December 1

Moles

As I walked through my neighborhood, my eyes were suddenly drawn to this long mound in the grass. Moles had been at work!

Moles are small burrowing mammals that live mostly solitary lives underground. They have tiny eyes and front claws that are perfectly designed for digging tunnels and underground chambers. Their diet consists of invertebrates, especially worms and insect larvae. Although they aerate the ground and don’t eat plants, homeowners usually regard them as pests.

Moles are classified as mammals because they are warm-blooded, their body covering is fur, babies are born alive and young nurse on mother’s milk. They are sometimes mistakenly thought to be rodents.

Click here and here to learn more about moles. Click here to watch the video full screen.

Click here to watch A Friend for Mole on Safeshare.

See the source image

Click here for a previous post about subterranean animals.

November 29

Isopods

When I taught about invertebrates, observing roly polies, (aka pill bugs or potato bugs) was always a favorite lab. They actually aren’t bugs at all! Why? Scientists refer to them as isopods and they are most closely related to shrimp and lobsters (crustaceans). They breathe through gills and require a moist environment. Click here to go to a pill bug lab.

When I retired, I left all the lab animals at school, except for a handful of pill bugs. They have multiplied (through laying eggs) over the last 18 months, and their habitat is full of many generations!

I just added this book to my collection:

See the source image

Click here to watch the author read her book full screen.

Examine the following photos closely. Notice the diversity of colors and the different sizes of these decomposers.


Constructing a pill bug habitat for a classroom is simple. I placed decomposing leaves and wood on organic soil. Then I added slices of potatoes and sprinkled Deer Park mineral water as needed to keep the habitat moist. They can’t crawl up the plastic sides, so a top isn’t necessary.

Engineers study nature for solutions to problems. I recommend this book for young entrepreneurs who want to learn about the study of biomimicry. What have engineers learned from pill bugs? Think about their defense mechanism (seven overlapping plates that can slide back and forth) and then read the book to learn more.

Click here to watch the preview of Nature Did It First full screen.

November 28

Spanish Moss

On a recent trip, I observed Spanish Moss dangling from the trees that line the roads in Beaufort, SC. Is Spanish Moss a plant? Does the “moss” damage the trees on which it’s found? How does it reproduce? I learned some new facts about Spanish Moss in the videos below.

Click here to view full screen.

To watch full screen, click here.

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November 21

Gratitude

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am very grateful for each of my readers! See you next week.

In this season of gratitude, let’s also show our appreciation for trees. Before reading further, think of all the ways that trees provide for people, animals, and the earth. It’s a long list!

Did you think of food (fruit, maple syrup, chocolate, olives, spices, and nuts), shade, shelter and food for animals, Christmas trees, lumber, paper and paper products, rubber, as well as oxygen? Trees also prevent erosion, enrich the soil, and provide beauty. Just imagine a cherry tree blooming in the spring or a maple tree with its crimson fall color.

Click here for full screen.

The following video is one chapter of Be Thankful for Trees. Click here to watch full screen.

Our Tree Named Steve is a humorous story about a family who loved a tree. Click here to watch full screen. Do you have a special tree? My first graders traditionally adopted a tree on our school campus each year. Go here to learn more.

Use this book to teach metaphors and similes to students of all ages. The figurative language describes trees beautifully! Click here to watch full screen. Before watching, discuss with your children or students what images they see in their minds when someone says, “Picture a tree”.

Click here to watch Have You Seen Trees? and follow trees through seasonal changes.

Have You Seen Trees - 0590466917, Joanne Oppenheim, Library Binding

What a fun way to integrate history and create a multidisciplinary approach to the study of trees. The story is told from a tree’s perspective. In the video below, the author previews her book, What Did the Tree See?

Like the character in the story below, plant a tree to demonstrate your gratitude.

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Thank you, God, for trees! I can’t imagine a world without them.

 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
(Genesis 2:9)

November 17

Bald Cypress or Dawn Redwood?

A conifer is a cone bearing tree. Many conifers are evergreen, but some are deciduous which means they lose their needles in autumn. I thought this tree was a bald cypress which is a deciduous conifer, but now I believe it is a dawn redwood. What do you think? Watch the video below to decide.

