Friday, May 31, 2019

O is for Owen (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

World War I brought about a lot of changes to history, society, and culture. Some of them were to be expected like huge advancements made in the way in which battles (and ultimately) wars were fought. There were improvements to tanks and the introduction of airplanes on a large scale as well as guns that would allow armies to more effectively decimate the enemy. There were also new countries added to the map as well as the redrawing of some borders for older countries. In terms of society and culture, the period after World War I was very odd. The 1920s became known as the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age but also gave birth to the Lost Generation of writers who were facing a period of time where previous values no longer seemed as important and they remained unsettled after the Great War.

Surprisingly, World War I also brought a number of poets into existence. Most of these men participated in the Great War itself and a few did not survive to see Armistice Day. Some of these poets had entered service feeling it was noble and just while others eventually felt disillusioned with the war. One such poet was Wilfred Owen of Great Britain. 

As a Young Man 

Wilfred Owen, born on March 18, 1893, was the son of Thomas Owen (former seaman) and Susan Shaw. Owen was the eldest of four children and became protective of his siblings and had a close relationship with his mother. Owen did not attend university, like so many of the other British WWI poets, but instead attended Shrewsbury Technical School until he was 17. He worked for a time as an assistant for a minister and during that time planned to determine whether or not he wished to train as a clergyman. During his spare time, he read and began to write poetry. He would start to develop his own writing style that would help him become one of the most technically innovative and influential of the World War I poets. 

He returned home from his time volunteering with the minister due to an illness and – after recovering – he taught in Bordeaux at the Berlitz School of Languages and then spent a year with a French Catholic Family, tutoring their sons. 

Entering the War 

After his time as a private tutor, he returned home to England in the summer of 1915. He eventually enlisted in the Artists' Rifles regiment in 1916. By December of 1916, he had left for France. Almost immediately he began writing of his experiences in the war: the marching and shelling. He wrote about the march of January 12, 1917 in "Dulce et Decorum Est" where they marched three miles along a shelled road and then three miles along a flooded trench. This was a typical experience – of marching in and on difficult terrain under machine-gun fire, already tired, and facing poison-gas attacks. 

During 1917, Owen was injured three times including a hospitalization for a concussion. Unfortunately some of the experiences that Owen lived were common and were described not only in his letters to his mother but also in 'All Quiet on the Western Front.' Both the Allies and the Central Powers suffered horribly – sleeping in wet or frozen clothes, unable to get clean, hiding in holes with dead bodies (who were sometimes friends) – all these things took a toll on the men fighting.  Owen made a series of trips to the hospital and he was eventually diagnosed as a victim of shell shock.  Owen was sent to the Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland where Siegfried Sassoon, a fellow poet, would be sent as well. He would spend four months at the hospital. 

While it took two weeks for Owen to get the courage to meet Sassoon, the two quickly formed a close relationship, with Sassoon providing literary advice. During this time, Owen wrote of his terrifying experiences in France. Both Sassoon and Owen felt the war should be ended. And while they wished to remain in England to protest the war, they both did return to join their comrades in the trenches.

Owen began to organize his poems for publication. In a table of contents, Owen wrote a brief description of each poem with the title. He also drafted a preface in which he said his poetry would describe "the pity of War." He continued, "All the poets can do is to warn." He wished to be truthful and present an accurate picture of the war. 

Returning to War 

On September 1, 1918, Owen returned to active duty in France after a few months of light regimental duty in the United Kingdom. He would see devastation among the villages with the death of children when returned. He would write about this in letters but not in his poetry. Prior to this death, Owen wrote that he was better and his nerves were "in perfect order." 

He was killed in action on November 4, 1918 while attempting to lead his men across the Sambre Canal at Ors. The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. His poems were collected after his death and introduced by Sassoon for publication. 

Resources and References 

Poetry Foundation: Wilfred Owen
Image of Wilfred Owen Lived Here Plaque is from User Rept0n1x at Wikimedia Commons 
Poems by Wilfred Owen

Interested in learning more about history? 

