Hunting for Salamdanders

On Friday a few of us went up to Sugarlands visitor center in the Smokies for our final salamander event with this book. What a fun week we had!

It is so beautiful up in the mountains…I’m so thankful we live close enough to enjoy days like these. I should take advantage of our location more often!

Daddy was the first to catch a salamander! Yipee! We brought along our big ziplock bags and put a little bit of water in, just like the park rangers taught us to do. We each took a few looks at the slimy things and then released them to their homes. The kids had a lot of fun! (Well most of them, not mentioning any names, lol!)

David Christopher and Atalie were also good salamander catchers! Both of them just got right in the creek and picked those things up! More brave than me! Uncle Peter caught one also…so we had quite a successful day of salamander catching!

Then we went back across the street to the visitor center museum and looked at the animals again.

And finally, Holly knew of a wonderful spot along a creekbank with picnic tables to have lunch! The kids really enjoyed this creek! We all got our feet wet and the cold water felt so good!

Oh – and here are our finished salamanders we painted! (From the day we made them with Will out of clay!) The girls wanted spotted salamanders…LOTS of spots! And mine is in the middle with stripes.

More Salamander Fun

Here are some more pictures of our fun week with The Salamander Room! A huge THANK YOU to the Lamberts and FIAR for choosing such WONDERFUL books for us to enjoy! And another big THANKS to Homeschool Share Site where I got nearly all of my printables and “extras” for this book. These really helped give my crafty girls some extra fun this week! Not to mention all they learned from these pages!

~ A Nice House for a Salamander ~

inside this book we listed all the things that Brian put in his room for the salamander.

~ We learned that TN is the salamander capital of the world! ~

~ We hung our story disk for The Salamander Room on TN and found it on the map. ~

~ We learned about the different stages that a salamander grows in with this little flap book. ~

~ Here are the pages open. ~

~ A tab book about vertebrates – with pictures of the different types of animals that have backbones. ~

~ The first page of the tab book. ~

Today we made salamanders out of clay with Aunt Valerie and Will. We gave them each a ball of clay and sorta talked them through it…rolling it out to make the body, giving him 4 legs, giving him a long tail, beady eyes…they loved doing this! They are baking to get hard and then tomorrow we will paint them!

Then we can add our homemade salamanders to our own salamander ROOMS we made! We went outside and hunted for leaves, rocks, branches, flowers, anything to put in the boxes we had to make our own salamander rooms. We talked about the things that Brian put in his room for his salamander and tried to find some of those same things. We also added some plastic insects that I found at the thrift store! Tomorrow we will add our painted salamanders!

~ Finding leaves for our salamander rooms ~

~ The girls and our salamander room ~

Salamander Coloring page

Also, If you log into www.learningpage.com and click on “reptiles and amphibians” you will find a fact sheet to read and color about the spotted salamander. There are lots of other amphibian pages on this site as well!

I have checked out several of Jim Arnosky’s books for this week. I just recently have learned about his books and just LOVE them! If you look under him for the author, there should be a lot of excellent books that come up. We read Crinkleroot’s Guide to Walking in Wild Places and this was a PERFECT follow-up to our nature hike at Panther Creek! We also read Crinkleroot’s Guide to Butterflies and Moths this week, as well as All About Frogs and several others.

Nature scavenger hunt

One of the lessons in the FIAR manual for the Salamander Room is to go on a scavenger hunt to find different things in nature. I had this planned for next week at some point, but late this afternoon David and I decided it might be fun to do this as a family! So off we went to Panther Creek State Park! I had typed up a list of items we were going to search for and let the girls check off the items as we found them. I also took pictures of most of the things we found.

The most exciting things we saw were a deer family and several beaver dams! The deer family was just far enough away that we couldn’t get good pictures, but we believe it might have been a mommy and daddy (or 2 females even possibly) but the exciting thing is that there were 2 babies with them!! We walked along the path as quietly as possible trying to get better glimpses of them! This was very exciting for all of us! Thank you, God, for little surprise blessings like seeing deer in the woods!

The creek ran along most of our walk and we noticed several dams built up that we showed the girls, there is a picture of us crossing one of them.

We also saw several butterflies, lots of leaves, moss, rocks, several spider webs, wild flowers, as well as other insects. Towards the end of our walk we found a dead cicada on the path, so we scooped it up and came home and looked at it under a magnifying glass. Cool! We saw several things that we wanted to find out as well…I’m learning new things as well! I love it!

Our bird watching center

I’ve been talking about it and finally got it done! We have an official “bird watching” window now! I color copied 6 of the birds we see most often at our bird feeders and made a chart out of them. The girls are going to mark the chart each time they see one of the birds. I think this will help them be able to identify the birds we see, learn their names and see which birds come the most often, least often to our home. After we have learned these 6 I may put some others up.

We also have a basket with our nature journals, a bird guide and colored pencils sitting by the window where the bird feeders are. This basket has been there for about a week and the girls are enjoying drawing birds more and more! The first few times we drew in our nature journals (months ago) they would say “I can’t do it, I can’t draw that…” and now they are EAGER and ASK to draw things in their nature journals all the time, without any prodding from me! I love it!

Here are a few pictures of our bird watching window, as well as a few drawings that Hannah has done this week!

The handiwork of God

…at its BEST! (and nature journaling at its best too!) We live just down the street from my BIL and SIL and their 3 boys…and a new little family has just recently moved in to a flower bush in their yard! A family of birds! The mommy bird gave her birth announcement just days ago and her babies are GORGEOUS! After seeing God’s creation up close and personal like this, I am just more in awe of the job He gave me as a MOTHER. This momma bird is just as protective and “hovering” as I am! And it has been so sweet to watch! The babies are so tiny and precious…with their little mouths just open and waiting and TRUSTING that their mama is coming back with food for them!

Now, my BIL Peter got some much better shots than I did, so please check out Val’s blog, link to the left. But, since I took my kiddos down there to “observe” for awhile, I had to share our pictures here…as well as the one that Hannah drew. I just love her little drawings, and this one is no different! I think I’ll cherish them always.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1

Look closely and here is the nest…see how long it is?

Do you see the tiny little heads and eyes? Amazing!

Look at that mouth open and ready!

Hannah’s nature journal