Daily Discovery: Fancy Rats / Descubrimiento en casa: Ratas de compañía

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Fancy Rats

FCMoD’s fancy rats ( Rattus norvegicus domestica ) are some of the museum’s most charismatic animals, but are they really all that fancy? Learn more about these furry creatures and channel your inner zoologist as you observe animals in your own backyard!

Fancy Rat Life History:

Being a fancy rat simply means that they are domesticated; they are tame animals and common household pets. The word “fancy” means that humans “appreciate or like” them more than the non-domesticated brown rats. What other animals are considered domestic? Do you have pets or farm animals that live with you? What animals do not make good pets?

Physical Characteristics:  Rats are mammals and vertebrates. This means they are warm-blooded, have hair or fur, and have a backbone. Fancy rats have a wide range of different colors of fur, unlike wild rats who are usually dark brown (an adaptation to help them blend into their environment). All rats have a long, furless tail that are used for balance when they are climbing and exploring their habitat.

Habitat: Wild rats can live almost anywhere! They are found on all continents except Antarctica. If they are not living in people’s homes as pets, they prefer living in damp environments where they can tunnel.

Diet: Rats are omnivores – they’ll eat almost anything! In the wild, they eat a mixture of plants and small animals. At FCMoD, our fancy rats eat a bunch of fruits and vegetables. Naturally, they are scavengers who love to seek out food, which is why they like to live around humans – to break into food storage and help themselves!

Fun Facts:  Rats are often stereotyped in untrue ways, but they can be affectionate, intelligent and clean. They are highly social animals and at the museum, the rats are all siblings and love to snuggle while they nap!

Backyard Observations: Pets!

Whether it is in your backyard, neighborhood, or at a Natural Area, animals can be observed just about anywhere! Zoologists use science to observe animals and learn about their behaviors and their habitat. You can be a backyard zoologist and observe similar domesticated animals like the museum’s fancy rats and record what you discover!

Supplies: 

  • Writing utensil
  • Paper
  • Computer and Internet Access (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Create a way to record your animal observations and behaviors. You can write a journal entry or maybe create an observation chart, or use our guiding questions to think deeper about the animals you see!
  2. If you have a pet who live with you at home, watch them throughout the day and record what they do. If you have multiple, compare and contrast their behaviors.
  3. If you don’t have any pets, take a walk with your family and look for pets, farm animals or other domesticated animals on your walk. You can also visit https://explore.org/livecams/farm-sanctuary/wisconsin-pasture-farm-sanctuary to observe farm animals though camera live streams!

Guiding Questions:

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.


Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: Ratas de compañía

¡Bienvenidos al descubrimiento en casa!

Nosotros en el Museo del Descubrimiento de Fort Collins estamos muy contentos de invitarlos a visitar nuestro contenido lleno de actividades, creatividad, conocimiento ¡y mucho más! Con ideas nuevas cada semana, descubran un mundo mágico lleno de aprendizaje y diversión ¡para toda la familia y en su propio idioma!

Las ratas de compañía (Rattus norvegicus domestica) son uno de los animales más carismáticos que viven dentro del Museo del Descubrimiento de Fort Collins (FCMoD). En general, las ratas no tienen buena reputación, entonces, ¿por qué tenemos algunas de ellas como mascotas? ¿En realidad, hay alguna diferencia entre los diferentes tipos de ratas? Vamos a aprender más de estas criaturas peludas. ¡Encuentra a tu zoólogo interno mientras observas a los animales que hay a tu alrededor!

La historia de las ratas de compañía:

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre una rata salvaje y una rata de compañía? Las ratas de compañía son animales que pueden ser domesticados; son dóciles y comúnmente se vuelven mascotas que se llevan bien con los humanos. ¿Puedes pensar en otros animales que también son domésticos? ¿Tienes mascotas o animales de granja que viven contigo? ¿Puedes observar cuáles animales no podrían ser mascotas?

Características físicas: Las ratas son mamíferos y vertebrados. Esto significa que tienen sangre caliente, pelo o pelaje y una columna vertebral que les ayuda a mantener su cuerpo recto. Las ratas de compañía pueden variar en el color de su pelaje, mientras que el de las ratas salvajes usualmente es de color marrón oscuro. Las ratas salvajes adoptaron este color para poder ocultarse en su medio ambiente. Todas las ratas tienen una cola larga y sin pelo, y esta parte del cuerpo les ayuda a trepar y mantener el equilibrio, superando obstáculos mientras exploran su ambiente.

