Friday, August 10, 2012

Furry Friend Friday – the Bunny

It’s furry friend Friday once again. Today we are exploring the world of domesticated rabbits. What does it take to keep this little fellow happy and healthy? Let’s find out.

Bunny Boom
Rabbits have been popular pets in the US since the late 1800′s. Rabbits known as Belgian Hares were brought into the United States from England in 1888. This became known as the ‘Belgian Hare Boom’ and from 1898 to 1901 many thousands of these bunnies were imported. Today, there is an organization called the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) which was founded in 1910 and is still the national authority on breeding and care of domestic bunnies.

Furry Friend Fact…the rabbit is the third most popular pet in England after the cat and the dog.

Bunny Breeds

There are several different types of bunnies kept for pets, in fact, there’s way to many to list here, so we’re going to check out the most popular.
  • Dwarf Bunny ~ grows up to 2.5 pounds, comes in various colors, has small pointed ears and can live from 7-10 years
  • Lop-Eared Bunny ~ these can grow up to 15 pounds (depending on breed), have long ears that hang below their jawline, are intelligent and affectionate.
  • Angora Bunny ~ a bigger rabbit, it can grow up to 12 pounds, depending on breed, docile in nature and likes attention, is social and very active. This rabbit needs to be groomed on a regular basis.
Furry Friend Fact…make sure you research each breed of bunny so you know what’s right for you.

Now What?

You’ve chosen a bunny, so now what? First you have to decide where your bunny is going to reside in your home. Do you want a cage, pen, bunny condo or just a large area with a litter box, food and someplace quiet for him to get away from it all? Remember, bunnies are social creatures so he has to be able to interact with the members of the household in order to be happy and healthy. Plus, he will need to exercise. If you decide to let your new friend explore your home, be sure to “bunny-proof.” Rabbits are very curious, so you need to make sure there’s nothing for him to chew on, like electrical cords, carpeting, paper etc. Also, if your rabbit gets bored, he will look for fun things to do, so provide him with a cardboard castle filled with empty paper towel/toilet paper rolls, old phone books or other paper products you may find around your home.

Furry Friend Fact…a bored bunny is a destructive bunny. Keep him happy with things to chew on.

Bunny Food

Even though we know rabbits like carrots, you have to feed him more than just that. Pet retailers sell a pre-package pellet that will give your bunny his basic diet, but you also have to give him grass hay. This is high in fiber and essential to your bunny’s health. Also, a fresh supply of water is a must have at all times.

Eat Your Veggies!

Like us, rabbits need some vegetables to keep them healthy, here’s a list of bunny-friendly veggies;

  • Basil
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli leaves (stems or tops can make rabbits gassy)
  • Carrot tops (carrots are high in calcium and should be given sparingly)
  • Celery
  • Cilantro
  • Clover
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Dill
  • Kale (sparingly)
  • Lettuce – romaine or dark leaf (no iceburg lettuce and no cabbage)
  • Mint
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsley
  • Water cress
Bunnies can make a wonderful pet, but like all animals they’re a responsiblity that isn’t to be taken lightly. Before you decide to bring a bunny into your family, do some research on the Internet, the library or ask your local bunny breeder or pet retailer to fill you in on all the details. Armed with knowledge and lots of love, you’ll have a fun furry friend for years to come.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Mudskipper

We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting the banks of the Pacific ocean to catch a glimpse of the frog-faced fish called a mudskipper. Keep your eyes peeled, we may find him lurking in the brackish mangrove swamps or on the mud flats after the tide has gone out.

Fish Can Walk!

You may be saying…fish can’t walk, they swim; however, the mudskipper is the exception to the rule.

The mudskipper crawls and flaps its way across the shoreline using its tail and specially developed front fins. It’s 12-30 inches long with big protruding eyes and small gills, which holds water so it’s able to breathe on land. The mudskipper is olive brown in color with bluish markings. It prefers food found on land like, flying insects, crabs and other small creatures.

Wild World Fact…Mudskippers must remain moist and will roll in puddles on land and wipe a wet fin across their eyes so they don’t dry out.

Mud, Skip, Jump!

Mudskippers not only walk on land, they can also leap in the air by bending and suddenly straightening their bodies. This gives them the ability to reach up to 2 feet (half a meter) in height. The mudskipper can also climb mangrove trees in search of food. Because of these unusual actions, mudskippers have also been called kangaroo fish, climbing fish, mudhopper and johnny jumpers. To avoid predators and to lay their eggs, mudskippers will dig a deep burrow in the soft sediment.

Wild World Fact…Larger memebers of the mudskipper family can skip faster than most people can move.

