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Kansas Kaleidoscope - August/September 2001

(Volume 5, Number 1)

A fun magazine for kids

Kansas Kaleidoscope, August/September 2001


Mapping in Kansas

This tiny traveler flies from Mexico to Canada without a map! Every spring hummingbirds journey north to nest in Canada and the United States, then travel south to their winter homes before the snow flies. During these migration times, the skies are filled with flyers: 333 different species of birds make the trip, as do millions of butterflies. . .and none of them carries a road atlas!

Over the river and through the woods. . .

Those kinds of directions might get you to grandmother's house, but would they tell your best friend how to get there? You would probably want to draw him or her a map, a simple one showing the main streets or roads between your friend's house and your grandparents. You might draw in some important signs or landmarks along the way that would help guide your friend in the right direction.

Map Legends

Many maps have legends associated with them. That doesn't mean that a fantastic, larger-than-life story goes along with every map (although sometimes that's true, too! See the back page for a story about Kansas treasure maps.) Map legends give readers extra information, explaining what the symbols on a map stand for.

Kids Map Kansas

In 1907, Judge Jacob Ruppenthal of Russell proposed a contest that he hoped would encourage young people to investigate local history. Ruppenthal asked students in western Kansas to create township maps. A township contains 36 sectors of land, each 1 mile wide and long.

Measuring Up to the Job

Measuring distance accurately was very important to the sailors and explorers who traveled into the unknown. Not only did adventurers like Lewis and Clark want to know how to get back home again, they wanted to make maps of their journeys to show others where they had been and what they had found there. To do this job properly, they needed measuring instruments to help them survey new territories, make accurate drawings, and record distances, along their route for others to use.

How Do You Measure Up?

Before rulers and yardsticks, people often measured distance using parts of their body. A cubit was the length between a man's elbow to the tip of his middle finger. a foot was the length of a man's foot (and the name stuck!) A digit was the width of a finger. a yard was the distance from the tip of your nose to the end of your outstretched arm. A fathom was the length of your outstretched arms. A span was the distance from the end of the thumb to the end of the little finger of a spread hand. An inch was the length of the first section of an index finger. These measuring tools were always available, convenient and couldn't be easily misplaced. But they were not standard units of measure, like we use today, because everyone's body is different!

Animal Orienteering

Several elementary schools in Kansas have planted butterfly gardens.

Humans aren't the only animals who can find their way through forests, tall grasses, rivers and oceans from one point to another. Many birds, fish, insects and mammals have amazing orienteering abilities. These creatures use their keen sense of direction and navigation to help them migrate to warm weather, good food and companionship when the temperature turns cold.

Meet the Compass Kid

In 1931, a 12-year-old boy from Newton, Kansas, intrigued scientists and amazed the nation with what seemed to be his built-in compass. Charles Gleason, Jr., "who is as inquisitive as a young fox terrior, never gets lost," reported Time magazine. "As soon as he opens his eyes in the morning, he automatically recognizes compass points. All day long thereafter he knows exactly where he is. He is as clever. . .as any bird or animal when it comes to homing."

You Have to Draw the Line Somewhere

A surveyor's job is to take measurements of the land so that accurate maps can be made. Early surveyors in Kansas made measurements, dividing on paper the prairie, the wooded creeks and the plains grasslands where Native Americans were living.

The Minister of Measures

One surveyor arrived in present-day Kansas in 1828 to draw the boundaries of the Cherokee reservation for the U.S. government. His name was Isaac McCoy, and he brought along President Andrew Jackson's nephew, John Donelson, as his helper. His job required him to follow streams and walk through woods, measuring and recording boundary lines and marking them as he traveled.

The Barn Stormers

This adventure story is about Gina, an 11-year-old who loves to read; her cousin Max, a shy, husky 12-year-old; and Max's little sister Opal, a feisty 6-year-old who adores her beloved white terrior, Marshmallow. Together with other relatives they have gathered on their grandparents' farm in Kansas on a hot July afternoon for an outdoor barbecue. Then a summer thunderstorm rolls in. Students are invited to finish this story, one ending will appear in next month's issue.

By the 1800s the town's main street had just a few buidings.

Misleading Maps

When you look at a map of a town you have never visited, aren't you still pretty sure that the town does exist? That wasn't always true in Kansas! Some towns started out on paper long before they started up in reality.

County Seat Wars

Kansas Territory was opened for settlement in 1854 and as more people moved in, towns were founded, county governments were organized and boundaries mapped. The county lines and names changed often in this period before the Civil War, as people argued over territory boundaries and decisions about whether or not to forbid slavery.

Book Report

Every issue of Kaleidoscope will have a book report written by one of our student subscribers. If you would like to contribute a report for the October/November issue, read the book on emigrants to Kansas, In Care of Cassie Tucker, by Ivy Ruckman. Send your report to Book Report, Kansas Kaleidoscope, 6425 SW 6th Avenue, Topeka KS 66615-1099. Entrees must be received by September 30. Those reports not published in the magazine will be printed on-line at www.kshs.org.

Make Your Own Compass Materials:

  • Bar or horse shoe magnet
  • Thin iron nail or pin
  • Small piece of Styrofoam
  • Plastic cup filled with water
  1. Rub the sharp half of the nail across the magnet about 50 times in one direction only.
  2. Place nail on the Styrofoam and float it in the cup of water
  3. When the nail stops moving, the sharp end will be pointing North.

Kansas' Buried Treasure!

Do you have gold buried in your backyard? Silver in your cow pasture? Gigantic rubies under your cornfield? For nearly 400 years, people all over the world have believed that Kansas was full of such buried treasure. They traveled here hoping to get rich quick.

In This Issue:

  • Kaleidoscope Challenge
  • For Parents and Teachers
  • Visit History: The Coronado-Quivira Museum in Lyons
  • Bee a Winner!