Young Minds and Animals
With their inherent silliness, varying sounds, and cuteness, animals have an undeniable allure to toddlers and preschoolers. This attraction often extends to an eagerness to know more about these furry or feathered friends. This craving for knowledge could be escalated if there's already a family pet at home. Hence, here are some suggested animal activities that could enhance your child's understanding of the natural world.
Snack time can be more than just a munching spree. You could fill a tin with different types of snacks that are animal favourites: berries for bears, pumpkin seeds for birds, sliced bananas for monkeys and baby carrots for rabbits. This activity could encourage your little one to guess which pet prefers each food. To make things more interesting, you could add in some fun snacks.
Sounds in the Animal World
Sounds are integral to animal communication. While they may seem silly to us, often we mimic animal sounds to entertain our kids, unconsciously teaching them about the richness and diversity of animal sounds. As enjoyable and funny as it sounds, it carries an important educational value.
An Engaging Soundscape Game
To transform these seemingly fun sounds into education, you could engage your kid in an interactive guessing game. Gurgle like a water buffalo, honk like a goose, or growl like a wolf and have your little one guess which animal these sounds are associated with. This activity would become even more fun once the child becomes familiar with more and more animal sounds.
Collecting Furry Friends
Stuffed animals are common in any child's toy collection. Why not make these toys more educational by brainstorming the perfect habitat for each such as a mixing bowl of (imaginary) water for a stuffed seal or a brown construction paper to create a mud puddle for a plushy pig. The learning potential of this activity is immense.
Organising Animal Kingdoms
After organizing the habitats, arrange the toys according to their natural settings. Aquatic creatures can be grouped together, just as barnyard animals can have their corner. Afterward, you can enjoy a fun tour of this DIY zoo with your child, explaining the characteristics of each creature.
Stomp, Slither, Crawl: An Animal Dance
All children love to dance. Make dancing more fun and educational by including mimicking animals into the routine. Choose animals with distinct movements and encourage your child to imitate these. Creativity could be limitless - from the gallant prancing of a deer to the delicate slithering of a snake.
Imitating Larger Animals
For larger motor skills development, encourage imitation of bigger creatures. If your toddler can balance on one leg like a flamingo or crawl like a chameleon, it would be a significant boost to their muscle usage and control.
Observing Nature From Close Quarters
Backyards often become places of interesting encounters with nature’s creatures, providing an ideal place to closely observe birds and squirrels. You can help your toddler build homemade feeders. These can be filled with peanut butter and birdseed, attracting many types of birds.
Identifying the Winged Visitors
Along with your child, take some time every day to watch the visitors to the homemade feeder. Each bird is unique, and watching them from close quarters would provide an excellent opportunity to observe and identify each one. Children's field guides can prove handy for precise identification.
With the help of educational resources available on the internet, any child can become an animal tracker. After printing paper versions of animal footprints and scattering them around the house or garden, your child can participate in an indoor treasure hunt that also teaches them about various creatures.
Animal Tracks in Paint
To further enhance the fun and learning potential, dip your child's hand in washable paint and stamp it on a piece of paper. This will create a terrific track for other family members to discover, extending the educational, yet fun activity, to them as well.