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Friday, June 29, 2012

Arctic Expedition

This week was just what we needed to cool off! As the Texas temperatures rose into the 100's, our summer campers were immersed in learning about the Polar Regions. We began by reading this book about a Mother Inuit and her child.
It was a wonderful introduction to Inuit culture and introduced us to some animals native to the Arctic Regions. We read some non-fiction books as well about the Inuit people of Alaska, Canada, Russia (Siberia), and Greenland. After learning about their way of life and culture, we made our own Inuits dressed in cold weather clothing!
Next, we talked about Inuksuk, amazing ancient art found in the artic regions. They are stone monuments that represent people. After discussing them and looking at some pictures, we tore paper to make our own Inuksuk. The children were so incredibly creative, I was amazed at how well they understood the concept and worked together to add to the group mural.
We learned that Inuits used to live in igloos. Not so much anymore, although some are still used for hunting expeditions. We created a group mural of igloos and the littles made their own igloos from styrafoam cups and cotton balls. Then we played with shaving cream and butter tubs and covered them with "snow" to make igloos.
 We also discussed the difference between the North and South Poles. We learned that Antartica is technically the largest desert in the world! It is considered a polar desert due to it's lack of precipitation, and ability to sustain life. This book was a great way to explain the differences between the two and break the news that penguins and polar bears will never be neighbors. :)
So we dove into a study about the animals that live in the North and South Poles, respectively.
We started with the South Pole, Antartica. There is not much life that can be sustained in Antartica. However, penguins are from Antartica, and there is plenty to learn about them!
We carried eggs on our feet to see how difficult it is for daddy Emperor penguins, we read several books, then brainstormed what penguins can do, have and what they are. We learned that Adelie penguins mate for life and that a baby penguin recognizes their mother's call among thousands. They are pretty amazing birds. We made these precious penguins.
This penguin looks like he's being held up at gunpoint to me! :)
 I found this super duper cute roll and color penguin game online to go with our penguin centers.
Next, we studied animals that lived around or near the north pole. First up: polar bears.
The littles made styrafoam polar bears.
The older camp kids cut out polar bears, added some fur and painted a snow scene around them.
Some painted their polar bears on iceburgs, while others made them a den, like this one.
Next, we talked about walruses. They are really amazing animals, and one of the facts we learned was that their tusks are 3 feet long! It turns out, we had some kiddos right about that size. UHmazing!
We colored and labeled this walrus as a group.
Then we each made a walrus at art!
We also did a science experiment about blubber. We used crisco to fill up a rubber glove and then added another glove so that it didn't get all over our hands. We dipped our hands into a bowl full of ice water-one hand normal, and one with the blubber glove. We could tell how much the blubber helped insulate our skin from the cold. It was a successful experiment, and they loved it!
And last of all, we played with ice! This was so much fun, and even when the kiddos hands got super cold, they couldn't help themselves, they loved exploring the large blocks of ice.
It was a really fun and BUSY week, and maybe my favorite so far! It helped to think of all that ice and snow since it was like an oven outside. Now our district is off for the week of Fourth of July, so camp will resume the following week and we are going south of the border to Mexico! We'll be baking up some traditional Mexican treats and making some Mexico inspired art. Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Wonder of the Down Under

This past week we ventured a trip to the Outback and we had a blast! We began our learning adventure to Australia by discussing some of the country's unique attributes, like the fact that it is the biggest island and the smallest continent! I have this book which includes a CD with songs about every country. The kids love it and memorize the continent songs quickly.
We learned that Australia has many cattle and sheep stations, which we call ranches, and they are home to some of the largest cattle stations in the world. We discussed ranching and read some about how the stations are run, then built our own stations.
Next, we studied the history of Australia and it's people. We learned about the Aborigines, who where the native people of Australia. They had a rich artistic and musical history. We learned that they wore tribal paint on their faces at times, used art to express themselves and their way of life, and played the digeradoo, a unique wooden musical instrument.
Aboriginal Face Painting
 Aboriginal Dot Painting
Digeradoo making which involved a paper towel tube decorated and the addition of wax paper at the end to create the humming sound similar to a real digeradoo.
 Shannon, a new friend and coworker who is visiting from Cannon Elementary for a few weeks this summer found some Digeradoo music for the kids to listen to. You can check it out here.
We went on a digeradoo musical parade which was, ummm, enthusiastic. :)
We made boomerangs which were a big hit and we learned that now recognized as an icon of Australia, originally, they were used by the Aboriginal people to hunt.
Later in the week we turned our attention to the amazing animals that inhabit Australia. They have the largest group of marsupials in Australia! We learned a lot about Kangaroos! A group of Kangaroos are called a "mob." A baby kangaroo is called a "joey." And a large adult kangaroo can jump up to 30 feet, which was as long as our whole classroom! We had a few roos of our own to play with in dramatic play.
We made some Kangaroos at art, and some of us drew kangaroos.
We also talked about the platypus, dingos, emus, kookaburras, koalas, wombats, marsupial moles, and thorny devils. And that's not even a comprehensive list of the unique animals that call Australia home! Next, we studied landmarks, and of course, we talked about the Sydney Opera House. Made famous in Finding Nemo, over half of the kids recognized it. We added cut paper plates at the art center for a pinterest inspired art project of the famous Opera House. We even listened to some opera music!
To finish up the week, we made an Australian treat! They are called Lamingtons, sponge cake dipped in homemade chocolate icing, then rolled in coconut. They are delicious!
 We learned so much during this week, campers and teachers alike! There is so much more we talked about, but this post can't go on forever. However, I'll update after next week where we will venture to the Polar Regions. So, get your cold weather gear ready and until next week, g'day!