Saturday, May 7, 2011

Salamanders and Newts

I thought this week we would read books about Mamas, make flowers and cards, and do other sweet Mother's Day stuff.   Instead, though, I couldn't resist indulging my son's latest craze: salamanders.  He's been finding baby salamanders under various rocks in our yard, and though they creep me out a little (think black earthworm-like creature with four tiny legs) I try not to show it.  Maybe next year we'll do the mushy mother's day projects.

Surprisingly, picture books on salamanders are not too abundant at our library, so I've done a 2-for-1 combo of salamanders and their close cousins, newts.

The Salamander Room is my boys' dream come true.  They find the idea of bringing all sorts of critters inside and turning their room into a miniature forest captivating.
Newt was good for my developing reader, with 3 small chapters of easy words (Reading level 2).
Finally, a sweet story about friendship in the swamp, What Newt Could Do for Turtle had everyone holding their breath when the critters found themselves in all manner of mortal peril.
I include DK's Amazing Poisonous Animals here because of this great 2-page spread on salamanders.  T was riveted.

For our craft this week I did a variation on a fish project from my childhood.  Using our new watercolor paper from Discount School Supply, I had T draw a salamander while I drew S's for him.  Then (and I ALWAYS do this) I forgot to cut them out first, so we had trouble later finding the lines.   Cut it out before painting! 

They were supposed to paint the salamanders yellow, but T preferred to use crayon.  I tried not to be cranky about the wasted watercolor paper.

Then S and I dripped wax from a candle onto the yellow salamander, and when it was dry I encouraged S to repaint the salamander orange.  He preferred to make it black, though.

Then I put a few paper towels over the critter and, using a very low temp, ironed up the wax bits.  Voila!  Spotted Salamander.

In retrospect, I wonder if the iron was necessary.  See the spots on the neck?  for those I just picked the wax off by hand.  The others kind of bled with the iron, so... maybe it would have been better without.  Anyway, we'll be adding a googly eye and maybe a mouth or something later, but he's run off to other endeavors for now.

Listen to this great song, "The Forest is a Wonderful Place" by Steve Schuch at his website:  Night Heron

(to the tune of “Heaven is a Wonderful Place”)
The forest is a wonderful place
Filled with frogs and snakes
I want to see a salamander’s face
The forest is a wonderful place (I want to go there...)

Unbelievably, I also found an easy salamander poem at Child Fun:

A Salamander
I saw a little creature that was slimy, smooth, and wet.
I thought it was the oddest thing that I had ever met.
It was something like a lizard, but it had no scales at all.
It was something like a frog, but it didn't hop- it crawled.
So I took it to my teacher and she told me right away,
" I see you brought a salamander into class today."

There are a ton of free coloring sheets online; google "Salamander color sheet," and use the image search for best results.  Here is one of our favorites.  T LOVES to color salamanders and dinosaurs, so we use lots of free coloring sheets.

Another cool find were the Kindergarten math worksheets and dot-to-dots at Math Salamanders .  

All in all I was surprised and delighted at all the newt/ salamander books, activities, music and poetry I found.  Please share if you have others!  I hope you enjoyed our Mother's Day activities.  :)  It looks like we're mighty close to 50 followers... come back and see next week if we hit the goal, because I'll have a give-away!  Until then, friends.


  1. Salamanders creep me out a little too. My kids are crazy for them. These are great book recs and I love your craft tie-in…as always :)

    Have a wonderful mothers day!

  2. Cute salamander! Sorry, I am late in visiting. Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.