The story tells of a little boy who brings home a salamander and slowly turns his room into the forest to meet the salamander's needs. It's great for talking about habitat with children. But it can also be used to explain why it's best to observe salamanders in their own environment and not to try to bring them home as a pet.
After we read, we set off into the woods to search for salamanders. Our neighbor's property contains a network of cross-country ski trails which make for easy walking and exploring in the woods and they generously allow us use of them. As we searched for salamanders we came across wood frogs, slugs, jack-in-the-pulpits, wood violets, and other interesting finds.
Of course we also found salamanders!! In fact, we found six during the walk.
It's important to note that salamanders can absorb our chemicals and oils through their skin, so you should be hesitant to pick up a salamander if you've recently applied bug spray or sunscreen. Some people encourage you to just admire salamanders and not to pick them up at all, so they are not exposed to our natural salts and oils. After looking at some up close we tried to do that.
|Big Brother shows Daddy and Little Brother a salamander up close.|
An Art Connection
Since we couldn't bring any salamanders home, we decided to make some after Big Brother's rest that afternoon. First we started with a simple salt dough recipe. Salt dough is great because it's easy and affordable to make, and dries nicely on its own or in a low temp oven.
For this project I made a model while Big Brother followed. First we rolled out a piece of dough and then pinched the ends.
Next we rolled smaller pieces to make legs and added them onto the body. Then we made balls for eyes. We used a bamboo skewer to add holes to the eyes. Big Brother also remembered the dots on the salamanders and added dots to his.
We each made two more and then I baked them for two hours in a 250°F oven.
Big Brother really wanted to paint them, so the next day we got out our washable project paints. He chose to make some orange, some green, and some a mix of colors.
|Painting one red and orange to make it look like the salamanders, aka "newts," in the woods.|
|Little Brother watches while Big Brother paints (And Mama makes dinner . . .)|
The finished products: