Caledonia — On a field trip to John Ball Zoo recently, Abby Barker asked Heidi Kruizenga’s kindergarten class, “Who knows what cockroaches eat?”
Guesses included leaves, dirt and trash.
The real answer: much yuckier stuff.
“The Madagascar hissing cockroaches eat other animal’s poop and dead animal carcasses off the ground,” said Barker, an educational instructor at the zoo.
“What are (carcasses)?” kindergartner Ellie Marsman asked. When she received her answer: “Eww, that’s gross,” was her response.
Barker taught the class an important lesson: “Don’t eat another animal’s poop. It’s healthy for them, but not for us.”
The Dutton Elementary kindergartners visited the zoo for a field trip to expand on their Core Knowledge Language Arts unit about the five senses.
“We’ve had fun exploring our world through taste, sight, sound, touch and smell,” Kruizenga said. “ The kids have been using thinking maps to organize our new information.”
Besides the cockroaches, the class got to meet three more animals during their visit and learned how each use their own senses. For instance, they met a New Caledonia gecko named Plop.
“He’s old and sometimes goes to the bathroom on our hands,” Barker said as she wrapped Plop’s lower half in a paper-towel diaper.
He is also missing one of his five senses, Barker explained.
“Plop is blind and has to use his other four senses. He loves to taste and smell the world around him.”
Prince the ball python got a few mixed responses as he was lifted from his carrier.
Said Ellie: “I’m scared of snakes, but I really want to meet him.”
The students learned how snakes use their tongues to smell things. If they wanted after the presentation, they could also touch Prince to feel his scaly texture.
“Going to the zoo was a great culminating activity for our unit,” Kruizenga said. “We got to compare and contrast our senses with those of some special animals and use our own senses to experience wildlife.”
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