Monthly Archives: December 2009

Last Glass of the Semester

Today DV went with us to Blue Heron Glass.  It was a big day!  It was DV’s first time in the glass shop to work.  AV worked on our group project by grinding down the edges on a massive grinding wheel.  Then we all took turns using a Drimmel tool that has been exposed to massive doses of radiation and is now the Hulk of tools to etch our names into the back of each piece.  Oh yes and there was fire.


Filed under Art, AV, glass, Going outs (Field Trips), JV

Somewhat in the Air’s Shell Collection


Filed under AV, BR, JV, Projects, Science, Shell Collection

Glass work by JV and AV

We have made it through Molluska, and I haven’t posted their Art work for a while. So here we go.


Filed under Art, AV, glass, Going outs (Field Trips), JV

Molluska, an Overview – by JV

Atlantic Jack knife clam

Atlantic Surf Clam shell

Blue Mussel shell (top) and Eastern Oyster shell

Mollusks are a very large group of animals.  They vary in size from the giant colossal squid to the tiny burrowing snail.  The “brains” of this group escape tanks and change color.  Nudibranchs are very toxic and colorful.  Some snails have very elaborate shells and can be quite large.  Some don’t have shells.  The diversity among the creatures is amazing.

The group commonly know as bivalves includes clams, mussels and oysters. They have two shells that open and close.  Some clams, mussels and oysters are used for food.  Most of the shells look generally the same.  The shells in Fig 1 are a few in this category.  Clams have a foot that burrows in the ground and have two syphons (Fig 1).  The syphons act as a snorkel and pump water out of its burro. They are all filter feeders.

Figure 2

Gastropods (meaning stomach foot) are commonly known as snails.  Most snails have shells.  The ones that do have shells either have a cone shaped shell or the more common spiral shell.  They  are also jelly shells and some gastropods have their shell under their skin.  Muscles and clams are related to the snails.  But the bivalves do not quite have the array of colors that the majority of the gastropods have.

Octopi are probably one of the most clever mollusks.  They have been known for climbing out of tanks and escaping.  Most octopi have a special organ for changing color.  For example: the Blue Ringed Octopus rings turn blue when intimidated (to warn predator that he  is poisonous).  Some octopi can also change their skin texture to blend in with the environment around them perfectly.

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Filed under Biology, JV, Science

Squid – an Overview – by BR


The squid are a part of kingdom Molluska class Cephlodia. Squid are mainly found in the order Teuthida. Their primary orders are Myosophina and Ogosophina. Only Cephlopoda can change color. Only Cephlopoda have closed circulatory systems. They have approximately 300 species.  They only live in salt water. They are found in two ocean zones – euphotic through the disphotic zones – ranging from about 30 feet to 1000 feet. The squid can swim 25 body lengths per second. Squid are the fastest among the invertebrates.  Their fins on the out side of the body help stabilize the squid. The squid have a funnel on theirback called a siphon. The mantle sucks the water in, and the siphon pushes it out to help the squid move. They swim in schools of four to 30. There have been large numbers of squid in the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and California.  Squid are mostly caught around the United States. They are eaten by whales, birds, and bony fish. Squid eat plankton, snails, small, fish, and large mammals. The squid use the tentacles to grab their food. They do not use their arms for this. They have ten arms encircling their beak and the two long tentacles. The tentacles have hooks and suckers. Even the baby squid have tentacles. They are the same as their parents. A female can produce thousands of eggs and stores the eggs in her ovary. The male sperm is produced in the testis and stored in a sack until he releases it in the water where it will fertilize the eggs. Myosophids are nertic while the Ogosophids are benthic. When adult, the largest squid is 90 cm the smallest one is 14 cm.

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Filed under Art, Biology, BR, Science

Mollusca Alert!

This is so interesting.  The use of a tool by an octopus. From the BBC.


Filed under Biology, Science

An Independent Child’s Christmas List

So all I want for Christmas lists are up.  This list is dedicated to all the kids out there who haven’t gotten to explore the depths of their back yard, the local, county, or state parks.  Once I had a kindergarten parent who came into my classroom to tell me that I had messed up their Christmas.  She had placed all kinds of Walmart plastic toys on lay-away.  Her son had informed them that all he wanted was a stereoscope like the one in the classroom.  She was half joking about being angry.  She couldn’t believe he wouldn’t want the toys.  I had to explain that a Montessori education aims to give the child the world.  Here’s to giving the children the world!  By-the-way it is a really great gift for kids.

One  – A Compass

The Compass Store offers good starter compasses for around $10.  Walmart (I know!) has them too for the same price.   There are a couple of things to be aware of when purchasing a compass.  1. You want a base plate compass.  Don’t go for the “nice” ones.  2.  The little ball ones and the ones on zippers are decoration.  They are not useful. 3.  Make sure the arrows are easy to read.  4.  Figure out how to use one yourself.  I didn’t know.  Yey!  The Compass Store has directions!

Two – A Magnifying Glass

Today we notices amazing stylized Japanese mountains in some shells we were looking at because we had a magnifying glass.  God is in the details.  Looking at the tiny patterns in things helps children gain relationship and mathematical patterns in the world around us.  Check out a sewing store.  They have really good, DURABLE ones.  Things to keep in mind: 1. glass is optimal – just like in cameras, but it scratches and breaks easier than plastic   2.  Go for 2.5 or 3x magnification.

Three  –  Backpack – that gets messy

Kids need a backpack that can get dirt in the bottom and mud in the zippers.  The school backpack can not do double duty. Requirements:  1.  It must be made to get drug through the street with a load of rocks or dropped 20 feet from a tree. 2.  It can’t be waterproof. You don’t want to even go down that road.  3.  Don’t do plastic; stick with canvas.   Jansport is a very durable backpack.  It doesn’t need to be fancy – 2 zipper areas and off we go.

Four  – A Pocket Knife

As Gever Tully of the Tinkering School believes that the ability to wield a knife in life is a powerful step towards independence.  And how.  AV cut himself twice, learned, and has moved the being able to manage himself well.  In our family there are two school of knife thought:  1.  Swiss Army  and 2. Leatherman.  I’m a Case girl myself – but that’s not part of our story – we aren’t gutting a deer.

  • Swiss Army – these knives come from the simple to the complex.  AV’s is this one.  He loves it and wouldn’t trade it for anything – except maybe DV’s larger one.  But we figured.  Why did a 10 year-old need a cork screw?
  • Leatherman – JV’s favorite tool ever! JV is all about fixing little stuff and loosing little screws and prying stuff up.  This is the tool for him.

Five – Rope

Head over to Lowe’s and find the rope department. You want a length of nylon rope. Get more than you think – 2o ft. is pretty good. You want nylon because it is relatively wear and water resistant.  The independent child won’t be lifting 75 tons, so you don’t need to worry about the strength of it. Just make sure it could support their weight. You may want to demonstrate how to seal a nylon rope’s end (burn it).  Also you may want to stop by your local book store and find a knot tying book so you don’t have to buy rope for a while.

Six – Plants and Insects Audubon Guides

Singularly the most referenced books in our home.  We have added used Audubon Guides (check Amazon for good deals).  Insects, birds and plants are an absolute must.  Being able to name something provides kids with a sense of ownership and responsibility for it.  It also helps them know when to rationally be afraid.  You’ll be pleased to know that spiders and included in the insect book.

Seven  –  Trust

It may be a few gray hairs for you.  Those hairs are nothing compared to the greatest gift you can give your child.  I didn’t have any of the other items on this list growing up.  But I did have this.  I am very grateful for my parent’s gift to me. If you need a book that has everything from humor to the hard cold statistical facts about our irrational fears for children, check out Free Range Kids.


Filed under Quick Takes Friday