where are we from? Greece Which one are you? The Greek Gods and Goddess ThGreek Gods and Goddess e students will further increase their knowledge through Greek mythology in their next reading unit.  Greek myths tell about the adventures of the Gods and Goddess.   They explain beliefs and how things came to be.

Uniting the World with Learning and UNICEF

World Education Games learning with other students around the world. Rocky River students compete and earn points to help support students around the world through UNICEF during the week of October 12th in global studies classes. Several students at Rocky River had a chance to compete in the world’s largest on line educational competition with over 5 million students from around the world.  This is a three day event with literacy, math and science competitions.  Students can compete with students from many different countries that are on line at the same time.  The computer generates a group of 3-5 students for each game.    This live completion is called the World Education Games and begins in Australia in the southern hemisphere.

For the literacy competition a sentence will be read aloud and you must spell the missing word.  You will earn points for every correct answer.  To win the game, race to beat your opponent across the finishing line—but be careful!  Three incorrect answers and you are out of the game!  The points from the first 20 games will count as the official score on World Literacy Day.  In the event of a tie your average speed is important, so be sure to answer quickly!

For Math the game continues until the clock runs down to zero.  Continue answering questions to earn points as quickly as possible—but be careful!  World Maths Day is about speed and accuracy, three incorrect answers and you are out of the game!  The points from your first 20 games will be counted as your official World Maths Day score.   (Note: in some parts of the world the word Maths is used instead of Math).

Due to technical difficulties and time students were unable to compete in the science portion on the final day.

This is fun.  Wonder who we will play against next time. For every 5000 UNICEF points earned by students during the World Education Games, 3P Learning donates $1 towards the supported UNICEF education projects such as Schools in a Box which helps kids continue learning after a disaster (earthquake, flood, and tsunami).  This program can get them on track within 72 hours by providing materials for a teacher and her students.   The more points earned, the more students they can support!   The games are organized by the 3PLearning and sponsored by Microsoft, UNICEF, 3PLearning and MACQUARIE (Australian based).  At this time there were 169,474,201 points earned with a final count soon.

Overall top players was John G. and Sara C. (4th graders)  for literacy and math.   Three students received UNICEF certificates for Math points (Connor S. (4th grade) and Ezra B. and Joshua B. (3rd graders).  Congratulations to all these students!  Awesome job.


Global Recognition for Rocky River

We are excited to be recognized for the 3rd year as an International School in Union County Public Schools of North Carolina.   UCPS is considered a leader throughout North Carolina for its focus on global education.  For the past six years, the UCPS Global Schools Program has encouraged educators to bring global education into the classroom.

Schools are rated in five categories depending on points earned through its level of participation.  Schools document their growth through an electronic portfolio as we infuse globalization into the curriculum.  It shows our schools’ commitment to connecting our students to others around the world. We are proud of our work and accomplishments.  Documentation included work with our sister schools in England and Australia.  Our VIF teacher (Visiting International Faculty) also brought the English culture to our school through many lessons about her country of origin.  We learned about many countries of focus through each grade.  Kindergarten focuses on North America, First graders focus is Africa, Second graders focus on Australia/Oceania, Third graders focus on Europe, Fourth graders focus is Asia, and fifth graders focus is South America.   The whole school had a program about the Chinese culture and a focus about castles around the world especially in the United Kingdom.   Students collected money for a service learning project through Heifer International and was able to donate several animals to make life better for others around the world.  We participated in virtual field trips to the Great Barrier Reef and for Remembrance Day in England.  Second grade students learned about rugby, foods, and castles during International Club with Mrs. Harlow (VIF teacher) and Mrs. Todd (Global Teacher Leader).

During a principal’s meeting (October 1) 49 schools were recognized with a plaque.  Principals of schools designated International Schools received a banner to display at their schools in addition to the plaque.  Fifteen schools were classified as International Schools which is the top recognition having earned 85+ points.

At the next staff meeting the plaque and banner were presented to the global committee and staff.

AwardInternational School AwardSchool 2014 738

Rocky River Students Show Global Citizenship and Leadership

During the month of May all 43 classes from Pre-K to 5th grade (860 plus students) joined together with Heifer International to complete a service learning project.  During the year we had learned what it means to be a global citizen and that one part of being a global citizen is learning about problems and taking action to help solve them.   We focused on hunger and collected money for Heifer International.  The animals purchased will go to many places in the world to provide food, wool and money for the family.   The money from selling extra eggs, milk, wool, a baby animal will then help families pay for schooling, homes, and needed items in order to make their life better.

