Elephants are the largest land animal and can live up to 60 years. There are 2 basic species of elephants: the African elephant (whose ears are larger, look like the continent of Africa!) and Asian elephants (whose ears are smaller, and look like the shape of India!). Asian elephants are an endangered species, with only 25,000 wild elephants living in: Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, and southern China.
We saw this lovely elephant at the St. Louis Zoo (Missouri, US).
Elephants have been highly regarded to Asian culture for thousands of years; here, elephants have been domesticated and are used for religious festivals, transportation and to move heavy objects. Other fun facts:
- they are vegetarians, and eat 400 pounds of green leaves, bark, branches, fruit and grass daily- they weigh over 10,000 pounds!
- they have 6 sets of teeth that wear down and are replaced
- the tusks are actually incisor teeth that elephants use to dig in the ground for roots and break apart tree bark. In Asian elephants, only the male has tusks
- the elephant’s nose has 40,000 muscles and can pick up tiny objects
Here are some wonderful books whose main characters are Asian Elephants! Continue reading
Posted in Animals, Asia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Literature, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam
A trip to the Rio Napo, Ecuador in 1996.
Last year, my kids and I studied a different biome each month. When looking at biomes, the world is generally divided into 5 major types: aquatic, deserts, forests, grasslands, and tundra. The plants and animals in each biome have adapted to their environment with special features that help them survive. Under the forests category, it is sub-divided into different types of forests, such as tropical rainforests, temperate forests, and boreal forests. Because I have visited parts of the Amazon as well as Costa Rica, I was excited to share what I had learned and they were really excited to take a closer look. We took a month to read books, watch films, and do some art projects related to tropical rain forests. Here are the resources we used. Continue reading
Posted in Africa, Animals, Around the World, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Games and Toys, Geography, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Panama, The Americas
Tagged biomes, education, educational technology, on-line activities, rainforest, science
If your kids love watching Planet Earth, Animal Planet, National Geographic, or even if they are just animal-lovers who haven’t ever seen a documentary before– The Story of the Weeping Camel is your next pick for family movie night.
The story tells of a mom camel, who rejects her adorable baby camel after a particularly hard birth, and the nomadic Mongolian family who try everything they can to help their animals bond and survive in the Gobi desert. Their final efforts include sending Continue reading
It’s Monday, January 23, 2012 and Lunar New Year is here! For the next 15 days billions (literally) of people will be celebrating 2012, as the year of the dragon. Here are two of our favorite books about Chinese dragons!
For an introduction to Chinese dragons, there is no greater book than Jin Jin the Dragon. Beijing-native Grace Chang has crafted a magical story about a dragon who is searching for his identity. With help from many wise animals he meets on his quest, he gets a name, and learns what he can accomplish with his inner strength and courage. Continue reading
(As always, the pictures in this article were taken by me unless otherwise stated. Most of these were taken in Chicago’s Chinatown, or in Beijing in the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. For permission to use them, please email me.)
Chinese dragons (龙 lóng): kids, teens, and adults love them and they appear everywhere from books to tattoos to Chinese New Year Parades. Unlike European dragons, who breathe fire and must be defeated, Chinese dragons are well-meaning mystical beasts who breathe clouds, often appear in human form, and are frequent characters in ancient stories.
I love the anatomy of a Chinese dragon:
the head of a camel,
the horns of a stag (male deer),
the eyes of a demon,
the ears of a cow,
the neck of a snake,
the belly of a clam,
the scales of a carp,
the claws of an eagle,
the paws of a tiger. Continue reading
Who is Shrek the sheep and why is he so famous? Shrek the sheep was born in 1994 near Tarras, New Zealand. When he was around 4 years old, he decided he did not want to be shorn (have his wool cut, that is) and so he began to hide in caves to avoid being caught. When they finally did catch him, it took a professional 20 minutes to do the shearing, which was broadcast on national TV, CNN and the BBC. His fleece had enough wool to make 20 suits, which were all auctioned off to charity. Shrek became a national icon in New Zealand and was invited to meet the prime minister, Helen Clark, in 2004. He was made famous in photographs, videos, and children’s books; even though New Zealand has 10 times more sheep than people, Shrek stood out and captured the hearts of people with his delightful story. He raised money for charities, boosted the publicity of the wool industry, made public appearances around the country, contributed millions to the economy— and Shrek was even shorn on an floating iceberg to celebrate his 10th birthday. Continue reading
A morpho blue butterfly at a nature preserve in Costa Rica. Photo credit: Becky Morales
The blue morpho butterfly- named for its resplendent turquoise wings- lives in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.
Morpho Butterfly Craft
Kids love crafts, love glitter, and love butterflies! Making a blue morpho butterfly is an easy afternoon activity that helps kids learn about an amazing creature from the rainforests of the Americas. Continue reading
An Irish sheep peeks up from grazing. In Irish, the word sheep is caora, pronounced kwee-rah. Lamb is uain, pronounced oon-in.
The countryside of verdant Ireland is a patchwork quilt of barley and oats fields, ribbons of blue rivers, and pasture lands dotted by cows and sheep and squared off by low, grey stone walls. With a mild, humid climate and grassy rolling hills, farm life thrives. After we spent 2 weeks driving and hiking around Ireland, visiting stunning churches and incredible landscapes, our 2 1/2 year old daughter was asked what she liked best about her trip to Ireland; she replied “baa-baa sheep!” Here is a craft for fellow young animal-lovers to make their own wooly Irish sheep. Continue reading
We have turned our daughter’s lemur obsession into an opportunity for our family to learn more about the endangered species of Madagascar. After reading several non-fiction books from our library, we love to go the zoo and see the lemurs in action. Do you have a little one who is in love with a certain animal? Do some research to find out more about it and learn together! To enrich your experience even more, take a field trip to the zoo to get up close and personal with special animals, and many times you will learn more about them and species from the same region. We have looked into zoos that care for lemurs, and found that in the US and abroad, there are several places to experience these bouncing bundles of energy. Continue reading
Dressing as a lemur for Halloween
LEMURS! What are lemurs?? An endangered primate, found only in Madagascar, with more than 70 species… who became more well-known after King Julian starred in “Madagascar.” My daughter is a lemur lover. She has been since way before the now-famous movie. When she was 2, we made a visit to the Brookfield Zoo, and got to try on a lemur costume, and climb on a tree that extended through the glass enclosure housing the ring-tailed lemurs. She loves them because they are cuddly and bouncy, their babies hang on while the mamas climb, and the females always win the fights (which she likes to point out to her brothers). Because she was interested at such an early age, I jumped on board and began taking books out of the library to enrich her knowledge. She was a sponge, and at age 5 quizzed the zookeeper at the Houston Zoo about why there were not more natural trees in the lemurs’ habitats, why some of the lemurs were housed alone when they were such social animals, and why their enclosure did not have a sunny spot for them to warm up in the mornings like they do in Madagascar. Continue reading
It is no secret that my daughter loves lemurs. To find out more about these fascinating animals, we found some equally fascinating books on the subject. If you’re looking to widen your animal knowledge on this primate from Madagascar, check out these great reads.
Two of our favorite lemur specific books are A Little Lemur Named Mew and In Search of Lemurs, both written and illustrated by Joyce Powzyk. Continue reading