<![CDATA[KidSenz - News for kids - February]]>Sat, 05 Dec 2015 13:47:51 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Presidents' Day]]>Fri, 13 Feb 2015 06:51:35 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/february/presidents-day

Presidents' Day, is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of February. The national holiday, Presidents’ Day, is observed to celebrate George Washington's birthday. America's first president was born on February 22, 1732. After Washington's death, our nation began celebrating his birthday as a way to remember his life and how he contributed to establishing America's independence.

In 1865, the year after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, America began celebrating Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th. Until 1971, both February 12 and February 22 were observed as federal public holidays. In 1971, President Richard Nixon considered combining the two holidays into one. There was however reluctance in doing this. So, while some states honor Lincoln on this day, the Federal holiday is still to observe George Washington's Birthday.

Presidents' Day weekend is a great time to visit Washington, DC and pay tribute to America's most famous leaders. Special festivities and parades honoring George Washington, are held in the Washington DC area and other states throughout the weekend.

Most businesses are open as usual, and many stores hold sales on Washington's Birthday. Delivery services, except for the Post Office, have a regular service and many, but not all, public transit systems operate on regular schedules. Some schools close for the whole week for a mid-winter recess.

George Washington
George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. His first term as president was from 1789 to 1793 and his second term from 1793 to 1797. Before he became president, he played several important roles in the military, leading the American Continental Army to victory over the British in 1783.

Washington is often seen as the father of the United States and is probably the best known American politician ever.The likeness and name of George Washington can still be seen in many places in the United States. There is the portrait of him and three other American presidents carved into Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. His image is also used on the one-dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. The capital of the United States, Washington D.C., Washington State and at least three universities are named after him.

Gem Words
Assassinate: Kill (an important person) in a surprise attack for political or religious reasons.
Honor: Regard with great respect. Pay Public respect to.
Tribute: An act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration.
Phenomena: An occurrence that can be observed

Written by Ekta Kapur
<![CDATA[Grammy Awards]]>Sat, 23 Feb 2013 07:44:19 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/february/grammy-awardsPicture
A Grammy Award (originally called Gramophone Award)  recognizes outstanding achievement in the music industry. The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959. The 55th Grammy Awards were held on February 10, 2013, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Highlights of the 55th Grammy Awards:
  • Gotye and Kimbra won the Record of the Year for "Somebody That I Used to Know", to become the second Australian and first New Zealand group to win the award.
  • Mumford & Sons won the Album of the Year for Babel, and
  • Fun won the Song of the Year for "We Are Young" as well as the Best New Artist.
  • Kelly Clarkson won the Best Pop Vocal Album for Stronger, and became the first ever artist to win the award twice.
  • Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys won the most number of awards during the ceremony.
This was a spectacular show with several great performances by Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Sir Elton John, Alicia Keys and many more.

Fun Fact:
The gold-plated trophies, each depicting a gilded gramophone, are made and assembled by hand by Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado.  The trophies with the recipient's name engraved on them are not available until after the award announcements, so "stunt" trophies are reused each year for the broadcast.

The Nomination Process
  • Record companies and individuals may submit recordings to be nominated.
  • Nominations are made online and a physical copy of the work is sent to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
  • Once a work is entered, reviewing sessions are held, by more than 150 experts from the recording industry, to determine whether the work is eligible and entered in the correct category for official nomination.
  • The resulting list is circulated to all NARAS members, each of whom may vote to nominate in the general field (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist) and in no more than nine out of 30 other fields on their ballots.
  • The five recordings that earn the most votes in each category become the nominees. There may be more than five nominees if there is a tie in the nomination process.
  • After nominees have been determined, final voting ballots are sent to Recording Academy members, who may then vote in the general fields and in no more than eight of the 30 fields.
  • NARAS members are encouraged, but not required, to vote only in their fields of expertise.
  • Ballots are tabulated secretly by the major independent accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
  • Following the tabulation of votes the winners are announced at the Grammy Awards.

The recording with the most votes in a category wins and it is possible to have a tie. Winners are presented with the Grammy Award and those who do not win are given a medal for their nomination.

Gem Words
Spectacular: Beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way.
Gilded: Covered thinly with gold leaf or gold paint.
NARAS: The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc., known variously as The Recording Academy or NARAS.
Nominees: A person who is proposed or formally entered as a candidate for an office or as the recipient of a grant or award.
Tabulation: Information set out in tabular form.

Written by Ekta Kapur

<![CDATA[State of the Union]]>Sat, 23 Feb 2013 07:37:40 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/february/state-of-the-unionPicture
The State of the Union Message is a message from the President to Congress, usually given once a year in January or February. In the message, the President talks about important issues facing Americans and offers his ideas on solving the nation's problems, including suggestions for new laws and policies.

Why is it Necessary?
The Constitution of the United States requires that the President give Congress a State of the Union message from time to time on the condition of the country.   Some Presidents delivered their message in writing and others have given a speech.
How does it Work?
On State of the Union night, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate gather together in the House chamber, along with the Speaker of the House and the Vice President (who is also President of the Senate). The Speaker and the Vice President sit on the dais, a raised platform directly behind where the President speaks. When the President arrives, he is escorted to the chamber by members of both the House and the Senate. The arrival of the President is announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives. The Speaker then introduces the President, who delivers his speech to the Congress.

