Daylight Savings Time Begins

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

Daylight Savings Time begins in the spring and ends in the fall. When it begins, we change the time on our clocks one hour ahead. If the clock says 10:00, we change it to 11:00. The time officially changes at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, 2015. However, most of us are asleep at 2:00 a.m., so we change our clocks before we go to sleep on Saturday night.

Your cell (mobile) phone will probably change automatically, but you should change the other clocks in your house and car.

It is very important that you change the time on your clocks. If you don’t, then you might be an hour late for class on Monday!

Black Friday Vocabulary

Your English classes will be closed for part of this week because of Thanksgiving. What are you going to do during the short break? Will you celebrate like Americans? What will you do on Friday? Many Americans will go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Will you go too?

What is Black Friday?

Right now, you are probably seeing and hearing advertisements everywhere for Black Friday sales events. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it is the busiest, craziest day of the year for shopping in the United States.

Black Friday is the day when many people start shopping for Christmas presents. They do this for two reasons:

  1. Most people do not have to work on Black Friday, so everyone has time to go shopping that day.
  2. All the stores want people to shop there, so they have special prices and deals (low prices).

I hear the commercials, but I don’t understand! Help!

In the TV and radio commercials, you have probably heard some words that explain these deals, but you might not know what they mean. Here are some of the words you might hear or see in a Black Friday ad (advertisement/commercial).


screen shot of Target ad

BOGO – Buy one, get one. Sometimes, if you buy one thing, you can get another one for free. If an ad says BOGO 50% off, that means that if you buy one, you can get a second one at half price. The ad to the right is for a BOGO 30% off deal. On Black Friday at Target, if you buy one iTunes gift card, you can save 30% on a second iTunes gift card.

Cyber Monday – the Monday after Thanksgiving. When the weekend is finished and people go back to work, stores want to continue making money, so they sell things on their websites. Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year. It’s the day when people spend the most money shopping online.

cyber sale – low prices only available online. You must buy things from a store’s website to get cyber sale prices. The prices are higher in the stores.


screen shot of Target ad

doorbuster deal/doorbuster savings/early bird specials – low prices for people who shop early. If a store opens at 8:00 a.m., the store might have extra-low prices until 9:00 a.m. These low prices early in the morning are doorbuster deals. Listen to commercials closely to find out the hours when you can get these low prices. In the ad to the left, the doorbuster deal does not end at a specific time. It ends when there are no more of these toys.

exclusions – things that do NOT have a lower price while other things do. Some ads say things like, “40-60% off everything in the store!! Some exclusions apply.” This means that some things are not on sale even though everything else in the store is.

lay-away – the process of paying for something little by little while the store keeps it. If you buy something with credit, you take it home immediately and pay for it later. If you put something on lay-away, the store keeps it until you pay for it completely. When you have paid 100% of the price, you take it home. Not all stores do lay-away. You should ask if you want to buy something expensive.

limited quantities – not enough for everybody. The new PlayStation 4 came out on Friday, and they were all gone from every store before the day was done because quantities were limited. Sometimes stores will give you a free gift when you spend a certain amount of money, but they don’t have enough gifts for everyone, so when all the gifts are gone, you can’t get one no matter how much money you spend.

night owl deals/specials – low prices for people who shop late. Stores want to have shoppers shopping all the time, but they know that people are tired after work and just want to go home. They have night owl deals so that people have a good reason to go shopping late at night when they’re tired and just want to go to bed. Listen to commercials closely to find out the hours when you can get these low prices. Some stores begin their Black Friday sales ON THANKSGIVING, so after you eat your turkey, you can start shopping!

price match – Stores will sell something to you at a lower price if you can prove that another store is selling it for the lower price. If you see a toy at Wal-Mart for $50, but you get an ad in the mail from Target that says the same toy is $45, you can take the ad to Wal-Mart, and they will sell you that toy for $45. They are matching Target’s price.

