Phyllis in Silicon Valley

Phyllis arrived on a sunny afternoon on March 23rd and she was a little pooped. The little groundhog has been busy traveling all over the world: Mojave desert, San Antonio, Missouri, Philadelphia, Texas, France, and many other places. Click here to see her World Tour.

We were all very excited that she could visit us here in Silicon Valley (San Jose, CA). First order of business was to get rested up before her big day tomorrow. Here she is enjoying some shut-eye with a few friends.

Rise and Shine. Phyllis is a weather hog and fairly good at predicting the weather. She is way better than our silly weather clock. Phyllis knew the temp was only 47 degrees even though the clock said 66 degrees at 9am in the morning.


Location: San Jose, CA (elevation – 85 feet)
Date: March 24, 2012
Temp: Hi-53  Low-45
Conditions: Cloudy with some light showers

Phyllis knew that human meteorologists need to use computers to model weather patterns and make forecasts; they don’t have her special weather predicting abilities. Since we were in Silicon Vally, we visited the Intel Museum and learned a little about micro-processors and semiconductor chips in general.

Phyllis wanted to know why the San Jose and surrounding areas are known as Silicon Valley. This area is home to a large numbers of semiconductor companies. Semiconductors chips exist in every electronic gadget TVs, cellphones, cars, computers, and many more. Intel is famous for developing some of the first mainstream micro-processors, which became the brains of the IBM personal computers (PCs) back in the early 1980’s.

Phyllis wanted to know how the chips were made. She was astounded to learn that plain ordinary sand is used to obtain silicon. A purification process is used to obtain silicon that is 99.999999 percent pure.  This pure silicon is used to grow a solid ingot as seen in the picture on the left. Then it is sliced and polished to a mirror as seen in the picture on the right.

After that the layers of other material are deposited onto the wafer. In the picture below, each layer is shown with a different color. These layers are building the circuits that make-up the micro-processor.

Phyllis’s head began spinning after learning all of this. So we decided to dress-up in bunny suits and have some fun. Semiconductor workers have to be covered from head to toe, since even a spec of dust can ruin a semiconductor chip. Rooms were wafers are processed are called “clean rooms”.

 

Phyllis wanted to wear a bunny suit too.

Everything here is measured in nanometers, the metric used in chip design. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Phyllis was happy to know she was quite large by Silicon Valley standards, almost 500 million nanometers tall!

 

Phyllis had a very enjoyable time learning, but she doesn’t think she wants to be an engineer; weather forecasting is her first love.

In honor of Phyllis, we headed over later to the neighbors with kids in tow for story time and crafts.

The kids enjoyed Phyllis’s company immensely. The loved the April’s Fool’s jokes and the riddles. Anjali, my eldest, has been pulling April Fool’s jokes since the reading, she can’t wait for April 1st to arrive. Following the reading the kids made some colorful portraits of Phyllis using this downloadable activity.

 

 

We enjoyed Phyllis’s visit very much and hope she had a good time too. We wished she could have stayed longer, but alas she still has many more places to visit. So we said goodbye and directed her to Clovis, CA.

Where is the Green Sheep?

A very helpful librarian handed me this book as I was doing research on picture books that dealt with prepositions and opposites. I have to admit when I first read this book (alone), I didn’t think much of it. Later I read it to my four-year old and saw her face light up. I guess sometimes to really understand the appeal of a book, you just have to read it to a kid. This has become my daughter’s new favorite book, which is really saying something since she normally only wants to read Disney princess or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. So in honor of my little girl I write today’s book review.

Title: Where is the Green Sheep?
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Judy Horacek
Publisher: Harcourt, 2004
Book Type:Fiction
Ages: 2-4
Themes: Vocabulary, Opposites

Opening Sentences:
Here is the blue sheep. Here is the red sheep.
Here is the bath sheep. And here is the bed sheep.
But where is the green sheep?

Synopsis (from Harcourt site):
There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep?

Activities:
Classroom:

  • This lesson plan has numerous activity ideas. Make flash cards for the word and have kids pair the opposites together. A song to the tune of “Are You Sleeping”. Create artwork of sheep doing the different activities and then write a few sentences about what the sheep is doing.
  • This reading guide provides discussion questions, suggestions for creating your own “Where is the Sheep? story”, phonological awareness activities, and many more.

Craft:

Parent-Tot:

  • Sit your kid in the lap, and have them point to the sheep matching the text you just read.
  • Once your child has become familiar with the book, encourage them to tell you lines from the story or even the entire book.

Why I Like this Book:

This a sweet, simple, colorful book perfect for pre-schoolers. In the beginning I had my doubts of the moon sheep and the bed sheep, since it isn’t grammatically correct. But after seeing my four-year old fall in love with the book, and read it to herself (more like recite from memory) any concern I had faded away. Each page just has a short line with a complementary picture, this works great for kids taking that first step into reading. After every four sentences the question “where is the green sheep” appears; this will keep kids turning the pages hunting for that elusive green sheep.

