Are you an Animal Helper?

The pet industry is a billion dollar business and many Americans share homes with four-legged friends, or aquatic creatures. Each day people are taking care of their animals and enriching their lives just like the people featured in the Animal Helpers series.

In a recent interview, Author Jennifer Keats Curtis shared with Arbordale how zookeepers and rehabilitators have influenced her interactions with her own dog. Just like animals in zoos, pets need enrichment. Even the smallest fish can be trained.

So, here are a few training experiments that you can do at home to enrich the lives of your pets.

 Dogs

Your dog might have hi-five down or may love a game of fetch, but what about when you are away?

Newton26-27flatPlay a game of find and seek with treats or even your dog’s food. When you dog is in another room place small treats or a little food in simple hiding spaces around a room. Have your dog use it’s nose to seek out the food. For the first few times you may have to help your dog out, but they will quickly get the hint.

Take learning one step further with puzzles. Many local pet stores carry treat puzzles where dogs must use their nose to get the reward. This enrichment will entertain and tire out your pooch!

Cats

Cats may be a little harder to please, but they are easily trainable too! A happy cat has many toys to bat around, or even a bc_20-21fishing pole with a furry ball at the end can entertain a cat for hours, but many people have trained their cat to do much more.

Start out small with treats or a piece of food and hold it just above the cat’s nose. Lift the treat until the cat sits down. Repeat this several times and give the cat a treat as soon as it sits. Soon the cat will be siting each time you lift the treat.

Many cats scare easily so be sure to reward your cat and not stress it out. Scaredy cats are very difficult to train.

Fish

You can train your pet fish to recognize when it’s dinnertime. Flash a light and then goldfish_1feed the fish. Do this over several days feeding the fish the same amount of food each time and see what happens. Some fish put their mouths out of the water; others may swim in a pattern. This is a fun experiment in animal behavior just like Pavlov’s Dogs.

Do you want to learn how zookeepers entertain and train big cats, sharks or even a gorilla, check out Jennifer Keats Curtis’ series Animal Helpers and coming soon Primate School!

How Mountain Animals can chase off those Winter Blues

Thank you to author Kevin Kurtz for today’s blog post featuring a few mountain creatures and their ways to weather the winter! 

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This winter, as you walk across the parking lot in your boots and winter jacket, be glad you are not a marmot. Like the other animals featured in my book A Day on the Mountain, marmots have to deal with a winter that may last from September until May. If you were a marmot, right now you would be in a state of hypothermia in a hole underneath a freezing rock, not really moving until you woke up some time in April.

MarmotaFlaviventris_3268Mountain animals must spend summer getting ready for the long winter. For marmots and black bears, this means getting as fat as they possibly can. They need to be fat in order to hibernate. Marmots pig out on grasses and flowers and black bears devour berries to build-up fat cells full of energy. When the mountain gets buried in snow, their bodies live off the energy in their fat until springtime.

Hummingbirds use a different strategy.  They spend the warmer months sipping nectar from the flowers that decorate mountain meadows. Then whenMale_Rufous_Hummingbird_(7172188464) the weather turns frosty, they do what pretty much every person over 70 in the northeast United States does: they head south for the winter. Instead of driving a minivan full of half their belongings down I-95, hummingbirds will fly their 0.2 ounce bodies hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to reach warmer climates during the winter.

One of the most amazing mountain winter survivors is the Clark’s nutcracker. During the summer, these relatives of jays and crows use their long beaks to pull seeds from pinecones. They eat some of them, but then fly around with the rest to 10-11_Clark-nutcrackerbury tens of thousands of them all over the mountain. In the winter, they can remember the thousands of places they buried the seeds and dig them out from under the snow to get the food they need. I can’t even find the remote control in my living room half the time.

As extreme as our winters can seem, they do not match the winters animals on mountains must endure. Because the high elevation of mountains affects the temperature, these animals live in Arctic climates within temperate latitudes. So think of that the next time you are 4-5_bearsshoveling snow. At least you aren’t doing it to find pinecone seeds.