rain check – buying something at a lower price after the sale has ended. Let’s say you want to buy a toy for your son. You see an ad that says the toy is on sale. Normally, it costs $50, but this week only, it costs $35. You are excited. You go to the store, but they don’t have the toy because other people have already bought them all. They had limited quantities of the toy, and now they are sold out, and the store won’t have any more of that toy until next week (after the sale is over). Ask if you can have a rain check. A rain check is a note from the store’s manager that gives you permission to buy something at the sale price after the sale is over. You can go back to the store next week and buy the toy for $35. Many stores, especially during Black Friday sales, will not give you a rain check.

red dot clearance – low prices on items with a red circle. Sometimes, a store needs to sell all of an item to make room for something new. They will sell these items at a very low price because they want people to buy all of them. This is a clearance sale. They might put a colored sticker on the clearance items so you know which ones they are. Usually this sticker is red, but sometimes a store will have different colored stickers for different discounts. Maybe a blue sticker means 30% off. Maybe a green sticker means 40% off. Maybe a red sticker means 75% off. Each store is different, but there are usually signs that explain the different colors.

sold out – The store has sold all of something. There are no more.

steal – a very good deal (a very low price). Normally, “steal” is a verb that means to take something that is not yours. In this case, a steal is a deal that is so good, a price that is so low, that it feels like you are stealing it (but you aren’t). If you buy a new, 40-inch, flat-screen TV that works perfectly for $75, that is a steal.

while quantities last/while supplies lastuntil there are no more. When a store has limited quantities of something, you can only pay the low price for it while the store has them. When there are no more, you cannot buy it. They might receive more next week, but the price will be higher (regular price).

Your Turn

How many of these Black Friday words can you find in this K-Mart Black Friday ad?

K-Mart Black Friday Ad

screen shot of K-Mart ad

What do Americans do on Thanksgiving?

You know the history of Thanksgiving, and you’ve heard about some of the food that people eat at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. But maybe you’re still curious. What do Americans do all day? What is happening in an American home on Thanksgiving?

I asked some American friends to share with you their family traditions. Here’s what they said.


My favorite memories include my mom teaching me how to clean and prep a turkey, how to cook a pie without burning the crust, and how to do “the oven dance” with all the food so it all ends up hot and on the table at the same time.”  ~Chelsea

In this sentence, “prep” means prepare. Chelsea’s mother taught her how to prepare a turkey before putting it into the oven. “The oven dance” is the act of putting food into the oven, taking other food out, and putting some things in at the same time. You might need to move things inside the oven to make more room for other things. When the food moves around the oven and the kitchen so much, it’s like a dance.

One of my favorite recipes is the creamed Vidalia onions my grandmother used to make (my mom’s mom). I now make them.”  ~Webb

In many American families, several people make and bring food to share at Thanksgiving. Webb’s grandmother made a special onion dish when she was alive, but now Webb makes it.

Turkey Stuffing

photo credit: Alexandra Moss via photopin cc

We usually have turkey with dressing, green bean casserole, corn pudding, strawberry gelatin and sweet potato casserole. Desserts are pecan pie and apple pie with ice cream, of course!”  ~Kate

When you hear the word “dressing,” you probably think about salad dressing. Kate is talking about turkey dressing, which is also called “stuffing.” It is made with bread, broth, onions, spices, and sometimes pieces of turkey or sausage.


Grandma's Turkey Bowl

Grandma’s Turkey Bowl – Photo by WTCC Instructor A. Thompson

We usually watch football games on TV.”  ~Kate

Football is played mostly in the fall, and there are a lot of big football games on TV on Thanksgiving Day because nobody is working. Everyone is at home relaxing.

We have a big football game, with a trophy and everything. It’s Grandma’s Turkey Bowl.”  ~Angela

The most important football games of the year are called bowl games (the biggest one is the Super Bowl). The winner of a bowl game gets a trophy. Angela’s family plays football together on Thanksgiving, and the winner gets a trophy just like the professionals!


