Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Making the Most of Your Zoo Trip for Preschool-1st Graders

Finally warm weather means it's zoo season!
Although it's never much fun to have to do "school stuff" when you just want to go somewhere and have fun. I get it. But it's almost impossible to talk to the children about what I want to discuss with them when we go to the zoo. They're too full of energy and excitement to be reflective about what they're seeing.

Luckily we have a zoo membership so we can take fun trips and purposeful trips, without having to attempt to make zoo trips both. 

We had been talking about animal adaptations and classifications, so we took along a little notebook to keep track of the different kinds of animals we saw. Were they mammals, insects, arachnids, birds, fish, reptiles, or amphibians:

This was easy enough that it didn't really distract from the pleasure of observing the animals but we still got into some interesting discussions about how we could decide which category some should go in: Are penguins fish or amphibians or birds? How do we know?
There is nothing more fun than seeing you kids answer an obvious question ("Of course they're a bird!) and then become shockingly silent when you follow it up with "how do you know?"
You watch them silently thinking and trying to figure it out: "how in the world do I know that?? Maybe it's not. Am I sure?"
Nothing like a little doubt to get the gears grinding.

Once we got home we created a chart showing the kinds of animals the zoo has.

We then listed some of the special adaptations animals in the zoo have....

And combined all of them into a new animal: A furry, pouched, clawed, beaked, horned, striped, six-legged...uh, thing. I'm not quite sure if it was given a name. But it did have a child.

Finally, we looked at the adaptations our invented animal had and tried to guess what kind of environment it would live in. Has fur? Must be snowy. Has a beak and claws? Probably climbs and lives in trees.

None of this was the least bit "schooly" for my children and in fact they had a lot of fun coming up with their new animal and its habitat.

Happy schooling!

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