"Where's his mommy? Maybe she'll come looking for him?"
"What if he's hurt?"
"Can we hold him?"
"Why can't we keep him? We can make him some milk and feed him, till he gets a little bit bigger."
"Why can't we hold him?"
Yes, our daily random homeschooling moment continues. Today's moment was brought to you by the knock on the door.
"Hi! I'm new next door. I found a baby raccoon on the sidewalk, and was wondering if it might be yours."
"Hmmm... let me check. Pets... Cat? Nope - severely allergic to them. Dog? Not while we live in this tiny place. Bum Lamb? We almost ended up with one of those... Chickens? I wish. Fish. Yes. Fish. The same reply I give the doctor every 2 months when we go in for a visit and he asks us if we still have our fish. They're the perfect pet in my opinion. Raccoon? Not in this lifetime... (but we'll go ahead and let the kids call dad in about 30 minutes and see if they can convince him to let them keep it.)
That led to an immediate mass exodus of the house. So much for getting a lesson done or maybe we just need to change up the lesson. The guy next door called the animal control unit to come and figure out what to do with it. The kids oooooed and awwwed while waiting for the "crazy guys" as Mirian was calling them. (I have no idea where she got that from.)
I have to admit, he was cute... and I even started flashing back to being a kid and day dreaming how awesome it would be to have a wild animal for a pet... but the realistic, party-crashing mom jerked back to reality and said no way. A few other neighbors gathered round, picked it up and let the kids look at it up close. Soon animal control pulled up all serious, adorned their gloves, grabbed the claw, walked up and then did a double take and said. "That's all it is?" It wasn't too old. Barely getting around and making lots of little noises trying to locate his mother I'm sure. I went back inside to grab the burning waffles for lunch.
"Why did Sally ask them not to put it down? What does that mean?"
Here began the learning opportunities. We ate lunch and discussed what it means to put an animal down and why sometimes it's more humane than letting it suffer. "So they kill it?!" I could see Fern in the back of my mind "up at the crack of dawn, ridding the world of injustice" as she saved Wilber from an untimely death. I'm still not sure if they quite understood 'why' they would need to put it to sleep.
At that point their minds were not on fractions, or the Trojan wars. So I decided we might as well go with it. We pulled out the book "Among the Night People." One of the books in a series about the various animals and their habitats and behaviors. It's a classic and a great read for kids as it's told from the animal's point of view, but shows them the way of life, behaviors and environment various animals live in. I pulled up the chapter on Raccoons. We read about them having a party in the night and and their mom helping them learn to have good manners. After the story I asked the kid what we learned about Raccoons and their behaviors.
- The come out at night and sleep during the day.
- They can't run fast
- They can't dive in water although they like to play in it.
- They walk on their toes
- They use their paws like hands to pick up objects and to eat, and can stand on their back feet.
- They like to eat bugs, worms, crayfish, etc. (Bats too, Isaac said, because he learned that on the Krats
- They like to get out and play with others and can be mischievousness
- Live often in wooded areas
- They tend to dip or wash their food in water before eating it
We pulled out their journals to have them write about their Raccoon adventures. We try to write daily in our journals, even if it's just a little bit. I want them to get in the habit, and I want them to have a record of their own life and stories.
Savannah actually wanted to write about hers in newspaper format. I've been trying to create a literacy center, with different options for them to use while writing. It might have blank books, letter forms, blank lists, Mad libs etc. I'm not completely finished but have great plans for it. While creating it I made this generic Newsletter form and keep several blank copies of it for them to use at their liking. I saw a similar one from Martha Stewart for Mother's Day. I wanted mine to be very flexible as well as usable for a history.
Who knew that this is what we would be studying for the day. That's alright though. They will remember more about Raccoons now, because of the personal hands-on living experience, than they ever would have remembered by reading about them in a science lesson.
I wanted to share my blank copy of the newsletter. It's a great way to just get a kid writing for fun. You can create realistic news stories or make up some wild tales. It's a fun way to get the kids writing just for the enjoyment and pleasure of telling a story.
Here is the link where you can download it. It's in PDF format.