“Sun-Star Far” by Celia Berrell

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Sun-Star Far

(distance matters) 

 

Our Solar Sun’s diameter’s 

four hundred times as wide as Moon’s. 

Its distance from the Earth’s about 

four hundred times as far. 

 

So when we look up in the sky 

at night-time then again at noon 

the Moon appears exactly as 

the same size as our star. 

 

Although our Sun-star’s really huge 

compared to Moon’s small sphere 

it’s far enough away from us 

to look the same down here!

 

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“We made a promise to the Moon” by Celia Berrell

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We made a promise to the moon

 

The year was nineteen-sixty-nine;

the twentieth of July.

Apollo Eleven astronauts

made history on high.

 

Neil Armstrong, then Buzz Aldrin

left footprints in Moon’s dust.

As pioneers and heroes, 

they showed us how to trust.

 

The world embraced their Star-Child dreams.

A plaque was left behind.

It proudly says, “We came in peace

for all    for ALL mankind.”

 

“Battle of the Bulge” by Celia Berrell

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Battle of the Bulge

(Earth-Moon gravity) 

 

Like many love relationships 

the Earth and Moon are falling out. 

Despite their great attractiveness 

there’s friction they don’t talk about. 

 

When first they met, they twirled and danced. 

Their gravitation’s fondness showed. 

But by degrees, as time has passed 

rotations of their dance have slowed. 

 

The Moon no longer pirouettes 

within her orbit round the Earth. 

Instead one side is always set 

to face the world (and watch his girth).

 

Their gravity distorts their crusts 

and makes them bulge at closest side. 

Earth’s oceans rise as though to thrust 

a beckoned hand to Moon’s fine pride. 

 

For she creates the ebbs and flows 

of all the seas that make our tides. 

But honestly, that friction slows 

her down and makes her really tired!

 

Four centimetres every year 

she moves away from Earth’s embrace. 

Our Moon is drifting off, I fear, 

and nothing else could take her place.

 

from The Science Rhymes Book – second edition (Jabiru Publishing 2018)

 

“I” Iguanas by Jan Darling

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CURIOUS COLLECTIVES   NO. 8

I IGUANAS

If you’re after a pet that’s canny and clue-y

Eager to learn and not all that Zoo-y

And you have the right ‘temps’ to keep your pet cosy

With a sun-baking place where it can be dozy

Iguana’s the guy to share your affection

Always obliging, they make good connection.

 

He’s not like a chameleon, not at all like him,

He’ll only change colour when things get grim.

Living wild, under stress he can change his shade,

Or in breeding season, to make the grade,

You’ll notice he changes while basking in sun

But he’ll never change colour if it’s only for fun.

 

In general, Iguana’s the best reptile pet

He’s surely the smartest a reptile can get

He’s docile, adaptive, found all kinds of places

Tropic forests, arid deserts, even watery bases.

If you keep him at home you must mimic his weather

It’s the way to be happy, to get on together.

 

Before we go further I want you to know

I think his Collective’s a really low blow –

You may share my horror (and I think you oughta)

That a group of Iguanas is called a Slaughter!

A Slaughter, indeed, a ridiculous thought

They’re lovable guys, each one a good sport.

 

Thirty-five different kinds of this lovable creature

Offer their friendship to student or teacher

In a range of colours that dazzle and stun

In various sizes – all of them fun.

Length starts at one hundred – *cms that’s to say

Ends at one seven zero – head to tail, all the way.

 

This biggie’s Grand Cayman, the king of them all

He’s the heaviest, too, and to keep you in thrall,

His natural blue makes him special and rare

It’s a hue that very few animals share.

In the mornings he snoozes and basks in the heat

And on waking he needs to voraciously eat.

 

What singular gifts your Iguana does offer!

Recognising your family, his friendship he’ll proffer

His memory is great for learning and faces

You’ll train him to eat and sleep in new places

He’ll learn toileting too, if you train him to time

He responds to the rules and leaves you no grime.

 

In the wild the Iguanas will play, work and rest

They’re cooperative planners, some of the best,

They care for their families, their friends and their siblings

And take on these tasks without any quibblings.

