Monday, February 16, 2009

Koala Heroes, Book Heaven, Sssnakes


1. PERSON: David Tree, Koala-rescuing, volunteer firefighter hero. Did you hear about this? Ohmygosh. I love this man. love Sam the Koala. Love the story.

2. PLACE: Teacher's Supply of Long Beach. I popped in early last week to buy a gift and was sad to hear that they were preparing for a final going out of business sale :( SO SAD! Not only is this a great shop for teachers, parents, and kids, it's the perfect shop for ME (it's superclose to home!) I went back in this weekend for the huge 50% off book sale, and walked away with armfuls. They won't tell the public how much longer they'll be open, but I'm guessing they'll probably still be open through the Chocolate Festival this weekend. So if you're coming down for that, you'll want to swing by. Though most of the store is already picked clean of toys & games, there's still lots of teacher stuff (bulletin board cutouts, borders, posters, etc.) These items are 75% off (!), so... I'm taking this as a sad economic commentary. In fact, the owners say part of the reason they're closing is that teachers just can't afford to buy those little special extra things for their classrooms anymore...

AH! SO SAD! Now that I've depressed you... here's the goodish-for-you news:

The children's book section was still pretty plentiful as of yesterday (don't get me started on what kind of commentary that is... that moms in the neighborhood bought out all the toys & games but the book department was left nearly untouched... oh... let's just not even start down that commentary road...)

Anyways, I was lucky enough to find some of my favorite childhood books, tons of sciencey/naturey classics, and also some titles that I'd never heard of before. My three favorite finds:

What Do You Do When Something Wants To Eat You? by Steve Jenkins. What a great title! This is another wonderful, yucky-type book, about all the fascinating adaptations specifically designed to outwit predatory animals. Kids love hearing about predators, so I can't wait to make use of this one...

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Judi Barrett. We already have this book in the Nature Center classroom, and it's one of my all-time favorites to read to the kids. It's a great, simple way to introduce the general concept of adaptation, and it's also great for discussing animal "body coverings" (skin, scales, feathers, etc.) Each page of this book has an illustration of a different animal wearing clothes, looking fantastically ridiculous. Besides being silly, it also highlights the important uniqueness of each creature (for instance, a porcupine wears a shirt all torn up with holes due to her quills, a giraffe wears seven neckties because he has such a long neck, and a snake slithers pointlessly out of a pair of pants.)

The Stupids Die, by Harry Allard & James Marshall. I won't be using this in class, but I had to buy it anyway! My Dad and I must have read this book a gazillion times when I was little. A family experiences a power outage... and when everything goes dark... they think they've all... died. Call me morbid, but...that's funny.

3. THING: SSSSSnake Scarves! Bundling up has never been more fun! These handmade, etsy toddler-sized scarves (designed by Frogdancer), are a multipurpose genius invention... play with your scarf first... then wear it... then maybe lend it to your pesky brother and imagine he's being constricted (neeheehee...)

Fun snake discussion topics: how do snakes move without legs? how do snakes sound? eat? hide?...why do they stick their tongues out all the time?...

Funnest-Ever Snake Exploration Activity: Observe Snake Sheds. Obtain some old snake skin (call your local reptile society for contacts. Not to creep you out, but most reptile enthusiasts have bags & bags of it... don't ask me why, they just do...) Investigate one in-tact shed closely with a magnifying glass.

Notice the patterns, colors. How do these things help the snake? Can you tell where the head was, and where the tail was? How does the snake skin feel?

I follow up with some snakey art, letting the kids squish out modelmagic clay snakes, and then decorate them with markers, paper scraps, buttons, seeds, beans, rice, and (best part!) little snake shed bits.

*Reminder: Always be sure to wash your hands after handling animal-oriented objects, most especially reptile-related stuff.

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