Around the World with FIAR: Salamander Room

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The Salamander Room is a delightful book about a young boy imagining all he would need to do to his bedroom to make it habitable for the salamander he found in the forest.

Once I had read out this book for a few days I had A8 narrate the story back to me and use it as copy work:


After I read it to the girls, I asked them if they would like to imagine keeping an animal in their room.  They chose a tiger (grin).  There room is too small to keep a hamster in, let alone a tiger!  They imagined bringing in his tiger friends, deer to eat (oh, and he would be fed any left overs from our table…).  It was fun to see their imagination working overtime trying to fit all the animals needed to keep their tiger happy and well fed into their tiny little room 🙂

We talked about the setting and tried to replicate the parallel construction found between the son and his mother.  I took the part of the mother, this time asking similar questions about the tiger who would be coming to stay.  A8 tried her best to answer as fully as the little boy in the book.

A and B did a bit of research into Salamanders and their life cycles as well as learning a little bit about crickets.

Our favourite part by far was the discussion of the beautiful art in The Salamander Room.  We talked about the viewpoint, shadows and the palette the artist used.  We all agreed that the art was just lovely.

Geographical Theme for Term: South America {Peru and Ecuador}

As I would like our FIAR studies to be a little heavier on the geography than they are strictly supposed to be, I read through this book once more:

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Salamanders are found all over South America, so really this book could have been set in any of the countries.  I chose Peru and Ecuador on account of some new species having been found up the Ecuadorian mountains:

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We looked up both countries in our atlases and I read out what each one said about these countries:

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I also let the girls have a little play on google earth, which of course I had to join in.  We looked in particular at the huge mountain range spanning the entire length of Peru:


The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.  As the Andes are located in Peru we learnt a bit more about mountains and how they are formed:

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This was a great book for A8 but maybe not so good for B5 who struggled to understand it.  We learnt about the earth’s crust and rocky mantle (Lithosphere) and the molten rock beneath.  We also saw how the earth’s lithosphere is broken into plates and that it is the movement of these plates which creates the mountains and dictates the shape of them.  The girls now know about how rocky mountains, dome shaped mountains, volcanic mountains (cone shaped) and fault-block mountains are formed.  A8 did a quick demonstration from the book, using a tea-towel, to show how rocky mountains are created:


We chatted about what type of mountains the Andes were, and then did a bit of research from Wikipedia.

The Andes range has many active volcanoes, which are distributed in four volcanic zones separated by areas of inactivity. The Andean volcanism is a result of subduction of the Nazca Plate and Antarctic Plate underneath the South American Plate (Wikipedia)

A8 also completed the Earth Science Section of Science Shepherd’s Introductory Science.  This covered Meteorology, Geology and Oceanology, which were a perfect addition to our study of mountains.  Of course we then had to erupt our very own volcano using bicarb and vinegar….


It just never gets old!

As a fun go-along to the chosen country of Peru, A8 suggested they listen to their Paddington Bear CD that night, because (she giggled), ‘Paddington comes from darkest Peru!’

Science Theme for The Salamander Room: Food Chains

As the little boy tries to figure out how he can provide the very best living arrangements for his newly acquired pet Salamander, he talks about finding insects for the Salamander to eat, and if there are any extra he would find birds and bullfrogs to eat the bugs.  This is an example of a food chain, which will be our Science Theme for this week:

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First, the girls finished off the EdTechLens Rainforest Journey Curriculum.  The last unit was all about ecosystems and energy (food) webs:


This was a great introduction to food chains and, better still, was within the context of ecosystems.  It was perfect timing on our behalf, although not planned at all!

After we finished Rain-forest Journey, I read out ‘Who Eats What?’ which is a very clear and simple explanation about food chains and webs.  A8 grasped the whole concept very quickly, with B5 following closely behind.

We used this food chain activity from Stem Mum.  We made one simple food chain:


and then a slightly more complex one, as I attempted to explain what a food web was:


I asked the girls to attempt to create a simple food chain themselves using their plastic animals:


We looked up the food chain of the Bengal Tiger and attempted to make our own food web with the tigers at the top of the chain:


This took a while, but I could see real learning was going on and it tied in nicely with A’s endangered animal project.

Arts and Crafts

A lot of these were taken during the summer of our South American Adventures when they were doing some South American work with my mum (I wanted to put them in one of my South American posts and this seemed as good as any 🙂  ).  They put together our rain-forest puzzle:


Played dress up:


Made rain-forest puppets:


Coloured in some masks:


Painted some wooden snakes:


As well as some card board ones:




This week we added a few arty activities, making some bird models:


And building some of the Lego models I had bought in which we hadn’t even opened yet 🙂


I had to giggle.  Thomas had expressed a few days previously that he thought he needed to work on his patience or lack there of, and listening to the three of them building their Lego Macaw was making me smile.  He was incredibly patient on the outside but I could hear in his voice that he was slowly losing it inside… I informed him that he could have a daily time with his little sisters building Lego and we would have his impatience sorted in a flash.  Either that or we’d have a death on our hands 🙂  He declined with a slight grimace on his face!

The littles thoroughly enjoyed playing with everything afterwards:


I was very happy when A8 pointed out that the three animals (fly, frog and macaw) might form a simple food chain:


It was a great application of what we had learnt earlier in the week.  We checked out what macaws ate and whilst they do eat meat, they prefer seeds, nuts and fruit.  Good try though 🙂

Character and Bible


The lessons from the FIAR Character study book included chats about creation, caring for God’s creatures and the special relationship of the boy and the mother in The Salamander Room.

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    1. They really got it as well! We were discussing today about Rousseau’s animals and A8 mentioned that the elephant and the tiger aren’t each other prey and therefore not part of each other’s food chain. I love it when they apply their learning 🙂

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