We do a big family shindig. My parents have been hosting these past few years, and every family unit brings something to contribute to the meal. Usually it’s assorted family members, but some years friends join as well. If it’s a large enough crowd (and when the whole family comes, it is), we set two tables, and the rule is you have to sit with different people for dessert.” ~Megan

A “shindig” is a party. Megan’s family is large, so they use two tables, and they change places between dinner and dessert. When she says, “every family unit brings something to contribute,” she means that she brings food, her brother and his wife bring food, her aunt and uncle bring food, her cousin and her husband bring food, and they share all the food.

My favorite is when all the family can visit.”  ~Kate

Kate and her husband have two children and four grandchildren. She loves the years when everyone can come to visit. Sometimes her children spend Thanksgiving with their in-laws, though, so they don’t always get to be together on Thanksgiving.


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

photo credit: gigi_nyc via photopin cc

We watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!”  ~Olivia

Many cities have a parade on Thanksgiving, but the most famous one is in New York. You can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV this year just like many American families!

Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving

Many students know the history of Thanksgiving. Pilgrims (people who left England for religious freedom and new opportunities) moved to the northeastern part of the United States to start a new life. It was very difficult in the beginning, and a lot of people died. However, the British and the Native Americans became friends, and soon, there was enough food for everyone. They celebrated their success for three days in 1621, and that was the first Thanksgiving.

Here are some things you might NOT know about Thanksgiving:

  • The pilgrims probably didn’t eat many of the foods at the first Thanksgiving that Americans eat now. They probably did not have turkey, pumpkin pie, or potatoes!
  • George Washington announced the first national Thanksgiving holiday in 1789, 168 years after the pilgrims celebrated the first time.
  • In 1829, a woman named Sara Josepha Hale started writing letters to the president because she wanted Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. At that time, each state decided when it would celebrate. She wrote letters for 30 years! She wrote letters to at least five different presidents.
  • Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the whole country would celebrate Thanksgiving on the final Thursday in November. This happened during the Civil War, and President Lincoln was trying to keep the country together. Maybe he hoped that a national holiday would help everyone feel united again.
  • In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Thanksgiving one week earlier. This was during the Great Depression, and Roosevelt wanted to give people more time to shop for Christmas presents so that businesses could get more money.
  • In 1941, Roosevelt officially changed the day of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November.
  • Every year, the president pardons (forgives, or gives no punishment to) a turkey on Thanksgiving. That turkey gets to retire on a farm instead of being eaten by a family.

This video includes all of the information I just gave you. Watch, listen, and see how much you can understand.

Your Turn

The answers to these questions are also in the video. Write a comment, and tell us which ones you heard!

  1. How many deer did the Indians kill to give as gifts to the colonists?
  2. What do we call the meat of a deer?
  3. How did the pilgrims eat cranberries at the first Thanksgiving?
  4. Why did Sara Josepha Hale want to have a Thanksgiving celebration?
  5. Name 3 recipes written by Sara Josepha Hale.
  6. How did people feel about President Roosevelt moving the date of Thanksgiving?
  7. Who was the first president to pardon a turkey?

Veterans Day – November 11, 2014


Here’s why…

“A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” (Quote from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website)

Seven months before World War I ended, the fighting stopped on November 11, 1918. That day was called Armistice Day because an armistice is an agreement to temporarily stop fighting a war. This day was remembered and celebrated for several years as Armistice Day, which became a national holiday in 1938. However, after World War II and the Korean War, Americans felt that the holiday should celebrate all American soldiers, not just those who fought in WWI. Therefore, in 1954, President Eisenhower signed the legislation that changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Every year, on November 11, Americans take time to appreciate and thank all the members of our armed forces – Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. We celebrate our soldiers with parades, speeches, flowers placed on the memorials and graves of soldiers, and of course, a day off from work or school.

For more information on Veterans Day (and some great listening practice too!), check out this video:


Election Day

Campaign Signs

photo credit: thisisbossi via photopin cc

You’ve probably seen signs everywhere – in yards, outside of stores, beside the street – with names of people on them. They are many different colors and have many different names. Why are these signs everywhere?

These are campaign signs (signs of people who want you to vote for them). They are everywhere right now because this Tuesday is Election Day.

Election Day is on the first Tuesday of November each year.

