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An INCREDIBLE Surprise Arrives from AUSTRALIA!

Posted by on April 23, 2015

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it. ~Margaret Fuller

This blog post is dedicated to Ross Mannell … our OTHER teacher on the OTHER side of the WORLD!

We are SO sorry that it took SO long for us to share our excitement with you, Ross! Our blog has been shut down for over a month. It’s made us really sad because we haven’t been able to share our learning with the world!

After a LONG wait, and MANY emails and SO much help from two VERY special people, we finally got the good news this morning! Our BLOG is BACK! You should have HEARD the shouts of delight! We SURE hope THAT doesn’t happen again!


SPEAKING of shouts … you should have HEARD the CHEERS when we opened your package and spotted Suzy Sunshine sitting inside the paper envelope! Imagine our surprise when we discovered that Suzy Sunshine wasn’t alone! We are having SUCH a GREAT time learning about ALL the animals in the Super Animal books collection you thoughtfully gave to us. We LOVE how much we’ve learned ever since we received your package. The card reader is REALLY cool because we LOVE swiping the cards for each of the animals. Hearing the sounds of each animal is AMAZING!

Every day, Mrs. Renton draws a table group out of our Popsicle sticks and that table group goes into our break-out room to explore the Super Animal book collection and cuddle with Suzy, during our independent reading time! We are already on our THIRD round spending time with our special treasures! Many of us find it VERY hard to let go of Suzy when we are done for the day!

We’ve enjoyed hearing what many of the Australian animals sound like … because we know you live there! It helps us to get to know a little more about Australia! We also love that the books are FILLED with ALL kinds of interesting animals from around the world!

We have used the card reader, and the cards, SO many times that we have ALREADY had to replace the batteries! Now THAT is impressive!

What follows are our thoughts:

“I LOVED swiping the Barn Owl card! My FIRST reason: I love owls! The SECOND reason: the screeching is absolutely majestic! Thanks SO for being SO generous to push our learning further! We are so glad you spent the time to give these to us. You are a GREAT man! I wonder what YOUR favourite card is? Oh, and congrats on 100 000 views!” ~Marcus


“My favourite animal sound was the polar bear because the roar was scary but AWESOME! I liked all the animals but … mostly Suzy! And, the super animal books were spectacular! I hope Suzy will always be safe forever and ever!” ~Luisa

“My favourite part was swiping the python card, right when we got the package because if asked Mrs. Renton if she could swipe the python card, but she’s terrified of snakes. She let ME do it! 🙂 Personally, my favourite card was the python because I like it’s fierce-some sound. We are so grateful that we won and that each class got the card readers!” ~Colby

“My favourite card was the barn owls. They were SO cute! My least favourite one was the mosquito. They kill 600 000 people a YEAR! I was extremely terrified when I heard that! Did you know that a barn owl flies silently?” ~Marah

“Hi Ross! I hope you’re having a good day! My favourite animal was the deadliest mosquito because it kills over 600 000 people a year. I like it because it is really deadly. I like the sound it made.” ~Alvin


“I LOVED the chimpanzee card because they are my favourite animal! I am VERY grateful for all the stuff that you have done for us and educated us on. I showed Mrs. Renton the rattle snake card and she SHIVERED! Thank you SO much, Ross!” ~Oliver

“I LOVE the Super Animals books! I love them SO much that I can’t just pick ONE! But, I love the tiger because when I hear the tiger I feel I’m brave. I am really happy you gave us the books.” ~Prayers

“Hi Ross! Thank you SO much for sending the kit. When Mr. L. came into our classroom with the package I was thinking, in my head, what is that? When we opened the package I was excited to see Suzy Sunshine. I LOVE the card reader TOO! I don’t have a favourite animal … I LOVE listening to them ALL! I LOVE Suzy!” ~Saadia

“My favourite and my LEAST favourite animal is the mosquito because mosquitoes are the deadliest animal in the world! I like mosquitoes because their proboscis is interesting! I’ve discovered that mosquitoes kill 600 000 PEOPLE A YEAR!!! What I don’t like about mosquitoes is that they suck your blood and it’s TEMPTING to SCRATCH it!” ~Riley

“My favourite sound has to be the strawberry poison frog because when I hear it I feel like I’m deep in a rain forest! When I first saw Suzy come out of the package I exploded with happiness because she is SO cute!” ~Liam


“My favourite animals are … ALL of them because I can’t just pick ONE! I like Suzy Sunshine because she is so fluffy and she smells so good! I discovered what a koala sounds like!” ~Adam

