Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - What Am I?

I start out as an egg in batches of 10-100. After about 5-10 days I hatch from my egg and I’m called a larva or a caterpillar. I then eat continuously until one day I find the perfect twig and turn myself upside down. Here I will go into a resting stage (pupa) where my last skin is shed and I grow a tough outer shell.

What am I?

A (soon-to-be) Butterfly

All butterflies follow the same four stages of development;

1) Egg
2) Larva or Caterpillar
3) Pupa
4) Adult Butterfly

This process is call metamorphosis {meta-mor-pho-sis} and takes about 1 month to complete.

Curious about caterpillars? Here’s some more facts;

~ Once the caterpillar emerges from it’s egg it can (and will) eat many times its own weight in food.
~ Caterpillars protects themselves with various colours to blend in and wild decorative, striped or spotted bodies to make themselves look scary.
~ Caterpillars have poisonous, nettle-like hairs on their bodies to make them less tasty to predators
~ Some caterpillars give off an unpleasant smell

Here’s a fun way to remember the 4 stages of the butterfly. Sing these words to the tune of; The Farmer in the Dell

A butterfly has stages
been going on for ages
all starts with an egg
called meta-morph-o-sis,

Caterpillar comes out
and then begins to scout
looking for some tasty leaves,
he then begins to eat

Now it’s time to molt
shedding his old coat
another stage of his age
in metamorphosis

To rest it will go
so he can change and grow
the pupa’s come its almost done
the metamorphosis

The last stage is here
What will appear?
A butterfly to soar up high,
that’s metaaaa-morphhhh-ooooo-sis

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Guess Who

I come in over 180 species. My beak is chisel-shaped and helps me "carve" out wood. My tongue is super long and protects me from getting a headache when I'm hammering on a tree.

Did you guess who I am?

That's right. I'm a Woodpecker!

Can you imagine having the ability to hear a bug’s footsteps? How about a bug’s footsteps deep inside a tree trunk? You could if you were a Pileated Woodpecker.

Did You Hear That?

Even though its ears don’t stick out and are covered with feathers the woodpecker is always listening. As it slowly hitches up a tree, it pauses to lean its head against the bark. It can hear even the faintest of scraping noises made by his favourite lunch, the carpenter ant, but how is it going to get that bug out?

Come Out Come Out!

Unlike other birds the woodpecker’s beak is made of extra strong bone and is chisel-shaped. This special beak allows the woodpecker to pry off long strips of bark and dig into the tree creating a deep hole.

Now comes the sticky part.

The woodpecker uses its unique tongue to get the bugs out. How does it do this? Its tongue has bristles on the end and is super long. So long, it actually wraps up and around its skull, helping to protect its brain from damage. The woodpecker also has sticky spit. So with one quick flick of its tongue dinner is served.

Helpful Holes

What would a woodpecker peck when a woodpecker pecks at wood?

The answer to this riddle is really quite simple. The woodpecker will peck at any old tree as long as it contains bugs. And since they only excavate dead or dying trees, they’re not really hurting anything. In fact, holes made by woodpeckers are actually helpful. Birds such as nuthatches and swallows, as well as squirrels, use these holes for homes. These dwellers are known as "secondary cavity users."

More Woodpecker Wacky Facts

~Woodpeckers fly in an undulating pattern (like a roller coaster ride) with its wings beating rapidly, followed by a gliding with the wings tucked in.

~ Woodpeckers can live 4-11 years depending on the species

~ The most common colours of Woodpeckers are, black, white, red and yellow. A few even have orange, green, brown, maroon and gold feathers.

~ The biggest species of Woodpecker is the great slaty woodpecker of Southeast Asia. It measures 20 inches long or 50.8 cm.

~ The biggest North American Woodpecker is the Pileated

~ The Pileated Woodpecker drums on a tree to attract a mate and to establish territory. It's normal call sounds like this.

So the next time you’re on a nature walk, keep your ears perked and your eyes open, you may hear that tell-tale, rat-tat-tat sound and catch a glimpse of a wonderful woodpecker on his search for food.

Check out this video of a mother Pileated Woodpecker with her baby on their favorite tree - notice the large holes that have already been dug by these marvelous birds.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - What Am I?

