22 February 2011

Hands On Science - A Moth's Habitat

In today's learning journey, my boys caught a little brown moth. It was really a bit of a rescue. This little moth had somehow made it into our house, and was fluttering around the walls and the ceiling quite enticingly.. or so the cats seemed to think. This was when we were still providing temporary housing for kitties needing new homes. As this little moth seemed to be garnering more and more attention as the day drew on, we thought that a rescue might be in order. We were not prepared to think of the little brown moth as being someone's dinner.

We got a mason jar out of the cabinet to secure our little friend in. We decided to put a solid lid on the jar, as we had every intention of releasing it outside after getting a close up look at it. Next, it was time to catch this little moth. Knowing that moths are nocturnal, the boys simply snuck up on the sleeping moth and covered it with the glass jar. Slide a piece of paper board between the wall and the little moth legs, and the moth wakes up in the jar. We quickly put the lid on the jar. 

We set the jar on the coffee table to watch the moth. The boys noticed how agitated it was. That brown moth was flying into the different parts of the jar repeatedly, obviously upset and confused. "What does the little moth need?" I asked the boys for ideas. My youngest said, "Something to eat!" His brother chimed in, "Something to drink." I looked at them and asked if they noticed how scared the little moth looked. I asked them to think about how they would feel. What would they want to be able to do? They both chimed in at the same time, "HIDE!"

They discussed what they could give the moth to hide in. Usually when we catch insects like this, we gather material from where it was found. We bring in leaves and sticks from the tree we found it on.. we get a small chunk of the rotting wood for it to stay on... This time though, we had found it on our ceiling! We certainly could not take part of our ceiling and put it in the jar! My youngest decided that if he were a moth, he would very much like to have the bright red and orange flowers from the bush outside. I urged him to add some leafy branches too.

Once these were added to our mason jar, the little brown moth settled down and crawled among the leaves. The boys were very pleased. We spent a good hour or so watching the moth. When it seemed that he was settled in and must be back asleep, the boys lost interest in watching him. We kept an eye on the jar on the coffee table the rest of the afternoon.

As the sun went down behind the mountains, we decided the time had come to release our little friend back into the fresh air outside. After all, the thought in our house is.. would you want to be kept away from your family? The boys took him outside the door, and opened the lid to the jar. The little brown moth just sat there. They had to gently coax him out.. showing him that he was no longer trapped. As he flew away, we watched him fly into the bush that we had taken the flower and leaves from. Hmmm.. maybe we had even found the right plant for him after all!

Life learning is not just an educational choice, it is a life style. More than that though, it is not just for kids.. it really is a life long journey.

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