In custom, one member of the President's Cabinet does not attend the State of the Union address. This way, if a catastrophe should happen that harms the President, the Vice President, and the other members of the Cabinet who are attending, the Cabinet Secretary who did not attend could then take over the duties of the President.

The President usually invites several American citizens to the House chamber for his State of the Union message. These citizens have been invited because they have done something extraordinary. During his speech, the President introduces them and honors them for their achievements.

After the State of the Union message, there is an "opposition response." This gives the opposing political party a chance to express their views on what the President said. Usually, they will offer suggestions different from the President's on how to improve America.

The State of the Union Address 2013
Flanked by the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama concentrated his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.

President Obama started his speech with a quote by John F. Kennedy “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power, but partners for progress.” Obama's agenda included Immigration, Gun control, Climate change, Foreign policy, Education, Defence and Healthcare. He also said that another 34000 troops will return home from Afghanistan over the next year.These goals are all very important for our country's continued growth and wellbeing.

Fun Facts
  • The first State of the Union message was given by George Washington in 1790.   It was also the shortest message (833 words).
  • The longest State of the Union Message was given in 1946 by President Harry Truman.   It was over 25,000 words long!
  • President Franklin Roosevelt gave 12 State of the Union Messages – more than any other President.
  • President Calvin Coolidge was the first President to give a State of the Union Message over the radio (1923).
  • President Harry Truman was the first President to give his State of the Union Message on television (1947).

Gem Words
Congress: The national legislative body of the US, meeting at the Capitol in Washington, DC. It was established by the Constitution of 1787.
Sergeant-at-Arms: an officer (as of a legislature or court) who maintains order and executes commands.
Catastrophe: An event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering.
Flanked: Be situated on each side of or on one side of (someone or something).
Initiatives: The ability to assess and initiate things independently.
Government: The governing body of a nation, state, or community
Constitution: A body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed. A written record of this.

Written by Ekta Kapur

<![CDATA[USPS]]>Sat, 23 Feb 2013 07:30:40 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/february/uspsPicture
United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office and U.S. Mail, is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States. The USPS employs over 574,000 workers and operates over 260,000 vehicles. The USPS is the operator of the largest vehicle fleet in the world.

In Colonial times, mail was simply delivered by friends, merchants and Native Americans. Because colonists needed to send mail back to England, the first official postal service was established in 1639 when the General Court of Massachusetts designated Richard Fairbanks’ tavern in Boston as the official mail drop for overseas parcels. A more centralized postal organization came about in 1691 when the British Crown gave Thomas Neale a 21-year grant for a North American postal service. In 1707, the British government bought the rights to the North American postal service and appointed local deputy postmasters general. In 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general, in charge of the newly created Post Office Department. He brought new organization, speed, and reliability to the service.

Introducing ZIP Codes
From the 1930s to the early 1960s, the volume of mail, particularly business mail grew significantly, and the need for a better system became apparent. On July 1, 1963, the USPS introduced the ZIP code (Zone Improvement Plan) system. In 1967, the ZIP codes became mandatory on all mail. A ZIP code is a five-digit number representing a specific location in the United States. The extended ZIP + 4 code adds a hyphen and four additional digits for an even more precise location.

Here is how a ZIP code works:
  • The first digit represents the state. Numbers increase as you move west. Several states share each digit. For example, the digit 2, represents the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • The second and third digits represent regions within the state. The first three digits create the Sectional Center Facility (SCF) code. SCFs are the regional headquarters for mail sorting and distribution.
  • The fourth and fifth digits represent more specific areas, like post offices and postal delivery zones within a city or town.
  • ZIP + 4 has four extra digits that identify a specific segment of the five-digit delivery area, like a city block, office building or individual high-volume mail receiver.

The Process
  • After a letter is properly addressed and the appropriate postage, it is placed into a mailbox. Make sure to include your return address.­
  • A postal carrier collects your letter from the box along with the rest of the mail and takes it to the post office. There, all of the mail is placed on a truck and taken to a mail processing plant.
  • At the mail processing plant, machines separate mail by shape and size. They also orient the packages so their addresses are right-side up and facing the same direction. The letter gets its postmark, and machines print cancellation lines across postage stamps to prevent them from being reused.
  • A unique fluorescent barcode is imprinted on the back of each piece of mail.
  • At the final processing plant, sorting machines read the barcodes and sort the letters by carrier and into delivery order for that carrier.
  • The letters are taken to the individual post offices, and the carriers load the trays into their individual vehicles for final delivery.

Gem Words

Operator: A person who operates equipment or a machine.
Merchants: A person or company involved in wholesale trade, esp. one dealing with foreign countries or supplying merchandise to a particular trade.
Colonists: A settler in or inhabitant of a colony.
Tavern: An establishment for the sale of beverages to be consumed on the premises, sometimes also serving food.
Mandatory: Required by law or rules; compulsory.
Fluorescent: Having or showing fluorescence: The visible or invisible radiation produced from certain substances as a result of incident radiation of a shorter wavelength
Barcodes: The barcode may encode a price, quantity or weight of a product.

Written by Ekta Kapur