Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Life Without a Thumb!

In Science, we have just started our new unit on habitats and adaptations.  Earlier this week we learned that a habitat is the place where an organism (living thing) lives. A habitat needs to meet the basic needs of the plants and animals that live there.  

Plants need:
  • sunlight
  • water
  • nutrients
  • appropriate temperature range
Animals need:
  • food
  • water
  • shelter
  • appropriate temperature range

Today we learned that an adaptation is the way in which a plant or animal is suited to its habitat so it can survive there.  For example, one adaptation a giraffe has is its long neck.  This type of neck helps it reach the leaves on trees.  Another example of an adaptation is how a pond lily's big leaves help it gather sunlight.  The thing that most surprised us though was the fact that human beings have adaptations too!  One human adaptation is our opposable thumb.
An opposable thumb can be placed opposite the rest of the fingers on the hand.  It's what allows us to grasp objects.  To really appreciate this "handy" adaptation, we decided to see what life would be like without it!    

First each person taped down one thumb so it couldn't move.

Then we tried different tasks like writing . . .

Tying our shoelaces . . .

 Zipping our coats . . .

And even giving each other high fives (fours?).

What we realized is that our adaptation makes life a lot easier.  While we could still do some of these tasks, they took a lot longer and were a lot more difficult without our opposable thumb.  Thank goodness for adaptations!


  1. This is a very interesting blog post and one that I certainly connect with. A few years back when I was skiing I managed to tear the ligaments in my left thumb. Don't worry it only hurt for a short while and then I was fine. However what I didn't know at the time was that I had damaged my thumb so badly that I couldn't use it. I could actually pull it down below my wrist. I pretty much lost complete use of it. So needless to say it wasn't a good thing - as you have more than likely figured out by the experiment you did today.

    Thankfully we have good doctors in our province and they were able to fix it with surgery. While the thumb works just fine these days, I certainly have a very nice scar on my left thumb to prove my adventures. Perhaps you want to see it?

    Thanks for sharing a post that I so easily connected with. I love learning about you are doing in Ms. Birdsall's classroom.

    Ms. Lirenman

  2. This was such an interesting post to read. I can see how tricky it was for you to do everyday things you're used to doing.

    This is something I am going to "borrow" and use with my class to teach them about adaptation.

    Great work guys!

    Mrs Warner
    Y4 teacher

    1. Thanks for visiting our blog again, Mrs. Warner. Our experiment definitely gave us a new appreciation for our thumbs! We would love to hear how it goes if you do this activity with your students in the future.