We all had a lovely time flipping rocks this morning for the 3rd Annual International Rock Flipping Day! Honestly, I could not have imagined that rock flipping could be so interesting, but my children, my husband and I all had the best time wandering around flipping rocks (and putting them carefully back of course).
The children ran through our yard and the woods by our house searching for perfect rocks:
We learned that our rocks here are quite beautiful, very volcanic and full of holes:
This one actually showed a distinct lava flow pattern on it:
Under our rocks we discovered:
A small mushroom that grew up in the shade of two tightly stacked rocks:
A baby centipede – a teeny tiny yellow thread with lots of legs. I apologize for the bad picture, but much of what we found was very small and hard to photograph:
Strange white beetles with legs and antennae, barely the size of a grain of rice:
The much expected “Rollie Pollies” or Pill Bugs, but these guys were whiter than we had ever seen before:
Ants, LOTS of ants and eggs. Much to our surprise we found that ants don’t just live underground, but actually use the holes in our volcanic rocks as homes and nurseries!
You can even see little dots inside the ant eggs in this photo, Each collection of eggs seemed to have a “nurse ant” to go with it:
A peanut that had been buried (and probably forgotten) by a squirrel – round thing in the middle of the photo:
A small cricket:
Mystery eggs? Not ant eggs and about the size of small beads. Any ideas?
Perhaps my favorite place in the whole world is the South Island of New Zealand. If you live there, I SO envy you! What a beautiful place filled with nice people…I can’t say enough wonderful things about it. The only drawback is that, for most of us in the world, it is a little out of the way. No, make that VERY MUCH out of the way! Upon further thought however, perhaps that is what keeps it so lovely and friendly?
Anyhow, I was once fortunate enough to be able to visit New Zealand’s South Island. I believe it was in May and the leaves were turning color. There was a fall chill in the air…strange, since we had just left tree buds exploding with flowers and greenery emerging from the sun’s warmth – a promise of lazy summer days was near.
We had many remarkable adventures in southern New Zealand as we explored the glacial and fjord-laden, yet lush, west coast; viewed spectacular snowy mountainscapes of the central region; and enjoyed sheep (many, many, MANY sheep) grazing on peaceful green hills in the eastern portion.
WEBCAM – I was quite excited to discover a live webcam from Dunedin’s Royal Albatross Center. I found this quite some time ago and have been meaning to write about it. At the moment, it seems to be showing just a general view of the colony since eggs are still incubating. However when there are chicks, it is a nest cam! Remember, that since it is live, you might find it is dark when you go to check it out due to the time difference. Keep going back, it is worth it.
TRACKING – There are quite a few sites out there that show tracking results for albatross that have been fitted with satellite trackers:
ADOPTION – If your family or class has the means (or wants to do a few fundraisers), you can even adopt your own albatross. The cost ($2,500 in 2008) covers the tracking tag and three months of data. You can choose the name of your bird and follow him/her in real time through online maps. Cool! The non-profit sponsor, Oikonos, will also send you a framed photo of your actual bird as well as a map of the completed three month journey.
If you do nothing else, watch (and show your kids) this gorgeous video of albatrosses soaring over the ocean, and “playing” in the wind. It is such a beautiful sight that it actually made me cry! Please watch it!
OK, now that you have been moved to tears by these beautiful birds, how about trying to save them? Here are some organizations that would like some help (fundraiser anyone?):
GIVING – Organizations that aim to protect the albatross from long-line fishing and ocean trash:
Now that my camera cable is back, here is our project for trees. Better late than never I suppose!
I was fairly uninspired for the Unplugged Project theme of trees. It needed to be simple since we were in Albuquerque for the weekend, away from any supplies beyond crayons and paper. No one had ideas, then I suggested making trees out of our hand outlines. The idea was met with very little enthusiasm, but my oldest daughter and I decided to give it a go.
First we traced our hands:
Then we cut some small branches off some trees that needed a bit of pruning anyhow. We took the leaves off the branches to stick them on our handprints:
What started off as a rather dull project quickly became exciting when one of the leaves I was stripping off a branch suddenly hopped onto the countertop and began walking around!
He was amazingly similar to the leaves I was using and none of us had seen him, even up close, until he jumped off.
We all ooed and aahed and squealed with delight as our surprise visitor crawled on our hands and showed us that he knew how to fly.
After we had all had a very gentle turn with him, we carefully returned him to his tree.
Here is a photo of him in the tree to show you how well camouflaged he was (if you are having a hard time spotting him, look for the brown spot. That is him pooping – much to the delight of the children):
After that bit of unexpected excitement, we finished our projects with new enthusiasm!
This was an Unplugged Project “special edition.” Be sure to check back on Monday morning to see what everyone comes up with for this week’s theme of insect.
Yesterday was the last day of school here. Always a sad day for me. This year however, I was distracted from my self-pity-fest by the fact that I was driving my children home on the last day of school…in a snow storm! About four inches so far. More on the way today.
On Tuesday we were sweltering in a record-setting 95 degree heat (35 Celsius). Yesterday it was 35 degrees (1.7 Celsius). A 60 degree drop in two days. Impressive!
My son’s birthday party is today. His real birthday is in about 2 weeks, but this year we are having his party early before people depart on their summer adventures. I guess we won’t be picnicking in the back yard as planned. Will the party be snowed out or will we be having snowball fights?
I told my little boy to take a good look out the window because this might be the only snowy birthday party he has in his life!
Green was the theme for this week’s Unplugged Project. When I thought of green, I was planning on being clever and doing a “green” (ie. recycled) project, instead of one involving the color green. I had a plan…but I won’t divulge it, we’ll just do it another week.
The weather was so lovely today that the children wanted to take a “kids’ walk” (a short walk that I let them do by themselves down our quiet road and back home on the golf course cart path – total time en route: about 5 minutes). Rather than keep them inside for a project on a day like today, instead I suggested they bring along the camera and take pictures of everything they saw on their walk that was green.
Kids love cameras and digital cameras are perfect for kids. Children armed with cameras take lots of pictures and most don’t come out too well, but there are often a few great ones in amongst the blur. Even if you buy an inexpensive disposable camera, why pay for processing a bunch of fuzzy photos? Especially when very simple digital cameras are so inexpensive nowadays.
If you do buy your children a camera, I have one word of advice (learned from experience): buy one with a rechargeable battery. They will take LOTS of pictures, forget to turn it off, etc. Most cheap kids’ cameras have regular old batteries that will last about half an hour under such conditions. This could either turn into a very expensive proposition, or you’ll never want to let your kids use their camera because of the cost of batteries! So – spend a tiny bit more for the camera and get one with a long-lasting, rechargeable battery they can actually use.
End of digression.
Here are the best results of their green scavenger hunt (7 out of 25 photos a success – see what I mean about the value of a digital camera for kids?). Because I realize that my kids’ photos of pine needles may not be quite as fascinating to the general public as my children might like to believe, these 7 pictures are in slide show format that you can choose to view or not. The point is, that a Photo Scavenger Hunt of any kind, can be great fun for children, especially outside on a lovely day!
If you took part in this week’s Unplugged Project then please put your link in Mr. Linky (plus comment in case we lose Mr. Linky for some reason) .