The Busy Tree is one of my favorite picture books about trees. I pass many trees as I walk, but when I approach this one, I always pause and wonder. Who is living in, around, and on this large tree? Is there a nest hidden out of my view or an animal living in a hollow? Which insects make it their home? Will I spy a squirrel climbing on the branches or an animal resting in the shade on a hot day? Does lichen grow on the trunk or mistletoe up on the limbs? Will this tree produce nuts or seeds? A tree truly is teeming with life!
When I visited the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, I was immediately drawn to the seahorse exhibit. What fascinating creatures! I was anxious to learn more.
Facts I learned about seahorses:
Although classified as fish, seahorses have an exoskeleton, no scales, and swim erect. They are carnivores and their diet consists mainly of small crustaceans. Their long, thin snout acts like a vacuum. They don’t have stomachs, so they must eat continuously. Eyes move independently, so they can look forward and backward at the same time.
Seahorses are poor swimmers. They propel themselves by fluttering a small fin on their back. Smaller fins, located near the back of the head, are used for steering. They are one of the few sea animals that can change colors which they use to camouflage themselves and hide from predators.
Seahorses are the only fish that have tails that can grab objects. Tails are used to grip onto sea grasses, so that they are not carried away by a current.
Seahorses reproduce in a unique way. The female lays her eggs in a male’s brood pouch. He carries the eggs until they are ready to hatch. Up to 45 days later, the babies emerge fully developed.
Click here for full screen. Note: Several other sources that although sea horses mate for a period, they do not mate for life.
Mollusks are invertebrates which means they have no bones. They are soft-bodied. There are three classifications: cephalopods, gastropods, and bivalves. In the last post, I shared information about octopuses which are cephalopods. In this post, I will focus on bivalves and gastropods.
Bivalves and gastropods are born with shells. The shells grow with them. Shells are not actually homes but body parts. The mantle produces the shell from calcium carbonate.
Bivalves, such as oysters, clams, scallops, and mussels, have two shells that are hinged together. The shells grow from the outer edges and both shells must grow at the same rate. They can open and close the shells as they move and eat.
Look carefully, do you see the growth lines around the shell? It may remind you of growth rings on a trunk.
Gastropods, such as conch, snails, and whelks, live in a spiral shell. The spiral grows from the outside and wraps around the invertebrate as it grows.
Click here and here for the Safeshare links of additional video about mollusks.
Classifying is an important skill. If you collect shells on a beach holiday, ask your child to sort them. They may choose their own categories which may include size, color, like kind, and texture, but then suggest that they group them into bivalves and gastropods.
Seashells by the Seashore is an engaging book to learn the names of common shells. Click here for the Safeshare link. I gave a bag of the shells to my scientists and as the characters discovered shells on the beach, my students picked up the matching shell. If you go to the beach, try to find these twelve shells.
I made these years ago to integrate science and math for my youngest scientists. I used sandpaper to make the shore.
Don’t forget dragonflies when you study insects! These colorful predators are captivating! Dragonflies can fly up to 30 miles per hour, but my goal is to capture a photo of one.
Before you begin your investigation of dragonflies, access your students’ background knowledge. Give each child two 3×5 cards. On one card write true and on the other false. Read statements like those below and ask your child (students) to hold up the card he/she believes is the correct response. Revisit these statements after you study dragonflies.
Dragonflies have three body parts.
Dragonflies go through metamorphosis.
Watch out! Dragonflies can sting.
A dragonfly lays its eggs on flowers.
Like all other insects, dragonflies have six legs.
A dragonfly’s skin stretches as it grows.
Just like butterflies, dragonflies drink nectar from flowers.
Dragonflies have compound eyes.
A dragonfly can fly backward and hover.
A dragonfly has two wings.
Dragonflies spend most of their lives in the water.
My first-grade scientists began each year learning the characteristics of living things (organisms). Although this may seem like a simple concept, it can be confusing to young children. Living things need water, air, and energy, reproduce (make more of their own kind), react to changes in their environment, have a life cycle, and move on their own. My older scientists were introduced to cells when we expanded these concepts.
Students often questioned how plants move on their own. In the following story, there are examples of plants moving with assistance, such as with wind, but there are also examples of how plants move independently. This is an excellent book to add to your library if you teach a plant or living things unit.
For a flower-themed STEM project, click here. During the first part of this lab, we investigated and experimented with various sizes of flowers and types of paper. It turned into a STEM activity, when students designed an object of their own to test.
I recently discovered the Water Princess, a picture book based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood. As a young girl, she dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village. Click here to listen to Georgie read the story.
Just One Africa is an excellent organization working to provide clean drinking water for the orphans and vulnerable children of Kenya. They are change makers!
For the last several weeks the forest floor was carpeted with yellow wildflowers, but it is slowly transitioning to white. Even those yellow wildflowers are dying and leaving behind puffs of white seeds. Watching the forest change is enchanting. Even the mood of the woodland changes with the time of day and type of weather. I like walking at dusk and dawn when sunlight peeks through the leaves and the wildlife is more active.
Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)
As I wrote this post, I thought of the yellow dandelions, the purple violets, and the other colored flowers that I have posted about recently. How fun it would be to go on a “Rainbow Flower Walk” with your children (or students) in your neighborhood, a park, the woodlands, or even in a plant nursery. Search for flowers of every color.
Click here for the Safeshare link. Plant a rainbow garden too!