These cones are filled with seeds which provide food for wildlife.

Click here to view full screen.

A fun song to learn more about conifers. Click here to view full screen.

Click here to view full screen.

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November 15

Tides

I have a few more thoughts I want to share from my holiday on the shore that I will intermingle with autumn posts.

Tides fascinate me. Watching the saltwater move in and out on the beach at regular intervals in predictable patterns has always piqued my interest. Everything in our solar system has gravity. The larger the mass of an object, the greater the gravitational pull. Although the moon has less gravity than Earth, it is enough to pull the tides.

Click here to watch the study jam below.

Teach about tides during a study of the moon:
Click here and here to learn more about moon phases.
Click here to investigate craters.
Click here to discover why you see the moon during the day.
Click here for a moon art project.
Click here to learn about a blue moon.

How do hurricanes impact tides? Click here to view full screen.

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November 14

Baby Squirrels

What a treat to discover a litter of young squirrels! I watched three enchanting kittens darting in and out of their nest in the tree hollow before scampering up and down the branches of the old tree.

Eastern gray squirrels build their nests in nut-bearing trees. They have a litter of two to four kittens (on average) once or twice a year. At three months, the babies will leave the nest and at nine months, they are considered full grown.

Click here for a previous post about how squirrels find their acorns. Click here for a previous post about squirrels and balance.

Add this beautifully illustrated book to your collection:

See the source image

Click here for a previous post about tree cavities.

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November 10

Phenomena

I periodically share photos of natural phenomena. The purpose of these photos is to encourage children (and adults) to stop, observe, and question. What do you wonder as you gaze at this photo? “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”  E.B. White

Why have leaves fallen off only one side of the tree? Is there a pattern by which deciduous trees lose their leaves?

Click here to watch full screen.

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November 8

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Why do deciduous leaves change color and fall from the trees each Autumn?  Look at these leaves carefully. What do you wonder? What happens to the green pigment in the leaves? Are the orange, red, and yellow colors always in the leaves or are those pigments created in the fall?

Click here for the  Safeshare link for the following video. Click here to view full screen.


Click here for the Safeshare link for the following video. Click here for full screen viewing.

Watch the story on this Safeshare link.

See the source image

Try this easy chromatography experiment to determine which pigments are in the leaves you find from trees or plants outside or use house plants. Chromatography is a process that can be used to isolate the various components of a mixture based on the different rates of absorption. Paper chromatography uses capillary force to move the solvent and the sample up the paper strip. The most soluble compounds of the sample will go farther. The number of bands tells you how many compounds are in your substance.

Watch the video for directions. I used filter paper, but coffee filters will work too. Click here for the Safeshare link. Click here to view full screen.

Continue a discussion about pigment. Why is it important to eat the rainbow (foods of different colors)? Why is this apple red and green?

The leaves below all came from the same maple tree. Why do you see a range of colors? Observe and wonder.

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November 7

Ghost Crabs

Have you seen these holes on the beach? They are perfectly round and are a variety of sizes. These burrows can be up to four feet deep and have angled entrances. Do you know what creates them?



GHOST CRABS!

These crustaceans are humorous to watch and move very quickly! They derive their name from their pale white color and provide a great example of camouflage because they can gradually change colors to match their surroundings. Ghost crabs are nocturnal, but occasionally make daytime appearances. Only one crab lives in each burrow.

Crabs have four pairs of legs and a pair of claws (decapods). One claw is larger than the other. They are invertebrates which means they have no bones, but their bodies are protected by an exoskeleton. They live near the water because they breathe oxygen through gills which must remain wet. Eyes are on stalks that swivel, and they will use their appendages to wipe sand from them.

I caught this one eating. They are omnivorous scavengers and help keep our beaches clean. (Remember not to use flashlights on the beach during the months turtles come on shore to lay their egggs.)

Females carry developing eggs under their bodies before releasing them into the water. Do you see the eggs under this crab?

Click here to watch full screen. I could watch these crabs for hours! Ghost crabs are evidence that God has a sense of humor.

Walk like a crab!

These cute crabs were made by former PreK students in Mrs. Lilge’s class. Make ghost crabs with white paint and mix a little sand into the beach color. Then add some claws.

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