Showing posts with label aquarium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aquarium. Show all posts

Odder -- New Middel Grades Novel in Verse about Sea Otters


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

My life has gotten a bit crazy. My reading time is definitely cut down, but I found time to read today's book and loved it. We can start with the adorable picture on the cover. This book is a new middle grades novel written completely in verse. It is Odder by Katherine Applegate. It is recommended for ages 8 to 12.

Virtual Book Club for Kids--Carousel

It is time for the Virtual Book Club for Kids again. This month's author is Donald Crews. Today we are going to share his book, Carousel. We picked this book since Hazel loves riding carousels. This is the first real ride she went on and ever since she has loved them. Here are some pictures of her on them.

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--Cinderella Penguin or Antarctica

So a few days late, but this week our Cinderella story is not really a multicultural one, but it is called Penguin Cinderella or The Little Glass Flipper by Janet Perlman. It is really just the traditional Cinderella story written with penguins as its characters. I thought it would be a fun time to share some facts about Antarctica and the penguins we have seen at Sea World Orlando and New England Aquarium. I will also be using Penguins by Gail Gibbons (Virtual Book Club for Kids author of the month) as a source!

Antarctica is the southernmost continent and contains the South Pole. It is the coldest, driest and windiest continent in the world. It also has the highest elevation. It is considered a desert due to the minimal amount of precipitation. The temperature has reached −129 °F. There are no permanent human residents, but many people reside there throughout the year at research stations. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by a sheet of ice averaging 1 mile thick.
Antarctica is home to many species of penguins as well as blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals. We will focus on the penguins due to the book being based on penguins. The Emperor Penguin is the only penguin that mates in the winter in Antarctica. The Adelie Penguin breeds farther south than any other penguin. The Rockhopper Penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes. (Source)
Rockhopper Penguin at Sea World
There are seventeen different kinds of penguins. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin (also called the Fairy Penguin) and the largest is the Emperor Penguin. All penguins have black or bluish-gray backs and white bellies. They all have the same basic body shape and characteristics.
Little Blue Penguins at New England Aquarium
The Adelie and Emperor Penguins never leave Antarctica. Others live in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, South America, and the Galapagos and other islands. 
King Penguins at Sea World
All penguins are birds, but they cannot fly. Over time their wings changed into flippers to aid in swimming and hunting for their food. They are excellent swimmers and divers. Larger penguins can swim faster than 25 miles an hour. Groups of penguins may stay in the water for weeks at a time. Their natural enemies are fur and leopard seals, sea lions, sharks and orcas (killer whales). 
Swimming Penguin at Sea World
Once a year many penguins come together and form colonies called rookeries. This is the time they mate and raise their young. At this time the penguins make loud noises, but most of the time they are quiet. The mating process is different for the different species. I think the most the commonly known mating process is the Emperor Penguin's. The Emperor (and King) Penguins only lay one egg. The female quickly passes it over to the male and he carries it at the top of his feet . The egg is kept warm by a flap on his belly called the brood pouch. During the incubation time the female swims out to sea to feed. The male Emperor Penguins gather together to stay warm. They rotate constantly to the inside and outside of the group so all are able to stay warm. During this time the males do not eat and can lose up to 45 percent of their body weight. It takes 65 days for the egg to hatch. The female returns around this time and she tucks the chick under her brood pouch. The male then goes out to sea to feed. The chick is grey and covered with soft down. The mother feeds the chick by regurgitating food for it. When the father returns, both parents take turns feeding and keeping the chick warm. When the chicks are large enough, they gather in groups called creches. They huddle together to stay warm. When the chicks are three to ten months old they begin to lose their gray down and grow their adult feathers. At this stage they are called fledglings. (Source: Penguins by Gail Gibbons)
Penguins at both Sea World and New England Aquarium
Before going into the book, I want to share our experience on the Antarctica ride at Sea World. Now the first day we went to Sea World, this new exhibit had a two hour wait. With a four-year-old and twin five-year-olds with us, we did not wait two hours. Hazel and I went back for a second day in the rain and the wait was only fifteen minutes. We did wait this time and it was worth the fifteen minutes. I am not sure I feel it would be worth a two hour wait. When you get in the first room you see a short film about a penguin hatching from the egg. You then follow this penguin chick through his life as he grows up a bit. The next room is where you decide which ride you want. There is a mild ride and a wilder ride. We went on the mild one. From what I could tell, the wilder one turned more and bumped around a bit more. The ride is suppose to give you the sense of what life is like in Antarctica. There is even a cold spot supposedly, but the only place we felt cold was when we were in the penguin exhibits.
Pictures from the ride including wet Hazel on it
During the ride you see more short films about the life of the penguin including a blizzard hitting. Then when the ride is over you are literally only a couple of feet away from live penguins. There are places to see them underwater and places to seem them above. Sometimes there was a glass wall between you and other times it was a plastic fencing that did not go all the way to the top. It was so neat. This to me was the best part of the whole ride.
Pictures from Sea World

Now onto our story. So in this story Cinderella is a penguin. She is a good penguin. In the book she has gold hair. Her stepmother and stepsisters are also penguins. The stepsisters get to wear beautiful clothes and sleep in luxurious beds. Cinderella is given rags and sleeps in the cold cellar on a shelf next to some tin plates. Cinderella does all the housework including picking up after her stepsisters.
Our Penguin Puppet Show

One day an invitation arrives to the Penguin Prince's Costume Ball. The stepsisters have new costumes made and spend much time looking at themselves in the mirror. Cinderella would like to go, but her stepfamily just laughs at her saying the prince would never want to meet someone like her. The day of the ball Cinderella helps the stepsisters get ready and then without a thank you or goodbye their carriage leaves and Cinderella is left alone. She begins to cry and the little blue fairy penguin comes and asks Cinderella why she is crying. She tells her to go get a pumpkin so she can go to the ball. (Ok, first spot that we know this story does not take place in Antarctica since pumpkins cannot grow there.) The fairy turns it into a beautiful coach. Then she finds six mice carrying a hunk of cheese (we only had three). She turns the mice into horses and the cheese into the coachman. Then she turns Cinderella's clothes into a beautiful gown and glass flippers. (We used our Sea World Animal Rescue Barbie doll flippers.) Cinderella goes to the ball with the warning that she must leave by midnight. She dances all night with the Prince Penguin and all of a sudden it is almost midnight. She runs off and leaves behind one of the glass flippers. The prince will only marry the penguin whose flipper fits in the glass flipper. Everyone tries it on, but the glass flipper is too small. Then Cinderella gets her turn and of course it fits. She marries the prince and they live happily ever after.

We made the penguin puppets and acted out the story with some props. The puppets are just construction paper and googly eyes glued to popsicle sticks. We did not dress them or give them hair, but kept them more natural or how we saw them at Sea World.

Wild and Free: Dolphins, Whales and Manatees

Have you ever just loved a CD and have the music inspire you to be creative? This happens to me and Hazel all the time. The CD is from Daria and it is called I Have a Dream. Daria had been kind enough to send me this wonderful CD last year so I could review it here, and we followed her instructions to make a quilted rainstick. Now this CD lives in my car for the most part, and it is what Hazel and I tend to listen to while driving. Even when Hazel is not in the car I tend to listen to it. We both know the words to almost every song on it. As I have been listening to Hazel sing along I have had all sorts of creative ideas flowing through my head. Today I am going to share one of them with you. I am thinking we will do something with almost every song on the CD, so stay tuned for more music inspired songs.

 The song I am sharing today is Wild and Free. With Daria's permission I am sharing her YouTube video of this song with you.

Now I will admit this song is the first since we just got back from Florida. Every time we heard this song, Hazel would ask me what a manatee is, so we did some research and came home with many library books plus I realized SeaWorld Orlando has manatees (as well as dolphins and whales), so I knew this was the perfect time to talk about this song and the animals in it. Now the manatees are endangered and need the help of humans as we are their only enemy--if you can call us that. They do not have natural predators due to their size. They have been hunted as well as hurt by boats and nets and of course their food supply is dwindling due to development. For more information on how you can help, check out Save The Manatees website.

The dolphins they play in the ocean...
Blue Horizons Show at Sea World Orlando
The whales (beluga and killer/orca), they swim in the ocean...
Beluga Whales on top in Wild Arctic Exhibit and Orca Whales in One Ocean Show
The manatees play by the bayside...

Manatees outside Turtle Trek Exhibit
While at SeaWorld, I bought Hazel small plastic versions of each of the animals. We also bought a Sea World Rescue Barbie that came with dolphins as well. Plus we pulled out the whales I made when we read The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson for the Virtual Book Club for Kids.

Then I set up the entire zoo for Hazel, but more about that later.

We also made an ocean interactive box. We took a shoe box and lined it with sky blue paper and then cut a strip of dark blue paper to be the ocean and glued to the front. We cut a slit on the bottom of the box. Then I printed out pictures I found on line of each animal and we cut them out and glued them to popsicle sticks. 
Then we acted out  the song while we listened to it. (I think we probably should have lined the bottom of the box with the dark blue as well.) I had all sorts of other craft ideas, but they did not happen. I am also working on sewing some felt creatures for her. I have started the manatee. I'll share it when we finish. I have found patterns on line for a dolphin and killer whale as well. I think I may try to make my own beluga pattern. 

Some final pictures to show you. Above is a picture of Hazel at SeaWorld looking for beluga whales. Below is the zoo I set up for her. As she was looking at it, she was mentioning that we had an Australia section with kangaroos and a wombat and an African section with the lions, giraffes, zebras and elephants. I mentioned the panda bear being from China and she started asking where the other animals were from. I guess I'm bringing her up to notice the animals of the world at least.

Finally here is a collage of the books we have collected on manatees, dolphins and whales. We have not read them all and many of the manatee books are more picture story/fiction ones, but I always find those fun to include. Manatee on Location is non-fiction though. Also you can purchase Daria's CD at her store for $10 with free shipping!

Happy Family Times #21--A Trip to Boston

Have you done something fun with your family this week? Kelly at Happy Whimsical Hearts and I are collecting everyone's activities to inspire all of us to spend more time with our families! Please share your story below.

This past week we spent lots of time together as a family. Steve had the week off and we planned several day trips and things to do locally. The one we all looked forward to, especially Hazel, was going into Boston. We took the subway in (Boston has America's oldest subway but parts of it are above ground--you can read more about the history here). It was Hazel's first time on the subway or a real train (besides the small ones at the zoo and malls). She was so excited. The picture above is on the first train. The picture below is waiting for Daddy to purchase the Charlie Tickets so we can get on the train.
We took the train to The Public Garden. Hazel could not wait to get there. I had promised her a ride on the Swan Boats and to see the Make Way for Duckling statues. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey is one of our favorite books and we feel so lucky to live near where the story takes place!

Pond in The Public Garden

We walked around the pond to the Swan Boats and got in line. We stopped on top of the bridge to check out the island and we stopped to check out all the mallards (including ducklings) all around the pond! After waiting a short bit in line, we got on the swan boat. One of the other passengers had brought bread and fed some of the ducks who followed us for a bit, but the passenger was informed by the driver that you are not suppose to feed the birds, so she stopped. A pair of swans live in the pond each summer. They are named Romeo and Juliette. I couldn't tell you which was which, but we saw both.

After the ride we walked over to the Make Way for Duckling statutes. Hazel could not see them at first, but then she saw them and asked to run to them. She had to first touch each one. Then she asked for a picture by each one. I think she got bored part way through of the pictures though.
Then we walked out of The Public Garden and went across the street to Boston Common (known around here as The Common). We were more walking through, but I wanted to show her the Frog Pond which had many kids playing in the water and sprinklers. Next to the Frog Pond there was a carousel set up, so Hazel and I went on it. It was the first time she wanted to go on one of the horses that went up and down so I held her. We also ran into a friend from our parent/child class this past year who also rode on the carousel.
Then we went to find a restaurant to have lunch. We had two requirements: a bathroom and some place to sit down inside. We found a burger place (after saying no to two places due to our requirements). It was good. We had mentioned possibly going to the aquarium. Hazel really wanted to go, so we did, even though we were all a bit tired. Our thoughts had been that the aquarium would be a good choice, since it is mostly indoors and air conditioned and it was hot. Also Hazel loves looking at the fish at the pet store, so I thought she would really enjoy it. Now, I should add that I have never been impressed with the New England Aquarium. I have always thought it was overpriced for what they offer, so if you are visiting Boston, it does not need to be on your must-see list.

Well once again I was disappointed. I was a bit shocked at how much it cost for the three of us to get in. The lines were very long to get in and then it was so overcrowded that it was hotter inside than outside and you really couldn't get close enough to see much. Plus the one spot we got close to the big round tank Hazel got scared of the sharks. Hazel enjoyed the jelly fish and the penguins, but by this point the crowd and heat were getting to us all and we were all very exhausted. We headed home. Oh, and if you are going to the aquarium in Boston, don't go in the summer. The clerk at the gift shop told me the prices are raised and it is always that crowded in the summer. She said it was much better in the fall once people are back at school. I was a bit surprised by this since I remember coming from Connecticut to go as a kid with school, but I don't remember it being so crowded then either.

We hopped back on the T (the subway) and went back home. Well we stopped for ice cream and then went home.

Now it is your turn to share how your family has spent some quality time lately.

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