Category Archives: animals

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!

Animal Adventures: Learning About Mammals

Yesterday we celebrated “Mammal Day”. This was a fun yet educational day centered around learning more about mammals. Can I just say my daughter is in heaven learning about animals! Learning is so much more exciting when the subject matter appeals to you!

Here is a brief run down of our day:

Sorted through all the small plastic animals on our biome board and pulled out just the mammals for our day of mammal fun!

Drank milk- since all mammal moms give their babies milk

Played some animal games on the iPad- specifically apps on mammal tracks (iTrack Lite and Critter Trax) and Animal Sounds. We looked at some mammal tracks (and scat- gross but interesting to a 4 year old). We also listened to different animal sounds and tried to guess what animal made it. It was a lot of fun!

Read mammal books: Pulled out a lot of our non fiction mammal books and sat on the couch looking at them! As we were reading we talked about the features of mammals: all mammal mothers give their babies milk, most have hair, most are born live (not from a hard egg), are warm blooded, and breathe through lungs.

Biped/ quadraped play-dough animal tracks: I thought it would be fun to make and sort animal tracks! The great thing about this activity was that I set out all the supplies and when my daughter got to the table she exclaimed: “Mom! Let’s make animal tracks!” I love it when she “comes up” with a prescheduled activity. It makes it seem so child-directed. 🙂

Pattern Match- I printed some pics of animals and their skin from Google Images. After playing a brief matching game with the cards we ran over to my daughters room and tried to figure out which animal skins were on her blanket (This adorable blanket was made with lots of love by Boo’s grandma– isn’t it the cutest!)

Field Journal:  Added stickers to our mammal divider card and added a whole bunch of mammal cards to Boo’s Field Journal. I found some free printables at National Geographic Kids and downloaded 99% of them. It took FOREVER, but they were free and very informative. (More posts to come explaining this field journal- it is going to be a collection of all animal types and habitats- so stay tuned for that!)

I taught Boo how to draw a cat. So simple, and yet it was fun to add in a little drawing lesson. And she was so proud of her accomplishment! Isn’t it super cute!

The last thing we did on mammal day was to take our mammals outside and play. Originally we had just the sea mammals in the water, but a couple land mammals decided to go for a swim 🙂

Funny side note- this morning my daughter said that her little plastic snake wanted to participate in mammal day because she was special and gave milk to her babies and had hair. Points for creativity!

Its off to plan for “Bird Day”. Happy Teaching!

"Not a Box" Linky Party: Biome Box

I got the idea for this linky party after reading the book “Not A Box” with my daughter: a cute story about a rabbit who uses his imagination to turn an ordinary box into anything but a box. This post is all about using cardboard boxes in a fun and creative way!

Here is the cardboard creation we came up with:

This was a rainy day art project that consisted of painting 9 different biomes so my daughter’s animals could have a home. We just happen to own tons of small plastic animals. And it just so happened to fit PERFECTLY with our new learning unit on animals! 
I grabbed one of the boxes from our move (which just happened to be a box of my teaching stuff).  I opened the box so it was laying flat on the ground. 
After the box was flat, I drew 9 different biomes on the board: city, farm (both of these are totally anthropogenic, but thats where pets and farm animals live!), desert, wetlands, grasslands/savannah, tropical forest, alpine, temperate grasslands, temperate/coniferous forests (we are combining the two on our board), arctic, and marine- with a sandy beach for some of those invertebrates! After I had sketched out the outlines for each biome, Boo and I set to work painting. And yes, I craft on the floor. Not the best idea, I know…at least we didn’t spill paint on the carpet!!
We then added the animals to the correct biomes. I propped up the alpine biome (with a shoe) to make it more realistic- this way baby mountain goat can actually climb the mountain! 
Side shot of our biome box

Now it’s your turn! Submit any and all your cardboard box creations!! I have a mountain of boxes just waiting for some of your good ideas 🙂
And here is a link to my cardboard creation pinterest board– I am excited to pin your ideas!

