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Let No Rock Go Unturned

March 2, 2007

Chers Amis,

If we had a nature motto at notre moulin it would be, "Let no rock go unturned."  Many of your backyard treasures are lurking under rocks or beneath logs, pavers or flagstones.  For 10 years I have been trying to design and plant an English border garden edged with natural stones found on our property.  For 9 years some child has been prying them up, turning them over or using garden tools to extricate them from the soil in search of hidden fauna.  Caddie and her partners in crime have had excellent results in finding creatures- I have not had similar luck with my gardening.  A) We have a true deep shade garden grace a the trees – bad for flowing borders and B) the edging miSlimygrates constantly.  But, it does  produce wonderful nature study.

   Last fall Caddie discovered the  Slimy Salamander  favorite hiding places under the rocks in my front garden and in in December she discovered the Southern Two-lined Salamander  hiding in the moist leaf litter of our fern garden and beneath our gutter drains.  She hasSalamander_eggs_1 been hunting them ever since.  Last week Caddie and Scarlett went down to our creek to play – and turn over rocks.  She found four separate clutches of cream colored salamander eggs guarded by a mother Southern Two-lined Salamander. Now we are on salamander larva watch.  Pippin and I have started rowing The Salamander Room. Here is a great link to the Five in A Row best of ideas for this charming book. Today we also read A Salamander’s Life, by John Himmelman and  colored this nice spotted salamander page.

As a fun science extra, I have come up with a few questions that I want the girls to answer about salamanders orally,written or illustrated, in a presentation, display or project:

  • What are the Latin names for these two species and what is the meaning of their names?
  • What is their classification?
  • What is the life cycle of each species (Caddie – Two lined, Scarlett – slimy)?
  • When and where do they breed?
  • Where do they lay their eggs?  Under rocks?  Attached to grasses/twigs?
  • Describe the eggs and illustrate.
  • When do the eggs hatch?
  • Discuss the larval phase of each including their size, diet, predators
  • When do they leave the water?
  • What is their adult habitat, diet, predators, etc. ?
  • Anatomy – label a drawing of your species.

This is meant to be fun as we still have our weekly Adventures in Science Club.The girls were both excited about the idea. If you are interested in learning more about the creatures that live in your area waters and are putting together ideas for post-thaw field trips, find out  if there are Adopt-a-Stream workshops in your area.  This is a program designed to educate the public about their local watersheds, conservation, and wildlife.  Here is a link to the Georgia materials.  Your state may have similar programs/resources.   We attended an excellent program at a local stream a few years ago and learned a great deal about how to look at a stream, measure flow, recognize erosion and locate many hidden creatures.  Very good.  We also loved the book Strange Beginnings which illustrates the larval phase of so many stream creatures that we met at the Adopt-A-Stream program:  mayfly, caddisfly, damsel and dragon flies. You can test your knowledge of these micro-monsters by playing  Name that Bug., an on line game to help you identify stream insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.  Turn over a few stones this week – you never know what  you will find! 

— Marjorie

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 2, 2007 7:31 pm

    Amazing! Your activites are so inspiring!

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