Saturday, August 2, 2014

Reptiles: Up Close

It all started when I took Gordon Lee to Petsmart to see some reptiles.  I figured that would be a nice way for him to see in person what these reptiles he's been reading about are like.  Then he asked me.
"Mommy, do they have alligators or crocodiles here?"
"No, Gordon Lee, Petsmart does not sell crocodiles and alligators."

Then I thought, hmmm I wonder if there is some place around here to see alligators.  Alligators do live in Georgia.

So, I googled, alligators in our own town. It directed me to the website of a place called Oxbow Meadows whose main claim was their alligators.  Perfect! I didn't see any prices on the website.  I called the next day.  The nice lady told me that their large alligators were not there right now as their habitat was being cleaned.  However, they did have baby alligators that we could see if we would like to.  She also told me that everything was free.

So we went!
While they have many reptiles, they also have numerous other educationally-rich things.  They have insect exhibits, amphibian exhibits, they have a whole section for honey bees.  They have a rain garden and information about being resourceful with water.  They have a bird sanctuary.  All viewable for free!

First, they brought us to the back to see their baby alligators.  They were adorable! They were hungry and snapping, though, so they stayed in their "pool" as Gordon Lee called it.

Next, we moved on to see a variety of snakes. 

This rat snake came right up to the glass to say "hello" to Gordon Lee.  He was excited to see the snake using its tongue to smell.  But he didn't trust the glass, and he didn't want to get too close.

We learned about the anatomy of turtles/tortoises
We saw quite a few turtles and tortoises.
This is an adorable little tortoise called a "gopher tortoise" because it likes to go under the ground.  I almost wanted one for myself...until we saw a larger one in a bigger habitat. 
Outdoor turtle pond.
We saw some large tortoises outside.  I didn't see the sign that told us what kind they were.  However, upon researching it, I believe this is called the African spurred tortoise.

We truly had an excellent time.  Gordon Lee learned a ton about the animals in his books. It was definitely a very kid friendly place.  They had these great viewing step stools for children to get a better view at the habitats.  Pictured below is Gordon Lee using one to see down into the Burmese Python's water hole.
You never know what fun things you can find until you go looking for them! We will certainly return for more learning experiences (and to see the full-sized alligators when they return)!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Simple Reptile Crafts: Turtle and Snake (Mess-free and easy)

This week, Gordon Lee did two art activities to have fun with learning about reptiles.  The first activity was really just my own idea--making a turtle out of construction paper.  However, Gordon Lee added on his own creative adaptation to it! The second one I found while googling "snake crafts."

These are the only 2 pictures I have of Gordon Lee's turtle.  While we were making it, I was busy getting everything together and didn't think to take pictures.

So to explain how we did this, I just made another one of my own.

1.) Two pieces of construction paper--I chose green and brown paper because you use practically the entire sheet of green, and I think brown compliments the green well.
2.) I traced one of Gordon Lee's plates to make the circle.  It's about the size of a dessert plate.

3.) With the rest of the green paper, I cut out 1 head, 4 legs, and 1 tail.  I just eyeballed these. Basically, I just tried to make the head and legs look like giant thumbs.

4.) Then I drew symbols on the green piece of paper to show Gordon Lee where to glue the pieces.  Honestly, though, you could probably just draw an X on every one because it is a circle anyway.  So, I drew symbols at 12, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50.
 5.) Gordon Lee glued the pieces to the symbols.  It makes it much easier for him.
 6.) I asked Gordon Lee which side he wanted to be the turtle's top shell and he said brown.  I like his choice.  He then wanted to "paint it." So he added green paint to the brown shell of his turtle.
 7.) We then drew 2 dots for eyes.  Here's where Gordon Lee adapted it.  He had the idea to fold the head and legs to "tuck him into his shell." Then, together we saw that you could also make him look like he is walking by pulling the legs out and bending the head up.

We had fun with it!

Snake Craft
This one I found online.  Tip: When I told Gordon Lee to "glue each X and then stick them together," he kept making the tear-drop shape with each loop.  But when I said, "Make the x's touch," he completely understood and was able to make a loop.
I allowed Gordon Lee to choose the color he wanted for his snake.  He wanted it to be white.

1.) I laid the white piece of construction paper out horizontally, and I used a ruler to cut out however many strips I could get.  I think I should have made smaller strips, but this is the size I made.
2.) I drew one ex on opposing ends and sides where Gordon Lee was to glue. 

3.) I saved one loop. I cut the ends to a point and drew x's on the same side on each end for the head.
4.) I cut a small tongue out of red paper.

5.) Gordon Lee started gluing.  This is where I told him to make the x's touch each other.

6.) When all of the loops were finished, we made the head. Gordon Lee glued each x.  We stuck the tongue on one of them.  Then he folded one end over to make them touch.

7.) So, the head should only have glue where the X is.  This leaves the base free.  To fold a flat part.  You glue the flat part and then stick it to any loop.

And the snake is done! Gordon Lee didn't even bother putting eyes on this one.  He just wanted to make it slither and move around like a snake.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Disappearing Act

Today, we did an experiment to see what things dissolve in water and what things don't. 

First, I said, "Okay, Gordon Lee, we are going to learn a new word today.  It is called dissolve. Can you say dissolve?"
He replied, "dissolve"
Then I said, "Dissolving is like mixing.  When something dissolves into water, it mixes with the water.  It becomes part of the water.  Let's see what things dissolve in water!"

So, I placed a tray with six small cups of water in front of him (I had this from my baby bullet set for freezing food).
Then, I chose 6 items for our experiment (leftover construction paper squares from yesterday, a graham cracker animal cookie, an ice cube, food coloring, a candle, and a chewable tablet for nausea)
We placed each item in its own cup.  I gave Gordon Lee a spoon to see if he could help dissolve some of the items.  He really enjoyed this!

He quickly understood the concept of dissolving as he saw that..
1.) The food coloring dissolved immediately.
2.) The ice cube and the graham cracker dissolved very quickly.  I took a minute to remind him that the ice cube was water, but it was just frozen.
3.) He was a little confused as to why the chewable tablet was taking a long time to dissolve.  I warmed up some water in a different cup and showed him how it dissolved faster in warm water.
4.) And he saw that the construction paper and the wax candle clearly did not dissolve at all.

He clearly understood what it meant and enjoyed experimenting with it.  However, he asked me a question at the end that I found myself unable to answer.

"Mommy, why didn't the candle and the paper dissolve?"

Oh gee...I wasn't prepared for that one.  So, I sort of gave the best answer I could.  "Well, Gordon Lee, they are just solids that don't dissolve in water!"