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Why Do Iguanas Like Soft Things? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

I have a variety of iguanas in my house. Some normally climb in trees, some dwell among rocks. Those in my house live on towels. One thing I have noticed is that they all seem to like soft things, like pillows and cushions.

I’ve often wondered where in nature they would come across such soft items. I have no clue. But inside my house, they seek comfy places to rest. Here are some examples.

head of green iguana sticking out of blanketsA green iguana in my bed.

Iguana tail sticking out of blanketsA rhinoceros iguana on my sofa, under a blanket. See the dark tail?

The above iguana also likes to sleep on a cat pillow in her enclosure. Everyone deserves a little softness in their lives.

Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 30-page workbook on iguanas, full of fun activities and interesting information about these amazing creatures. The workbook is called My Unit Study on Iguanas, and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of children in grades 2-4. Check it out today!

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

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The Origins of Animal Descriptors by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Baby sheep standing in grassy field
Sheep By Public Domain Picture from Pixabay

The other day I used the phrase, “That dog is looking sheepish.” It got me thinking about animals being used as descriptors. How did we decide what sheepish is? Sheepish refers to being embarrassed after doing something wrong or foolish. Do sheep feel embarrassed? I doubt it. When I looked the etymology up, an earlier meaning was related to the shy or fearful behavior of sheep.

I got curious and researched more of these expressions. Here are a few I found interesting. When someone gets your goat, it means they irritate you. This phrase comes from horseracing. Goats were used as companions for the thoroughbreds, helping to keep the high-strung horses calm. Opponents would steal the goat in order to upset the horse, so it wouldn’t run well in the race.

Calling someone pig-headed is an intentional insult, suggesting the person is stupid and stubborn. This is odd because pigs are rather intelligent animals. It’s suggested that people have a tendency to want to denigrate intelligent animals by saying they are stubborn. Yes, pigs can be stubborn, refusing to move when people want them to—but would you always move if someone was forcing you to? I think this phrase is insulting to both the person and the pig!

The head of a turkey, white feathers and red skin on head
Image courtesy of Skeeze of Pixabay

Another saying is commonly used in advertising: He quit cold turkey. It’s said when someone needs to stop a bad habit and decides to quit in one moment, instead of tapering off. How did a wild, warm-blooded bird become cold and acquire this meaning? The origin of this phrase is not clear, but two are suggested. The first is related to the look of a person’s skin when they are withdrawing from drugs they are addicted to: it is cold and bumpy, like a plucked turkey. Another possibility is that turkey is a relatively quick and easy dish to prepare, but that isn’t nearly as interesting an explanation.

The next time you find yourself using one of these phrases, stop and research where they came from. You will likely learn something about the animal, as well as history.

And for a fun time learning about animals, Lyric Power Publishing offers workbooks and activity sheets on a variety of creatures. We offer two workbooks about the Greater Roadrunner, one for Grades K-2 and the second for Grades 2-4. Thank you for stopping by. We hope you’ve enjoyed this post and will also enjoy and benefit from our workbooks.

A green and yellow book cover with image of Greater Roadrunner

a turquoise and yellow book cover with an image of the Greater Roadrunner

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Differences Between Turtles and Tortoises? Many! By Elaine A. Powers, Author

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

My first book in the Don’t Series explores the differences between turtles and tortoises. I tell everyone that my Red-foot tortoise asked me to write the book. I adopted her from another New Jersey family when I lived back East. That in itself is a story. We were both using the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society to place or adopt. Eventually, someone figured out it would be easier for me to adopt directly from the family, instead of both of us making trips to Maryland. As a result, I ended up with a truly wonderful tortoise named Myrtle. Officially her name was Hebe Myrtle, but she really is a Myrtle.

Since Myrtle free roams in my home and was a companion for my elderly mother, she was always introduced to guests. When I said her name was Myrtle, people would inevitably say, “Oh, Myrtle the turtle.” No–she is Myrtle the tortoise. Consequently, the book about the differences between turtles and tortoises had to be written. Her inspiration resulted in a very engaging book, if I do say so myself. (Well, I’m going by fan mail, too.)

People think they know the differences between turtles and tortoises, but few do. It’s not simply that turtles live in water. Just ask my Desert Box Turtle, Ela. Odds are she’ll never see a body of water, or even flowing water. However, all turtles have the ability to swim. This swimming capability is reflected in the shell and limb structures.

Despite the similarities in their shelled bodies, there are behavioral differences between turtles and tortoises, too.

I don’t want to give away the many differences here, because I know you will love learning all about them them by reading Don’t Call Me Turtle to your little one. It’s written in rhyme—so you both can repeat what you’ve learned with some flair!

You can also explore the life-cycles and traits of turtles and tortoises in Lyric Power Publishing’s fun and educational workbooks. We really enjoy making science fun around here!

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

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Is the Snake Oviparous, Ovoviviparous or Viviparous? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Snakes are reptiles and as such, they produce eggs. Snakes that lay eggs are called oviparous. The eggs are incubated in the natural world until they hatch. Most “common” snakes fall into this category.

However, there are two other categories of reproducing snakes. Some keep the eggs inside their bodies where the baby snakes hatch and are then released as live young. The rattlesnake is an example of this. These snakes are called ovoviviparous.

As amazing as ovoviviparous snakes are, even more incredible are the viviparous snakes, which reproduce in a manner similar to mammals. Viviparous snakes develop their young inside their bodies without an egg shell. The mothers nourish their developing young through a placenta and yolk sac, which is very unusual in reptiles. Boa constrictors, like the Bahamian boas, are examples of this reproductive method.

To learn even more about rattlesnakes and boa constrictors, check out my books, Don’t Make Me Rattle! and Bahamian Boas: A Tabby Tale.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

A children's book cover, brown background, orange and yellow lettering, with images of snakes from the Bahamas
BAHAMIAN BOAS: A TABBY TALE Now Available at Amazon


And check out Lyric Power Publishing’s fun, educational supplements, our workbooks and activity sheets on snakes, tortoises, turtles, birds, plants and rocks!

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Why Does the Tortoise Go Out in the Rain? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

a tortoise on wet patio
Heading out to catch some rain drops!

It’s the start of monsoon season here in the Sonoran Desert. When the rain begins to fall, the tortoise comes out of her den. Why? Is it because she’s afraid the water will rush into her underground den and fill it up?

No, she comes out because it’s time to drink. The desert tortoise finds a depression in the ground where the water collects. Then she drinks and drinks and drinks until her bladder is full.

I’ve tried putting out dishes of water for my tortoise, but she won’t drink from a source where the water is still.  Sometimes, I pretend to be a storm and rain down water from my hose.

It’s a truly wonderful thing when it rains in the desert. We should all be more like the tortoise and go out and drink it in!

Here I am reading Don’t Call Me Turtle! to Myrtle.

If you’d like to know more about tortoises, check out my rhyming book, Don’t Call Me Turtle! My tortoise, Myrtle, asked me to write about the differences between turtles and tortoises because everyone kept calling her Myrtle the Turtle. She’d finally had enough! She likes her book a lot, perhaps just a smidge more than my young readers!

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

And check our our workbooks on tortoises and turtles at our Lyric Power Publishing Workbooks page. They are full of information, and have lots of fun activity sheets for kids (and adults like them, too, I’m told!) that help to pass the long summer days.

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

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The Power of Coloring Books in Education by Elaine A. Powers, Author

An illustration of a green sea turtle with the letter "T"
From the PreK-Gr 1 Sea Turtles Workbook

I’ve always loved coloring, both as a child and an adult.  When I was in college, to help relieve stress, I colored big posters. I still have them.  They brought me many hours of relaxation and enjoyment between the many more hours of studying and practicing. I didn’t need to participate in drinking or other destructive activities.

When it comes to techniques for making science education entertaining, coloring books are very useful. The pages are a good way to “sneak in” information. Even though the image may be of a real plant or animal, the artist should be allowed to express their own creativity. Who cares if the child colors outside the lines or makes the iguana purple? Of course, pink iguanas were recently found in the Galapagos. (Yes, they are really pink in color.) Maybe the artistic rendering is a premonition of an undiscovered species.

Perhaps as the child grows older, she’ll want to get more precise in the coloring, leading to a search for more information on the animal, stimulating interest in not only this one animal, but others.  This could lead to learning about the environment where the animal lives: What other animals live there? What plants? Are there mountains or water or blowing sands?

Image of a roadrunner with the word "roadrunner" and lines to write the word
From our workbook about roadrunners

The act of coloring can stimulate the imagination, which is so very important today in this world of visual overload. Imagination can lead to interest, and interest can lead to a desire to explore the world.

The Lyric Power Publishing educator, Marilyn Buehrer, has created many wonderful coloring pages in our supplemental Workbooks, such as those pictured below. I hope you and the children in your life will enjoy them as you learn something new about our world.  And, don’t forget—coloring is not just for children. You just might be coloring your world if you follow where the picture leads you.

a light green and dark green book cover with the image of a duck in water

A Book Cover, Colorful Dotted Border, Yellow Background, Orange letters My Book About United States Rattlesnakes, with an image of a Rock Rattlesnake and a list of US Rattlers

a blue and turquoise book cover with an image of a truck on the road and a bulldozer on soil

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How to Make a Picture File and Why it’s an Important Teaching Tool by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A picture file is a file box filled with beautiful photos that represent anything you are teaching about. These beautifully mounted photos are ideal visual aids to accompany and enhance the supplemental workbooks offered on this website. Whether it’s turtles, tortoises, snakes, tropical birds, tropical trees and foliage, flowers, or people, colorful visual aids will give children an authentic look at what they are studying. Instead of relying on drawings and cartoons, it’s important that students see realistic photos of what they are learning about.

colorful cover of children's educational workbook all about the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, turquoise color with polka dots, with image of rattlesnake and a list of the 46 workbook pages

In my teaching experience with elementary, middle, and high school students, every time I had a lesson to teach, I was able to pull out several pictures related to that subject for my students to see what I was talking about. Propping them up on the chalk tray of your white board works well, or create a bulletin board with them.

A person will remember 10% of what s/he has heard, 60% of what s/he’s heard and written down, and  90% of what s/he’s heard, written down, seen, and done.

This means that adding visual aids and practice (students taking notes) to what I verbally taught, enhanced my teaching and the students’ learning. My students remembered the information. Every age group benefits from visual aids.

It took me about two months to cut out and mount 200 pictures. Once I got started, it was hard not to get carried away! Two hundred pictures sounds like a lot, but it’s very easy to surpass that number.

Materials needed:

  1. Tagboard. 200 sheets of 9” x 12” white tagboard are available at school supply stores and art stores.
  2. Rubber cement. A large can of rubber cement. NOTE: Elmer’s glue, homemade paste, staples, and tape will not do for this project. Rubber cement doesn’t ripple and warp the pictures as it dries. It’s also neat to work with since it rolls right off your hands. Spray adhesive works also, but it makes cloudy fumes. When using rubber cement, always work in a well-ventilated area. Leave the doors and windows open in the room you’re working in, or take your work out to a sun-sheltered porch.
  3. Donated magazines, outdated calendars, posters, and travel brochures. I got grocery bags full of magazines from neighbors willing to part with them for a good cause. Other good sources are thrift stores and used book stores. Photos of animals and plants can be found in science magazines, National Geographic, and Smithsonian. Photos of household items can be found in home and architectural magazines. Photos of plants, flowers, and trees are in garden and landscape magazines.

What to look for:

Look for large, clean, clear, colorful photographs in the following categories. These are just suggestions. You might choose to limit your search to just one subject matter such as birds or reptiles.

  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Insects
  • People
  • Everyday personal and household items
  • Modes of transportation
  • Furniture
  • Landscapes
  • Bodies of water
  • National symbols of the U.S. and other countries
  • Sports
  • Flowers and trees
  • Wild animals
  • Domestic animals
  • Art such as the Old Masters
  • Mosaics
  • Pottery
  • Sculpture
  • Architecture
  • Perspective/line
  • Color


  1. Carefully tear the photos out of the magazines.
  2. Using a pair of paper scissors, neatly trim the edges of the pictures, leaving a sixteenth-inch white border whenever possible.
  3. Use a paper cutter if necessary to get the straightest edge possible.
  4. Clear off a wide, flat space in your house such as the kitchen or dining room table.
  5. Cover the entire table top with a thick layer of newspapers. This is so the top layers can be rolled up and removed to continually reveal a clean working surface throughout the mounting process.
  6. Turn the trimmed photos over and brush rubber cement over the entire backside of the picture. Rubber cement dries quickly, so work quickly.
  7. Turn the picture over and carefully lay it on the sheet of tagboard. Leave a wider margin of white tagboard at the bottom edge than at the top, just as if you were framing the photograph. Not all photos will have a white margin because they will fill the entire tagboard space, and that’s okay.
  8. Use one hand to hold the photo in place and the outside edge of your other hand to spread the picture down and force any excess rubber cement out from under the photo. The great thing about rubber cement is that as it dries, it rolls up into gummy balls that easily come off the tagboard and leave no residue or marks.
  9. Work all the bubbles out from under the photo. Use a straight pin to prick any bubbles that refuse to be worked out.
  10. If rubber cement gets on the photo itself, leave it there until it completely dries, then use your clean, dry finger and a light touch to carefully roll the dried, rubbery adhesive off the photo.
  11. Lay the finished pictures on a flat surface to dry. Leave them there for a couple of days. If you stack the finished pictures right away, they’ll bond to one another, and you’ll never be able to pull them apart without ruining them.
  12. Finally, store the finished photos in a plastic, portable storage box with a lid that has a handle (available at office supply stores). This will keep your pictures portable, dust free, and looking like new for many years.