Rocky River Students Show Global Citizenship and Leadership

Students heard a story about young Beatrice from Uganda, Africa and how her family faced many challenges.  After hearing the story Beatrice’s Goat students came up with ways they could earn money to donate.  Some of their ideals included a lemonade stand, selling old toys they no longer wanted, doing chores, tooth fairy money, allowances, and gift money.   Students made posters to advertise the project and an announcement for our broadcast. Then they went out and found ways they could earn money to donate and take action against world hunger.

Along with individual student donations  Girl scout Troop 2906 consisting of Lia, Jada, Liani, Emma, Taylor, Tristan (all 2nd graders) and their leader Mrs. Zarger  made this a community project and collected a lot of money.

The student’s and their families were very generous when they donated $548.69 toward hunger and making a better life for others.  This extended their learning when they were able to use some of their 7 habits (Leader in Me) strategies and take action to help others around the world so they can show their global citizenship.

We donated an alpaca, goat, sheep, honeybees, ducks/geese, a share of a heifer and a hope basket with (rabbits and chicks).  Students discuss where they thought these animals would help out and what it means to have a sustainable living.  When you purchase a share of an animal then other money is put with it from other donations toward the purchase.

When it was all done and the money sent to Heifer the students said, “It made me feel really good to help someone out.”  “I felt proud of what I did.”  “I want to continue helping other people.”  “We helped a lot of families.”

We want to thank everyone in the community, students and families that helped with world hunger.


Our Second Visit- Blue Ridge Parkway



Blue Ridge Parkway                                                           Katherine

The Blue Ridge Parkway starts in Byson City, North Carolina and ends in Waynesboro, Virginia. The parkway is free to go to, but most people spend up to $3.00 dollars in hospitality and in the gift shops. Some activities you can do there are camping, shopping, golfing, hiking , bicycling, fishing, swimming & motorcycle touring all of these activities cost money to do which adds on to how much an average person spends. There are hiking trails in North Carolina & Virginia. The most popular in North Carolina is the Waterrock Knob trail, and the Cumberland Knob trail. When you go camping there are 9 camping grounds. The most popular are the Otter Creek campground or the Roanoke Mountain campground. While you are at the parkway there are many places to stay including bed & breakfast inn, cabins, cottages, rentals, hotels, motels, lodges, campgrounds, rv parks, resorts, and ranches.


“NC226A-Blue Ridge Parkway” by Washuotaku – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –\


Traveling North Carolina

As we begin our project to teach students in Ireland and Around the World about places to visit in North Carolina we look out our windows this week you’d see  lots of rain. So if you came now to visit you’d need a rain coat or umbrella and some rain boots. It’s probably like we think you are most of the time.  We have read that you get lots of rain.   We didn’t have rain on Saturday but it’s poured heavy rain much of today.   They are calling for some severe storms possible with tornado watches for late this afternoon and tonight.  Flooding is forecast in some low lying areas.   The temperature is 70 F or 21 C.  It’s warm so bring shorts and t-shirt along with the rain gear, hiking shoes, and jeans and sweatshirt for layering.    Tomorrow a cold front will arrive in the area.

The trees have gotten their new spring leaves and the grass is growing for the spring mowing season.   Azalea bushes are blooming now in whites, pinks, red, and purples.  There is a lot of pollen in the air and on everything.  If you have allergies bring tissue and allergy medicines.  We’ll travel there by car which will take between 1 1/2 and 2 hours.  If we are on a field trip we will go by a school bus and it may take longer.

Our first stop on our agenda…..

  • Have you ever wondered about minerals and gems?  
  • Where do you find them?
  •  What kinds are there?  
  • Do you like nature and wildlife?
  •  Then you’ll like our first stop!