If you truly enjoy history, I encourage you to read one of my other history-themed posts, such as a post about unrestricted submarine warfare or examine my Engaging History series.

Please join us for Blogging through the Alphabet this week! 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Virtual Refrigerator – Weekly Art Link-Up

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Ready for another Art Post?  

We would like to extend an invitation to you and your children to share their artwork created while homeschooling. Each month we will host a link-up for you to share your posts about you or your children's art creation.

After you link up, please visit the other blogs and admire what they have shared from their fridges. You might find some inspiration to make a craft with your kids or to paint a new picture.

This week I would like to share with you a few pieces of artwork from A Mom's Quest to Teach.  

Umbrella Craft 

Using construction paper and scrapbooking paper our children made these umbrellas

Veggie Tales Sun Catchers 

We made these cut Veggie Tales Sun Catchers a few years ago. They were very easy to put together with permanent markers, tissue paper, glue, and overhead pages. 

Space Shuttle Art Work 

When reading books, we often look for ways to create crafts based upon the tales. This space shuttle art work is based on the story Mousetronaut

Are you ready to link up this month? 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Taking a Safari Trip to the Land Down Under – Perfect Summer Learning Opportunities

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Let's continue our Safari Trip in Australia but let's look at some activities perfect for older children.

On this Safari Trip we will learn about native Australian animals and create a piece of artwork to remind us of our journey. Do you have your passport ready? We are about to land in Sydney.

We are going to visit and learn about three different species of species: kangaroos, emus, and the frilled lizard.

Red Kangaroo photo from


Probably one of the most famous animals from Australia, next to the Koala (which is not a bear), is the kangaroo – of which there are four species.

  1. Red Kangaroo 
  2. Eastern Grey Kangaroo 
  3. Western Grey Kangaroo 
  4. Antilopine Kangaroo 
  • Mammal 
  • Herbivore 
  • Lives up to 23 years 
  • 6 to 7 feet tall 
  • About 200 lbs. 
  • Their body is designed for jumping with muscles centered in their tail & legs 
  • Like a cow, kangaroos eat grass and have similar broad teeth for crushing the plant fibers 
  • Live in large groups called mobs 
  • A grown male kangaroo is a boomer
  • A grown female kangaroo is a doe 
  • A baby kangaroo is a joey
Kangaroos have few natural predators – just humans and dingoes. They face habitat loss as well. 


While there may be 60 different species of flightless birds (most of them being different species of penguins), there are only five that are part of the ratite group of birds. Australia is home to the second largest one – the emu. 

  • 5 to 6 feet tall
  • Omnivore 
  • Long powerful legs to help them run 
  • Can sprint at 30 mph over a short distance
  • Can jump 7 feet straight into the air 
  • Females lay 5 to 15 green-black colored eggs and then leaves the nest
  • Emu eggs are about the size of an avocado 
  • Males makes the nest and then sit on the eggs
  • Dad and the chicks stay together until they are about 18 months old – he protects them and teaches them how to be an emu 
  • Emus can make a very loud drumming sound 
Younger children may enjoy the fictional stories about Edward and Edwina Emus written by Sheena Knowles. 

Frilled Lizard 

Australia is home to a great number of reptiles including 100 venomous snakes. The frilled lizard is often recognizable because of his unique defense tactics. When it feels threatened by a predator, it unfurls its skin flap which opens around his head like a lion's mane and hisses. If this defense tactic does not work, the frilled lizard will turn tail and run away, skin flap still unfurled as it runs.

  • Reptile 
  • Carnivore – eats mainly insects but will eat small mammals and reptiles occasionally 
  • Lives up to 20 years 
  • 3 feet in length 
  • 1.1 lbs. in weight 
  • Males are bigger than females 
  • Lays 8-14 eggs
  • Newly hatched babies are able to take care of themselves right away 

Indigenous Peoples of Australia 

The indigenous or aboriginal people of Australia are considered to be those individuals living on the continent prior to European exploration and colonization. There is a great diversity among the indigenous people which even continues into their artistic contributions. For the purpose of this activity, we will focus upon the 'dot art' of the Central and Western desert. 