For more information on this and other marine animals, check out your local library, the Internet or a Marine Life sanctuary.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wild World Wedensday ~ Pygmy Marmoset

We live in a wild world. Today we're visiting the jungles of South America to venture into the rain forest where the pygmy marmoset, also known as a finger monkey, lives. Let's take a look at this cute little critter.


Pygmy Marmosets are the smallest monkeys in the world. They are 14 to 16 centimetres (5.5 to 6.3 in) length, with another 15-to-20-centimetre (5.9 to 7.9 in) for the tail. Males weigh around 140 grams (4.9 oz), and females only 120 grams (4.2 oz) - about the weight of an apple. Their fur is almost feathery in appearance and can range from black, brown, white, grey to tan in colour. They have long tails, small ears and 5 digits on each paw; however, unlike some monkeys, they lack a "true" thumb.

Wild World Fact... pygmy marmosets can jump more than 16 ft (5 m). Quite a distance for such a small monkey!
Give 'Em the Gum

If you read a food label you may discover the pygmy marmoset's favorite food - gum arabic. This is found in the acacia tree in it's rawest form. The finger monkey will spend hours gouging holes in the tree's trunk and branches to create a steady flow of the sap to lick from.

Wild World Fact...this monkey also enjoys eating fruit, nectar, spiders and insects.

Monkey Talk

Even though finger monkey's are small they have a mighty call. They communicate by making high pitched squeaks, whistles, clicks and trills. In fact some of their calls are so loud it can't be heard by the human ear.

Along with noise, the pygmy marmoset also communicates with facial expressions and body posture. To defend it's territory the male monkey will flatten his ears, raise the hair on his head and chase the intruder away from his troop.

Wild World Fact...male pygmy marmoset's will also pull back the corners of their mouths back in a grimace when defending their territory.

Finger Monkey Babies

The pygmy marmoset mom gives birth to two babies (twins) or sometimes three. She does this twice a year. Once the babies are born, mom marmoset will care for them along with the father. When the babies are two months of age they are grown enough to be away from their parents. At six months old the young are considered full grown, but may stay with the family unit until they find a mate and start their own troop.

Wild World Fact...Pygmy marmosets form small groups of up to 15 individuals. This group is called a Troop.

For more information on the finger monkey check out your local library, the Internet or a zoo.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Crayons

Crayons are fun to use. They can take an ordinary picture and make it beautiful. Plus, they come in a wide array of colors. But do you know where crayons began? Let's check out their colourful history.

Waxy Sticks

Around 1885 two cousins by the names of, Edwin Binney, and C. Harold Smith, formed a company. In the year 1900 the men started to make slate pencils for schools. Along the way the came up with a wax stick used to mark crates and barrels, but it was loaded with black carbon and unhealthy for children.

However, this got the cousins thinking and by 1903 they had created the first crayons. There were 8 colors; black, brown, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow, and green and were sold for a nickle. The name "Crayola" was created by Edwin's wife, Alice, who used the French words for chalk (craie) and oily (oleaginous) and combined them to get the word.

Color Me Crayons

As the company grew so did the number of crayon colors.
  • 1949 ~ crayons had 40 different colors
  • 1958 ~ 16 more colors were added. Plus, the box had a sharpener
  • 1972 ~ 8 fluorescent colors are added
  • 1990 ~ 16 more colors are added and 8 are retired
  • 1993 ~ another 16 colours added
  • 1998 ~ another whopping 24 colors added
  • 2000 ~ “specialty sets” include glitter crayons, pearl brite crayons, and techno-brite crayons.
Today, the biggest box of crayons contains all 120 colors in a wide variety hues.

What's the most popular color of crayon? If you guessed blue, you're right. Out of the top 10 favorites, 8 different shades of blue were liked the best.

What's your favorite crayon color? Let us know by leaving your answer in the comment section.

Happy Crayola Coloring!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Giraffe

We live in a wild world. Today we’re visiting the African Savanna to take a peek at the world’s tallest mammal, the giraffe. These animals are fascinating and fun, so let’s take a looooong look at it.

So Long!
Perhaps the first thing we think of we when hear the word “giraffe” is how tall this animal is. They measure 14-19 feet (4-6m) in height. The legs alone are taller than most humans – about 6 feet (1.8m). Even the giraffe’s tongue is long, measuring 21 inches (53 cm) and its tail can be another 8 feet long (2.4 m).

The giraffe’s long legs enable it to run up to 35 miles (56 km) for short distances and 10 miles per hour (16 km) on average. However, their super long legs also pose a problem – they have to spread them wide apart to take a drink of water.

Wild World Fact…A walking giraffe moves both right legs forward, then both the left

Giraffe Food

The giraffe is a herbivore, which means they eat different types of leaves and grass. Their favorite food is the leaves from the Acacia tree. They can pack away up to 75 pounds (34 kilos) of this food everyday, but they don’t drink as much water; only about 10 gallons (37.8 litres). Most of the moisture the giraffe needs is found in the thorny Acacia leaves.

Since these leaves are so spiky the giraffe’s tongue and lips are very tough to protect it. They also have an antiseptic (cleanser) in their saliva in case they do get poked.

Like a cow, the giraffe will chew its cud. This is done by the animal eating a large amount of food, then bringing it back up into its mouth to eat all over again. Talk about recycling!

Wild World Fact…the extra long neck and tongue of the giraffe helps it reach leaves on the top of the trees.

More Fun Giraffe Facts

~ Giraffe infants are almost 6 feet tall when they’re born and begin to walk in 10 hours
~ Giraffe’s are social and a herding animal
~ Even though the giraffe is silent most of the time, it is able to make sounds similar to a cow and goat.
~ Neck wrestling is a form of dominance displayed by the males in a herd.
~ The giraffe has a lot of heart – it weighs 24 pounds (10.9 kilos) and is 2 feet (60.9 cm) in length!
~ The spots on a giraffe are all unique, like our fingerprints, and as it ages they turn darker.

For more information on the giraffe, visit your local library, a nature preserve or the Internet.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Totally True Teeny Tiny Tuesday

Some of the smallest things on earth are surrounding us all the time, and we don’t even know it. Check out the following totally true teeny tiny things.

~ the smallest nest is built by the vervain hummingbird. It’s the size of half a walnut shell!
~ you have 6 million tiny cones in each eye. These cells make you see colour.
~ a person with a cold sneezes 40,000 germ droplets into the air.
~ the teeny thread of a silk worm’s cacoon, when unraveld, can be over half a mile (1 km) in length.
~ a trillion metric tons of the world’s water evaporates each day in the sun. Luckily, it all returns again in rain.
~ light is the fastest thing in the universe. It travels at more than 180,000 miles (300,000 km) per hour.
~ a glittering polar fog called, Diamond Dust, is made up of tiny ice crystals.
~ lightweight atoms called, Helium, escape easily – that’s why your balloons go down so quickly.

Can you think of anything else that is teeny tiny, perhaps, a flea? Let me know what you come up with by leaving a comment.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Fun Facts Friday ~ Don't Be Bugged By Bugs

There is over 1 million known bug species in the world and more are being discovered all the time. However, you don’t need to be bugged by bugs. In fact, you may even find them fascinating.

The Angular-Winged Katydid

This guy looks creepy, but it’s actually quite harmless. This grasshopper-like insect is found all over the world and has eardrums that are located in its front legs. Plus, this creaky-critter likes to serenade at night. The male Katydid has a file-like patch on one fore-wing and a scraper-like area on the other. When he rubs these together a song is created. He can even control the volume by raising his wings to make a small cavity to tune it up or tune it down.

European Mantid

No need to get bugged by the European Mantid…unless, of course, you’re a male Mantid. Females of this species are well known for eating the male after she has mated with him. And once her babies hatch, the bigger ‘nymphs’ will often eat their smaller siblings. That must be why these insects prefer to live alone.

Luna Moth

The brilliant glow of the Luna moth is no reason to be bugged; this insect doesn’t even have a mouth. However, they can still grow anywhere from 3-4 inches wide and 5-6 inches long. And unlike other moths, they come in shades of lime green to yellow-green. I suppose that’s why they’re also called the ‘Moon Moth.’

 Yellow Garden Spider

Out of all the bugs, spiders tend to be the ones that “bug” people the most. But did you know Yellow Garden Spiders are a very common ‘orb’ web spider? They always build round webs, which can reach up to 2 feet across. Strangely enough though, each night it eats the old web. Talk about renovations!

To learn more about these and other fascinating bugs, check out your local library, a bug museum or, perhaps, your own backyard.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Chipmunk

We live in a wild world. Today we’re visiting the United States and Canada to take a look at the chipmunk. Be prepared, this is one cheeky little fellow.

They’re Not Chips or Monks!
There is about twenty-one different species of chipmunks living all over the United States and Canada. These rodents are closely related to the squirrel; however, chipmunks are smaller (8-10 inches long) and have black and white ‘racing’ stripes down their grey and reddish colored backs.
Wild World Fact…chipmunks make a range of noises from a chuck chuck to a higher pitched chip chip sound.