“Hi Ross! I loved that you sent us Suzy Sunshine and the Super Animal boos with the cards in them. It was fun getting a card and slipping it into the card reader. I loved all of the cards! Suzy Sunshine was cute and soft! You were so thoughtful and kind!” ~Roxanne

“My favourite animal is the king cobra. I liked the sound it makes. I think it looks cool too! I discovered that koalas sound VERY different from what I thought! I also discovered that listening to a mosquito with the sound reader buzzes your ears and tickles your ear drums! Do NOT try it … I’m warning you!” ~Anita

“My personal favourite animal is … ALL of them! Why is that? Because there are so many of them! But, if I had to pick ONE, I would pick the python, the emperor penguin and the koala. I think the sounds are extraordinary. The other animals are pretty cool as well. My favourite part is Suzie!!!” ~William

“My favourite animal is a Peregrine Falcon. It is the FASTEST animal in the universe! Thank you, Ross, SO much, for the Super Animals kit because it taught us about a lot of animals. I discovered what a peregrine falcon is!” ~Mani


“I THINK my FAVOURITE animal is SUZY! The second time I went in the breakout room I could NOT let GO of Suzy! She is so awesome and … wait for it … CUDDLY! I discovered how many animals tropical and colourful.” ~Faith

“Hey, Ross! I love the Super Animals books collection SO much I can’t choose my favourite card out of the whole bunch! My favourite thing of the whole package was Suzy! I CAN’T describe how HAPPY we are!” ~Robert

“The animal that I love the most is the turtle frog! Wondering what a turtle frog is? It’s a pink lumpy little thing! Anyways, I can’t thank you ENOUGH for the AMAZING kit!” ~Shaye

“Hi Ross! I love how you gave each class a Super Animal kit. It was AMAZING! One of my favourite animals is the cuckoo bee. It DOES look cuckoo! Ha ha! Boy, it was fun!” ~Bryan

“Hi Ross! It’s TOO hard to choose what my favourite animal is from the Super Animal books! It’s TOO hard to choose because they are ALL so inspiring! I think it’s lovely that you would spend your own money to buy that for the 100 000th visitor competition!” ~Sofie


“Ross, thank you SO much for the amazing gifts. You were SO thoughtful. My favourite animal was the narwhal because it made an amazing noise. The noise sounded WAY different than I expected a narwhal to make!” ~Carter

“My favourite animal in the animal book is the Arctic Fox. I like the Arctic Fox because it is really cute! Ross, thank you SO much for the Super Animal kit! I hope you have an AWESOME day!” ~Thomas

“I loved the card reader and the adorable Suzy Sunshine! My favourite card from the card reader and Super Animals pack was the hedgehog because, at home, I have a pet hedgehog! They may be prickly but they are cute! Speaking of cute, Suzy the koala plushy is adorable too! Some people think she smells like Africa!” ~Aleah

“My favourite animal is the cheetah because cheetahs are really speedy and I am too! Also, I like the AMAZING sound a cheetah makes. Did you know? It’s tail helps the cheetah make sudden turns during a chase!” ~Haya

We are SO grateful that we won the 100 000th visitor competition that you held for your blog and SO thankful that you’ve helped to push our learning even FURTHER … again! Suzy and the Super Animal books have become a very treasured part of our learning community!

<3 The Blogging Hawks

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.

~Mark Van Doren

2 Responses to An INCREDIBLE Surprise Arrives from AUSTRALIA!

  1. Ross Mannell

    A very long comment but I think I have covered everyone. 🙂

    Hello Battalion Bloggers,

    It’s wonderful to again be seeing your blog up and running. It seems an absence of something for which we care makes us appreciate it all the more when it returns. I feel honoured you chose to write your first return post in order to share your experiences with the special package I sent.

    My blog has had or will have a few milestone events this year…
    100,000th visitor
    200th post
    3rd birthday
    Suzy found her new home after the 100,000th visitor.

    Suzy Sunshine? I love the name. Today I visited my favourite animal sanctuary, Potoroo Palace, in order to give them two framed photos of two of their animals I had photgraphed when last there. I visited Sapphire the koala hoping to let her know another koala has the same first name as her mother had. Sapphire was asleep but that wasn’t a surprise because koalas can sleep up to 20 hours a day.

    It seems, like many teachers even if retired, we can’t resist collecting resources. When a local supermarket chain offered the cards and card reader you received, I set about collecting 3 sets. I knew they would find a home and what better a surprise than to send them along with Suzy to keep her company on her journey.