Happy Teaching!

Animal Unit: Overview of Animal Groups

We started our Animal Unit!  Today was all about introducing the 6 different animal groups: Mammals, Fish, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Invertebrates. Nothing over the top- just a day to familiarize ourselves with the groups. Here is a recap of today’s learning adventures:

  • Brought out the tub of non-fiction animal books. We looked through a few of them and I left all the books in our family room so she will have easy access to them throughout the next few weeks.
  • Bought some new apps. I am a huge sucker for Montessori apps…just love the organization and design of ’em! We got Vertebrates, Invertebrates, and Baby Animals. Boo already had Mini Adventures- Animals (free) and ABC Wildlife (two very, very similar apps but we like them both).
  • Animal Sorting- We have a ginormous amount of small plastic animals. After we had talked a little about the different groups of animals, I showed her the cards I made for her field journal (more on that in upcoming weeks). I had planned to have her sort the animals but before I had time to officially introduce the activity she started placing them in their families. Boo would pick an animal and hopelessly declare that it was lost, and then she would have another animal guide it to the correct card. It was hilarious to watch and yet very, very educational! 
  • Boo sorting the animals into their correct group: Fish, Amphibian, Reptile, Mammals, Birds, and Invertebrates. You can see that we have a LOT of mammals!

I got the information for the animal group cards from Home School Creations. I was going to print the cards but our printer was out of ink. Of course.

What you can expect in future Animal Unit posts: websites, sorts, books, games, and other activities with Diego as our animal adventure guide!! Can I just say I am SO excited about this animal unit!
For more ideas on teaching animals, check out my Animal Pinterest Board.
As always- Happy Teaching!

Animal Unit Overview

We just finished our gigantic study of the human body. We read many books, watched interesting videos, played games, crafted, and did science experiments all based on learning about our bodies. After a nice break we are back on the structured learning bandwagon with a new study about animals.

Right now everything is tentatively mapped out. It was quite a struggle figuring out the order to teach the animals and where to spend our focus of study. After talking to some good teacher moms I remembered the importance of a child-centered curriculum and let my daughter’s interests lead the way. Which means a lot of learning about mean carnivorous animals chasing poor innocent hoofed mammals. We will have a riot learning about food chains, too!

I will post about our animal adventures as we complete them. Right now this is our tentative schedule:

Day 1: Overview of Animal Groups (Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates, Mammals, Birds, and Fish)
Day 2: Mammals
Day 3: Birds
Day 4: Reptiles
Day 5: Amphibians
Day 6: Fish
Day 7: Invertebrates
Day 8: What do animals eat? Carnivore/Herbivore/Insectivore sort 
Day 9: Food Chain Games
Day 10: Endangered Animals
Day 11: Animal Babies
Day 12: Overview of Biomes: Get Ready for Diego Adventures! Diego will take Boo on a new adventure every day to save baby animals and learn more about each biome.
Day 13: Grasslands
Day 14: Polar/Arctic
Day 15: Marine
Day 16: Desert
Day 17: Tropical Forest
Day 18: Alpine/Mountains
Day 19: Temperate Forests and Coniferous Forests
Day 20: Animal Celebration

Possible other units of study- if Boo is interested:
domestic animals
animal tracks
animal sounds
endothermic/ ectothermic
oviparous/ viviparous
venomous/ poisonous

Realize that each day we will only spend 10-20 minutes on our animal study. AND this schedule is SUPER tentative- I have learned the importance of being flexible as a teacher of a 4 year old!  If Boo is eager to learn more-we’ll go faster, and we will slow down if she is overwhelmed.

As far as learning is considered- she is the compass and accelerator while I have a map in one hand and an assortment of learning tools for her in the other hand. And together we seek the great treasure of education.  Theres your cheezy thought for the day 🙂

Happy Teaching!

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