Is your little munchkin fascinated with animals? Kids of preschool age generally love animals, so turn her love of our furry friends into fun -- and a learning experience at the same time. Craft time, story time or baking projects can teach her about animals all around the world.
1. Guess Who
Got little friends over for the afternoon? When you’ve got a group of rambunctious preschoolers to entertain, add some fun and they won’t even know you've sneaked in a lesson. Create animal picture cards and hand one card to each member of your little group. Encourage each child to make the sound that the animal on the card makes. After a child makes her animal sound, ask another member of your little group what sound she heard. If your little one says "Moo," ask the child next to yours what she heard. Watch them giggle and roar with laughter as they try to imitate the animal sounds.
2. Sort Them Out
Teach your preschooler about animal similarities and differences with a sorting activity. Present your little munchkin with a big bunch of animal pictures and have her group the pictures together, according to similarities that she sees in the animals. Guide her at the beginning, by having her group together animals with fur, gray animals and animals that have long snouts. If you’ve got a big collection of stuffed animals hiding in her toy box, do the same activity with these toy,s instead of the picture cards.
3. Animal Munchies
Show her the different types of food that different animals eat with some snack of her own. Have an elephant snack time one day, with lettuce, sugar cane and apples (while these are the foods elephants are fed in captivity – it does demonstrate the animal’s herbivorous nature). Next, have a monkey snack time with bananas, nuts and seeds. You can continue with the activity each day and perhaps use after-snack time to color in or draw a picture of the animal-of-the-day.
4. Craft Animals
Teach her about animals with her own animal crafts that she can hang on her wall with pride when they’re finished. Make a lion face from a paper plate, decorated with a construction paper mane and a hand drawn face. Paint a paper plate gray to make an elephant and decorate it with a construction paper trunk, tusks and ears. You can help her to make a sock puppet monkey, a panda bear mask for her to wear during playtime later and different animal face magnets to stick to the fridge.
5. Tasty Treats
When the two of you have worked hard to learn all about animals, why not reward yourselves with some tasty sugar cookie animals? Move activity time to the kitchen and work together to make sugar cookie dough. Once you’ve rolled out the dough, use cookie cutters to cut out different animal shapes. Let your little guy decorate the cooled cookies with colored icing and sugars to transform the plain cookies into scrumptious treats.
- The Yoga Zoo Adventure: Animal Poses and Games for Little Kids; Helen Purperhart, et al.
- Little Hands Paper Plate Crafts: Creative Art Fun for 3 to 7 Year Olds; Laura Check, et al.
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images