This week's class was all about adaptations. An adaptation is anything that helps an animal to survive. We learned that an adaptation can be physical, like webbed feet and sharp teeth, or behavioral, like migrating and hibernating. Animals develop adaptations to help deal with their ecosystem climate, to move better, to prevent being eaten or to successfully catch their food.
After introducing the idea, we examined a raccoon fur and discussed how the fur not only helps the raccoon stay warm during the winter but also helps it to camouflage or blend in with its surroundings.
We examined hawk talons and an owl feather and they brainstormed how those physical features help the animal. We learned that animals will also develop behaviors that help them survive. For example, Virginia Opossums will play dead when encountered by a predator in hopes they will appear unappealing and Bluebirds will freeze when hawks are nearby in hopes that they will not be spotted. To avoid the cold food-less winter months, animals have even adapted to hibernate. To illustrate these adaptations we played a couple of active games including "Opossum Tag" and "Bluebirds and Hawks".
After returning from our hike, we read a story called "Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad's Tale" and spent some time studying Ms. Toady and learning all about how she is perfectly adapted for her forest ecosystem. As a class we brainstormed her adaptations including her camouflage, her breathable skin, and her poison glands.
To illustrate how the Polar Bear survives living in the Arctic Tundra, each of the kids stuck their bare hands in a bucket of ice. It was so cold! After they experienced the frigid water with their bare hand, they each put their hands in a glove filled with Crisco and then stuck their hand back in. This time they could have kept their hands in the icy water all day! Just like the Crisco filled glove, the Polar Bear has a thick layer of fat underneath its heavy coat of fur which keeps it nice and toasty in its very cold habitat!
What a great adaptation!