You can also use these pictures to decorate your classroom, create bulletin boards, and as creative writing prompts.

LYRIC POWER PUBLISHING offers 23  affordable, comprehensive, supplemental Workbooks for Teachers, Tutors and Home-Schooling Parents. Each WORKBOOK has a theme and can include pages for reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary and math, along with Venn-Diagrams, life-cycles, fact sheets, coloring pages, puzzles, connect-the-dots, word searches, mazes, label-the-parts, cut-and-paste, true or false, fill-in-the-blanks, match the pictures, greater than/less than, count-and-classify and graphing.

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
The Rock Cycle cut and paste project in this lesson comes from this workbook. It also includes work pages on rock collecting.
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The Importance of Waiting for Your Student to Answer by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Setting: Forest, misty background. A man stands at white board with pointer stick. A child sits on tree trucnk looking at drawings on whiteboard.

Just about every speaker, from motivational speakers to teachers of all kinds, to parents, and just about everyone who can talk, answers her own question within two seconds of asking it.

Trouble is, the person hearing the question can’t answer it that quickly without knowing what the speaker knows. The hearer’s mind is working to form an answer when, suddenly, his thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the answer.

 Believe it or not, their mind tells them to forget trying. This lowers the hearer’s self-esteem and makes them believe they’re a failure. So why ask questions in the first place? Why not just give information and erroneously believe the hearer is absorbing and understanding every word you’re saying?

Because we want people to think. We want children to think. And thinkers need time to formulate an answer. WAIT after you ask your child a question. WAIT several seconds. Be patient. Be kind. And don’t stare at her like she’s on the hot seat. Besides letting her come up with the answer, you’re helping improve her self-esteem and sense of importance in the family or the classroom.  

So, next time, wait at least five seconds before offering an answer to your child. After all, involving the child in the learning process is what helps them understand and make connections to the rest of life’s big questions.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive supplemental Workbooks and Activity Sheets,  such as these:

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
The Rock Cycle cut and paste project in this lesson comes from this workbook. It also includes work pages on rock collecting.

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

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A Simple Geography Lesson for Grades K-4 Using “My Book About Directions” by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

a green and white book cover with an image of a Compass RoseThis lesson should be limited to 10-15 minutes for children in grades K-2, and no longer than 20 minutes for children in grades 3-4. Attention span plays a big role in this as does interest level.

  1. To teach a short but powerful geography lesson, begin with introducing the day’s lesson. What do you want your students to learn?
  2. Start with the topic: Correctly locate and identify islands in the Caribbean.
  3. Tell your students what they’re going to be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson. “In this lesson, I want you to correctly locate four islands: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands.”
  4. Point out these islands on a large classroom map, and write the names of the islands on the white board.
  5. Then hand each child a map from My Book About Directions and ask them to raise their hands when they have found each island.
  6. Next, ask students to color only those four islands on the black, gray, and white map.
  7. Finally, hand out blank sheets of white paper and ask children to choose one of the four islands to draw and label correctly.

From Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy (formerly Bloom’s Taxonomy):

  1. Remembering: (Recognizing and recalling facts) Given a brief discussion and a map, children will locate and identify islands in the Caribbean.
  2. Applying: (Applying the facts, rules, concepts, and ideas) Given a brief discussion and shown examples, children will color a map showing size comparisons of the islands in the Caribbean.
  3. Creating: (Combining parts to make a new whole) Each child will draw and color their favorite island and write three lines (or verbalize) why they like that island.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

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How to Build a Satisfying Essay By Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

This is a 5-paragraph essay with 3 main ideas, a format that can be used in any essay form.

An image of the layers of a hamburger, used to illustrate the five parts of an effective essay

The Introductory Paragraph includes: The Topic Sentence. Write a sentence explaining what you’re going to write about.

In the three body paragraphs, state the main ideas with details.

Conclusion Paragraph:

  1. Restates what you just wrote about.
  2. Write your opinions or feelings about the content of your essay. Include a sentence about why you wrote the essay: what was the significance of the subject?


Narrative essays tell a story with details in chronological order.

Descriptive essays describe details of a person, place, or thing.

Expository essays list facts or explain a process.

Persuasive essays express an opinion about an issue.

All students need to learn how to write essays as they progress through school, and how to write them well by the time they get to college.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.