Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 218

Charles Darwin


Hello Everyone



Just occasionally, you will find a house that has virtually stood still in time.


One such house stands in the Kent countryside.  You may have never heard of it, but you may have heard of the man who lived there.  His name was Charles Darwin.  He lived from 1809 – 1882.


He was a scientist whose observations helped us to understand much more about how nature works.  He has been described as one of the most influential men in human history and was honoured at the end of his life with burial in Westminster Abbey.


There is a special name for the kind of scientist he was. 


The word is naturalist. 


He was also a geologist, which is a person who studies rocks.


His work led him to conclude that nature develops through evolution, in a system he called ‘natural selection’ and that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors.


His theory was published in a very famous book called On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection which was published in 1859.  These were revolutionary ideas, but in the years that followed, other scientists and the general public came to understand and agree with what Darwin believed.


But his theory that humans were descended from a type of ape upset some people.  He was mocked in cartoons in newspapers at the time because they thought the theory disagreed with the teachings of the Bible.  ln fact, Darwin respected the Bible and often quoted it in his writings.  He recognised it as a good guide for morals (a way people should behave) but questioned its historical accuracy.


As a boy, Darwin loved collecting pebbles, wild birds’ eggs (illegal today) and everything else that interested him.  He loved reading his father’s natural history books and exploring the countryside around Shrewsbury.  He also liked playing with Erasmus, his brother, in the garden shed where they set up chemistry experiments.


Later, Darwin started to train as a doctor at University in Edinburgh, but did not enjoy his studies at all, and started to neglect them and concentrate on studying the natural world instead.


He learnt taxidermy from a freed, black slave called John Edmonstone.  Taxidermy is the practice of taking the skins of dead animals and reconstructing them on a model to recreate, as near as possible, an animal that looks quite life-like.  You can sometimes see animals like this in natural history museums.  ln order to be successful at taxidermy you must study carefully what the shape of an animal looks like and how the animal stands and moves.


Darwin also helped with studies on marine creatures in the nearby river the Firth of Forth.


His father was annoyed that Charles was not working hard enough at university and sent him to Cambridge instead where he was to study to become an Anglican parson.  But Darwin showed little interest in becoming a man of the church and preferred collecting beetles (which was a popular hobby of the time).


Later, he was invited to join a voyage of discovery on a ship called HMS Beagle; and his father eventually agreed to pay for his trip. 


The expedition planned to chart the coastline of South America and Darwin was to use his expertise to investigate rock formations and make natural history collections for study.


The voyage began in December 1831 and lasted nearly five years.


Darwin suffered terribly from seasickness but made many notes and he sent letters and specimens back to Cambridge whenever he could.


Darwin saw the tropical rain forests of Brazil, he went to Patagonia at the southern tip of South America and the Caribbean and he found buried fossils of huge extinct mammals.


ln Chile, he experienced an earthquake, and high up in the Andes Mountains he saw seashells and fossil trees that had grown on a sand beach.  This gave him evidence that showed that land can move and change.  He concluded that the continent was rising out of the sea. 


On the Galapagos lslands, he found that different islands could have different variations of the same types of animals.  Giant tortoises on one island that grazed on the ground could have quite flat shells, whereas the shells of the tortoises on another island could have an arch at the front.  This arch allowed the tortoise to lift its head up to eat vegetation from bushes above its head, as there was not so much food on the ground to eat.


He noticed that finches on different islands had different shaped beaks to enable them to eat the different kinds of food that were available to them.


This gave him the idea that the evolution of species allows them to adapt to their surroundings in order to become more successful and, therefore, secure their survival.


This same idea is used to breed animals in captivity.  They become different – and sometimes better in some way. 


This is why we have so many breeds of dog and sheep and cows for example.


When the Beagle docked in Falmouth in October of 1836, Darwin’s return was celebrated by the scientific community. 


He was keen that his work and collections should be displayed.


Darwin worked very hard to produce a lot of writings to explain his findings and theories. 


He worked too hard and became ill.


After a rest he was able to continue his work and later married his cousin Emma.


They had ten children.  Two died when they were young. 


This devastated their parents and Darwin wondered whether their children had weaknesses due to their parents being from the same family. 


However, the other children grew up and went on to have very successful lives.


Between 1826 and 1828, the Zoological Society of London established the beginnings of the London Zoo in Regent’s Park.  Among the visitors was Darwin who was a fellow (member) of the society.  He particularly liked the orang-utan – the first ever seen in Europe.


ln 1847, the paying public were allowed into the zoo and today the zoo does much work in animal research and the preservation of endangered species.


By the start of 1856, Darwin was investigating whether eggs and seeds could survive travel across sea water to spread species across oceans. 


ln 1861, he became interested in how insects pollinated flowers. 


He was also fascinated in how worms had an effect on the soil and landscapes.  He did a lot of research on worms for many decades.


He and his family moved to Down House in 1842.  He thought the house looked ‘oldish and ugly’ but it was cheap and surrounded by lovely countryside so he and his wife bought it and remodelled it.


ln his photograph, Darwin looks as if he might have been a strict Victorian father, but actually he was very kind and loving to his wife and children and they all lived happily together.


The house and garden were where Darwin carried out his experiments and his family helped with them.  He set up the study of biology in the way that children and scientists study it today.


He delayed publishing his theories about evolution for a long time because he knew that they would make some people unhappy, so he continued to gather facts for twenty years before he did so.


But bouts of illness were to blight the latter part of Darwin’s life and often interfered with his work and travels.


He might have picked up Chagas disease in South America and he was once bitten by a blood-sucking Benchuca bug, but nobody knew what was wrong with him at the time.  They thought it might be the strain of his work that caused him to keep falling ill.


He died at Down House in April 1882.


He was commemorated with a life-size statue in the Natural History Museum in London and as the figure on the back of the ten pound note.


There is also a statue of Darwin in front of Shrewsbury Library.  The building used to be Shrewsbury School, which Darwin went to as a boy.


There is a Darwin College at Cambridge University.



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lf you like my blog, please support it by telling all your friends and followers about it.


Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam





Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bob: Why did the dinosaur cross the road?


Bill: l don’t know.  Why did the dinosaur cross the road? 


Bob: Because they weren’t any chickens in those days.



Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Links may be used to



Picture Gallery


Darwin as a young man


HMS Beagle


The Voyage of the Beagle


A giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands




Darwin’s “sandwalk” at Down House was his usual “Thinking Path”.


Charles Darwin at the Natural History Museum in London


Charles Darwin in Shrewsbury


Charles Darwin remembered in Bromley town centre today


Bromley in London


Charles Darwin wall mural


The lovely village of Downe in Kent


The church built around 1290


The sundial on the tower


The plaque on the church wall


Downe House


Downe House from the back lawn


Downe House with rooms set out from the Victorian era


Darwin’s bedroom


Darwin’s bedroom


Darwin’s bedroom


The view from his bedroom window


The back lawn


The gardens at Downe House


The side lawn


The greenhouse


The surrounding countryside


The pathway running up to the woods


A view of the back of the house from the fields behind








This week Auntie Alice has been knitting again and this time she has made the children a knitted dog each.

Each dog was a different colour and she left the children to give them names.

She needed a sit down after the excitement of the boat business launch last week.

The children told Miss Pringle about the way they were helping Captain Jack launch his new business a few weeks ago and it gave her an idea for a wonderful new class project.

First, Miss Pringle and her class went to the Rocky Bay Library and did lots of research on the history of Rocky Bay.

They took lots of notes.

Then Miss Pringle arranged for some people who had lived in Rocky Bay to come into the classroom and be interviewed by the children.

The visitors told the children about their memories of growing up in Rocky Bay

The children took lots of notes and photographs too.

Then they went on a walk around the town and took lots more photographs of important landmarks.

The best work was put up on a notice board in the entrance hall of the school just before everyone went off on their Easter holidays.

