Sunday, May 8, 2011


On Friday we finished our Australian unit which included New Zealand and Oceania (the islands around Australia).  The corresponding science unit was on coral reefs, specifically looking at the Great Barrier Reef.   Places we studied included the Outback, Ayers Rock, Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  For animals we studied marsupials including kangaroos (did you know that it is not uncommon for mommy kangaroos to be pregnant with one joey, have one in the pouch and a preschooler by her side?  I wonder if we spent more time educating the female kangaroos...), koalas (which are not bears), wombats (which have some of the driest poop in the mammal kingdom--all of us are still wondering why this was included in a kid's book on marsupials), and opossums.  We also looked at kookaburras and dingos.    We learned some Aussie lingo and studied the history of the Australian flag.  The boys again completed a country summary sheet learning a little more of the history of Australia including the native Australians, the Aborigines. 

For our Australian meal we made Aussie meat pies, kiwi fruit salad, strawberry spinach salad, and Pavlova for dessert.  Since Meijer was fresh out of kangaroo meat we had to use ground beef for our meat pies.  

We read lots of different books about the coral reef and the animals we studied.  We also enjoyed The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Arnold, Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester and Outback Adventures and Great Barrier Reef Adventures both by Jim Cromarty.  While Grandma was here we also watched an educational DVD on the Great Barrier Reef.  A little too many "millions of years", but otherwise great pictures and informative (what I saw of it anyway--I have to admit to nodding off for a bit of it.)  The kids had also planned to watch Finding Nemo, but since the weather was so nice last week they never got around to it.  I am sure we will watch it on our way home to Iowa.  Along with the movie Spirit, it is Seth's favorite and both are watched without fail on our trips to and from Iowa. 

Even though I am not formally teaching Seth, it is fun to see how much he picks up from our read-alouds and from the DVDs and activities the older kids do.  From the pictures below you can see that he really enjoyed the  coral reef unit!

Coral reef diorama

Seth's diorama

One of my personal favorites:  Seth's drawing of the coral reef.  Note the three scuba divers swimming toward the red octopus, staying above the large shark.  The coral is on the bottom along with a lobster and a clown fish.  I think it's worth clicking on the picture for a closer look.  (Ignore the planets on the left side of the paper--at least that's what he told me they were) 

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