Why do we have Election Day every year?

You may know that we vote for a new president every 4 years. In North Carolina, we vote for the governor at the same time. However, other offices have longer or shorter terms (lengths of time one person can have that office/job). Senators, for example, can stay in their position for 6 years before they must run for re-election (try to get people to vote for them again). Representatives run for re-election every 2 years.

We have an Election Day every year because there’s always something or someone to vote for. Even if we do not need a new president, governor, mayor, or congressman, we sometimes need to vote about local or state laws.

What are people voting about this year?

This year, North Carolinians are voting for senators, representatives, and several judges. In Wake County, we are also voting for some local officials, including a sheriff.

Who can vote?

Voting is a right of United States citizens only. If you become a citizen, then you will be able to vote.

Where do people go to vote?

Each person votes in a place near his/her house. The place where you go to vote is called your polling place. If you move to a new house, your polling place will also probably change. If you see a polling place on Tuesday, you will know because there will be many people there and MANY campaign signs.

Daylight Savings Time Ends

On Saturday night, November 1, before you go to bed, you should change the time on your clocks. Move the time BACK one hour. The time changes in the middle of the night, but if you change your clocks before you go to sleep, then they will be correct when you wake up.

Here is an example:

time change clocks fall

image by instructor ecparent

If you go to bed at 11:00 p.m., you should change your clocks to 10:00 p.m.

Your cell (mobile) phone will probably change by itself. You will not need to change it. However, you will need to change all of your other clocks. Don’t forget the clock in your car!

Halloween Safety

Halloween is coming THIS Friday, October 31!! This is a fun holiday for children, but getting hurt is not fun at all, so here are some tips (suggestions/ideas) for staying safe and enjoying Halloween.

Costume Safety

reflective tape

These cones have reflective tape, so you can see them in the dark.
photo credit: giveawayboy via photopin cc

  • Make sure your child’s costume fits. If it is too long, or if the shoes are too big, your child might trip and fall down.
  • Make sure your child can see. If your child’s costume has a mask, check that the holes are big enough and that the mask fits the child’s face correctly. If your child’s costume has a hat, make sure the hat is not too big. You don’t want it to fall down and cover your child’s eyes.
  • Make sure other people can see your child. If your child goes trick-or-treating (going to different houses, asking for candy) in the dark, he/she needs to have bright clothes or reflective strips so that drivers can see him/her.
  • Make sure all face paint is safe for skin. Look for “Non-Toxic” on the package to be sure it is safe to put on your body.
  • Make sure everything is flame resistant. “Flame resistant” means it will not catch fire easily. Jack-o-Lanterns are very common at Halloween, and most Jack-o-Lanters have a candle burning inside of them. If part of your child’s costume falls into a Jack-o-Lantern, you don’t want the costume to catch on fire. Flame resistant costumes and make-up will help to keep your child safe from fire.

Trick-or-Treat Safety

  • Most children go trick-or-treating between 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. After 9:00, it will be darker and more dangerous.
  • An adult should always go with young children.
  • Older children should have an approved route (path/way/trail) and a time to come home. Make a map of your neighborhood. Mark the direction your children will go and the houses they will visit. Decide what time they should come home, and give them a mobile (cell) phone in case of emergency.
  • All children should know how to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency. Talk to your children about different kinds of problems and when to call 9-1-1. For example, if a young child falls and hurts his knee, don’t call 9-1-1, but call a parent. If someone breaks a bone, call 9-1-1 AND a parent.
  • Only visit houses that have their porch lights on. If a house does not have its porch lights on, then the people are not home, or they do not want children to trick-or-treat there.
  • Never go into the house of a person you don’t know very well. Children should use the toilet at home before they go trick-or-treating. If they need to go while they are out, they should ask to use the toilet at the house of a friend.
  • Stay with a group. Children should never go trick-or-treating alone, and they should stay with a group at all times, especially when crossing the street.
  • Do not walk through yards. Stay on sidewalks and walkways. People might have garden hoses, sticks, or other things in their yards that children can trip on. Also, some people don’t like it when someone walks on their grass.
  • Do not eat any candy before you get home. Parent should look at all candy to make sure it is not open or rotten.

