Animals Park Outing

Last week all of the boys and I met my mom at a wild animal park and took a safari bus ride through the hoofed animal area. My mom and I were concerned that Olympus might be bored but he had just as much fun as Yukon and North.  Sometimes it is easy to forget in a world of brand name clothes and electronics that no one can resist a giraffe’s soft nose eating out of your hand- teenagers are still human after all!  It was a wonderful somewhat spontaneous outing that ended up being age appropriate for everyone.  Savannah animals ended up being our focus for the week and it was a lot of fun to come up with some fun activities that went along with this.

Activities of the week:

Wild Animal Park Safari Bus Ride

Spotting the Giraffe and Striping the Zebra

Read: The New Alphabet of Animals by Christopher Wormell

            Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul Zelinsky

           Peek-A-Boo Jungle

Watched: Planet Earth: Deserts and Jungles

1. Wild Animal Park Safari Bus Ride
Science: Vocabulary
ImageWe had so much fun doing this and seeing the animals cemented what they were in Yukon’s mind.  Prior to this he would get confused between a zebra and a horse and a giraffe was not worth looking at, but now he talks about them all the time.  Experiences like this are the best kind of learning experience.  Not everyone has this kind of park available to him but there are lots of similar options available in most places. When Olympus was little we lived on the coast and he loved to go to an aquarium in a nearby city that had the tanks that you could reach in and touch everything in- he knew all the types of animals in there before he was three.

2. Spotting the Giraffe and Striping the Zebra
Art: Hand Control/ Colors; Science: Vocabulary
For this art project I drew an outline of a zebra and giraffe and Yukon filled them in with spots for the giraffe and stripes for the zebra. North colored in copies of these as well, he recognized the animals from our trip and had fun giving them some more exciting colors and patterns.  The PDF’s for this project are attached: Zebra and Giraffe Outline

3. Reading
Reading and Writing: Listening to stories, Letter awareness; Science: Vocabulary
The boys enjoyed the books for this week.  North liked the Peek-A-Boo Jungle book the best and Yukon thought Z is for Moose was hilarious and liked naming off the animals he knew in The New Alphabet of Animals.  I think it is important to expose the boys to lots of different books and text.  Research shows that learning letters happens best/ easiest when taught in an authentic manner (as in exposure in context).  Yukon is very interesting in letters right now so we will probably start spending more time on letter activities.

Living vs Non-living: Scavenger Hunt and Growing a Pineapple

We love to go for walks and hikes, especially Yukon and North. Yukon has been expressing an interest in what the things we see on our walks are for a while. He really likes seeing animals and water but had begun paying attention to the plants last summer. He likes to pick up sticks and show me which tree they me from. Last summer we would point out the different colors of the flowers. North copies his brother and is always dragging a stick behind him when we walk.

Being outside this time of year, especially when Winter taunts me with a warm day, makes me want to plant something or go dig in the dirt. I had been thinking about how much fun it will be to plant seeds with Yukon this year, but it is way too soon to begin here. When I saw pineapples on sale at our local grocery store the other day I was so excited. I immediately knew that Yukon and I could plant and grow a pineapple tree!

On our walks last week and this week we looked for things that are alive (trees, bushes, grass, squirrels) things that are not (water, dirt, rocks). I desperately searched for signs of spring and saw some leaf buds but nothing exciting. Then Yukon came running up to me with a little flower he had picked for me. It turns out that some little violas decided to show their happy faces in a sunny spot in our yard. I’m a little concerned for what will happen when we get our next snow storm, maybe this weekend, but mostly I just keep going out to visit with them.

For this week we have:

1. Compared living things versus non-living things

2. Pointed out the parts of a plant

3. Scavenger Hunt Walk

4. Trimmed the pineapple and let it soak in water

5. Watched: The Magic School Bus Goes To Seed and Magic School Bus in the Rain Forest (you can probably get them at the library or from youtube)

6. Read: The Magic School Bus: Plants Seeds (same as the show) and Forest Explorers: A Life-Sized Field Guide by Nic Bishop (less reading and more pointing out things in the large pictures.

Living things versus non-living things:

I decided to keep it really simple for Yukon in talking about things that are alive and things that are not. For the sake of his three year old mind we kept it at: living things drink water and non-living things do not. For the most part he understood this idea. He knew that he drink waters and so do all the members of his family, including our dog. He was able to transfer this idea easily to other animals and insects. Plants that we saw he did okay with. He struggled with the dormant plants being alive until I equated them with sleeping and then he was able to comprehend.

Things that were not alive were much more difficult for him. He got that rocks didn’t drink water, but he really wanted the plane flying over us to be alive and he still will not believe me that dirt does not drink water. Perhaps we will be talking about the water cycle sooner than I planned? He’ll figure it out eventually- maybe when we plant our rooted pineapple plants- there is no point in arguing with a 3 year old with something set in his mind.

Parts of a plant:

I just pointed out the part of the plants we have around our house. These are the ones he knows: Roots, Stem/ Trunk, Leaves, Fruit/ Seeds/ beans

Scavenger Hunt Walks: Late Winter Early Spring Scavenger Hunt

For this Scavenger Hunt we walked in the forest behind our house. The pictures and items we looked for are attached in a PDF above. To draw them I either sketched them or used an online tutorial for “how to draw ___.” I am not an artist. Please don’t judge the artwork as it is simplistic. I included on the Hunt a deciduous tree and a coniferous tree, I present them to Yukon as trees that have lost their leaves while sleeping in winter and trees that still have their leaves or needles and presented the scientific terms for the sake of vocabulary building but I don’t really expect him to remember the terms this go around. North was even able to participate in the scavenger hunt finding some of the items that he is familiar with like sticks and pinecones.  Yukon did very well classifying the items as living or non-living.

Growing a pineapple:

There are instructions all over the internet but I found the most helpful site to be here:

1. Remove the top of the pineapple leaving about a ½ to a ¼ inch. While I removed the top of the pineapple from the fruit we talked about fruits that we like and that they came from plants and sometimes they grow into new plants. Pineapples actually worked great for this project because the tops already look like baby trees.

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2. Trim up the pineapples to prevent rot. Yukon helped me trim up the tops. It took a lot of help from me to guide the scissors to prevent major damage. Remove some of the lower leaves by peeling them back. They should just peel off with some gentle tugging around the base.

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Lots of concentration!

3. Let the tops dry out overnight or for a few days, again to prevent rot. We let them dry out overnight.

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4. Put them in water and wait for them to grow roots. The next day we filled a bowl with water and put in our pineapple fruit tops. While we worked on this we also talked about how living things need water. He was very concerned that our “baby trees” have enough water and then when we had them sitting a in bowl in the center of the table, where Yukon decided they should go, he needed some water too.

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5. When they show root growth plant them in a porous clay pot, with a base to catch water. First, put in something to prevent soil from draining out of the hole, and then add a layer of rocks, and finally soil. Some of the websites advocated specific soil; however I plan on using the potting soil we have in the garage. We’ll see how it goes. When you plant the pineapple try to avoid getting dirt into the leaves.

6. Maintenance: The plant should be watered about once a week and the soil should be moist but not wet. As it grows the original leaves will die and new ones will form in the center. Cut back the dead leaves.

Overall, this week’s lesson has been a huge success. Yukon appears to understand living things versus non-living in most cases. He also now identifies seeds and fruits with baby plants. All the boys enjoyed finding things on the scavenger hunt and the Magic School Bus shows and Yukon loved the big field guide, even though it is not the same as our forest. He also loves changing out the water in the pineapples every day. Hopefully soon we’ll see some roots. I’ll let you know.