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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Making Habitat Dioramas

Making Habitat Dioramas




I wanted to share a project we're just finishing that we all enjoyed.  Animal Habitats!  But before we get to those, here's where the project stemmed from...



little girl looking into forsythia bush at robin nest
Checking out the robins nest

About a month ago we noticed a robin making a nest in a forsythia bush outside our front door.  We eagerly checked on it daily to see if any eggs would appear.
one robin egg in nest

Yay!  One appeared!

Can you believe the bright blue?  Gorgeous!

 Did you know that robins lay their eggs in the late morning (unlike many other birds) after they've feasted on their morning worms?  After learning this, we knew that when the mom was in her nest in the late morning that she needed to be left alone.

Sadly, the next day, we found an empty nest.  This gave us a good opportunity to talk about the predators of robins and led us to speculate on what happened to the little egg.  We were indeed sad for the little guy...
empty nest

Over the next few days we learned more about robins online and found out that robins will lay one egg a day until they have around 4 eggs.  With one egg already disappearing we didn't know if the robin would continue laying eggs or how many it would be if she did.  After a few days we checked back in and there were two new eggs!

two blue robin eggs in nest in forsythia bush
Two new blue robin eggs in the forsythia bush


Two blue robin eggs in nest
Looking at the robin eggs through the branches


two blue robin eggs in nest
Beautiful blue robin eggs

Over the next week and a half we occasionally checked on the nest to see what changes were happening.  No more eggs appeared, but we did notice the mother robin sitting on the nest most of the time and would screech at us from above the nest when we went near that part of the yard.  She and the male robin were very protective, so we gave them lots of space.  We would take a quick peek in the nest in the mornings when it was left alone for breakfast time.

Here are a few pictures of momma robin keeping an eye on us...or is this dad?  Seriously though, I can't tell the difference.

Adult robin in tree


Adult robin on ground


Adult robin in tree


Adult robin in tree


Adult Robin in tree


After about a week and a half after noticing the eggs...baby robins!  Check out how quickly they grow and change!  I took pictures every few days.



Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks


Two Robin Chicks
Robin chicks


The robins grew quickly and before we knew it they had flown away.  This last picture was taken the day before they left.  There are lots of robins in our yard, so we have no idea if they've stayed close to home or not.

Now for the dioramas!!!

After studying the robins so extensively I had the kids pick their own animal to research, present their findings to everyone in the family, and make a diorama.  I also contacted our public library and they are gladly displaying the diorama's in a display case by their front doors.  The kids were extra motivated to do a nice job knowing that their work would be seen by so many people.  Being homeschooled, the kids don't have as many opportunities to show off their hard work, like they did in public school, so this was very exciting for them.  Another homeschooling family joined us in making the habitats so we ended up with 7 in total to display.

Sea Turtle Diorama
Sea Turtle Diorama
Materials Used:
Shoe Box
Scrapbook paper (bottom and background)
Air dry clay (structures holding up "water")
Small piece of plexi-glass ("water" found at lowes for about $2)
Real sea shells
Paper to drew fish on
Fishing line to hang the yellow fish
Glue gun for attaching fishing line to underside of plexi-glass
Black duct tape to cover entire project
Plastic sea turtles (I found these at Michaels)
Blue Elmers Glitter glue to add to top of plex-glass





Gray Wolf Diorama
Gray Wolf Diorama
Materials Used:
Shoe Box
Scrapbook paper (background)
Tempera Paint (inside water, base and den)
Air dry clay
Rocks
Plastic wolf and other small animals (frog, owls, cardinal)
The trees, ground cover and water are from a kit used in scenery making for train sets.  We had it around from another project, but you can find it at model train stores, or at some craft stores.
Black duct tape to cover project






Chinstrap Penguin Diorama
Chinstrap Penguin Diorama
Materials Used:
Shoe box
Scrapbook paper (background)
Air dry clay (used to make the albatross,  egg, and fish in the water
Cotton balls
Clear plastic beads (shiny snow cover)
Small black rocks
Plastic penguin
"water" found at Michaels in their diorama kit section
Fishing line to hang albatross
Black duct tape to cover project





Coyote Diorama
Coyote Diorama
Materials Used:
Shoe box
Scrapbook paper (background and ground cover)
Rocks
Air dry clay (cacti)
Paint
Fishing line to hang owls
"water" and "grass" from Michaels
Small plastic animals (coyote, owls, snake)
Black duct tape to cover project





American Robin Diorama
American Robin Diorama
Materials Used:
Shoe box
Sticks
Fake forsythia flowers (I pulled these off of my wreath on the front door!  ha!)
Nest (can buy at craft store, or simply make from outside materials)
Scrapbook paper (background)
Fake moss
Wooden "eggs" and blue spray paint
Fake bird (we actually painted this to look like a robin, but it was originally a finch)
Air dry clay to make the worms
Various plastic insects (butterfly, ant, lady bug, bee)
Black duct tape to cover project


Aren't these amazing?  They did a great job and each of the kids learned a lot about these various animals.  I was very proud of their hard work and getting to display these at our public library was the icing on the cake!  (Give your library a call, they're often looking for new community projects to display and homeschooling seems to produce a lot of projects-at least at our house...)  Let me know if you'd like to know the details on any of the dioramas and how we made them.

Ok, a long post, but I'll leave with these thoughts...I've been loving the ideas behind "unschooling" lately and was reminded once again, through this project, that learning comes so easily when the situations happen naturally!  Good stuff!