Scientific Literacy

As a keen birdwatcher, Miss 5 knows the scientific names of a few of her favourite species.  The first one she learned was Trichoglossus haematodus – the scientific name for a Rainbow Lorikeet.  The second was the closely related Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus, or Scaly-breasted Lorikeet.  From this early introduction to scientific names, my daughter discovered that: Continue reading

Family Getaway

Where do you and your family go when you really need to get away from it all?  For us it’s the rainforest.  When I’m there my heart rate slows down, my brain stops buzzing quite so loudly, and feel like I can breathe. We have just returned from a wonderful week away at Springbrook.  Here’s what a fun but refreshing family holiday looks like for us.

Bushwalking together (Miss 4 walked 4.6km on her own!)

Early morning bird watching with Mummy.

Photographing AWESOME bird life.

(This is a male Golden Whistler pachycephala pectoralis)

Exploring caves.

Climbing trees.

Discovering new creatures.

(This is a Land Mullet we found while bushwalking)

Venturing behind waterfalls.

Making new friends (Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary)

Resting!

Capturing rainbows.

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What’s your idea of a great family holiday?

What do you and the kids enjoy doing together?

Any other rainforest-loving, bird-watching, rainbow-chasing families out there??

Stick Sculpture

After Mr 2’s birthday there were lots of new and exciting gifts to open.  Several toys were wired into boxes with clear coated wires about 20cm each in length.  I kept them, figuring they would come in handy for something.  It’s a teacher thing – we can’t help ourselves!!

The kids collected a nice bunch of sticks from the backyard the other day, and we played around with them for a while before deciding to turn them into a “sculpture”.  (This is a word Miss 4 knows from visiting the Art Gallery and exploring different mediums with her artist-Nanna.)  My daughter’s first suggestion was to attach the sticks to each other with sticky tape.  We discussed whether sticky tape would hold very well to the bark and wood, and decided string would be better.  When we went to get some string, we discovered the wires!  Perfect!!

Wiring the sticks together was fiddly for a four year old, but fantastic for fine motor skill development.  She put the sticks and wires where she wanted them, and I just tightened up the joints.  It was also her idea to add some feathers into the joints, and I think the final result is rather lovely.

The sculpture is sitting on top of a skinny cabinet in the hallway just beside the back door.  This Ikea cabinet is fabulous because everyone in the family has their own drawer for outside boots and hats!  The birdcage decals run right along the hallway, so my daughter’s addition of feathers to the sticks seems just right.

Lost and Found

We had an unexpected visitor to our backyard in the form of a tame Budgerigar.  The poor thing was being swooped by our resident Noisy Miners and seemed unable to fly away.  We could see an identification band around its leg, so assumed it was someone’s pet.

Using a towel we carefully caught the bird without frightening it.  The only container we had to put the budgie in was the one we also used for the frog!  A little on the small side – but safer than staying in the yard.  Then of course, we had to decide what to do with it.

We printed some simple signs saying FOUND – YELLOW BUDGIE and a contact number.  Then we walked around our street and put the signs onto telephone poles and into letterboxes.  When we didn’t hear from anyone for 24hrs we took the bird down to our local vet.

There was so much learning involved in this whole process, and I was able to ask the kids questions like:

  • What kind of bird is it?
  • Do you think it’s wild, or someone’s pet?
  • Why do you think it can’t fly away?
  • Why shouldn’t we keep it?
  • How might the bird be feeling?
  • What might the bird need to be more comfortable?
  • How might the bird’s owner feel?
  • How far might the bird have come?
  • How could we find the owner?
  • What should we write on our sign?
  • What will we do if we can’t find the owner?
  • What do you think the budgie’s name might be?!

We hope our feathered friend has been reunited with its owner :-)

Identifying Birds Eggs

My bird-loving daughter (yep, she gets it from me) found an egg at kindy.  According to her the egg is “creamish with brown speckles” and she found it on the concrete under a few trees.  We took a photo on the iphone, then googled it at home.

Turns out it’s quite tricky to identify eggs online.  We tried looking for an identification guide, but no luck.  We tried searching for the eggs of common birds around our area, but that proved an overwhelming task.  So instead, we thought about who we could ask for help online.  We decided to email the  museum!  I helped my big 4 year old to compose her email which went something like this:

I found an egg at my kindy.

It is creamish and has brown speckles.

I looked but I couldn’t see a nest.

I think it is a sparrow egg.

What do you think it is?

We sent the email off and I sent the girl off to bed!  (While she was asleep I sent the same email to a second museum to increase our chances of hearing back from at least one…)

We were delighted to receive speedy emails responses from BOTH museums.  The Discovery Centre at the Melbourne Museum emailed back the next day, with a detailed response from the Manager of Mammalogy and Ornithology and a child-friendly explanation from a Discovery Centre team member.  (So of course I gave them a shoutout on twitter.)  Shortly after we also received an email from an information officer at the Queensland Museum.  It too was informative and child-friendly.

As a teacher I was thrilled to see that big museums around Australia are not too busy to answer a young child’s request, and as a mother I was so touched by the thoughtfulness of each message.

If only they had both come back with the same answer!! The options are Noisy Miner, Welcome Swallow, House Sparrow, Magpie Lark or Eurasian Blackbird.  What do you think?

1. Our egg  2.  Noisy Miner (image)  3.  Welcome Swallow (image)

4.  House Sparrow (image)  5.  Magpie Lark (image)  6.  Blackbird (image)