I’m green and leafy, live under water and can grow up to 2.8 metres in height. And even though I’m a plant, I’m still considered dangerous.

What Am I?

Killer Algae!

More Than Just Sludge

Algae were one of the first plants to develop in our seas from tiny, simple celled creatures called bacteria. These bacteria were so small you could fit thousands of them on a single pin head. Over time some of these bacteria cells formed into what we know today as algae.

Algae can be found in many places. You may have seen algae growing on the sides of an aquarium or in someone’s outdoor pond or even a swimming pool. Mostly this slimy, green substance is harmless. In fact, it even provides food for a variety of fish and sea creatures.

Attack of the Killer Algae?

To look at killer algae you’d probably think it was pretty, but lurking beneath those leaf-like fronds, lies the making of a disaster.

What makes it so dangerous?

It’s hardy enough to grow in any conditions from cold to warm water, on rock, sand, mud, and from depths of 3-100 metres. This fast growing, invasive species of algae quickly spreads, smothering out all the other species of algae and sea grass. Plus, it’s highly toxic to many species of fish and sea life.

The Spreading Problem

One of the ways killer algae spreads is by attaching to ship anchors and being dragged for thousands of kilometres before it’s released into a new area. Around 1985 this pretty killer was accidentally introduced into the Mediterranean Sea. It soon began to flourish and become a poisonous-problem. It now covers 32,000 acres of the coast of France, Spain, Italy and Croatia. People here who depend on fishing for their livelihoods are in trouble as this killer algae continues to take over the sea floors.

To find out more about killer algae or other cells, check out your local library or the internet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ It's Spring!

Today is March 20th the official first day of Spring. Does the weather where you are shout SPRING?

Just because the calendar says it’s suppose to be, you may be experiencing all types of weather, from sunny and warm, to rainy and dreary or even, perhaps, it may be snowing! But whatever the weather Spring brings with it many wonderful changes. Birds that have migrated will begin to show. Our sleepy animal friends such as bears and bats will soon awaken. And, of course, all those beautiful Spring flowers will make their way through the soil to bloom once again.

What a great time of the year!

Did you know…

…you grow more in the Spring than any other time of the year?
…Spring is officially the months of March, April and May?
…lambs are born in the Spring?
…tulips are associated with Spring?
…birds begin to build their nests?

Here’s a fun activity to do even if it’s not rainy where you are.

Print out the Word Search find and circle all the Springtime words in the animal, flower and insect categories. Remember the words can be diagonal, horizontal,or even backward.

Happy Spring and have fun!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - St. Patrick's Day

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day when green is the colour to wear and the clover means luck, but do you know where this tradition all began?

There actually was a man named Patrick who was born in Britain in the year 390 A.D. to a very rich family. When Patrick was 16 he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland where he worked as a slave. Patrick finally escaped from these horrible people when he was 22. However, he had a dream and heard a voice telling him to go back to Ireland and work as a priest. Patrick listened and spent his life working in a Irish monastery. After his death on March 17th 461, mythology slowly grew around Patrick and centuries later he was ordained the patron saint of Ireland.

Clover Clover Everywhere

St. Patrick used a ordinary clover or shamrock as a teaching tool to demonstrate the Holy Trinity – one leaf for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit – so it’s no surprise today that this would be of great significance on St. Patrick’s Day. However, the considered lucky four-leaf clover was (and still is) a very rare find. In fact, there’s only one four-leaf clover found in every ten thousand, so you’ll definitely need some luck finding that one!

Here’s a fun fact. According to the Guinness World Book of Records the highest number of leaves found on a single clover is 14! How Lucky would that one be?

Green River Tradition

For over forty years the lucky folks of Chicago have watched as their beloved river turns a brilliant shade of green on St. Patrick’s Day. Is it the magic of one very special leprechaun that creates this wonder? Click the link below to watch the magic happen before your very eyes. Chicago’s Green River

Now that you know more about this special holiday, why not have some fun of your own? Click on the links for two printable colour sheets. Shamrock colour page and leprechaun St. Patty’s Colour

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Totally True Tuesday - What Am I?

