Thursday, November 24, 2016

Aquatic Herps

Lesson 4 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day is on "Aquatic Herps," that is, aquatic reptiles like sea turtles and sea snakes, and aquatic amphibians (toads, frogs, and salamanders).
After reading about aquatic herps and diving into all things about sea turtles, we did some work in our journal.
The text challenged her to use just her elbows to drag her weight across the floor, like a sea turtle's flippers drag her weight across the sand when it's time to lay her eggs.  This is not as easy as it looks!
After our text reading, we read National Geographic's Sea Turtles by Laura Marsh.
On the Apologia website (under the extras), they have a link to this great video of sea turtles nesting (at  I have added that same video, below.
Also at the suggestion of the text, we set out to see just how large a leatherback sea turtle can get (up to nine feet long and six feet wide)!  We used a measuring tape and chalk to draw it to scale.
(She loved this activity!)
That's one BIG shell!
Whoa!  (We remembered to draw in the leatherback's seven distinct ridges running down its shell.)
She could easily ride on its back!
After that, we did more work in our notebooking journal, including this adorable comic strip she made of a sea snake having a conversation with a land toad.
I love kids' pictures!
The eight types of sea turtles!
As directed in the text, we did an experiment to better understand how frogs' skin can absorb oxygen from the water.  To do this, we used a balloon, lemon extract, a teaspoon, a funnel, and an empty box.  First, using the funnel to prevent spilling, we poured one teaspoon of the lemon extract into the balloon.
Then, we tied the balloon closed.
We then placed the balloon into the empty box, smelling the box before we closed the lid.  It smelled like a cardboard box.
After thirty minutes, we opened the box and it smelled all lemony, yet no extract had seeped out of the balloon.  The lemon extract has escaped the balloon through diffusion, the same process that allows a frog to absorb oxygen from water!  Neat!
Here is some more journaling where we made herps minibooks that are super cute.  The little aquatic reptiles and amphibians hatch from these paper eggs and each reveals a fact about itself.
Finally, we added a couple of herps to our ocean box.  Here, Mags is finishing up her sea snake.
I love his little fangs and paddle tail!  Almost all sea snakes are extremely and dangerously venomous!
Our sea turtle, a hawksbill!
In our ocean box!
Just swimming by!
Later, we remembered we had the Safari, Ltd, "Venomous Creatures" Toob, and in it is the yellow-bellied sea snake.
Here he is, with that distinctive paddle tail!
We placed him in our ocean box, too!
We are just finishing up Lesson 5 ("Primeval Reptiles") so watch for that post soon!  Happy homeschooling!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Seals and Sea Cows

In Lesson 3 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day curriculum, we learned all about "Seals and Sea Cows."  We started our reading on pinnipeds and learned that when these creatures move onto land, the term for it is "haul out," as it takes a great effort to get their big, heavy bodies out of the water.  (A walrus actually uses its tusks to help it haul out!)  We learned about what they eat, how they raise their families (in rookeries), and what threatens them.  We also talked about the differences between true seals and eared seals.
After all of this great reading, we did a lot of work in our notebooking journal.
 Love it!
 Who doesn't love kids' drawings?!
 The next day, we learned all about walruses, manatees, and dugongs.  It was interesting to learn about how and why walruses change color!  And Maggie loved hearing how manatees greet each other with big kisses!  We did some more notebooking work after that to record what we had learned.
Next, we read Sleek Seals by Jason Blake.  In it, we learned that seals have no taste buds!
This is a PRECIOUS video from YouTube ( that shows a mother walrus and her calf.  Maggie and I loved it.

We also enjoyed making the pinniped minibooks for her journal!
After all that reading and recording, it was time for an experiment, the "Blubber" experiment outlined in the book!  First, we placed one gloved hand into an ice cold water bath and timed how long she could stand the cold water before removing her hand.
She lasted for 19.59 seconds!
Next, we put a layer of "fat" on a glove (we used both petroleum jelly and vegetable shortening), then covered the fat layer with a second glove to create a limb that would simulate one like a pinniped's, covered in blubber.  She thought it felt pretty gross, even though her skin wasn't touching the "blubber" directly.
It was time for that one to go in the water bath!
The result?  41.21 seconds, more than twice the time of the hand without "blubber!"
This experiment helped her to better understand how pinnipeds are able to stand such extremely cold temperatures!  We recorded our findings in our notebooking journal.
Finally for Lesson 3, we made a couple of pinnipeds (a sea lion and a walrus) for our ocean box!  First, we made a salt dough island to sit on top of our box.
Then, we painted it white to look like a big ice block.
Next, Maggie molded a little walrus out of modeling clay.
So cute!
Her Daddy shaped a sea lion for her.
Both of these went on top of our salt dough island on top of our ocean box!
Love it!
Next up?  Aquatic herps!  Check back!