Sophie July 2014 April 2012-mountain 002 Sophie 2014 David's camera july 2012 199


Emerald Hollow Mine   located  in the foothills of the Brushy Mountains is in a small town of Hiddenite, North Carolina.  It’s a unique and interesting geological location on the North American continent.  Emerald Hollow Mine is known as “The Gem Capital of the World,” and provides educational fun experience for everyone.  You can spend a day in the foothills digging, sluicing or creeking “ for gems.  They offer Earth Science and Field Trip programs to tour groups and teams.  There are more than 63 different types of naturally occurring gems and minerals.  Many are rare including emerald, aquamarine, sapphire, garnet, topaz, amethyst, rutile, tourmaline along with more abundant ones of the world like class smoky and clear quartz crystals.  It’s the only place on earth where you can find the rare gemstone “Hiddenite”.big hiddenite 08

Hours 8:30 am to sunset (ranging from 5:00 p.m. in mid-winter to 7:00 p.m. in mid summer).

Open every day except for Thanksgiving (Nov – fourth Thursday), Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

You can bring your RV and park it nearby with complete hookups.  There are motels/bed and breakfast in nearby cities of Statesville, Hickory and Taylorsville.  You can bring a picnic lunch or stop in one of the nearby cities for a meal.

Staff will answer questions, offer instructions and help identify gems/minerals you find.

There is also a complete lapidary shop (where they turn your finds into jewelry and beautiful cut stones).

Other things to do-  DO NOT PICK THE WILD FLOWERS.

  • Breathtaking scenic views
  • Abundant wildlife
  • Walks/hiking and nature at it’s best.
  • Year round- Children’s activities
  • Free parking
  • Gift/retail shop
  • Picnic area
  • Rental equipment
  • Guided tours
  • Rustic mining town atmosphere
  • Splashing in the cool stream during the hot summer

Picture of sluicing from—

hiddenitegems02minerals and gems Emerald 65 carat Largest Emerald Found  (CBS news)

Sluicing, Creeking, and Digging

Sluicing Permit- $5.00- most popular and easiest.   Have a seat on covered sluiceway and wash buckets of ore to find gemstones.  Additional buckets range from $5.00 to $1000.00.  Variety of buckets to choose from such as the  “Super Bucket-  5 gallon enriched bucket for $15.00


Creeking- Sluicing/Creeking Permit)- $10.00  Cutting through the rich ridges of the mine there are sparkling clean, clear , mountain waters called creeks.

Digging:  Combination Permit- $20.00.   Digging is hard work but motherlode finds are made chasing veins.

Creek Screen and Hand Shovel- $2.00 more with a  $5.00 deposit for set $3.00 refunded upon return of tools.

Digging Tools- $5.00 set- $10.00 deposit- $5.00 refunded upon return of tools.

Check out their official website here for more details.

Travel Agents Coming Soon!

We are going on spring break Thursday and will return April 13th.  At that time we will be getting our newest project off to it’s first post about places in North Carolina and the United States to visit.

 We look forward to learning about places in Ireland at that time with students from – Greystones,  Wicklow County, Ireland and the class called If Only the Best Birds Sang   and teaching them about our country as we explore places to visit.

  •   If you were a travel agent for your country what places would you recommend to visitors.  If you’d like to join our project we’d love to hear from you too!  We’d like to hear from more classes around the world about a special place in your country.  

We will also be completing our castle projects during April.  The second grade international club is working on their castle challenge to complete their own castle out of recyclable materials by April 14th.  Look for their designs then.  The students in the rest of the school will learn about castles that week during Global Studies.

The International Club students also took a virtual field trip last week to Australia and the Outback thanks to Ross Mannell who prepared  extended comments for us to visit around Australia since a real trip was not possible.  We were amazed how flat and red it is there. We have  white-tailed deer but not kangaroos. The deer cross the road and get hit by cars, they come in our yards and run off when we appear and some people eat venison meat. We have possum not echinda.  We have ostrichs but not emu.   Where we live we have more green.  The trees are leafless during the winter other than evergreens and some grass is still green and many shrubs.  Now that it is spring everything is turning green.


April 2012-mountain 002Farm 2012

This week we went back to England, Scotland and Wales to learn about foods which was made possible through Project Britain by Mandy Barrow. The students were amazed about eating baked beans for breakfast.  We have a different kind of biscuit that is bread and used for breakfast a lot in the US.   Mrs. Todd had learned about foods in Mrs. Monaghan’s home a few years ago when she took time to share with her class items in her pantry.  Some were very different from ours like chips and fries.  Some cereal looked similar.   Mrs. Harlow lives in England and is here teaching some of us as a visiting teacher.   These teachers are helping us study about these two areas of the world.  We’d like your help too!!