Chipmunk Chambers
These hard-working rodents prefer to make their homes under the ground. They dig out long tunnels that lead to a sleeping chamber. Here there’s a soft bed made from leaves, grasses or the fluff from seed heads. They also dig out another area to keep food in. Since chipmunks stay under the ground all winter long they need to collect lots of food when the weather is warm.
Have you ever stuffed so much food into your mouth at once that your cheeks puffed out? Chipmunk cheeks are extra stretchy so they can do just that.
The chipmunk is constantly searching for his favorite foods of nuts, berries, acorns and seeds, so when he finds it he loads up. Once his cheeks are full, he quickly bounds back to his den to empty his haul. The chipmunk may have to travel a ways from his den to find food, so these built in ‘storage compartments’ come in handy.
Wild World Fact…chipmunks have also been known to eat strawberries, grapes, apples and bugs.
So the next time you’re at a park, in the woods or even in someone’s backyard, keep your eyes peeled and your ears perked. You never know one of these cute little rascals might just pay you a visit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Ice Cream

Whether you lick it on a crunchy cone or spoon it from a dish, ice cream remains a favorite of kids and adults alike.
Let’s have a look at some fun facts about an even more fun food.

~ Ice cream goes way back to the Roman Emperor, Nero, who ordered ice to be brought back from the mountains. They would then add fruit toppings to it and serve it – something like a slushy.

~ the first hand-crank ice cream machine was invented in 1847.
~ it takes 12 pounds of milk to make 1 gallon of ice cream.

Where did the ice cream cone originate?

In 1904 at the World’s Fair in St Louis, an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes to serve it in, so he teamed up with the waffle maker. TahDah! The waffle cone was invented!
The most popular ice cream flavours are;
  • Vanilla (most popular)
  • Chocolate
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Strawberry
  • Chocolate Chip Mint
What’s you ultimate favourite flavour?
The most unusual flavours are;
  • Pumpkin
  • Avocado
  • Garlic
  • Azuki Bean
  • Jalapeno
  • Hot dog
Would you try any of these? What weird flavour would you like see made into ice cream?

Here’s a fun thing to try. Create your own Lick-a-Thon

It takes about 50 licks to finish one scoop of ice cream. Challenge you friends and family to see who finishes first. But watch out for the “brain freeze.”

For more fun facts on ice cream, check out the Internet or grab yourself a spoon and do your own research.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Fun Facts Friday ~ Sticky Toes

Wouldn’t it be fun to have the ability to crawl up the side of a building like Spider Man? Some animals and reptiles actually do have suction-powered feet that help them hunt, sleep and stay safe. Let’s explore the world of sticky toes.

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

This unique fellow may be one of the coolest frogs on the planet. It has a neon-green body with bright blue and yellow markings, bright orange toes and bulging red eyes. It hunts at night and sleeps all day clinging to the bottom of a leaf using it’s suction feet to keep it in place. This frog lives in the tropical lowlands from southern Mexico, throughout Central America, and in northern South America. Besides their sticky toes, they also have a long sticky tongue that zaps up crickets, flies and moths.

Hairy Gecko Toes?

Did you know there is 1,450 species of gecko and 60 percent of them have sticky feet?
The gecko has evolved over the years to become one of the most powerful wall climbers around; however their feet aren’t sticky like tape. The bottom of a gecko’s foot has millions of teeny hairs. Each of these hairs, known as setae, has hundreds of even finer spatula-shaped split-ends. When the gecko presses his foot against a rough or smooth surface all these little hairs go to work and allow him to scurry, climb and stick. What a feat!


The sucker-footed bat of Madagasgar has small suction cups on its wrist and ankles. A special gland on the bat dribbles a sticky goo onto their suction-cups, allowing them to climb and balance. They use these sticky adhesions to sleep inside of rolled palm leaves – where they are safe from predators – and hunt for food. Along with sticky feet, these bats are black or brown in colour, have large ears and weigh about .3 ounces.

For more information on these sticky-toed creatures visit your local library or the Internet.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Beaver

We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting Canada to take a look at the busy beaver. This furry rodent isn’t only fascinating, it has been used as Canada’s national symbol for over 300 years.

The Beaver Body

Beavers can range in size, but usually grow up to 3 feet (.9 m) in body length with another foot (30 cm) for its tail. It weighs in at a whooping 35-66 pounds (16-30kg) and is covered in a thick brown fur with a soft grey undercoat.

The flat, black scaly tail of the beaver serves two purposes; it acts like a boat rudder, steering the beaver through the water and gives the animal balance on land while it moves tree branches. The beaver also has two large front buck teeth that stick so it can cut and chew wood underwater. The back feet of this animal also have webbed toes which help make it a powerful swimmer.

