Carolina Bluegrass at the History Museum

Bluegrass is a kind of traditional American folk music. It comes mostly from the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In the 1700s, many people from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales moved to this area of the United States, and they brought their music with them. Over time, traditional music from the UK changed into what we call bluegrass music. In NC, there are many bluegrass music concerts and festivals. A big bluegrass festival is coming to Raleigh soon, and I will tell you about it next week. This week, I want to introduce you to bluegrass music and tell you about an opportunity to learn more.

In this video, you will hear a bluegrass song and see some of the instruments typical of bluegrass. The man on the left is playing a small instrument called a mandolin. The woman in the middle is playing a guitar. The man on the right is playing a banjo. The man in the back is playing an upright bass. These instruments are all very common in bluegrass songs.

If you like this kind of music and want to learn more about it, you can visit the North Carolina Museum of History to see a FREE exhibit! When you visit the exhibit, you can learn more about the history of bluegrass and how it became popular. You can also see instruments that were played by famous bluegrass musicians. And on October 1 and 2, you can attend free concerts!

Around Raleigh: Midtown

The areas of Raleigh do not have strict limits. There usually isn’t a clear line where one area ends and another area begins. All of the areas we have talked about so far have been approximate (not exact; not precise). Midtown is also an approximate area. However, in general, when people talk about midtown Raleigh, they are talking about the area from I-440 up to Millbrook Road, from Glenwood Avenue to Six Forks Road (more or less).

I’d like to tell you about a few things to do and see in midtown Raleigh.

First, let’s look at the major roads in this area:

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

  • Glenwood Avenue is the yellow road on the left. It is also highway 70. It goes from downtown Raleigh, through Five Points, all the way up to I-540 and into Durham.
  • The orange road across the bottom of the map is I-440. People in Raleigh also call it “the beltline” because it goes around Raleigh like a belt.
  • Six Forks Road is the purple line on the right of the map. It also continues north to I-540.
  • The green line at the top of the map is Millbrook Road. If you continue east on this road past Capital Blvd., the name of the road changes to New Hope Road. If you continue west on this road past Glenwood Ave., the name of the road changes to Duraleigh Road.

Now I’ll tell you about a couple of things you can do in this area.

  1. Crabtree Valley Mall – Most of you have visited this mall already. If you haven’t been there yet, it is a large mall with lots of stores and restaurants. It has plenty of parking, but if you don’t have a car, you can take a #6 CAT bus.
  2. North Hills – North Hills isn’t a mall like Crabtree. It has lots of stores and restaurants, but they aren’t all together in a large building. Instead, you walk outside from one store to another. North Hills also has a Target, a movie theater, and apartments. If you enjoy eating or walking outside, you might like North Hills. It also has free outdoor concerts in the summer.
  3. Shelley Lake – Shelley Lake has a 2-mile path where you can walk, run, or ride your bicycle. It also has two playgrounds (1 for older children, 1 for younger children) and a basketball court. And if you’re interested in art, Sertoma Arts Center is located at Shelley Lake. At Sertoma, you can take classes in pottery, painting, drawing, photography, and performance arts (like dance and drama). They have classes for all ages, from preschool to adults.

Your Turn

Tell us about your favorite thing to do in midtown Raleigh! Do you have a favorite restaurant, store, or activity in this area? Leave a comment so that other students can enjoy it too!

Get Ready for Mother’s Day

Every year in America we honor mothers on the second Sunday of May. Not every country celebrates it on the same day (i.e. Mexico celebrates it on May 10) but many countries have a similar holiday. Across the world it is a day that we want to make Moms feel special and let them know how much they are loved and appreciated.

On Mother’s Day, we usually send or give our mothers cards, flowers and other gifts. Often, family members will prepare breakfast for “Mum” so she can stay in bed a little longer. Restaurants are VERY busy that day as families treat their mothers to a delicious lunch or dinner.

However you celebrate, be sure to let your mother that how much you love her. It will be better than any other gift you can give her. If your mother is no longer living, take a moment and remember the many memories you have of her. Perhaps do something that she taught or shared with you ( like making her recipe for a favorite dish) and keep her with you forever.

For more information on this holiday, click on the EL Civics’s Lesson.