    About your thoughts…

    Marcus – I also like owls, well I really find all animals fascinating, but they can be hard to spot in the day. One owl-like bird native to my area but not a true owl is the tawny frogmouth (card 77). I have been able to spot them in the wild and have some photos. They normally stay very still a pretend to be part of a tree but their moving eyes can give them away.

    Luisa – I’m glad we don’t have polar bears or any of the large bears down here in Australia. I enjoy hiking through national parks in my area where the most dangerous animals are the poisonous snakes but it’s easy to get away from them. However, I find bears to be magnificent and have photos I have taken in zoos. I know Suzy will be safe in her new home.

    Colby – I have held and touched a few pythons when visiting animal sanctuaries. While pythons can bite, they aren’t poisonous but I still respect them when I see them in the wild. When hiking, I have seen some very dangerous snakes (red-bellied black snakes, brown snakes and tiger snakes) in my area. I tend to keep my distance but I am interested in snakes and do take their photos when I can.

    Marah – When I’ve seen a barn owl, I loved the way their faces seem to be almost heart shaped with two large eyes.
    I know what you mean about mosquitoes. The one shown on card 35 is the anopheles (an-off-a-lees) mosquito. They are known to carry diseases like malaria. While we don’t tend to have that type in Australia, it is found in New Guinea to our north but mosquitoes can carry a number of diseases so I try to avoid them if I can.

    Alvin – When visiting shops, the shop attendants often say, “Have a good day.” My answer is, “I usually do.” It’s amazing how a smile can brighten the lives of others so, yes, I’m having a good day. 🙂
    I mentioned mosquitoes to Marah but I must add, it’s not the mosquito itself that kills, it’s the disease they can carry. Mosquitoes are interesting because only females suck our blood when they need to grow eggs inside for laying. To make sure there is a good flow of blood, they inject an anti-coagulant which helps stop blood from clotting (stop flowing). When they do this, disease they carry can also pass into the host (the animal they bite). Fascinating little guys aren’t they?

    Oliver – When we study chimpanzees, it can amazing to see how much like them we can be. An adult chimpanzee is much stronger than a human but, just like us, they are gentle with their babies and the young can be just as mischievous as human children.

    Prayers – I think I am like you, I couldn’t easily pick a favourite but I also like tigers. One of their habits I like makes them different to almost all other cats, when it’s hot, they like to go into water to keep cool. They are beautiful animals.

    Saadia – Suzy is a very special koala. She comes from Backyard Buddies. It’s an Australian group raising money to help animals and their habitats in our national parks. They ring me each time they have a new buddy I can adopt. They have a wonderful website where you can see some Australian animals and plants and learn a little about them.

    Riley – I mentioned a little about mosquitoes and their blood sucking habit to Alvin. I hear people call them mosquito bites but, as they have a proboscis instead of teeth, it might be better to call it a sting. What they inject in us to keep out blood flowing (anti-coagulant) is what causes us to feel itchy. Scratching can make it worse so it’s best left alone.

    Liam – Frogs are fascinating and, when filming for a bioblitz study (a scientific study into animals, plants and the environment) in nearby Panboola Wetlands Reserve, I went out frog spotting one night. Shining torches you might see the light reflected from the frogs’ eyes. I was even able to photograph one. None in my area are poisonous but Australia does have poisonous frogs. I know there are poisonous species used by native people to add poison to blowgun darts and arrows in South American rainforests.

    Adam – Animals are very interesting. I have heard koalas in the wild as well as in reserves. I think Suzy will be very happy in her new home so she won’t be grunting. If she could make cat noises, I’m certain she would be purring.

    Roxanne – I love supporting animal welfare groups and other charities when I can. A cupboard in my house already has some other friends waiting to find new homes. What they are is a secret but they are cute just like Suzy.

    Anita – Just like you, I’m curious about new experiences and have listened to all of the animal noises through a spare card reader I had. King cobras are interesting because of the way they rise up and spread and display their hoods before striking. The only cobras we find in Australia are in zoos. I found the word “cobra” comes from the Portuguese word for snake so a king cobra could be thought of as a king snake but that would be confusing because there are already snakes known as kingsnakes ( ) so it’s probably good cobras have their name.

    William – Australia has its own pythons, penguins (not emperor) and, of course, koalas. I have seen, photographed and held diamond, olive and black-headed pythons and have seen and photographed little, yellow-eyed and crested penguins in the wild to add to the koalas I have seen, photographed and also at times held. I would like to see emperor penguins in the wild but that might mean a journey south to Antarctica. A trip to a zoo might be a little easier.

