Curriculum Connections Page

Language Arts/Science Connection: A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. The alien-like sloth, an impossibly slow, arboreal cousin of the ground-bound armadillo, is a
paradox of nature. So it only follows that our poem about the sloth should begin with a number of rhyming paradoxes. Have students try to identify them and explain how they can be true. For your reference, prose versions of the questions they pose and the answers are as follows:

        Line 1: When does a home have a home? Hundreds of moths, ticks and
        beetles, not to mention algae and fungi, live in the furry home of the sloth,
        while the sloth, of course, takes up residence in a tree. So the sloth is a
        home and has a home.

        Line 2: When does a clinger have clingers? With its hook-like claws, the
        sloth clings to the branches of its home, while the insects in its fur cling to

        Line 3: How can something be gray and look green at the same time? The
        algae growing in its fur makes the gray sloth look green.

        Line 4: How can a coat be coated and, if it's coated, how can it make the
        wearer be 'unseen?' The sloth's fur is coated with green algae which makes
        the sloth blend in to its leafy environment.

        Line 5: How can something be hooked on limbs and hooked on leaves at
        the same time? The sloth's claws literally hook it to the branches from
        which it hangs, and the (three-toed) sloth eats leaves containing a
        poisonous substance, which, while neutralized by the sloth's slow digestive
        process, may have an addictive effect on the seemingly anesthetized

        Line 6: How can one dangle comfortably? The sloth makes a living of it,
        hanging upside down practically its whole life long.

        What other rain forest creatures are almost inconceivably odd? Have
        students research then write rhyming paradoxes about these impossible

        Language Arts Connection: In addition to end rhymes, lines 6-12 contain
        alliteration and internal rhymes, making the poem more musical and more
        fun. Have students identify instances of both. Note that lines 7 and 8 have
        three internally rhyming words each, and lines 9 and 10 have five pairs of
        matching internal or end rhymes. Can students identify all five? Better yet,
        can they define the words? If not, have them predict the meanings based on
        context, then check their predictions with a dictionary.

        Language Arts/Science Connection: Sloths' arms and legs are designed for
        hanging upside down, which renders them unable to walk if they ever have
        cause to be right side up. Their closest cousins, anteaters and armadillos,
        however, while fine walkers, are lousy hangers (armadillos are
        floor-dwellers, while some species of anteaters look for their creepy-crawly
        prey on the ground and others climb trees to find it. Have students write a
        fictitious account of how the family members went their separate ways and
        how they got their particular talents.

        While some species of sloth only eat leaves, anteaters predominantly eat,
        well, ants (and termites), and armadillos will eat almost anything they can
        get their snouts on, including both plants, insects and other animals
        (preferably with the due date expired, in the form of carrion). Have
        students write another story explaining how the 'family members' got their
        different tastes.

        Discuss scientific explanations for how other related animals got their
        individuality. Students might be interested to know that about 35 million
        years ago, a variety of giant ground sloth species roamed North and South
        America. Most of them did not climb trees - probably because they were so
        huge! The largest was about the size of an elephant, reaching 20 feet long
        and weighing about three tons. Now that's a lot of sloth!



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