Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sizzling Summer Solstice!

In the Northern Hemisphere, summer begins on June 21, 2011.

This first day of summer is called Summer Solstice.

Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning "sun" + "to stand still." As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky.
As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in 
the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their 
longest summer day in December.


It is hard to believe that our year together is over!

Our last day of school was June 16th.

We ended with a Country Concert on the Green...

and a great class party!


Many of us have reflected about the year by visiting our very first post

Welcome to Third Grade in Room 9!

Let's keep the conversation going this summer!

What did you enjoy most about third grade?

What travels and activities are you enjoying
and participating in this summer?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14 is Flag Day!

Today is the day we honor the America flag. Mrs. Ranney's class joined Mrs. Yollis', and together they learned how to formally fold our nation's Star Spangled Banner!

First, hold the flag parallel to the floor.

Fold the flag in half and then half again. Make sure the stars face up.

Starting at the striped end, begin folding a triangle.

Continue folding the triangles...

...until all you have left is one star spangled triangle.

Tuck in the end, and you have folded the American flag in a respectful manner.

Last Fourth of July, Mrs. Yollis and her family retired three American flags. Click here to watch the ceremony. 

Please share some facts you learned about the flag.

Use World Book Online to add new information.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wonderful, Wild, and Amazing Animals - Our Final Experience!

 Today was our last visit with Beverly from Wildlife Experience!

 They are a non-profit wildlife education organization that brings native and exotic animals to schools and teaches children about the importance of our natural world.

Today, Beverly taught us about canine mammals, called foxes.
The kit fox is the smallest in California

The fennec fox from Asia and Africa is the smallest in the world!

Since Wildlife Experience does not have a kit fox, Beverly brought a fennec fox!

Meet Moose, the fennec fox!

When three-year-old Moose arrived, he was very noisy and had to be taken out of his crate right away.

Beverly had to hold him up on her shoulder, so that he would not feel intimidated by all of us!

Do you see his big ears? They not only help Moose hear insects and other prey, they also
help him cool off in the heat of the desert, his natural habitat.
Do you know how his ears keep him cool?

Look at Moose's beautiful creamy-colored coat! 
A fennec fox's fur color camouflages with the desert sand.

Speaking of the desert.....

Meet Mojave, the California desert tortoise!

The California desert tortoise is an endangered species.
Mojave, a reptile, is 9 years old and will triple in size by the time she is full grown!
Beverly allowed each of us to gently touch the top part of Mojave's shell, called the carapace. It is actually part of her back bone!

A tortoise is a land animal and has a short tail, as you can see! That way it can be tucked into its shell for protection. Turtles that live in water have long tails to help them swim.

Tortoises, like Mojave, are herbivores, but other turtles are omnivores.

Here you can see the underside of Mojave's shell, called the plastron. Notice the part of the plastron that is right below Mojave's head. Beverly told us that on a male tortoise, that part of the plastron is much larger. Do you remember what the male's use it for?

What did you enjoy learning during today's Wildlife Experience?
Do you have any additional facts to share about the fennec fox and California desert tortoise?
Read more about these two animals on World Book Web

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wonderful, Wild, and Amazing Animals - Days 3

 We were so fortunate to have Beverly from Wildlife Experience 
 visited our class for a third time
with animals that are native to North America!

 They are a non-profit wildlife education organization that brings native and exotic animals to schools and teaches children about the importance of our natural world.

We started today's lesson examining animal tracks!
Check out these tracks and guess what animals left them! At the bottom of the post, you will find the answers!

First, we looked at the tracks of a nocturnal animal that climbs trees. It is the only marsupial native to North America. Can you guess what animal left these tracks?

Second, we studied the tracks of another nocturnal tree-climber trees that often washes its food!
That's a good thing because sometimes it will even eat trash! Do you know who left these tracks?

Third, Ms. C. showed us the tracks of still another nocturnal animal. She said that it is one we rarely see it, but we usually know when it's been around!
Can you guess what animal left these "sweet" tracks?

The fourth animal's track were either from the dog family or the cat family. Ms. C explained that a dog's claws are always out, so they would leave a mark on the ground. She told us that a cat's claws are retractable claws and are not out when they walk. This means they would not leave a mark.
Are these tracks from cat or dog famly?
This animal is found in the Santa Monica mountains, is endangered, and mostly comes out at night.
What animal is it?

Lastly, we checked out these special tracks! The mammal that left them is found in and near mountains, is very large, sports antlers if it's a male, and has extra fur around its neck!
Do you know what it is?

(Remember: see the bottom of this post for the animals that left all five sets of footprints!)


We again had live visitors to our classroom!

Meet Punk, the Skunk!

Punk is a striped skunk. Skunks are mammals with a special "scented" adaptation!
Punk, however, has had her scent glands removed. That was a very good thing for us!
See how her tail is up? That means she's feeling a bit uncomfortable and is thinking about spraying!

Skunks are omnivores, who especially enjoy insects, bugs, and spiders in the wild.
However, they like fruits and vegetables too!
You can see that Punk is really enjoying that apple. Look at her claws and teeth, special adaptations
that help her grasp and devour her meal!

