Swimming Creatures Lesson 4: Aquatic Herps

In this lesson, we are introduced to "herps," which is a name used to describe both reptiles and amphibians. Herp comes from the Greek word herpeton meaning "creeping , crawling creatures that move about on their bellies." So, for a short time, we will be aquatic herpetologists!
We learned what an ectotherm is (gets its heat from its surroundings), what brumation is (a sate similar to hibernation), what a carapace is (the top part of a turtle shell) and the plastron is (the lower part), and that the shell is actually a part of their skeleton (they cannot be pulled out of their shell) and sea turtles cannot pull their heads inside their body like land turtles can.
We read that a female sea turtle lays her eggs hundreds of feet up the beach (away from the tide) and uses her front flippers to drag her body that far. We did a "Try This" activity to see how hard that would be!
Try This! Crawling like a sea turtle:
Without using their body - just their arms - they tried to drag their bodies along the carpet and found out that that is pretty hard to do!
We learned that sea turtle hatchlings face many dangers and that only a few make it back (one in a hundred so they say) to the sea, but God created mother sea turtles to lay hundreds of eggs so that sea turtles remain in existence.
We learned about the eight different kinds of sea turtles: the loggerhead, green sea turtle, leatherback, Australian flatback, hawksbill, olive ridley, Kemp's ridley and black turtle.
We did an activity to get an idea of just how big a leatherback turtle is.
Try This! Leatherback turtle size:
We measured 6 feet by 9 feet on the carpet with masking tape to see how big a leatherback is.
Then we did notebooking pages on all 8 types of sea turtles.
We had the option of printing them from the internet or drawing them and we did some of both.
Then we learned about sea snakes and snake venom (all sea snake venom is a neurotoxin but land snakes can be a neurotoxin or a hemotoxin and what exactly that means), that sea snakes do not have scutes (special scales that land snakes have to help them slither on the ground) and that they have a paddle for swimming, and that they are ovoviviparous - lay eggs and give birth to live young! (She lays the eggs inside herself and then births them).
Then we learned the difference between a reptile and amphibian and talked about the different characteristics.
Amphibians can breathe and drink water through its skin. So, we did an activity to demonstrate diffusion to understand how this is possible.
Try This! Diffusion:
We put a teaspoon of vanilla into a balloon, blew it up and put it in a box (after we smelled it to make sure it had no odor) and closed the lid. After awhile, we took the balloon out and smelled the box. It smelled like vanilla and I explained that even though the balloon was sealed, some of the vanilla escaped the balloon through a process called diffusion and that that is how an amphibian can use its skin to breathe.
Then we learned about aquatic frogs, toads and salamanders. Notebooking for this section consisted of writing a story about a reptile meeting an amphibian and them talking about their differences. Their stories were cute - and where I get most of their spelling words from!
Our experiment for this lesson is to learn more about aquatic frogs by raising them! So we are waiting for our tadpoles to arrive. We will do an experiment to see if temperature affects tadpole development.
Some links we visited this lesson:
Loggerhead Turtle Hatchlings

1 comment

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