The Troodon Project

When I was in elementary school we had parent night once a year or less.  I actually only remember attending parent nights in the third and fourth grades.  In fourth our teacher had us each lie down on a piece of butcher paper, she traced around our bodies and then we colored our “selves.”  I was wearing a shorts and button down set made of white material that appeared to have been sponge painted in pastel shades of blue pink and purple.  I went to great lengths to recreate the look on my paper clone, but that’s not what this post is about.

At the school my children attend they have parent nights each and every quarter. We were at Zizza’s tonight and we’ll go to Enzo’s tomorrow.  Imagine what this will be like when Moo starts school.

Zizza’s class studied dinosaurs this quarter as you know from my talk about Troodon.  In addition to her report she was assigned a Troodon themed project.  She could chose from either building a paper mache dinosaur, constructing a diorama or planting a terrarium.  We chose the terrarium project.

We planted it in the plastic container from a rotisserie chicken because we’re all about class. We did some research and found that the plants common in Troodon’s habitat were conifers(I hate that word), ferns and a few of the first flowering plants.

Everything in the garden center at Walmart was much too tall for the chicken box so we went to pets mart and found some littler guys.  They were meant for aquariums.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that meant they were semi aquatic.  In other words, I couldn’t just plant them in some dirt from the back yard.

The due date for the project kind of snuck up on me. Thursday evening found me in the back yard ashamed of myself for doing Zizza’s homework but doing it just the same because Dude, it was due the next day and she was tired and we needed to fit a whole bunch of dirt and stuff into that little box and tired seven year olds aren’t known for their patience. For that matter, neither are the tired mothers of tired seven year olds.

I started by filling the container with dirt and realizing that the dirt was full of squirmy bugs.  Then I walked down the street and clipped some branches off the only nearby evergreen (I don’t think it’s actually a conifer but I’m cool with that)  I stuck those in the dirt and then I pulled the semi aquatic plants out of their protective plastic tubes.  Their roots were in little plastic cups full of water retaining gel.  I buried the little cups in the dirt and hoped for the best.  Then, to flesh things out a little I shopped my yard for little weeds to transplant. I pulled three before I got one with a good root. That’s usually disappointing for totally different reasons. While I was doing that I kicked myself for not having thought of it before I made that trip to Pets Mart. Now I’ll know for the future.  Weeds are where it’s at.

I left the whole thing on the back patio while I fed the kids dinner, then I sent Ziz out to see what I’d done.  Sadly, half an hour in the arid heat of an Arizona September are all it takes to finish off a small semi aquatic leafy green.  Zizza was sad about that but she liked my work with the weeds so we were cool.  She placed the plastic dinosaur (It was a velociraptor but I won’t tell if you won’t) in it’s new home and put the lid on.  Her doing that much was enough to appease us both on the issue of my doing her project.

It went to school on Friday morning.  I’d watered it well enough that the plastic dome was thoroughly misted and I flattered myself that the semi aquatics might recover a bit under those conditions.  When Ziz came home I asked her how it went and she said “Good, I took the lid off when I got it to school because it was so misty nobody could see inside” I guess I forgot to explain to her the concept of a terrarium and how the mist meant it was working.

Tonight all the projects were displayed on the desks.  The lights in the classroom were turned off and visitors were equipped with flashlights.  The concept was based on “Night at the Museum”  I was disappointed that none of the exhibits actually came to life but otherwise it was great.  I’m happy to say that our little terrarium (dead plants, transplanted weeds, squirmy bugs an all) didn’t look half bad in those conditions.  Let’s hear it for dramatic lighting!   


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *