17 May 2012

Blue Whales

My girls love animals. I guess, most kids do? Well, they asked now to study about whales, especially the Blue Whale and so we did. We first discussed general facts such as

- A whale is a Mammal, and reviewed what a mammal is.
-Differences in features between baleen whales and toothed whales (for instance did you know that baleen whales have 2 nostrils, and toothed whales only one?)

-Food for whales
-Other discussion based on questions brought up by children such as, why do people kill whales?
-How do whales move
-basic anatomy

Then, we went on to study the Blue Whale specifically. First we looked at the chart below.

To  help the girls really imagine the size of the blue whale, we took out some yarn and measured 100 feet long! We tied one end to our gate and the girls pulled that string passed the porch, into the house, pass the living room.....you get the picture. They were AMAZED at how long the blue whale actually is!

We stood beneath some parts of the yarn and pretended and imagined. "Wow....I'm looking up and I see it's eye.....and it's tail is soooo soooo far away!! I'm so tiny!!!" said Nel.
"Oh my goodness....it is soo huge and long it can fit one zillion people mum!!!" said Jo.

Then we shortened that yarn a little and pretended we were standing next to a Brachiosaurus, and then a T-Rex! We imagined the outline of the creatures as if they were in front of us. You could see the sense of awe on the girl's faces as they imagined the size of these creatures, just based on our stretched yarn.

We also listened to the sound of the Blue Whale, coz we found out that it is the loudest creature on earth! 
pic from Enchanted Learning

AT the same time, kids frequently looked at a whale poster given by Uncle PA and discussed things they observed. (Thanks uncle PA for this!)

Then we went on to discuss BLUBBER.

We discussed why blubber was useful to a whale. For Jo's sake, we branched off temporarily and discussed "Insulation."  And then we went on to discuss buoyancy.

While doing buoyancy, we reviewed objects that float. (By the way, found a post on my old blog about a floating experiment that Nel did a loooong time ago.)

The girls threw stuff into a bucket of water, and Jo wondered why the larger objects floated and the smaller ones mostly sank.

So, we discussed buoyant force and gravity, and displacement,   not in depth, but enough for Jo to understand. From displacement we went on to discuss how density is calculated. We followed the following  when doing a simple experiment on how to calculate density of fruits and vegetables. They enjoyed doing it.  :)

Finally after all that, the girls asked "Now can we get back to the whale again?" :D     I know, we started with whales but travelled so far.

Back to Blubber but still about buoyancy, we did the following:-

 We threw the small tomatoes into water, and of course, they sank.

 Then we sliced a tomato and Nel stuffed it with margarine (blubber.)

Walla...the think floated. And that confirmed how blubber increases buoyancy.


Then we went on to do the famous blubber experiment to see how it keeps  whales warm.

The girls stuck their hands into very cold iced water, and didn't last a minute! Then we added margarine (blubber) into the plastic bag, another layer of plastic to seal it in, and the girls put their hands in again. Of course, the "blubber" kept their hands nice and warm.
So, just in half a day, we covered stuff from basic facts about whales to buoyancy, insulation and density. We added drama and imagination, and it was a fun class. :)  Finally, we watched a few videos of whales breaching, tail lobbing, spy hopping and fin slapping.

Wow...just as I'm about to end this post, Jo's just came up to me with some quick sketches she's just done, here they are.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012



Stephanie said...

What a great unit! I bet your family had a blast.

Divoo said...

what great experiments! i like the one with the tomato... :) and i always look forward to seeing the sketches! :) happy weekend!

marie said...

Oh wow, this is awesome! I don't homeschool but this is such a great lesson I want to duplicate it all. What a wonderful lesson for your children.

Mini Mocha said...

Cool experiments with the fat and tom I like them both, I will be trying those thanks.

Martha said...

Yes, thiss was a fun unit. Hope you enjoy the experiments as much as we did. :)

eddiesherene said...

oh wow...i have the books about whale but i myself cnt understand some of the words and feel hard to explain to the kids..
Now I know why Jessy said you are super cool and done well in hs.


eddiesherene said...

i love the way you put ur effort and hearts and love into teaching your children. Hugz.


Kiddothings said...

Love the experiments! Will definitely keep these in mind to do with my kids! :)

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