I’m commonly found on the heads of most humans. I can be long, short, curly, straight and come in a variety of colours. And regardless of the style I always dead.

What am I?

Your hair!

Hairy Cells

To know more about hair we have to start at the beginning. As most living things, a hair starts out as a cell. The cells live inside small tube-like pits buried in your skin called, follicles (fol-il-cles). These are surrounded by nerves and are constantly being fed nourishing blood. As the cell matures, it divides and is slowly pushed up by younger cells beneath it. While all this pushing and shoving is taking place, a tough protein called keratin (ker-a-tin) joins in. This hardens the cells and when they finally emerge from the skin, it’s a hair. By this point, however, the hair shafts are so far away from the blood supply deep inside the follicle, it’s already dead. As gross as that may sound it’s actually a good thing. It means pain free hair cuts.

Shape Up, Follicles!

When your follicles become tired, and they do, your hair falls out. In fact, we lose between 40 and a 100 hairs a day. But don’t worry, you still have about 5 million hairs all over your entire body.
Did you know follicles are also in charge of what kind of hair you have? If your hair is curly, your follicles will be rectangular. Wavy hair sprouts from oval ones and round follicles give you straight hair.

Chimpanzees also have hair follicles and it’s the same amount as us humans.

Baby Beards

I know what your thinking…babies don’t have beards! But actually before they’re born they do. A soft, colorless hair called, lanugo (luh-noo-goh) grows on most of it’s body, starting on the face. Then about a month before the baby’s born, it all falls out.

More Hairy Facts

~ Everyone has tiny hairs in their nose. The itty-bitty hairs way back in your nose keep it from running all the time. They do this by sweeping the mucus back into your throat. The small hairs near the front of your nostrils keep things like dust and bugs from getting in.
~ On average your hair grows about 6 inches a year and grows faster in the summer.
~ The longest hair recorded belongs to a women in China. Her hair measures 5.627 meters long. That’s 18 feet, 5.54 inches. You could actually use her hair as a jump rope.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - What Am I?

I live in space and can be seen on a clear night. My Northern cousin is the brightest and the easiest to spot. A group of us can make up what appears to be objects in the night sky (the Big Dipper). Plus, I can live to be over a million years old.

What am I?

A Star!
Like people stars are all different. And like people stars go through many stages in their lives. Stars are born, mature, grow old, and eventually blink out. The bigger the star is the faster it will live its life. Yes, it’s actually good to be small if you’re a star it means you get to live a trillion years instead of a few measly million.

The Nebula Nursery

Space is full of clouds made up of gas and dust particles. These special clouds are called nebulae. A baby star is formed when the gases and particles of these clouds are pulled together by gravity. This infant star is called a protostar. But it doesn’t look or shine like a star yet. At this stage of its life, it’s just cold dust and gases.

Star Shine

Stars stay babies for millions of years. During this time gravity is shrinking and squeezing the star’s hydrogen particles together -so if a protostar starts off a trillion kilometres wide, it will shrink to a mere million kilometres wide. However, as the baby star gets smaller a lot of pressure and heat is created. When the stars temperature reaches about 10 million degrees Celsius the star stops contracting. How does the star get its shine? By changing its own hydrogen gas into helium.

The Growing Star

Imagine you had to eat yourself to stay alive. That’s what stars do. The energy produced from changing hydrogen to helium, not only makes the star shine brightly, but also feeds it. In fact, they spend 90 percent of their lives doing this. Big, bright, blue giant stars eat up more hydrogen which makes helium very quickly. And just like a helium balloon will float away the stars mass also disappears. Smaller, dimmer stars called ‘red dwarfs’ eat very slowly since they have less hydrogen to consume. In fact, these guys can live for billions of years.

The Beginning of the End

Even though stars live for millions and trillions of years, eventually they all get old and blink out. When this happens, the star is mostly just helium with an outer shell of burning hydrogen. This makes the star shine bigger and brighter, but only until it reaches 100 million degrees. When this happens the helium gives off flashes and for the next few million years the star will blink.