We wonder if Ireland eats the same kind of foods as England, Scotland and Wales?

International Club lasted a few weeks for about 20 energetic seven and eight year old’s.  We did dot art painting of kangaroos and other animals, visited the Outback and saw life there, learned about the Aboriginal people in Australia , learned about Castles and foods from Europe.  Our focus country is Australia and our Visiting teacher is from England so we learn about both places which is interesting to compare.   Our last week after break will be learning a dance from England, learning about schools in Australia and sharing our castles.

We hope some of you can join us in learning about places in Greystones Ireland and North Carolina/USA.  Perhaps you’ll share some of your special places with us during this project.


Let Us Hear from You…….. about Castles

We know there are special castles out there so let us hear from you about one.   Even if you are in the United States tell us about a different one.  We can look them up on the internet but we think it’s a lot more fun to have someone write on our blog about the castle and what makes it special to them.

You can’t add your own pictures in a comment but send Mrs. Todd a picture and she will add it to the site so everyone can see your castles.


Do you know the parts of a castle?  Have you read about different castles in books you’ve been reading?  You can even tell us about one of these if you don’t have a real one to write about.



Middleham Castle (A Room with a View)

Mrs. Monaghan had commented about the castle outside their classroom (A Room with a View) and mentioned their blog site and the picture of their castle.  Below are pictures taken from that site. See the original post about Castles Around the World to see her answers to our inquiry questions about castles.

They are located 2 hours from Scotland and 3 hours from London.

They are located 2 hours from Scotland and 3 hours from London.


Picture used from A Room with a View (blog site) of Middleham Castle.

Picture used from A Room with a View (blog site) of Middleham Castle.Middleham Castle


Castles, Castles Do you have one?

We decided to do some inquiry learning and investigate castles around the world.  We need your help to learn about special castles in your area.   Please help us out by answering some of our questions.

  1. Where is your special castle located?  Continent/Country/City
  2. When was it built?  How old is it?
  3. Why was it built?
  4. Who lived in the castle?   Does anyone still live there?
  5. Is it used for other purposes now?
  6. Do you have more than one castle within 25 miles of your school/home? or even 50, 75, 100 miles away.  Tell us about that one also.
  7. How many rooms in your castle?   Where there unusual rooms in the castle?
  8. What is your castle built with?  Describe the outside of the castle.
  9. Does your castle have a drawbridge?  
  10. Is the castle built in the city, a small town or rural area?   Why do you think this was a good spot for the castle?  Tell us about the land features around the castle.
  11. Describe the inside of the castle.   
  12. Does it cost to visit the castle if it’s open for public viewing?


North Carolina is one of the 50 states in the USA.  Asheville NC is in the blue NC is green.

North Carolina is one of the 50 states in the USA. Asheville NC is in the blue NC is green.

North Carolina-  Asheville   35° 32′ 22.74″ N, 82° 33′ 3.42″ W     35.53965, -82.55095

biltmore 3 biltmore 4

Winter at the Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Winter at the Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Mountains


Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina


Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

biltmore_fall2009 biltmore_estate_garden_600x biltmore 2

Biltmore Estate is a large private estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina.  Tourist pay to go see it throughout the year.  It was built between 1889 and 1895 in a Chateauesque-style. It is the largest privately owned home and is owned by a descendant of the Vanderbilt’s.  It is 178,926 square feet of floor space and 135,280 square feet of living area.  It was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II and is on the US National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks. Richard Morris Hunt was the building architect and Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscape architect. Vanderbilt’s estate was modeled after two other impressive houses. One of these was a manor in Buckinghamshire, England called the Waddesdon Manor. The other was Chateau de Blois in the Loire Valley in France.

