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Our Earth Scouts group is going camping at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware later this month, so today we had a meeting with an ocean theme. I decided to do two things:
  • Talk about what kinds of animals we might see, color/draw pictures of them, and place them on a pretend beach in my living room

  • Talk about horseshoe crabs, and explore how long they have lived on the earth. Horseshoe crabs nest along the Delaware Bay, where the park is located.

We started by talking about what kinds of animals we might see, and then I told the kids a bit about horseshoe crabs. When we got to the timeline part, I had a timeline )

We then went outside, where I had paced off the same timeline on the sidewalk and marked the dates with sidewalk chalk. We started 445 million years ago, and pretended we were horseshoe crabs throughout prehistory, occasionally noting new developments, such as trees, various dinosaurs, and early horses. By the time we got to the Apatosaurus, we couldn't really see where we'd started anymore, which I thought was a helpful illustration of the vast stretches of time involved. The first humans, at 2.5 million years ago, were only about a foot away from today -- whereas the first horseshoe crabs were 2/3 of a block uphill.

After that part was done, we came back inside and the kids spent quite a while coloring and drawing different kinds of animals for our pretend seashore -- my living room rug, with a blue cloth lying on half of it to represent the ocean. The animals included crabs, dolphins, jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, clams, and seagulls (hanging from a string stretched across the room).

The kids seemed to have fun, and I felt like they absorbed some of what I intended, so I'm pleased.
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We had a fun weekend! On Saturday, we headed out early to help with a stream clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day. After 45 minutes and two bags of trash, we called it quits and took the subway to the University of Maryland for Maryland Day.

It would be possible to spend an entire day at Maryland Day and not run out of things to do, but our kids didn't have that much stamina, so we focused on the arts area. We participated in a movement class, watched a modern dance performance, and enjoyed the instrument petting zoo, where the kids got to try different musical instruments. Erika especially enjoyed the clarinet -- she says she wants one. :-)

This afternoon, Erika and I finished up her pretending to be a paleontologist kit, in which she dug up dinosaur bones.

Pictures of paleontology )

I was impressed with her attention span for this project, as it was pretty difficult to get the plastic bones out of the plaster. She probably spent at least five hours on it, spread out over the course of three or four days.

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