Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today! Verse 2

Just when we thought spring had sprung, an April snowstorm literally knocked the leaves from the trees here in Montreal!  Thankfully the snow didn’t stick around, though it did pull down quite a few branches and dampen the joyful glee of many a tulip and daffodil!  

To further diminish our spirits, the oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is heading for shore portending devastation and misery for so many species and people, who must surely be feeling Solastalgia. Thankfully the Obama Administration has now abandoned their intention for future drilling in those waters.  Wake-up calls can be painful, but if heeded can prevent further damage and save lives.

Today is glorious,  the sun gradually warming the Earth in this northern place; each day bringing a veritable flurry of activity outside my window as birds begin to build nests and insects venture out from winter hideaways.  The gardens and parks are filled with activity, there’s plenty for a curious young mind to discover!   Continuing on from last week I’m exploring the creatures featured in my song “I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today!” aiming to show how one song can provide a wealth of lesson ideas!
                                                 Verse 2
I saw me a spider, yellow and black,
A column of ants and a Whisky Jack!
Hummingbird with a ruby throat
A little brown rabbit with the softest coat!

Lesson Ideas:
1.  Black and Yellow Garden Spider Argiope aurantia!  Many people are scared of spiders (myself included), and yet most spiders are harmless even if they look intimidating.  Introducing children to the ecology of spiders early on can help to mitigate these fears and instead spark an interest in arachnids.  Spider’s Silk, for example, is one of the strongest materials in the world, relative to its weight; spiders can lay between 2 and 1000 eggs, depending on the species and some spiders weave new webs every night!  Learn about the species of spider that live in your neighborhood.  Are there any poisonous ones?  If so, make sure the children can recognize them.  Here are some more Ideas for creating a lesson plan on spiders. 

2.  Ants! Here is a previous  Blog Post that I wrote about Ants, which has Lesson Plan ideas and stories. 
3. Whiskey Jack also known as the Canada Jay or Grey Jay is resident from Alaska east across Canada in Boreal forests; and in the western mountains own to New Mexico and Arizona.   These birds are omnivores that feed on meat, insects, fruits and seeds; they have a reputation as rascals and camp robbers, frequenting campsites and stealing any food they can find!  The name Whiskey Jack is derived from the word Wesakechak used in the Algonquin family of Aboriginal languages of eastern Canada to describe a mischevious, trickster character who liked to play tricks on people. Introduce Kids to this hardy bird that survives well in its northern environment.  Has anyone ever seen one?  What other birds manage to survive through cold winters?  How do birds survive such cold temperatures?

4.  Ruby-throated Hummingbird One of the most fascinating birds to learn about; from their amazing flight abilities to the thousands of kilometers they travel during migration, these tiny power houses are a great species to study with kids.  Use the journey of the hummingbird as a geography lesson; where do they migrate to and how long does it take them to get there?  Invite young children to draw pictures of the hummingbird; what do they eat?   What does a hummingbird nest look like, and what materials do they use to make these tiny constructions.  Why do hummingbirds play an important role in pollination? Finally, hummingbirds have one rather unusual enemy, an insect that can prove to be a deadly opponent, Preying Mantis
5. Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae, of the order Lagomorpha (which includes hares); the most common rabbits are the European and Cottontail rabbit which have spread out across the world.  Are there any rabbits in your neighborhood?  Have the children seen them?  Maybe some kids have pet rabbits!  Rabbits have been around for a long time and fossil remains have been found in Mongolia  that date back 55 million years!   Learn about rabbits and how they affect the communities in which they live.  With older kids you can really study the toll that they have had in countries like Australia.

Nature is a delicate balance and when there is imbalance, trouble arrives.  The example of rabbits in Australia serves as a reminder that when humans introduce species, there can be grave consequences.  Spiders and ants might not be the most attractive insects and yet they are vital to their ecological community.  Many biologists believe that some plants have evolved the shape of their flowers to attract hummingbird, evolving the color and shape of their flowers to be more attractive to them.  All things are connected and no species can prosper in isolation, not even human beings.

The Story of Arachne Arachne  and of course, How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun
Songs:  I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today!  The Ants Song,  Grandmother Spider are uploaded to my MySpace page.  The Chickadee Blues is there too - a fun song about a bird that survives cold northern winters!

If you enjoy my songs and would like to help support my new CD you can help by pledging $10 to get your copy on Kickstarter!  Have a wonderful week exploring the wonders of the backyard!
In gratitude for Life, and this beautiful Earth!

Bird in Tree by Carolyn Herriot
Spider by Patrick Edwin Moran – Wikimedia
Whisky Jack by Mdf – Wikimdeia
Hummingbird by Michelle Lynn Reynolds – Wikimedia
Rabbit by US Fish & Wildlife Service

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