Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Green Hour Challenge #7: Inchworm

I meant to go on a "real" nature walk with Alexandra this week, but it just didn't happen. And, I've been thinking about how to do Barb's challenge of making our own field guide for our chosen topic, flowerless plants, but we haven't done that, either. So, I thought I'd submit this wonderful impromptu nature study as our challenge #7. But, before I do that, wanted to show a "field guide" we made when we studied wildflowers last year. It is very much like what Barb described in her challenge and has information on the back. It is definitely a keepsake.

Today was my weekly day to watch the kids at Alexandra's "school" for recess. One of the little girls had found an inchworm. I was very disappointed that I didn't have my camera with me! This inchworm was brown and looked very much like stick. When he would "stand" on his 4 back "legs" and have his body stiff, he looked just like a twig on a branch!

Just a few days ago, I posted a question about inchworms and Makita at Twinkling Stars Family School was able to answer the questions. So, when the kids asked me some questions, I was able to answer some of them... but, I had to come home and do some more research tonight.

Inchworms are a specific type of caterpillar. Like most caterpillars, inchworms have 3 pairs of true legs in the front of their body, but usually only 2 pairs of false legs in back where most caterpillars have 5 pair. They move by drawing their back legs towards their front and then stretching out their body. (This caterpillar is moving "up" in the photo - and crawling on lichen!)

Inchworms are also called measuring worms, spanworms, cankerworms, and loopers. They are usually about 1 inch long. They belong to a family called Geometridae or the Geometer moths - "earth measuring." (I think we might discuss words that have "geo" or "meter" in them tomorrow.) You're probably familiar with the Inchworm song that teaches arithmetic. (See video at the bottom of the page.) We actually sing it when we see 8 x 4. (4 and 4 is 8, 8 and 8 is 16, 16 and 16 is 32....)

Two unexpected things happened while we were playing with the inchworm. At one point, something brown came out of the inchworms mouth (I guess) - ON Alexandra's hand. Yuck! (Is this a kind of spit?) And, I was holding it on a stick, and all of a sudden it dropped towards the ground with a thread. It was pretty funny as I wound and wound the stick trying to keep the inchworm from getting to the ground.

Also, one of the girls found a little green spider and brought it over to me. We watched it until it climbed under the bench I was sitting on. Well, on the way home, Alexandra says "That spider is on the back of your seat!" I guess he'd climbed on me at some point. So, I stopped the car and got him on a piece of paper, stepped out of the car, and flicked him off. Well, he just came right up his thread. He did this twice. I finally had to kind of wipe the paper in the grass to get him off.

Speaking of caterpillars (earlier), we bought some new Mexican milkweed this weekend and we have it sitting by our back door. We watched a butterfly yesterday who came and laid 3 eggs! (Or maybe it was several butterflies.) So, we'll be having caterpillars of our own before long.

What an unexpected day of learning, and I'm really enjoying learning with the kids. I love that they're bringing their nature "finds" over to me to share them with me!


Rhonda said...

How interesting it must have been for all of the children to listen to your stories about the inchworm. I bet they really enjoyed it. I know I have enjoyed it just reading your blog. Thanks so much for sharing and keep those photos coming.

live4evermom said...

Great information. What a neat video clip.

Makita said...

Love the little craft & the video! :D

Caterpillars have several strategies they use to elude predators...

- dropping off (typically with a line of silk attached with which it can climb back up later)

- turning their head in an effort to bite their tormentor

- thrashing about wildly

- vomiting

- trying to simply walk away

- and most exciting, shooting their frass (caterpillar poop)

Some species exhibit more than one strategy (as you observed).


Melissal89 said...

LOVE your message and the video clip, goes perfectly!

Some of our best nature study times have been on the spur of the moment, or just part of our every day happenings.

Thanks for sharing!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

The wildflower cards are perfect! I can hardly wait to see if what you come up with for the non-flowering plants.

Thanks so much for sharing your cards and your nature time.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

keri said...

Your wildflower cards look great!

Tina said...

Very neat project witht he inch worms! I love stuff like this.

Nice cards too. :o)


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