Africa Week 3: Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Desert Animals, the Savanna, Predator/Prey Relationships, Human Body Systems, Seed Dispersal, Onomatopoeia. Boom.

This week we started a two week unit on the major body systems.  One of the homeschool components in Maryland is health and this seemed like a nice way to get started.  We are using several library books to guide our studies including a very nice one on the human senses.  

You can see here that I started to include the reproductive system and then thought better of it.  This is because my daughter is five and I’m not ready for her to start telling the whole world how babies are made.  And that’s exactly what she’d do.


We used grab bags to do a sense of touch activity in which we had to guess what various household objects were without using our eyes.  This was a lot of fun and has turned into a daily game.

The silhouette animals for this art project were printed, cut out, and applied to a watercolor savanna with double-sided tape.


Over the weekend we stopped by the Calvert Marine Museum on Solomons Island, MD.  They currently have two baby otters there and it is now possible to view them from inside the museum as well as outside.  Below you can see the outdoor viewing spot.

The new baby otters as viewed from the indoor area.

After spending some time learning about desert animals who live near sand dunes we created our own “Dunes in a Jar” using colored salt.  To color the salt we simply rubbed leftover stubs of sidewalk chalk on a pile of  table salt until the amount of pigment was right.  You could also use a cheese grater-that’s probably much faster.


To make the design around the edges we used a skinny paintbrush handle which forced the salt downward.

Earlier this summer my daughter decided her North American research animal would be a velvet ant.  I knew they could be found locally because a friend saw some next to our public library but we were unable to find any ourselves.  As luck would have it a college student recently found this one (below) and we were able to look at it.  It’s nice to have closure. *Note: It is dead which is the only reason we are touching it.


This is the time of year when many trees drop their seeds.  Since we are aiming for a deeper understanding of nature it seemed like a good time to introduce the science behind the seeds.  I love the series of nature books by these authors- they’ve also written A Nest is Noisy and An Egg is Quiet.  All of them are excellent.

As it turned out we collected a hatful of early acorns the very next day.


We delved into predator/prey relationships this week since the savanna has so many prime examples.  Our daughter’s favorite was the caracal and the monkey.


Additionally, we covered onomatopoeia this week.  It was included as part of our Around the World curriculum and tied in nicely with a story in our reading curriculum about a pony.  We picked some of our favorites and illustrated them.  We also played Onomatopoeia Detective by scanning poems by Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein.


After studying Tanzania we made Maasai necklaces of our own.

Earlier this summer we did a unit on butterflies and ended up starting our own collection.  While we were in Ontario we caught a monarch but were unable to find a chrysalis. This was disappointing because we wanted to see the golden spots and the ring around the top. Fortunately a friend invited us to visit her front porch which seems to be a monarch hang-out spot.  It did not disappoint!  This photo is of her front porch railing.  We were able to see about 12 of these scattered around the front of the house!  We hope to go back for the hatch-out.

Buoyancy was the science word of the week.   Foil boats were used to demonstrate this concept and the kids were crazy about it.  We also worked on our counting by keeping track of how many pennies and acorns we could add before the boats sank.  I highly recommend this activity to everyone- it was fantastic.

It’s a great time of year to pick up a Mr. Bones at the Dollar Store.  Very handy for our human body lessons.  Plus he glows in the dark!

This was our model of the lungs.  That’s playdough at the top, a recycled lemonade container, plastic bendy straws, and ghost balloons.

Another great week!


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