Note: As in the case of the tales of many indigenous peoples, there is controversy regarding colonialism and the impact of exploration of the 'Age of Exploration' (1400s-1700s). I recommend parents preview websites prior to sharing with children.

lizard dot art image from diapicard from Pixabay
image credit: diapicard from pixabay

Aboriginal Art 

The meaning behind the dot art according to some sources is that Indigenous Aboriginal Art was never supposed to be shared with those outside of specific tribes. So the artwork was modified to make it beautiful but hid the sacred meanings.  In the beginning the the art was drawn and then dots were painted on top of it to obscure the meaning and story. Over the years, the dot artwork has changed and grown as each generation put their own stamp upon it. 

dot art from esther1721 from Pixabay
image credit: esther1721 from Pixabay

The dot artwork is the sharing of approved aboriginal stories and histories. 


  • Paint
  • Rounded Paint Brushes (or Q-tips)
  • Drawing Paper 


1. Gather all your materials. 

paint and paintbrushes

2. Sketch your image onto your drawing paper. 

These were drawn lightly in pencil so the sketches wouldn't show up in the completed painting as easily. 

3. Paint your image using dots. 

dot art in the process of an emu

dot art in the process of a frilled lizard
Frilled Lizard

4. After your image is dry, hang it up with pride in your house. 

dot art of an emu

dot art of a kangaroo


National Geographic Kids: Kangaroo
National Geographic: Emu
National Geographic Kids: Frilled Lizard
Artlandish Aboriginal Art Gallery: Aboriginal Dot Art 

More Crafts and Activities 

Please be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the DIY Summer Camp Activities Series at Teaching Without Chairs and Preschool Powol Packets. There will be a total of four weeks of fun ideas for preschoolers and older children.

If you are looking for more posts from A Mom's Quest to Teach on animals, please see my posts on how to make a giraffe with construction paper and how to make your own bats. Or if you have preschoolers, why not make some cute Australian animal-themed crafts with them! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Learn about Australian Animals on a Summer Safari for Preschoolers

This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Ready to go on a Safari trip to Australia? The land down under is full of many amazing sights – from the beautiful Sydney Opera House to Kata Tjuta, the large, domed rock formations southwest of Alice Spring. There are many interesting places built by man and others that are part of nature.

image of Sydney Opera House from

Let's examine some books and activities that are perfect for your preschooler this summer. Most kids are familiar with kangaroos, koalas, and maybe even the platypus – but what about the echidna?

The Echidna

This interesting mammal native to Australia is one of five monotremes. A Monotreme is an egg-laying mammal. There is the duck-billed platypus and there are four species of echidna (also known as the spiny anteater). Even though they lay eggs, they still produce milk like other mammals for their young.

Echidna Facts 

  • Grow to be about 2 feet long
  • Live for 20 to 30 years (the record is held by one that lived for 49 years and 5 months in captivity) 
  • Nocturnal – they sleep during the day and are awake at night
  • Have very good hearing
  • Eat ants and termites 
  • Small eyes 
  • Good sense of smell 
  • Long, flexible tongue (up to 7 inches long) to get the termites and ants out of their nests 
  • Baby echidnas are called puggles – after about 10 days, the egg hatches and the small puggle is born – the baby will pull itself into its mother's pouch to get milk 
  • The baby puggle will be carried for about 55 days and then its spines start to grow – so the mom puts it in a cave or hollow and will return every 3 to 6 days to feed it  
  • Four ways to defend themselves: run away, curl up into a spiky ball, dig straight down into soft soil so only spines are showing, or wedge itself in a rock crevice or hollow log and erect its spines 

This photograph of an echidna's skeleton shows the shape of the snout that contains their long tongue and their powerful claws that they can use to dig for ants and termites or use to dig holes to hide in from predators. Image from

There are several different craft options for studying this fascinating creature from Australia.

Paper Echidna


image from


1. Gather all your materials.

2. Draw your echidna on your paper. I was fortunate enough to have a drawing from a workshop from when I worked at a metropolitan zoo.