Do you want to learn more? Check out Kevin’s book A Day on the Mountain at Arbordalepublishing.com, then head to the coast with A Day on the Salt Marsh and into the sea with A Day in the Deep! 

A look at how animals are affected by hurricanes on Hugo’s Anniversary

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Twenty-five years ago our offices would have been underwater this weekend. Hurricane Hugo came on shore slightly north of Mt. Pleasant, and the category 4 storm caused significant damage from the South Carolina coast and throughout much of the Southeast.

Hugo, like recent storms Katrina, and Sandy greatly affected the lives of residents in its path, but what about our animal friends? Imagine coming back to an oyster bed in your living room!

As the winds mix the ocean waters and whip branches through the sky animal habitats are being disturbed. Birds and fish tend to be mobile, but as they are pushed inland to unfamiliar and inhospitable terrain or out to sea where salt water is all around many animals struggle to survive.  The endangered Puerto Rican Parrot population was nearly cut in half after Hugo passed over the island.

Many animals instinctually know where to seek shelter during a storm and many marine animals are not negatively ReadySet_Pic1affected by the storms. Manatees find shelter, and except for one manatee found in a golf course pond after hurricane Andrew, they and other large marine mammals adapt well.

Land mammals are also good at seeking low-lying shelter; however rehabilitators take in an abundance of injured and sick squirrels after a hurricane due to falling trees and loss of nests.

Twenty-five years later our South Carolina coast is booming with vegetation and animals. Sea turtles, dolphins, fish, squirrels, lizards, deer and even a few bobcats are our neighbors, but living on the coast also comes with the danger of another large hurricane to come through. We have computers and weather data that help us know when to evacuate for safety, our animal friends use their instincts that trouble is coming.

ReadySet_cover2If you want to learn more about how animals prepare and survive during hurricanes read Ready, Set…Wait! by Patti R. Zelch and illustrated by Connie McLennan.

Back-to-School Fiction Reading List

Now that back-to-school season is upon us, it’s time to get the kids back into reading so that they will be 100% prepared for the first day of school! Check out these great books to add to your back-to-school reading list.

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Count Down to Fall | ‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day | My Even Day

Count Down to Fall: The first day of Fall is September 23 this year! Celebrate the upcoming season with a countdown of all of the different kinds of falling tree leaves.

‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day: There are only a couple of weeks of summer left! Make time for one more trip to the zoo–but don’t forget to read this fun story about zoo preparation first!

My Even Day: Get back into the swing of things when school comes back around by refreshing your memory of all of the even numbers with this quirky story!

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The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights | Sort it Out! | Deductive Detective

The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights: Are we a little anxious for the first day of school? Read how the giraffe overcame his fear of heights so that you can figure out how to overcome your own fear of going to school!

Sort it Out!: Now that it’s almost time to go back to school, it’s about time to start getting all of our new back to school supplies sorted and organized! Read about the different ways that Packy Packrat was able to sort out his collection!

Deductive Detective: Help Detective Duck deduce who the cake-eater could be from all of the clues left behind in this fun mystery story.

Are You Taking Care of Your Perfect Pet?

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In The Perfect Pet, a young boy’s mom has finally agreed to let him have a pet! This book takes us through the many kingdoms, classes, orders, families, and genera as he tries to figure out what pet he should get. Eventually, after realizing everything that it takes to take care of a pet, he decides on simply getting a plant.

Pets are a lot of responsibility. But pets can also teach our children how to be more responsible. Although many responsibilities of owning a pet still tend to fall back on parents, there are a lot of tasks that children can take care of as well.

For example, toddlers up to age five can help to put food and water in the pet’s dishes–with supervision, of course. We don’t want too many spills! They can also assist in washing the dishes and putting away toys. And when it comes to brushing and grooming, you can hold the pet while they brush. A lot of times it’s a two person job anyways!

Children aged five to ten should be able to take on even more responsibilities, such as feeding the pet unassisted. Perhaps they can even help with bathtime or taking the pet for walks! This is also a great age to let the dirty bathroom area cleaning fall to the child and give yourself a break.

After age ten, children should be able to assume full pet responsibility.

Although taking care of a pet can seem like a lot of work, they are also wonderful additions to the household. They help to teach children about responsibility but are also great companions. Rescuing a pet from an animal shelter is also a great way to help out in your community and give an animal a loving home.

Ferdinand Fox’s Scavenger Hunt

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In the book Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer, we’re introduced to how young foxes grow up and learn to survive on their own. Although they drink only their mother’s milk when the kits are first born, they eventually have to learn how to hunt and scavenge for food on their own.

Just like us, young kits love to play outside with their siblings and friends in the summer. Gather a few friends together to see if you can complete Ferdinand Fox’s Scavenger Hunt!

Give a bag to each scavenger and see who can collect the most items:

  • An acorn
  • The biggest leaf you can find
  • A long skinny leaf
  • A leaf that has been chewed
  • A smooth rock
  • A rough rock
  • A flower
  • A twig
  • A pine cone
  • A clover
  • A seed
  • A feather
  • Pine straw
  • A blade of grass
  • Something beautiful

Happy scavenging!

Magic happens in the summer!

It’s finally summertime and everyone is dying to put away their school clothes and bring out the bathing suits. School’s out, it’s beach weather, and we want to spend all of our time out of doors.

But there are so many other things that also happen during the summer right under our noses!

Daisylocks_128Have you noticed all of the flowers that have begun to bloom? How about the daisies? Daisylocks is a story that tells us all about how the wind helps little Daisylocks to get home where she can be planted. There are so many different climates and types of soil around the world, but daisies have to be in just the right place in order to bloom. Next time you see a daisy, take some time to appreciate all that it had to go through in order to become a beautiful flower.

 

OddDayCOVERIn Turtle Summer, we learn all about how Loggerhead Sea Turtles lay their eggs and how the babies hatch. These sea turtles lay about one hundred eggs four different times each summer–that’s four hundred eggs! The summer is a very busy time for these sea turtles. Mama sea turtle has to make her way onto the shore at night to lay her eggs, and a couple of months later, the baby sea turtles have to find their way from the nest all the way to their home in the ocean. If you ever get a chance to see a Loggerhead Sea Turtle’s nest hatch, stay back and watch as the magic happens.

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Turtles are not the only animals that are growing up in the summer. Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer also shows us the story of a baby growing up and learning how to survive on its own over the course of the summer. Foxes have to learn how to protect themselves from other predators and also how to scavenge for their own food so that one day they can also raise their own kits.

 

It’s amazing how many different plants and animals are born and grow up (or bloom!) during the summer months. Nature is magical and it’s happening all around us! Measure yourself this summer–I bet you’re growing, too!

Rhyming Safari

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Here is a task for the very young

at home or in a classroom…let’s have fun!

Go on a safari and learn your ABC’s.

Finding fun facts and animals you will see.

Make it a game and learn to rhyme

Think very hard, this may take some time!

How could we celebrate Children’s Book Week anElephantd not include an ABC book? Many great memories are made learning the letters of the alphabet through picture books. We would like to celebrate that with a fun activity where kids will learn about animals and rhyme.

Start with an animal and then rhyme another word keep in the animal family by using animal sounds or animal traits. For Example:

Owl – Howl

Snail – Tail

Swan – Fawn

Don’t forget that you can read ABC Safari free this week only online click here! 

 

Children’s Book Week – Charades!

For Children’s Book Week this year we are celebrating with the theme Discover Something New! All week this blog will host activities giveaways and fun book facts for kids, parents and teachers.

In addition to the activities we are offering a free paperback with any online store order! It’s a grab bag, so you may just find something new from Arbordale!

