Animals

"Give the things you want to get, every single day..." ON MY WAY, by Deepak Chopra, provides seven positive lessons for a child to understand "how to navigate through life with joy and love and happiness." This book is really a book on successful parenting because it puts the powerful tools for having a happy a life squarely in the hands of a child. Chopra uses a spiritual palate to illustrate the seven timeless laws of the universe, social laws that are our social DNA to having a happy life. The Irish illustrator Rosemary Woods cleverly illustrates each universal law with little children living in richly colored, intricate patterns from nature's own landscape.

The recent article  A Prescription for Happiness? by Deepapk Chopra reveals that being love, doing good, and having everything is the path to being happy. Try it. Most people want to have everything first and that is what will make them happy. But, that is not how things work.

Chopra converses with children at their own level. For example, the ancient universal law called karma, he says, "is an ancient word. It means that how you live your life creates what comes your way." When you read this book to a child you find yourself adding your own experiences with karma, acceptance, the belief in universe's plan to do what's best, finding purpose in life. It helps you open up to your child and express how you used these ancient, universal laws to help you navigate through the digital age with joy, love and happiness. This book can be of great help when school gets tough, when teachers forget karma even exists, and when bullies can't see there is a new way to behave.

 

Everything is moving!

 

 

 

I See Moving

“A banana slug. A banana slug. " Chance picked the slug up off a small rock with two sticks. He watched as it crawled across his palm leaving a slimy trail behind. "If we put a sock on him that would cover his whole body. He has only one foot. And it is the length of his body," he told me.

"Yeah. Banana slugs have only one foot." Nissa turned the slug over and examined it more closely. "Oh look. He has a seed on his foot. It is caught in his slimy stuff."

"A seed? He’s carrying a seed?" Jill came over and looked through the magnifying lens to see for herself. “Wow!”

"I wonder if it is a Forget-me-not," Jimmy muttered and came over to see.

"I know a lot about banana slugs. I know what they like to eat. They eat plants and leaves and animal poop. My mother has a vegetable garden and she is always sprinkling sawdust around her vegetables. The slugs can't slide through sawdust. They leave the beans and lettuce alone for us to eat.“ Nissa took the magnifying lens from Jill and continued, "My mother hates them in her garden.” She looked at the one footed slug and continued, “And you know what else I know? The banana slug can be a boy and a girl in one body. Isn't that weird?"

"Look at these slugs." Joshua yelled out from the edge of the creek. "They have holes on their sides. And they're big holes too." The children rushed over to Joshua and watched as two banana slugs slid slowly onto a green leaf.

"Look at the black things sticking out from their heads. Maybe that's their eyes." Nissa began searching for eyelashes.

"I can't see any eyes. How do they know where they are?"

Just by listening to a child express what nature is up to gives the lesson a degree of informed analysis, depth instead of shallowness, and understanding instead of attitude. We at StarChild Science are commited to pursuing a vigorous presence of children's explanations and observations in science activities. We can't loose sight of this one critical ingredient... the child's input!

"The top two tentacles are the sensors for light. They can tell the slug if it is in the sun or the shade. The bottom tentacles are like the tongue and fingers on us. They taste their food and move it into their mouth." I told her.

"I'll bet those holes are for breathing," Jill took a deep breathe, flaring her nostrils wide open like a horse.

Nissa took a twig and tried to overturn one of the slugs. "How do they eat plants? I don't see any teeth."

"They have twenty-five thousand teeth. And all these tiny teeth are on their tongue." As I talked I could see Nissa stick her tongue out and hold it with her fingers for just a moment.

"Hey. Come over here. Look what I found. A millipede." Chance watched as the millipede quickly crawled across the back of his hand. "He has to be careful with all those legs.".

"Looks like a thousand legs rushing past your knuckles. Many many feet and no teeth. Just a jaw. Nature, nature nature, you have been busy."

"It took a lot of energy to make all of those legs." Serene watched the millipede move. "I have only two legs. And the slug has one. And the millipede has many many of them."

"Look what I found. A turtle. A real turtle!" Nissa picked a turtle up and began examining its shell. Then she turned it over and examined the soft shell protecting its abdomen. “It’s a boy.“ She looked up at me. “I had a boy turtle once. I named it Breadcrumbs. I think it died once.”

"How many socks could we put on this turtle?" I asked.

"Four. He has four feet. And look at them. The two front ones are shorter than the two back ones." Nissa stretched one of its back legs out from its abdomen and yelled out in surprise, "Look what I found." She tugged at something. Gently. "A seed. A seed got caught between his shell and his stomach." The other children rushed over, eager to see a seed in such an unexpected place. Chance held up a magnifying glass and began to examine the tiny grass seed. "And this seed is hairy too," he told us.

“He’s so small.” Serene looked at a miniature frog I found at the edge of the creek.

"Isn’t he cute?” Jill came in closer to look at the frog.

”What does he eat?” Serene asked. I was just about to answer when the tiny frog disappeared from the tip of her finger. “He jumped,” the children yelled out. “He jumped away.” When we looked at the creek all we could see was a circle of waves, growing and growing, larger and larger in diameter then disappear.

Stop here! What have we learned so far?Think about what we just observed. The children are watching movement. In this experience along the creek the chidren are focusing on the application of energy for movement.

Let's consider this more closely: These children are aware by now that everything that moves requires energy. And, they are aware that the energy has to come from somewhere. Here you must emphasize the conservation of energy which allows the animal to use the food it eats as a source of energy for movement. This is an important point because you want the child to become aware that the animals they are observing take energy from the food they eat just like we do. They turn potential energy in the food into kinetic energy for movement.StarChild Science: Teach Your Own

As you are watching the animals crawl, swim, jump, fly, ask the children how did they get the energy to do that? What did the animals have for breakfast? For dinner? Do they store their food? Do they grind it up after they put it in their mouth? Do they have beaks or do they suck their food into their mouths?.

Ask the children to examine the mouths of the animals if they can with their magnifying glasses.

At this level of our science class, I always focus on the animals having the ability to move about in space. I do this because this is the first time in our science class that we see energy supplying gross movement like crawling, jumping, hopping, swimming, diviing, walking, flying. We call all the animals spacebinders. Use this term frequently while observing animals. The sooner a child focuses on energy for getting around in space, binding space, the easier it will be for him to look at the animal world as the world of the spacebinders. And, he will then see the major difference between the animals and the plants, the energybinders.

Forever Friends, a little brown bunny and a graceful blue bird discover that friendship—true friendship—lasts forever. The bunny and a beautiful bluebird discover the loneliness of a winter without each other, but as the cold months fade away and flowers blossom, they are reacquainted in the spring. For children ages 2–7.

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26 opportunities for your child to do something meaningful for the planet... 

 

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“That was astonishing. Maybe ten feet. Maybe fifteen. For such a miniature creature his jump was Olympic.“ I said.

“Whatever he eats he gets lots of energy from it. I can’t jump that far and my legs are bigger than his legs too. He must be like a lion to the beetles and the fish in this creek. He is so strong.“ Chance carefully turned small rocks over along the creek, searching for another frog.

"I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to see if I can see a stickleback fish in the creek.” Nissa walked along the creek with her specimen jar and began searching for a stickleback along its edge. “I see them. Look. Come over here. They are nibbling on small plants.“ She knelt closer to the water’s edge. “Oh no, a black beetle is trying to eat one of them. I’m going to save it.” She plunged her jar into the water and scooped up whatever she could. When she held the jar up into the light she saw a small silver colored fish swimming round and round frantically looking for some place to hide. She watched closely until the fish came to an abrupt stop, and to her surprise, stared right back at her. It was trembling like a little blob of J-ello. “I’ll bet it’s scared. It looks scared. Real scared.” She looked closer. “No eyelids. Hey, this fish has no eyelids,” she yelled out to me. Suddenly the tiny fish began swimming round and round again, pouring its energy into a circular path.

"Look what I have. Look what I have.” Jill stared into her specimen jar, watching a beetle trying to maneuver something from its rear and on up towards its mouth. She watched as its forelegs rolled a small bubble of air towards its mouth. “Wow. Look at that. It looks like it is playing with a beach ball."

“Let me see.” Chance came over to join them, thinking it was certainly to be a circus act he was about to see. ”That's a bubble or something! Under water like that?” It was real clear the beetle had a bubble full of air and had neatly tucked it under its hind legs before it dove deep into the water. It was ready at a moment’s notice to supply enough oxygen for a fast scurry down deeper and deeper in the jar.

“Is he just playing?” Jill asked.

“No. Beetles don’t play. Have you ever seen a insect play?” Joshua looked at her with contempt and laughed a hearty laugh.

In the New York Times there is an article on just this event in the insect world. "What is even more remarkable is that the air bubbles automatically refill with oxygen, allowing the bugs to swim indefinitely without coming to the surface. Some insects even hibernate underwater all winter." Read this article to your child and discuss how this one bubble event enables this insect to do many things. Ask your child questions such as: What does this bubble of air do for the insect? Does it help him hunt for food? Does it form on his head? His back? Do you ever see bubbles of air in your bathtub when you are taking a bath? A glass of water in the morning after it has been standing all night?

By asking questions you stimulate your child to try to make sense of this event. Encourage him/her to imagine swimming in the creek, river, ocean and taking a bubble of air down under the water and using it as a source of air. Imagine his pet dog swimming in the lake or a river. Does the dog need a bubble of air to keep him underwater? When I have a science class this is one way I engage the children in science.They are curious to begin with. That is not a problem. That is what makes children such a delight for me. Their curiosity is a natural path to start questions flowing about nature's ways You will be pleasantly surprised with this method.

“Oh, look what I have. It’s a millipede I think and it is swimming around in the water.” Chance came over to show us.

"That little creature is a beetle larva. If it is successful it will become an adult diving beetle. It’s like any teenager now. It wants out of here.”

"Teenager? I hate teenagers,” Jill told us in a firm voice. “I have a teenage brother and he is not nice. He is mean.”

“Oh, this little critter is mean too. It eats any small creatures in the creek that he can overpower. He injects a chemical into his prey that dissolves their insides and then he sucks the insides out.” I watched as Jill’s whole body quivered.

“That’s what my brother tries to do. Suck out my insides.” Jill looked up at me as if wanting to be rescued. “My mom says he’s got problems. He doesn’t like girls right now. She says he will be nicer when he gets out of this stage and becomes a adult. I can’t wait for that to happen. We all can’t wait for him to turn into a adult.”

“Between us two there is nothing between but what?” I asked the children as we examined more creek dwellers in our observation jars.

“Energy and information. That’s all there is between nature and us,” Chance watched the larva wiggle against the wall of the observation jar as if it was trying to drill a hole through it and escape.

“All that moving around. Look at that beetle run for it. And look at that worm wiggle.” Jill looked down into my jar, closely watching the small, moving, pulsing black head force itself out of what looked like a hollow skeletal body of a small fish. Black and furry toothpick legs moved slowly out of the black head. "Those eyes. Look at those eyes. They are large like balloons on his head."

“Space-binders are what some scientists call the animals,” I told her

“Space-binders?” Joshua asked. “Space is something way out there.“ He waved his arms up high into the air. “I never heard of that word before.”

"That little spacebinder has made a case for himself out of small pebbles and mud," I told Joshua as he watched the larva squirming out of its case.

"I'll bet he has iron in his case. It's in the dirt stuff in the creek. Remember?" Chance asked me. "Maybe if I put a magnet up to his case I can grab him and pull him out of the water." His grin was a little too big for my comfort.

"No. Don't do that. That is mean. That case is where he lives. How would you like it is someone came over to your house and pulled it up with a big magnet?" Serene stared at Chance as hard as she knew how to stare at anything.

Everything we find at the creek boasts of an impressive collection of spacebinders that has survived over millennia. Just the gathering of beetles with their slick armored jaws is like a collection of different types of bad guy hats in a western movie museum. None of these spacebinders is gracious. They live in the here and now and they have to survive somehow, some way each and every moment. Their angry, premeditated murders cast a wide net across the creek, destroying the more placid creatures of the lot in a bloody moment of gratification. While the most notorious larva of them all, the dragon fly larva, chase after a silvery scaled stickleback fish seeking refuge in the darkness of the creek's bank, the bold but naive toadlets with new lungs ready for air struggle through muddy water seeking a new horizon for their life just ahead.

Everyone is leaving the creek, it seems. It's like the meadow in midsummer. A Wal-Mart sized exodus has just begun. Thousands of winged seeds float into the summer air like tiny gliders, silently riding capricious breathes of summer breezes. The thousands of surviving creek youngsters of this year's eggs cozy up to air for the first time. Their new lungs expand with impunity as they wiggle, strut, and sometimes claw themselves out of the water, never to return to a life as a water creature, an aquatic spacebinder. Now, they are air spacebinders that can feed while on flowers, bask in sunlight, hide in petals and along stems. They seem to know just what to do to survive in air. Some of them flip and flop around in the air like tiny Blue Angels over their birthplace while waiting for dinner.

Spacebinding is what animals do. They bind space in myriads of ways, embracing prey and mates alike with claws, feet, arms, tails, anything to clutch, to catch, to overwhelm. Earth is the place for spacebinders because it has cliffs, and holes, and hiding places. It has banks and stems and trunks. It has ponds and oceans and rivers that meander through mountain ranges and valleys. Earth is the only place where there are spacebinders that tell us when summer is fading and autumn is near; when night is falling and daybreak is moments away. Spacebinders have Earth in their genes.

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Healthy Choices Posters

When children experience how it 'feels' to begin to control their own lifestyle factors that affect their health, this is the beginning of their own medical destiny. Making healthy choices is the master lever for passing over major chronic disease epidemics. "What I want for my children is for them to understand they can have control over the quality of their food and the characteristics of different foods. I want them to yearn to taste the earthiness in a mushroom, the sweeetness in a beet. This poster image has given my children an opportunity to become more aware of what they are putting in their mouths," one mother recently wrote us. We are hearing from many parents now and they are all telling us the same thing: This poster image makes the whole effort toward good health so much easier than without this image. Michael Pollan's eater's manual entitled Food Rules includes images with every Food Rule. StarChild Science's Healthy Living Initiative includes our Healthy Choices poster and flyer image in its animations for families and teachers as well as in its products. Businesses are telling us that when they put their logo on our Healthy Choices poster or flyer, families always remember their efforts to keep children focused on making healthy choices.

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