When a certain kind of rock called marble is polished it is beautiful. It looks like a shiny map of a thousand endless rivers that branch and curl up-down-around-and-back. Or like the shadows of windblown vines. Marble is limestone rock. Some of its patterns are made by minerals in the rock and some by fossils-what’s left of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.
Look for marble the next time you go into a big building downtown. You will see that marble is used for fancy pillars or walls-places where it will be seen. It’s hard to remove marble from the ground, buy you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make paper that has patterns as pretty as those in marble.
You need only four things: a large pan , water, a sheet of paper slightly smaller than the pan and India ink or oil based paint. Fill the pan half full of water. Very slowly dribble a few drops of the ink or paint on the surface of the water.(Do not mix!). Blow lightly over the surface of the water so that the colored drops form a design or pattern. Place the paper flat on top of the water. Pick it up immediately and set it aside-colored side up-to dry.
You can use this marble patterned paper to decorate a wall in your room. You can use it for gift wrappings. Or you can paste it on ordinary little boxes. The marble patterned paper will make the box pretty enough to be placed on a shelf, where they’ll make handy containers for pins, keys, coins and other small things.
With a rumble and a grumble the concrete mixer truck goes along the highway. As the truck moves, its funny looking back part keeps rolling over and over mixing the concrete that is inside. Finally the truck stops at a place where a new road is being made. The concrete comes out of the truck and workmen spread it out evenly on the ground. You’ve probably seen concrete mixer trucks-and perhaps you have a toy one.
The first concrete wasn’t much like the kind we make today. People mixed wet clay with stones from the earth to build walls and houses. It worked- but only in dry countries where the rain couldn’t was it away. And even there it didn’t work nearly as well as today’s concrete.
Concrete can be mixed by hand when it’s to be used for very small jobs, such as replacing one cracked square in a sidewalk. Sand or gravel is mixed together with a heavy gray powder called cement. They are mixed in a box with water. Then everything is stirred around with a shovel or hoe until the mixture looks like gray sticky paste. Lat of all, the mixture is poured into the hole where the new square will be, and the concrete is smoothed out.
Does it sound simple? It is. You could even make your own concrete. All you need is some sand or gravel and some cement from a store. Mix them carefully with water and you will have concrete. Don’t let anything stick to it while it is drying. After it is dry and hard, you can’t make it soft again. Of course for floors and sidewalks and roads and big buildings and bridges it would take too long to mix concrete by hand. So the trucks with built in mixers are used. The mixers do all the work on the way to the job where the concrete is to be used.
Big buildings used to be built with rock or with bricks. Some still are but most big buildings today are built with steel and concrete. Some buildings are made almost entirely of concrete. The concrete is brought by the cement mixer trucks and poured into wood or metal forms to make the walls and floors.(The forms are a little like big low boxes, open at the top.) When the concrete has hardened the forms are taken away-leaving a new concrete wall or floor.
Sometimes parts of a building are made in a factory where concrete is poured into special forms or molds. When the concrete has hardened into the shape that is wanted it is carried to the building in a truck. There it is lifted into place as you might move building blocks into place, except that the concrete is so heavy it has to be lifted with a giant crane. Think about it for a moment. Concrete is almost like a rock-a rock that we can make. We can make this rock into almost any size and shape and build things with it.
In the very long ago times when people lived in caves, they didn’t have many of the things that we have now. They didn’t have hammers and saws. They didn’t have knives. They didn’t have furniture or dishes or blackboards or chalks. They didn’t even have door. But do you know what they did have?Rocks.
They used rocks for just about everything. Maybe the first thing they used rocks for was a chair. They could find a rock chair almost everywhere. It probably didn’t take them long to learn how to throw a rock, either. If a growling wild animal came running at a caveman, about all he could do was run or climb a tree..or pick up a rock and throw it at the animal.
At night a caveman could roll a big rock in front of his cave to keep the wild animals out. Later he learned to use rocks for tools and weapons. Using a hard rock for a hammer he made arrowhead and spearheads out of other rocks. Here’s how he did it” First, he had to find out what kind of rocks would shatter when hit by another rock. A quick and careful blow from a rock hammer would slice a thin layer from such rocks. The caveman kept hitting the thin layer until he had made a point on one end.
