Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Well I'm glad that's over!

Based on the suggestions in The Well Trained Mind, our 1st grade science curriculum started off with 12 weeks of studying insects.

I never knew how long 12 weeks could be.

It seemed like a good idea in the beginning - learning about wasps and spiders and ladybugs. But as the weeks have worn on... wow. I've about had enough of exoskeletons, larvae and pupae - oh my.

Dale, however, does not share my lack of enthusiasm. As we are finishing up week 12 we have discovered we never learned about the preying mantis.

So he wants to delay our study of birds by one week to work in Mr. Mantis.

I'm all for 'delight-driven' learning, but sorry. No-can-do buddy. Mama's DONE with the bugs.

I did encourage him to check out a book from the library about the mantises (manti?), and if he feels so directed as to do a notebooking page, then more power to him.

However... with all that complaining out of the way.... I have to admit that learning about all those 6-legged critters in the world around us has been interesting, and has had its benefits.

One of the most fun being on a walk recently.

We found a sandy ant hill slap in the middle of an asphalt driveway.

The hill was a flurry of activity from the larger-sized red ants that lived there. The ants had a steady trail heading into the hill from each side of the driveway. You could follow them with your eyes a good ways off the driveway and into the grassy area on either side.

Most of the ones heading towards home were carrying bits of leaves or grass, like this one:

Across the asphalt they went, a little line of green marching along. It was fun to track one all the way on his long journey from the grass, across half the driveway, up onto the sandy mound, and then see him precariously disappear down the hole with his cumbersome load.
All around their door was littered with bits of leaves and grass just like the ones they were carrying. We couldn't figure how those bits had gotten so close, and never made it in! Did they not meet some antish cut-leaf criteria? Was the ant carrying each one just lost when she dropped it? Did she storm off mad?

Some ants, like the one with the HUGE head below, were busy carrying crumbly balls of sand OUT of the hole. A little remodeling and expansion going on, we assumed.
And then there were the non-conformists. Those little workers that couldn't be satisfied with a bit of leaf or grass like the others. Nope. Every once in a while you'd see one of these guys:
That's right, friends. A miniature, ant-sized mushroom. And boy let us observers tell you: that thing was heavy.

This poor little dude got halfway between the grass and home and dropped his load. We thought it was a loss, but he finally managed to hoist it up on his back again, even if the heavy part was now resting on his head instead of his hindquarters:
And just to be good supporters, we watched him make it allllll the way back home and down the hole with his treasure.
We just hoped everyone inside was impressed!

So, bugs, insects, and creepy crawling things, I bid you adieu. Not sad to leave you, but I will admit it's been a learning experience!

Birds: here we come!


momtofivekids said...

Awesome pictures!

Kara said...

I love your pictures. Ants are fascinating creatures, not huge fans of them, but they are hard workers! What a neat learning experience:)

Shanna said...

That really is quite fascinating! I'm with you though...I'd much rather keep our study of bugs short and sweet.