Everyone Loves a Charade

Today is the perfect day to discover how animals stay cool in the hot summer months. Because we celebrated CoolSummer_128mothers yesterday and we are headed toward the dog days of summer what could be better than learning how animals keep cool in the summer with a game of charades!

In A Cool Summer Tail, animals ask their mothers how humans stay cool in the summer. A fun way to learn more about animal adaptations is by acting them out.

Divide the group into two teams.

Print out the animal names and adaptations below. Cut them into strips and place those in a bowl. Make sure to mix them up.

For the first 30 seconds they must act out the animal adaptation. Understanding that growing hair, and sunning butterfly_toonyourself may be a little difficult to act out after those 30 seconds are up they may act out other traits of the animal or try to get the group to guess the name of the animal. After the animal is guessed announce the adaptation to the group as well as the animal name.

In case you have forgotten some of the symbols used in charades here is a helpful guide:

  • Number of words in the title: Hold up the number of fingers.
  • Which word you’re working on: Hold up the number of fingers again.
  • Number of syllables in the word: Lay the number of fingers on your arm.
  • Which syllable you’re working on: Lay the number of fingers on your arm again.
  • Length of word: Make a “little” or “big” sign as if you were measuring a fish.
  • “The entire concept:” sweep your arms through the air.
  • “On the nose” (i.e., someone has made a correct guess): point at your nose with one hand, while pointing at the person with your other hand.
  • “Sounds like”: Cup one hand behind an ear.
  • “Longer version of :” Pretend to stretch a piece of elastic.
  • “Shorter version of:” Do a “karate chop” with your hand
  • “Plural”: link your little fingers.
  • “Past tense”: wave your hand over your shoulder toward your back.
  • A letter of the alphabet: move your hand in a chopping motion toward your arm (near the top of your forearm if the letter is near the beginning of the alphabet, and near the bottom of your arm if the letter is near the end of the alphabet).

 

Squirrel – They lick their forearms where the hair is thinner and the saliva evaporates to keep them cool.


 

Black Bears – They lie on their backs exposing their bellies where the fur is thinner


 

Painted turtles – They go to the cool water of the ponds lakes and streams to stay cool


 

Black-capped chickadee – They hide under the shade of leaves, stand in puddles of water or open their beaks to breathe quickly


 

White tailed deer – They shed their winter hair, and grow a new coat of fine red hair that allows air to move better.


 

Honeybees – They fan their queen to cool her by hanging upside down on the hive and fan it inside the hive.


 

Garter snake – the coil up in a den during the day and come out at night to eat.


 

People – They live in air conditioning, wear light clothing, and swim in pools to stay cool


 

Black swallowtail – They use the warmth of the sun and shade their bodies with their wings when they get to hot.


 

Red Fox – They pant or breathe very fast across their damp tongues to evaporate the heat from their bodies.


 

Costa’s hummingbird – They fly long distances to find the cool weather that is just right


 

Wood frogs – They dig under leaves and sticks to keep their skin moist.


 

people-pool

Poetry Month Contest!!

AnimalPartners_187It’s poetry month. How are you celebrating…with a haiku, maybe learning a little iambic pentameter or free verse is fun too! Whatever your preference, we love the art of creating poetry.

That is why this month we are previewing the fall title Animal Partners. Who would have thought that learning about symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom would be this fun?

 

Disastrous Dinner Party

The birds arrived by threes and fours,
promised an eating spree.
The plates and cups were all in place;
the food was fresh and free.
The hostess, in her feathered gown,
was pouring the plankton tea,
when all at once the dining table
sank beneath the sea!

Scotti Cohn highlighted some of the world’s most unique partnerships that occur in nature throughout this 32 page picture book, and just wait until you see how POETRY-200x200Shennen Bersani interpreted the verse! The book won’t hit shelves until September, but you can have your own fun with poetry this month.

Make up your own poem about an animal relationship and post it in the comments. We will choose a winner and they will receive and advance copy of Animal Partners!!

Learn more about Animal Partners and our other upcoming fall books here.