Today the Birds of Prey Club is starting a new theme. I really have come to the end of pure birds of prey themes, so we are starting a unit on Arctic animals and peoples, inspired by one of Nicholas' much loved owls, the Snowy Owl.
I stumbled upon this theme quite by accident. I received an email from Greenpeace in December, advertising a new website they'd set up, Arctic Rising. It's a toolkit that young and old can use to raise awareness about threats to the Arctic.
I thought it would be too big of a leap to simply start exploring the issues facing the Arctic environment and Arctic peoples. So, we're starting off slow by exploring some of the Arctic animals, including the adaptations they've made to survive in such a unique environment. Our plan today was to identify some animals and then head to the park to see how some of the adaptations they've inherited help them to thrive. We were going to explore camouflage, inspired by the colour changes of the Arctic Fox and Arctic Hare, by playing hide and seek with winter camouflage and without. Then, we were going to explore a simple physical adaptation of paw size for walking in snow. We were going to play predator and prey with and without snowshoes.
But it was not to be today. The weather turned bitterly cold, and not all the Clubbers were dressed for the outdoors. So, we'll save those ideas for another day.
Today, we read the book Ookpik: The Travels of a Snowy Owl. It tells the tale of survival of a young Snowy Owl from its birth through its return to the Arctic after migrating for its first winter. It has fabulous illustrations, and there was just enough factual material woven into the story that we could have a couple of discussions about adaptations of the Snowy Owl. It was amazing how quiet this group of rowdy boys were for the entire story. Then, we broke out the art materials and the boys had an opportunity to draw or paint something that touched them from the story. This was a very open-ended activity, where they could draw a landscape, an animal, or what they thought it might feel like to be one of the animals from the story.
As I was scouring the internet for other ideas, I came across a website that shows promise for inspiring future meetings. I think this little club will be the neighbourhood's foremost experts on the Arctic by the time we're done this theme!