Sunday, January 17, 2010

Animals in Winter- Part 2 of Animal Habitats Unit

Animals in Winter- Week 2 of Animal Habitats

For this week's Nature Study and this week in my animal habitats co-op class,  we focused on animals in the winter and how differently they survive this difficult season.

We talked about what the Bible says about our role in caring for the Earth and its inhabitants.

Read, Gen. 1:26 ~ The Message and discuss what it means to have “dominion” over God's creation.

  1. God has entrusted us with the care of His creation and that means we have a responsibility to be good to the animals and our planet.
  2. Children can start by being kind to their pets and helping with their care and helping care for their own backyard.
  3. Different examples of how to show having “dominion” is not an excuse to use the Earth in any way we want but rather a GREAT responsibility that God gave us!  How amazing it is to be in “charge” of something SO important and how much God loves us!
 (We reviewed what we learned last week about how to classify animals.)
 Why is it important to know how to Classify Animals?
  1. According to the Bible, God charged mankind with being the stewards of the Earth, wouldn’t we need to know  what all of the flora and fauna are and what their needs are in order to care for it?   
  2. Examples to help with understanding of this – what if we didn’t know about fish and we put them in the desert? What if we put polar bears in the rainforest? The kids got a laugh out of this! If we don’t understand the characteristics of God’s creation, how can we know how to care for it?
Gen. 2:15~ Stewardship is not God’s afterthought.

What is the first thing God has Adam do?
  • God declared creation “good” many times before man was even on the scene. (Gen.1)
  • God created plants and animals to live in perfect harmony (balanced ecosystem)
  • Having “dominion” is not an excuse to use the Earth in any way we want but rather a GREAT responsibility that God gave us! How amazing!

Book: "Animals in Winter" by Henrietta Bancroft - part of the "Let's Read & Find Out About" series

We read the book, “Animals in Winter.” This is a book from the “Let’s Read & Find Out About” series. This is a wonderful series for children of this age. We discussed the three ways animals survive the winter: Hibernation, Migration, and Overwintering. We learned what these different terms mean and the different animals that adjust to the winter using each of them.

We also discussed how animals that overwinter adapt to survive the colder temperatures and food shortage. Some of these are:

• Changing their summer coats to white, winter coats – hares, foxes

• How foxes hunt mice differently and quietly for winter food.

• How deer and other animals (including the hare) change WHAT they eat to survive the winter. – nice, fresh foliage to tree bark for one example

• Storing food so they do not have to leave their shelter- pikas

• Storing food outside of their home and finding it (or not) – squirrels

We took a brief detour here to discuss how often squirrels forget where they stored their food and how they actually plant a large portion of the world’s tress on accident!

Weekly Project:
This is a simple (yeah!) project for even the youngest nature study participant - you only need:
Peanut Butter
Bird Seed
Yes! It's that easy!!

Tie the yarn in the middle of the bagel hole so you can use it to hang your feeder. 
Coat the bagel with peanut butter.
Roll the peanut butter coated bagel in bird seed.
Hang in a easily viewed location.

Make bagel bird feeders to help feed the birds in your own backyard.  This is a first step in caring for God's creation.
Hang the feeder in a location the children have access to (even if from indoors- maybe a location they can easily view from a window.) We will use this feeder for their new animal habitat nature study for this week.

To do this, allow your child to just relax and watch their feeders, they can keep an eye out and stop and do their study when they notice activity around their feeders or you can have a set time for them to sit and watch for 20-30 minutes to see what animals visit their feeders. Take notice if you normally have squirrels in your area if any squirrels visit.  Does it seem they visit more now or in the summer?  Have the children (your child) to draw (and make descriptive notes) if they like of what visitors they have.  For younger children/reluctant writers- feel free to have them tell you about the animals they see and you may do the writing for them.  

If they are not sure of the species have them describe the details to you and spend some time identifying the birds (or squirrels) they see either using field guides or online. As always, this does not have to be a perfect or difficult time, just a very laid back time to work on their observation skills and prayerfully learn something new about the ecosystem in their own backyard (without even realizing it!)
If you live in a location with snow and/or the opportunity to view other wildlife that overwinters- keep an eye out with your child to see which animals you notice and if they act/look differently.

We have squirrels that are constant visitors to our yard (and our bird feeders) so its a great way for the kids to see them preparing for the winter in the autumn and take notice of how much more/less they see them now.  In the summer we have squirrels at our birdfeeders almost within minutes of the daily fill up :) so we are curious to see if they visit these bagel bird feeders before the birds can eat them.  I told my children (and my class) if they find thier bagels just totally gone or on the ground and almost gone they may want to watch for squirrels!  We are going to take note of how many students had squirrels versus birds!

 Follow- & Other Books:

“Taking Godly Care of the Earth.” ~ This book has a lot of worksheets and information that further go into the topic of our dominion over God's Creation.. I am using this workbook as a reference to help keep God’s word in our unit.

I look forward to this upcoming week when we will go into animals of the tundra and artic!  Come back to visit my blog for book ideas to gather together for next week's habitat!! :)

For those who are using this in a group or co-op or using the rewards system at home: do not forget to review their nature journals from last week and provide them with stickers on thier "homework cards" and thier "award" (we used Skittles and Starburst in the small sizes.)

"Handbook of Nature Study" by Anna Botsford Comstock
For those using Anna Botsford Comstock's "Handbook of Nature Study" - here are the pages that reference

1 comment:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Wow, this is a really complete mammal study. Lots of really great info here...thanks for sharing your link.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom