Tag Archives: animals

FishFlix.com: Living Waters ~ a TOS review

FishFlix.com is a company that provides such fantastic materials! We are thrilled to be able to review something from them once again. Creation science that is well done yet not overwhelming is so hard to find. FishFlix.com gives us several options and the one we reviewed, Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth, is unbelieveable!

As I am working on this review, the girls are watching this DVD once again. They begged and got ready for bed in record time to be able to watch it this evening. They have just absorbed so much from this program.

FishFlix.com Review no 2FishFlix.com is a company whose motto is “Christian movies to inspire and entertain.” We have found that their materials do just that. With thousands of high-quality, Christian DVDs, this company is meeting a need for quality programming. They are family owned and operated and we have been so pleased with the materials we have been blessed to review for them. (You can see our previous review of Exploring Ephesus.)

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true science.

– Albert Einstein

This is the quote that Living Waters begins with. The mysterious of the ocean and its creatures is the focus of the DVD. Living Waters discusses the amazing design that has been put into the ocean’s animals by a master designer. Through interviews with scientists who have studied these animals for years and video of the animals in their natural habitat, we learn that there are some very specific functions that the animals have that evolution would not have been able to reach, some because of the sheer amount of time required and some because of the complexity of the design.

FishFlix.com Review no 2

It was very informative to listen to the scientists talk about the limitations of evolution and natural selection.  One of the discussions included information about the limitations of natural selection. Without a long term plan, there is no way that these systems that the animals have could ever have evolved. One of my favorite thoughts came from the scientist studying sea turtles. He said that he really liked being able to ask questions about intricately designed systems and then to pursue answers to those questions. It brought some new thoughts and ideas to me that I am interested pursue. Studying intelligent design in nature is a good way to learn more about God.computer animation

We quickly fell in love with the amazing cinematography found in this video. It shows the natural environment of the animals. The light, the movement, the environment that is captured in the video is stunning. I could watch it just for the cinematography.

There are also computer animations that teach us things we could never see outside of a dissection. Using computer animation, they are able to show the interior organs and functions of the muscles inside of a dolphin. They are able to show how each part works together simultaneously in order for the dolphins to use their sonar system. They show how the magnetism of the earth affects sea turtles and salmon. They show the sense of smell that salmon use to find their birth stream and the complexity of whales.

The girls and I have been thrilled with this video, though one is much more interested in sea creatures than the others. Here is what the girls have had to say about it.

sea turtle

E: Amazing! I already knew a lot about turtles and salmon and dolphins…but I still learned a lot more. The pictures were interesting. They captured a lot of neat and interesting movement. Learning about the internal workings of all the animals was really cool and interesting. Whales are my favorite ocean creature. I really liked learning about whales.

L: I liked this. There were some really amazing pictures. It was educational.

J: I didn’t like it as much. There was too much talking. I liked the pictures. They were beautiful. I like ocean sea animals.

Over and over I have heard “This is my favorite part!” I don’t know how many favorite parts the girls can have but there are a lot of them. That signals pretty awesome learning to me. Check out Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth and all the other options FishFlix.com has available.

At Home.

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FishFlix.com Review No 2Crew Disclaimer

FIAR: The Story About Ping

FIAR Story About Ping

As we are working through some new Five In A Row material, I started looking back on posts. As I did that, it hit me that there was not yet a post on Ping. So, this will catch us up.

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Kurt Wiese

Geography: We studied a map of China to learn more about the size of the country and looked up the Yangtze River on the map. We discussed the meaning of the word Yangtze (yellow) and why the river might have been named that. We used an internet search to come up with images of the river and the people that use the river. We discussed what might happen to commerce in China, or an area of China, if the river didn’t exist or changed in various ways.  We put the image disk on a world map, showing that Ping’s story took place in China.

Asia book

 

Geography: We also read the material in the book Asia: It’s Peoples and History by Bonnie Rose Hudson. This book gives a really good background to all the turmoil that China has experienced and the people that live there. This is a wonderful resource that I highly suggest getting your hands on for various studies or to do a study of Asia. The material is easily accessible for all ages and is adaptable for your needs.

Geography: We talked about the culture of China and what the girls ideas were. We then looked through the book and found examples of the culture of China, the people, their clothing, their foods, their practices, and more. We then looked at a few modern day pictures we found on the internet and compared.

Literature: Fiction is something that the girls know pretty well but we did take a few minutes to make sure that J knew the difference between fact and fiction. She gave some examples of books that are fiction and compared them to books that are fact.

Art: We used the discussions from the FIAR book to guide our art discussions. We talked about the medium used and how you could tell. Each girl had to give some examples of why she thought her answer was correct and then we talked about how the pictures were illustrated. We talked about the use of water as a repetitive element and how it pulled the whole story together. We talked about unity of the subject and how it was all put together. We also had a discussion about using the whole page and balancing your subject to show it off the way you want. The girls then created a composition that included Ping from their choice of viewpoint, as long as it showed water and used the techniques that we had discussed.

Ping drawing 3 Ping drawing Ping drawing 4 Ping drawing 2

Math: The FIAR book talks about using counting skills to count up the members of Ping’s family. We used the opportunity to talk about grouping, using counting crystals one day and counting disks another. We had the girls do different things with the numbers we could create – division for the oldest, multiplication for the middle, and adding or subtracting for the youngest. We also talked about even and odd with the different groups created. We also talked a little bit about pattern and repetition, as the family members are group in a repeating pattern.Ping buoyancy

Science: We talked about the type of animal Ping is and how you could tell. We discussed the various characteristics of birds and how Ping and his family fit all of these. We looked up what they eat, where they live in the wild, how they have young, and more.

Science: The girls learned the word buoyancy and what it means in context. They then created a science experiment. They chose several objects each and made a hypothesis about each one’s buoyancy, supporting their choice with details. They then tested their hypothesis to find out if they were correct. This one was a big hit!

Ping music

 

Music: We studied a bit about the music that is traditional for the Far East. We looked at instrument images and listened to excepts featuring those instruments. While the girls were working on their drawings, we put on a CD titled “Sakura: A Musical Celebration of the Cherry Blossoms.”

 

 

 

 

Hopefully our FIAR study of The Story About Ping will give you some ideas for your own unit with this book or ideas for how to cull interesting learning from other books that your children enjoy. At Home.

 

 

Z is for…Zoo

Z is for zoo

Can you believe that we are already at Z in our ABC Blogging? It seems to have just zipped past!

This week’s letter was an easy one – ZOO. We love our zoo and we go fairly often. Truthfully, we tend to go more in the spring and fall. So, it is the time of year that we go more regularly. We went last weekend with Kidz Club. This is what our church calls the kids that are 6th grade and younger. We had a blast! And, best of all, the kids grew closer together as a family. I love to see them growing as friends and family and this picture of E with one of her friends just makes my heart smile and sing.

Z friends

We all have our favorites at the zoo and when you have an opportunity to see or do something different, your experience is enhanced. Well, this is what happened for us during this visit. We were treated to some very special experiences.

Baby Orangutan

Z orangutan baby and momOur zoo has a fairly new baby orangutan. Batari was born May 17. When we arrived at the Asian Forest exhibit, Batari and her mother Mei had just been given their breakfast and were sitting down to open their bag to eat. The kids got a lot of enjoyment watching baby Batari climbing over Mei and up the fence, trying to get at the food. We spent quite a while just observing. KJ, Batari’s daddy, was also out in the exhibit eating his breakfast. We watched him for a bit, as well.Z orangutan eating

 

 

Mukah’s Football Picks

Z football picks

The other male orangutan at the Cameron Park Zoo has a weekly job during football season. Mukah picks the winners for the upcoming weekend. Each Saturday, he makes his choices for the next week and they are published in the local paper. We were allowed to watch Mukah and his keeper Olga working together. Olga explained to the kids that they had to be really quiet and allow her to concentrate since Mukah has the strength on 9 (yes 9!!!) professional football players. She could get hurt easily if she doesn’t pay close attention. We watched Mukah go through his picks and then Olga talked to the kids a bit about orangutans, their habitat in the wild, their abilities, and what they do at the zoo to help them. She also allowed the kids to ask questions. We learned a lot and enjoyed that experience.

Giraffe Feeding

When we got to the exhibit that the giraffes are part of, the zoo had a booth set up to allow the kids to feed the giraffes (with payment and supervision, of course). Since they were low on food and the kids have a generous youth minister, he paid for one and they let any of the kids that wanted a turn to feed the giraffes. This was a great experience for the kids and it made J’s day! She got to feed Penny! Giraffes are her favorite animals ever and she got to feed one! One of the guys helping with the feeding was talking with us and we learned a bit more about giraffes.

Z feeding giraffes L Z feeding giraffes J Z feeding giraffes E

Z feeding shore birdsFeeding Shore Birds

 

Another really neat thing that the girls and other kids from church got to do at the zoo was to feed the shore birds. The zoo had cups of fish available to purchase to feed the seagulls, pelicans, and other shore birds. The fish were a few inches long and dead but they still smelled! The girls had fun tossing the fish to the birds and watching the pelicans scoop them out of the water with their beaks.

 

 

 

Z whistling duckPetting A Whistling Duck

When we were about to leave the area where the shore birds were, a keeper came up with a duck on her arm. Yep, really. On her arm. And the duck was whistling. That is seriously what the duck sounded like! It was a beautiful brown color and it was just whistling away. She allowed the kids to pet it and talked about its habitat a bit. The girls thought petting the whistling duck was neat.

 

 

 

 

These were the unique experiences that the girls don’t have every time. But there is one thing that we just cannot visit the zoo without doing:

Z otter slideThe Otter Slide!

The otter slide is a clear slide that the kids can go down. It goes through the water of the river otter exhibit. If the otters are in a playful mood, and they were Saturday, then they will swim over and around the slide while the kids are sliding down. It is always a lot of fun but we have to limit how long we stay or the giggly girls will stay there sliding all day long!

 

 

 

As always, we had lots of fun at the zoo. We’ll visit again soon and see what else we can learn about the animals that we come in contact with there. At Home.

This post is linking up with ABC Blogging hosted by Benandme.com.

Ben and Me

Talking about Mammoths, part 2

mammoths part 2

We did a few things relating to the mammoths this week. (See the post on our field trip.) But, I was not in a terribly creative mood, I guess, because I had some real trouble thinking up some ideas. So, after we had used the files from the Waco Mammoth Site, I went with a bit broader category: fossils.

The Waco Mammoth Site has a lot of educational printables for various age groups. I went through and picked out a few for each of the girls that I felt would appropriately challenge or review materials. Here are the ones the girls did.

mammoth L mammoths E mammoths J

 

On E and L’s scientific name worksheet, it had them create their own animal using scientific names and draw it. After they had done that, I had them brainstorm ideas about what happened to their animal and more specific details about their animal. They had to come up with a lot of words about their animals. Once we had a white board full, each girl was asked to create a story or a poem or a written account of their animal. I don’t have copies of those finished products but the girls enjoyed that writing assignment.

On another day, we explored fossils. We got down all of the fossils that we have tucked away. E and L got down on the floor (so that dropped fossils would be less likely to break and the floor would be less likely to be damaged) and touched, examined, talked about, felt, and explored the fossils we have. We have various real fossils and then we have a few that were made by pressing a shell or other natural object into plaster of paris or air dry clay. The girls spent probably 45 minutes discussing and talking about all of the fossils.

mammoths shark teeth mammoths fossils

After their chatter began dying down, I handed them a worksheet I had created and asked them to each choose one fossil to complete the worksheet on. This included a measuring activity in both inches and centimeters. There was a box to describe, factually, what the fossil was like. They were encouraged to describe it with as many of their senses as they could, as well as anything specific they could observe about it. There was place for them to draw their fossil. One box had them describing where their fossil might have been found. And a final box had them describing what the fossil might be from and why. They were also asked to color-code their page: blue for facts and yellow for opinion/theory/hypothesis.

mammoths fossil sheet

It surprised me that the girls were excited to complete these. E actually asked to complete two of these, so I let her. They also choose to sit down together and share their findings.

mammoths sharing

After these were completed, we got out our posters on poetry styles. We reviewed poetry styles, including limericks, lyrical poems, cinquain, and more. They each chose one style of poetry to use and wrote a poem about their fossil. L’s favorite style is always lyrical; she loves rhymes and descriptive phrases and long, flowy sentences. E’s favorite style is almost always cinquain. Here is their poetry.

mammoths E poems mammoths L poem
I am linking below to the information page the girls filled out. You are welcome to use this and share it but please link back to this post when you are sharing it.

Fossil worksheet

Our mammoth and fossil study has been fun. I have a couple of other ideas that I would like to do but we’ll see if they happen or not! Please share with me if you study mammoths or fossils or something related. I’d love to know what you do. At Home.

 

T is for…Talking about Mammoths

T Talking About Mammoths

What do you know about mammoths? Recently, we visited the Waco Mammoth Site to talk about mammoths. The Waco Mammoth Site is an important paleontological site because it is the first and only site to have fossils of a nursery herd.

What is a nursery herd, you ask? If you have ever seen elephants defend the young, you will recall that the females adults of the herd tend to circle around the young elephants to protect them. When the dig began at the Waco site, they found a circle of adult female mammoths surrounding a group of young mammoths. The first ever nursery herd discovered.

T girls and Quincy T thigh bones

The mammoths at the Waco Mammoth Site are Columbian mammoths. They are much larger than the wooly mammoth, which is what we often think of when discussing mammoths. The Columbian mammoth bull that is being excavated, fondly known as Quincy, is estimated to be over 14 feet tall and weigh more than 20,000 pounds. The tooth of a Columbian mammoth is as big as shoe box for an adult’s shoe. The Columbian mammoth is believed to have six sets of teeth which get progressively bigger as the mammoth aged. The set of teeth in the mammoth’s mouth when it died is one of the ways that scientists can help guess the age of the animal. The Columbian mammoth’s tusks are a type of tooth, could grow up to 16 feet in length, and weigh up to 200 pounds each.

T pathway

The Waco Mammoth Site dates to the Ice Age. We don’t know exact dates for that since we believe what the Bible says about creation. This provides some difficulty when discussing the actual dates with the girls, especially when trying to be tactful during a tour. So, the exact date is unknown as far as we are concerned. We did, however, learn a lot about the Ice Age in Texas. Guess what? Many scientists actually believe we are in an Ice Age now! When you think about the Ice Age, you probably think of the same kinds of things that I do: glaciers, snow fall, packed snow, lots of wooly animals, etc.
T picture outside visitor center

 

 

 

Well, the Ice Age in Texas looked nothing like that! It looked much like it does today, without all the trees. (I know – you guys from true T T picture outside visitor centerpicture outside visitor centerforested lands – quit T picture outside visitor centerlaughing!) Really, though, Texas was believed to be a savannah and, during the Ice Age, to have high temperatures that were somewhere around 80-90 degrees. That makes these hundred degree temperatures seem even hotter if 90 was an Ice Age! This area that was a savannah was home to rabbits, white-tailed deer, birds, and more of what we see around here today. With a couple of big exceptions. And I do mean big! Giant sloths, which stood 20 feet tall when on their hind legs, lived in this area. Saber-toothed cats (we found out they don’t call them tigers anymore since they have determined they are not related to tigers in any way) lived and hunted here. And, of course, the Columbian mammoth lived here.

The dig site is terribly interesting and we were blessed to have Dava be our guide. She is the education coordinator for the Waco Mammoth Site so the girls got a wonderful, educational tour with lots of information. She asked plenty of thinking questions that the girls were anxious to answer and she allowed them to ask any questions they had. She encouraged them to continue to study and learn, which I always appreciate.

T QuincyA visit to the site will show you all that they are uncovering, though they are not digging currently. There is not a lab on site and the bones are extremely fragile and cannot be moved, even down the road to Baylor University, without extreme damage occurring. So, when you visit the dig shelter, you see all that they have uncovered to date. Dava talked to us about the animals that are currently exposed, including a couple of female mammoths, a bull mammoth, a juvenile mammoth, leg bones from yet another mammoth, a camel (yep you read that right – they believe that camels traveled with the matriarchal herds for protection), the tooth of a saber-tooth kitten, and a couple of bones from an unknown animal. These are in additional to the 20 or so other animals that have been excavated. It truly is an interesting site.

T fossils T female mammoth T camelT saber-tooth kitten tooth

Discovered in 1978, this site has been full of information for the scientific community. After a fund-raising campaign and building period, the site was turned into a municipal park and opened to the public in 2009. It is a wonderful experience and I highly recommend this field trip if you are in the Waco, TX, area or will be traveling through sometime.

T field journal

Join us later this week for part 2 of T is for…Talking about Mammoths. (Here is the link to Part 2.) I’ll share with you some of the worksheets and activities the girls have done with a mammoth theme, many of which are found on the Waco Mammoth Site’s web page under the education tab. At Home.

 

Linking up with Benandme.com for ABC Blogging.

Ben and Me

S is for…Searching for Sauropods

S Searching for Sauropods

Ever go searching for a sauropod? We hadn’t either and felt that it was about time to do so. In order to accomplish this, we took a day trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park. It is about an hour and a half drive away. I can’t believe we hadn’t gone before. It was so much fun and I think we all learned a lot.

S dinosaur tracks from Dinosaur Valley

S tripod track

 

At Dinosaur Valley, we found trackways and prints from theropods (three toed dinosaurs, thought to be carnivorous) and sauropods (very large, plant eating dinosaurs). It is believed that the theropods were probably Acrocanthosaurus, a smaller relative of Tyrannosaurus rex. This dinosaur probably ran on two legs and was 20 to 30 feet long. The tracks from Acrocanthosaurus ranged rom 12 to 24 inches long and 9 to 17 inches wide. J’s whole foot fits down inside of these tracks. These tracks were first found in 1909, a year after the river flooded, probably exposing these tracks.

