Cute, aren't they? This is our friend Brian being a good sport, as his daughter and First Child display a couple of their amphibian friends atop his head (believe me, it wasn't easy keeping the newts still long enough to get a photo this good!). This was just a couple of the, oh, maybe hundreds of newts our kids found last weekend in the tiny pond outside the 100-year-old villa our families rented in rural Hattoji, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. The kids spent every daylight moment with their nets and plastic bug boxes, hunting for the newts, frogs, luna moths, and other fauna living in and around the pond. So many newts were found that the kids--our two and our friends' three--could've become rather blase about them, but instead they treated them as treasured pets, naming every one of the slimy little guys (I suspect some may have received names several times). They even held their own Newt Races, though there was some dispute over whose newts actually won, as some tended to veer a bit off-course.
Husband, turning Fun with Newts into a Learning Moment (there is no off-position on the Teacher switch), told our kids on the way home that they should study newts the following week. If I remember correctly from my education classes lo these many years ago, he was intending to capitalize on what is known as a "teachable moment." Okay, so I agreed it would be a good idea to study newts, and I pulled out several of our Nature books that have thus far not really seen enough play in our homeschooling adventures. We read about newts from three different books, and now both kids are supposed to write something about them. First Child is going to do a story from a newt's perspective, and Second Child will likely dictate to me something like "five things I learned about newts." Both kids are saying they "can't" draw a picture of a newt to go alongside their writing ("It's too haaaaaard!"), but I plan to make them, anyway.
Here's one of the books we're using: Pets in a Jar: Collecting and Caring for Small Wild Animals, by Seymour Simon. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140491864/sr=8-1/qid=1148883955/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-2292132-3838416?%5Fencoding=UTF8