May 9, 2014

A Review of Overlap Maps

(I was given a free copy of Overlap Maps activity ebook in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own.)

What a unique concept!  This may just be me, but I find the relative size of countries fascinating.  At, you can drag countries to and from anywhere!  Of course, this is educational in and of itself. :)

To take it a step further and make it school-ish, you can purchase (for $4.99 until 5/12/2014 through Educents) an activity ebook, which is a 57 page PDF explaining the concepts of the different kinds of maps (including why distortion occurs on flat maps), how to use Overlap Maps, and ten lessons.   Each lesson has facts to learn, a map activity and review questions, and is intended to be short and sweet.  You can print out the lessons and work through them with your child, or have them do it on their own (just make sure not to give them the answer key at the end ;) ).

I made my own Overlap Map, imposing Brazil over Kentucky.  You can see it hereKentucky is where I am, and I knew Brazil was big, but wow!

As a Charlotte Mason style educator, I typically shy away from contrived activities and worksheets.  However, I see Overlap Maps as a nice supplement to geography.  For example, we are studying Marco Polo in AO Year 3, following his journey from Venice to China, back across China, India and the east coast of Africa and back again, etc.  I think overlaying China, India and Africa over each other, comparing to Kentucky and Italy would be a fun way to look at the maps, as well as being memorable.  I won't be using the Overlap Maps ebook as indicated (fill out the answers), but I do think going over the facts in each lesson and doing the activity will be beneficial for my kinesthetic, big-picture, right-brained learner. :)

May 8, 2014

Growing Tadpoles

I believe it was early March when we walked down to the valley near the creek, which is off to the left of this picture.  This valley stays wet almost year-round in parts, so we started the hunt there.  Within five minutes, we spotted the first glob of frog eggs and put in this container, which was supposed to be a bug barn.

We walked a little bit longer and found another big bunch, but left them alone.

We accidentally included a small fish and a snail with the egg glob.  The snail didn't survive long, but the fish outlasted most of the frogs.

The little guys grew fairly quickly inside the eggs, and in less than a week we saw this.

The little guys hung on the outside of their eggs while they grew some more, eating the algae and perhaps even parts of the eggs.  It was hard to tell, but as they grew and more hatched, the egg glob began to disintegrate, which you can see below.

So. many. tadpoles!!!!

Eventually the eggs were empty and mostly disintegrated, so I cleaned the tank out and we started fresh.  We started feeding fish flakes and frozen lettuce cubes, which we saw recommended on a website.

After cleaning, we also added natural rocks and more pond water, in addition to out tap water.  Don't worry, it was filtered well water and chlorine was not an issue.  After hanging out on the side of the tank awhile, they started swimming around.

Swimming and hanging from the lettuce.
In this one, the sunlight was coming through the window and if you look closely, you can see their guts inside the semi-translucent bodies.  Very cool.

The morbidity rate was high, and I'm not sure how many were natural, and how many due to this being our first time raising tadpoles.  Regardless, by the time we got to froglets, which took about 3 months, we could easily count them.

Successful froglets!
Fat froglets and skinnier ones vied for the best spots on the rocks, but most preferred hanging out in the corners between glass and rock.  We did spy a couple of aggressive ones that would eat parts off the others!

Frog!  When they got to be "real" frogs, we let them go back in the pond, just above the wetlands the eggs were found in.  To the best of my knowledge, these weren't even frogs, but Northern Toads.

In other creature excitement last year, this giant hornet was in my bathroom, and we soon found the giant nest in a tree trunk up our road just a bit.  So we caught him and released him outside, then smashed him.  I bought insect fogger to put up the tree trunk, but never had the nerve to use it.  I haven't seen any sign of them yet this spring.

An orb weaver, which we get around the house fairly often.  Thankfully not inside the house, just outside catching insects near our security light.   I'm all for that sort of pest control!