Ambiente natural/hábitat: ¡Las ratas salvajes pueden vivir casi dondequiera! Se pueden encontrar en todos los continentes excepto en la Antártida. Cuando no están viviendo en nuestros hogares, prefieren vivir en un ambiente húmedo donde puedan cavar túneles y hacer sus escondrijos.

Dieta: Las ratas son omnívoras—¡comen casi de todo! En la naturaleza, comen una variedad de plantas y animales pequeños. En el museo, nuestras ratas comen muchas frutas y vegetales. En su estado natural son carroñeras y les encanta buscar comida, por eso les gusta vivir alrededor de los seres humanos. ¡Así pueden colarse en nuestras despensas y tener todo un banquete!

Datos curiosos: A menudo, a las ratas se les da un estereotipo falso, sin embargo, son cariñosas, inteligentes y limpias. Son animales muy sociables y, en el museo, todas las ratas son hermanas. ¡Les encanta acurrucarse cuando se duermen!

Observación al aire libre: ¡Mascotas!

Ya sea en tu patio, en tu cuadra o en un área natural, se pueden observar animales en cualquier sitio. Los zoólogos utilizan la ciencia para aprender sobre los comportamientos y hábitat de ciertos animales. ¡Tú también puedes ser zoólogo empezando en tu propia área! Observa a los animales domesticados que hay alrededor -como las ratas del museo- ¡y apunta lo que descubres sobre ellos!

Artículos necesarios: 

  • Algo para escribir (lápiz, pluma o marcador)
  • Papel
  • Computadora y acceso al Internet (opcional)

Instrucciones:

  1. Observa el comportamiento de algún animal. Puedes escribir tus notas en un diario o hasta hacer un dibujo. Si deseas, usa la guía de preguntas que está abajo para pensar más profundamente sobre los animales que estudias.
  2. Si tienes una mascota en tu casa, obsérvala durante el día y toma nota de lo que hace. Si tienes más de una mascota, compara sus comportamientos y su interacción.
  3. Si no tienes ningún animal en casa, da un paseo por los alrededores con tu familia y observa algunas mascotas, animales de granja u otros animales domesticados.
  4. También puedes visitar el sitio web: https://explore.org/livecams/farm-sanctuary/wisconsin-pasture-farm-sanctuary  para observar videos de animales de granja ¡en vivo!

Guía de preguntas: 

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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Daily Discovery: Story Detectives!

Post written by Heidi Fuhrman, Discovery Camp Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Story Detectives!

Did you know you can be a story detective?! Think about someone you love, what stories do they have that can give clues to the past? Use these detective questions to find out more about that story and create a graphic novel or creative project to share what you learned!

Supplies:

  • Pencil & Paper

Optional:

  • Investigation sheet (included in the PDF)
  • Access to phone or laptop
  • Crayons/ colored pencils/ markers
  • Construction paper & blank paper
  • Graphic novel template (included in the PDF)

Instructions:

Real stories from real people give us important clues about the past and you can help discover and investigate those stories by becoming a story detective! Since stories disappear along with their owners, by learning these stories you are becoming a story keeper too!

  1. Think of someone you know that has a story you want to know more about or who has had a different life than yours. . . Maybe a parent, a grandparent, a friend, or a sibling!
    • Level Up: Create a detective team! Choose a story partner. Plan to investigate their story and then have them investigate a story in your life!
  2. Now that you have a person in mind, think about a story that person has that you want to know more about.
    • Here are some ideas:
       What life was like when they were growing up?
       Did they move to this country/city/state from somewhere else? What was the
      place they moved from like?
       Have they seen a really interesting event from the past? (Maybe people
      walking on the moon, the Civil Rights Movement, WWII, or right before
      computers were invented)!
       Do they have an interesting object or picture you’re curious about? What is
      the story behind it?
  3. Next, plan your investigative interview. Think about what questions you can ask them. Using our detective sheet (included at end), write them down. A good story detective is always ready for an interview!
    • Here are some ideas of good detective questions:
       What was it like when you were my age?
       What were your favorite things to eat when you were my age?
       What kind of things did you do for fun?
       How did you travel around your city?
       What is one thing we have now that you didn’t have as a kid?
       What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen in your life?
       What is one thing we have now you never thought would be invented?
       You saw ________. What was that like?
       Where did you live before ________. What did it look like? What was your favorite place there?
       What was it like to live through/before ___________ [event].
  4. With a grown-ups’ help, hold your interview! Call the person on the phone or video call them on a computer. If they live with you, you can interview them in person!
    • Level Up: If you want, you can film or record the interview so you can save it forever! It’s very special to have the story even when the person is gone!
  5. During the interview listen carefully. Sometimes the person will give you clues to other questions! Be sure to write these clues and any other facts down on your detective sheet!
    • During the interview these are good clue questions to ask!
       Why did . . . .?
       Tell me about. . . .?
       Describe __________ . . .
       What did . . .?
       How did . . .?
  6. Remember, a good story detective:
     Always listens . . .you never know when you’re going to get a clue!
     Respects the story teller. Remember, this is their story! You get to be the detective who hears it and keeper who saves it.
     Avoids yes/no questions. You want to know as much of the story as possible!
     Says, “Thank you for sharing your story with me.”
  7. Whew! You aced that interview! Now, finish your detective job! Think about your interview:
     What do you want to know more about?
     What is the most interesting thing you learned?
     How does this change the way you think about the past?

