Friday, June 19, 2009

Slimey Fun

Of all the critters I've kept in jars over my lifetime, I've never had the opportunity to observe snails this closely. Though our science this past week was planned for Cullen's benefit, I've been delighted to learn a few things myself!

We kept three snails for several days in a large jar with air holes and a moist dirt floor. They didn't appear to be terribly afraid of us and would tolerate some handling without even retracting into their shells. Cullen and I were both surprised at how quickly these little guys can move! Of course, being the little boy that he is, Cullen was most fascinated with snail poopy - hard, dark and shiny left all over the jar. I have to admit, it didn't look at all like I would have thought it should!

Cullen wanted very much to see how it felt to let a snail crawl on his hand. This was a great deal of fun, but he did wash his hands two or three times afterward!

The most surprising thing that he discovered while playing with the snails amazed me. Did you know that you can actually hear a snail eat? Their tongues grate off bits of leaf (or cucumber peel in this case) as they lick. When we were very quiet and held our hungriest snail close, it was easy hear a soft, rhythmic rasping as it munched away.

He made a couple of pages for his science notebook - one specifically on snail observations and body parts, the other on mollusks in general. We are leisurely moving along to echinoderms then insects next. Getting a little science worked into summer fun is easy around here. Cullen considers this more fun than anything else. Me, too!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Scout Stuff

Long time since last post, but we've been busy! April and May and early June were filled with some fun and interesting Cub Scout happenings. Here are the highlights:

Our pack did a small service project, planting some perrenials at the church that charters us and allows us the use of their facilities. The boys had a great time digging, planting and searching out the fattest earthworms!

One small activity at our last den meeting of the school-year really was a hit with Cullen and several other boys. The elective suggested in the Tiger Cub Scout handbook was to learn to sew on a button. We decided to make bookmarks with oversized plastic buttons and felt. I was actually worried beforehand that the boys would roll their eyes at this and call it a dumb idea. Boy, was I wrong! Here is Cullen's button bookmark. He asked if he could make more at home to give as gifts.
In May, there was the annual pack picnic at a nearby park. A cookout, flag football and a ceremony for promoting the scouts up to the next rank were part of the agenda, but the highlight was making rockets out of soda bottles, then shooting them up in a clearing with the use of water and an air compressor. (I really wish I'd had my camera; my phone won't take photos quickly enough to capture anything fast.) Here are the scouts, with a few siblings, lining up for launch. Cullen's rocket flew surprisingly, amazingly high, and as far as we know, is still resting about 80 feet up in the top of a pine tree!
The very first week of June, Cullen got to enjoy Cub Scout Day Camp, and I had the privilege (and grueling job!) of being one of his camp den leaders. The camp was very well run with tons of fun and challenging things for the kids. I took my camera, but I was usually too busy to even remember to pull it out of its case. I did get a pic of Cullen trying out soap carving, using a real pocket knife for the first time. Check out the red duct tape finger protectors! The older boy scouts working this station told our boys that they chose red so the blood wouldn't show. Makes perfect sense...if you're a boy.

The boys really enjoyed the BB gun and archery ranges. Cullen did surprisingly well at archery, even getting a bulls-eye once and coming pretty close to a second one. At the end of the week, each boy received little awards based on what they did well, tried hardest to learn or enjoyed the most. Cullen was tickled to get an archery award and one for knots.

There are several pack activities scheduled for the summer, so Cullen will have time with his scout friends. He is very excited about his new status as a Wolf Cub and is looking forward to August when our regular weekly den meetings resume. I have to say that the whole scouting experience has turned out to be a very good thing for him. And I've been having a bit of fun with it at the same time!