Vanderbilt wanted his home to follow the traditional agrarian model, which included a main manor house with tenant farms, a small town, a church, and a school. He put so much work into the building process because he wanted the estate to be self-sustaining and produce its own income.   It had its own herds of sheep, swine, poultry, dairy herd,  gardens, and nurseries.  An on-site kiln produced up to 32,000 bricks daily, and a woodworking factory supplied oak and walnut for the house’s floors and walls.  Indiana limestone, Italian marble and other supplies were shipped into Asheville by rail. Inside, the house is distinctively English. The country estates of Knole, Hatfield House and Haddon Hall provided guidance for the design of the interiors while they found inspiration for the house’s exterior in the 16th-century chateaux of Loire Valley, France. The stair tower and steeply pitched roof line were inspired by three specific chateaux: Blois, Chenonceau and Chambord.

Biltmore has four acres of floor space and a total of 250 rooms in the house including 33 bedrooms for family and guests, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces and three kitchens.  There are four floors and a basement area that had a swimming pool, gym and bowling alley.  At Christmas they decorate with around 15,000 strings of lights and 41 decorated trees for visitors.  During spring they have the Festival of Flowers when the gardens are blooming with over 100,000 different colors of tulips.  During summer many roses and other plants bloom. The Biltmore house is the largest home on the property but there are other buildings on the Estate. There are 125,000 acres around the estate area.

The name Biltmore comes from Holland and England not their names.  “Bilt” is a region that belongs to the Vanderbilt family in Holland and “more” refers to the countryside that is quite hilly in Old English terms.  The area of Asheville is in the mountains of North Carolina and the Biltmore Estate is hilly.

The Vanderbilt’s wanted to help others so in 1889 the Vanderbilt’s took considerable pleasure in founding the Biltmore Forest School, the first institute for scientific forestry in America. George and Edith also founded Biltmore Estate Industries in 1901, for the purpose of creating an apprenticeship program to teach traditional crafts such as weaving and woodworking. Students enjoyed creating many things, including reproductions of furnishings within the mansion and were encouraged to sell their works for income.

George and Edith’s only child, Cornelia (1900-1976) was married at the All Soul’s Church in Biltmore Village in 1924 to the honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil (1890-1954). Cecil was a descendant of Lord Burghley, the Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I.

Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

Boyd, Louise. dsc01641.jpg. June 2004. Pics4Learning. 18 Feb 2015 <>






What do you know about China?

Have you ever wondered about other places and wanted to travel there but didn’t have the time or money? Children may not have the opportunity to visit another country to learn more about the people and their culture but are very curious and excited to learn. Students took an in house field trip to China when The World in Our Backyard came to Rocky River. The experience provided a very hands on learning adventure into the Asian country of China for pre-k through fifth grade students.

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Students in Mrs. Jones fourth grade class made a poster about what they learned.

  • “The dragon is made from several animals including the snake, fish scales, tiger, eagle, camel, water buffalo and deer ears.”
  • “The money has a hole in the middle and they put it on a string and wear around their neck or if it’s a lot on a belt.”
  • “They use symbols that stand for words and write from right to left not left to right.”
  • “China is the size of the US but with a lot more people.”
  • “They drink tea with every meal and eat rice at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They use chopsticks to eat with and set at a round table.”
  • “The dragon Neo was scared of noise and the color red. The people scared him with noises makers and wore red. “

First grade students in Mrs. Brown and Ms. Murphy/Takac created a group PowerPoint and these are things they learned ….

  • The biggest McDonald’s in the world is in China. They don’t serve rice just hamburgers. They eat the hamburgers in small cut up pieces so they can use their chopsticks. They learned about the 2 hump camels, Bengal tiger (white), panda, birds and water buffalo (used in rice fields). Outside activities are ping pong (table tennis), haircuts (no barber shops), Tai Chi and Chinese Checkers. They learned about the kings and that the first was 7 when he was on the throne and the youngest was 3.

They were able to experience the way people read and write using a pen and how different the writing is with symbols for each word. Students learned how the Chinese invented things like paper, umbrella (paper one to keep sun off of you), chop sticks (that they carried with them), and silk. Some students experienced how they would carry baskets on a bamboo pole to the market with their babies in the basket and how it was different in the city and the country because of space. They learned bamboo is used to make many things. The older students were fascinated with the Great Wall of China model and the story of the Terracotta Soldiers/Army.
Students participated in a lion dance and scared the dragons away with noise makers. They learned some basic Tai Chi movements that are done each day before school starts. Chinese New Year is each year when there is a new moon and is held in January or February. This year is the year of the sheep and will be on the first lunar month with the new moon (February 19, 2015).

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