Wild World Fact…the front teeth of the beaver never stop growing. Chewing on branches keeps the teeth trim.

Built Beaver Tough!

Beavers are nature’s builders. They spend most of their time “cutting” down small trees and forming them into a dome-shaped lodge or dam. The beaver also uses mud to help insulate his home and the only entrance way is through an underwater passage. The location of the beaver’s lodge can usually be found in the middle of a pond where it’s safe from predators. No pond available? The beaver will create his own by building a dam in a narrow stream. Once his structure is big enough the water is blocked and will build up creating a pond where a forest or field use to be.

Wild World Fact…the world’s biggest beaver dame is in Alberta, Canada, is 850 meters (2788 feet) long and can be seen from space!

I’m Hungry

Even though beavers are one of the largest rodents they are strictly herbivores. They eat leaves, bark, twigs, aquatic plants and roots. The beavers teeth and jaws are extremely powerful, so eating these tough entrees are no problem for him.

Wild World Fact…beavers will move on once food becomes scarce

For more information on the clever beaver, check out your local library, the Internet, a wildlife preserve or a national park.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Wild Whirling Water

You’ve probably heard about tornadoes – a furious, funnel of wind that tears a path of destruction wherever it goes. But did you know tornadoes can also occur over water? These are called waterspouts.

Ingredients for a Waterspout

~ Take 1 part humid air and 1 part high temperatures (80 to 90 degrees). Mix together.

As the humid air rises it will condense into tiny water droplets making a cloud. The more the water condenses the more heat is produced and the faster it will rise. Once this happens a funnel-shaped cloud can quickly form. If it extends towards a body of water the end result is a waterspout.

What to Look For

Like any kind of weird weather the conditions have to be just right to make a waterspout. Here are some things to look out for:

~ Dark, swirling spots on a body of water
~ Spiral pattern changes from lighter to darker
~ Winds pick up to 40 mph, kicking up spray in a circular pattern called the “Spray Vortex”
~ Clouds point downward to center of swirling water
~ Funnel cloud is formed and creates small waves called the “Bubble Wake” as it moves along the surface
~ After the vortex weakens and the funnel turns more rope-like, the waterspout will finally die out

Flying Frogs…

Even though waterspouts aren’t usually as powerful as a land-based tornado, they can still do some damage. Frogs, tadpoles, fish and lizards that have been sucked up into the wild, whirling water have been known to later rain down on the land.

More Waterspout Facts

~ Waterspouts are very common in the Florida Keys, in fact they see between 400 and 500 per year. These usually occur between 11 am and 1 pm or 4 pm to 7 pm.
~ Waterspouts can also occur on the colder waters of the Great Lakes – ships have reported seeing 30 in one day.

To learn more about waterspouts, check out the Internet or your local library.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Fun Facts Friday ~ What Am I?

I live in the waters of South and East Australia. I'm closely related to the seahorse. I stay safe from predators using a neat form of camouflage. What am I?

The Leafy Sea Dragon, of course!

I'm Not Seaweed!

The leafy sea dragon is a wonderfully weird creature - it looks like floating seaweed - which is how it keeps from being somone's lunch. It grows to 45 cm in length, is green to yellow-brown in colour and has thin bands or stripes around its body. However, the most amazing and beautiful part of the sea dragon is its leaf-like appendages - they really do look like floating seaweed!

Suck it Up

Just like a seahorse, the leafy sea dragon uses its tube-like nose and tiny mouth to suck up food. Its favorite meal are the teeny shrimp called mysid, sea lice and plankton. Since the leafy sea dragon doesn't have any teeth, all the food it consumes must be small enough to fit through its long snout.


Along with the seahorse, the leafy sea dragon is the only species on earth where the males carry and raise the young.
A female will lay up to 250 pink eggs which are deposited on the males tail called a "brood patch." This special area is where the tiny eggs are fertilized and given oxygen. The eggs will remain here for nine weeks until they turn color (purple or orange). Once the eggs are ready to hatch, Dad sea dragon will pump his tail up and down, helping his young to emerge from their eggs.

For more information on the leafy sea dragon or other marine fish and animals, check out the Internet, your local library or an aquarium.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Red Panda

We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting the high mountains of the Himalayas’ in Napal to take a look at the red panda. This little guy may share the same name as the giant panda bear, but he’s very different. Let’s see why…

I’m Not Black and White!

What’s black and white and read all over? A newspaper…or in this case, a red panda!

