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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jump into Treasure Island

Treasure IslandImage via Wikipedia

We've been participating in Jump Into a Book's Summer Reading Adventure, and we just finished reading Treasure Island, the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

It was admittedly a difficult book in some ways for all of my boys to get into, mainly because of the style of the language, but in the end, they all enjoyed it.  We followed along with Jump Into a Book's pirate adventures, and we also came up with a few of our own.  We set up the playmobil pirate ship and recreated the battle scenes from the story.


And much time was spent dressing up in pirate gear and staging stunt-man worthy sword fights and treasure hunts.  We watched Pirates of the Carribean on dvd and discussed its similarities to Treasure Island.  The old Disney version of Treasure Island is available on dvd, and we have it on our wish list.

I found some Treasure Island coloring books at Michael's for $1 apiece, and the boys enjoyed coloring in them while I read the chapters aloud each night.  It also helped keep the squirms and wiggles from becoming a distraction and allowed everyone to listen and get involved in the story.  They liked having pictures to accompany the story, too. 



While I was at Michael's, I also found some wood craft kits that you paint and glue together to make these--


If you want to really go in-depth with a study of Treasure Island, check out this unit study chock full of kid-friendly activities and lessons.



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Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Raise a Frog {Things I thought I'd never do #1}





   After a homeschool science class, my kids came home the proud owners of two bullfrog tadpoles which were given the names Shadow and Roger.  We housed them together in a small aquarium, but Roger ate so much that Shadow did not grow, and ultimately met an untimely end.  So, after calling every pet store and nursery in the phone book, Poseidon came to join our family.  We seperated them into two small tanks so they would each eat their tadpole bites and not each other, and now we have one frog and one almost frog (only a small tail left on Roger.)  They have each graduated to a larger aquarium with a vented hood and set up with half beach and half water, with caves for hiding and small smooth rocks to climb on.  It has been a challenge to learn how to take care of them, but here is what we have discovered so far.




Housing:  It is best to keep each tadpole in its own separate environment so they will eat and leave each other alone.  We began with small tanks and moved them into larger ones once they began to get legs.  We used natural aquarium gravel for the bottom, added a couple of plants and smooth stones, and a couple of inches of water (don't use tap water until you let it sit out for a couple of days to get rid of the chlorine.  I keep some in a milk jug and just keep replenishing it.)  Change the water at least once or twice a week, or whenever it looks scummy or smells bad.  I scoop out the water with a cup until it is almost 1/2 inch deep, and then add fresh water by pouring it over my hand into the tank to keep from disturbing the gravel too much.  Every couple of changes, the whole tank needs to be emptied and the gravel washed.



Once the tadpoles grow legs, they need to be able to get out of the water, and you can use washed aquarium sand pushed to one side of the tank to create a beach and use the gravel in the other side for the "pond."  I also added some larger smooth stones where the sand meets the water to keep the sand from eroding and provide a place for the little froglet to climb.  The tadpoles don't seem to care whether it is night or day,  but the froglets are very skittish in the light and want to hide during the day, so we also added a cave (an aquarium ornament) for them to sleep in.  They tend to stay in it all day unless disturbed, and they come out to sit on the beach at night.

Feeding:  Start off with Tadpole and Frog Bites which I found at Petsmart.  Only feed each tadpole 2 or 3 little pellets per day.  Don't overfeed them, but don't underfeed them either.  As the tails are shrinking and the legs are appearing, the tadpoles' lungs, teeth, and tongues are developing and they will not eat.  They are digesting their tails and will not be able to eat until they have finished this stage.  Then, the fun begins...
The little carnivores will now only eat food that moves, and they will feed at night.  This is a blessing, because you can feed them at bedtime and turn off the lights without having to witness the carnage miracle of nature.

We started off trying crickets.  If you buy the "crickets to go," it is nearly impossible to get any out of the container without a whole bunch of them escaping, so we got one of these


All you have to do is pull out the black tube, shake a cricket out onto Frog Beach, and then put the tube back into the cricket keeper.  We are feeding our crickets a slice of fresh potoato and added a small piece of sponge soaked with water to the keeper for them to drink from.  Note:  Crickets are stupid.  They will drown themselves willingly and quickly.  Don't put a water bowl in the keeper.
You can put a couple of crickets in the aquarium each night, but most of them end up floating in the water in the morning to be fished out. 

Our next foray into frog feeding involved minnows.



These cost about 10 cents apiece so are pricier than crickets.  We had two die of natural causes, one is unaccounted for, and the others swim really fast.  So now we are adding a flake of fish food to the aquariums each night as well.



Leo Lionni wrote this really nice book about the friendship between a frog and a minnow, which I now view as a little disturbing.

After these attempts at froglet feeding didn't seem to be too successful, we finally hit on our little darlings' favorite food.

Warning--not for the squeamish...












Mealworms.

They must be kept
In. The. Fridge.

And, once a week, you must take them out of the fridge, put in a fresh carrot, and wait an hour or so for them to eat.

One of these lovelies gets dropped onto Frog Beach each night and has disappeared by morning. You actually have to touch them to get them out of the container. 


It's funny how two tadpoles have led to a house full of creepy crawlies to feed.  Discovery learning is awesome.  Really.








Some books we have consulted are below :)