Saturday, January 17, 2015

Memories of Manatees

Fun Manatee Picture Craft
I’m afraid I’m potty training a strong-willed little girl for the time being, so getting out into nature (with little access to potties) frightens me right now.  And I have to add, very few things in nature frighten me!  So instead, my daughter and I have decided to reminisce about some of our previous adventures in nature, primarily visits to see manatees.  

This is the time of year to see them in the wild!  When the weather gets cold, so do the waters where the manatees travel.  They seek refuge in and around warm spring waters near the coasts of Florida during the winter months.  And in recent history, they also find comfort from the cold near power plants, where local, clean water is used to cool sections of the plant.  Then, the warmed water is discharged into canals or rivers that flow out to the manatees’ natural habitat.  Many of these power plants have created manatee sanctuaries, educational centers, and observation decks for viewing these warm water-seeking manatees.  If you are interested in seeing manatees, visit the Save the Manatee Club website, for more information on where to see them, both in the wild and in captivity.  Just remember, manatees are protected, and it is against the law to harass them in any way.

Orphaned Baby Adopted by Female at Sea World Orlando

Before Christmas, my daughter and I had been to the local power plant a few times to see the visiting manatees, and had taken a few trips throughout this past year to our local zoo and a couple of theme parks to see them up-close, in captivity.  We know how big they get (on average, a little less than twice as long as I am tall, about ten feet long).  We’ve seen the scars that nearly every adult manatee bares as a record of their survival from run-ins with boat propellers.  And the wonderfully shaped, paddle of a tail is all a manatee needs to propel itself through the water during its yearly migration.  These are just a few of the things my daughter discovered about manatees this past year. 

With young children, it’s always fun to bring up past events and see what the child remembers.  My daughter and I like to recall our past adventures through stories, where my daughter is the main character.  I’ll start the story by describing the place and what animal we visited.  Then I’ll ask her what happened and what she did or saw at the time.  Today, I asked her about our visits to see manatees.  Sometimes, these stories become a bit fanciful (the animals usually talk to my daughter in these stories), but I always like to layer them with factual information.  Anyway, it’s a great way to keep children remembering their past adventures and ready to create new adventures by building on what they already know.

And it’s always fun to add an activity to supplement the recollection!  We made a manatee picture in a sea grass bed as we relived some of our nature adventures!  Here’s what we did:

Coloring the Manatee Gray
Bending Pipe Cleaners
  1. I drew a manatee from a cartoon picture I found on the Internet.  (You don’t have to be an artist.  Manatees are actually one of the easiest animals to draw.) 
  2. I cut it out and then gave it to my daughter to color gray. 
  3. Use a blue sheet of construction paper (or color white paper blue, as I did) for the background. 
  4. I cut several green pipe cleaners in half and my daughter bent each one, just a little.
  5. You can have your child color about an inch or two of green grass at the bottom of the background paper.  We had green glitter glue, so I helped my daughter apply that to the bottom of our picture.
  6. I helped my daughter glue one end of each pipe cleaner to the grass at the bottom of the picture (you don’t want to glue more than two inches up the pipe cleaner).
  7. Then we let it dry.
  8. We slid the manatee cut out in between the pipe cleaners and the paper.  Once it was where my daughter wanted it, I glued the manatee cut out to the paper.
  9. I added spots of extra glue under some of the pipe cleaners for extra support.
  10. We added a few additional colorful glitter glue spots on the blue paper for decoration and let it dry.  Your child may want to add fish or other items to the picture too.
Coloring Sea Grass
Adding Pipe Cleaner Sea Grass

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