Book 3: Sand Sack


What’s cooler than a geodesic tent? Igloos! (They have the same basic overall shape).  Also cool: learning that the straight lines of their family tent’s triangles and an igloo’s square-ish blocks of snow are arranged to make surfaces that are rounded.

What’s hot? Climbing sand dunes in summer. Mallory’s seven-year-old twin sister, Melody, enjoys the heat. Mallory? Not so much. He and his Dad head back down the dune while his Mom and sister continue their upward trek. In the shade of a small bush, Mallory discovers more than cooler sand as he settles into a little trench that his dog Rufus helped to dig.

When Mallory and his father visit the local Indiana Dunes police station to turn in their find, they learn why some dunes are called “living.” The police sergeant explains. If you bury something near the bottom of a sand dune and it stays buried for many years, chances are you won’t find it in the same location. That’s because grains of sand are blown in the direction of air currents; over time, the sand dune shifts, making it look as though it moved by itself (and therefore “living”).

Over the next several months, the family learns the history behind Mallory’s accidental discovery, but for now, the police sergeant thanks the father and son with coupons for free ice cream at the local shop that the whole family can enjoy.

Melody is mildly interested in the living dunes explanation, but she’s even more curious about how the dunes got there in the first place. Flat sandy beaches are one thing, but large hills of sand? Glaciers and rocks, her Mom guesses, and suggests they’ll find out more at a program hosted by the park rangers.

Mallory suggests that they split up after lunch; he and his Dad could then explore the Big Blowout and tree graveyard while his sister and Mom could visit wherever they want. Melody thinks that’s a great idea, since she’s much more interested in experiencing the quaking bog and seeing insect-eating plants.

Walking on Pinhook Bog’s springy boardwalk is great fun for Melody. She and her Mom learn that extremophile bacteria are able to live in the bog, even though there’s no oxygen. Insects eat plants…in most cases. Here, some plants eat insects. Melody gets to investigate the hairy plants that eat bugs because the ground doesn’t have enough nutrients for them to survive. A hawk and a squirrel demonstrate the food chain in action; Melody holds and pets a scared little squirrel that also witnessed the action.

Meanwhile, Mallory, his Dad and Rufus come to a big hollowed-out area where blowing winds scooped out the sand, making what looks like a giant-size soup bowl. Mallory discovers that you can’t stop a dog running in sand by stepping on its leash. With a little help from his Dad, Mallory figures out how wind, sand and changing weather conditions create tree graveyards.

At the Nature Center program, the family learns about the park’s preservation and restoration activities; Rufus promptly falls asleep. A visitor rudely interrupts the rangers’ talk about the area’s “singing sands.” This confrontation gives Mallory and Melody a practical lesson in how to address rudeness politely, yet effectively. The next day, Melody and her Mom ignore their aching leg muscles as they test out the noisy sand that squeaks when you walk on it. Everyone agrees that doggie paws aren’t nearly as musical as human feet. Everyone agrees, though, that doggie paws are better at destroy sand castles.

Inspiring their children’s creative juices to flow, the twins’ Dad demonstrates how to draw dunes with four colored pencils in one hand, and their Mom writes a poem about their visit. Mallory was inspired to bring home a rather large souvenir of their trip. His Dad telephones the sergeant to talk about the dune discovery and his son’s acquisition from the park. How much trouble is Mallory in? Find out in BioFables, Book 4.

BioFables’ next title: “Palisades Escapades.”


Ages 10-adult

Book details: 54 pages + introduction and Index; 15,882 words; 22 photos, maps, drawings and other illustrations. $18.00

Sand Sack’s 66-page Companion Book for parents and teachers is now available at CreateSpace for $15.00 More information coming soon.

The table below offers some links to external resources for more information on specific topics,  arranged by chapter. We’ll be adding more links as we find them. Child-friendly links appear in orange.

Resource Links

Helpful Hints

Earth, Space Science:  sand dunes; Mount Baldy; erosion; wind; sand movement Dunes Types
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Indiana Dunes Trail Map

Chapter 1
A Tent Shaped Like an Igloo

Technology: geodesic domes; igloos; scientists Math: triangles;  Chemistry: Buckyballs; Health: exercise; eating habits; weight; Work, Careers: software development Dome Types
R. Buckminster Fuller

Chapter 2
Camping in the Sand

Technology: cars; fuel cells vs. gasoline; Biology: eyesight; impact of sun  Earth, Space Science: sand dunes; erosion; seasons; day length; Health: eye protection; adequate water; exercise

Chapter 3
A Generations-old Secret Revealed

Physics: water’s cooling effect; Social, Society: local government; Human, Family Values: reporting found items; History: Great Depression; Earth, Space Science: wind, living dunes; Math: counting; adding; multiplying; Life Skills: privacy
Deepest economic downturn: 1929-1939

Chapter 4
How Do Sand Dunes Happen?

Earth, Space Science: glaciers; wind; dune formation; Human, Family Values: sharing reward All about glaciers
All about wind

Chapter 5
Spongy Ground and Bug-eating Plants

Biology: bacteria; insect-eating plants; sphagnum moss; animal food chain; Earth, Space Science: quaking bogs; water table; Chemistry: acidic conditions; pH; Health: rabies awareness; Human, Family Values: animals in the wild Rabies risks in your area
Venus flytraps

Chapter 6
Blowouts and Tree Graveyards

Earth, Space Science: blowouts, tree graveyards; marshes; Language: Sherlock Holmes; Life Skills: map-reading

Chapter 7
Learning about the Dunes (and even more about Human Nature)

Earth, Space Science: habitat preservation and restoration; singing and squeaking sands; Social, Society: rude behavior; Human, Family Values: response to rude behavior Why some dunes sing
Great Marsh restoration

Chapter 8
Aches and Pains

Health: muscle aches; Arts: drawing techniques; Engineering: building strong sand castles Wet vs. dry sand
Delayed muscle soreness

Chapter 9
A Rock is NOT a Stone

Arts; Language: value of creating poetry; Social, Society: removal of natural objects; Life Skills: value of cooking and gardening; Health: sleep and regular bedtime, healthy eating habits Value of poetry in schools

Chapter 10
Next Adventure

Earth, Space Science: Mississippi Palisades; Social, Society: social service