The Delta Queen will cruise again.

This riverboat used to steam down the Mississippi River. People spent the night on it. But the boat is made of wood. A law said wooden boats were not safe. The Delta Queen has not sailed in ten years. The law has been changed. The D. Q. will travel the river again.

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The Delta Queen was built just like the riverboats that traveled up and down the Mississippi River over 200 years ago. It is made of wood. A law forced this boat to stop taking overnight trips. But a new law will allow such voyages again. The Delta Queen will be fixed up. It will be like a grand hotel once more. People used riverboats to travel for business all those years ago. The same was true in King David’s time. Psalm 107:23 says, “Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters.”

 

 

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• Flat boats were the only way goods could be carried down the Mississippi River 200 years ago. These drifted with the current. Men onboard used long poles to guide them. The boat was taken apart, and the wood was sold at the end of the trip.

• There were no cars, no planes, and no cell phones when steamboats began to be used on the Mississippi River. A trip from New Orleans to St. Louis took a long six months by land. But the steamboat could take you, your family, and all of your belongings to St. Louis in only 18 days!

• John Fitch was an inventor from Connecticut. He built the first steamboat that really worked. But people joked, “Poor Johnny Fitch is trying to run a boat with a teakettle”!

• Most people agree that Robert Fulton built the first successful steamboat. It was called the Clermont. And it was his steamboat the New Orleans that first traveled down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and on to New Orleans.

•  The Delta Queen traveled over two million miles and carried five hundred thousand passengers before she was docked. Soon people again will be able to see her stained glass windows, hardwood paneling, brass fixtures, grand staircase, and crystal chandelier.

What am I?

I’m scratchy and rough. I can flick and lick. I am covered with tiny flat hooks. Sometimes my hooks get stuck on fuzzy things. That can be a problem. I have a big job to do. I help a cat scrub its fur. Scientists want to build helpful things that work like I do. I am a cat tongue!

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Alexis Noel’s pet cat Murphy is helping her learn about cat tongues. How do they work? Ms. Noel looked closely at a cat tongue. She saw hundreds of tiny flat hooks on it. The hooks pop up when a cat flicks its tongue. They wet and scrub the cat’s skin. Ms. Noel wants to make helpful things that work like a cat’s tongue. Our tongues can be helpful too! Psalm 35:28 tells us that we can use our tongues to praise the Lord.

 

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• The tiny hooks that cover a cat’s tongue are called papillae. House cats have around 300 papillae on their tongues. Bigger cats like tigers have even more!

• Have you ever wondered why cats are so clean? Cat tongues are full of tiny scoops at the end of the hooks! These carry saliva. (Saliva is drool or slobber.) The scoops push saliva deep into the fur when a cat licks it.

• The papillae on a cat’s tongue also help the cat stay cool. The scoops are little suction cups. They pull extra saliva back inside the hooks when a cat’s skin is wet. This helps to cool the cat.

• One scientist is trying to make a brush that has tiny hooks like papillae on it. This brush could help people groom their animals.

• Scientists might design a tool to spread medicine through fur.  And maybe one day Alexis Noel will make a tool to help cats get their tongues “un-stuck” from things!

She enjoys sewing.

Mrs. Spell sews and sews. She makes shirts, dresses, jackets, shorts, and pants for kids your age. Why? Hurricane Harvey hit her town. It flooded homes. Many children had no clothes to wear. God gave Mrs. Spell a gift. She is a seamstress. She is happy to give children new outfits.

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Bernice Spell lives in Lake Jackson, Texas. The hurricane dumped a year’s worth of rain during several days.  She has made clothing for children four to six years old every day for over a year. She finishes ten items each week. Then she gives them to a ministry at her church. It passes the items on to families in need. This is what Hebrews 13:16 teaches when it says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have.”

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?

• Mrs. Spell has been sewing since she was 13 years old. Her Sunday school class donated money for fabric. She also finds fabric at garage sales. She says she likes to give children new clothing and something that no one else has.

• Did you know that people around the world tell stories in cloth? Kente is made of brightly colored cloth strips. It was first made in Ghana 700 years ago. It was for kings to wear.

• The Hmong people are from Laos and Burma, called Myanmar. They make story cloths using fancy needlework. The cloths show different parts of Hmong life. 

Arpilleras [ar-pee-AIR-ahs) are made in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. The hand-sewn pictures also tell stories of everyday life.

