Interactive 3D model of Solar System Planets and Night Sky

Yesterday I talked a little bit about how my kids avoid summer learning loss.  Kitty has been reading and working on these awesome Star Wars Printables.

 Those are too young for Nate, though he has be helping his sister with them. He earns his video game time by working through the Brain Quest Grade 4 Workbook. For every three pages he finishes he is allowed an hour of video games.  This works our well and is helped by the fact that the Brain Quest workbooks are colorful, engaging and cover subjects ranging from Social Studies to Reading Comprehension.  It’s the best workbook that I’ve found, and the only one Nate didn’t just immediately scoff at.

Today he was working on some pages about the phases of the moon.  He was having trouble figuring out exactly how the moon rotated around the earth, and SD Googled “3d solar system” and the first link that popped up was so cool and helpful that I had to share it with you.

The Interactive Solar System Scope is a movable 3D model of the solar system.From their website:


SSS is Flash based 3D model of Planets of Solar System and the Night Sky.
The Model consists of 3 main Views (Heliocentric, Geocentric and Panaromatic), including:
• Precise Positions of all Celestial Objects according to NASA Calculations
• Schematic Distances and Sizes for better understanding of Planet Surfaces and Motions
• a unique feature to Drag Planets through their Orbits
• a lot of interesting Settings which allow you to Observe particular Motions and Events
• Distance Calculator to measure distances between Planets even while in motion
• Earth Observatory set-up with which you can watch Celestial Happenings on your Night Sky
SSS mean Astronomy for Everybody
Kids play with Planets while Discovering Universe. Our youngest regular visitors are only 7-8 years old. Many Teachers use our model as a practical Source of Education and with SSS they are able to show and simply explain happenings in our Solar System. But anyone can benefit from SSS: it brings Knowledge, Fun and Visual Experience.

The model was developed by a Slovakian company called Sunaeon.  They created the model so that they could combine their skills in Flash development with their passion for astronomy.  They even allow you to embed it on your site, so you can check it out below without leaving!

Please install latest Flash Player to run Solar System Scope

2010’s Great Books for Children

Mary Bannister is the librarian at Nate’s school.  I went to a presentation that she gave at PTA meeting earlier this year and I was blown away by her passion for getting kids to read. It’s reassuring to know that my kid is in the hands of a real book geek.  This is Mrs. Bannister’s first year at Whittier, and Nate’s third.  I don’t think it’s coincidence that this year he has become a voracious reader. 

In this week’s newsletter from school Mrs. Bannister did a great write-up on this year’s ALA winners.  She has graciously allowed me to share this with you.  Hopefully you are inspired to go out and pick up one of these noteworthy books to share with your kids. For ease of purchase I have linked all the titles to their respective pages (Disclosure: Parenting Geekly recieves a very small percentage of  these sales which go to site maintenance). I actually encourage you to check these out from your local library or buy them from your local independent bookseller.

New Book Awards from ALA
Moon Over ManifestIt was thrilling January 11th to see the list of the new book awards from ALA this year, especially as I was introduced to many of these titles, authors and illustrators at the DC ALA Conference in June 2010.

The most well known awards are the Caldecott and Newbery, however the Newbery title (best written) took many by surprise. Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is the 2011 Newbery Medal winner. The book wasn’t available in several local bookstores. Hopefully Amazon will come through for me. I had the order placed within 5 minutes of the awards list being posted!

Babymouse author, Jennifer Holm, took a Newbery Honor for Turtle in Paradise. Other Newbery Honors went to Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman and One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. This book also won the Coretta Scott King author award. (The book was highlighted at my Readers Workshop class this summer, where we were predicting it was a strong contender for awards!) These books are being provided to the library by a WITS grant.

The Caldecott medal for best picture book went to A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead. A copy is already in our library thanks to a quick call to Mockingbird Books. We were able to get this title and the three Geisel award winners with book sales profits!

A Caldecott Honor and Corretta Scott King Illustrators award went to Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill. At the ALA conference in DC this summer I was able to get a signed copy by the author and illustrator as well as a poster which is up already in the library!

Another Caldecott Honor went to Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein and is certain to be a kids favorite!

I hope to acquire a copy of this year’s Pura Belpré Author Award The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan, a favorite author of ours! In DC I picked up a personal copy signed by the illustrator of the Pura Belpre illustrator honor award Me Frieda. The award went to Grandma’s Gift illustrated and written by Eric Velasquez, and the other honor books were Fiesta Babies illustrated by Amy Córdova, and Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh. All of these Pura Belpre titles would be excellent additions to the Whittier Library!

A favorite award of mine is the Geisel award in honor of Dr. Seuss for the most distinguished beginning reader book. This award started 5 years ago, which was my first year as a school librarian, so it is no wonder it has a soft spot in my heart. The winner was from an author that usually writes for older children, Kate DiCamillo in partnership with Alison McGhee for their title Bink and Gollie. The Geisel Honor Books were Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin, a favorite author of picture and chapter books. The list wouldn’t be complete without an appearance of a Mo Willem’s title…this year’s honor went to We Are in a Book! All three of these books are already in our library waiting for read-alouds to our youngest students!


Check out Mrs. B’s Library Blog here.