Welcome to day 8 of DIY Summer Camp at home. On this second week of DIY Summer Camp, we’re going to learn about reptiles, including slithering snakes, dangerous dinosaurs, amazing alligators and lively lizards. This makes for some fun activities that you can do right in your own backyard. Or, even better, you can send the kids out to do, while you relax.
Slithering snakes are scary?
Many people are scared of snakes, and with good reason. They hiss. They hide. And sometimes, they bite! But snakes can also be beautiful, and some species are not only good for the environment, they are essential for eco-balance. Let’s explore the world of snakes.
Activity: Make a paper snake
What you need:
- googly eyes
- colored paper
Here’s what you do:
Activity: Beading a slithering snake
What you need:
- pony beads
- pipe cleaners
- googly eyes
- small pieces of felt
- hot glue & hot glue gun
What you do:
Snack: Crispy Rice Cereal Snake Bites
To make these fun snake snacks, start with your basic rice cereal treat.
- 4 cups crispy rice cereal
- 3 TBSP butter or margarine
- 1 package of mini marshmallows
- food coloring
- cooking spray
- raisins or m&ms
- In a large saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter until smooth.
- Remove from heat.
- Add a few drops of food coloring (green snakes? red snakes?)
- Add cereal. Mix until cereal is coated.
- Coat 9×9 square pan with cooking spray, spread in cereal mix evenly, and let cool 20 min.
- Turn the pan upside down on a work surface and slide out cooled treat. Cut into long rectangles. (This recipe makes about 8, depending on the size)
- Mold rectangles into snakes! Use icing to “glue” on raisins or m&ms for eyes, and to draw on little fangs or a snake tongue.
Activity: Snake tag
One person is “It”. When “It” tags a friend, that friend holds hands with “It”, and together they chase other friends. Each tag holds hands with the last friend tagged, creating a “snake” chain of friends. The game is over when all the friends are part of the snake. Then you can start over with a new “It”.
Activity: Bubble snakes
- empty plastic water bottle
- old sock
- liquid dish soap
- elastic band
- Cut the bottom off your water bottle, about 2/3rds from the top. Take the cap off the top.
- Slide the old sock on the cut bottom part of your top portion of the water bottle, so that the sock toe covers it. Secure it with the elastic band. You should have a water bottle top sticking out of a sock. This is your “bubble snake” maker.
- Pour water and dish soap into the bottom part of the water bottle. You’ll want about about 1 cup of water and 1 TBSP of soap, but experiment with the ratio to get the best results. Mix thoroughly.
- Dip the sock-covered bottom of your bubble snake maker into the bubble mixture.
- Blow into the other end to blow your bubble snake!
Snake facts for you to share
Slithering snakes are fascinating, even if you don’t like them. Here are some facts about snakes for you to discuss with your kids while you’re making snakes and playing snake games.
Eggs & Live births
Some snakes like boas and rattlesnakes give birth to live young, meaning that the baby snakes develop inside the mother, and then hatch as soon as they are born. These snakes are born inside a membrane, which they cut with an “egg tooth”.
Most snakes lay eggs, usually some place dark, warm and safe, like underground or in an old log. Snake eggs aren’t hard like bird eggs, but rather are soft and usually leathery, so the baby snakes will tear them with that “egg tooth”.
Some mother snakes lay their eggs and leave. But there are a few species that will stay with their eggs, like pythons.
All snakes are carnivores, meaning they eat other animals, including other snakes! The size of the prey depends on the size of the snake. There’s a snake so small it eats the eggs and larvae of insects (the Thread snake) and there are snakes so big they eat deer and pigs (Anacondas).
Snakes will hunt, hide, trick and ambush their prey. Some snakes will bite their prey to hook it and eat it. Some will squeeze their prey to suffocate it first then eat it. And some will inject venom to paralyze their prey in order to eat it.
Snakes don’t chew their food, but swallow it whole. Their jaw will unhinge in order to get around their prey, and powerful muscles on their front half move the food down into the stomach. They use those same muscles to move!
Snakes are found on every single continent except Antarctica. There are almost 3000 species of snakes! Snakes live in forests, jungles, deserts, caves, mountains, grasslands, and even in the ocean. They live everywhere but in the coldest of habitats. They can’t live where it’s cold, because they are reptiles, and reptiles are cold-blooded. That means they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature, rather than doing it from inside.
Snake skin & Molting
Snakes have scales, which act like a protective armor for their bodies. Without the scales, they couldn’t move or survive. Snake scales are nearly waterproof! They are rougher on the belly to help them move, much like your shoes have rougher parts on the bottom to give them traction.
Snakes don’t have eyelids, but instead have special scales to cover their eyes, called “spectacle scales”.
Scales don’t stretch and they get dirty, dull and broken, so as the snake grows, they have to shed their old scales. Snakes will molt the old skin off when the new one is ready, by scraping on tree trunks, bushes, rocks and even the ground itself. That breaks the old skin seal, and then they slither right out, just like you take off your socks!
In places where the weather does get cold for part of the year, snakes will hibernate. That means they will find caves or burrow underground to sleep until the weather warms up. For some snakes, like garter snakes, they will all hibernate together in a big ball or mass, to help conserve energy.
Around 15% of all snake species are said to be venomous. Snakes who are venomous have fangs to inject the venom into their victims. The venom will work in one of 3 ways — attacking the nervous system, the muscle system or the blood.
It’s rare that snakes bite humans, and usually only when the snake feels threatened. But it happens enough that snake scientists will catch venomous snakes to “milk” their venom, in order to create antivenom that will help counteract the effects of a snakebite.
End of the day: read aloud time.
There’s nothing that settles kids down like storytime at the end of the day. So after all the snakes and games today, grab a classic read-aloud and read a chapter every night this week.
Try one of these:
- The missing ‘gator of Gumbo Limbo
- What the Tortoise Told Alice
- Willard Price: Python Adventure *Note: suspenseful!
Come back tomorrow for another day full of reptile-filled adventures. And don’t forget to subscribe so you get every day of the DIY Summer Camp at Home right in your inbox.
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