Field Work Friday – Behind the Scenes at the Movie Theater

When I was a kid, I remember sitting in a movie theater at the start of a show, watching the flickering lights, and turning around to see where it was coming from.  I always wondered what was behind the small window high in the wall, and somehow I pictured a white-haired man in a black suit, perched on a stool beside an ancient projector.

That’s not what you’ll find in our local movie theater.

This week our playgroup headed out to Palace Pointe for a behind-the-scenes tour of how movies are shown.

The theater manager, Andy, has worked in theaters for 16 years now.  After meeting us in the lobby, he escorted us into the elevator and through the hallways to the projection room.

Expecting a small, dark space, imagine my amazement when we found ourselves in a large, bright, white-tiled room!  Super clean and very bright, Andy said that dust is the enemy of any theater because it will show up as spots and splotches onscreen.  Film machines actually have to be cleaned after each showing to keep everything operating smoothly.

 
Andy explained that when film is sent to the theater, it arrives on these small reels – each of which holds about 20 minutes of film.

 

 
In days of old, someone did have to perch beside the machine and change the reels as they finished – but no more.  Now they use this machine, a splicer, to attach the film end-to-end and make one really long reel.  They use a special kind of super-thin tape to secure it.

 

 
When they’re done, they have one huge real that rests on these round wheels called platters.  From here, the film winds through this machine, through the projector next to it, and then is wound onto another platter either above or below it.  This returns it to the proper form so that it’s ready to be shown again.

 

Andy explained that each square in the film represented 1/24th of a second.  Wow!

 Then he showed us the ‘commercials,’ the ads for other movies that play prior to the start of the feature presentation.

Much smaller and tightly bound, he even let our children pass around one.  They had never really seen film before, so this was a big deal!  Funny how things change, isn’t it?

All of this will soon be completely obsolete, however, because new requirements make it impossible to show film past December of this year.

 
By December theaters will be required to have a digital projector like this one.  

 

 
This machine is basically a large computer attached to a projector.  The movies arrive on a hard drive that is then inserted into the machine.  The film companies send key codes so that each movie can only be shown on a particular machine and within certain dates.  The theater then shows the movies by operating the touch-screen computer – or by pushing buttons on a phone.
 
Each one of these machines cost about $100,000.  Can you imagine??
 
Andy also explained that most movies are not sent per certain amount of money, but the theaters are charged a percentage of their sales – and that it’s usually 97& – 98% total!  He told us that they make very little money from actually showing the movies, and that that’s why theaters charge so much for popcorn and snacks.  That’s how they make the money that pays for staff wages, the light bill, etc.
 
So there you have it.  No little old man in a black suit – just a lot of big, black machines and small cartridges.
 
Who knew??

Field Work Friday – Behind the Scenes with the Durham Bulls

 

 Last week we traveled to the Durham Bulls’ Athletic Park for a complete tour of the stadium.  We were all excited to return to the stadium, but especially to see into the areas where visitors don’t usually go!

My camera decided to be funky when we arrived, so these pictures were all taken by my friend Jennifer and kindly shared.  Thanks, Jennifer!

 
 
Our tour began in the luxury box at the top of the stadium.  This box belongs to the owner, and it quite lives up to its name.  This is the view from the box.  It sits just to the left of the press box, which is directly behind home plate, where the announcers have the best view.

The luxury box consists of a large room with several different areas.  Of course, there are cushy chairs in front of a granite countertop by large windows that overlook the field; but there’s also a table in the center with a kitchen area behind it.

At one end of the kitchen , just behind the table, is the barber shop.  Outside the luxury box, just beside the window, is an old-fashioned barber pole.

 

 The kitchen was very pretty.  It must be fun to serve game foods there.

Outside of the elevator that took us up and down on our tour sits Wool E. Bull on a bench.  We were all excited to see him there and so had to stop for pictures.

 
I apologize for the blurriness of this picture, but it was pretty dark in here – we were inside the scoreboard located on the Blue Monster!  I was surprised to learn that the scoreboard consisted of an elevated wooden platform in a narrow storage corridor between the stadium and the building next door.  Large windows with latches hold the numbers, which are stacked on a shelf below where they are needed.  A single metal chair sits in the space for the man in charge of the board, with an oscillating fan nearby.  Our tour guide said that at one game last year the temperature reached 108 degrees inside the scoreboard.  That’s hot!

As we moved out of this corridor, we visited the dugouts, the practice room, and the locker room.  My Little Man loved visiting all of these official, players-only areas.  It’s really neat to see what’s happening behind the scenes.

So if you’re ever looking for a fun, family outing and you’re in the Durham area, be sure to check out the Bulls’ stadium.  It’s worth the trip!

