The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is the only professional museum in the country dedicated entirely to shells.  The museum opened in 1995, and quickly gained recognition for its expertise at both a national and international level.  It is also one of only a small percentage of museums in the US accredited by the American Association of Museums.

Though contained in one large room, The Great Hall of Shells includes more than 30 exhibits telling the story of mollusks from around the world.  With exhibits  devoted to shells in art and history, shell habitats, rare specimens, fossil shells, and common Southwest Florida Shells the museum is a fantastic field trip opportunity for students learning about Florida nature and shells. 

Educators should request the "School Shell Collection Kit" ($20) or optional DVDS: The Secret Lives of Seashells or Trails & Tales of Living Seashells ($19.95 each) in writing from the museum at: PO BOX 1580 Sanibel, Florida 33957

Contact information:
The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road
Sanibel, Florida


Zebra longwing butterfly photo by Tammy Powers / Wikipedia

Florida's State butterfly is the Zebra Longwing butterfly. Have your students observe the photo of the Zebra longwing butterfly and then download & complete the Zebra Longwing butterfly notebooking page.

In addition to studying the Zebra Longwing butterfly, you may be interested in studying butterflies in general.

The butterfly migration project begins October 19th with Journey North. During the project students across the USA and Canada send symbolic buterflies to Mexico each fall. At the monarch sanctuaries in Mexico children protect the butterflies all winter and send them north in the spring. United by the monarch butterfly, children across North America learn lessons of conservation and ambassadorship. Visit Symbolic Monarch lessons for downloads, video and additional information.

If you are considering integrating a lesson in butterflies in your nature or science study this year, there are a number of resources you should consider.

Explore butterflies is a multi-media website that allows your students to explore their knowledge of butterflies by playing one of four games: Butterfly Smarts, Butterfly Habitat, Field Observation and Climate & Change. Younger students will assistance reading the questions and multiple choice answers.
(Thank-you to @Ktenkely for posting about this site).

Monarch watch, part of The Kansas Biological Survey at the University of Kansas is a great website to visit for more educational, scientific study and conservation information on the monarch butterfly. There are a number of ways that students can become involved in studies with scientists, in addition to rearing monarchs there are 5 additional studies students or groups can participate in.
The Monarch butterfly website has a wonderful collection of articles, pictures and information on raising and caring for Monarch butterflies.

Hands-on learning labs will offer your child the closest view of butterflies and an opportunity to observe and study them over a longer period of time.  Insect Lore's butterfly garden is a complete kit with larve (Painted Lady butterflies) and butterfly cage for close observation. 

Students may also collect Monarch caterpillars from your butterfly garden (plant milkweed for best results) and observe them indoors.  Be sure to offer the caterpillars an abundance of fresh milkweed daily.  Students may also  learn how to tell the sex of a Monarch butterfly and create a chart of the butterflies they release.

Make your own Owl Calendar 2011

Owl Lover 2011 Calendar

Does your Young Naturalist have a thing for owls? Allow them to design their own owl calendar using illustrations from various artists.  Its a fun way to end an owl study or just throw in a bit of art.

Barn Owl Web Cam

Live Streaming by Ustream.TV

This is a unique opportunity to observe a pair of Barn Owls and their owlets.
via live feed from an owl box is located in a residential backyard in San Marcos, CA that is 15 feet off the ground. The mother owl appears to be a first time mom. The owl is about 14 inches tall. She laid her first egg on February 13th. Owlets are expected around mid to late March. Incubation is 30 to 34 days. Owlets will hatch in the order laid, unlike chickens which hatch together.

The male has a white chest and face. He usually shows up after dark but has spent an entire day with the female. The female is named Molly and the male McGee. The Barn Owl is widespread but usually a scarce species. They are strictly nocturnal and rarely observed in flight during daylight hours.

Lesson Plan:

1.) Observe the Barn Owls on the cam and discuss your observations. Research any questions that arise during the observation.

See also Birds of Prey

Barn Owl Coloring page

Owl Blank notebooking elements

Owl Pellet Dissection packet

Online Resources:

Molly's Box Blog

Outside photos of The Owl Box, Molly and McGree

Barn Owl information, sounds & photos

Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection

Purchase owl pellets

Birds of Prey

"Birds of prey---powerful eagles, hawks, and owls---have very different lifestyles from Florida's backyard songbirds. Also known as raptors, they are predator, hunting and feeding on smaller animals (called prey) such as insects, mice, rabbits , fish snakes, and even other birds. They often eat sick and weakened animals, sometimes even dead animals (called carrion) and they help to keep the population of rodents and insect pests in check." The Young Naturalist's Guide to Florida; page 102

Discussion Questions:
  1. What physical characteristics do all birds of prey or raptors have in common?
  2. Name five types of raptors that can be found in Florida.
  3. What animal used to be considered a bird of prey but is no longer considered one by Ornithologists? Why is this bird no longer considered a raptor?
  4. What is the difference between a diurnal animal and a nocturnal one?

  1. Go on a field trip to learn more about birds of prey.
  2. Choose one raptor to study and include in your notebook.
  3. Study the beaks and talons of raptors up close. Draw pictures for your notebook.
  4. Print out worksheet and have students circle the raptor talons

Suggested Reading:

Peterson Field Guides for young naturalists: Birds of Prey by Jonathan P. Latimer/Karen Stray Nolting

Online Resources:
PDF on Raptors
Conserve Wildlife Raptor Page
Sea World's Raptor Sheet
Raptor Related Words
Skulls Unlimited
IBC (The Internet Bird Collection)
Global Raptor information network

Field Trip Suggestions:

Tour the sanctuary and see several birds of prey on exhibit. Inquire about educational lectures featuring birds of prey.

Take a nature walk and explore the nature center. Book a group tour and attend the incredible "Raptor Chapter" lecture.

Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
Tour the Audubon Center for birds of prey or book a group tour and get an even more up close look at the amazing birds of prey currently housed at the center.

Introduction to Florida State Symbols

Print out the Florida State Symbols PDF and include in your notebook

Suggested Reading:
Florida Facts and Symbols by Emily McAuliffe (2003)

Discussion Questions:
Quiz your students on Florida State Symbols. You may consider making this a game!
Ask your students what their favorite state symbol is and why.

Also see Florida Symbols for more lesson plan ideas and resources