With the rock tools he made for himself, the caveman skinned animals, cut meat and sharpened sticks he used for hunting. Another stone that would bot break easily was pounded until it had a sharp edge like an ax. But the caveman’s rock ax didn’t have a handle. He held the stone in his hands and split wood with it. And he used it to dig for roots that were good to eat.
The caveman also used rocks for making pictures. Perhaps he got idea from seeing marks made by bear claws on a cave wall or from the hand prints that he made when he leaned against soft clay. He began to scratch out pictures on the walls of caves. In different places in the world we can still see some of those pictures. And today although we don’t have to live in caves, we still have many the same needs that people had then. And some of the tools we use have not changed much since the caveman first picked up his rocks.
Some hounds chase sticks or rabbits. Others go to get their master’s newspaper. But a rock hound is a person- a person who is very interested in rocks! A rock hound named Gary has been searching through a pile of gravel all morning long. Gary knows that emeralds have been found near this place. If he can find just one emerald he will be very happy. But emeralds are not easy to find.
With his prospector’s pick he chips away at some rocks. Finally he comes to a rock that looks a little different from the rest. He cracks it open and there on the inside are tourmaline crystals. Tourmaline is not so valuable as emerald but it’s still exciting to find. Gary puts the tourmaline into a small bag he has tied to his belt. As he leave he thanks the farmer who had given him permission to search for rocks on his property.
Most rock hounds never find a diamond, a ruby or an emerald. Some of the most rare and valuable rocks are crystals. Some crystals are clear-almost like glass. Experts know how to cut and polish crystals to make them into beautiful gems. You see crystals of many different colors in rings, necklaces or brooches.
Agates are not very valuable but the rock hound sometimes slices them with a special saw and then polished them. The shiny slices often are made into earrings or pendants.Sometimes a very ordinary looking rock has sparkly crystals inside. Most rock hounds like to collect as many different kinds of rocks as possible. On their vacation they may travel to different parts of the world to search for the kinds of rocks they need for their collection.
Richard lived in the days when soldiers in armor fought with spears and bows and arrows. Richard who was to become king of England, liked to fight. He even wrote songs to sing while he and his soldiers were marching to battle.
Richard was only a young boy when his father the king gave him his own land to rule. One of the first things Richard did was to join two of his brothers in a war against his own father. Then he fought a war with his brothers. Once after his father had helped him in a war, he turned and aided his father enemy!No one could tell this young man what to do. He wasn’t afraid of anything or anybody. England called him Richard the Lion-Hearted.
When his father died, Richard became king. But having the ferocious of lion was not enough to make him a good king. Now that he was king, Richard could get even more money to keep his armies fighting. He was hardly ever home. He fought battles to help people. He fought battles to get more land. And he sometimes seemed to fight just because he liked fighting. Once he was captured by enemy rulers and spent two years in prison.
When he died it was from a battle wound. His country and people had not known him as a kind king. Yet he was remembered aw a hero by some. Others remembered him as a dashing young man who wrote songs and still others remembered how brave he had been in battle. Some people remembered him with love. Yet there were those who remembered his bad temper and those who remembered his cruel deeds.
Maybe you think animals are the only ones that eat grass. But people eat it, too. At least they eat the seeds. Wheat, rye, corn and rice are all grasses. You probably have rice once in a while in a sweet pudding or maybe with meat or vegetables. But about half the people in the world eat rice almost every day of their lives. Rice is very important that millions of people on the other side of the world-in the countries of Asia-would starve if they didn’t have it.
One of the things that makes rice so different from other food grains is that it grows in water. The land under the water has to be smooth and level like a tabletop. This is so the water will be just as deep in one place as in another. If it’s too deep the rice won’t grow. If it’s not deep enough it won’t grow either.
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In the countries of Asia the muddy ground is plowed by big black water buffalo pulling a wooden plow. Then the tiny rice plants are planted in rows. If it doesn’t rain enough, water must be brought from lakes and rivers to flood the fields. The water comes through canals or irrigation ditches that men dig. The rice plant grows under the water with its green shoots sticking out.
In the rice fields in some places, giant machines do the work instead of water buffalo and wooden plows. Great tractors with steel plows dig and level and smooth the earth. The rice is sometimes planted by scattering the seeds from airplanes! What happens when there is not enough flat land to make a rice field? the level places are dug out of the mountainsides one above the other. They look like giant green steps built for a giant who wants to climb the mountain. Each giant step has a little wall of mud around it to hold in the water that is brought down the mountainside in ditches.
When the rice is ripe, the plants turn yellow. Then the water is drained off the fields. When the ground is dry enough the rice is harvested. In Asia this is done by cutting the yellow stalks with knives and tying them into bundles. When they are dried the brown hulls are removed from the rice seeds. This is often done by beating the rice on mats. In some places the harvesting is done by giant machines, which even put the rice into sacks. Then it goes to a factory where it is put into little boxes and shipped by train or truck to grocery stores. Some of it is exploded into a puffy breakfast cereal that you can eat for breakfast with milk, sugar and sometimes fruit on top.
Many years ago in Holland there was an artist named Rembrandt. He loved people and he loved the beauty of the countryside. In his time artists usually painted pictures of kings and queens and other rich and important people. The people in the paintings did not look like the people we see every day. Rembrandt wanted his pictures to show people as they really are. Many of his paintings and drawings show ordinary people doing everyday things.
Throughout his life Rembrandt experimented with light and shadow in his paintings. The faces in his portraits glow with light from a surrounding darkness, showing their inner spirit and his paintings of groups seem to shimmer with life. One of the Rembrandt’s well known paintings is called ” The Night Watch.” It shows a group of soldiers coming out of an arched gateway. At first people complained that they couldn’t see all the faces in the painting clearly. Rembrandt said that of course they couldn’t. He explained that when men are coming out of a dark place the light shows on some faces more than it does on others.
Rembrandt is also famous for his self-portraits, or pictures of himself. Today three hundred years later-people still go to art museums to look at this great artist’s paintings.
Where do all the colors of the rainbow come from?People have wondered about that ever since the world began. When there are things that people don’t understand many stories are invented to explain them. And so it has been with rainbows too.
Ancient Greeks thought rainbows were special signs put in the sky by the gods to tell people when terrible wars or storms would happen. Some people believed a rainbow was a bridge built so that the gods could walk easily from the sky down to Earth and back again. Other people said and this is a story that is still told today-that if a person could travel to the end of a rainbow, he would find a pot of gold waiting for him there.
Of course there is no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.( There isn’t even any end to some rainbows! If you were flying high in an airplane or a space capsule, you might look down and see a rainbow as a circle.) What is a rainbow, really? A rainbow is colored light. We usually see a rainbow after a storm-when the sun has come out to shine again but there is still a little rain in the air.
All the colors of the rainbow are found mixed together in sunlight. And when sunlight passes through raindrops the sunlight is broken up into its different colors-all the colors of the rainbow! Rainbows are always in the part of the sky that is away from the sun. So the only way to see a rainbow is to stand with the sun behind you. Most rainbows appear in the early in the morning or late afternoon, when the sun isn’t too high.
You don’t have to wait for rain to see a little rainbow. You might see one in the spray of a fountain or in a waterfall. You can even make your own rainbow, Turn on a garden hose just enough to spread the spray. (Don’t forget to aim the hose away from the sun.) No matter what causes a rainbow, it’s one of the most cheerful sights you can see. It usually means the end of a storm, with the air clearing up and good weather ahead.
“Don’t look now. Cover your eyes. Wait until we’ve gone around the curve. Now look.”If you were traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota for the first time, walking or riding through the lovely pine and birch forests and you took just the right turn in the road and looked up, you might not believe what you saw. Starting down at you from high up on a mountain would be four giant faces.
They are the biggest sculptured faces in the world. Carved into the rock of the mountainside, the granite faces are 60 feet high-as tall as a six story building. Even the pupil of each eye is as big as a basketball. These huge heads are of four Presidents of the United States-George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The mountain is called Mount Rushmore and the land around it has been turned into a national park. Every year thousands of people come to see these great stone faces.