As the name implies, red panda’s are red in color with white and black markings on their face and body. They are a lot smaller than a “normal” panda bear, weighing in at only 7-14 pounds (3-6 kilos), about the size of a house cat. They have small pointy ears and a long bushy tail that measures about 18 inches long (46 cm). The red panda uses its ringed tail as a cozy wrap-around to help keep it warm from the chill of the night air. The red panda’s feet are also covered in fur (top and bottom) and they have semi-retractable claws and an “extra” thumb on each paw to help them grip.

Wild World Fact…
…the “thumb” on the red panda is actually an extended bone from it’s wrist area.

It’s Time to Eat

The red panda is most active from dusk to dawn and lives mostly in the trees. When it’s not sleeping it spends most of its time looking for and eating bamboo – about 13 hours a day! Even though the red panda prefers the young tender shoots of the bamboo plant, it will also eat fruit, berries, insects, bird eggs and blossoms.
Occasionally, it has even been known to indulge in acorns, certain fungi, seeds and small rodents.

Wild World Fact…
…over winter the red panda can lose up to 15 percent of its body weight

Panda Babies

Mom red panda will give birth to 1-4 babies in the spring. The cubs are covered in thick grey fur and their eyes and ears are closed. Mom will tend to her young in the nest for 90 days. Though the red panda babies are full grown at 12 months, they still hang around their mother until the next mating season.

Wild World Fact…
…young red panda’s start their own families at about 2 years of age.

For more information on the red panda, check out your local library, the Internet, a wildlife sanctuary or zoo.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Independence Day

It's a day of parades, fireworks, great food, carnivals, music and good company. It's Independence Day, better known as the fourth of July, in the United States. Let's take a closer look at this national holiday.

It All Started...

Way back in 1776 during the American Revolution, Richard Henry Lee proposed a legal separation from the Thirteen Colonies of England. This was done with a document called the Declaration of Independence. The Committee of Five, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams all signed this document giving America it's freedom.

The Celebrations

Whether you live in a small city or a big one, Fourth of July celebrations are something to look forward to. Check out these popular places to party on the 4th.

~ If you live in Washington DC you will be in for a day packed full of activities. The nation's capitol does it right with a parade down Constitution Avenue, food vendors, music and a fun celebration all day long. The fireworks are set to fly from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and are sure to be spectacular.

~ Many people plan their Independence Day in New York. The Macy's Fourth of July celebration is one of the biggest in the world. It's so big, in fact, it takes 6 barges along the Hudson River to accommodate the 40,000 plus shells of fireworks!

~ If New York's festivities is considered big, Boston's is HUGE! This world-renowned celebration lasts for six days and is known as HarborFest. It includes live concerts, food, games and TV coverage leading up to the big fireworks display.

In Boston's 37th year, grandiose church bells, canons and more fireworks then ever before were used and it just keeps getting bigger! If you're close to Boston, check out this spectacular show.

No matter where you live or how your area celebrates, Independence Day is a reason to rejoice. It can be exciting, but let's not forget the real reason behind all the fun - America's freedom. This is a privilege that should always be remembered.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Feathery Friend Friday ~ the Parakeet

It’s Fun Friend Friday once again. Today we’re taking a look at a feathery friend the Parakeet. Let’s see why this bird has been named the most popular pet in America.

The Popular Parakeet

The parakeet is so popular it has three names; budgie (UK), budgerigar (Australia) and parakeet (USA). This colorful bird is 18 cm (7 in) long, and weighs 30-40 grams, so it’s a perfect pet for any household. It originates from Australia and was first introduced as a pet in 1840.

Parakeets in the wild are green, but now come in a wide range of colors and patterns thanks to captive breeding; from white, blue, yellow, violet, purple, mauve, olive green, cinnamon, cobalt blue and everything in between.

In the wild parakeets will flock together in large numbers to stay safe from predators. They will lay from 4-9 eggs that hatch in about 3 weeks. The baby birds stay with their mom until they are around 5 weeks of age.

Feathery Friend Fact…parakeets can live to be 15 years old.

What Did You Say?

Parakeets are natural communicators and love to sit and chatter to themselves in a mirror. And unlike your furry friends, parakeets can learn how to talk. Males are more likely to pick up words, sounds and whistles than females. If you want to teach your pet parakeet to talk you’ll have to spend time each day giving him his lessons – that’s right, your parakeet needs to listen and learn to repeat words – just like in school. Start with one word or a two word phrase like, pretty bird, until your pet gets the hang of it. Be patient. Talking may not come easily to your bird, but with time and dedication, he could be chatting up a storm.

Feathery Friend Fact…how can you tell a male parakeet from a female? The color of it’s cere (fleshy part above the beak). Males will have a blue or purplish cere. Females will be white, brown or tan.

