Sharing Early Literacy Learning Journeys

Posts tagged ‘travel’

What happens when the water suddenly drops?

What happens to ice when the water suddenly drops?


It’s left stranded…


or it breaks..

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

What is beyond? What is in store? What will I see?
Beyond the creek…
Beyond the gate…
Beyond the shore…

B creek



and beyond…

An Unexpected Visitor

“Hey, Honey. Get your camera. Come out here. Quick!” my husband calls.

I grab my camera and race out the sliding doors onto the back deck. In the middle of the right hand side of the back lawn sits a snapping turtle – about a foot across the shell.

A rounded, grey head protrudes from her shell – not tucked within as I have seen with other turtles – and her triangular, spiked tail sticks out the back.

Old neck folds wrinkle and gather between her head and shell.

Four grey, scaly legs protrude from the shell and get lost in the grass – ready to be cut. In fact, Bill was cutting the grass when he saw her…

We look. From front, back and sides. Grey, muddy shell. Almost smooth. Unclear markings. Round head. Not pretty. Pre-historic. Zig-zag edge at the back of her shell, from which a ‘dinosaur-like’ scaled, tail protrudes.

She is plopped on the ground – and looks at us. Alert. Wary. Sand is in her right eye and she rubs her right front leg across her eye as if to clear it: “All the better to see you with, my dear!”

Why is this snapping turtle on our back lawn?

Where has she been?

Where is she going?

We assume she laid eggs (in the greenbelt woodland area behind? under our back cedar trees?) and is now returning to the lake 200-300 yards in front of us… in an easterly direction.

I stop taking photos and retreat to the back deck. Give her space.

Soon, she rises slowly and walks. Lumbers really. In a straight line between our house and a neighbour’s house – no fences here. Makes it easy for her… slow and steady wins the race.

Seeing the snapping turtle heading for water reminds me of Lynley Dodds’ book (1985), The Smallest Turtle  when turtle babies hatch on the beach and hear the water calling: “To the sea! To the sea!” with illustrations of hatchlings racing, stumbling and scrambling over the hot, white sand to the cool, clear sea… racing to avoid being picked off by seagulls overhead.

I run to the front of the house and peek around the corner. She’s lumbering with a steady gait, rhythmical, almost swinging. Not ungainly. Each time she sees me, she plops and stops.

I hide. She continues walking on the grass. Two neighbours come to look. She plops again. Head moving. Watching us. Each time we move out of sight, she walks – but the minute she sees one of us, she plops!

How wide is her peripheral vision?

Finally, we let her go. To get on with her task. Her walk. I hope she accomplishes her mission and reaches her destination…  but first, there’s a road to cross.

From behind a low juniper tree I watch her traverse the ditch by the side of the road and go onto the road.  Steadily, rhythmically and safely she strides across the bitumen, with speed it seems – no cars come along at the time. Maybe the hard surface is easier to walk on than soft grass and ground?

She goes up the ditch on the other side of the road, onto a neighbour’s grass. I watch her until she’s out of sight; swallowed by shadows of distant trees. Three more lawns to go, a small road, woods and then the lake…

I hope she makes it!

No wonder these signs are on highways around here.

This is the first snapping turtle I have ever seen, so I want to find out about it. ‘Just in time learning’ I call it – learning when one needs it. When information is meaningful and relevant.

How much learning in your classroom is ‘just in time learning’?

When children bring tadpoles, caterpillars, a green tree frog, a butterfly, a bird’s nest or almost anything from nature, we take the time to look, talk and share – both knowledge and experiences. Sometimes, the shared item grows into a ‘mini-unit’ or a ‘short study’ with drawings, photos, sentences, vocabulary, sounds, word work, writing and reading. And, there’s always research… books, charts and internet. ‘Strike while the iron’s hot’. ‘Just in time learning’ occurs for children and adults. We learn interesting things together.

