Ask the Muskrat, the Pirate, and Your Local Third-Grader

A message in a bottle arrives for you in your local water body. It asks you, What connects us all? Where would you go for the answers? What wise hermit on a mountaintop would you seek for deep insight?

Laura and brother, Robert Sams, find the answer after asking, among others, a muskrat, a loggerhead sea turtle, and a pirate. (What else?)

I first heard about this children's film, "The Riddle in a Bottle" from Lori, our WRR editrix, who'd seen it at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City. Seeing her fawn over it, I immediately got a copy, watched it at home, and basically had to have a wrestling match in a mangrove forest with Lori to decide who would write the blog review.

Having watched quite a bit of kids shows in my day (and a number of rather geeky ones, too), this was one of the funniest, sweetest, quirkiest, and most intelligent videos on rivers, ocean, and wildlife that I'd ever seen. Besides having an amazing talent for voices, this brother/sister duo takes your classroom or whole family on a beautifully filmed journey down rivers, into tidepools, and out to the sea. I asked my friend, who'd watched it with me, what she liked best, and she said that it was never lecture-y, never preachy, and most of all, there was never a dull moment. How could there be, when you get a cooking lesson from Mother Nature herself?

You can read more about this family film-making phenomenon on their production website, which also has a bunch of great follow-up lessons for educators and information on the book that grew out of the video. Be sure to watch their Makings Of if you get the DVD, which is every bit as delightful, while you wait for them to go primetime on PBS (well, that's my hope at least).

And what's the answer to the riddle? Go to your local water body and find out!

For more information on other great teacher resources, see our Tools for Educators.