by Bonnie McNett
The pre-primary students at Children's Meeting House Montessori School in Loveland were delighted by a visit from two exotic guests from the Cincinnati Zoo. The first animal was a native Australian reptile called the Blue Tongued Skink. The children learned about its habitat of dry, rocky terrain and its diet consisting primarily of insects, snails, and small plants. The children also learned that the animal's blue tongue is a form of aposomatic coloration designed to scare away potential predators. In the event that the skink is unable to use its brightly colored tongue to bluff its way out of a confrontation, the skink is able to drop its tail, which thrashes about wildly distracting its pursuer, as a way to escape.
The second guest ambassador was a South American Screaming Hairy Armadillo. The docile armadillo gets its name from its sparse, yet long, body hair and its habit of squealing loudly when disturbed. The children learned that the armadillos live in fence row habitats near farms. They burrow in the ground with their claws to uncover insects, worms, and plants.
The visit helped tie together weeks of biology study for the children who'd been learning about habitats, niches, animal adaptations and behaviors. Teacher Casey Reed stated, "This was a wonderful culmination of our studies. The children were able to learn about and interact with two very different creatures, yet learned they have several surprising similarities. I think this was an up close, animal encounter that the children will remember and can take away some valuable lessons."
Children's Meeting House offers optimal hands-on learning for students preschool through sixth grade. This year the school celebrates 40 years of creating a legacy of young learners.