    • Level Up: Interview two people about the same event. What did they say that was the same? What did they say that was different?
  8. Finally, share your investigation with your family and friends!
    Create a graphic novel or picture book about the story you learned more about!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Make Your Own Observation Journal

Post written by Sierra Tamkun, Learning Experiences Manager.

Daily Discovery: Make Your Own Observation Journal

Scientists, engineers, naturalists, writers… they all need space to record their ideas, plans, experiments, and observations! Make your own observation journal to record all your at-home exploration!

Supplies:

  • Paper (white or lined)
  • Decorative/Construction Paper
  • Staples or a hole punch
  • String, yarn, or ribbon
  • Glue
  • Brightly colored tape or paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils

Instructions:

  1. Plan out how many sections you want in your notebook, and how many pages you will need per section. Design the pages yourself, use the templates provided at the end of these instructions, or keep your pages blank for flexibility. Tip: You can always add more pages later if you need them!
    a. Our four sections are: Experiments, Invent and Build, Explore Your World, and Stories. What sections do you need in your observation journal?
  2. Line up your section pages with your cover paper. Cut along the edge until your cover paper is the same size. Tip: If you cover paper is the same size as your inside pages, you can skip this step.
  3. Place your cover paper on top of your other pages. Staple or hole punch the left side of your sheets to create a binding. If using a hole punch, tie the pages together with string, yarn, or ribbon.
  4. Use colorful tape, paper, or markers to create page tabs and label the different sections inside your journal.
  5. Now it’s time to label the front of your journal! Cut a rectangle out of the paper of your choice to glue to the front of your journal, and add a title.
  6. Start exploring, observing, and recording! Record your experiments, make notes about the world around you, record a family story, or design your own invention!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Tube Sock Black-footed Ferret!

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Tube Sock Black-Footed Ferret!

It’s time to get cuddly! Using your knowledge on BFFs and reference photos, create your own black-footed ferret (BFF) stuffy to have and to hold!

Supplies:

  • Tube Sock(s)
  • Newspaper
  • Cotton balls
  • Tissue paper
  • Sticks
  • Small rocks
  • Buttons
  • Glue
  • Scrap fabric
  • Markers or paint

Instructions:

  1. Using what you know about BFFs, create your own black-footed ferret stuffy! Get crafty with unexpected things in your house; this ferret was colored by rolling it in used coffee grounds!
  2. If you have the matching sock try making a tube sock prairie dog or maybe a BFF sock puppet!.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Walking Rainbows

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Walking Rainbows

Put your lab coat on; we’re getting scientific! With this experiment, discover how colors interact to form rainbows and observe the natural process of capillary motion in action!

Supplies:

  • Time
  • 6 full sheets of paper towels
  • 6 mason jars (clear if possible). If you don’t have jars use cups or bowls
  • Red, blue, and yellow food coloring

Instructions:

Before you get started, review the color wheel on page two and remember the colors you need to form a rainbow. Feel free to experiment to see how mixing certain colors will create different colors. Together, determine how you will create a rainbow using only red, blue and yellow.

  1. Fill three jars full of water. Add red food coloring to one, blue
    to another and yellow to another, 4-6 drops each.
  2. To form a circle place the empty jars between the red, yellow
    and blue jars.
  3. Roll each sheet of paper towel into tubes. Drape one side into
    a full jar and the other into an empty jar until each jar is
    connected with paper towels.
  4. Start your timer to see how long it takes for the colored water
    to move from one jar to the next. Water will begin absorbing
    right away, but the whole process will take around 48 hours,
    so check back every few hours to see how it has changed.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Image credit: Messy Little Monster

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Daily Discovery: Make your own Bee Buzzer!

