ZOOLOGY ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ  ๐Ÿ•Š๏ธ๐Ÿž ๐Ÿข Feed

๐Ÿ›Bugs ๐ŸœInsects and other ๐Ÿž๐Ÿ๐Ÿ•ท๏ธArthropods

While most adults do not have a deep affection for bugs, children, on the other hand, spend hours in a backyard flipping over rocks and inspecting blades of grass in search of the coolest caterpillars and tiny crawlers. And little ones are smart to befriend bugs since without little creature our entire ecosystem would shut down. Animals such as fish, bats, and amphibians would have nothing to eat; rivers and lakes would be overrun with algae, and flowers would remain unpollinated. Teaching children about insects is a great way for them to learn about nature in general since everything in our world is interconnected. Also, bugs are the most accessible of all creatures since children can most closely approach them. So, suppress your squeamishness and delve into the wonderful world of bugs and other insects!

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To explore bugs and insects in a fun hands-on sensorial play, I set up an Autumn-Inspired sensory bin with fresh leaves and acorns children found during nature walks, shredded paper, this bug loupe and these insects. 

DSC_0426 An ant, besides being able to lift 50 times its weigh, has the biggest brain relative to its size amongst the insect kingdom!

DSC_0426Entomology is the study of insects, including their relationship with other animals, their environments, and human beings; making Adrian an entomologist for a time being.
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Insects are creatures with three body sections, six legs, and usually four wings and two antennae. Although some people use the words "bug" and "insect" interchangeably, a bug is a certain type of insect such as boxelder bug, milkweed bug, assassin bug, and stink bug. True bugs have a stylet (a mouth shaped like a straw) that they use to suck juices from plants. That is all bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. Scientists have discovered already over one million species of insects: also called arthropods, and every day they are discovering new species.

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Some insects have wings, and some do not, but there are few characteristics that all insects have in common:

  • Insects do not have bones or a backbone like humans do, and thus are invertebrates, meaning that they have a hard exoskeleton or shell on the outside of their bodies which protects them.
  • All insects have three parts: the head, the thorax (the middle part), and the abdomen (the end part).
  • Insects have two antennae and six legs.
  • All insects hatch from eggs, and the babies are called larva.
  • All insects go through the same lifecycle: beginning as an egg. The egg hatches and larva emerge. Larvae usually look nothing like the adult insect. The larvae enter a pupa, chrysalis or cocoon. An adult insect emerges from the pupa.
  • Note: spiders are not insects. Spiders have eight legs, and they are related to scorpions and belong to the arachnid family. ๐ŸŒ Snails, on the other hand, are gastropods. 

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Bugs A-Z book (in the middle) is a perfect book for any child fascinated with bugs! A simple text from A to Z provides interesting and concise buggy facts in addition to reinforcing the first letter association: A is for Ant, B is for Bee, C for Caterpillar etc. Larger than life full-color photographs of creepy crawlies include locusts, caterpillars, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, ants, praying mantis, and more! Also, the facts provided under each insect are fascinating and engaging enough even for a three-year-old. At the end of the book, there is a glossary review, which I use to reinforce the concepts learned. 

DSC_0003Scorpions are not insects! They are arachnid, with eight legs, instead of six.

Scorpions can be found on all continents except Alaska (and Antarctica). They are predatory animals of the class Arachnida (having eight legs) making them cousins to spiders, mites, and ticks. Insects, on the other hand, are Arthropods with six legs, two antennae, and three-parts segmented body.

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Tarantulas are the largest known arachnids (spider family) measuring seven to ten cm in length, capable, however, of exceeding 30 cm (that is twelve inches: the size of a regular laptop). Besides their size, tarantulas are known for their dense and hairy body. Also, they are night-time (nocturnal) hunters who will pounce on their prey, such as insects, beetles, and grasshoppers. Interestingly, although not spinning traditional webs, tarantulas are capable of producing silk and can use it for similar purposes, depending on species. Many of the arboreal tarantulas make silken homes in tree holes or other crevices. Even the burrowing terrestrial species use silk to line their burrows, and some use silk to create door-like entrances to their burrows. The tarantulaโ€™s silk acts as an alarm system, alerting the arachnid to the presence of threat or prey outside its home. If the intruder is potential prey, the tarantula will capture and subdue it.

