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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Turtles, snakes, and lizards... Oh My!

As we began our reptile unit, we paused to review and compare what we have learned about mammals, birds, and reptiles. We learned that while mammals and birds are "warm-blooded", reptiles are "cold-blooded" so they rely on their external environment to warm or cool their body temperature. Mammals have live babies while birds and reptiles both lay eggs. Mammals are covered in fur or hair, birds are covered in feathers, and reptiles are covered in scales. The reptile family includes turtles, snakes, lizards, alligators and crocodiles. 
Today's class focused on turtles. We spent time examining shells, including a giant sea turtle shell! Some of us even tried on the shell! We met Bubbles the Box Turtle and a male Red-eared Slider and compared the different adaptations each turtle has to thrive in their respective ecosystems.
Fact or Fable?
Can turtles leave their shells?
Fable! Turtle's shells are attached to their bodies. Their backbones and ribs are actually fused to the inside of their shells! 
We also spent plenty of time outdoors exploring the ponds, hiking, playing games and best of all pretending to be sloths lazily hanging in trees enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Next week will be all about snakes! 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Nest Construction

 To wrap up our bird unit, we spent the morning learning all about nests. After spending some time in the classroom observing a couple nests, we brainstormed materials that birds could use. While on our hike to the stone story circle we collected various items that we could use to build our very own nests. The class collected moss, dried grasses, lichen, leaves, bark, thin twigs, and even trash. Using "nature's glue", also known as mud, the assembly process began! 
It was interesting to see how they each choose to use different materials to construct their nest. They all turned out so unique!
We were excited to see our Red-tailed Hawk friend again in her usual spot above the stone story circle and we even spotted a flock of Blue Birds flitting around the hill. 
Next week, we will begin our Reptile unit!

Mud Pie Time!

Spring is approaching and that means it's mud season! It was such a great day to play in the mud this week and boy did we get muddy. The class made a delicious "chocolate mud cake with Oreo frosting" that quickly prompted a mud fight. 
This week we brought our bird creations, from last week, to life using clay and natural objects. They turned out so well!
Here is a preview of a couple: 
I can't wait to see what they look like after they are painted.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Inventing our own birds!

The past couples weeks have been all about bird beak, feet, and feather adaptations. We discovered that a bird's food source plays a large role in where the bird lives and the function and form of its body parts.
After spending some time exploring in the chilly rain this week, we returned to the classroom to invent our own unique bird species! Using this great template, each of the children choose one beak, one set of feet, tail feathers, a head, and a body. After coloring them however they wanted, they cut all their pieces out and glued them together. Then they decided what food sources their bird would eat based on the adaptations they choose and the ecosystem that their bird would live in. Lastly they named their unique creations. They did such an amazing job and really got into the project. They are certainly a creative group! 
Next week, they will use their 2-D versions of their bird as inspiration to turn them into sculptures! We will also begin our study of bird nests and eggs!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bird Feet!

Continuing our unit on birds, today's class focused on feet adaptations. While out on our hike, we were excited to spot a couple Bluebirds bouncing around and even more excited to find a couple owl pellets on the trail! 
Look at their beautiful snow village! 
 After reading a book called "Ducks Don't Get Wet" by Augustus Goldin, we did our own experiment to see if the book was correct. Everyone picked a different bird feather and dipped it into a glass of water. To the class's surprise the feather was dry when we pulled it back out! We learned that this happens because birds cover their feather in oil. And because oil and water don't mix the oil acts as a barrier for the feather keeping it dry even when a bird is underwater! 
We examined different bird feet and discussed the function of each of the feet. The feet of the Ring-necked Pheasant is perfect for scraping and searching the ground for bugs. 
 The feet of the Common Merganser is perfect for diving and swimming in the water.
 The Great Horned Owl feet are perfect for catching and holding on to its prey.
Next week we will learn about what makes bird bones so special and we will create our own unique bird!