Animal Unit: Diego Field Journal

My daughter LOVES animals. It just seemed fitting to do a little learning unit about them! After I created an AMAZING outline of all the fun things we were going to do, the lessons stopped being fun and exciting. Maybe it was me- it seemed like putting together my fabulous curriculum plans was more strenuous than I had initially thought- or maybe my daughter was sick of having to learn something every time we played- or maybe it was both of us! At any rate- I live by the motto that learning at this age SHOULD BE FUN- and since it wasn’t exciting anymore- we stopped. Plain and simple. I think the fact that my daughter knows about animal habitats, bipeds and quadrupeds, nocturnal animals, animal groups (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, etc) is pretty stinkin’ good for a 4 year old! And I have to say I am one proud Mom!

Boo’s animal field journal! It’s a binder that has a huge variety of animal cards  (found at National Geographic for Kids)

Anyway- we did do some activities with her field journal. For those that have watched Diego you will be familiar with this idea already! Our animal field journal is a place where we keep information about all the animals we learned. I found some free printable cards at National Geographic for Kids– they were very informative, too! I liked that they were categorized by animal group and had information on diet and habitat. And did I mention they are free?! So yes, I spent like an hour printing them ALL. And I have these darling little binder- I think its from Staples- that just so happens to fit perfectly in her Diego rescue pack. It was like they were meant for each other….

Theoretically it would be wonderful to add animal cards one at a time as your child learned about each animal, but I just threw them all in at the beginning. I glued the animal cards onto colored card stock- a different color for each animal group. Since they were already visually sorted by group, I decided it would be fun to sort them by habitat. We went on an animal safari to different habitats to save several animals that were in trouble (again- think Diego).

Boo going on a safari to help the desert animals in trouble (aka locating the animal cards Mommy randomly placed throughout the house)

The first habitat we went to was the desert. We saved about 10 different animals (I tried to get a variety of animal groups represented in this activity, so we had some birds, some reptiles, some mammals, etc). Saving the animals just meant locating the animal card I had placed in various distressing places around the house. (so clever, I know. It would be more fun to actually save a stuffed animal- or imaginary animal even- but we just picked up the cards. It was quick and easy!) After we “saved” all the animals, we brought the cards back to the rescue center and added them to our field journal.

Animal Rescue Center- counting all the different animal groups we found during our safari to the desert

We repeated this activity for a few different habitats- I think we did grasslands. rainforest, and mountains as well as the desert. This time we kept the animals sorted by habitat in my daughter’s field journal.

A sample of some of our desert animals- I like that you can look at the color of cardstock and easily see we found a mammal, reptile, and invertebrate. 

That was really the last “official” learning activity we did with animals- at least for now. When my daughter and I are ready, we will relaunch our animal expedition! I think it is such a blessing to have the freedom to choose what we are learning about!

Happy Teaching!

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