Monday, March 9, 2009

History & Science

What do Nazca, Olmec, platypus, echidna, and colugo have in common? They are all things we read about today in history and science, two subjects we focused on to do some catching up.

In history, we completed a chapter on the Americas. I believe it is the only chapter (out of 42) that will cover the Americas in our history curriculum this year.

We first read about the Nazca in South America. They lived in Peru and were responsible for creating the huge line drawings in the Earth that can only be seen from the air. These drawings were hundreds of miles long and depicted a monkey, a hummingbird, a pelican, a flower, and geometric designs.

Then we read about the Olmecs in Central America. They lived in Mexico, built dirt and clay pyramids, and created 9 foot tall statues of their leader's heads. Seventeen of these heads have been found. One other interesting thing about them is that the rich lived up on the hill in the city and the poor lived down at the foot of the hill in the plains. The poor did the farming and sent food up to the more "important" people in the city.

Finally, we read a little about the natives of North America. We learned about how those that lived in the cold northern areas ate the animals, fish, lichen, and mosses that they could find because crops could not grow. Meanwhile, those in what is now the US ate corn, wheat, buffalo, and fish. We read a Native American folk tale as well.

We finished up by doing an art project. The idea was to draw a line drawing on white paper witha white crayon, pressing hard. Then we painted a water color wash over it. Was it hard to draw without being able to see your drawing well? It kind of demonstrated how it would be difficult to etch out those Nazca drawings when they couldn't see the rest of the drawing. I also sprinkled some salt onto their still wet drawings to show the kids what that technique will do.

Then we moved along to science where we read about the colugo, a mammal with large skin flaps that allow it to glide. It looks kind of like a bat, kind of like a primate, and kind of like a mouse. It's rather odd looking really, especially, while gliding. The first half of this youtube video shows the colugo, complete with it gliding along.

We also read about the platypus, the part beaver, part duck creature that scientist first thought was a fake that was sewn together. We also learned that scientists had trouble classifying it because it had fur and nursed its young like a mammal but laid eggs unlike a mammal. We read that the young don't latch on like most nursing babies, but rather the milk drips onto the mom's fur where the young lap it up. Also, these strange creatures can detect tiny electric fields with their bills. Their primary food put off tiny electric fields when underwater. By detecting these fields, the platypus can find its food underwater even though it closes its eyes when swimming.

Finally, we read about the echidna, another egg-laying mammal. This one looks like a cross between a hedgehog, bird, and anteater. It has a beak, eats ants, and has spines like a hedgehog. It also is a marsupial. It lays one egg in its pouch. After the baby hatches, it stays in the pouch until its spines develop. At that point, it gets kicked out.

I'm always surprised by the sheer number of things I can learn about homeschooling my kids that I've never heard of before. I had heard of the drawings in Peru (although I couldn't have told you who made them or where they were) and the platypus before, but the others are new to me.

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2 Comments:

Luke said...

Isn't homeschooling great? We get to learn even more than we did the first time around [smile].

~Luke

Too Many Hats said...

Yes, I often say I am learning alongside my kiddos.