Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Feliform Carnivores

Lesson 4 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day by Jeannie Fulbright is all about "Feliform Carnivores," that is, the cats of the world.
 Maggie was especially excited about this lesson because we have two cats of our own.  This handsome guy is Emmett (nickname: "Beanie") ...
 ... and this funny gal is Ellie (nickname: "Sheenie").  Having these two made this lesson quite easy to navigate, as we are already quite familiar with cat anatomy and behavior (although you won't find the cats in this lesson fond of gnawing on pencils -- silly girl).
 We started this lesson by reading pages 51-58 in the text, with family Felidae, learning about their claws, incredibly flexible skeletons, acute senses, amazing whiskers, and how they are proficient predators.  We read about leopards, jaguars, cheetahs (and the difference among the three), as well as the melanin that makes leopard kittens black (sometimes called black panthers).

When we visited the Montgomery Zoo with our last lesson (see Lesson 3's post at https://homeschoolingmom2mags.blogspot.com/2017/10/caniforms-continued.html), we enjoyed watching a female jaguar and her four cubs, all black.  Here she is, in her enclosure.
On the zoo's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/montgomeryzooandmannmuseum/), their current profile picture (below) shows this same female with her mate, a black jaguar.  (If you click on their picture itself, it reads, "Why are some jaguars spotted and others black?  In the case at the Montgomery Zoo, our male jaguar (the father) is black in color and the female jaguar (the mother) is spotted.  These cubs are black like their father, which is melanistic.  Melanistic means the cubs are born with an unusually high amount of melanin, a black pigment found in animals or plants and the melanistic gene is typically a dominant one.  Despite the cubs' black coat, they still display a rosette pattern just like their mother.  It is just a little more difficult to see."
Here was our picture from our field trip of mama and her four cubs (1 male, 3 female, all born June 12, 2017).
This is Montgomery Zoo's picture (below) of the same group.
Also at Montgomery Zoo was this beautiful tiger.
We continued reading in our text about the subfamilies Felinae, Pantherinae, and Acinonychinae, as well as what apex predators are and how the cat with the worst reputation for attacking humans is the Bengal tiger.  We then learned about lions (a group is called a pride and males practice infanticide when they take over a new pride, killing all the cubs sired by the former top male) and tigers, which are excellent swimmers.

We recently studied tigers when we studied India in our World Geography co-op.  For each co-op, each child presents a project on something they studied from each country.  Maggie did her project on the Bengal tiger.  (That post can be found at https://homeschoolingmom2mags.blogspot.com/2017/09/india.html if you want to know more.)  The following three pictures are from that post.
Also from another post of a book study we did for our literature curriculum (at https://homeschoolingmom2mags.blogspot.com/2016/06/andy-and-lion.html), we did a couple of neat things while learning about lions, including snacking on these lion paw biscuits we made ...
 ... and making this cute paper lion using different sizes of paper hearts.

Back to this lesson ... after our reading, Mags colored pages 56-57 in our Junior Zoology 3 Notebooking Journal.

On Day 2 of this lesson, we continued reading in our text about "North America's Three" (pages 58-60), the Canada lynx, the bobcat, and the cougar (also called the puma or mountain lion).  

We then completed the "Try This!" activity outlined on page 60, challenging us to figure how many bobcats and cougars could potentially live in our city and state (knowing that every male bobcat needs about 60 square miles of territory and every male cougar needs about 200 square miles).  We recorded this on page 67 of our journal (picture lower down in this post).

We continued reading in our text (pages 60-64) about family Hyaenidae, a feliform family that includes the spotted hyena, the brown hyena, the striped hyena, and the aardwolf.  These animals live in packs called clans and are some of the strangest animals on earth, with their legs standing at different heights, their dog-like faces, thick, mule-like necks, and behaviors like a cat (they purr).  They also scavenge dead animals like vultures (with a special ability to digest bones) and act like sharks in that they aggressively try to destroy their siblings.  Hyenas are not one of my favorite creatures.  We even read how spotted hyenas have a mutation in their genes that has affected the birth canal of female hyenas and the surge of testosterone she produces before her cubs are born.  This has, most likely, contributed to the aggressive behavior seen in hyenas at birth.

