Winter Feed

Unexpected 🌨Snow in 🌼March

When Adrian woke up this morning, he recited a part of his Winter Poem: "Snowflakes dance throughout the night, when I open my eyes, the world is white!" (See a post here.) And indeed it was:) We usually do not get snow in March, and to see all the buds plump and red, as well as bright yellow daffodils covered by few inches of snow, was quite unexpected!  

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DSC_0185How is the weather by where you live?


Our Dinosaurs enjoying the Snow (Dino Unit Study)

Well, the Groundhog did say that we will have another six weeks of winter 🌬❄️️(read a post here), and here we are - a foot of 🌨 snow! Everything is closed under a winter-storm warning, and we are enjoying the day. Our Dinosaur friends are seeing snow for the first time, they are very bewildered as they did not think the Ace Age is coming.

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DSC_0205The King-Lizard! Tyrannosaurus-Rex! He even hasmovable lower jaw! (Buy here.)

Dinosaurs occupied a diversity of habitats all over the globe for about 160 million years, and some scientists suggest that dinosaurs might have lived in snow conditions. Geological sites of Late Cretaceous period in the area of High Arctic contain the remains of dinosaurs that lived in relatively cool habitats which would have been dark for much of the year, and, based on ancient climate reconstructions, which probably experienced snowfall. 

DSC_0205Apatosaurus (buy here) a gentile herbivore -was one of the largest land animals ever existing.
DSC_0205Spinosaurus  (buy similar here) was a dangerous carnivore with many sharp teeth in its crocodile-like mouth.
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Brachiosaurus (buy here ), like a giraffe, grazed on treetops, and was one of the largest dinosaurs to ever live.

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He is Adrian's favorite!
DSC_0205"That is a lot of snow indeed!"

The evidence that dinosaurs survived in a cold, snowy and icy environment challenges what scientists know about how the animals survived. For example, in a remote area of northern Alaska, scientists have discovered a polar duck-billed dinosaur the size of a minibus that roamed above the Arctic Circle roughly 70 million years ago. The newly described herbivore was dubbed Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, which means “ancient grazer of the Colville River.” It was one of more than a dozen species of dinosaurs that lived surprisingly close to the North Pole. “When we think of dinosaurs, we think of them living in a tropical paradise,” said Patrick Druckenmiller, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “For these dinosaurs, it was more like an Arctic paradise.” (Read more here). 

p.s. You can read interesting facts about these dinosaurs in this post. 

 


Trees blooming on the first day of February!

Blooming tress while snow is on the ground? Spring can not be that early! Groundhog better not see its shadow tomorrow. We just had snow, and while taking a nature walk, we saw buds thickening, little yellow flowerets emerging, trees blooming! How is it possible? We are in the Northern Hemisphere, and we do not see the first blooms until late March, early April. We usually head down to Washington DC for a Cherry Blossom Festival because by us, there is usually nothing blooming at that time. We really did not expect to see blooming trees that early! No wonder Chinese New Year holiday, though in a winter, is called a "Spring Festival" because the "Start of Spring" (4–18 February) is the first of the terms in the traditional solar calendar (read a post here).

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At the same time ... 

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DSC_0041-001Have you seen blooming trees🌸 and snow❄️️ on the ground at the same time? This is the first time we are seeing such a dichotomy in nature!


Writing on Snow with Nature Objects

Recently, we had few warm days and some rain, which washed off whatever remnant of the snow there was. Yesterday, however, we had fresh snow🌨! Not a lot, but enough for children to rush outside and explore. 

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DSC_0207 We spotted some more deers tracks! (Read here a post on Tracking Animals in Snow.)

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Right on the tracks, Adrian decided to write his name using nature's objects he could find in our backyard:

sticks, stones, fern, he even found rosemary!

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 Recently, children had a snow volcano eruption experiment indoors, and they liked it so much, that we brought our volcano experiment outside!


DSC_0191See our Snow Volcano Experiment here

 

How do you spend time outdoors?


Learning About Snowflakes

My children are captivated by snow! So, to explore our natural affection, we are learning about mysteries of fascinating snowflakes!

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First, we observe, then we read ...

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"The Secret Life of a Snowflake" book (buy here) is truly an amazing source to learn about snowflakes. The book tells a beautiful full-color story about a journey of a single snowflake: from its creation in the clouds, to its brief and sparkling appearance on a child’s mitten. The story is told by a physicist, featuring his brilliant photographs of real snowflakes. He explains how snowflakes are forming, water evaporating, clouds developing, ice crystals growing ... all the elements of the weather that add up, flake by flake, to the white landscape of winter.  

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The point of relativity is so important for children: holding an actual penny, helped Adrian understand the various sizes snowflakes can grow to.

DSC_0006Extraordinary photographs of real snowflakes are truly amazing! 

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Details about why snowflakes always have six branches and why they vary in size really sparked children's interest. 

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Some elementary science, such as water cycle and crystallization process explains why no two snowflakes are ever alike. 

DSC_0006 The book also offers a craft project: how to make paper snowflakes.

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I made two paper snowflakes, and Julia was inspired to color in her snowflake to resemble the one in the book after being so impressed by the brilliance of mesmerizing crystals lit up with colored light.


DSC_0006Adrian colored in his snowflake. 

Children then painted their snowflakes with glitter, and I laminated their work. 

DSC_0101Adrian's snowflake.  

 DSC_0101Julia's snowflake. 


I am sure we all heard the phrase "no two snowflakes are alike". Well, this discovery was made in a small rural town of Vermont by W. A. Bentley (1865-1931). A self-educated farmer, Bentley attracted world attention with his pioneering work in the area of photomicrography, most notably his extensive work with snowflakes. By adapting a microscope to a bellows camera, and years of trial and error, he became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885

"For almost a century, W. A. Bentley caught and photographed thousands of snowflakes in his workshop in Vermont, and made available to scientists and art instructors samples of his remarkable work. His painstakingly prepared images were remarkable revelations of nature's diversity in uniformity: no two snowflakes are exactly alike, but all are based on a common hexagon."

In 1931, the American Meteorological Society gathered the best of Bentley's pictures of snowflakes and had them published. "Snowflakes in Photographs" book (buy here) includes over 850 royalty-free, black-and-white snowflake photographs.  

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These images of real snowflakes are so appealing, revealing the intricacy and beauty of design in the natural world.

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To know more about a photographer, we read "Snowflake Bentley" book (buy here), which tells a story about a small boy in Vermont, who saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley's enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. 

"Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied." -- Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)


DSC_0078Children then decided to make more snowflakes. 

DSC_0078Julia helped Adrian to roll the pieces of paper on a pen to give it a curl. 
DSC_0078Adrian loved painting the snowflake's branches with glitter. 
DSC_0078Adrian's snowflake is done!
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Coincidentally, Julia picked up a book from her school library about snowflakes before even knowing that I had prepared a snowflake study! She enjoyed reading "Snowflakes Fall" (buy here) to Adrian, cuddling up. The author poignantly compares snowflakes to children "No two the same - All beautiful" and the vocabulary was just right for her reading level.

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 Children really enjoyed exploring the nature’s most magical phenomena

And deciphering the miracle of a snowflake! 

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Are your children fascinated by snowflakes?