Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Museum of Zoology

Today we visited the Museum of Zoology. It was awesome with a Komodo dragon, a Killer whale, a bighorn sheep,  a megatherium, a rhino, a stoat, a Narwhal with two horns instead of one,  an otter a pine marten, eagles, owls, Charles Darwin's beetle collection, fossils, finches and barnacles also belonging to him, a giraffe frogs, a chinese giant salamander, an African Elephant, an ocelot, and a wildcat! some of these were skeletons, some taxidermic models and some were pickled.

 A Chinese giant salamander

 A megatherium (giant ground sloth)

 A stoat

 An ocelot

 Rebecca gets a bit too close to a white rhino

 A bighorn sheep

Something else that was there was a frilled shark. I have researched them and am showing what I learnt here.

The frilled shark is a brown or grey shark with front gills that reach down under the neck, forming a frill or ruff. Unlike most other sharks, their mouth is at the front of  it's head, not under it. They have a snake like body with numerous backwards pointing needle like teeth. It's maximum lengths are 1.7 metres for males and 2 metres for females. They are one of earth's oldest sharks and are called "living fossils". It is found in the world's oceans and lives in its deepest depths by day but scientists think they migrate to the surface by night. 

Their large, flexible jaws allow them to swallow creatures over half their own size, in fact one was found with a Japanese catshark in its belly! Their favourite food however, is squid which they catch with their many backwards pointing teeth. It is not known how these slow sharks catch such fast creatures and there are many ideas that have been put forth. They might either create a vacuum by closing their gills and suck the squids into their mouths, another is they ambush prey and grab them like a snake, another is they snag squid tentacles on their teeth. A less exciting possibility is they grab exhausted or dying squid after their prey has spawned and is really tired. people also think that they open their mouth and reveal their shiny teeth. Squids see the shining fangs and mistake them for fish. They swim right into the shark's mouth-deliberately! Although all these are possible, they have not yet been proved even though people have seen frilled sharks swimming with their mouth open!

Frilled sharks lay long egg cases which don't hatch until almost 3 1/2 years have passed. This is the longest gestation period of any vertebrate!

Some cryptozoologists (people who study creatures that may or may not exist) think a shark in the same family as the frilled shark, only much bigger that looks a lot like it may have been mistaken for sea serpents! These are awesome sharks!

Sedgwick museum

Last Friday we visted the Sedgwick museum. It is an awesome museum with fossils and models of prehistoric life. There was a deinotherium replica fossil skull, an exact replica of the famous archaeopteryx fossil, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, pliosaurs, crocodilians, megaloceroses, something belonging to a diplocynodon, woolly mammoth hair and tusks, a megalosaurus skull, ammonites, plants and much more. For me, the star attraction was the original Mary Anning fossil skeletons!

Mary Anning was a teenage girl who lived in a poor family. To earn money she would look for fosils on pieces of slate beside the beach and sell them.

One day, she found something amazing. It was like a dolphin with a long bill, sharp backwards carved teeth and a tail like a shark. The fossil belonged to an ichthyosaurus - the first ever found. She sold it to Sedgwick who added it to his collection. She found more interesting fossils after her first great find as well.

At the gift shop, mum bought us each a fossil bag with three different fossils in it. You had to identify the fossils - I got an ammonite, a bivalve and a crinoid stem!



 Mary Anning Ichthyosaur

Alfred the Great: Quiz!

This week I am studying the Anglo Saxons.  This quiz that I wrote is about Alfred the Great. He drove vikings away from His county. He has become famous and there is even a myth about him! But are you an expert on him? It's time you found out!


Monday, 25 February 2013

Anglo Saxon quiz

This week we have been studying Anglo Saxons. I have made up a quiz about it. Hope you like it!

Anglo Saxons: Are you an expert?

once the romans left Britain it was invaded by Anglos, Saxons, Jutes and Franks How much do you know about what happened next?

