This is a salamander project that my first grade or kindergarten students usually complete in the early spring. The activity can be used to highlight the complex life cycles of these charming and important creatures of vernal pools and the Northeastern forestlands. It can be used to reinforce students’ understanding of the watery life cycle of amphibians in general or to complement an introduction to the significance of temporary wetlands in this region’s ecosystems. It can also be used for physical science learning. As such, it serves as a hands-on demonstration that oil and water do not mix well. (Since this is a pivotal phenomenon contributing to the earliest evolution of life – leading in fact to the evolution of the cell membrane, this is a good bit of knowledge to acquire!) For older students, this project can help focus attention on why clean, unpolluted water is essential for wetland creatures of all sorts, as well as for us humans.
Here’s the black and white PDF: Salamander 2018 EB
And here it is transformed with crayon, oil pastels, watercolor washes – and human imagination!
This project works best when copies of the activity page are colored with oil pastels (such as craypas). This is especially important for the eggs and spots. Regular wax crayons can work too however they’ll need to be applied very heavily.
To make the watercolor wash, I recommend using one of Prang’s excellent watercolor sets. Simply pop out the blue oval pan – or a mixture of several pans such as blue, purple and green. Submerge it /them in a shallow container of water. The pigments will quickly begin to spread through the water, thereby creating a very useful watercolor wash. When the water is dark enough, remove the oval/s, let it/them air dry, and return it/them to the original tray. (By the way, the excess wash can be allowed to evaporate in the container for later rehydration and use as a wash in other projects.) Place the finished wash with large brushes on a table with the youngsters or on a separate table that you designate as the watercolor wash station.