• What Bible stories mention cloth or something made from cloth? Did you think of Genesis 37:3 and Joseph’s colorful robe? The clothing the High Priest was to wear mentioned in Exodus 28? Or maybe the linen that was wrapped around the body of Jesus in John 20:6-7?

It is a garden for kids!

Climb through a fallen chestnut tree. Find fossils in a cave. See roots underground. Visit a bog. Plant veggies. Climb a rope web. There is so much to do at this new children’s garden!

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Workers are putting finishing touches on the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden at the State Botanical Garden. Its grand opening is set for March 23 in Athens, Georgia. It also has climbing walls, mastodon fossils, musical instruments that look like mushrooms, and a tree house high in the treetops. It will be a fun place to visit. God promised His people in Amos 9:14 that they would make gardens when he brought them safely back to the land He had given them.

 

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• Alice H. Richards loved children, gardens, and gardening. Her children wanted to honor their mother after she died. So they gave a two-million-dollar gift to help the children’s garden be built.

• Bones from the skeleton of the oldest whale fossil ever found in Georgia are embedded in some walls. Kids will be able to touch them. The whale fossil was found in a part of Georgia that once was under water.

• Kids will be able to climb on the trunk of an old chestnut tree. It grew on the lawn of an elementary school before it died of a disease. There also is a hollow chestnut log tunnel in the garden.

• Sunflowers grow above an underground exploring area, Children can look through windows to see how plant roots grow.

• There also is a treehouse in the woods. Kids can climb up through it to get into the treetops, called the “canopy.”

Now there are more gorillas.

Big gorillas live in thick African forests. Once there were not so many. People made laws. No one can hunt where gorillas live. Doctors care for hurt animals. Now there are over one thousand gorillas.

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Both 1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chronicles 9:21 say, “Once every three years the ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.” Mountain gorillas belong to the ape family. They live in the misty forests along a range of sleeping volcanoes in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. People worried that these gorillas were dying out ten years ago. So they took steps to help protect all 600 animals. They are pleased that now there are 1,000. They would like to have more.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

• Mountain gorillas are the biggest apes on Earth. They are shy. But the chief male might also beat his chest and let out angry grunts and roars to scare an enemy away.

• The chief is the oldest male gorilla, called a “silverback.” He has a sliver stripe down his back. He is the gorilla that decides when his troop travels, when it rests, and when it eats. He also is the dad to many of the young ones in his group.

• Newborn baby gorillas are smaller than most human babies. And they are just as weak and floppy. They are carried on their mamas’ backs until they are almost four years old.

• Grown mountain gorillas eat about 50 pounds of plants, shoots, leaves, and roots each day. They also get most of the water they need from the plants they eat.

• God gave these animals thick, black hair to keep warm in the cold mountains where they live. They sleep in nests of vines, leaves, and branches every night. Have you ever seen a gorilla up close?

It felt like time stood still.

Two girls began writing letters to each other when they were teens. That was 65 years ago! One lives in Minnesota. The other lives on a small island near Australia. Mrs. K. flew to meet Mrs. C. for the first time. They felt “like two kids in school,” says Mrs. K.

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Lorraine Knutson lives in Minnesota. Merle Cantrell lives in Tasmania. They are 9,000 miles apart! The two women are “pen pals.” They have written hundreds of letters to one another. They have sent pictures. Mrs. C. does not have email. But now they have seen each other face-to-face. They talked and talked. They have a forever friendship. Jonathan and David became friends the very first time they met. They loved one another deeply. Read 1 Samuel 18:1-5.

 

 

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• Minnesota is state in the United States. Its name means, “sky tinted water” in the Dakota Indian language. And Minnesota has 11,842 lakes!

• Tasmania is also a state—of Australia! The Indian and Pacific oceans are around it. It is in the path of a strong wind, called the “Roaring Forties,” that circles the Earth.

• Not many people write real letters to one another anymore.  We usually make phone calls or write emails or texts. But it is not too hard to find a pen pal.

• Maybe you have a cousin or a friend who lives far away. Does your church support any missionary families? Maybe a child in one of those families would like to be a pen pal. Did you make a new friend on vacation? Keep in touch with letters!

• Did you know that many of the books in the New Testament are called “epistles”? They are letters! Ask Mom or Dad to show you those letters.

Would you race a high wheeler?

The penny-farthing bicycle was a hit two hundred years ago. Some people still love these old bikes. They race them once a year. It is risky. A man ripped his pants getting onto the bike. People might hit a curb. Others could fly over the front tire!