    Mani – I share your like of the peregrine falcon. Each day I leave out some seed for the many parrots and other birds native to where I live but, one day, saw the gathered birds suddenly fly off in many directions. A larger bird landed on the roof of my house. It was easy to see it was a peregrine falcon hunting for its breakfast but it missed this time. They are beautiful to see flying and in the wild. My only regret was not having a camera to take its photo before it flew away.

    Faith – I know Suzy is cuddly. When I first received her, I could see how soft she was and felt her softness as I took her photo for the blog post.
    Australia has tropical areas in its north where you can find animals we don’t find near where I live. In a post written for another class, I showed a photo of the Tropic of Capricorn I had taken in northern Australia. Between our Tropic of Capricorn in the south and the Tropic of Cancer north of the equator, the area is know as the tropics but, as you can see in the photo, not all areas of the tropics are rainforest. While we do have tropical rainforests, we also have deserts.

    Robert – I also couldn’t pick a favourite card but also add I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite of the world’s animals. My favourite is usually the animal I am trying to photograph until I move on to the next animal. My favourite recent photograph was of a Boyd’s water dragon (lizard) in my favourite animal sanctuary. I presented the sanctuary with a frame A4 print of the photo.

    Shaye – The turtle frog is interesting but there is one Australian frog not in the cards I also find interesting. It is Cyclorana platycephala or the water holding frog found in most mainland states of Australia. When it is hot and dry, these frogs have buried themselves in sandy ground where they have encased themselves in a watertight mucus cocoon. Aboriginal people knew they could get some of the water the frogs stores in their bodies by digging them up and gently squeezing them. The frogs were then released. It sounds strange but when water is scarce, a drink of water is important.

    Bryan – Isn’t it interesting just like the cuckoo birds, cuckoo bees don’t raise their own young. Cuckoo birds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds while cuckoo bees lay their eggs in the nests of other bees. The host birds and bees don’t seem to notice. Now that’s sneaky parenting. 🙂

    Sofie – I also can’t choose a favourite animal but that’s hardly surprising because I am interested in so many different things. As far as money goes, I may never be rich in money but being rich in learning and rich in sharing what we learn is far more important than money. Much of what I do since retiring as a teacher is either free or not for profit (I don’t make money). I love sharing.

    Carter – While Australian waters have a number of species of whales, the narwhal isn’t one because it lives up your way. Its tusk, I think really a large canine tooth, looks incredible. Whale songs are incredible to hear but, I have heard, human ears can’t pick up all of their sounds without help. Whales off my area include the humpback whale known for its song. I have photos but haven’t been able to record humpback song.

    Thomas – The Arctic fox is a beautiful animal but I have only seen them in nature documentaries.
    Australia has no native foxes but in the 1830s settlers introduced the red fox perhaps so they could fox hunt. With an estimate of over 7 million and growing in Australia, they are causing big problems for many of our small native birds and animals. In order to try to keep some of our rare animals, some special fox-free sanctuaries have been set up to protect our native animals in the wild.

    Aleah – Hedgehogs are interesting little guys. They are only found in some zoos in Australia as they aren’t native but we do have the echidna, a monotreme mammal. Along with the platypus, they are the only known living mammals to lay eggs.
    Hedgehogs were introduced into New Zealand in the 1870s. One of the times I visited New Zealand, I photographed one very scared little hedgehog I had rescued from a road.

    Haya – Can you imagine if someone could run as fast as a cheetah? Wouldn’t they do well in the Olympics next year. Of course, a cheetah wouldn’t do well in a marathon run because they can’t keep their speed for too long.
    I had read about the cheetah’s ability to turn at speed so your information about the tail makes sense. When we run, we have something called momentum, the larger the moving body, the greater the momentum. This means if we were running side by side, you could stop and turn much faster than I could. The cheetah’s tail must help shift it’s mass so its momentum direction can shift but that’s only a guess.
    Thanks for sharing the tail information, it made me think. 🙂

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments.

    Ross Mannell
    Teacher (retired), N.S.W., Australia

    Here is a link to the 100,000th visitor post…

    • The Blogging Hawks

      Hello, Ross!

      Thank you for the amazing and HUGE comment! We love it when you take time out of your busy day to write us another extended comment! You always help to push our learning even further! Your blog has been very successful with all those milestones. 200 posts is AMAZING … never mind 100 000 visitors and counting! We have 87 posts … in FOUR years! We can’t even begin to imagine how many posts you’ve done in a single year, because ours has averaged about 22 each year!

      The Potoroo Palace is very lucky to get the pictures you took, considering how good you are as a photographer! Why do you love the Potoroo Palace so much? Wow! We think it’s amazing that koalas can sleep up to 20 hours. We’ve learned a lot of neat stuff about koalas from you … especially when we were thinking of a cool name for the stuffy.

