Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Outdoor Hour: Snakes & Why We're Making the Hour

This week for our outdoor hour the boys and I checked out snakes. We brought home a handful of books from our local libraries and read some interesting facts about snakes. We looked at dozens of photos in those books and those of the snakes that are listed as native.

Snakes that are native to the area are;

  1. Rattlesnakes. Enough said. For that very snake we did not go poking around in the Canyon to find snakes. We leave rattlers alone.
  2. Gopher snakes. Gopher snakes gain much respect too, as they have a mock rattle to scare away predators. It works.
  3. Rubber snakes...the boys & I found these to be quite interesting b/c they really look rubbery.
There are a few more, but on to a bit of what we've learned about snakes in our reading and research.

  • Snakes are cold blooded, which means they have no control over their internal temperature. So in order to keep warm they lie in the sun or on sun-warmed rocks. Snakes have to get warm enough just to eat or move.
  • Snakes shed their skin as they grow. The shedding starts at their mouth, the skin peels off over their body and they wriggle out of their old skin.
  • Snakes are carnivorous. Meat eaters. Some snakes are egg eaters. They eat the eggs, crack them and eat the nutritious meat of the egg. Then they spit out the shell.

We read billions of new things, then the next day we took a field trip to our local pet shop to get a better look at some real live snakes. This proved to be an interesting visit. Both the gals that were working in the shop were happy to let us look at the snakes but not interested (loathed & hated) in snakes, therefore, our list of questions that we brought went unanswered. They were, however, willing to unlock the cage so I pulled out a ball python for the boys to touch and hold. I didn't get any photos, as I was doing the handling. :)

The most interesting things we learned in the pet shop were;
  • "I thought that snakes weren't slimy!" Joey said. Snakes are so soft and smooth that they can feel and appear slimy. But they aren't. They're smooth and dry.
  • Pythons, even babies that are a a foot long, squeeze their prey to kill it before they unlock their jaws to swallow their food in a single "bite."
The boys have had a wonderful time reading about and checking out the snakes, I'm hoping we'll see some on our hikes in the future...or at least be looking.

LOOKING. Why we're looking.....

I'm starting to see why it's important for us to be doing this hour. The art of observation.

Little boys, little sweet-two year old boys are incredible observers. I think it has much to do with their inquisitive nature, and the fact that they're down low to the ground and not moving too fast. But big kids...they move so fast. Teaching these bigger ones to slow down and observe...and what to look for is so important. Now that we've been taking some time to observe, the boys are naturally starting to slow down and observe nature themselves, pointing out lichens and birds, identifying flowers and types of rock. I love when a boy comes screaming in the door, "Mom! We found a bumble bee! I know it was a bumble bee because it had little pollen pockets on his legs!"

Today life has a hard pull on people to stay indoors. This is the other great part of the Outdoor Hour for us. We are encouraged to get outside for just a bit, and it usually leads to more time outside. Being outdoors is so important. Connecting with God through His creation never gets old and He reveals Himself through nature. Creating competition with technology and lethargy is the work that this hour can accomplish. I'd encourage you to join us with Barb at Handbook of Nature Study for her Outdoor Hour.


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

What a great post and I love your reflections on little boys and slowing down. I can totally relate to that after raising up three boys. :)

Do you have a nature center close to your house? I know that many times when we visit these sorts of places the people are so helpful or they have displays that are helpful. Keep your eyes open and maybe a better snake opportunity will present itself.

You need to pop over to Angie's blog where she posted photos of a snake eating eggs in their chicken house.

Thanks so much for sharing your photos, adventures, and inspiration. Don't forget to submit this to the OHC blog carnival.

Pebblekeeper said...

Great recap! I too have been surprised at what the boys, and myself, are unable to answer - questions you think would be simple - but giving an "I've seen it or read it for sure answer" to an observation question - instead of - "I think it should be" answer. Maybe the boys would like a trip to The Reptile Store near Wilson some afternoon. :) Ohhh. Wilson. McMenamins, Drake, Tumalo, I Think we'll leave today . . . . . . :)