DSC_0006The cladogram below shows the relationship between the arthropod's groups:

Arthropoda
 

Chelicerata (sea spiders, horseshoe crabs, and ๐Ÿ•ท๏ธarachnids: 8 legs)

 
Mandibulata
 

Pancrustacea (crustaceans and ๐Ÿžinsects: 6 legs)

 
 

Myriapoda (centipedes, millipedes, and allies)

 

 

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To examine tiny creatures up close, children like to use this bug loupe, which provides a 5X view of whatโ€™s underneath! The above-shown Bugs collection (buy here) comes with twelve insects in clear acrylic blocks for up-close examination. A mini-guide that comes with it provides a concise description of the species included as well as interesting details. This set is a perfect starter collection of insects for any entomologist!  DSC_0003
Little Explorer Insects book (on the left - buy here) provides further insight into these buzzing, stinging, and creepy crawlers: where they live, what they eat, and why they are so important.

DSC_0074 bee copyDid you know that a bee has five eyes, none of which can see the color red!

Honey bees are very important pollinators of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, transferring pollen between the male and female parts of the plant, thus allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit. Honey bees live in hives (or colonies) everywhere except Antarctica. The members of the hive are divided into three types:

  •  Queen: One queen runs the whole hive. Her job is to lay the eggs which will spawn the hiveโ€™s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behavior of the other bees.
  • Workers are all sterile female and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, and clean and circulate air by beating their wings. Workers would be the only bees we ever see flying around outside the hive.
  • Drones are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the Queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, when the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kicked out! 

DSC_0003Lastly, National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs (top right - buy here) explores backyard favorite bugs, such as ladybugs and lightning bugs, and also introduces more exotic species which inhabit rain forests and deserts around the world. Colorful photos are paired with profiles of each insect, along with facts about the creatures' sizes, diets, homes, and more. "Little Kids First BIG Book of" series is my children's favorite non-fiction series. 

To put all this knowledge to use, seek out ways together with your child to get to know just how amazing Earth's little inhabitants are! Parks, local playgrounds, and forests are great places to introduce children to the wonders of the local insect population. Go outside and explore by examining dead wood, banks of streams, and the underside of rocks and leaves. Backyard bugs can usually be found under potted plants, rocks or deck furniture. On forest trails, look for bugs in flowers, on trees or near water.

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During nature walks, explore the world of bugs, insects and other creatures, first hand by doing a scavenger hunt. (Do not forget a bug container, bug tweezers, and a magnifying glass.)

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Do not rush and stay close to the ground as bugs are easy to miss. Most are small and many camouflages, making them tough to spot at first glance. 

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Take it slow and let your eyes roam the area for anything that moves.

DSC_0394.JPGLook under moss, rocks, leaves or underturned trees. 

DSC_0038With close observation, you will find that local fauna is full of surprises!

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"There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees that speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving." Dr. Maria Montessori.

DSC_0038If you find a caterpillar feeding on a plant and wish to bring it home, be sure to include that exact plant it was eating since many insects can only digest one type of plant and will starve without it.

DSC_0394.JPGDr. Maria Montessori strongly believed that the intelligence was a result of joyful learning and not a mere memorization. So learning need not take place inside of a classroom: there is nothing more inviting than a forest school!

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Invite your child to be a naturalist! Zoos, botanical gardens and even local parks might offer classes which introduce children to the wonders of the local insect population.

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Having contact with nature will allow children to understand and appreciate its natural order, the harmony and the beauty in it. Such contact will allow them to be friends with animals: big and small, creeping and crawling, scary and beautiful. All Earth's inhabitants are necessary for the equilibrium of life: all life form is precious. So, let's explore, go outside and be with nature!


DIY ๐Ÿ’‰ Blood Model (BODY Anatomy Unit Study, Science๐Ÿ”ฌโš—๏ธโš–๏ธ 101 ๐ŸŽฅ Series ๐ŸŽ‡)

We are continuing our BODY Anatomy unit study. Today, it is all about ๐Ÿ’‰blood! Recently, Adrian, after getting a scab, asked me: "What is blood made of?" ๐Ÿค”The cells and particles that make up our blood are so minuscule! So I wanted to break the blood down into its components, examine each, discuss its functionality and then see what will happen when the components mix together. With this easy DIY Blood model, we will explore up close what is in just one drop of blood! We will also learn what the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets really look like in comparison to one another.

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What you will need to make this ๐Ÿ’‰ blood model:

๐Ÿ”ด Cheerios with red food coloring to make red blood cells;
โšช๏ธ white marshmallows to resemble white blood cells; 
๐Ÿ’œ purple beads for platelets;
๐Ÿ’› water with yellow food coloring to make plasma.

DSC_0041First, offer a child to make blood "plasma" by adding yellow food coloring to the water. 

DSC_0041Once the plasma is ready, make "red blood cells" by adding red coloring to Cheerios.

DSC_0041Mix Cheerios and let them soak up the red food coloring. 

 DSC_0041Red blood cells are ready! 

Observe what will happen once all the blood ingredients are mixed together.

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Let your child explore the mixture and then discuss the parts of the blood and its functionality:

  • ๐Ÿ”ด Red blood cells carry oxygen.
  • โšช๏ธ White blood cells are our "soldiers" - they fight germs, bacteria, and viruses.
  • ๐Ÿ’œ Platelets facilitate clotting and help heal cuts.
  • ๐Ÿ’› Plasma helps the blood move through veins and arteries.

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Your ๐Ÿ’‰blood makes up 8% of your body weight. Did you know that there are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body, which is twice the circumference of our ๐ŸŒŽ planet Earth! Blood plays a very important role in your bodyโ€™s everyday functions, such as carrying life-potent oxygen and nutrients from your โค๏ธ๏ธheart to other parts of the body. Blood also maintains the optimal body temperature, keeping you warm or cool day and night.


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We are using First Human Body Encyclopedia (buy here) book as a reference. The book introduces inner workings of the human body with fascinating facts and full-color photos and illustrations, making anatomy accessible and fun for any age!


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Our body contains a lot of various systems and organs, each performing an important specific function. I hope that this simple ๐Ÿ’‰DIY โš—๏ธscience experiment will help your child better understand the amazing human BODY and how it works!

See here our entire "๐Ÿ’‰ Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study."


Anatomy Puzzle & DIY Interactive Puppets ๐ŸŽฅ (Inside of the BODY Unit Study)

We are continuing our BODY Anatomy Unit Study by exploring how the amazing body mechanism works. It can be hard for a child to conceptualize what goes on the inside when most of the process remains unseen while taking place on a very small scale. So I try to make abstract concepts concrete with hands-on materials, puzzles and interactive fun so that the child gets a better understanding of how the body works.
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To illustrate different body systems, I made "Organ System Puppets" using recycled ice-pop sticks and interactive LeapFrog stickers which work with Tag Reading System Pen (buy here). LeapFrog interactive human body discovery set (buy here ) includes a jumbo two-sided activity board, which offers a child a hands-on opportunity to learn human body facts, body systems, health nutrition and more. And to make human organs as concrete and tangible as possible, we are also using organs from a Human Torso model (buy here).

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Adrian really enjoys assembling this Boy 5-Layer BODY Wooden Puzzle (buy here) which includes five puzzle systems that exist within the human body: skeletal, respiratory, digestive, muscular, and integumentary system.

By making the learning experience hands-on and interactive, unseen mysteries are being revealed, offering a child a glimpse of the inside of the body!

DSC_0009Muscles make up 40% of your total body weight. To take one step, you use 200 of them! Also, you can be using nearly 2,000 muscles when you wake up in the morning and go to brush your teeth! Muscles cannot push, they rather pull. So a perceived body "push" is actually another muscle's pull. Did you know that it takes triple the amount of muscles to frown than to smile? And, guess what is the strongest muscle in your body - the tongue! 

DSC_0009Our heart, the only muscle that never stops working, is relentlessly supplying our body with life-potent oxygen and nutrients, even when we are sleeping. However, in addition to functioning as a natural pump and producing blood full of oxygen, the heart also creates its own electrical impulse while producing electrical energy as well as blood. Carrying nutrients and oxygen from your heart to the other parts of your body, bloodplays an important part in your bodyโ€™s function. Laid end to end, an adultโ€™s blood vessels could circle Earthโ€™s equator four times! 
DSC_0009The digestive system has two main functions: to convert food into nutrients the body needs and second, to rid the body of waste. To do so properly, the system requires the cooperation of a number of different organs throughout the body, including the mouth, stomach, intestines, liver, and gallbladder. 

Did you know?

  • The large intestine is actually shorter than the small intestine, only being about 5 feet long in an adult. The intestines are named for how wide they are, not how long they are.
  • 90% of what we eat is assimilated in the small intestine.
  • In your lifetime, the digestive system (mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver) will handle over 50 tons of food and liquid! 

DSC_0029The liver is the largest and most metabolically complex internal organ in humans, performing over 500 various functions such as neutralizing toxins, fighting off infection, manufacturing proteins and hormones, controlling blood sugar and helping to clot the blood. Did you know that the liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself, making it possible for one person to donate part of their liver to another person? 
DSC_0029Humans cannot survive for a long time without oxygen. The longest period a person was ever able to hold the breath was six minutes. Lungs are responsible for receiving, filtering, and distributing that air throughout the entire body.  The surface area of the lungs is very big (up to 800 ft2!) because the inside of the lungs is covered in tiny bumps called alveoli, which help lungs absorb more oxygen all at once. Did you know that your left lung is about 10 percent smaller than your right one?DSC_0009 

Other fun facts about the BODY (for more read here):

  • Human bodies give off a tiny amount of light, which is too weak however for the eye to see.
  • Neuroscientists have found your brain is more active while you sleep than while you are awake.
  • Babies donโ€™t shed tears until they are at least one month old.
  • Human bones are around 31% water.
  • When you listen to music, your heartbeat changes in response to the tempo of what youโ€™re listening to.
  • Your pinky finger is responsible for 50% of your handโ€™s strength.
  • Our mouth produces about one liter of saliva each day (which equals to more than 2.5 cans of your favorite drink)!
  • The average person has 67 different species of bacteria in their belly button.
  • Scientists estimate that the nose can recognize a trillion different scents!
  • Sneezes regularly escape your nose at more than 100 mph, the speed which is excessive if driving in America.  Coughs often can get up to 60 mph. (Thatโ€™s about how fast you can drive on most highways.)
  • You lose about 4kg of skin cells every year! (Not to mention losing 100-125 hairs per day, from a stack of about 100,000 hairs on one's head).
  • Human teeth are just as strong as shark teeth.
  • Humans are the only species known to blush - Horray to human humbleness :)

For more on inside of the body materials and activities, see here the "๐Ÿ’‰ Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study" summary post.


The BODY: 5 Basic ๐Ÿ‘…Tastes (Brain & Senses, Tongue Taste Map)

We need to eat and drink in order to survive, but it is the taste and smell that make these essential everyday activities so enjoyable! A tongue, our taste detector, is a big muscle covered with more than 10,000 clusters of taste! Under a Tongue Taste Map theory, each cluster of taste buds recognizes a particular kind of flavor: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory) as saliva dissolves the food in the mouth and washes it over tiny taste buds between the bumps on the tongue. 

We used First Human Body Encyclopedia (buy here) book as a reference. The book introduces inner workings of the human body with fascinating facts and full-color photos and illustrations, making anatomy accessible and fun for any age! Children also enjoy Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body book (buy here). The author, through simple fun rhymes, takes a young reader for a ride through the human body where they visit the right and left sides of the brain, meet the Feletons the Skeletons, scuba dive through the blood system, follow food and water through the digestive tract, and a whole lot more!

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So to explore the five basic tastes, I offered children to place various foods on different parts of the tongue and determine if the particular food tastes sweeter/saltier, etc. in some parts of the tongue more than the others. 

DSC_0033Sour [the sides of the tongue] taste detects acidity. Vinegar is sour as well as fruit such as lemon, grape, orange, tamarind, and sometimes melon. Food that has gone "bad" from bacteria or mold might taste sour too. 

DSC_0013Other sour foods include lemon, vinegar, and pickles.

 
DSC_0013Salt-detecting taste buds can be found on the lips as well as tongue. Salty food such as salt, soy sauce, and miso tells you if something is rich in minerals and electrolytes.
DSC_0013Bitter [back of the tongue] taste tells you if something is likely poisonous (most medicines are if ingested in excess). Examples of bitter food are coffee, unsweetened cocoa, South American mate, bitter gourd, olives, citrus peel, many plants in the Brassicaceae family, bitter greens (dandelion, broccoli rabe), wild chicory, and escarole.
DSC_0013Sweet  [tip of the tongue] taste tells you if the food is rich in sugar and carbohydrates. The first milk the child receives from his/her mother is sweet. Sweetness such as sugar and honey is the key to enhancing the flavor of baked goods. Also, most fruit is sweet. 

