Wild Things soft toys

Wild Things soft toys

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Science in the Library.

Over the past weeks we have had garden snails, butterflies and chickens in the library.

Children love animals, and it is a great way to create a buzz in the library. No matter the gender or age of the student, they all wanted to cuddle a chick. Four mother hens in disguise emerged without prompting from the Year 6/7 girls, and they have managed the crowds admirably at break time. Our education department has a policy regarding the keeping of animals in schools, so this is a point to consider if you decide to have a try, as there may be guidelines you need to observe.
Health wise, we imposed washing hands with an anti-bacterial wash  after handling animals. We provided bowls of water, the wash and towels for drying at the library doors.
We began with snails - easy to collect from your garden, simple to manage and all children were happy to handle them. They basically hibernated, but were in this state when I found them under plants and bushes in my garden as we have had a long, hot summer. I provided a large plastic pet container which I purchased from our local $2 shop, for around $A14.
It has a gridded lid for air, and I placed leaf mulch scraped from my garden in the bottom. Feeding was easy with the discarded, outside lettuce leaves gathered from the local supermarket at no cost. It was easy to keep the leaf litter replenished, and also to rotate snails, returning them to the garden and gathering another lot. We noticed after a week they began to develop a smell, so in order to carry on the project for a few weeks we employed these techniques. Kids happy, snails happy. In order to get the snails moving we sprayed them with a fine mist of water and soon had them emerging from their shells and delighting the kids.
We handled, observed, drew and labelled our pictures. We learnt about needs, diagrams and recording key words. Using a recording sheet I had found on Pinterest proved to be an excellent vehicle for quickly honing in on  keywords, a skill that needs to be developed for research in future years. You can see it here
An opportunity arose here to discuss the grammatical terms noun, verb and adjective. An extension activity could be to circle the nouns, verbs and adjectives from the  lists in different colours, a quick way to check to see who has grabbed the concept.
We connected the handling of snails to our social skills lessons on caring for others and our environment and observed great care given to our 'guests' by the kids.

The butterfly project was written about in my last blog. In the top image to the left you can see a newly formed chrysalis. 

To the left of it and above the flower is a tiny caterpillar which
I first spied when I was taking this photo. Personally, I found the butterflies far more magical than the chickens.I will qualify that by telling you that we had chooks in my childhood, and the hatching of chickens was always exciting. My sister and I would spend hours down watching the coop for signs from the hen that the eggs were cracking. When it was very hot my Mum would sometimes dampen the eggs once the process started.

Back to the caterpillars. They shed their skin at least 4 times as they grow, and they grow quite rapidly. They rest between each shedding or 'instar', which I understand to be the scientific term for these processes. When they are ready to pupate the fat caterpillar is still for about 24 hours. It adheres itself to a branch or leaf by releasing caterpillar silk. I kept a close watch at this time, and although I was sure I could see a greenish tinge under the skin, it may have been wishful thinking. I neglected my post though, and within a space of one hour, the caterpillar had changed into a chrysalis and I missed it.

On FlickerStorm, a site where photographers place their work and allow it to be used with no charge, I found a brilliant time-lapse video of the very process.
One of our newly hatched butterflies.
It is well worth a viewing, and although recorded over a nine hour period, is about two minutes long so quite accessible for young children to watch. I found my self constantly going back to check the chrysalis, and wondering about the magic transformation that was happening inside. When I reflect on this I think I am almost hypnotized by the beauty, stillness and secretiveness of this. 
When the butterfly emerges it is crumpled, and I imagine quite tired, just as all new babies are. It needs to pump fluid into its wings,and the wings need to dry before they can flutter. So they stay around for 24 hours or so, and you are alerted to their need to leave when they start moving around and fluttering their wings.
Young Naturalists emerge before they ever begin school, especially when they are encouraged in their family to spend time in the garden or outdoors. They are the kids who can spot a grasshopper from 10 metres, find the baby birds that have dropped from their nest, bring worms and bugs for 'show and tell' and come running over to the Library, breathlessly requesting a book about slaters because they have some in a jar.
Others have their curiosity whetted and are hooked by an event such as our Science in the Library lessons.


The chickens have wowed everyone!  

We got them from  
and found the program to be faultless.
They arrive with all the equipment you see in the photos, three day-old chicks and 12 eggs that will hatch over a cycle of four days. Brilliant! Mike from Henny Penny set up the equipment, went through the detailed instructions to dispel any worries we might have AND called twice during the week to check that all was going well! 
Our chickens were 

and chirpy. I missed their cheep cheep when they left, and a few of the kids commented that is was too quiet.

We followed the same cycle of lessons as with the snails, older children drew a life cycle, and we added a craft activity as we are heading towards Easter.  
Again I turned to my Pinterest page where I had pinned this simple, but very cute idea back in the summer holidays.
Check my Pinterest page for ideas about life cycles. 
Aren't people
creative? Unfortunately I missed this gene but now we have Pinterest. Thank you to all the talented people who share their ideas, I'm one grateful user.

At a session given by a well practiced art teacher for Bookweek ideas, amongst the wonderful ideas she shared, she told the group that limited time often caused her to create with small children in a production line set-up. She placed all the materials needed and the kids went along and did the task. At the end of the line was a rubbish bin to throw such things as paint covered scrunched paper, or whatever medium they were using that needed to be disposed of. You get the picture though don't you? Effective time management and productive outcome! I used this idea for our activity as it allowed for one set-up with several classes able to participate in a block of time. I also had some help from senior students.

We used a range of materials to make a stamp for printing the chick's body: carrot slices, dish washing up sponges and styrene balls cut in halves. Once the chicken had been printed, drying time was needed before adding features and the egg. I think the sponge worked best as it gave a better texture to represent fluffy chickens.
Some teachers decided to use the craft as part of a greeting card for Easter.
I was hard pushed to find chocolate chickens for Easter treats, it seems bunnies abound, along with the occasional bilby. I could find little fluffy chicks like the ones that would be stuck on our eggs as children. Because Easter falls in the middle of our school holidays I have gathered some craft materials together because I have a granddaughter that likes nothing better than a 'making' session. Because of her I am having to stretch my wings and I quite enjoy it.

Please click on images to enlarge.

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