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7115 W. Bancroft
Toledo, OH 43615-3010
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Sassafras

Wendi Rowland

Wendi Rowland

Sarah Duvall

Sarah Duvall

Sassafras Room is a Children’s House classroom on the Toledo Campus. Sarah Duvall and Wendi Rowland are the classroom’s co-teachers.

Did you know that the blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived?  It can grow to be 100 feet long and it’s heart is the size of a small car!

We talked about the blue whale, humpback whale, gray whale, and orca whale, and watched beautiful videos of the whales swimming in the ocean.  The children have enjoyed unrolling yarn in the hallway to see how long each of those whales can grow to be.

We began to dive deeper into our study of the 5 classes of vertebrates, by taking a look at birds.  We talked about how all birds have feathers, beaks, and lay eggs, but not all birds fly.

We had various practical life activities available in the room that had to do with birds: grating bread for bird seed, spooning bird seed, picking up feathers with clothespins, and making bird nests using many different materials.

Clothespinning feathers

Clothespinning feathers

Building a bird nest

Building a bird nest

Spooning bird seed

Spooning bird seed

In small groups the children experimented with different tools that represented different types of bird beaks.  they tried the different tools to see which one would work best for the specific type of food they were trying to get.  After matching the tools we matched the tools with the birds that have those beaks.  We talked about how different birds have different beaks that work best for the types of food they eat.

Trying the pelican beak to eat bugs embedded in tree bark

Trying the pelican beak to eat bugs embedded in tree bark

Pelican beak to eat fish

Pelican beak to eat fish

 

During these last few weeks, we also took a closer look at snowflakes.  Using the  book called The Story of Snow, we examined how a snowflake is formed beginning with a speck. The speck is surrounded by water that freezes in the shape of a hexagon.  That is why 6 is the magic number for a snowflake! As a follow up to the lesson, the children really enjoyed creating their own snowflakes using a variety of different methods.  One way involved using objects to print a snowflake.  The children could also pin push out half of a snowflake.  Then they used the positive and negative space to create one whole snowflake.  Finally they could fold a coffee filter and cut on the folds to make intricate designs in their snowflakes.

What a perfect time to study Antarctica!  The freezing temperatures of the past few weeks have given the children some context in which to understand the climate of Antarctica. Although, the temperatures we were experiencing are more like the summer temperatures of Antarctica!

We learned several interesting facts about this continent.  Some of those include-there are no native people living in Antarctica, only scientists and some tourists.  The scientists who live there have to bring their own food and take their trash with them when they leave.  We talked about the tilt of our earth and how that effects the length of the days and nights.

It was interesting to learn about Antarctica, but the children were so happy when our temperatures here were warm enough to allow us to play outside!

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It would be impossible to learn about Antarctica without studying its most famous inhabitants-penguins!  Emperor penguins to be more specific.  These unique birds are some of the only living things that can withstand the brutal winters of Antarctica.  To learn more about these amazing birds we watched a brief video.  It began with the female laying her egg and transferring it to the male.  We saw how the male then balances the egg on his feet and covers it with his brood pouch.  All winter long he huddles with the other males to keep warm and protect the egg while the female has gone off to eat.  When the chick hatches the female returns to take care of the chick.  But how can she find her chick among the thousands?  She recognizes the voice of her mate!  The children were fascinated by this whole process.  After the lesson, several acted out what they had learned-moms going off to sea to eat, swimming away from predators.  Dads balancing an “egg” or a chick on their feet calling out (with different calls) to find their mate. Regurgitating food for the baby chick to eat.  It was so fun to watch the children make this lesson come to life!

 

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Later in the week we talked about blubber and how it helps to keep penguins warm.  The children were able to experience this first hand with the help of our “blubber glove”.  (A bag filled with vegetable shortening to simulate blubber).  First the children put their hand in a basin of ice water.  Next they put a bag around their hand (to represent waterproof feathers) and then put their hand in the ice water.  Finally they put their hand in the blubber glove and then in the ice water.  All were in agreement that the blubber really works to keep the animals warm.

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