      We LOVE Suzy, the Super Animal Collector Cards and the card reader SO much … we are STILL using them every SINGLE day during “quiet reading”!!! You can imagine just HOW “silent” the classroom is when you hear LOONS calling in the background … luckily we have a little “break out” room that people can use with the cards … and the door closes!

      “Thank you so much for sending me the link to the tawny frogmouth! I learned SO much today … so did the rest of us! Tawny Frogmouths remind us of burrowing owls, so we can see how they could be easily mistaken for owls. ~Marcus

      “I’ve never seen a polar bear in the wild. None of us have. But … we have definitely seen brown, black and grizzly bears in the wild. Not all of us, though.” ~Luisa

      “We don’t have pythons here, in the wild. Mrs. Renton says PHEW! If you go hiking again, try not to get TOO close to those poisonous snakes … we want you to stay SAFE … even though we know how interested you are!” ~Colby

      “I didn’t know that mosquitoes carried lots of diseases. The Australian Masked Owl is really cute, especially the way it has a little heart on its face!” ~Marah

      “It’s really interesting that the female mosquitoes are the ones that bite.” ~Alvin

      “Once, when I was on holidays in Australia, I was eating food at a restaurant and all of a sudden a red bellied black snake popped up from under the deck. It jumped up onto the deck and it wrapped itself around the leg on my MOM’S chair. Gulp!!! The waiter told my Mom to STAY frozen like a statue until the snake was gone. My Dad had to lift me up to stand on the chair! Then the waiter shooed the snake away, with a menu. I was four and I was FRIGHTENED. I even remember it!” ~Oliver

      “I like tigers because they have a BIG roar!” ~Prayers

      “Maybe when I get home I will check the link out and learn more about all the exciting animals on the Backyard Buddy site. The rest of us are excited to check it out too!” ~Saadia

      “Did you also know that their saliva makes it less itchy when female mosquitoes bite? I’ve done some research over the past few years because I like to go on holidays to British Columbia … and … there are LOTS of mosquitoes there!” ~Riley

      “I’m glad that I don’t have any poisonous frogs in my area too! But, it would also be fascinating to see one … thank goodness for the ZOO!” ~Liam

      “So far, we haven’t heard ANY grunting from Suzy! She MUST be happy in her new home! But … we’ve heard LOTS of OTHER strange noises coming from the breakout room lately!” ~Adam
      “I wonder what else is inside that cupboard! It’s very nice of you to support fundraising that helps to keep animals safe and healthy!” ~Roxanne and Blogging Hawks

      “I also think that it’s good that king snakes and cobras have their own names. Thank you for the link. We enjoyed checking it out!” ~Anita

      “You have sure held a lot of interesting animals and seen them in the wild! I would probably like to have an emperor penguin as a pet! I would like to hold an emperor penguin … and … a koala!” ~William

      “I would sure like to see a peregrine falcon in real life. I’m happy peregrine falcons are not all trapped in the zoo, so that they can live in the wild.” ~Mani

      “When I get home, I’ll probably go straight onto your blog and read the blog post. It’s pretty amazing that Australia didn’t have ANY camels and now it has the most! We all enjoyed the link you shared. It was pretty cool to see what Australia looks like.” ~Faith

      “I think the Boyd Forest Dragon looks really cool. Is the Forest Dragon the same as the Water Dragon?” ~Robert

      “I think it is really interesting that the Aboriginal people squeezed the water frogs to get water when water was hard to find. That’s very creative!” ~Shaye

      “I think it’s interesting, too, that both cuckoo bees and cuckoo birds don’t raise their young. I wonder why the host birds or bees don’t seem to notice! That’s SUPER sneaky!” ~Bryan

      “Thank you for being SO generous and helping us with our learning!’ ~Sofie

      “That is amazing that you have photos of real humpback whales. I have seen, in Hawaii, a few whales. It is cool watching whales spray water out their blow holes!” ~Carter

      “I think it’s really cool that you’ve seen what an arctic fox looks like on a nature documentary. It’s really sad what red foxes are doing to the other Australian animals. It’s pretty good that there are fox-free sanctuaries so they don’t rampage around and hurt the other animals.” ~Thomas

      “I did not know that mammals could lay eggs. Did you know that hedgehogs eat eggs?” ~Aleah

      “Thanks for the great information about the cheetah and momentum! It would be weird seeing a cheetah in the Olympics but I wonder how many laps it could do before it tires out?” ~Haya

      Thank you, Ross – we always LOVE your comments!

      The Blogging Hawks 🙂

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