The last taste, Umami [evenly distributed throughout the tongue] is the savory taste of foods rich in protein like meat or soy. Other examples of umami are foods such as mushrooms, vegetables (e.g., ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.) or green tea, and fermented and aged products (e.g., cheeses/ blue cheese, miso, umeboshi, soy sauce, etc), anchovies.

โš ๏ธ An update: current scientific research refutes the " tongue taste๐Ÿ—บ map" and suggests that rather every single cluster of taste buds on the ๐Ÿ‘… tongue is capable of detecting every single one of five tastes. However, despite the viability of the tongue taste map, this activity is ๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿผchildren's โค๏ธfavorite! They had so much fun stimulating their ๐Ÿ˜‹senses and trying discerning different flavors! 


 We also played a game: ๐Ÿ™ˆCan you tell what kind of food are you smelling/tasting?

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I offered children a tasting tray with different foods and a blindfold to isolate just one sense: the concept which is a cornerstone of Montessori Sensorial work. Maria Montessori believed that by designing materials and activities which isolate the one quality to be worked with by the child, the child will be afforded an opportunity to intensely focus and concentrate on that one quality, without the distraction from other senses. So, today, we are concentrating on the sense of ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿปsmell and ๐Ÿ‘…taste. 

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Did you know that much of what we think of as ๐Ÿ‘…taste is actually ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿปsmellโ—๏ธScientists estimate that the nose can recognise a trillion different scents! The back of your nose is linked to your mouth at the throat so that you can smell the food as you chew it. That is why when you have a ๐Ÿค’cold, tiny hairs in your ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿปnose get clogged with mucus. This stops them from wafting smell particles deep into your nose and makes it hard to smell or taste things. That is exactly why you cannot "taste" anything when you have a stuffy nose!

DSC_0022Based on the above-mentioned, I encouraged my children to ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿปsmell the food and describe the aroma first before tasting it: does it smell sweet? Sour? Is the smell familiar? Can you guess what type of food is it?

DSC_0022Does it smell sweet? Tart? Tangy?
DSC_0022This activity is actually my children's favorite! They get to stimulate their senses and have a snack afterward!

For more about the BODY, see here the post "๐Ÿ’‰ Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study."


Giraffe (BODY Anatomy Unit Study)

In continuing with our ๐Ÿ’‰ Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study, today, we are exploring the inside of the giraffe, an animal to whom we all hold a true and innate affection. Relative of okapi, antelope, and cattle, the giraffe is a hoofed mammal, and the tallest animal living on land. The height, due to its long neck, allows a giraffe to feed on leaves and twigs from the tops of trees, food that cannot be reached by any other plant-eating neighbor. 

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Encyclopedia of Animals book (buy here) provides information about the physical characteristics, habits, and behavior of many animals, and is a great source to learn about the giraffe.
DSC_0003We are also exploring a 4D Vision Giraffe Anatomy Model (buy here), which comes with 27 detachable organs and body parts and an illustrated guide book.
DSC_0003A great addition to your child's animal science museum, this anatomy model is exceptionally detailed, with hand-painted organs and parts. 

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The assembly guide offers a description of the giraffe's anatomy, and an insight into the giraffe's life cycle, eating habits, size and more. 

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Giraffes' coat patterns are like human fingerprints: no two giraffes share the same pattern. Each of the nine types of a giraffe can be identified by its pattern.

DSC_0003When grazing on exposed grasslands in Africa, giraffes are constantly on the look out for predators that co-inhabit the dry savannah. The primary predators of the giraffe are lions, who use the strength of the entire pride to catch their victim, but giraffes are also preyed upon by leopards and hyenas. 

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We had a pleasure of seeing giraffes up close and take pictures during our multiple trips to Disney's Animal Kingdom. We were able to observe that despite its size, a giraffe is very graceful, moving both legs on one side at the same time. (For more on Giraffes and its closest relative Okapi, read here a post" African Animals Language Objects Matching Cards and African Savanna Animals at Animal Kingdom Disney").

For more on Inside Body, read here a post about Human Anatomy "๐Ÿ’‰ Inside of the Body Anatomy Unit Study."