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The artist who carved the faces was Gutzon Borglum. It took him and his helpers many years to do the work because it was so difficult. Few people had ever carved into a mountain before. First,Mr. Borglum had his men make marks on the side of the mountain. There was a mark where the tip of the nose would be. There was a mark for the eyes and one for the point of the chin. The men were lowered by steel roped over the side of the mountain to chip and drill away the rock. They drilled holes in the granite a few inches apart until the side of the cliff looked like a gigantic honeycomb.
With a machine called an electric bumper they smoothed down the sides of each hole in the honeycomb. This smoothed the surface of the rock. The nose, forehead and chin of the first face began to appear. Sometimes the rock could not be broken with hand tools. Then small charges of dynamite were used. But the workmen had to be careful. Too much dynamite and they might blow up all they had carved! The head of Abraham Lincoln was almost finished when the workmen ran into a large crack. Work on that part of the cliff had to be given up. The head had to be dynamited to erase it.
Later it was recarved on another part of the mountainside. When people praised his work, Mr. Borglum made a little joke.”I did’t do much,” he said.” The faces were always in the mountain. I just had some of the rock knocked away so that the faces could be seen. When the last of the four heads was finished, thousands of people gathered at the foot of the Mt. Rushmore. Powerful search-lights lit up the great stone faces one by one. Mr. Borglum had created a monument to United States history that would lat as long as the mountain lasted.
At different times and in different places in the world men have carved other huge sculptures. About 3,000 years ago in Egypt the giant forms of sitting figures were carved into a rock cliff in front of the temple of an Egyptian leader, Ramses II. When the Aswan High Dam was built, the engineers said it would make the biggest man made lake in the world. To keep the water from covering the famous carvings, they were cut into pieces and lifted to the top of the cliff and put together again. You can see them there today.
The Great Sphinx is a huge statue built in ancient Egypt. This one wasn’t cut into a rock cliff. The Sphinx is a fantastic creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. It is 2540 feet long from paws to tail. It was built of stone and was meant to guard the tombs of the kings in the pyramids. The Statue of Liberty is another huge statue and this one is not so old. It is a copper and iron statue of a woman holding a torch high in the air. She stands 150 feet tall at the entrance to New York harbor. The statue was given to the United States by the people of France as a sign of friendship.
Rabbits have things that keep them safe-Long ears for hearing the slightest sound,Sharp claws for digging a nest in the ground, Big eyes for looking to see what’s around, strong legs for running in case they are found. The kind of a rabbit you’re most likely to see has a little white nub of a tail, like a fluff of cotton. That’s why it’s called a cotton tail rabbit.
The mother rabbit is gentle when she’s taking care of her babies.Before they’re born she builds a soft padded nest in a hollow scraped out under the grass or in a burrow between the big roots of a tree. She carefully shreds leaves and collects grass for a nest lining. Then she pulls bits of a fur from her thick coat to make a warm, snug bed. Baby rabbits can’t see at first. And they haven’t any fur. So the mother never leaves the nest without covering it with more leaves and grass to keep her babies safe.
Rabbit mothers aren’t gentle when their babies are in danger from other animals-such as dogs, foxes, snakes, owls or hawks. They kick hard with their feet and they bite! Jackrabbits and snowshoe rabbits don’t build nests. Their homes are flat places in the grass under tree or in brush heaps. Their babies have fur and can see from birth.
But then they aren’t rabbits. They’re called rabbits. They look like rabbits. But they’re hares. They’re bigger and fatter. Their ears are longer. Their legs are so much longer they could jump across a big living room in one jump..which is about twice as far a rabbit can jump! Snowshoe rabbits turn white in the winter so their enemies can’t easily find them in the snow.
Both rabbits and hares hunt for food at night-juicy green plants and crops in warm weather, berries and bark from trees in the winter. They hide during the day. And if you’ve heard the story about the rabbit jumping into a thorny bush to stay safe..it’s true. They make twisting paths through thorny under brush where their enemies can’t follow.