Later, I find out that a snapping turtle’s plastron is ‘yellowish, small and cross-shaped: legs and underbelly are not well protected’ (
But I had to look up the word, plastron: the under portion of the shell of a turtle or tortoise that is made up of several, often hinged, bony plates joined to the carapace by bridges located between the animal’s legs (Encarta Dictionary).

Learn more about snapping turtles:

Tell me about a turtle you have seen.

Dawn fog lifts by the lake to reveal an amazing sight

It’s mild and foggy as I head to the lake with camera in one hand and coffee in the other. The fog lifts, leaving a clear, sunny sky. Rounding the bend that leads to the lake an  amazing sight greets me: two large gaggles of geese are swimming on the lake in the distance. They are aware of me and start to swim away – but as they do, the gaggles come together, joining forces as it were, into one massive group – except they are not milling in a group, but stringing out in a long, long line.

Gaggle of geese in a line

Quickly I head behind the trees out of view of the geese. I race to the end of the lake for a closer look – and maybe some photos, despite their distance from shore.

I wonder why a group of five geese separates from the main string of geese. Are they the leaders? Are they on guard?

Five geese separate from the main group

The remaining group is large and the line is long. Too many geese to count from this far away. I watch and snap, snap, snap, moving along the strung out line of Canadian Geese. At the same time, the geese are slowly moving away.
Slowly, silently swimming, getting smaller and smaller. If they are aware of me, they are not afraid.

Suddenly, several geese honk in warning. I hear a splash in the water to my left – and wonder quickly if it’s a fish, a duck or an otter. To my disappoinment it’s a dog: a large, cream, labrador. He swims and cleans himself several times and then dog and master walk past. Meanwhile, the geese move further and further from shore… and photos fail to focus.

I turn and walk away, still smiling at my luck in seeing such a sight. I follow a narrow trail in the woods beside the lake – and I’m struck by another sight! This time, massive, dewy cobwebs sparkling in the sun. I stop. Sigh. And snap!

One of the many wonderful webs in the woods

And another web to gaze upon

The morethanreading blog is changing with my leave from full time Year One teaching. Like a child, I’m living in the moment – experiencing travelling and new environments. Interestingly, I also realise how much I am learning in the same way that my Year Ones learned – through Language Experience activities…

  • Participate and enjoy the experience
  • Talk about it, think about it
  • Take photos/or draw
  • Write and read about the experience/activity
  • Share
  • Read, research and make notes
  • Make photo stories
  • Share

On my way back for breakfast, two squirrels have breakfast. What a way to start the day!

I didn’t know that black squirrels and grey squirrels met for breakfast!

And bounding up the hill from the lake I laugh to see an ‘h’ resting on the road. Maybe I can’t get away from school and children after all!

I couldn’t miss the ‘h’ on the road

What was the highlight of your day today?

Alphabet Letters in Nature

Creating a nature photo story An April Alphabet got me thinking. Since being on leave, I’ve had the luxury of more time to explore my natural surrounds–to walk and wander on nearby beaches, fields, forests and trails–and to become more aware of letters (and numbers) in nature. I’m reminded of the times children brought in a curled up witchetty grub that looked like an ‘o’, a caterpillar lying straight on a leaf that looked like an ‘l’ and a stick in the shape of a ‘t’.

Finding letters in nature is a fun way for children to learn the look, names and sounds of letters.

Questions arise…
Some letters seem to appear more often than others, such as c, j, l, o, t, v and y. And I wonder why?

What are some of the letters made of?


The stick ‘r’ was found on the beach

An ‘f’ was found on the beach sand, too

This ‘E’ was a special find on the beach


A gum leaf ‘c’ became a common find on treed paths and walkways

Plants and plant pieces:

‘l’ or ‘i’ was a frequent find after high tide

A ‘v’ spread onto the beach sand


‘Y’ is easy to find in trees

And now for something different: worms

After rain, worms wriggle onto the driveway

What letters or numbers have you seen in your natural environment?
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