Post written by Eisen Tamkun, Music Education Lead.

Daily Discovery: Make your own Bee Buzzer!

BZZZZZZZZZ! The bees are coming! Make your very own bee buzzer and rock out with these amazing pollinators.

Supplies:

  • Popsicle Stick
  • Tape- any will do!
  • Scissor
  • Index Card
  • Eraser Heads
  • Rubber Band
  • About two feet of string
  • Stapler
  • Color Pencils or Markers

Instructions:

  1. Take the index card and cut it into a square.
  2. Break out the color pencils and draw a bee on the index card.
  3. Once you’ve drawn your sweet honey bee, go ahead a staple
    the card to the popsicle stick.
  4. Next, tie and tape the string to the stick.
  5. Place the eraser heads on each end of the stick.
  6. Lastly, stretch the rubber band over each eraser.
  7. Voilà you have created your very own bee buzzer.

Take a firm grip of the string at about half way. Start swinging
building up speed until you hear you bee abuzzing.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Bohemian.

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Daily Discovery: Build Your Own Ball Run

Post written by Angela Kettle, School Programs Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Build Your Own Ball Run

Missing the Ball Run at the museum? Sharpen those engineering skills, and use cardboard, paper, and whatever else you can find around your house to build your own version!

Supplies:

All supplies are optional – use what you have!

  • Large piece of cardboard or posterboard
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Cardstock paper
  • Hot glue
  • Duct tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Marble
  • Yarn or string
  • Blank paper
  • Pencil

Instructions:

  1. Start by identifying a surface you can use to build your Ball Run on. For example, this might be a large piece of cardboard, or a piece of posterboard that you tape up on a wall (with an adult’s permission!).
  2. Gather up different supplies from around your house. Decide which supplies you would like to use for your Ball Run. Here are some ideas!
    a. Use paper towel tubes as slides for your ball. You can cut one paper towel tube into smaller tubes if you would like.
    b. Fold cardstock paper into thirds. Tape the top to make a triangular tube. If you don’t have cardstock paper, you can tape together several regular sheets of paper to make them thicker.
    c. Make your own tubes out of duct tape.
    d. Find other tube-shaped materials around your house!
    e. Find a marble to use for a ball. If you don’t have a marble, you can make a ball out of play-doh, clay, aluminum foil, or whatever else you can think of.
  3. . Keeping in mind the size of your surface, sketch your Ball Run. Where will your ball start and end? Which materials will you use for each portion? How will you make sure your ball has enough momentum to keep going until it has reached the end of the run?
  4. Using your sketch as a guideline, build your Ball Run! Lay it out so you can see it before you start attaching anything – that way, if you need to change anything, you can!
  5. Time to attach your pieces to your surface! There are lots of
    different ways to do this. You can use hot glue, tape, or one of the methods shown in the picture. Or, maybe, you’ll think of your own way!
  6. Try it! Place your ball at the top of your Ball Run. What  happens? Did it go as you expected? Why or why not? Make repairs as needed.
  7. Take a photo or video of your final project. With your adult’s
    permission, share it with us on social media using #DailyDiscovery. Great job, Engineer!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Map Making

Post written by Charlotte Conway, Public Programs Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Map Making

Have you ever looked up your house on Google Maps? It can be pretty cool to see your own neighborhood from a different  perspective! You can also find all sorts of maps and photographs of your town from history through the local Archives and Collections at FCMoD! Check out maps from your own community, and then make a map of your own!

Supplies:

  • Graph paper or paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencils
  • Ruler

Instructions:

  1. Maps are a two-dimensional representation that records the natural and build world around them, usually from a “top-down” perspective. There are many different types of maps each with different uses and looks!
  2. Compare and contrast the maps provided from Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s Archives and Collections. What do the maps have in common? What is different about them? How do the maps differ based on how people might use them? How do the maps make use of colors, symbols, or labels to communicate their meaning?
  3. Now, it’s time to start designing your map! First, select a place you would like to make a map of. It could be your own neighborhood, somewhere from a different city, or even a made-up place!
  4. Next, consider the purpose of your map. What is your map trying to communicate? Will it be a political or road map that focuses on man-made features? Will it be a physical map that shows natural features?
  5.  Now that you have your purpose in mind, plan out the other features of your map that will make it more effective for your users.
    a. Legend – This is a visual explanation of the symbols you use on your map. How will you show the contents of your world on your map? If you use symbols, how will people know what they represent?
    b. Scale – This is the relationship between distance on your map and the same distance you are trying to represent on the ground. How will you translate the scale of world into a map that will fit on the paper? How will people who see your map know how large your world really is?
    c. Labeling – This is how you will write labels so that they clearly identify the right features on your map. How will people know what your map is supposed to be showing? How will they know who made the map and when?
  6. Draw out your map. Get creative with your representation, but remember to keep your purpose in mind so that your map is useful too!
  7. Keep the exploration going! Did you know FCMoD houses artifacts and collections from Northern Colorado, including historic maps? Explore maps from Northern Colorado. Explore your town using the GPS applications on smart phones or Google Maps, and then explore the world! What will you discover?