  1. When invading Britain,the Anglo Saxons gained Kent by

  2. Pure Force: lost a lot of their army but gained Kent!
    Cunning: attacked defenseless monasteries and towns until they had a massive amount of hostages
    Vortigern gave it to them without a fight

  3. When the Bede wrote his history, who helped him make the ink?

  4. Nobody: he made it himself.
    Gall wasps: itty bitty flying insects!
    The kings slaves: the king loved Bede's work and commanded his slaves to help him

  5. What Anglo Saxon king made a long dyke to keep away enemies?

  6. Alfred: He commanded it to built around Wessex's borders to stop vikings invading.
    Offa: to keep away Welsh enemies.
    King Redwald: It was built around his castle

  7. Which king united Britain and drove viking invaders out of half of Britain?

  8. Aethelred

  9. Anglo Saxons ruled England closest to:

  10. 20 seconds
    500 years
    600 years

  11. Anglo Saxon ink was made of

  12. Acid and Copper Water
    Water and crushed minerals such as Bornite, limestone, hematite and azurite mixed with tree sap.
    acid, flower, water and crushed minerals

  13. Which of these writers wrote about "Danegeld"

  14. Leonard Cornelius
    Charles Dickens
    Rudyard Kipling

  15. In Anglo Saxon times, shoes were made out of:

  16. leather and "holy herbs"( to protect the wearer against evil).
    sheep skin
    leather and chicken poo

  17. Anglo Saxons would eat:

  18. Squirrels, sheep brains, potatoes with honey and spices, guillemot, sheep heads and guillemot
    delicious nuts and honey

  19. Anglo Saxons invented

  20. Milleniums
    the wheel

Well, you did it! It was a challenge for you I am sure and I hope you have learnt a lot. Thankyou for doing my quiz!

Note: answers are below in the comments section.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

British timeline

Today we made a timeline of British history. It starts in BC 55 when Julius Caesar attempts to invade Britain and ends at 2013.

Not only did we write in important dates, we illustrated it as well.

Here are some of the drawings I did:

In this one, there is a medieval knight with a cross of St George on his helmet and a drawing of Henry VIII.

In this one, there is an Anglo Saxon soldier brandishing his spear and colourful shield and a Roman centurion with his javelin in the top left corner.

This is the whole timeline.

Here are my sisters and I holding it up.

Monday, 18 February 2013

St Albans

On the 17th of February we visited St Albans, a city dating back to Roman times. Back then, it was called Verulaniam. The city is named after a Roman soilder who sheltered a Christian priest who was on the run and over time, became a Christian himself. When the soilders discovered the priest's location, St Alban dressed up in the priest's clothes and pretented to be the priest. He let the priest escape. When Saint Alban was discovered, he was excecuted and flogged. After his death, he was named a saint.

First we visited a great Roman museum with mosaics and pieces of real Roman armour! It also had tombs and skeletons of ancient Romans and much more!

 Then, we visited some incredible, fantastic, amazing Roman ruins. First there was the ruins of a theatre with many different walls. Then there was the remains of some shops. These weren't quite as amazing as the theatre but still amazing! Finally, there was an incredible underground shrine and some more Roman buildings.

After that, we visited a great restaurant for lunch. There we were meeting a person dad had been friends with as a child when he went to Knox Grammar School . On the way there, I saw a squirrel and many canada geese, mallard ducks and coots.

At the restaurant I had a mini pizza, some dough sticks and some delicious ice cream. It was great!

On the way back to the car, we visited a very old cathedral. In it there was a choir singing the most beautiful music I have ever heard.

After that we visited a place where you could see a mosaic Roman floor of  a villa, as well as the roman heating vents beneath it! Also, we saw sections of the Roman wall around Verulaneum. It was great!

Friday, 15 February 2013

In Paradise

Today we visited the Paradise nature reserve. It is a great marshy, boggy piece of land beside a small river. There is a path going through it from its start beside the local park to the street going at right angles to our street. At the start of the walk we were right beside the river and saw many geese. Also there were mallard ducks, large white ducks and an eastern gray squirrel.

The ducks occasionally stuck their heads underwater, reminding me of a Beatrix Potter book in which the puddleduck family get some clothes and lose them in the water.  From that point on, the ducks always dip their heads under the water to look for them.

A little further on were sheep, a different kind from our Australian ones, and in the flock were two beautiful black sheep.

 As we continued the walk we saw snails, mossy rotting logs, ivy covered trees with moss on them and many marshy ponds and puddles. There were tiny birds and a rook or crow towards the end of the walk and as the land became higher and drier, budding snowbell flowers became numerous.

Before we went home we visited Grantchester meadows and I got some great photos of a robin. The meadows were lovely and green but very muddy at the time.

When we got home we looked up some questions we had had about the animals we saw. Two of the questions I had were "What were the gray geese we saw called?" and "What was that big white goose called?" When I looked them up they were both probaly greylag geese, large british grey geese from which all domestic geese are descended. The white one was probably just a domestic version of the greylag goose.

The walk was so much fun!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Botanic Gardens

Yesterday we visited the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens. First we went into the greenhouse. It had a mountain plant section, a rainforest section, a desert section, a Pacific Islands section and a section called 'continents apart'. I liked the bottle brush tree because it reminded me of home and I really liked the desert section because of its wide variety of cactus and how it had American plants and African plants on two different sides of the greenhouse section.

When we got out of the greenhouse, we saw a fountain. It was so cold that day that the top of the water had frozen solid! We had lots of fun throwing the sheets of ice into the centre of the fountain as well as breaking up the ice. In one sheet of ice there was a pinecone stuck in it. 

Then we explored a section of the gardens. In it there was a rockery which looked like a mountain, a fen they had made with native water plants and a small section of the garden where they grew plants with a little less water.

On the way back, we saw a little grey squirrel. It ran up a tree trunk and across the thinnest twigs, over the path onto another tree.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Mum's Birthday

The 12th of February was Mum's birthday. We went to William Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon and saw Kenilworth Castle from the outside. 

Here are the photos:

This picture is of Kenilworth Castle. You can see us in front of the gate.

This is a picture that Mum took through the bars of one of the windows.

This is the view across the causeway toward the castle.

Here is a photo of an arrow-slit in one of the towers.

This is us walking around the castle walls on a path through the snow.

Here I am taking a picture, with my two sisters.

Here is another tower of the castle.

These are photos of us at Shakespeare's birthplace.

This is a Tudor knot-garden at New Place, on the site of the house where Shakespeare lived from 1610. A knot-garden is a square garden with small hedges that form intricate shapes with flowers and herbs in between them.

This photo is of my sisters and me standing beside the site of an archaeological dig at New Place.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Travel guide to Ancient Rome

We've been learning a bit about Ancient Rome. My sisters and I wrote this travel guide together. I hope you enjoy it (if you ever master the art of time travel!).

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Land of Meias

On the 6th and 7th of February I created a map of an imaginary land. It is going to go with a fantasy story I have started to write about a young man named Alfred that travels through The Land of Meias making for The city of Meiastria and the dark city of Doleguin, infested with trolls and goblins called Yarga that ride giant spiders and strange skeletal horses. Throughout Alfred's journey he meets wizards and naga, dwarves and forest elves, treemen and the sinister spider people of the Deep forest.

I have been inspired by many things from the real world and other books. The blue pen line on the map is the route that Alfred and his friends take through Meias. The once peaceful land has been plunged into  war and danger, cities are being abandoned and pillaged, forests are shrinking, races are dying and destruction is everywhere. Can Alfred stop it before it is too late?

Book Review: Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom's Midnight Garden is an exciting novel written by Philippa Pearce in 1958.

It is set in the 1950s as well as the late Victorian era. The setting is Cambridge and the fen country in both. Pearce expresses how lovely the world was long ago, before cars and computers, through the book and the characters' words and feelings about it. For example, in the book there is a river. In the Victorian era it is nice and blue, it runs through and orchard and is inhabited by geese. In the 1950s, however, it no longer flows through beautiful meadows. It had back garden strips on one side and an asphalt path on the other. There was no fish. In the Victorian era you could swim and bathe in it but in the 1950s bathing is illegal in that part of the river.

The story is about a 14 year old, Tom, who has to leave his house as his brother Peter has measles and stay with his Aunt and Uncle in a poky little apartment in a big house that had been converted into flats. "The house was crowded round with newer, smaller houses that beat up to its very confines in a broken sea of bay windows and gable ends and pinnacles. It was the only big house among them, oblong, plain and grave," quotes Pearce in the book. The house has no garden. That night, however, he discovers that through the back door is a beautiful Victorian garden that only appears in the night time. In this garden and time period no-one can see or hear him except animals and two people, a little Victorian girl named Hatty and the old gardener Abel. In the garden Tom can walk through doors like a ghost and can jump from any height without hurting himself.

Time is of no importance in the garden; you can spend years there (if you don't fall asleep) and no time at all would pass in your time. Also, although Tom visits the garden every night, sometimes years have passed in Hatty's time since their last encounter. Sometimes Tom even arrives before his last encounter.

Tom and Hatty become good friends, but years pass in Hatty's time and soon she is a young woman and cannot see Tom. In Tom's time his parents receive a telegram saying Tom will be staying for one more sleep; his last time in the garden is near! However that night the garden isn't there! In horror, Tom screams out Hatty's name twice, until his aunt takes him back inside their flat. He wakes old Mrs Bartholomew, a widow who owns the house and its flats. She demands an apology from Tom. When Tom goes to her room to apologise (spoiler alert!) he discovers that old Mrs Bartholomew is no other than Hatty! They have a lovely talk and eventually Tom has to go. During the talk Tom discovers that the reason Tom was able to visit the garden was because Mrs Bartholemew was remembering her childhood and playing with Tom through her dreams every night. The last night when there wasn't any garden Mrs Bartholemew was remembering her marriage. That is also why the Victorian era is mainly reflected positively. It is being remembered happily by an elderly woman.

The main characters are 14 year old Tom Long, Hatty Melbourne (Bartholomew), Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan, Abel the gardener and Peter Long.

Tom is adventurous and enjoys climbing trees. For some of the story he wished he could get sick with measles so he could spend more time with Hatty in the garden. Tom loves the garden and although he is able to walk through doors in it he is cautious about doing it and usually does it only as a last resort. The reason for this is he is scared he could get stuck halfway through a door.

Hatty is excited a lot and is good friends with Tom. Both of them don't always do what they are told. Hatty changes a lot through the book but inside she doesn't change much. At first when she is very young she tells Tom she is a princess but later in the book she tells him she is just a young orphan living with her aunt and cousins.

Uncle Alan is boring and practical. He loves talking about science and scientific theories. In the story he got furious with Tom when he said something about angels during a talk he was having with Tom about time.

 Aunt Gwen loves children. She is  Uncle Alan's wife and is an excellent cook. She is quite nice to Tom.

Abel is a simple gardener with a country accent. He looks after The Garden and is like a father to Hatty. He and Hatty are the only people that can see Tom in the Victorian Era. At first he thinks that Tom is a Demon from hell trying to kill Hatty but changes his mind when he sees Tom looking up a verse in the bible with her.

Peter is Tom's brother. He is sent letters from Tom and writes back in the book. One day when Tom forgot to write a letter to him he cries until he falls asleep and visits Tom and Hatty in his dream. In real life it is really happening. Tom shows Peter Hatty but Peter says it cannot be Hatty as Hatty is a  little girl and this is a young woman. It is then Tom realises how much Hatty has grown up. When he wakes up he thinks it was all a nightmare.

 Hatty changes from a tiny little girl to an old lady through the book, but the other main characters (except Abel, who is dead by the end) don't change much.

I like the book because of the use of time travel and because it is exciting and well written. The ending is good but it could happen a little later when Tom gets home. My favourite part is when Tom and Hatty skate to Ely Cathedral and go up into the tower. It is the last time Tom will ever visit the garden in the book.