 

 

 

S dino tracksThe sauropod tracks are probably from a dinosaur species, Paluxysaurus jonesi, that was named in 2007, after a find in Hood County in 1996. Hood County is upriver from Dinosaur Valley and they believe that the sauropod tracks were made by the Paluxysaurus jonesi because the bones seem to fit the tracks. This dinosaur is believe to have been about 20 tons, standing 60 to 70 feet long and 6 feet wide at the shoulder. It had a 26 foot long neck! This species was named the official dinosaur of Texas in 2009. These tracks were so large that sometimes you wondered if you were looking at a track or just a large hole.

 

 

S checking out the ledge

S track

 

We climbed up and down the river bed, searching for tracks. We found out that the river was fairly low and a number of tracks were exposed that might not have been at other times. It was hot but what would you expect at the beginning of September in central Texas? In the shade and down by the river, it wasn’t too bad. We learned about the history of this site – from the native tribes that used this area to the current use as a state park and historical site.

 

S prints in water

 

We got there around 10:30 and paid the entrance fee (only $7 per adult, no charge for the girls). We hiked for about an hour, studying various tracks in the river bed. Then we sat under the shade and ate a picnic lunch, which you should definitely take with you since the park is a couple of miles from town. After lunch and a lot of water, we hiked for about 2 more hours, seeing a lot of tracks and having fun.

 

 

S studying the riverWe found ourselves in the riverbed, the girls jumping from rock to rock, playing with the minnows and exclaiming every time a they saw another dinosaur print. When we were ready to go, we had to work to find the trail and then it ended up going up and heading back the way we came. So, we decided to be adventurous and go rock climbing. We found a ledge that wasn’t too far from the top and just took turns scrambling up it and helping the girls up. It was fun to hear them exclaim their surprise when they stood at the top and looked straight down the side of the canyon we had just come up.

S scrambling up

 

I definitely recommend a trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. I would like to go back when it is a bit cooler and spend more time on some of the longer trails, maybe taking the binoculars with me so I can search for some of the birds that have been spotted there. It was fun going searching for sauropods and theropods. At Home.

 

Linking up with ABC Blogging at Benandme.com.

Ben and Me

 

N is for Night Heron

N is for Night Heron

Last month, we studied a book about bird watching. (Find our Poppins Book Nook post here.) It was an amazing little book and I had no idea that it would spark a whole new hobby around here. I have enjoyed watching the birds out our back window, even now that it is so hot first thing in the morning that I don’t want to go outside and sit on the patio. The bigger surprise, though, is that E enjoys watching the birds as much as I do.

We now keep the binoculars and the field guide on the kitchen table. They get picked up grabbed several times a day. We are often seeing something new. And, that is what I want to share with you today.

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

N night heron adult

This bird is new. To us. But not to God. We had to look around quite a bit to find information on this bird. Luckily for us, a gentleman from church is a nature guy and was able to identify this fella for us. We have had so much fun watching this yellow-crowned night heron. But guess what is even more fun? Seeing the second and the third yellow-crowned night herons. They have the same stance, walk, feathers. Also, they all have this uncanny ability to stand amazingly rigid and stiff for-ev-er. Not kidding! I can watch the guy, walk away, and come back 10 minutes later (or even an hour later) and the bird has not moved.

These are the two that we see almost daily out our back windows. One has the obvious markings. After some research, we have decided that the other is a juvenile who hasn’t gotten its markings yet.

N two night herons

This one was spotted at the wetlands on our visit there last Friday. (Check out that post for more pictures from the wetlands.)

N heron at wetlands

Yellow-crowned night herons are considered swamp birds, though we don’t really live anywhere near a swap. The property we see them on behind us does have a pond, though, so that must be what they are attracted to. They are supposed to be nocturnal. I say supposed to because we have been seeing them during the day for the past week or so. We had just been seeing them early in the morning and late at night but that has changed as the temperatures have risen in the last week. The adults have the cream or yellow head stripe and cheek stripe. Juveniles do not have that. Also, the juvenile plumes are mostly grey with white spots and white tips. One of the identifying field marks of a yellow-crowned night heron is the red or orange eye. These clearly have that! These birds stalk insects and it is lots of fun to watch them.

N front view juvenile N back view of juvenile

For more information on yellow-crowned night herons, check out All About Birds and NatureWorks.

I have had lots of folks comment on the pictures I have shared of these birds privately so I figured it was time to share some of them publicly. They are evidently unusual to this area and they are really interesting to watch. At Home.

 

Linking up with ABC Blogging over on the Ben and Me blog.

Ben and Me
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