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Photo Credit: BABYCCINO

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Daily Discovery: Harness the Wind!

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Harness the Wind!

Wind! It doesn’t just blow silver tiles on the museum’s Wind Wall; it’s a natural renewable resource. Engineers develop ways to harness wind to help the modern and natural world. Build your own creation using the design process, materials in your home, and of course, the wind!

Supplies:

All supplies are optional – use what you have!

Pre-design supplies:

  • Scratch paper or graph paper
  • Writing utensil

Building Supplies

  • Plastic bottles and lids
  • Tin cans
  • Paper scraps or sticky notes
  • Pencils or pens
  • Straws
  • Disposable cups or containers
  • Cardboard
  • Yarn or string
  • Rubber bands
  • Natural materials (sticks or rocks)
  • Blank CD or floppy disks
  • Plastic spoons
  • Paper tubes
  • Old socks
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Metal brads
  • Paper clips
  • Push pins
  • Magnets

Instructions:

  1. As an engineer, work through the design process to begin building! Follow the design process on the right, sketch out your design, and think creatively about what materials you can use inside your home.
    Use the following guiding questions to help you:
    a. What purpose will your design have? What is its function?
    b. Could your design be multifunctional?
    c. How will you ensure your design will hold up against heavy winds or other weather?
    d. How will you know your design was a success?
  2.  Test your design and adjust as necessary. Share your creation with family and friends through photos or videos!
  3. Wind isn’t the only renewable resource! What other renewable resources have helped other cultures and countries?
  4. Challenge yourself to build a new creation that reflects other sustainable energy sources! What do we utilize here in Fort Collins?

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Social Distancing – How Long Is Six Feet?

Post written by Angela Kettle, School Programs Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Social Distancing – How Long Is Six Feet?

We have an important job to do together – and that job is staying apart! As COVID-19 spreads, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to stay at least six feet away from those who live outside of our homes whenever possible.

What does six feet actually mean, though? Go on an adventure inside your home to see what objects (stacked together or on their own) are at least six feet long! Then, use these objects to help you picture what six feet means when you are out in public.

Supplies:

  • Measuring tape (if you don’t have one, you can print a template at the end of this document, or you can download an app like Measure from Google on a smartphone or tablet)
  • Pencil and paper to record measurements
  • Camera (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Write down six things on your paper that you would like to measure. These should be things that are already in your house. These things can be big, or small! (At the bottom of this, you can see some of the things one of our FCMoD educators measured at her house!)
  2. Get out your measuring tape, and release six feet of tape. Observe what that distance looks like on the measuring tape.
  3. Make a prediction about how long you think each of the household objects that you wrote down will be: shorter than 6 feet, 6 feet, or longer than 6 feet.
  4. Time to measure! Make sure to be safe – if you are not tall enough to reach something, ask someone taller than you to help. Write down each measurement in inches as you go.
  5. Now look at your results! Six feet is the same as 72 inches. Were your items longer than, shorter than, or equal to six feet?
  6. Math Bonus: See how many of the item you would need to make six feet!a.
    • If your object was shorter than 72 inches, divide 72 inches by the length of your object in inches. For example, since our educator’s cat was 27 inches, she would divide 72 inches by 27 inches to get 2.6 cats. So, she would need to put 2-and-a-half of her cats (stretched out!) between her and another person to practice proper social distancing.
    • If your object was longer than 72 inches, you will still divide 72 by the length of your object. However, you should get an answer that is less than 1 (a decimal). For example, our educator’s closet door was 78 inches. If you divide 72 inches by 78 inches, you get .92. So, she would need almost her entire closet door’s length – 92% of it – between her and another person to practice proper social distancing.
    •  Now, any time you have to be out in public, picture one of your items that was close to six feet long. In your imagination, place that object between you and any people around you. Share your objects with us on social media with the hashtag #DailyDiscovery to help others picture six feet, too!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Image credit: CalMatters.org

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