Monday, September 28, 2015

The Salamander Room

This week, for our first row of third grade, we rowed The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer.  Amazon's synopsis of it reads, " A boy finds a salamander in the woods and imagines the many things he can do to turn his room into a perfect salamander home."  

(I have learned that if a book has that Reading Rainbow icon in the top corner of it, it's usually a good read!)
Once we read the book, we colored our story disk for it and placed it on the Eastern side of our US map.  (Maggie chose Georgia, our state.)
 Next, we set out to make an illustrated list of some of the things she could remember the boy planning to have in his room for his pet salamander.
 Here was our completed list.
 After her list was done, I challenged her to use the items on that list to make her own salamander room on paper.
 Later, we came up with an acrostic poem using the word "salamander."
Love it.
I saw a great idea at to make little salamanders for lunch out of hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls.  I had to do it for Mags.  I also used cloves for the eyes, poppy seeds, and a little melted butter.
 First, I shaped the crescent rolls (I used two per dog) around the hot dog to resemble a salamander.  Then, I pinched a little dough off the end of his tail to form four, small, round feet and pressed them against his body.  Lastly, I shaped the tail again to look salamander-like.
 Next, I pushed two cloves in for eyes (these would be removed before eating) and washed him with melted butter before sprinkling on some poppy seeds for spots.
 They went into the oven at 350 degrees until brown and puffy.
 This is what they looked like cooked!
She was very happy!
After lunch, we did the mathematical "Salamander Room Story Problems" for this book found at
Then, it was time to learn a bit more about amphibians, particularly salamanders.  We read The Animal Kingdom: Amphibians by Bev Havbey ...
... Amphibians by Rod Theodorou ...
... and About Amphibians: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill before we paused our reading for a video.
This Animal Life for Children series is great and are usually in most libraries.  We picked up the "All About Amphibians" disc at our library and watched it to see some live action shots of salamanders.  They are usually less than 25 minutes long.
After the video, we read Salamanders by Edward J. Maruska ...
... and Salamanders by Cherie Winner.  It was fun to share the different things we noticed about them in the pictures.
After all of our books had been perused, we found two videos of salamanders hunting bugs.  The first one was on the National Geographic website at The second one (the one below), we found on YouTube.
This next video is awesome, too!
We found the idea online to make salt dough salamanders and paint them.  Here, Mags is mixing our salt dough.
 Shaping salamanders!
 Even Daddy helped!
 Once shaped, we baked them for one hour in a 300-degree oven then let them cool off.
 Don't you just love a good paint party?!
 Looking good!
 Our salamanders, drying!
So cute!
Once they were dry, it was time to make them a "salamander room"!  Here is Maggie and her Daddy, ready to start!
We got lots of materials together to do it -- plastic green plants, Spanish moss, river rocks (all at the Dollar Tree), a shoebox, blue cellophane, white paper, hot glue, and scissors.
 Maggie was so proud of the end result!
 These are very happy salamanders in their salamander room!
On the next day of our book study, it was time for a road/field trip.  We headed out for a short trip to Albany, Georgia to look for salamanders at the Flint Riverquarium.  (Their website address is  We also were excited about watching the Micro-Planet show in their Imagination Theater, about the small animals that inhabit Georgia’s lakes and forests.  Here are some photos from our field trip.

This is at the entrance.
 I love seeing above and below the surface of the water!
 They have a great river table with rough sand and faucets.  It is higher at the faucets and the table declines to the end, demonstrating how running water forms a river and flows debris downhill.
Maggie was determined to get her river to the end!
She did it!
Finally, we spotted it!  A salamander!
 What a handsome tiger salamander!
 He was keen on smiling for us!
The river that runs alongside the RiverQuarium is a great place for spotting wildlife!  I think we'll come back in the Spring and look for tadpoles.
The Salamander Room was another great row!  Stay tuned for our study of next week's row, The Story of Ferdinand!


  1. I absolutely love your painted salamanders. And how fun that your cat was perched in the background overseeing your little project. This looks like a great book, and one I would like to row with Emma, my animal lover. Your hotdogs look so yummy! :-)

    1. Thanks, Brooke! Yes, our cat, Emmett, is always a part of everything. He is a hoot! If you row this with Emma, you HAVE to make the salamander dogs! Maggie loved them!

  2. You have some great ideas here for rowing Salamander Room! We will be covering this one soon, and I intend to use some of your ideas. The salamander hotdogs and salt dough salamanders with their own salamander room, especially. Thanks for sharing your Row!