Getting Started

Now that you’ve decided to get a parakeet, you will need;

~ a suitable wire cage of appropriate size
~ perches
~ cups for water and seed
~ parakeet seed
~ cuttlebones
~ toys

Feathery Friend Fact…most pet stores sell starter kits that include the basics all in one package.

Once you’ve picked out your special bird, remember that he will be a bit shy and, perhaps, scared when you first bring him home, so be patient and give your new pal a quiet place and some time to adjust. Talking to him in a gentle voice when you approach his cage and not making any loud or sudden movements will help him feel safe.

Make sure he has plenty of fresh food and water daily and clean out his cage (change the bottom liner/paper and scrub out dishes/perches) every week. Once your parakeet has adjusted to his new home, you can begin to handle him and teach him to talk. But just remember, like with any pet, your parakeet is a responsibility and should be treated with love and respect.

Parakeets enjoy the companionship of their human caretaker and will whistle, and chatter when they’re happy. If you think this wonderful little bird would make a good pet for you, then grab a book on how to fully care for them. With lots of love and the proper care you could find yourself enjoying the company of a parakeet for many years to come.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Sea Otter

We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting the Pacific Coast of North America to sneak a peek at the playful and lovable sea otter. Let’s take a dive into the nature of this furry fellow.

It Otter Be…

There are 13 species of sea otters living in both fresh and salt water around the world. They have short brown to reddish-brown fur, with a small head and short limbs. They have sharp teeth and webbed feet with retractable claws on their front paws, and all of the species sport strong muscular tails that help them swim and dive.

The largest sea otter is the Giant Otter which can be found around the Amazon river. This guy can weigh up to 100 pounds (45.5 kg) and grow up to 7 feet (2.1 m) in length. The smallest otter is found from India to China and is called the Asian Small Clawed Otter. It’s considerable smaller at 11 pounds (5 kg) and is 3 feet (0.9 m) in length. All sea otters love the water and spend most of their lives in it.

Wild World Fact…
…sea otters have the densest fur of all animals – with 100,000 hairs per square centimeter – this is needed as the otter doesn’t have an extra layer of body fat to keep it warm.

The Seafood Diet

Otters not only love to eat they need to eat 25-40 percent of their own body weight just to stay warm. They consume approximately 100 different species of sea life including, crabs, mussels, squid and fish.

The otter hunts using sight and touch, plus it’s powerful swimming skills. It can also hold its breath up to 6 minutes. This fellow is also an excellent diver and will turn over large rocks in its quest for food. Once it has found a tasty morsel it will grab it with its front paws and bring it to the surface to eat, sometimes using it’s chest as a dining table.

The otter is one of the few animals that uses a tool - a rock makes a good hammer to crack open the tough shell of a mussel or crab.

It’s Sleepy Time

Since otters like to spend most of their time in the water, it’s only natural they would also adapt themselves to sleeping in it. The otter floats on it’s back with it’s head and feet stuck up in the air. The otter has also been known to find a kelp bed and roll itself around and around in a big leaf of sea kelp. This is the perfect “life-preserver” for the otter and keeps it from floating off.

Another way the otter sleeps is to clasp hands with a fellow sleepy otter, together they float and rest. A group of otters called a “raft” will cling to each other (front paws clasped) to rest and stay safe in bunches of 10 to as many as 100o individuals.

Wild World Fact…
…when sea otters form a raft the individual otters are usually all male or all female.

For more information on the wonderful sea otter, visit your local library, the Internet or a marine life aquarium such as Sea World.

Wonder Words

~ retractable ~ to draw or pull back

For more great articles and a new story everyday, check out knowonder magazine for kids.  It's FREE and we even have an app!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Undercover Insects

It’s fun to dress up and pretend you’re someone else, at least for a little while. But in the bug world looking different isn’t just for fun, it’s a way of life. Being in disguise helps insects hunt for food and stay safe. Some grasshoppers, spiders and caterpillars have a unique way of keeping “undercover.”

It’s a Stick…It’s a Leaf…It’s a Grasshopper?

The grasshoppers we’ve all seen aren’t too shy about hip-hopping and bopping around the long grass. But some of their far-away relatives need to be safer. The Monkey-Hoppers of the tropical rain forest use the shape and color of leaves in order to hunt and hide. Other grasshoppers known as Stick Grasshoppers have long, thin, bumpy brown bodies that look exactly like twigs. The Pygmy Grasshopper is also good at looking like a mossy log or the stony ground it lives on. In fact, they are so good at blending in you’ll probably never see one; at least not that you know of.

Crab Spider Surprise

It’s no secret that spiders catch bugs in their webs, but when it comes to the Crab Spider, he’s got a few extra sneaky secret weapons. To catch bees, flies, or moths, the crab spider’s front legs are very strong with a claw on the end, something like a crab. So when a bug comes near all it has to do is reach out and snap it up. If that isn’t enough, this funny fellow matches his colors to any flower he’s waiting on. However, patterns, dots and colours aren’t the only thing this rain forest spider can do. One spider actually looks like a big blob of bird droppings. Yuck! How’s that for a disguise?

Creepy Caterpillar Camouflage

Caterpillars need to keep safe from their many predators, so they have adapted different ways to keep hidden.

The Elephant-hawk moth caterpillar is large (3 in) and gets it’s name, not from its size, but rather from the way it will curve its body into a trunk-like posture when it feels threatened. This caterpillar also has unique markings all along its body that resembles a snake. It has a large head and four big eye-like patches that will scare off most hunting birds - at least for a little while.

The Wavy-lined Emerald moth caterpillar is one of the more fascinating and unusual of its species. This guy will actually take out pieces of the plant or flower that it’s munching on and stick them into it’s own back. This technique is very effective in keeping this creepy caterpillar camouflaged from most everything.

The next time you’re out for a nature walk look very carefully. That twig or pretty flower you spot may just be an undercover insect.

For more information on these and other bugs, check out your local library, a bug museum or the Internet.

To read more cool articles and fun stories, check out knowonder magazine for kids.  It's FREE and we even have an app!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fun Facts Friday ~ Cave Paintings


Imagine you’re out one day collecting twigs for the fire when you come across a cave. This is the place where the elders of your tribe often go. Not sure what to expect, you clutch your torch and slowly enter. It’s dark as ink and cool. Suddenly, your light catches the image of a great beast on the wall. It’s a rhinoceros with four horses galloping behind it. You stand mesmerized as the flickering light seems to bring these animals to life. The cracked rough walls surround you and teem with other images…

Cave paintings date as far back as 40,000 years and are thought to have been used for communication and/or religious purposes. Let’s take a closer look at these amazing pieces of history.

Caveman Artist

Hundreds of years ago life was hard and very different from the times we live in now, so people did what they could to survive. With only crude weapons to use in hunting, Archeologists believe cave art was a way for earlier man to “capture” the spirit of the animal they painted, making it easier to hunt. Cavemen may have also believed once an animal’s image was drawn the physical abilities would be transferred to them. For example, if the animal was a mammoth the painter would gain strength, a deer would bring speed, and courage would come from a lion. Many of the cave paintings also show animals with spears through them. This may of been a way to ensure the painter had a successful hunt or to show younger men how to hunt – like a wall textbook!

The Art

The caveman painter didn’t have the traditional tools artists use today, so they had to make do. A pointed piece of flint was often used to carve the outline of the design. A more talented artist would use the natural bumps and crevices to help bring depth and dimension to their work. A crack may become a wound in the animal, a bulge, the head or back, or a hole could be an eye.

Once the figure was outlined color was then applied. This “paint” was derived from natural ingredients like; black from charcoal, and the soot of burned animal fat. Yellow, orange, brown and red was ground from iron ore into a fine powder and mixed with blood, plant juices or melted fat.

Once the colors were ready the artist would use brushes made of feathers or fur, their fingers, moss, the chewed ends of twigs, or blow the paint through a hollow bone or reed. The caveman painter also made the first crayon. This was done by melting tallow with ocher and then rolled into slender sticks.

The Art of Altamira

Out of all the hundreds of caves and their paintings that have been discovered, the Altamira (meaning high views in Spanish) is the most famous.

The discovery of this cave was made public in 1880 after a tree fell and disturbed the rocks that covered the cave entrance, which was around 13,000 years old! Altamira consists of 270 meters of twisty-turning passages and chambers, with paintings throughout the entire cave. The artwork includes animals like horses, bison, goats, a large doe, human hands, and symbols; however, the most impressive has to be the ceiling of Altamira which depicts 15 large bison and other animals.

For more information on cave paintings visit the library or the Internet.
Want to make your own cave painting? Find an interesting rock – one that is large enough to draw on and has some interesting texture to it – then grab a crayon or colored chalk and start sketching. Once you’re finished make up a story that goes along with the picture you drew and use it to tell your friends and family.

Wonder Words

~ Archeologist – a person who studies prehistoric people and their culture
~ tallow – the fat of sheep and ox or of some plants
~ ocher - the ore found in clay or iron used as a color to make paint

For more cool articles and awesome stories, check out knowonder magazine for kids.  It's FREE and we even have an app!
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