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Bicycles were just being invented 200 years ago. Most were quite pokey. The penny-farthing bike’s large front wheel made it go fast. The bike’s name comes from two coins in Great Britain. The penny was a large coin. The farthing was quite small. People in Prague, Czech Republic, have a penny-farthing race every year. People even dress like they did long ago. Sometimes it is not good to be hasty. But Psalm 119:60 reminds us that it is good to hasten to obey God’s commandments.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

• Baron Karl von Drais from Germany invented a “running machine” 200 years ago. It had a frame like a bicycle and two wheels. But it had no pedals. He pushed his feet against the ground to make it go!

• An interesting bike you might see today is called a tandem. It usually is built for two people to ride. But the longest tandem bike seated 35 people!

• Englishman Thomas Stevens was the first person to circle the globe on a bicycle. He crossed the United States from San Francisco to Boston about 135 years ago. He walked one-third of that way. It took him about one and one-half years more to cycle from England to Japan.

• Nine out of ten people in Denmark own a bicycle. Nearly half of all Danish children ride their bikes to school. The distance all the people in Denmark travel on their bikes each day equals circling the Earth 35 times in one day!

• Do you ride a bike? Always wear your helmet. And brightly colored clothes will help people see you. Ride in safe places. And watch out for others.

Alfalfa needs these bees.

Have you ever eaten an alfalfa sprout? Then you should be thankful for leaf-cutter bees. The little bees help alfalfa plants to grow. They land on the plant’s flowers. They gather pollen. They spread pollen to other alfalfa plants. Farmers will have good crops. But leaf-cutter bees are in trouble. Scientists study the little helpers. We need them.

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We read in Zechariah 10:1 that God gives showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field. Alfalfa is a crop that is used mostly for feeding cattle and horses. The blooming plants have clusters of purple flowers. These contain pollen that bees will carry from one plant to another. This helps more plants grow. Leaf-cutter bees were created to pollinate alfalfa flowers. But most of these bees die before they can do the work. Scientists and farmers want to learn why.

 

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• One leafcutter bee can do the pollinating work of 20 honeybees. Pollen  collects on the hairs on the underside of her abdomen. You can see pale yellow on her tummy when this bee does her work.

• A leafcutter bee lays her eggs in holes or in soft rotting wood. She lives near other leafcutters. But she does not share a nest.

• She cuts holes in leaves to line her nest. She overlaps them to make a tube that looks like a cigar. Then she cuts tiny leaf pieces to seal up each egg cell. These pieces are almost perfect circles or crescents.

• Alfalfa flowers look like clover. They grow in a short cluster of ten to twenty purple flowers. Honeybees have to press their heads against the petals to get at the nectar. The petals often smack them in the face. So they leave alfalfa alone.

• God created leafcutter bees to gather the pollen, not the nectar. So they are able to get the pollen without being smacked.

 

Russian Valenki Boots

Valenki [VAL-en-kee] are warm boots from Russia. They are made from thick wool felt. Rich people used to wear them. Now many people like them for the long cold winters. Colorful, furry, and plain valenki were in a show.

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These simple boots have been worn in Russia for hundreds of years. They are made from sheep’s wool that has been felted. That means it has been washed in hot soapy water until it mats together. Nomads in Asia wore felt boots over one thousand years ago. These work well in places where winters are very cold but also dry. They are not waterproof. But they are warm. Job 37:6 tells us, “For to the snow God says, ‘Fall on the Earth.’”

 

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• Felting happens when the fibers in wool twist around each other in hot, soapy water. They become tangled and matted together. You could make felt by squeezing an old wool sock in hot, soapy water for about 15 minutes.

• Each valenki boot is made without scissors, needles, or thread. Ask Mom if you could see a YouTube video of how the boots are made. The process is the same today as it was years ago.

• Modern valenki boots can be attached to rubber soles. That makes them waterproof. They also can be decorated.

• One Russian fisherman said he would wear his valenki even after they got wet. He said. “Get out of the water. Wring them and your socks out. And put them back on. You will be cold for only five minutes. Then your valenki will warm you up again.”

• A young Russian woman long ago might go outside on Christmas Eve and throw one boot (called “valenok”) into the air. The boot would land on the ground. She believed that the way the leg portion of the boot pointed is the direction she should go looking for a husband!

Will DeSoto have a big family?

