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Tag: darwin

In the midst of our study of life this year, I thought it would be fun to create a Tree of Life. The more I researched, the more I realized that a six year old and her mom could not comprehend the entire classification of life in just a few months, plus there are so many different tree of life diagrams. So I decided to make something extremely flexible so that when we study life again in the next cycle and learn more about genetics, we’ll be able to add/modify our tree.

Here’s our simplified version of the Tree of Life! (click to see larger)

I pulled out my magnet pages again and printed out some images about 2″ in size. I got the images idea from a huge Tree of Life image that Michael D. Barton pointed out to me (11 MB jpg image). We learned how all life fits in together and cool tidbits like how a hippo is related to a sperm whale.  It shows the most fantastic Tree of Life all sorted out with and colorful images. I’ll talk more about it below. (I found that the images are available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA Licence.)

Soon our 4’x6′ white board was plastered with magnetic tiles! Can you find Charles Darwin? We printed out almost all the animals and some plants, including some species that are now extinct.

Hastily I drew up a simple chart and had Satori put the animals in their places. This is our second time studying the animal kingdom (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal), and recently studied yet more fascinating life types, so she knew exactly where to place almost everything. You can see a small print-out of the Tree of Life image that I used.

It is impossible to fit the images on a small 2’x3′ whiteboard so I took out some of the less familiar images and re-did the chart on our smaller, portable whiteboard. I love how flexible it is to make! Now all we need is a dry erase marker and we can organize it all!

I gave Satori a pointer stick and asked her to point to a few special things. Here she’s pointing out a Tiklaatik, a now extinct creature that was a link between fish and amphibian.

If there is interest, I could probably make a few sheets of images available free for download.

I also found Tree of Life posters available on Amazon, where you can choose from three different medias in nine different sizes. Although expensive now, they did give this poster away for free a few years ago for Darwin year.

Further googling led to this fantastic version of the online Interactive Tree of Life. You can zoom in on specific varieties of life and learn more about them, download a detailed image and more.

You can even do a search to pull up more information on the life samples included in their tree of life, and it includes links to research further.

We’re keeping in mind the statement below.


Another cool website I linked to earlier this year was Tol – Tree of Life Web Project.

I also have another idea for an interactive, flexible Tree of Life, this time with green window clings shaped as leaves and brown window markers. My idea to use a leaf puncher didn’t pan out though, as the vinyl cling is just too thick, so this idea is on the backburner for now. I don’t feel like cutting out dozens of leaves individually.

Satori and her Galapagos Islands

Satori and her Galapagos Islands

To kick off our Evolution week, we learned about Charles Darwin and the Galapagos Islands. I had been slowly introducing evolution, Darwin and a bit of these islands to Satori but today was the day we made it come alive. We started by watching Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World (NetFlix or Amazon). Then we read a few picture books on Darwin and the Galapagos. Finally, we pulled up the Galapagos islands on Google Earth to see them off the coast of Ecuador. The cool ocean floor feature helped us gain an idea of how they were formed (volcanic islands being made over millions of years).

Armed with this knowledge, it was time to play! I pulled out our Galapagos Toob of animals and made a few “islands” in the water. Here’s the island’s namesake tortoise, along with a frigate bird with a colorful red bulbous throat.

Galapagos Turtle and a Frigate bird

Galapagos Turtle and a Frigate bird

The marine iguana who dives in the water to eat their food, their black skin blending in with the black volcanic rock of the island they live on. Behind him is a Galapagos Crab (Sally Lightfoot crab) with its stunning red colors.

Marine Iguana - with their black skin

Marine Iguana - with their black skin

The boobie birds can be found on most islands in the archipelago, diving into the waters to catch their prey.

Blue and Red Footed Boobie birds

Blue and Red Footed Boobie birds

Galapagos Penguins are the only penguin to live on the equator and thrive in the cool water of one of the currents that come to the islands.

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Penguin

Charles Darwin himself graced us with his presence! We got him from the Evolving Darwin Play Set. Although he is really deceased at this time, here he is later in his life with his beard. The only time he was actually on the Galapagos was in his young 20’s.

Charles Darwin on the Galapagos

Charles Darwin on the Galapagos

A few more fun Galapagos interactive activities and resources:

Animals, Adaptation and the Galapagos Islands – Discover with Darwin (Level 1)

I really like these Usborne books, and our The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History is getting alot of love in our household. Satori isn’t exactly learning her world history yet, but she loves to look at the pictures and listen to mama read. She has been understanding the concept of how the world started, when oceans formed, when animals started, plants formed, when they came on land, when dinosaurs lived, and finally, humans. Her favorite page is this one, she loves to trace her fingers along the spiral here while describing how history has unfolded:


1This was about the time of Charles Darwin’s 200 birthday anniversay last month. I enjoyed reading many other mama bloggers descriptions of how they celebrated his birthday and found some great books and resources. We have added to our library What Mr. Darwin Saw (released just a few days ago on March 1, 2009) and Charles Darwin (also recently released). Next year we will celebrate Darwin Day in style.

From Charlie’s Playhouse, we got this huge timeline. The back side has an  Activity Guide for ages 4-10, glossary and FAQs for kids and adults.

It just kept unfolding and unfolding – to a full 18 feet long! Made of durable, wipe-clean paper, it is perfect to run along, and after I read the “book” to Satori, she had a lot of fun running along it. On a whim, I shouted out parts of history and she would jump to them, and she was very good at that. I was impressed at her ability to retain what we had read just a few minutes ago. (Remember, I was kinda shouting, so you may want to turn your volume down a bit, lol!)

Another version they offer aside from the giant floor-mat timeline is a smaller poster suitable for hanging on the wall. Or, you can get the Ancient Creature Cards to make the most of your timeline.


Another great investment to our home school, what a way to keep all the history periods memorable.