Perhaps these videos can help you celebrate Mother’s Day:

Here are the lyrics to the last video:

Mother’s Day Song

Mommy, mommy
I love you mommy
This is your special day
Flowers and presents
And breakfast in bed
Whatever you wish for
I’ll give you instead

Mommy, mommy
I love you mommy
No chores for you today
Bear hugs and kisses
To show how I feel
I love you mommy dear

Baking, cooking
Washing and working
Making our house a home
Always helping
Care for my well being
I never feel alone

Mommy, mommy
I love you mommy
In all your special ways
So on every second
Sunday in May
We’ll celebrate
Mother’s Day
Mommy I love you
You know we love you so!
Mommy I love you so


Around Raleigh: Five Points

So far, we’ve looked at two areas of Raleigh: the NCSU area and the downtown area. This week we’re going to look at a much smaller area. It’s mostly residential (houses and apartments), but there are a few interesting things there. Also, when people talk about places in Raleigh, they might say, “It’s near Five Points.” If you hear the name of that area – Five Points –you will understand much better if you know where it is.

The area called Five Points is on Glenwood Avenue, north of downtown, but south of I-440 and Crabtree Valley Mall. It is a historic area of Raleigh, built in the 1920s. It is called Five Points because the streets go in 5 different directions from one intersection. You will know you’re there if you come to a very confusing intersection with an enormous church.

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

The 5 points are:

  1. The 1st point is Glenwood Avenue (US 70) north. On the map, you can see Lilly’s Pizza on Glenwood Ave. If you haven’t tried Lilly’s yet, now is the time. Go on a beautiful day, and sit outside. If the bank next-door is closed, you can park there. If the bank is open, you can’t park there; you will have to park on the street. Do you like coffee, tea, sandwiches, or baked desserts? Next to Lilly’s you will find a coffee shop called The Third Place. It’s a great place to go and chat with your friends after class! If you continue north on Glenwood, you will come to I-440 and then Crabtree Valley Mall.
  2. The 2nd point is Whitaker Mill Road. It is a residential street (people live there), but if you keep going, Whitaker Mill Rd. will take you to Wake Forest Rd. and Atlantic Ave.
  3. The 3rd point is Fairview Rd. In this direction it is all residential, but you might find a place to park there if you are going to the Rialto to see a movie.
  4. The 4th point is Glenwood Avenue (US 70) south. On the map, you can see The Rialto Theater. The Rialto was built in 1942. You can go there to see foreign and independent films. They only accept cash, though (no credit cards), so if you go, be prepared. If you continue south on Glenwood, you will cross over Wade Avenue, and then you will come to Fred Fletcher Park. It is a lovely park with a playground, tennis courts, picnic areas, and gardens (all free). In the summer, Fletcher Park sometimes has concerts and other free events.
  5. The 5th point is also Fairview Rd., but the first block in this direction has some good things for you to see. The Hayes Barton Pharmacy has been in business for over 75 years. But more importantly, behind it is the Hayes Barton Cafe, where you can have a delicious dinner and a piece of cake that is bigger than your head. Also on Fairview, you can find several antiques stores, a post office, a yoga studio, and NOFO at the Pig. NOFO is a restaurant and shop. The building used to be a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, but after the store closed, the building was changed, and NOFO moved in. The food is delicious, and the shop is very interesting. You don’t have to eat in the restaurant to go in the shop.

Around Raleigh: Downtown

This week, we will continue our tour around Raleigh by going downtown. The downtown area of Raleigh is east of the NCSU area. If you go east on Hillsborough Street or Western Boulevard, you will go downtown. Downtown Raleigh has a lot of wonderful stores, restaurants, art galleries, museums, and historical sites. There is A LOT of information here, but it is only a small amount of what’s available in downtown Raleigh.

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

Major roads:

  • The two major roads that go north and south through downtown Raleigh are McDowell Street (north) and Dawson Street (south). If you continue north on McDowell Street out of downtown, the two roads join together and become Capital Blvd. If you continue south on Dawson Street out of downtown, the two roads join together and become South Saunders Street.
  • Wilmington Street – Wilmington Street is another major road through downtown Raleigh. Traffic runs one way – north only. If you walk or drive up Wilmington St., you will pass the Capitol Building, the science museum, the history museum, and many restaurants. There are entrances to at least three parking decks on Wilmington Street, so when you go downtown, look for a place to park on Wilmington Street.
  • Fayetteville Street – Fayetteville Street is very short, but it’s important. Lots of special events take place there. There are special music events like Wide Open Bluegrass and Hopscotch. There are arts festivals like SPARKcon. There’s the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo. And in the warm months, the first Friday of every month brings artists and performers out to play. Plus, Fayetteville Street has lots of great restaurants and a weekly farmer’s market.
  • Hargett Street – You can drive east and west through downtown on several roads, but Hargett Street is my favorite. It has a lot of restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and other things like the Marbles Kids Museum and Moore Square Park.

Here are some other important things to see on the map:

  1. The Capitol Building – The NC State Capitol is the main house of government in North Carolina. The governor’s offices are located there, and the General Assembly and Legislature used to meet there, but they now have a separate building a few blocks away. The design of the building is in a Greek architecture style. You can go in and take a tour if you want!
  2. The Governor’s Mansion – Governor Pat McCrory is the 29th governor of NC to live in the mansion since it was completed in 1891. Tours are available on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  3. NC Museum of Natural Sciences and NC Museum of History – Both museums have exhibits that are free and excellent. If you or your children are interested in science or history, you must visit these museums.
  4. Glenwood South – The southern end of Glenwood Avenue is full of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and stores.
  5. The Warehouse District – If you aren’t familiar with the warehouse district, it might seem a little scary, but if you know where to look, there are lots of great restaurants, art galleries, and bars. Boylan Bridge Brewpub has outdoor tables and one of the best views of downtown Raleigh, and Videri Chocolate Factory is delicious.
  6. Moore Square – Moore Square often has special events like music and arts festivals, but there are also interesting things to see and do nearby when there’s nothing special happening. Just north of Moore Square is the Marbles Kids Museum and the IMAX movie theater. Just south of Moore Square is Raleigh’s historic City Market, which now has restaurants, stores, bars, and The Handmade Market, an arts and crafts shopping event that takes place in the spring and fall of every year.
  7. City Plaza Area – At and near the end of Fayetteville Street, there are many fun and important places. City Plaza is where most outdoor events happen, but the Raleigh Convention Center is also there for indoor events. Just south of Fayetteville Street is the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. And just east of Fayetteville St., you can see bands perform live at the Lincoln Theater.

Again, these are just a few of the things you can find in downtown Raleigh. If you visit one of these places, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience. If you have a favorite place to go downtown, leave a comment and tell us about it!

Around Raleigh: NCSU Area

If you’re looking for a place to live or something fun to do on the weekend, it’s good to know the names of the different areas of Raleigh and Cary. Over the next few months, we will look at several different areas and all the things you can do there. We will start with the NC State University area. Here’s a map of the area. The Brooks Avenue Church of Christ is marked with “A,” and if you click on the map, you will go to an interactive version where you can see more:

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

image by Google maps and instructor ecparent

Here are some important things to see on the map.

Major roads:

  • Hillsborough Street – There are many stores and restaurants on Hillsborough St. You have to pay to park there, though, so be careful not to get a parking ticket.
  • Western Boulevard – The part of Western Blvd. that you can see on this map is mostly just for driving. However, if you go west on Western, there are a lot of fast food restaurants. There is also a Food Lion supermarket.
  • Gorman Street – Most of Gorman St. is residential. That means that there are houses and apartments.
  • Oberlin Road – Oberlin Rd. has both businesses and homes. If you go north on Oberlin, you can get to Wade Avenue and Glenwood Avenue.

photo by ecparent1. Raleigh Little Theater – RLT is a local theater company. You can go there to see a show, attend an event, take a class, volunteer, or visit the rose garden, which is beautiful in the summer.

2. Cameron Village – Cameron Village has a lot of great stores and restaurants. There is also a post office (on Oberlin Rd.) and a really great public library (on Clark Ave.).

3. Pullen Park – Pullen Park was the first public park in NC. It has a swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic shelters, a playground, a carousel, and lots of other fun things for your family.

Your Turn

What are your favorite things to do in this area? Leave a comment with the names of your favorite stores and restaurants near NCSU.

Martin Luther King Jr Day – Make It a Day On, Not a Day Off

On Monday, January 20th (the third Monday of January)  we observe Martin Luther King Jr Day – a legal holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was  a Baptist minister and a main leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s..  In the 1960’s African Americans experienced racial discrimination in many parts of America but especially in the South.  African Americans often were not allowed to vote, to go to the same schools as white students or to do many ordinary day to day activities  ( like sit in the front of a bus or eat at the same places white Americans ate). Many jobs were denied to them or they were paid much lower than a white American doing the same job.

The civil rights movement  successfully protested laws and customs that allowed discrimination based on color. It was a long, hard and often dangerous fight by regular citizens to overturn these laws and change the minds and hearts of Americans.  Mr King was a gifted speaker  and organizer who inspired many Americans to challenge the segregation laws by non violent  protests. One of his most famous speeches was “I Have a Dream” given during a historic civil rights march in Washington, D.C in 1963.  

He worked hard to make people understand that black people should always be treated equally to white people. He gave speeches and led rallies to encourage African Americans to protest without the need for violence.

One peaceful strategy was for African Americans to have sit-ins. This is where they would sit in a restaurant seat that was supposed to be only for white people. They would politely ask for some food and refuse to leave until someone gave them food. Another strategy that King used was leading boycotts. This is where people would refuse to buy goods or services from people who did not treat white people and black people the same

In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The year 1964 was also when the Civil Rights Act was passed. This act banned many kinds of discrimination against black people. King then moved on to a bill that would make sure that black Americans would be allowed to vote. This led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It made it against the law to stop somebody from voting because of their race.

King had clearly made enemies in his rise to fame.  On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing outside his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was preparing to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

To learn more about Martin Luther King Jr see this El Civics lesson.

This video shows us some of key changes that Martin Luther King helped make in this country

Many people honor Mr King’s memory by making the holiday a Day of Service to our nation and communities.  They seek to change society for the better one person at a time.  They encourage us to think of this day not as a day off but to make it a “day on” by volunteering for a social project .

Fortify NC

fortify (v) – to make stronger with extra support

If you drive on I-40 through Raleigh, you know that the highway is old and bumpy. The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is working to rebuild 11.5 miles of I-40. This project is called Fortify, and it will take almost 3 years to complete. It could make traffic very slow and frustrating, but it is necessary for the safety of the 100,000 drivers who pass through that section of I-40 every day. This video explains the project more:

For more information, maps, live traffic reports, public transit options, and even music to listen to while driving, visit the Fortify website.

Did you know this about our city, Raleigh?

Raleigh, NC is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. (photo permission by flickr via sunlightfoundation)

Did you know that Raleigh is one of the top ten best run cities in America?  According to 24/7 Wall Street, Raleigh placed seventh on the list!  The ranking was based on unemployment, violent crime per 1,000 people and the city’s credit rating.

They reported that The Research Triangle brings high-skilled labor to the Raleigh area. More than 45 percent of the city residents over the age of 25 have a college degree.  Total employment in Raleigh and its surrounding area grew by 35.9 percent between 2000 and 2010.  This trend continued in 2011.

 Last December, Nancy McFarlane, the Raleigh Mayor,  was a guest on BBC’s ‘Newshour” after Raleigh was identified as one of the “cities of the future’.  The program announced that Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.  Mayor McFarlane said this was a result of  sustainable job growth through a strong tech sector.

Pullen Park

Used with permission from Suzie T via (CC BY 2.0)

Used with permission from Suzie T via (CC BY 2.0)

Soon the weather will be cooler and it will be a great time to be outside!  A fabulous place to go is Pullen Park!

Pullen Park was the first public park in North Carolina.  It is a wonderful place for people of all ages. Located between Western Blvd., Hillsborough St., Ashe Av. and North Carolina State University, Pullen Park has many things to do during your free time.

Pullen Park was founded on March 22, 18817 by Richard Stanhope Pullen. He donated the farmland as a gift to the City of Raleigh to be used as parkland. He wanted the land to be used for the recreation use and pleasure of the inhabitants and the visitors to the City of Raleigh.

Here are some places to enjoy at Pullen Park:

Pullen Aquatics Center – With a indoor Olympic sized pool, the aquatic center is perfect for swim classes, recreation, and competitive events.

Pullen Community Center – Located beside the aquatic center, the community center has a fitness room, warming kitchen and five multipurpose meeting rooms.

Pullen Arts Center – Offering workshops, a gallery, studio areas and pottery kilns, this arts center has it all.

Pullen Amusements – The Amusements Center has undergone extensive renovation and is now open for you and your family to enjoy!

Pullen Place Cafe – Located in the Amusement area near the Welcome Center, Pullen Place Cafe offers fresh, local, seasonal foods.

Pullen Park Playground – The playground is made up of four distinct areas, distinguished by the age group they serve or the activities they focus on.

Pullen Athletic Fields – The park offers three softball fields and six tennis courts.

Click on the links above to find more information.  Have fun!