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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Madagascar's Lemurs -- Global Learning for Kids

This month Global Learning for Kids is exploring the African country of Madagascar. Madagascar is an island just east of Africa (the green island in the map below). Being separated from the mainland it has some unique wildlife that exists in the wild only there. This is what I decided to focus on with Hazel since she loves animals and has seen several of the Wild Kratts episodes where they were in Madagascar. In many ways she was teaching me this month!

By Shosholoza (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We started with books and a DVD from the library on Madagascar and its culture.

 Then we looked at books and a DVD about the wildlife of Madagascar and in particular the lemurs. 

It is believed that lemurs rode on branches and other debris from mainland Africa to Madagascar as the monkeys were the stronger animals and forced them out. On Madagascar they thrived and many different species have developed. Unfortunately most are endangered and some are extinct due to the forests being cut down for farms and wood and other human threats. In 2014 the number of species increased to 105. (Source) Apparently the Duke (University) Lemur Center is one of the biggest organizations working to save the lemurs. They have some wonderful resources about lemurs on their website. I think Hazel and I will have to visit my sister in North Carolina and check out the lemurs!! The Lemur Conservation Foundation also has many resources on lemurs and is doing much to try to save them. They also are part of the Ako Project which has its own lemur books and Madagascar ecosystem posters for sale!
Story Books with Lemurs

Lemurs are primates. The name lemur comes from the Roman mythology word lemures which were spirits or ghosts. They are often called the ghosts of the forest. They range in weight from about 1.1 ounces (the mouse lemur) to 20 pounds (the indri). They have digits on their hands and feet and most have long tails. Unlike the monkey tail the lemur's tail does not grip or hold them onto trees. Their tails help balance them.
Ring tailed lemur and twins
Ring Tailed Lemur with Twins By Sannse at English Wikipedia (Own work) 
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Wild Kratts Season 3 weeks 315 - 322 have the Wild Kratts in Madagascar. (Source) Unfortunately these episodes are not on DVD yet, however they have been on television a lot lately since they are fairly new. One of the episodes (Wk 318) included the aye-aye. They also showed a lot about what makes the aye aye special. After seeing this episode Hazel put a pen cap on her finger and began tapping everything like the aye-aye.
 Although at the time she had a better cap with that went more to a point. We couldn't find it for the pictures. She talked about aye ayes for weeks after that episode so we focused a bit on them including some books.
 Aye-Ayes are considered by some on Madagascar as bad omens and then in another part of Madagascar seeing one is considered lucky. Aye-Ayes are nocturnal. Their third finger is extra long and skinny. They tap the trees with their third finger to find the hollow spots where there will be grubs and then chew the wood and use their third finger to scoop them out and eat them. Hazel's pen cap tapping gave me an idea for an aye-aye game. To set it up you need some wooden blocks (solid) and some wooden boxes.

 Line the items up and cover them. Then have the player put the pen cap on their finger and see if they can find the hollow ones.


 Hazel loved doing it and found the boxes right away. But she wanted to make sure we took a video so you could get the full effect of the game.
video

 We also found some lemur crafts on line like this printable lemur craft on Learn Create Love, a lemur pin on Making Friends (a Girl Scout SWAP craft), a ring-tailed paper craft on Yamaha (this is rather difficult and would not be good for young children), Ideas4Kids has a pattern for a ring-tailed lemur hand puppet, lemur and chameleon shrinkles and a Madagascar Endangered Animal Search Game, there is an aye-aye to color and print at Enchanted Learning and instructions to draw a lemur on DragoArt and for a creative lunch My 2 Sisters has a lemur sandwich and lemur tail kabob with dip. There is also a pattern by Miss Vee on DeviantArt for a stuffed lemur (there is no picture of the completed project). We have not completed any of these crafts yet, but we are working on some of them!!

Now it is your turn!! If you have any posts about exploring Madagascar--crafts, recipes, lessons and more, please share them here. Be sure to check out the other great posts as well!! We hope to make a complete unit of ideas for anyone wanting to learn or teach about Madagascar!