American Indians rode Choctaw horses long ago. Few are left. DeSoto [di SOH-toe] is a Choctaw. He was the last one his owner had! Now the horse is on a new farm.  Other Choctaws live there. People hope DeSoto will be the father of many Choctaw horses.

 

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The Choctaw Indians once had many horses. These were small but strong. Their story is sad. The Indians lost their land. They lost their horses too. Choctaw horses are rare today. But this horse family will be big again. King Solomon had a huge horse family. He had thousands of horses! Read 1 Kings 4:26.

 

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• A horse breed is a kind of horse. The Choctaw breed came to America 500 years ago. Spanish explorers brought them to Mississippi. The beautiful horses were different colors. Many looked painted in shades of white and brown. Their manes and tails were full. They were gentle, hard-working, and smart. The Choctaw Indians owned thousands of them.

• But the government took away Choctaw land nearly 190 years ago. The people were forced to move to Oklahoma. Their long, sad walk was called “The Trail of Tears.” Many of the people and their horses died on the trip.

• Some Choctaw horses survived the Trail of Tears. They worked hard. They became ranch horses because they worked well with cattle. But the number of Choctaw horses got smaller and smaller. One farm in Oklahoma had a few. No others could be found.

• Then veterinarian Phillip Sponenberg got a big surprise. He visited Poplarville, Mississippi, to look at some cattle. Out of the woods came DeSoto! Dr. Sponenberg was sure that he was a Choctaw because he moved smoothly. He did not have the bouncy trot of most horses. A blood test proved that DeSoto is a Choctaw.

• Now DeSoto will become a daddy to many Choctaw foals (baby horses). These horses will work on ranches again. They will live in Oklahoma and Mississippi.

Floods are ordinary here.

Venice is a beautiful old city in Italy. But it has a problem. It floods. High winds pushed water from the sea into the city last fall. Workers build flood-gates around the city. But it is taking a long time. So moms, dads, and kids pull on their high boots. They slosh off to school and work!

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This lovely city was built on 118 small islands. The city also sinks a bit every year. The ground under it is squishy mud. The November flood was the highest Venice has had in ten years. A flood-gate project was begun 15 years ago. It is called the “Moses Project.” (Can you guess why?) There have been delays. It is not yet finished. Psalm 29:10 reminds us that God has power over all things—even floodwaters. He “sits enthroned over the flood”!

• Water from the Adriatic Sea floods into a lagoon around Venice. The plan is to install 78 movable gates to keep the water out when it gets too high. Air is pumped into each gate when that happens. The gates then rise up to block the water.

• Venice’s 118 islands are connected by 177 canals and 417 bridges. People who need to take buses ride vaparettos—water buses!

• Streets in Venice are very narrow. Some houses are built larger at the top than the bottom. Windows stick out over the streets to save space below.

• Gondolas are narrow boats. They have been used in Venice for over 1,000 years. Anyone who visits the city must take a ride in a gondola.

• Venice once was a city filled with artists. Their work can be seen in museums, in churches, and on buildings. There is so much history in Venice.

Is it just a watch?

Do you know many people who wear watches? Our phones tell time today. We do not need watches. But some people look for fancy watches that someone else once owned. The watches are made well. They are lovely. They last a long time.

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People today do not buy as many ordinary watches as we once did. But the number of people who buy pre-owned luxury watches is growing. It is not so much about telling time. People like the idea of having something that has been handmade and will last a long time. And already-used fancy watches cost far less than buying the same thing brand-new. God created us to remember the past, live in the present, and hope for the future. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that there is “a time for every matter under heaven.”

 

DID YOU KNOW?

• People long ago told time by looking at where the Sun was in the sky. They also saw that shadows from trees or rocks changed as the Sun moved. That would tell them what general time of the day it was, such as noon when the Sun is straight overhead.

• The ancient Egyptians also noticed that different stars could be seen at different times of night. Soon they divided nighttime into 12 sections. They did the same with daytime. How many hours do we have in a day today?

• People then learned how to measure time with an hourglass. Two hollow glass containers were connected. The top one was filled with enough fine sand to trickle through the hole for one hour. Then it was turned over and so on. Back-and-forth all day.

• A German locksmith named Peter Henlein invented a mainspring to make clocks run. It was a flat ribbon of steel wound into a coil and attached to gears in the clock. But none of these told the correct time very well.

• The first clocks small enough for people to carry were worn on a chain around the neck. It wasn’t until about 100 years ago that wristwatches were worn. Now we have digital watches, watches that speak or spell out the time, and many other kinds. Do you have a watch?

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