Friday, July 22, 2011

Prehistory – Devonian and Carboniferous Periods

We finally moved on to the next periods in our Prehistory study.   The Devonian and Carboniferous periods are when animals began to move from living in the water to living on land.   One of the adaptations that was necessary for this switch was the development of a shelled egg.  Prior to this most animals were amphibious and had to return to the water to lay their eggs.   To help the kids understand the difference, we did the naked egg experiment.  We took a raw egg and soaked it in vinegar.  After 24 hours, we drained off the vinegar and replaced it with fresh vinegar.  Due to some poor planning on my part, the egg then sat in our refrigerator for about a month.  It actually only takes a week for the shell to dissolve, leaving an egg held together by the membrane.  The egg will be larger than it started since some vinegar is able to enter the egg through the membrane, which is semi-permeable (for older kids an explanation of osmosis may be in order).  We compared our naked egg to a shelled egg.

We actually managed to do this without the egg bursting.  Georgie kept taking it out of the bowl and rolling it around on the table so we didn’t spend too much time exploring it.

We matched up our Charlie’s Playhouse Creature Cards with our Timeline. Georgie is really taking off with reading and is having a lot of fun trying to read the information on each critter by himself.  He also made up a game where he laid three cards face down and asked Vicki to pick the one with certain characteristics. 

We read the information on each period in our Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History and Usborne First Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life.  The information and pictures in the two books are very similar (and often the same) but there are enough differences that it’s been worth looking through both.  Both encyclopedias are definitely not necessary but I bought the First Encyclopedia for 60% off at a Scholastic Warehouse Sale.

We finished up this section of Prehistory by playing a fun game about Extinction.   I found it at Borders when I was looking for Steph’s summer reading selection.  It was a package that came with a book Gone Extinct, a toob of animals and a game board.  Evidently it is just one of many Groovy Tube sets available. (They are available at Amazon).
Groovy Tube Books: Gone Extinct! (Fact Book, Game Board and Collectible Figurines)
Not all the extinct critters included were prehistoric.  There were 15 animals included:  Allosaurus (carnivorous dinosaur), Ammonite (ancient relative of squid and octopus), Archaeopteryx (first feathered fossil, early relative of birds), Archelon (giant sea turtle, extinct 74 million years), Arthropleura (giant millipede-like creature of Carboniferous period), Brachauchenius (giant swimming reptile, extinct 90 million years), Dodo bird (small peaceful bird, extinct around 1700), Red Colobus Monkey (extinct in 2000), Opabinia (tiny creature of the Cambrian period), Pteranodon (flying reptile lived with the dinosaurs), Quagga (looked like half zebra, half horse, extinct in 1883), Smilodon (saber-toothed cat, extinct about 10,000 years ago), Steller’s Sea Cow (large floating mammal, extinct in 1768), Tasmanian Tiger (marsupial, extinct in 1936), Wooly Mammoth (furry relative of elephant, extinct about 10,000 years ago).


The game is Journey to Extinction Island.  The premise is that you have a machine that transports you to an island where extinct animals still live.   But, there are poachers on the island as well.  The animals are divided into zones (Swamp, Forest, Water and Sky).  Players have to rescue one animal from each zone, save any animals taken by poachers and reach the End space in Poacher’s Hideout.  We had fun playing the game.  Vicki didn’t want to leave the purple path (since that’s her favorite color) and Georgie wanted to use the animals as game pieces but once they got the idea, it went pretty well.  As each animal was rescued, I would read about it from the book. 


Georgie’s favorite is definitely the dodo bird but he insists on calling it the doo-doo bird.  I tried to tell him it was pronounced dodo (long o sounds) but he asked me “how do you spell do?  D…O…so d o d o is doo-doo.”   I can see we are going to have a lot of fun moments doing school with this one.  He does not accept “because that’s the way it is” as an answer.

After, I let them play with the animals on their own and we ended up with Opabinia swimming with the Dodo bird on his back to go and rescue Archeopteryx.

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