Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Life Cycle of a Snake

We recently read another of our books in the Life Cycle Series that I purchased. This time we read
Green Snake (Life Cycles) by David M. Schwartz. I still highly recommend this Life Cycle series. We love that there are actual photographs in the books instead of just illustrations.

After reading the book we decided to do a few activities.

First we talked about how most snake species lay eggs instead of giving live birth. We also discussed how snake eggs are not hard like a bird egg. They are more leathery feeling and have some give to them.

We then did an experiment to see how they feel. Since I do not care for snakes and have no desire to go on a snake hunt, we used a chicken egg. I hard boiled two regular chicken eggs. Once they were ready, I put one in the refrigerator and the other I put in a bowl and covered it with white vinegar. We let the eggs sit in their respective spots for 24 hours then we pulled them out to look at them again.

The egg that had been in the refrigerator looked and felt exactly the same as it had when we put it in there. The egg in the vinegar though, had taken on a new consistency. Instead of the shell being hard, it was more flexible. We could squeeze the shell without it cracking and it actually bent in under the pressure of our fingers. My son was fascinated by this.

Why this works: The eggshells are made of calcium carbonate and when the acid of the vinegar touches the calcium it causes a chemical reaction, which you witness with the bubbles coming from the egg in vinegar. The reaction will continue with the calcium turning into carbon dioxide (the bubbles) until the calcium is used up (about 24 hours). Now that you have this soft shelled egg, what do you do with it? Well, you can extend the experiment by leaving the same egg out on a table over night. The next day the eggshell will be hard again. The reason is that it stole the carbon dioxide that we breath out of the air.

The next thing we did was an exercise for fine motor skill development. I cut up numerous pipe cleaners/chenille stems into a variety of sizes and put them in a container. My son had to use tweezers to pick up the "snakes". Once he picked them up, he used the tweezers to sort them a few different ways: by color and by size. He loved doing this and was quite adept at using the tweezers.

Once we had sorted the "snakes" we graphed them a few ways: Longest to shortest, color wise and then how many of each color we had.

Have a great time studying snakes at your house!

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