Thursday, December 8, 2016

Primeval Reptiles

In Lesson 5 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, we learned all about "Primeval Reptiles, specifically, the "four saurs": nothosaurs, mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs.
We also did a lot of work in our notebooking journal for this lesson.
After reading about the "four saurs" in our text, we referred to The Usborne Big Book of Big Dinosaurs to see some fun illustrations of these creatures.
Wow, they looked fierce!
Maggie wrote some of the facts she learned about these creatures in her journal.
She illustrated one of each kind, too!
 So cute!
 The book challenged us to read about leviathan in Job 41 of the Bible, a creature many have believed to be a whale or large crocodile.  However, it was probably one of these "four saurs," possibly a nothosaur, because the Scripture references "limbs,"  (The other "saurs" had fins and flippers.)  We were then challenged to compare and contrast leviathan and a whale using a Venn diagram.  This was a great activity!  Here is Maggie's work below, which we adhered into her notebooking journal.
Here she is, putting together the primeval reptiles puzzles that came in her notebook.  (Emmett, our cat, was sure he could be of assistance!)
All done!  Great job, Mags!
We added these pieces back to her notebook with a Ziploc bag to keep them from spilling out.
And here is the fact wheel we assembled from the notebook!
It was time for an experiment!  We sought to answer the question, "Why are the fossils of ichthyosaurs so rare?"  Using our text as a guide, we gathered the materials for our experiment: a small clam shell, a Cheerio, two small glasses, and gloppy mud.
First, we placed the shell in one glass and the Cheerio in another.  (The Cheerio was representative of an ichthyosaur because it has pockets of air in it, just like an ichthyosaur had.)
Next, we made some gloppy mud in a little, plastic bucket.
The mud was then poured into each glass on top of the shell and Cheerio.
We lifted the glasses to look at their bottoms and noticed the shell had not moved.
The Cheerio, however, had floated up through the mud!  The air in it kept it from staying anchored to the bottom!  This floating of an ichthyosaur body would have made it easy food for scavengers, meaning few would have fossilized.  So, the answer to our question, "Why are the fossils of ichthyosaurs so rare?" ... THEY FLOATED!
There are a few amazing fossils that have been found, though, like the picture of this one, below.  This fossilized ichthyosaur was giving birth at the time of its death!  You can read more about this fossil at  
We then recorded the results of our experiment in our notebook.
For fun, we picked up this Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters (triops) kit at Walmart to set up.
(She was very excited about putting this together!)
We placed it under a desk lamp in our classroom so that the water would be warm for hatching our triops' eggs.
There's an egg, laying on the sand!
Homeschooling is so fun!
 (Here are some updated photos of our triops.)
Later, we found a documentary on mosasaurs on YouTube at, called "Mega Beasts: T Rex of the Deep."  In it, they design and create a working model of the powerful jaws of a mosasaur and it was interesting to see the strength they had!

When we visited my parents, we stopped at The Estuarium at Dauphin Island in Alabama.  Here is a picture of Maggie under a model of a mosasaur!  So neat!
Our next lesson is all about fish!  Check back with us!


  1. Rachel, I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog! I'm a new homeschooler to a soon-to-be-5-yr-old girl, and we've found that we love unit studies! We are going to be starting FIAR this summer, so I've found lots of inspiration in your posts.

    I do have a question for you as I look forward into later years... with Apologia & MOH, do you still do those somewhat as unit studies? Meaning do you decide, "this week, we're going to tackle the next lesson of MOH" or "this week, it's all science!" Or do you do a little of both each week? I'm trying to wrap my mind around doing everything every week, and it seems super overwhelming!

    1. Libby, thank you so much for your kind words! Maggie and I still work on all three. We hit Apologia and MOH daily, and do FIAR periodically. This week, we are rowing Mr. Gumpy's Motor Car. I must admit, though, I was overwhelmed at first, too, about juggling it all. I just had to get into our groove. And that looks different for everybody. A lot of it, for me, was organization. I would have everything ready before we began each day. This meant cutting things the night before as I watched TV, and setting up each thing so that it was ready to go when it was time. I have seen friends at co-ops try to pull materials together right before an activity and it's chaos and time wasted. Prep is key. Most importantly, though, pay attention to your daughter's response. When Maggie would get tired, I'd see it on her face before she told me and we'd stop. It's not about checking it off your syllabus. It's about teaching her when she's ready to receive it! HAVE FUN!!!

    2. Libby, I failed to mention that doing Apologia and MOH "daily" meant that even though we might do it that often, one lesson of MOH might take us two or three days, depending on the lesson. We work on it daily, but if the content is especially interesting, like when we studied the Egyptians, we spread that lesson out over several days so we can delve deeper. Hope this helped!

  2. That makes perfect sense, Rachel! Thank you so much for your advice! Looking forward to seeing what you do with Mr. Gumpy! Have a great day!