This is my place for writing down ideas for teaching kids. You'll find things I have tried, things I am thinking about trying, and reviews of educational products. My own kids are young so most of the information is for preschool age children. I hope you find it useful.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Animal Homes

I have been thinking alot about what to do with this blog, and I have decided to turn it into a place to write down my ideas and lesson plans for teaching my kids. I plan to put in successful projects, not so successful projects (along with notes for improvement), product reviews, and ideas. That way I have a place to store ideas, and you have a place to find them. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Today's project is all about animal homes and I must admit that it was mostly thing 1's idea. I was watching her play on the playground and noticed that she kept bringing little sticks and leaves to her spot under the slide. So I went over to see what she was working on:

she was building a nest

This project really has almost endless possibilities.

First we talked about soft vs. hard and worked a little bit on vocabulary. The sticks were hard, and poky. Rough.  What can we find that is soft, smooth etc.? Those things will make it more comfortable for the baby birds. 

You could take this farther into a lesson on shapes: What shape are eggs? can you find anything that is round like an egg so that we can put them in our nest? (we used some acorn seeds)

Building a nest led naturally into curiosity about  other kinds of animal homes, and could we find a real birds nest? So we went exploring and it turned into a great biology lesson.  You don't have to go anyplace fancy for this lesson. You wouldn't believe all of the animal homes we found in just our little apartment complex. 

The first home we found was some type of little burrow:

Ask questions about whatever animal homes you find. This is a great way to practice critical thinking. What kind of animal might live here? Is it a big animal or a little animal? Can we see any tracks? Why would an animal build this kind of home? What would it be like to live in this home? And if you're up for it you can always try to build the homes you see. My kids wanted to dig their own burrow. So I let them try. It was great because even little toddling thing 2 could participate!

They learned that it is quite a bit harder than it looks. Hands really hard to dig with. So they tried sticks. A little better, but still hard. We didn't spend very long on out burrow making attempt. This led to a short lesson on animal anatomy. How does that animal dig holes? It must have strong paws! Animals are different than people. Do you think a bird could dig a hole like this? How about a fish? Why? How?

Just continue your walk. Follow your child's lead. They'll pay much better attention if you're talking about what interests them. Thing 1 was excited when we saw the swimming pool. Fish live in the water, mom! Well there aren't really fish in the swimming pool, but whatever. :)

The point is, just be creative and let them get excited about things. We turned over rocks to find bugs, looked at spiderwebs in dark corners, we even found some snails and talked about how they carry their homes on their backs. Like I said, this one has endless possibilities, we even ended up talking about how in some countries they eat snails. Eww! Mommy that's so yucky!  Cultural diversity?? Maybe not.

Now go have some fun!