I kind of hope I’m introducing this lovely book to you. Of course, it would be better if all of us knew all the books because yeah yeah, but this one has been special to the Brison family for a long time and I want the chance to share it with new readers. Spoonbill Swamp by Brenda Z. Guiberson is one of those brilliant nonfiction stories… you know, the ones that don’t personify the animals but tell a story about their Real Lives. And the illustrations by Megan Lloyd? Oh. Yeah. They are nothing short of fantabulously gorgeous.
I’ve come up with some really cool stuff to do to go with this book, mostly inspired by Lloyd’s breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in the book, but also taken from the story itself. Let me give you a sample of these illustrations. They make me feel peaceful. We don’t have much by way of swamps here in Indiana, so this is the kind of book that fuels my imagination and makes me want to take a road trip. Just look at the pictures in this book!
Yeah. That’s the stuff.
Spoonbill Swamp Activities
This book talks about several creatures of the swamp. The roseate spoonbill, the alligator, the zebra butterfly, the pelican, the great blue heron (a personal fave), the minnows and shrimp in the water, and even a raccoon. It mentions mangroves, duckweed, marsh grass, cattails and water lilies. It provides a ton of opportunities to do some research and write a report. I happen to have, in my subscriber freebies, both a plant and an animal study to get them started. They’re just short notebooking pages, but they should help your littles figure out the kinds of things they want to learn about their topic before they begin writing. I have to tell you, I love me a good research paper. It was my favorite part of college, and perhaps the reason I enjoy writing my own curriculum so much.
Let’s learn about the roseate spoonbill. Much of what this amazing bird gets up to in real life is in the book, but this free unit study will help your littles put the story into context.
This is so. cool.
- A shallow pan
- clear coat fingernail polish (we used a bottle that had glitter in it to up the color)
- dark paper
What you do:
- Cover the bottom of your pan with water, just enough to be able to cover the paper
- Submerge the paper in the water
- Place a drop of fingernail polish in the water over the paper
- If the film doesn’t spread out well, use your finger to position it on the paper
- Lift the paper from the water, being careful to keep the film atop it
- Lay it on wax paper to dry
I know, right?!
This book can only be crafted with watercolors. Just look back at those illustrations and you will know it’s true.
Watercolor Swamp Sunset
Pick a picture from the book, break out your watercolors and watercolor paper and copy it as best you can. For the sake of my art-challenged Littles, we left the bird out of our watercolor (I think they would have spontaneously combusted if I made them try to paint a bird). Have your littles do their best to copy the effect of the picture in their own painting. The Littles’ watercolors turned out beautifully, even though they looked slightly murderous by the time we were done.
The spoonbill eats a lot crustaceans, including shrimp, so it would be fun to get a little taste of what that means. Just don’t regurgitate it for your Littles. They might arm themselves and come after you. But it would be kind of funny.
Baked Coconut Shrimp
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cups coconut flakes
- 3 egg whites
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet lightly with oil or cooking spray
- Wash shrimp and pat dry
- Beat egg whites in a medium bowl until foamy
- Mix cornstarch, salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl
- Pour coconut flakes into a separate bowl
- Dredge one shrimp at a time in the cornstarch mixture, then dip it in the egg white. End by rolling it in the coconut, coating the shrimp well
- Place each shrimp on the cookie sheet as you go
- Bake 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the shrimp is no longer transparent, but is bright pink on the outside and the coconut is browned
Yummy and healthy and totally relevant? Oh. Yeah.
Have fun with this one. There is so much to learn from this beauty. Run to the library or to Amazon and get a copy of Spoonbill Swamp. And happy reading!