Problem-solving’s a skill they’ve learned on their own

It helps them succeed and ‘stay in the zone’.

 

The female will burrow a nest with her legs

And once it is ready she’ll there lay her eggs

She covers them over, hoping they’ll hatch

Then she makes off, leaving the batch!

Some four months later, the hatchlings are thrown

Into the world to survive all alone!

 

At three years of age young Iguanas are ready

To find their own friends and start to act steady

A successful Iguana can live sixty years

If it can survive the **“below 50” fears

For if caught in the cold and canopy bound

It may lose its grip and fall to the ground.

*centimetres, pronounced here ‘see ems’

** At 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) the Iguana starts to become paralysed by the cold as muscles begin to close down and if high in the canopy, may fall to the ground.  Such falls usually don’t cause death.   Forest Iguanas spend much of their lives in the canopy, only descending to mate, lay eggs or change trees.

Notes:

What is the Collective Noun for Iguanas?

How many different kinds are there?

What average length is the smallest Iguana?

What average length is the Grand Cayman Iguana?

What do Iguanas have in common with Chameleons?

What colour is the Grand Cayman Iguana?

Is this unusual for Iguanas or unusual for all animals?

What is the incubation time for the Iguana egg?   Explain incubation.

Does the female Iguana sit on her nest?

Discuss Imperial and Metric measures.

Information not included in verses:

Iguanas make very little sound either alone or together.  They occasionally make sneezing or snorting noises.

The tail is usually about half the length of the body.

The tail is used for balancing when climbing or fighting.  It is spiky and can inflict pain and cause wounding.   

When held by the tail, the Iguana can shed it and later will grow a new one.  As on ordinary lizards, you can see how many times the tail has been regrown by the rings showing on the tail.

“H” Hummingbirds by Jan Darling

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CURIOUS COLLECTIVES    

H HUMMINGBIRDS 

 

Of birds I’m the smallest in all of the world

And my eggs are the smallest as well

My fast-beating wings are always unfurled

They’re seldom allowed time to spell.

 

I fly forwards and backwards and sideways as well

Upside-down you can see me at work

I drink from the flowers but have no sense of smell

You wouldn’t call that such a perk.

 

I remember each bloom and where it did lurk

And soon as I drink I start countin’

To measure the time to return and not shirk

When that flower has refilled its fountain.

 

I build my nest high in forest or mountain

All velvety soft and elastic

It’s built of plant fibres, of twigs and of leaf

Bound with pure spidersilk – nothing plastic!

 

My nest stretches wide as I lay – fantastic!

They’re the tiniest eggs you can find

I mostly lay two, for more could be drastic

These two hungry beaks are born bald and blind.

 

Keeping two well-fed is a hard daily grind

A relentless search for good nectar

When I built my nest I was keeping in mind

The real need to find food in my sector.

 

As chicks grow big I become the collector

Using the tiny hairs on my tongue

From the reddest blossoms I steal the nectar

To nourish best healthy growth in my young.

 

As mother, my efforts by others, unsung,

My wings sing with constant vibration

Eighty times each second, that’s really high-strung –

Beautiful iridescent creation.

 

We’re tiny and bright and love admiration

Our pure beauty is known to disarm

No wonder then we discover causation:

Our Collective noun – a Hummingbird Charm.

 

A Charm of Hummingbirds, a wonderful scene

Fluttering, swift, by our eyes unseen

Such beauty born size of a tiny wee bean

Nature’s best gift’s in the Hummingbird seen.

 

Notes:

In how many directions can a Hummingbird fly?

What is the Hummingbird’s nest made of?

What is unique about the nest?

What colour flower attracts most attention from the Hummingbird?

What is the Collective noun for Hummingbirds?

How many times a second does the wing of the Hummingbird beat?

80 times a second is too fast for the human eye to see.

Has anyone noticed the rhyming pattern of each verse?

ABAB BCBC CDCD DEDE EFEF FGFG GHGH HIHI IJIJ 

With the final verse KKKK.

Has anyone counted the beats to each line of each verse?

11 9 11 10

Explain that rhyming poetry is often written to specific structures of rhymes and beats to the line.

Information not included in the verse:  

There are 300 different species of Hummingbirds. 

Hummingbirds have brilliant iridescent feathers, 

Being the smallest bird in the world it’s often mistaken for an insect.  

Each bird needs to drink its weight in nectar every day, the hairs at the end of the tongue help to drain all the nectar from each flower.  

The bird knows how long it will take for that nectar to be replaced in each blossom and returns the drink again.  

This also performs the task of pollination for the flowers.  

Hummingbirds seldom rest, their average heart rate is 1200 beats per minute – the average heart rate for a 12 year old person is 55 to 85 beats per minute!   The Hummingbird when resting takes 250 breaths per minute – the average 12 year old person takes between 18 and 30 breaths per minute.  

Hummingbird wings beat up to 80 times a second!!!  

Their legs are so tiny and weak that they can’t support the weight of the bird – that’s why they hover.

All this – and they can build their nests in trees up to 27 metres high.

Only a few make vocal sounds – mostly their sound is created by the vibration of their wings and tail feathers.

Hummingbirds, surprisingly are very aggressive towards each other when competing for food.

“G” Goose by Jan Darling

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CURIOUS COLLECTIVES  

G GEESE

A Goose is a Goose is a Goose is a Goose

She’s a sociable gal who’s not on the loose

A gal?  Not a pal? To whom does she pander?

Her boyfriend of course – he’s called a Gander.

 

They’re sociable birds – faithful and kind

Once got together – as family they bind.

Goose lays the eggs and sits on their nest

While Gander the loyal, stands guard east through west.

 

The larger the bird, the longer the wait.

From laying of eggs to arrival of freight;

Depending on kind it’s four to five weeks

‘Tween no-one to feed, then up to nine beaks!

 

At two to three months they take their first flights

And have their first chance to see home from the heights

When the nest’s full, the babies are jostling

While living at home, the young are called Gosling.

 

With family they fly to see some of the world

Through all kinds of skies and clouds that are curled

When they reach the place where each one was hatched

They catch up with their friends and all are despatched.

 

When Goslings join up to fly round the clock

So many together we call them a Flock.

They seek new adventures and these they will find,

With new friendships made leaving no one behind. 

 

When Geese fly so close that they look like a lump

There’s a special name – they’re called a Plump.

A Plump of Geese, many a sister and brother –

How do they not bump into each other?

 

When adult geese fly in great numbers we say

They’re a Skein or a Team and no one will stray;

When they fly in a V-shape, that’s called a Wedge

As neat as can be from edge right to edge.

 

There’s a special technique they use for migration:

They gather their thousands in V formation.

Each bird flies above the bird right in front

Creating a marvellous aerial stunt…

 

This flight reduces resistance to wind

A clever technique with science twinned

To maximise effort and save the birds’ strength

For a successful migration, no matter the length.

 

So far we have Geese in Plump, Flock and Skein

In the Team and the Wedge, not together in vain.

They’re all in the air, but when Geese are grounded

It’s a Gaggle of Geese, ‘cos that’s how they sounded.

 

They’re creatures of habit with hearts that are true

Once they are mated it’s always the two

Each year they return to the nest made together

Regardless of age, regardless of weather.

 

If times are good and food is a-plenty

Your fortunate Goose may live up to twenty.

When one mate dies, the other does mourn

Often living its life alone and forlorn.

 

It’s true that Geese will find comfortable quarter

Their only real need – being close to the water

They eat nuts, grass and berries, mixed with some seeds

It’s much the same for all of the breeds.

 

Notes:

What is a male Goose called?

What is a female Goose called?

What is a young Goose called?

How old is a Gosling when he takes his first flight?

Do Goslings stay with their parents all their lives?

What do you call a group of Goslings?

How many names can you think of for groups of Geese?

What is the special name for a group of Geese on the ground?

What shape do migrating Geese fly in?

Why do Geese fly in a V shape?

How long can a Goose live?

You can listen to the honking sounds made by Geese on YouTube.  Just type in ‘Sounds of…..” and you will be directed to an appropriate website.