Friday, October 28, 2016
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Here are some sites where you can find lots of fun things to do and ways for children to investigate.
Science Made Fun
This site is packed with info about dinosaur record holders. For example do you know which dinosaur is the smallest when fully-grown? Or which kind was the first ever to be discovered in North America? You will once you visit this site.
Child Care Lounge: Dinosaur Activities
Songs and crafts add fun and games to learning about dinosaurs.
Enchanted Learning: Dinosaur Quizes
Ten questions, word unscrambles, crosswords and name hunts. There's lots of dino-fun here.
And don't miss the jokes! You'll find the answers to these and more.
Why did the Archaeopteryx catch the worm?
What do you get when dinosaurs crash their cars?
Breaking News: Dinosaur Egg Discovered
Check out this latest discovery of dinosaur eggs. Also, take a look inside my book to see how the latest technology let scientists study baby dinosaurs. And learn what they were like and how they developed.
|See a real baby dinosaur on page 35|
Encourage children to imagine dinosaur eggs were discovered at their school or at home in their backyard. Have them become reporters to bring this breaking news to the world.
South Pole Dinosaurs
|Dr. Christian Sidor with fossil|
Hard as it is to believe, during the Age of Dinosaurs the world's climate was very different. In fact, it was a time of Greenhouse kind of warming. So there were forests in Antarctica where the land is now covered with thick ice sheets. Scientist Dr. Vanessa Bowman reported that the rainforests of New Zealand with their fern trees show what the Antarctic forests were once like. In fact, Robert Falcon Scott found fossilized plants there in 1912. Since, explorers have discovered fossilized, bush-sized beech trees and remains of ginkgos, another ancient kind of tree. And dinosaur bones have also been discovered.
[Don't miss the sweet story of how this dinosaur got its name.]
So what kinds of dinosaurs once lived near the South Pole? Here's the names of three. Click on the name of each to link to a site where you can begin learning more about that dinosaur. If you're interested go online to discover more about one or more of these dinosaurs. And create a 12-page mini-picture book about the dinosaur.
Antarctopelta, meaning “Antarctic shield.” Discovered in 1986. Believed to be an ankylosaurus type of armored plant eater.
Cryolophosaurus, means “coldcrested lizard.” Approximately 20–26 feet (6–8 m) long, this massive creature must have required a hefty diet, including other dinosaurs.
Glacialisaurus, meaning “frozen lizard.” The entire dinosaur must have been 20–25 feet (6–8 m) long and weighed an estimated 4–6 tons.
Now, imagine that you have travelled to Antarctica. And you're part of a team that has found the fossil remains of a brand new kind of dinosaur. Read this story about someone who lived that exciting adventure. Then make up a story about being along on this expedition.
Have Dino Dreams
Dinosaurs are also perfect for launching all sorts of creative thinking. Let children look at this picture and:
1. Imagine living in that city.
2. Draw another kind of dinosaur that's hosting a city.
3. Dream up a class pet dinosaur.
And enjoy some of these fun reads:
|How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?|
Sunday, September 4, 2016
First, the heart of this book is about making a memory—taking time to do something together you can remember sharing forever. Talk about and then write about a special time you remember sharing with someone.
Of course, there are also places we’d like to go and things we’d like to do to make memories. Talk about and then write about something you’d like to share doing together.
Now, explore the special memory Jilly and her mother share in Butterfly Tree.
When Jilly first spots something strange in the sky out over Lake Erie, what does she think it looks like? Read and discover.
Describing what something looks like by comparing it to something else is called a metaphor. Basically, something unfamiliar is described by telling how it’s like something familiar. A metaphor can be a powerful way to use words to paint a picture in someone’s mind. Try it.
Sit quietly for a few minutes either indoors or outside. Look around. Pick out something to focus on. Then think how you could describe what it looks like to someone who’s never seen it by comparing it to something else--something familiar.
Next, share your metaphor. Ask the person to describe the visual image your words painted in their mind. Trade metaphors back and forth to work together building a description.
Here are some places and times you could use metaphors to partner building a description others can enjoy too.
*A stormy day
*An animal in action: a bird taking flight; a squirrel in a tree; a cat playing
When Jilly first sees the orange cloud in the sky, she makes lots of guesses of what it might be. Each of those guesses probably instantly made Jilly think of a different possibility for where the cloud came from and why it’s over Lake Erie. What did Jilly imagine the cloud might be? Read and discover.
Spend some time cloud watching with someone. Look out a window or go outside on a wonderfully cloudy day. Focus on one cloud that looks like an animal, an object, or something totally magical. Tell a short story about that cloud and what you imagined about it.
Then write your cloud story. Be sure to include at least one metaphor to help your reader see what you’re describing.
Jilly’s ready to run away because of the orange cloud she’s spotted, but her Mom suggests they go searching for where the cloud landed.
What orange things do Jilly and her Mom discover in the woods before they find the orange cloud? Read and discover.
What happens to reveal what the orange cloud really is? Don't miss reading to find out!
Mom says she remembers seeing the butterflies when she was a girl. Why do you think she didn’t just tell Jilly what the orange cloud was?
Now, discover more about monarch butterflies.
The Circle of Life
Look at these images of the stages of a monarch butterfly’s life cycle.
The female lays her eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants. Caterpillars hatch out in about four days.
Caterpillars eat their egg case and keep on eating. They eat the milkweed leaves they’re on. They eat nearly twenty-four hours a day for about two weeks.
The caterpillar spins a silk pad on the under side of a leaf. It grips this with tiny legs, called prolegs. It hangs in a J-shape and molts. This way it sheds its exoskeleton, or outer covering.
That hardens to form a chrysalis, a protective case. Inside the chrysalis, digestive juices break down a lot of the caterpillar’s old body. Using energy from stored up fats, a new body grows from the old one bit by bit.
After about two weeks, an adult monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. It takes several hours for its wings to fully inflate and harden. Then it flies off to feed on nectar, the sweet liquid produced by flowers. It lives from two to eight weeks. During this time, the males and females mate. Then the females lay their eggs, starting the cycle over again.
Experience what happens when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Cut out and color an adult monarch.
Then fold this up small and push it inside a balloon.
Have an adult partner blow up a balloon just enough to partly inflate it. Tie the neck to seal the balloon.
Cover the balloon with paper mache. To do this, first snip newspaper into strips about an inch (2.5 cm) wide and 6 inches (25 cm) long. Cut at least 25 strips. In a bowl, mix one-half cup flour with enough water to make a runny paste. Dip one paper strp into the glue mixture. Hold the strip over the bowl and slide between your thumb and fingers to remove excess paste. Smooth the strip onto the balloon. Repeat until the whole balloon is covered up to the neck. Smooth your fingers over the wet balloon. This will help seal the edges of the paper strips. Set the balloon in a clean, dry bowl. Turn frequently for a few hours to help it dry evenly. Leave overnight.
The balloon now represents the chrysalis inside which the caterpillar is changing into an adult butterfly. Use scissors to carefully snip into the balloon just below the neck. That will pop the balloon. It will deflate and separate from the inside of the paper mache. Carefully pull out the balloon. Open it and pull out the folded up adult. Unfold the adult slowly.
In real life, the adult butterfly’s body gives off a special chemical that helps break open the chrysalis. Then the adult crawls out and hangs upside down from its chrysalis. Its abdomen squeezes over and over, pumping fluid into the wings. The big wings slowly unfold. The butterfly flaps these wings while they dry and become strong. Then it’s ready to fly.
Now, go on an on-line scavenger hunt to track down the answers to these questions.
Why is a viceroy butterfly colored to mimic a monarch butterfly?
Also, don’t miss the fun, interactive jigsaw puzzles on this site.
Where do monarch butterflies go to escape cold winters?
Watch the slide show at The Magic of Monarch Butterfly Migration
Also find out what is the longest any monarch butterfly has flown to date during its migration?
Wonder how monarch know where they’re going when they migrate?
Journey North’s Monarch Butterfly Migration Tracking Project reports
“This is a question that scientists are still working to answer. People working at the University of Kansas with Chip Taylor have shown that they use the sun, and also probably the earth’s magnetic field to know which way is south during the fall migration. But we don’t know how they find the specific spots in Mexico. Personally, I’m not sure that we’ll ever be able to answer this one—which I think is kind of nice. I like mysteries!”
Now, in honor of National Wildlife Day, jump into the amazing story of what's being done to help a rare big cat, the Amur leopard.
Friday, August 26, 2016
2. Play flashlight tag in the dark.
3. Go on a shadow hunt to find the following shadows. But take an adult along because grown-ups need to have fun too:
a. Find a shadow with a bright hole in it.
b. Find the biggest shadow you can. Figure out what made it.
c. Find the littlest shadow you can. Figure out what made it.
6. Look at the world through a magnifying glass. Especially something you never thought to look at closely before. See anything that surprised you?
7. Put on a puppet show with puppets you make yourself. Here's some sites with ideas to help you do just that.
8. Learn one constellation you didn't know in the night sky. Find out what story people used to tell about it. Then make up a new story yourself.
