Monday, April 25, 2011

Animal of the Week - Rabbits

Photo from

In our post chocolate and jelly bean haze, I thought it might be fun to learn about real rabbits this week.

Cottontail rabbits, the most common of six species of rabbits in the US, can be found in almost any grassy habitat. Rabbits are vegetarians and eat plants in the warmer weather and bark and twigs in the winter. They most often come to people's attention when they start eating tender plants set out in the spring.

Rabbits can live as long as two years in the wild and they do have lots of babies. Rabbits can have up to four litters in a year with as many as eight babies in each litter.

For your best chances of seeing a rabbit, you have to get up early or stay up late - rabbits are most often seen at dawn and just after dusk.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fun Friday Fact

If a worm gets chopped in two, the head end can regenerate into a fresh worm.

One other cool fact is that worms are hermaphrodites - that means they have male and female reproductive organs. They still mate with other worms by lining up next to each other so the opposite organs match up.

Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dirt on the Web

Here are some fun places to explore soil on the web:

*Get the Dirt on Soil. This site has some interactive soil games and a great field guide to soil.

*ISM Geology. This site has a ton of great lessons on geology for all grades. Activities are well thought out and they suggest well-written books as part of their lessons. This lesson is for kindergarten.

*Sorting Rocks. While this is totally about rocks and sort them by size, the process they employ is a good template. There are a number of more advanced lessons on earth science available.

Fun with Dirt

Ok - now I was going to title this post dirty fun, but I was a little concerned I might get some unexpected comments!

Here are some clean ways to enjoy dirt! They will work well with kids of different ages as well as just one child.

Make Mud Bricks: Add a small amount of water to different kinds of dirt and dirt with sticks or leaves. Pack in to a brick mold or some sand toys. Let them dry in the sun for a day or two. Make some predictions about which bricks will be the strongest? How could you test your idea? Unmold them and test your ideas.

What is in the dirt? Put dirt in a kitchen strainer and pour water thru it. What happens? What stays and what goes thru? Now put a coffee filter in the strainer and do the same thing. What is left behind now?

Erosion: Make a mountain of dirt and slowly pour water over it. What happens? Make your mountain again. What would happen if you poured water quickly or in a different place?

Growing: Do a dirt scavenger hunt in your yard. Gather up some pots and put different kinds of dirt in to each pot. Then put in a seed or plant and see which soil is best for growing plants.

Eat Dirt: Make chocolate pudding and sprinkle the top with crushed chocolate cookies or chocolate graham crackers. Add some gummy worms and you have dirt for lunch!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Animal of the Week - Earthworms

Image from

Earthworms are wicked cool creatures. The tunnel through soil helping air and water to circulate more freely and their poop is down right legendary. Worms eat all kinds of dead material, chew it up and then poop it out. Worm poop is called castings.

Ranging in size between a few inches and 22 feet long, earthworms can be found on every continent except Antarctica. The biggest worms are found in souther Africa and Australia. There are some worms in the Pacific northwest can be around two feet long. One species in the Philippines is blue!

Worms don't have eyes like we do, but they do have cells in their body that are sensitive to light. Generally they burrow or turn away from the light.

Worms breath through their skin - so if you pick them up - and who doesn't! - make sure you don't have bug spray on them.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun Friday Fact

Chickens are the closest living relative of the T. Rex.

Puts a whole new spin on chickens!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Experiment with Eggs

How can you make an egg float?

Take a boiled egg and put it in water. The egg will sink nicely.

Now add salt to the water and keep adding it until the egg floats. It will happen, just keep stirring.

What is it about salt that helped the egg float? Salt changes the density of the water. The boiled egg is denser that water so it sinks. When the salt is added, the water becomes more dense and the egg floats.

Book Review: The Easter Egg

The Easter Egg by Jan Brett - image from

My daughter brought this home from the school library recently and it was such a sweet book, that I thought I would share.

Hoppi wants to have the most special egg to share with the Easter bunny but he ends up getting side tracked when a mother Robin needs his help. I really loved the illustrations. Jan Brett always does an excellent job of accurately representing the animals she draws. Aside from the clothes, she is very accurate in her drawings.

Which egg turns out to be the most wonderful egg is a beautiful choice and the egg rides in a place of honor with the Easter bunny.

4/5 stars.

Ms. Brett does have a book about chickens called Daisy Comes Home where a chicken is the heroine. I haven't read the book yet, but the pictures I've seen make it sound like a fun book to read as well.

She has a paper chicken chain activity on her website here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Animal of the Week - Chickens

Image from

We are surrounded by marshmallow chickens and chocolate bunnies this time of year so it seems fitting that we learn a bit about the real animals. This is a picture of a Polish breed - they are small and only lay two eggs per week.

An adult male chicken is a rooster and an adult female is a hen. Babies are called chicks.

Even though chickens are birds with lovely feathers, they cannot fly very far or very well.

There are over 100 different varieties of chickens and many lay eggs that are not white. Some lay pink, blue and even polka dotted eggs.

Chickens are omnivores and will eat seeds, nuts, small insects, worms and fruit.

Fun Friday Fact

A group of frogs is called an Army of Frogs!

And most frogs are already in camouflage. How cool is that?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Review: From Tadpole to Frog

From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer.

This is part of the Let's Read and Find Out Science series and Level 1 books are designed for preschool and kindergarten aged kids. They are great books in general and this is no exception. The vocabulary might be a bit tricky for most beginning readers, but we all need a little help from time to time with big science words.

This book has illustrations rather than photos. I do prefer photos for non-fiction but these pictures are well-done and accurate.

4/5 stars.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to: Keep Tadpoles

Keeping tadpoles is easy. You need a container to keep them in. I like to see them so a clear-sided container is a must for me. Make sure it is clean and well rinsed. Keep the container in an area away from direct sun so it doesn't get too hot. I like glass because it is durable, but I have used plastic bug houses like this for short visits. They are quite inexpensive and have nice handles for transport.

Just about any pond in southern New England, where I am, has frog eggs in early April and tadpoles in May and June. Check along the edges along branches or plants growing out of the water. Use a small bucket or a pan taped to a pole to reach farther into the water.

Gently scoop out some pond muck and check for tadpoles. They generally move around quite a bit after you’ve scooped the water. Be sure to take algae and plant material from the same pond to feed the tadpoles.

No matter what you collect, put them back in their home when they have legs and still have a tail. They need to re-acclimate to their home before leaving the pond.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Animal of the Week

Green frog - image from Bug Girl's Blog -

It is National Frog Month and this week we are celebrating FROGS!

Frogs are an important part of our ecosystem. They eat bugs - and that is just one of the things that is really important about them. Frogs breath through their skin as well as their lungs. Chemicals or pollution in water ways can damage or kill frogs. They warn us about environmental problems that are water related.

And they are just so darn cool.

Mama frogs lay eggs in ponds, lakes, puddles, and in some places, in flowers. The eggs hatch and become tadpoles. Then they need to become frogs to hop out of the water.

Frogs come in all sorts of colors. The one at the top of the page is a Green Frog, but frogs can be red, yellow, green, blue, brown, orange, and even purple.