Monday, April 26, 2010

I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today! Verse One

I’m back in Montreal after spending 10 days in Winnipeg working on my new Children's CD: 
I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today! The recording is the first phase of a larger project; the second stage will be to create an accompanying book focused on many of the fascinating backyard critters waiting to be discovered.  The key is curiosity!
I spent hours, as a child, watching tadpoles in ponds, waiting for dormice in corn fields, gazing at scurrying clouds through sun dappled leaves and tending to my dearest friends, an injured crow and a friendly pigeon.  The song, Butterflies Kissing illustrates the diversity of species that can be found simply by stepping outside our homes and schools!  
So, for the next few weeks I am going to go through the verses of my song, “I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today!” and explore the species mentioned in each verse!  In this way, I aim to provide you with some ideas for introducing your children or students to the biodiversity that surrounds us.  
                                               Verse One  
I saw me a frog, as green as a tree,
A little yellow bird and a bumblebee;
A damselfly, bright electric blue,
And a ladybug landed on my shoe!

 Lesson Plans
1.  Discover any green tree frogs in your neighborhood.  American Green Tree Frogs  like the one in the picture, are one of the most endearing amphibians!  Found in many backyards across the southern United States, their green color helps them to hide successfully in foliage.  Other species of green tree frog include those in Australia, and the Pacific Northwest - here is a Video of one croaking!  Cuban Tree Frogs are considered an Invasive Species in Florida and they are thought to hitchhike in on ornamental plants.
2.   Yellow Warblers are one of my favorite birds!  They have a wide range across North America and down into northern South America and have even been seen in the Galapagos Islands  Look at the Range map to see where they live or migrate through, relative to your home.  In the UK you might see a little yellow bird called the Yellow Hammer; yellowhammer also live in New Zealand.  Make your lesson a voyage of discovery!  Follow the little yellow bird around the world, beginning in your own backyard!  Write a story about the bird's migration adventures, the places it sees, the food it eats, the other species it encounters.
3.  Bumblebees, like honeybees are crucial for the pollination of many plants species upon which we depend for food.  These bees lived in the wild for centuries before humans began to Domesticate them due to the fact that their tongues are longer than honeybees therefore enabling them to pollinate a greater variety of flowers.  Introduce younger children to bumblebees through Crafts, Stories and Activities and take them outside to a garden so that they can watch them.  Be sure to explain that bees, unlike wasps, will die if they use their sting, therefore they are not looking to sting anyone! Here is a Lesson Plan for older Kids.
4. Watching blue-tailed damselflies down by the lake in the summer is just magical!  Their turquoise blue and black coloration is exquisite!  Introduce children to the Lifecycle of the Damselfly  What are some of the Differences between dragonflies and damselflies?  Take the kids outside to see if you can find some; they like to hang out close to water or where there are lots of flowers.  The Lifecycles of frogs, dragonflies and butterflies are similar; here is a Lesson Plan for K-2 students.
5.  Most people like Ladybugs  and with good reason, because they are Beneficial insects; this means that they feed on other insects that are considered pests such as aphids.  Ladybugs are actually beetles, and are common in most habitats.  Ladybug Larvae are also predators, and while they may look dangerous, they are quite harmless to humans. If you have a garden at your school or home, you can order  Live Ladybugs and release them there.  Here are some ideas for Lesson Plans that might be helpful to you and here are some Cool LadyBug Facts to share.

All of the above species play an important role in maintaining the diversity of ecosystems.  Warblers help to disperse plants because they ingest seeds which are released through their feces as they fly about.  Ladybugs help to prevent infestations of insects that are harmful to crops and fruits.  Damselflies and dragonflies eat large quantities of insects and are in turn predated upon by a variety of species including fish and frogs.  Bees are important pollinators and play a significant role in pollinating many of the plants, which provide us with food.  Create a wall chart for each verse of the song using pictures linked together by their connections.

Song - I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today!  Here is A LadyBug Song for young kids!

Stories - Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar is great for younger children. For older children here are some Dragonfly Legends  And then there is the story of King Solomon and the Bee

Enjoy your week exploring nature in the backyard!  
In gratitude for life and this Earth!

The Movie Dirt is coming out soon.  It illustrates who soil is so important to us all.
The Girl and the Robin is a true story I came across this week that is very touching.

Photo of Yellow Warbler by Mdf – Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Bumblebee by Dodudah – Wikimedia
Photo of Common Bluetail Damselfly by Laitche  
Photo of Ladybug by Alvesgaspar
Photo of Butterflies Kissing by StevenMiller

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