Here is one of my daughter’s favorite page spreads.

 

This review is part of Susana Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Love, Splat

With so much Liebster love going around the blogosphere and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I decided to pick a book about school crushes. After all, which kid or adult hasn’t had one? For those of you who heart for Ryan Gosling (actor from Ides of March & Crazy, Stupid, Love), go check out Tara Lazar’s post, it is hilarious.

Now onto the book review for this week. Wishing you all a very happy early Happy Valentine’s Day!

Title: Love, Splat
Author & Illustrator: Rob Scotton
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2008
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Valentine’s Day, Shyness, Humor, Friendship, Love

Opening Sentences:
Splat stared into the bathroom mirror. A worried Splat stared back. His heart drummed and his tummy rumbled.
He straightened his whiskers, ruffled his fur, and brushed his teeth. Today he wanted to look just right. After all, today was Valentine’s Day.

Synopsis (from Harper Collins site):
It’s Valentine’s Day and Splat has a special valentine for a certain someone in his class. Her name is Kitten, and Splat likes her even more than fish sticks and ice cream. But Kitten doesn’t seem to like him at all—she always ties his tail and pokes his belly when she sees him. And then there’s Splat’s rival, Spike, who also likes Kitten. Will Splat’s heartfelt valentine win Kitten’s paw in the end?

Activities:
Here is a link to a one-page “fill in the missing letter” worksheet featuring words from the book. Since this is a Valentine themed book, here are is a site with free themed classroom activities.

Why I Like This Book:
Just a simple, fun story of boy likes girl. Boy thinks he isn’t the cat’s meow or is he? I enjoyed seeing the journey that Splat went on from grooming himself in the morning, to knocking down Kitten by mistake, to competing with Spike about who likes Kitten more, to watching Splat feel down trodden and then learning everything isn’t what it seems. This is a book full of heart.

Rob Scotton does a brilliant pairing of descriptive, short text with colorful, funny illustrations. I love how you can see the individual cat hairs. Other Splat picture books include Splat the Cat, Merry Christmast Splat, Scaredy-Cat Splat, and Splish Splash Splat! There are also a series of Early/Level Readers as well.

Here is the trailer for Love, Splat.

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus

This book is the fourth book in the Anna Hibiscus series written by Nigerian author, Atinuke.

Anna Hibiscus is a young helpful, caring, brave, adventurous girl who lives in Africa. She has never been away from Africa, where she is surrounded by her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Anna Hibiscus is going to go to Canada to visit her grandmother. There are a number of first experiences in this book for Anna Hibiscus: traveling on a plane, seeing snow, having a dog in your home, meeting Granny Canada, playing with kids from a different background. Anna Hibiscus beautifully handles the ups and downs, that come with experiencing a new culture and place. When it is time to return home to Africa she is sad to leave, but is anxious to tell her family about all the wonderful things she did like sledding, her best friend Qimmiq, and of course chocolate cereal!

This book has a great balance telling a story that any child could relate to and introducing aspects of multiculturalism.
Anna Hibiscus may be from Africa, but some of the experiences she has such as seeing snow, trying to make new friends, being around a dog for the first time. She could have easily been a girl from Florida visiting a cold, snowy, Canada for the first time.

The author does a great job at capturing the excitement and the not so great things that come along with being in a cold environment. For instance being in a cold place means getting used to wearing lots of layers of clothing and being cold when you first get out of bed in the morning. But being able to see snow falling or go sledding makes it all worthwhile.

Aspects of multiculturalism can be observed, when you see Anna Hibiscus adapt to Western food which comes in packages and isn’t quite as spicy as her native food. But, she does love her new discovery chocolate cereal. She is afraid of dogs since in her hometown dogs are strays, running around carrying diseases. Neither she nor her family can fathom having a dog in your home. Anna Hibiscus learns a dog can be your best friend.

This book as so much heart, which is why I love it. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Anna Hibiscus responds back to a statement made about her inability to ice skate since she is African. Anna Hibiscus replies “My name is Anna Hibiscus … I could not skate because it was my first time. Not because I am African.” I love this line and only wish I had this book, when I was growing up in rural Pennsylvania as one of a handful of immigrant Indians. I love Anna Hibiscus’s courage to stand proud. One of the funniest scenes for me was early in the book when Anna and Auntie Jumoke are on the plane and Anna gets hungry. Auntie Jumoke comments on the food cart “That is not food … It is plastic, pretending to be food.” Auntie then pulls out of her bag boxes filled with their native food. This totally reminded me of my grandmother and Aunty who take food with them whenever they travel.

I think this book is applicable to all young girls no matter whether they be Caucasian, African, Asian, Latino, or any other place in the world. It has something for everyone.

Recommendation: Add to Home Library
Author: Atinuke
Illustrator: Lauren Tobia
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus

This book is not readily available in many public libraries. If your local library does not have it I recommend using your library’s interlibrary system if possible. It is well worth the wait.

NOTE: This book was nominated by Madigan McGillicuddy for the 2011 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks!