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Category: The Salamander Room

I love it when we can combine learning different things in a lesson designed like a game! Here we practiced our animal classification, now a total no-brainer for Satori. Plus we got our first exposure to charts and graphs! Throw a little bit of math in, and I feel our day has been complete. 🙂

While I was updating our last blog post, I asked Satori to gather all her small plastic animal toys and put them in a box. Then we printed this Animal Classification Graph out from Ami at Homeschool share.

Animal Classification Graph

Animal Classification Graph

We put in our own color labels next to each animal. I would’ve drawn the animal, but Satori can sound things out good enough to know what each column is. Then she closed her eyes, and picked her first animal! It was a reptile, so we colored the first column in green.


I was very pleased that as Satori randomly picked animals from the living room, she actually picked a very balanced animal set of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish and birds! These animals consisted mostly of our Galapagos and Rainforest Animal Toobs, with a couple of random creatures thrown in.

You can’t see the lighter-colored columns, but this was a close race…


Who was going to win?

Animal race

Animal race

And it was the mammals! What a fun way to wrap up the afternoon.


It was a family activity night tonight. After we enjoyed our second batch (new and improved) of trilobite cookies, we made our clay salamanders. Well, David actually made a Permian reptile, the Dimetrodon, which he found sitting on the kitchen counter, oddly enough.

Here our cold-blooded creatures are getting ready to bask in the sun oven.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

After an hour, they were ready to come alive with colors!


We used colorful metallic paints, which at first I wasn’t so sure about, but they totally rocked! Satori is painting her salamander in all kinds of colors. You can also see her baby sea turtle in this shot, equally vibrant.


David made this shimmering green/yellow Dimetrodon and baby. Angela made the trilobite top left.


Mom made a coral salamander. Here she is staring at Satori’s salamander.


And here they all are, our family of amphibians and reptiles!!!


Making Clay Creatures

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1 T vegetable oil

Mix and then knead until nice and smooth. Form your salamander or creature, don’t forget legs and beady eyes! We made indentations on our creatures for toes, wrinkles and mouth. Bake in oven at 300 degrees for an hour. Wait until cool, then paint away! Then set your clay creatures and salamanders somewhere where you can enjoy your craft all year long.

We’re rowing The Salamander Room as an intro to the animal kingdom, so this week we’re going over a cursory review of the vertebrates of the Animal Kingdom. I plan to go over this all more thoroughly in the fall, but since we’ve already read a lot of books on mammals, amphibians, and such, I thought it would be easy for Satori to view the Animal Kingdom visually. So I wanted to create a large project fast and easy.

I’m sure there’s many ways to make an Animal Kingdom Classification board, but if you wanted to use our idea, you’ll need a large white board, some ziplock bags (you can make your own pockets too), pictures of different animals (from Internet/magazines), glue, tape, scissors…

I took a large white project board and found this Animal Classification website to cut our colorful explanations of each type of animal. I printed it out on cardstock, here’s our 5 main groups:

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

I glued them to our board and taped up zip bags underneath them. Then Satori got in on the action by sounding out “animal kingdom” with me to spell it out on top.

0905-animal-kingdom-016 0905-animal-kingdom-021

All ready to go!

0905-animal-kingdom-023For our animals to classify, you can use many sources to print out animal pictures – Internet, cut from magazines, etc… I had on hand this All About Animals Photo Library from Lakeshore Learning which I purchased for $39.95. It was a worthwhile investment as we love our animals and want to learn about them. It has handy sorting/classifying cards, but most importantly, it has animals of all kinds! Amphibians, insects, mammals, birds, you name it.

All About Animals Photo Library

All About Animals Photo Library

After I selected a handful of animal cards, I handed them to Satori to put them in the right animal place. It has been awhile since we read our Mammal book, so I caught her trying to stick the whale and dolphin in the fish category (she said they have no hair), but we got them in the right place eventually.

Humpback Whale - mammal

Humpback Whale - mammal

Satori also had a bit of confusion now and then on Amphibians verses Reptiles, although just a month ago, I would have too! So while I thought we had learned about amphibians, it’s apparent we’ll have to learn a little bit more about amphibians and reptiles and their differences. A few major differences are that amphibians have moist, smooth skin, lay eggs in water, and have both gills and lung, goes through metamorphosis… Reptiles have scaly/dry skin, lay hard eggs on land, have just lungs, and do not go through metamorphosis.

Frog - amphibian

Frog - amphibian

And here’s the big view of our new Animal Kingdom Classification board with our animal classifications filled out.


We had a lot of fun doing this project, and most importantly, I could see how much Satori knew about her animals. I have a bunch of DVDs lined up on animals, and now we’re heading off to the library to get some animal books! Later this week, we’ll go over some classification exercises, I should’ve done these first, but oh well.

Satori and I got a lot of shrieks out of this Frilled Lizard.


It’s been awhile since our last rowing, but we’ve been reading The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer. This is actually a FIAR vol 3 book, and we’ve only done volume 1 so far, but I couldn’t wait to row a book about animals. It will complement our history studies well as we’re also learning about amphibians and an intro to the animal kingdom this month!

Salamander Room

Salamander Room

I actually got this idea from another FIAR blogger, Sweet Blessings. Check out her cute “salamander room”!

Satori actually now has two rubbery salamanders, and they’ve been quite the hit! She took them to her cousin Peyton’s and two other 2 year old girls had a blast playing with the amphibians. We got them in the sale bin at Michaels craft store for just $2 each. Since I can’t find them, here’s a link to another cool Salamander – Spotted Salamander. Ours were just what we paid for though, the paint is flaking off, but we think they were still totally worth it.

We’ve been to the library to research amphibians and both Satori and I learned a lot.

What is an Amphibian?

What is an Amphibian?

We’ll take about two weeks on the Salamander Room, as we want to coordinate the rowing with nature hikes at our local ponds and the emergence of our new pet butterflies!