This closeup of  a skunk's skull allows you to really get a good look at its sharp teeth!

Here is a picture of Punk when she was just a little skunk.
When she first opened her eyes, she saw Ms. C., so she thought that Ms. C was her mom!
She has depended on Ms. C. to show her all about being a skunk!
When an animal recognizes another animal or person as its parent, it is called imprinting.


Meet Sally, the Salamander!

Salamanders are amphibians, along with frogs, toads, newts, and caecilians.  Amphibians are adapted to living and breathing on land, as well as in water.
Salamanders, like all amphibians, must stay close to water, like a pond,
a river, a stream, must stay in moist soil.

Sally is a tiger salamander.


What did you enjoy most about our third Wildlife experience?

What facts did you learn?

Do you have any additional facts about these animals to share?

(Answers to animal tracks quiz: opossum, raccoon, skunk, mountain lion, elk) 

Wonderful, Wild, and Amazing Animals - Days 2

Beverly  from Wildlife Experience 
 visited our class again
with animals that are native to North America!

 They are a non-profit wildlife education organization that brings native and exotic animals to schools and teaches children about the importance of our natural world.

The subject of this lesson was super senses. 
Humans have five senses: hearing smelling, feeling, seeing, and tasting. Animals do too. 
Some have super senses!

A bush baby's super sense is sight. If an animal has huge eyes, it tells you that it can see well at night.

Here is a picture of a naked mole rat. It has no hair, and like a mole, it spends all of its time underground. Since it is underground, this rat doesn't use sight. I just has skin where there should be eyes. It has a strong sense of  smell, touch, and can hear really well. 

 Below is a picture of a fly taken under a microscope and with added color. Notice the mouth part and  the big red eye sockets.  Each tiny dot sees an image, so a fly sees many images at the same time. 
A fly can  see all around!

Our first live visitor was Ocho, the tarantula!
 Ocho is a female, rose-haired tarantula. These spiders are found in Mexico, so Wildlife Experience  gave her a Spanish name! Ocho means eight!

Spiders are arachnids, so they have two body parts, eight legs and live on land. They have an incredible sense of sight. In fact, this tarantula has eight eyes! It also has two spinnerets  on the abdomen. Tarantulas have a tiny gland on the abdomen, which when touched and  mixed with oxygen, makes silk. Like raptors, female tarantulas are larger than the males. 
Arachnids give birth to about 250 eggs!

Here is a shed from Ocho. Notice the fangs!

This is a shed from a red-kneed tarantula.

Next, we were visited by Ripper, the turkey vulture!

Vultures have a great sense of smell. In fact, they  can smell something dead that is two miles away! Most birds do NOT have a good sense of smell. 
If you look closely, you will see Ripper's nostrils.

Unlike the owl, a turkey vulture's talons are not that strong. 

 They use their beaks to rip and tear at their meals. Vultures eat dead things, called carrion. When they find something dead, the devour it. Beverly said that a vulture  fills a part of its throat called a crop, and if a car comes by, it vomits the meal so it's light and can fly away. 
When the car passes, the vulture comes back to eat the vomit. Yuck!

What did you think of our two newest local animals?

How are tarantula, turkey vulture, gopher snake, 
and barred owl alike?

How are they different?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wonderful, Wild, and Amazing Animals!

As part of our animal adaptation science unit, Beverly Critcher 
from Wildlife Experience will bring wild animals
that are native to North America
to Mrs. Ranney's class for careful
scientific observation.

They are a non-profit wildlife education organization that brings native and exotic animals to schools and teaches children about the importance of our natural world.

During our first lesson, the class talked about animals 
that come out at night (nocturnal
as well as day dwellers (diurnal).

Diurnal  animals:  lizards, squirrels, crows and ravens, snakes, hawks, and vultures

Many California animals are nocturnal:  coyotes, owls, raccoons, bats, bobcats, mountain lions, and opossums

Beverly said that wildlife is all around, even if we don't see it.  We can look at what the animals have left behind and know that they have been around:  bones, fur, owl pellets (if you open the pellets, you'll find undigested bones!), feathers, tracks, dung or scat. 
Our first wild visitors were....

an eight-year-old gopher snake and...

Hoot, a barred owl!


Enjoy the slide show about these two incredible critters!

 Native Neighbors on PhotoPeach



What did you learn from Beverly during her first Wildlife Experience visit to our class?

Have you done any additional research about these animals?
Do you have some fascinating facts to add?

Family Month Blogging Winners Announced!

On April 1, Mrs. Ranney announced that it would again be  
 The project generated lots of enthusiasm and family participation!

In fact,  
over 200 comments
  were published during the month of April!

And the winner is... 

Aidan, with 26 incredible comments!
Our top three commenters were...

 Aidan with 26 terrific comments, and  Ella with 17, and Mikayla with 11 wonderful comments.
Each student received a certificate, won a free meal 
at Marmalade Cafe!

Congratulations to our top bloggers!
Thank you to all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends for your participation!
We hope you will continue to participate in our learning community!

♕         ♕     ♕

What did you like most about Family Blogging Month?

Which family members left comments, and 
how did that make you feel?

How did your family enjoy the month?