That day at lunch, Mags watched the Lions: Spy in the Den documentary by BBC Earth on Netflix.
After watching, she filled out a "Video Review" sheet (below).
Here is her completed sheet in her journal, opposite the Scripture copywork on page 63.

Day 3 of this study started with reading from pages 64-67 in our text, about families Viverridae and Herpestidae, made up of the mongoose and the meerkat.  (Meerkats are also called suricates.)  We learned about how the mongoose is one of the most dangerous animals in the world, the symbiosis that exists between dwarf mongooses and hornbills, and how social meerkats are.

Then, using the instructions on page 68 of the text, we mapped all of these feliforms on our world map.  (The pictures can be found at the back of the notebooking journal.)
Next, we read the "Track It!" section on page 68 of the text, drawing the same in our journal.
 I have a rubber stamp of a cat print and stamped it in her journal, too, asking her to spot if there was anything wrong with the stamp.  She noted it only had one lobe at the top of the heel pad when a true cat has two!
We then completed the "Storyboard" activity (also outlined on page 68), challenging her to create a story line between lions and hyenas (which hate each other), recorded on page 59 of our journal (opposite the "Fascinating Facts" about feliforms on page 58).
I just love her drawings!
 This male and female lion are growling at a prying hyena!  So cute!
During lunch that day, Mags watched the "Big Cats" episode of this The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Thumps and Jumps! DVD.
I found the same episode on YouTube for you at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE03f1okqxk (below).
Finally, to wrap up Day 3, she completed pages 60-61 in her journal, writing facts about four of the cats we learned about.  She chose the tiger, bobcat, lynx, and cougar.

On Day 4 of this lesson, we did more work in the journal, completing the "Feliform Find!" and the "Feliforms Minibook" on pages 64-65, respectively.
We then had a blast setting up the experiment ("The Cougar Eats the Deer") on pages 69-70 of the text, working to understand population growth in a particular area.  Here, Maggie is measuring and taping off a 2-foot by 2-foot square to represent the 200 square miles of land that a cougar would claim for his territory.
 The text suggests adhering your paper cougars (found at the back of the notebooking journal) onto cardboard to help them land during experimentation, but we found that taping paperclips to the underside of them worked just as well for adding weight.
 Here are two, hungry cougars, gobbling up deer in our territory space!
 We recorded the results of our cougar generations (and the entire experiment) on pages 68-69 of our journal.  (She absolutely loved this activity and requested we leave it set up so she could repeat it with Daddy when he got home.)
It was time for a bit of extra reading.  We read through Zoobooks' Lions issue from December 2013 ...
 ... and their Cheetahs issue from November 2015.  (We love this magazine!  The photos and diagrams are amazing and each issue is entirely dedicated to just one animal.)
It was time for a field trip to see some more feliforms up close!  This time, we headed to Locust Grove, Georgia, to Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary (http://www.noahs-ark.org/), a nonprofit organization that rescues and provides a permanent home for animals that have been abused, abandoned, neglected, and/or surrendered.  They have several tigers, a cougar, and a bobcat on property, among over 1,000 other animals.
Noah's Ark is always in need of financial and food donations and supplies, so we thought we would make a stop at this little country grocery store on the way to purchase some goodies for the animals.  (Luckily, the sanctuary had posted a list of their favorite food items to receive just days before our field trip.)  We bought unsalted peanuts, dark, leafy greens, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, a watermelon, and a pumpkin.  Maggie was so excited to donate!  (Notice she wore her cheetah shirt for the day!)
Here she is at the sanctuary, using their cart to haul in her donation.
Once there, we really enjoyed all the animals.  Here is Mags in front of a lion.
And here she is in front of one of their many tigers!
So pretty!
The very next day, the sanctuary posted this picture (below) of one of their tigers, Doc, enjoying Maggie's pumpkin!  She was thrilled!
We had a great time.  Back home, we filled out a field trip report and completed the review questions for this lesson from CurrClick.  All of this was stapled together and added to her journal on page 66 (opposite the project page).
It was another fun one!  Next up?  "Marsupials" with Lesson 5!  Check back with us!


  1. Thanks for the post. I really appreciate the way you have presented your content in this post... I loved it. Educational blog for kids...nice :)

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for checking in with us!