3. Color your echidna.

4. Break the spaghetti into pieces (but not TOO tiny). Be careful when breaking the spaghetti because pieces can tend to fly everywhere.

5. Glue onto the echidna.

6. After the glue is dry, hang up your echidna.

Clay Echidna


  • Clay or play doh (I recommend air drying clay) 
  • Toothpicks or spaghetti 
  • Googly eyes 
  • Paint (optional) 
  • Paint brushes (optional) 


1. Gather all your materials.

2. Shape the echidna.
3. Break the spaghetti. (If you are using toothpicks, you can break the pieces ahead of time to make them smaller. Just be careful as they will be SHARP.)

4. Stick the spaghetti or toothpicks into your clay echidna.

5. Allow your echidna to dry.

6. If you want to paint the echidna, this is the perfect time to do so! 

One of the best parts of the summer is the extra sunshine! So why not make these adorable koala sun catchers to hang in your windows. 


One of the most recognizable animals from Australia is the Koala – which is NOT a bear. It is a marsupial meaning they have a pouch in which they carry their babies until they are ready for the outside world.

Koalas only live in certain parts of Australia due to the fact they are picky eaters. They only eat the leaves of eucalyptus trees. Of the over 600 types of eucalyptus trees, Koalas only eat the leaves of about 35 different species that grow in eastern Australia. Due to habitat loss (the cutting down of trees and humans taking over their natural habitat), Koalas are very endangered. There are not a lot of them left in the wild.

Koala Facts 

  • Mammal
  • Grow to 2 to 3 feet long
  • Weight between 10 and 30 pounds 
  • May live up to 20 years in the wild   
  • Nocturnal – they are awake during the night and sleep during the day 
  • Eat about 2 1/2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves a day 
  • Get most of the water they need from the leaves and do not need to drink water for periods of time 
  • Bodies are designed for climbing in the trees – use their hands and feet to help them climb with sharp claws 
  • Koalas are smaller than a nickel when born 
  • Koalas spend about six months in their mom's pouch before venturing into the world 

Koala Coffee Filter Sun Catcher 


image from


1. Gather all your materials. 

2. Cut smaller circles (two) for the koala's ears.

3. Cut out the eyes and nose of the koala. 

4. Color the face of the koala in gray. 

5. Color the smaller circles gray on the outside with pink in the middle of the circle. 

6. Spray the coffee filters lightly with water. The marker ink will spread. I recommend spraying the coffee filters on a surface outside that you don't mind getting marker on. The ink may stain other surfaces. 

I lay the coffee filters on plastic trays to prevent the ink from staining any surfaces. 

7. After the coffee filters are dry, tape on the ears. 

8. Glue on the eyes and nose. (The glue will bleed through so be sure to wipe off your table after you are done your craft.) 

9. Hang your Koala Coffee Filter Sun Catchers in a window! 

Book Suggestions 

Koala Lou written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts

In this short picture book, Koala Lou wants to do something special so she trains for the Bush Olympics. Throughout the story, children are introduced to a variety of Australian animals including emus, kangaroos, numbats, kookaburra birds, wombats, and echidnas.

Possum Magic written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas

In Possum Magic, Hush and Grandma Poss visit the animals of Australia and travel around the continent to find the magic necessary to make Hush visible again. These aren't the opossums of America but the Common Brushtail Possums from Australia. What is great about this book is that children will meet lots of Australian animals and be introduced to the names of various locales and foods that are popular in Australia.

Edward the Emu written by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Rod Clement

Edward lives at a zoo and wants to be popular like the other animals. Throughout the tale Edward tries to be like other animals but learns through the rhyming tale how important it is to be himself.

More Activities and Crafts 

Please be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the DIY Summer Camp Activities Series at Preschool Powol Packets and Teaching Without Chairs. There will be a total of four weeks of fun ideas for preschoolers and older children.

If you are looking for more preschool crafts from A Mom's Quest to Teach, you might enjoy reading about lions, ladybugs, or hippopotamuses.