Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I was always bad at naptime, too. (Cool Things I Never Learned In PRE-School)

Each night, more or less, the Babies! and I have "Learning Time," in which we sit down and learn... something. Sometimes it's "sitting quietly," sometimes it's "songs," and sometimes it's "we don't try to punch daddy even if we're mad that it's learning time."

(That latter lesson is very important.)

Way, way back when Learning Time began, I found a website that had little alphabet and counting games on it, alphabet games in particular. The alphabet that the Babies! liked best was the one where there'd be a letter and then an animal beginning with that letter.

If you watch that all the way through -- and why wouldn't you? -- you'll come to four curious things.

First is the flamingo, which you could get to if you hit the letter F. When flamingo plays, the bird makes a screechy sound. The first time I saw that, I questioned Do flamingos really sound like that? And I've wondered it since then. Today, I finally set out to find out if flamingos really sound all screechy like that, and I found this video:

The first thing I have to say about that video is that from certain angles, flying flamingoes look exactly like flying pterodactyls. The second is holy cow, are you serious? The minerals in the water could turn their feathers to stone? And the third is... yep, they sound kind of screechy.

The questions raised by the Fisher Price site continued, though, in that next up was the ostrich -- which makes, on the Fisher Price site, a kind of hooty-ish sound. Which raised the question is that what ostriches really sound like? (And also: what's the plural of ostrich, because ostriches doesn't sound quite right. Should it be ostri?)

There are a surprising number of videos about ostrich sounds on Youtube, something I would never have guessed. But none of them have a hooty-sounding ostrich. Most sound like this:

Third up is the x-ray fish. Coming up with things that start with x is the bane of alphabet games. After x-ray and xylophone, how many words that start with "x" are there in the English language, after all?

I don't know the answer to that. Let's go with six. There are six words that start with x in the English language. (One of which is Xuthus, the ancestor of the Ionian Greeks, but don't bother looking him up because he wasn't a god or anything) and another of which is xylographer, which is a person engraves wood or who prints on paper from those engravings.

If you're trying to teach kids about the letter x, then, what are you going to do, show a little guy xylographing? (Answer: yes.) Or are you going to do what Fisher Price did and show an x-ray fish, complete with visible skeleton and glowing aura around him, which then makes me say I don't think that's a real thing at all!

But it is: The X-ray fish is an actual fish, the pristella maxillaris, a fish that lives in swamps and other brackish water (so it does well in fish tanks owned by lazy people), called the x-ray fish because its body is almost transparent.

But it doesn't glow.

And then, we finish up with z, which is represented, always, by zebra (it's apparently some sort of law that z is for zebra). On Fisher Price's site, zebra's sound is... hooves, thudding.

So we're back to what sound does a zebra make? And if you guessed (like I did) no sound, you're wrong. Zebras bark:

Really. They do:

So, as a result of Fisher Price's Alphabet Zoo, I've learned how flamingos, ostriches, and zebras sound, and that there really is an X-Ray fish.

Actual School: 0
Fisher Price Website: 4

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