Monday, November 9, 2009

Punk the Skunk!

Nobody relishes the idea of being sprayed by a skunk, and if you own a dog punks are certainly on your list of things to be avoided, alongside porcupines!  (I used to live in the country with two dogs!)

Skunks often inhabit urban centers and are therefore one of the species that is cool for kids to study, since they might actually get to see one! When it comes to teaching young kids, K-5, I am a huge proponent of learning about our backyards, about what lives close to us, or what is happening in our neighborhood.  I learned a lot from David Sobel’s book Beyond Ecophobia.  Sobel cautions us to not overwhelm children with environmental facts from around the globe, but rather to focus on that which is nearby.

When I wrote the song Punk the Skunk, I had just seen a skunk wandering up the road near my house.  I quietly watch him as he shuffled away, and I thought about what it must be like to be avoided by everyone!  Skunk offers an opportunity to discuss a few things with kids:
1.     Why do creatures have protective mechanisms?
2.     What other species have similar types of protective mechanisms?
3.     What it would feel like, as a human, if no one wanted to talk to you, or if you are being bullied?
Striped skunks are omnivores, and their diet really depends on where they are living.  In the summer they eat mostly insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, wasps and beetles; they also eat spiders, toads, frogs, lizards, snakes, mice and even chipmunks!

A skunk’s spray comes from a pair of large scent glands, with small ducts, located on either side of the rectum.  They discharge their musky spray with a strong contraction from their hips!  They can shoot that spray for up to twelve feet, so don’t get too close to a skunk!!  However they would rather avoid using their spray and only use it at a last resort!
Interconnections! Skunks eat all kinds of grubs and small rodents that can be harmful to crops, so they are often welcomed by farmers into their fields!
There is some good information on skunks at Project Wild:
Here is a legend about skunk from the Indian Reading Series.

I have up-loaded the Punk the Skunk song to my Myspace page.
By the way, please let me know if there is a particular song from a Blog Post that you want to hear – I can only put ten songs up on Myspace at a time, so I have to take some down in order to make room for others, as I Blog about different things!

I would also welcome any news of projects that you might do inspired by this Blog or the songs and stories!

Be well,
Have fun,
With gratitude for this life,

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