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Tag: life

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.

The past few weeks we’ve been learning about Mollusks and Echinoderms with R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Life. As always, I learned tons along with my daughter. Echinoderm comes from Latin and means “spiny-skinned”. I’m so glad we are studying Latin, it comes in so handy when figuring out words.

Today we used a banana to demonstrate echinoderms. Satori is forming a sea urchin below.

An extra info page gives us more information about echinoderms. Here’s where we learned they all have five major muscles. In most sea stars this is very obvious, but in not so obvious in sea cucumbers and urchins. With an urchin, the muscles fold back up and join at the top, like in Satori’s banana peel above. The mouth is on the bottom and has five parts.

 

For sea cucumbers, the muscles run along its body.

After we read the included pages on echinoderms, we supplemented with books and videos. Here Satori is watching a video on echinoderms from Discovery Education Streaming.

Last week we learned about mollusks. Now for RSO – Life you are supposed to keep several creatures as pets, such as earthworms, snails, roly-polies, and butterflies. We will not be doing so, so that’s why we’re supplementing with so many books and videos. So far, it’s been working out just fine!

Instead of keeping a snail, which I doubt we’d find in our area right now under the snow, we learned as much as we could about snails. Since snails are mollusks, as well as octopus, clams, squid, and oysters, they have a lab where we find the similarities between these very different creatures. The first page was a graph we filled out that compared a snail to a clam, oyster, sea jelly, earthworm, and beetle. Here’s the second page where we conclude that snails are most like the clams and oysters in the mollusk group.

Second lab was examining snail parts and labeling the diagram. By this time, we were familiar enough with snails to fill out the anatomy page.

The next month we’ll be learning all about arthropods. However, due to a trip to the Grand Canyon that we’ll be taking in May, we may simultaneously add in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Earth and Space as well. I’ve heard great things about it, so we look forward to digging in!

We want to make an Animal Kingdom Tree of Life (we did this two years ago), but this time including all the phylum and in a tree-like structure. I’m still figuring out how to do this best, if anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

For now, I’ve found some fascinating websites, such as the Tree of Life web project.

I can’t believe all the information they have regarding Cnidarians (our study for the week), much of it very kid-friendly. For example, head to their Cnidarian page and click on “Treehouses”. It shows kid-friendly stories, games, quizzes and more. Here’s one on “The Adventures of Squishy the Jellyfish”.

Want more? Drill down into “Collections” and watch 17 Cnidaria videos or view hundreds of images!

Creative Commons ShareAlike license, (c) Tom Murphy VII

New pages are added to this amazing resource every week. I’m still exploring the site and finding amazing new cool features. For example, check out their related web page, Tree of Life Interactive.

I’ll be coming back and writing a more detailed Blog Page review soon!

In our RSO studies, we are starting from the simplest animals and this past week we’ve learned about cnidaria and worms. We also added our own sponge study. The animals start off extremely simple, and slowly they are getting more complex. The most primitive animals have even been thought to be plants until scientists discovered certain characteristics that make them true animals.

Satori and I checked these books out at the library. I was giddy with excitement to discover all the different books they had on worms and sponges and stuff. I just grabbed a few of each phylum and hoped for the best. I was pretty worried Satori wouldn’t enjoy reading over a dozen books on simple creatures, but I was wrong. We had an absolute blast yesterday and didn’t even get to any other subjects!

Each book gave us different and fascinating knowledge about sponges, cnidaria and worms. Satori also found a $5 bill on the ground at the store, and when she tried handing it to the cash register lady, she was told “finders-keepers”. So we headed to our local nature store and she picked out a $5 toy – a jellyfish!

Anyway, Satori was absolutely delighted with her new sea jelly. She carried it in her hands all day yesterday. I doubted that it would float, but today we discovered that it does! Introducing Jella! (of course her new animal has to have a name)

From our books we learned that the outer things are stinging tentacles and then the feeding arms bring their food to their mouth. They are carnivorous. They cannot go after their prey, they just float along and whatever gets stuck in their tentacles is their food. Sea jellies are 90% water. We actually are going to call the jellyfish a sea jelly from now on, as fish have backbones and sea jellies do not. They don’t even have brains.

She’s now taking a bath with Jella, her lucky favorite new toy. Move over Ariel the mermaid, make room for Jella the Sea Jelly!

We were also surprised to learn that the Portuguese Man-o-war is not a jellyfish, but it is a relative in the Cnidaria family. The Man-o-war is actually a colony of polyps living together. For those of you living near the ocean, are these things common to see?  I see one of these washed up on the shore a few times now. They’re so pretty.

Daddy made it back from his two-week Mexico trip at 1am this morning. Satori begged for him to wake up early. She then proceeded to teach him all she knew about Sea Jellies and Men-o-war (plural). I woke up to a list of everything David learned about sea jellies and friends. 🙂

Satori just got done with her bath and she quickly dressed and ran to yank Daddy out of his office. She roped him into reading her sea anemone book. I’m listening to him read aloud now. 🙂