Halloween Health

  • Think about buying treats that are not candy. Pencils, stickers, small toys, or coloring books are great treats, but they don’t have all the sugar and calories of candy.
  • Check your child’s treats before they start eating. Make sure the candy has not been opened. Make sure it looks fresh. Make sure it doesn’t look strange in any way.
  • Save some candy for later. Your children might receive a lot of candy, and they will want to eat all of it immediately. However, think about allowing them to eat some now, but save the rest for later. It is healthier to eat 1 piece of candy every day than to eat 30 pieces at one time.
  • Give kids a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating. This will help them not to eat all of their candy right away.

Indoor Trick-or-Treating

If you don’t think your neighborhood is safe for trick-or-treating, or if the weather is bad, you can take your children (ages 10 and under) to the mall closest to you, and they can trick-or-treat in the stores!

  • Cary Towne Center – 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Crabtree Valley Mall – 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Triangle Town Center – NO TRICK-OR-TREATING
Happy Halloween

image by instructor ecparent

The State Fair Is Coming!

The North Carolina State Fair comes to Raleigh for 10 days every fall. It will start on Thursday, October 16 and end on Sunday, October 26, 2014.

How much does it cost?

It costs $7-9 for an adult to enter the fair. It costs $3-4 for children between the ages of 6 and 12. Children ages 5 and under get in for free. Adults over the age of 65 also get in for free! Buy your tickets early to save money.

What is there to do at the fair?

There are MANY fun and interesting things to do at the fair. Click on each one to get more information.

  • Rides – If you buy tickets before the fair starts, you can save money. Click here for more information about tickets.
  • Food – Food is EVERYWHERE at the fair. You can eat honey cotton candy, NCSU ice cream, and more fried foods than you can imagine.

    photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

    photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

  • Concerts – To attend these concerts, you must pay to enter the fair AND to enter the concert.
  • Free Entertainment – You still have to pay to enter the fair, but when you are inside the gates, these things do not cost extra. Click here for free concerts (including Bluegrass!).
  • Folk Festival – You can hear traditional music and see traditional dancing from NC!
  • Antique Farm Machines – If you have a young son, he will love this. You can see old farm equipment from the 1930s-1950s!
  • World War I Exhibit – Learn some NC and American history at this educational exhibit.
  • Fireworks! – There will be fireworks every night at 9:45 to signal the end of the night. At that time, all of the fair buildings will close, and the gates will not allow new people to enter.

How do I get there?

The NC State Fair is located at the corner of Blue Ridge Rd. and Hillsborough St. in Raleigh.

How to get to the fair

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

There are many ways you can get there. You can drive and look for a place to park nearby, but be careful! Do not park in private driveways, and pay attention to “No Parking” signs. You can pay to park in many places close to the fair. You can park a little farther away and ride a shuttle bus. Or you can take a train! This site has all the information you need to get to the fair. If you have any questions, please ask your teacher for help.

Your Turn

Are you going to the fair? Here are some ideas for you:

  • Write a comment, and tell us what you are going to do there!
  • Go with your classmates and their families! Write a comment to tell us about it!
  • After you go to the fair, write a comment, and tell us what you enjoyed.
  • Take pictures, and show them to your class.
  • Have fun!

Labor Day Holiday

The first Monday of every September is a federal holiday in America  that honors all the workers in our nation. It is called Labor Day.

Most other holidays honor an event, a war  or a person from history,  but Labor day honors the ordinary person whose everyday work makes this country great. Labor day is for  our construction workers, our police officers, our cleaning staff, our teachers, our medical  workers, our fire fighters, our farmers, our waiters,  and many more including ourselves.

Labor Day also is the unofficial end of summer.  Many workers take a long vacation or go traveling on this long weekend. Once Labor day is over, it’s back to work for the laborers  or back to school for students.

Learn more about this holiday with this El Civics lesson =>   Labor Day

…… and listen to this video for the history of Labor day