Apple Day at the State Farmer’s Market

This week we ventured to Raleigh to go to the State Farmer’s Market.  This place is amazing – multiple huge shelters full of locally grown fruits and vegetables, plants, trees, meats, nuts, and crafty things like homemade soaps.

The place is enormous – this is only half of one shelter, and there are two others.  With many farmers offering samples of watermelons, grapes, apples, and cantelope, we ate our way around the market.

Today was  Apple Day, and free samples of apple products were advertised.

We were disappointed to learn that this apple crisp and some stickers was all they had – but the farmers more than made up for it.

This kind gentleman passed out samples of ice cold apple cider.  It was fabulous!

Peaches were available, too, and we had to bring a few home.

There was an abundance of produce available, and we couldn’t decide exactly what to bring home.  These tomatoes – with their funny sign – were on the list!

We couldn’t bring home nearly as much as we wanted to -but we met several nice people and had a nice picnic outside.  We also found one farm willing to let us build our own box of apples – any varieties we wanted – and another who sold us two boxes of seconds at a great price.

Applesauce, here we come!

What are your favorite apple recipes??

Great Books for Kids’ Book Clubs

So, you want to start a book club for your kids … and now you need books.  Where do you start?
 
Before anything else, you need to know your kid’s interest.  If she’s a pirate fan, then don’t choose a book of poetry!
 
However, if you’re looking for some general interest fiction for the 7-12 year old set, I’ve got some great suggestions.  

  1. The Adventures with Lily Lapp books by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  The girls in my daughter’s book club chose these books as their very favorites.  They LOVED them! They’re  sweet and inspiring, full of wisdom and fun – perfect for this age group.
  2. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  These classic mysteries are easy to read but full of adventures by some very smart and independent children.  
  3. The American Girl Series – particularly Felicity, Kirsten, and Kit.  The historical American Girls are great examples of what was happening in American at their particular time in history, and each set covers a full year, so you can see activities that might happen in each season.  This provides lots of ideas for club meetings.  The American Girl History Mysteries are a bit longer and more challenging, but also great for book clubs.
  4. Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures by Jeff Brown & Macky Pamintuan.  The Flat Stanley books are cute and adventuresome, but they don’t hold a candle to the new ones!  Stanley’s flat again and traveling the world, solving mysteries and exploring new territories.  This series is a great way to learn about a new place in a fun way.  The website also has fun activities listed for each book, so part of your planning is already done for you.
  5. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Another classic, kids will love seeing how kids lived back on the prairie – and they’ll especially like trying Laura’s favorite activities.
  6. The Mandie Books by Lois Gladdys Leppard.  I loved these books when I was a kid and saved my money to buy them at our local bookstore.  They’re not as easy to find now, but they are available in collections and digitally.  My Big Helper is now flying through the series – she loves reading about this adventuresome girl from North Carolina!
  7. The Cul-de-Sac Kids by Beverly Lewis.  These simple chapter books are about a group of kids who are friends and neighbors and the problems they face.  In each book that I’ve read, the kids have faced their problems and learned from them.
  8. Adventures in Odyssey’s Imagination Station.  These books are full of adventure but involve lots of history, too, and you can be sure that they’re family friendly.
  9. Edison’s Gold by Geoff Watson.  This book for tweens is packed full of action and adventure, science, history, math – and fun!
  10. The Recipe for Adventure series by Giada de Laurentiis.  These books are easy to read and full of foodie fun!

To see the books and some of the activities that we’ve done as part of our book club meetings, visit our Book Club page.  You can still download the printables I use when planning our book club meetings for free here at my TpT Store.
 
Some of these books feature girls as main characters, and others, boys; but all of them are great for book club adventures.  What book would you choose for a book club adventure?
 
Shared at I Can Teach My Child.

Book Club, Boys’ Edition: “Shoeless Joe & Me” by Dan Gutman

Shoeless Joe & Me


Baseball season has begun, and so our boys chose to step up to the mound with this month’s book choice.  They read “Shoeless Joe & Me” by Dan Gutman.

As always, we began inside by summarizing and talking about the book.  While the boys aren’t usually particularly loquacious, they surprised me this month.  The book is about the fixing of the World Series in 1919 and Shoeless Joe Jackson’s part therein.  The boys compared this scandal to current drug scandals, brought up whether gambling is moral even if legal, wanted to know about steroids, and other issues related to the game.  What a discussion!

 


Then we moved on to baseball cards.  Each boy had brought a collection, and they were eager to check them out, although they didn’t all value the same types of cards.


Next we made our own peanut-free version of CrackerJack.  It was yummy stuff!

