We have been studying animals the past couple of months and have been focusing mainly on one animal at a time and incorporating other important animal concepts into the units. Since we are now studying penguins, I thought that it would be a great time to teach Benjamin to sort based on where the animals live and also teach about animal camouflage. This activity was perfect for those concepts!
This activity kit has small plastic animals and 4 round boards to represent grasslands, polar regions, ocean, and forest. On one side there are pictures of the animals that belong to each group. The other side has the name of the region and spaces for the animals, but no pictures or clues. Since this was our learning day, we used the pictures. I plan on using the other side for comprehension at a later date.
Both Ben and Kate had a fun time matching up the plastic animals to their pictures. Once they completed that, I worked with them to notice similarities between the colors of the animals and the homes in which they live. The kids noticed right off that the animals from the polar regions are white. It took a little prodding, but Benjamin was able to tell me that the color white would help them hide since there is a lot of snow and ice in the polar regions. Once we made those connections and talked about why penguins are dark on their backs and white on their fronts, we were able to apply these camouflage ideas to animals in the grassland, ocean and forest. In fact, Benjamin was able to realize and tell me that animals in the forest are darker in color because there isn't a lot of light in the forest. I am so proud :-)
Ben has been asking to play with the animals a lot. He has been using them with his dinosaurs to have the carnivores eat all of the animals and has been setting up pretend play scenes with them a lot. He also enjoys sorting them again and again into the appropriate areas.
I was originally going to create this activity on my own by writing the name of different regions on a sheet of white paper and then have pictures of different animals for us to sort through. It is the same concept, but more friendly for those of you who don't have access to a resource center such as the one we have here in our county.