Here's my favorite constellation ORION. And here's a couple of sites with star stories, including ones about Orion.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Red: A Crayon's Story (Michael Hall/Greenwillow Books, 2015)
The Day The Crayons Quit (Drew Daywalt/Philomela Books, 2013)
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.
What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?
Sunday, July 10, 2016
And while you're appreciating bats find out why some bats are in trouble--plus how scientists are working to help bats survive.
Mother and Pup Reunion
Mother Mexican free-tail bats leave their babies behind in a nursery cave. When they return, they always find their baby. How do they do it? Play this game to find out.
Cut a sheet of paper into twenty pieces. On each of ten slips, write the name of a sound, such as tweet or click. Copy the name of each sound onto a second slip of paper. Next, have a group of twenty people gather together. Pass out one set of sound slips. Those players are now the “Mother bats”. Have them leave the room. Or they can go to one wall and turn their backs on the others. Next, pass out the other set of sound slips. These players are now the “Bat Pups”. Have these bats stand close together.
Tell the Mother Bats that their job will be to find their baby, the Bat Pup making their same sound. On your signal have the pups start making their sounds. Also have the Mother Bats move toward the pups while making their own sounds. Give the Mother bats just ten seconds to find their Bat Pups. Any Pup without a Mother dies. How many of the Pups were lost?
Just Like Bats
What they invented is called the “UltraCane”.
To build it, scientists first studied the way bats make ultrasonic (super high-pitched) sounds and listen for echoes. Hearing these echoes alerts bats to things they might run into. It even lets them “see” when its pitch dark. Then scientists made a cane that puts out ultrasonic sounds and picks up the echoes. It has a short range mode that picks up things that are about 6 feet (about 2 meters) away. It also has a long range mode. That picks up any object about 13 feet (4 meters) away. This way it senses things a blind person might run into.
Then two buttons on the handle—one for things that are close and one for things far away—vibrate. Being warned what’s coming up lets the person have time to change directions.
Like a flying bat, they can move freely through their environment. The UltraCane limits the risk of bumping into things.
Can you think of anything you might invent based on what’s special about bats? Think about these things:
- Backward facing knees to make it easy to hang upside down. Also help steer in flight.
- Funnel-like ears for sharp hearing.
- Leather wings can wrap up in to stay warm and protect against rainy weather.
- Wings that let a bat flip and turn easily in flight.
Visit My Cave
Cover a table on three sides with a blanket or paper to create a cave. Have your family or a group of friends crawl inside your pretend cave with you. While you're there with this group, think about these questions.
- Why is a cave a good home for small bats, like Mexican Free-tailed Bats?
- Why do you think big bats, like Grey-Headed Flying Foxes, camp in the open in trees instead?
- What are some problems to sharing a cave with other bats?
What Good Are Bats?
Take a large bowl of popcorn kernels to the gym or outdoors to a paved area of the playground. Work with friends to scatter 50 popped kernels on the floor or ground. Count to ten. Then have people place two more popcorn kernels next to each original kernel. This is as if the insect pests have multiplied.
Now pretend you are an insect-hunting bat. Have four others pretend they are too. While someone counts to five, have each “bat” pick up all of the insects they can carry. Then have other children place two popcorn kernels next to each remaining kernel.
Repeat these steps two more times, having “bats” collect “insects”. Then have any remaining “insects” multiply.
Now look at the results.
- How much of an affect did the “bats” have on the “insect” population?
- What limited how much of an effect the bats could have on the insects?
- What do you think would happen to populations of insect pests if there weren’t any bats?
My Favorite Bat
Decide which of the bats you read about in Bats: Biggest! Littlest! is your favorite. Tell why you like it best. Read the section about that bat again. Also Go on-line to learn more. Then write a short story about the life of your favorite bat. Be sure your story answers the following questions:
- Where does it live?
- What does it eat?
- How is this bat different from other kinds of bats?
- How does it care of its babies?
- Does it have any enemies? If so, what must it watch out for?
Bats for Good Measure
|Again, here's a good chance to see the arm and hand-like structure of a bat's wing.|
The wingspan of the largest flying foxes can be up to 6 feet (about 2 meters). Take string that length. Find at least 5 things about the same length. What are they?
- The teacher’s desk
- The class’s two shortest students lying head to feet on the floor.
- The classes two tallest students lying head to feet on the floor.
- Your teacher’s armspan (from fingertip to fingertip with both arms stretched out)
- The smallest book in the classroom
- Your pencil
- The shoe of the student with the littlest foot
- Your right hand span (from thumb to little finger with your hand spread wide). Draw around your hand span on a piece of paper. Then compare to your bat wing measuring string.