The Old Timer

Old stars fall under different names. A white dwarf is very dim and has lost most of its mass. It’s mostly carbon and only has a thin layer of burning helium. Eventually white dwarfs burn themselves up. When this happens they no longer have a shine and are just floating balls of carbon called black dwarfs. Gigantic stars more massive than the sun go out with a bang – An explosive bang. This is what we call a supernova. Stars going supernova are very hot – 600 million degrees hot. This turns the stars core into a steel-like ball.

To learn more about stars and space check out your local library or just look up on a clear, dark night.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Totally True Tuesday - Guess Who?

I’m the only mammal that can fly. There’s around 1240 different species of us and we can be found in all parts of the world, except the Antarctic. We use echolocation to find our way around in the dark. And we sound like this... chatter

Did you guess who?


Bats get a bad rap. From horror movies to myth, bats are blamed for "sucking" blood and for carrying the deadly disease known as rabies. However, bats don’t really suck blood. The ones that do consume blood lap it up and yes rabies is possibly found in bats, but rarely do they try to bite humans.
Let’s take a look at some unusual and fascinating bats.

Teeny Tiny Bat

The world’s smallest bat is the size of a large bumblebee. What’s it called? A Bumblebee bat, of course!
This little guy only weighs about 2 grams and is 29-33mm long. It can be found in Western Thailand in the back of small caves and remote caverns. It’s reddish-brown or grey in colour, has relatively large ears, small eyes and a pig-like nose. The wings on the bumblebee bat are quite large (for its size) and have long tips on the end of each wing - this helps it hover like a hummingbird.

The Bumblebee bat will live in a colony with anywhere from 10 to 500 bats. They leave their home at dusk and forage for bugs for about 20 to 30 minutes each night.

Sticky Feet

The Sucker Footed Bat is the only bat that has a suction-cup foot. They also produce a sticky, gooey substance that helps them climb just about any surface. It’s found in Madagascar and is about 2.3 inches long and weighs .3 ounces. They like to roast in the large, coned leaves of tropical plants and instead of roasting upside down, they will turn their bodies up so they can quickly flee from their cozy nest.


We’ve looked at some little bats, let’s explore the world’s biggest bat; the Flying Fox Bat.

These big guys are located from southern Burma and Thailand eastward to the Philippines andsouthward to Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Timor. They can weigh from 1.3 to 2.4 pounds and have an average wing span of 4.9 feet!

As the name suggests these bats have a fox-like head and are orangish-red and black in colour with stiff to woolly hair. They feed on nectar, blossom, pollen and fruits. In order to find this food, the Flying Fox uses its well-developed eye sight and sense of smell. Once it finds a tasty patch of fruit, the Flying Fox bat "crashes" into the tree in an attempt to grab hold of it. While it’s hanging upside down it will draw the fruit into it’s mouth with one of his back legs or with the sharp claws on its wings.

More Batty Facts

~ West Africa Woolly Bats live in the webs of the Colonial Spider

~ Little Brown Bats while hibernating can reduce its heart rate to 20 beats a minute and can stop breathing altogether for 48 minutes!

~ The only two bats that can walk on the ground are the lesser-tailed bat and the American Common Vampire bat

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fun Facts Friday - Who Am I?

by Lisa Hashem

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”

I’m the author of Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and Horton Hears a Who, just to mention a few.

Who Am I?

I'm Dr. Seuss

Born on March 2, 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist. Dr. Seuss is most widely known for his children’s books. He published 46 children’s books, and many of his books have been made into television specials, feature films, four television series, and a Broadway musical as well.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Today, March 2nd, is Dr. Seuss’s Birthday. It has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day. In honour of this great man, wonderful author, and notable day, why not grab a Dr. Seuss book and enjoy an adventure? With so many tales to choose from, it shouldn't be hard to find one you enjoy.

Let us know what Dr. Seuss books you've read and which one is your favorite.

Test Your Dr. Seuss IQ

Which Dr. Seuss book warns; "Take it slowly...this book is dangerous?"

a. Cat in the Hat
b. Fox in Socks
c. The Foot Book

If you answered "b" you're right! Fox in Socks was published in 1965 and was orignally labeled as a "tongue twister for super children."
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