The board is called The History of Rocky Bay.

It really looks good and is very interesting to read.



If you would like one of these dogs too, they are really very easy to knit…





First take two 30cm pipe cleaners; bend the ends to the middle and bend the pipe cleaner in the middle to make an upside down ‘v’ shape with the ends on the inside.



Using 4mm knitting needles and dog-coloured (or not) dk yarn cast on 8 stitches

Knit 14 rows of garter stitch


Cast on 12 stitches knit to end

Knit 11 more rows in garter stitch on these 20 stitches


Cast off 8 stitches knit to end

Knit 11 more rows in garter stitch on these 12 stitches


Cast on 8 stitches knit to end

Knit 11 more rows in garter stitch on these 20 stitches


Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and dog-coloured (or not) dk yarn cast on 8 stitches

Knit 28 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and dog-coloured (or not) dk yarn cast on 7 stitches

Knit 44 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Slip stitch the first stitch of every row to ensure you create neat edges to your knitting.



Crochet 10 chains into a length of yarn and pull one end of left over yarn into tail chains to neaten



  1. Putting wrong sides together, sew around the dog’s body using over-sew stitching leaving the back open (but sew along the top of the head)
  2. Sew on face features using yarn make the eyes with French knots and over-sew the point at the top of the face to make a nose
  3. Sew the ears onto the top of the head across the centre of the ears piece of knitting
  4. Sew the tail to the top of the back using the yarn left from one end of the length of crochet
  5. Push the pipe cleaners into the legs to make the dog stand up
  6. Stuff the head and lightly stuff the body
  7. Sew up the back




And lastly Happy Easter to all of you!


Animated easter bunny clipart - ClipartFox










Quick Quiz


Fill in the gaps to find breeds of dog…


A _ S _ T _ A _

B _ A _ L _

H _ S _ Y

N _ W _ O _ N _ L _ N _

L _ B _ A _ O _

S _ A _ l _ L

L _ R _ H _ R


First dog





lt’s the Weekend!




Last week’s blog post featured a ballet outfit.

Here is an outfit for ballet practice.



Using 4mm knitting needles and white dk yarn cast on 15 stitches

Knit 2 rows of garter stitch

Knit 16 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and white dk yarn cast on 15 stitches

Knit 4 rows of garter stitch

Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of the next row

Knit 1 row

Repeat these last 2 rows 9 times (5 stitches)

Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and white dk yarn cast on 12 stitches

Knit 2 rows of garter stitch

Knit 6 rows of stocking stitch

Cast off



With right sides together and using over-sew stitching

Sew up shoulder seams

Sew the tops of the sleeves to the shoulders

Sew under arm and side seams


Crochet 30 chains into a length of white yarn twice

Tie one end of each chain to the bottom of the fronts and neaten the other end of the chain – these cords tie around the back of the doll



Using 4mm knitting needles and pink dk yarn cast on 12 stitches

Purl 1 row

Purl 1 row

Knit 8 rows of stocking stitch

Increase 1 stitch at the beginning of the next 2 rows of stocking stitch

(14 sts)

Knit 8 rows of stocking stitch

Increase 1 stitch at the beginning of the next 2 rows of stocking stitch

(16 sts)

Knit 10 rows of stocking stitch

Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of the next 2 rows of stocking stitch

(14 sts)

Knit 6 rows of stocking stitch


Change to 3¾mm knitting needles

Knit 1, purl 1 to end to create ribbing

Repeat this row 3 times (4 rows of ribbing)

Cast off




Using 4mm knitting needles and pale blue dk yarn cast on 16 stitches

Knit 14 rows of stocking stitch

Knit 4 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Sew up bottom and side seams

Crochet 40 chains into a length of blue yarn and thread along between the two rows of garter stitch

Tie the ends of the cord together and neaten the ends of the yarn then pull the end of the cord round to be inside the bag


The pattern for the ballet shoes are on last week’s blog post.




Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand



Quick Quiz Answers






A L S A T l A N


S P A N l E L



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