 


While the CrackerJack set up, the boys designed their own baseball cards …

 


and showed them off a bit …

 


before deciding that all of this talk of baseball necessitated a game.

 


Of course, all of that running around made them hungry, and so we broke out our CrackerJack.


So if you’re looking for a good baseball book this season, you won’t go wrong with Shoeless Joe & Me.  Just be prepared to grab some friends and go play afterwards – you won’t be able to resist the crack of the bat.


What are your kids’ favorite springtime reads?

Book Club, Boys’ Edition: “The Pirate Island Adventure” by Peggy Parrish

Pirate Island Adventure

The weather has finally improved a bit here in the Carolinas, and so our book club moved outdoors for a grand adventure in the style of Peggy Parrish’s Pirate Island Adventure.

 

 

After discussing the book and its characters, each child created his own shield.

 

 

While they were drying, the boys began solving puzzles in the hopes of finding a great treasure.

 

They got really into this and worked hard to decipher the clues and figure out the meaning of each one.  They really showed great teamwork!

 

 

After being stumped on one for quite a while, they finally decided it must be buried under the playset and started to dig – and lo and behold, they found a gold-wrapped chocolate treasure!

 

 

The boys worked together to divvy the treasure fairly, even sharing with the girls, before heading off to play in the sunshine.

 

 

Doesn’t my little warrior look fierce?

 

What are you kids reading this month?

Book Club, Boys’ Edition: “The Lemonade Trick” by Scott Corbett

The Lemonade Trick

Planning for last month’s book club was a bit of a challenge.  While the wintery weather is usually somewhat mild here in the South, that has not been the case this year – and I didn’t want to risk outside plans.  So we chose The Lemonade Trick by Scott Corbett for our January book, and it was perfect for these energetic boys.

 

With that being said, pictures are limited for this one – because these guys kept me hopping!  I wish I had their energy.

 

After discussing the book, we moved into the kitchen to work with some lemons.

 


The boys took turns rolling them around on the counter, and then each boy juiced at least one lemon.  This provided the juice that we needed for all of our other activities.


We made lemonade from scratch next.  We mixed up the simple syrup, measured out the lemon juice and the water, and taste-tested the final results.  Since several boys wanted seconds, I guess they liked it!


Next we talked about pH and where acids and bases fell on the pH scale.  One boy brought a packet of pH paper, so we tested several liquids that we had on hand.  I think our favorite part was when we mixed acids and bases to see what would happen.


After that we went back to the counter and mixed up some easy lemon cookies.  We baked just a few, and then decided that it was time to break out the lemon juice again.

 


One of the great things about lemons is that you can use it like invisible ink.  The boys thought this was great, and they were really creative about drawing pictures and writing messages on their paper.  They simply dipped a cotton swab into pure lemon juice and drew with it on their papers.  One boy even made a paper airplane and decorated that!  


Heat will make the lemon juice visible.  In the past, blowing on the paper with a hair dryer has worked for me, but I couldn’t get the lemon to show up this time.  We ended up trying to ‘candle’ the paper, but since the lemons show up right before the paper catches fire, it didn’t always work out too well.  I don’t think the boys minded too much – they were having too much fun laughing at me and dancing around, yelling, “Fire!  Fire!”4


I didn’t realize that you could do so very much with a lemon until I went looking, but it’s a really neat fruit – and The Lemonade Trick is a great story.


What would you do with a lemon?

Book Club, Boys’ Edition: “How to Eat Fried Worms”

How to Eat Fried Worms


Would you eat a worm?


Would you eat 15 worms?


That’s the question our boys answered this month at book club, when we discussed How to Eat Fried Worms


This book was the perfect one to follow Shoeless Joe and Me, last month’s book club selection.  We again discussed gambling – what it was, whether it’s okay, and inflation amounts from 1973, when this book was originally published.

 

 

 

Then I asked the boys if they would be willing to eat a worm.  Each one developed his own recipe for doing so – some more willingly than others.  One was quite adamant that while it was fun to make a worm recipe, he would never actually eat a worm.


Then we moved into the kitchen.

 

 

Where worm eating became a reality. 

 

 

I prepared each worm as the boys requested.  Of course, these weren’t real worms, but concoctions of Jell-O, cream, and a few other ingredients carefully shaped.

 

The boys weren’t quite so brave when faced with a pile of real worms.  Although My Little Man talked a big story of wormy ketchup and pepper, he didn’t really want to try it.

 

After one courageous kid tried the worms and declared them to be good, the others gradually tried them, too, and soon they were quite boisterous again …

 

 

Until I brought out the real crickets.  


An adventurous mom had ordered these from Amazon for us.  Who knew you could get bugs in such a variety of flavors?  The first boy to try a worm carefully read the ingredient list and then opened the bacon and cheese flavored box of crickets.  He declared them to be “crunchy” and ate all but three.


Nobody else would try them.


Can’t say that I blame them.

 

 

Then we moved on to worm science.  We read a short non-fiction book about the body parts and benefits of worms to the environment and prepared to make our own worm houses.  Each boy had his own jar to layer with gravel and then soil.

 


Then we broke out my dirt shovel and dug for worms.  We found enough for each boy to have a few in his jar.  


In the few days since book club, My Little Man has watched his worms carefully.  He keeps them covered, since we learned that light can paralyze them, but he lifts the paper a few times each day to study the jar and watch for worm tunnels.


Who knew that worms could be so fascinating?


So – would YOU eat a worm?

Book Club, Boys’ Edition: “Danger on a Silent Night”

http://www.anestintherocks.blogspot.com

 

This week our boys got together for a dangerous mission.  Their purpose?  To find out the purpose of gift-giving at Christmas.  To prepare, they read the Imagination Station’s newest book, “Danger on a Silent Night.”

 

Adventures in Odyssey: Imagination Station Book #12 - Danger On a Silent Night  -     By: Marianne Hering & Nancy I. Sanders

 

This book examines the debate about gift-giving.  Should we or shouldn’t we?  Since Jesus clearly calls us to take care of the poor, the orphaned, and the widowed, could we better serve him by giving to them instead of our loved ones?

 

In this story Patrick and Beth travel back to visit the Wise Men.  They speak with King Herod and realize the danger that baby Jesus was in from this mad king, and they race to beat his soldiers to Jesus’ doorstep.

 

As Patrick travels with the Wise Men, wooden trunks containing gifts are mentioned a few times, and I decided that these would make a neat focus for our boys’ time together.

 

My husband prepped the wood for each boy’s box during last week’s ice storm, and another boy’s dad very generously came to help us assemble them. We could never have completed this project without his help!

 

 

First, we got a few nails set into the wood.  After donning goggles and getting hammers, the boys were allowed to pound in that round of nails.  We kept doing this until they had secured the bottom and four sides of their trunk.

 

 

Then the kind dad helped them add hinges and a latch with the power drill.  My Little Man was happy to help hold the box still!

 

 

He is very proud of his finished product!

 

 

The boys did a great job assembling their trunks.  It was neat to see them all pounding away with the hammers. 

 

The Sparkle Box: A Gift with the Power to Change   Christmas  -     By: Jill Hardie
    Illustrated By: Christine Kornacki

 

My favorite part came afterwards, though.  We went back inside and I read a new Christmas favorite of mine to them:  The Sparkle Box.  This book is about what we can give to Jesus at Christmas, and it uses a silvery, sparkly box to hold the gifts.  We talked about how we could use our trunks for that purpose – and then the boys ran outside to play basketball.

 

The boys had some neat insights about what it must have been like to be in Jesus’ presence.  About how scary Herod must have been and how angry they were with his decisions. About the purpose of gifts at Christmas.

 

And so I think we hit our goal this month.  The boys interacted with literature.  They thought deep thoughts about Christmas.  They decided that it’s okay to give gifts at Christmas, as long as we don’t get too crazy.

 

Because really, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?  The gift of Jesus, wrapped up in God’s love, sent down to us?

 

 

Book Club Friday – “The Chocolate Sundae Mystery”

Chocolate Sundae Mystery

All during the school year last year, My Little Man watched his big sister have fun with her book club friends, and he wanted to have one, too.  In fact, he asked to start his own club more than once – and I always answered the same way:  You can have your own book club when you can read a chapter book.

 

Well, last spring, he picked up a fictional dinosaur chapter book and put it down after reading the first six chapters to me.  Then we knew it was time.  

 

This week My Little Man got together with a few of his friends to have fun with The Boxcar Children’s The Chocolate Sundae Mystery.  

 

We started out by summarizing the story and then reading Ebenezer Bleezer.  It’s such a funny poem!  The boys each invented their own crazy flavor and drew pictures of them.

 

 

Then we headed off to the kitchen to make our own ice cream – for real.  They mixed up a batch of super rich chocolate ice cream to put into a countertop churn, and then each boy made his own batch of Freezer Bag Ice Cream.  

 

 

We tucked the icy bags into satchels and sent the boys outside to churn their ice cream on bikes and scooters.  It worked pretty well, and they were able to burn off some energy while they worked.

 

www.anestintherocks.blogspot.com


When both varieties were done, they came inside and created their own sundaes like Benny did in the book.  I think they liked this part a lot – and they declared the ice cream to be yummy.


We never could tell which they liked better, though – the vanilla or the chocolate.  


Which would you prefer?