Most young children are very interested in animals, they love going to the zoo, a farm, a pet store, or just noticing animals in their own backyards. When we study animals we practice sorting and classifying, learn new vocabulary, understand some differences between living and non-living things, and notice how things are alike and different.
We began talking about how animals have different body coverings. We read informational books, made lists, explored toys and models of animals, and made this book.
I changed this page the following year because technically pigs do have hairs, so they would actually be sorted with the fur covered animals. I didn’t have a copy of the revised page.
I provided pieces of fur, feathers, shiny plastic from a report folder for the skin, and crepe paper for the rough scales. I also gave the children clipart animals for them to sort and put on each page.
Here are printable copies:
We also read books and talked about animal habitats. These little books were folded up and the children added animals on each page, then they phonetically wrote the names of the animals.
We talked about ways animals move, and practiced moving like different animals!
Finally we talked about how animals are born, and grow.
I struggled with how to label animals who are born alive – you might choose to change it. Of course the book Animals Born Alive and Well is a great resource for this!
Here are printable copies – just fold them up to make 1/4 page booklets.
Here are a few more clipart animals:
The children each created a model of an animal too! They started out with clay, and I provided lots of art materials for them to add, feathers, more crepe paper, fur, sequins, hole punches, ribbon, etc. I folded these 3 dimensional triangle shapes that they decorated as a habitat for their animal. They followed up by writing a short explanation that included what kind of animal they made, what it looks like, how it moves and where it lives.
I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of completed projects but this should give you an idea of the triangle habitat paper. I cut construction paper into a 12 x 12 square, then folded it corner to corner to make 4 triangles. I cut on one triangle line up to the center of the paper, then folded it so one triangle totally overlapped another. I rubber cemented those to form the bottom of the habitat. They were sturdy enough to hold the clay animals, and easy for the children to add grass, trees, water, clouds, etc. I showed them how to fold the bottom of grass, trees, etc. and glue them so they stood up on the bottom of their triangle.
We set all of these up as a museum, along with our writing, and invited other classes to visit.
Sometimes we were studying animals around the same time we were learning informational text features. It worked out great because we read so many books about animals and got a chance to see lots of text features. Then we made our own information book about animals. I shared this in an earlier post, but I will show it again.
I didn’t scan this entire book – the children drew animals with different body coverings, different homes, etc. and these were glued on pages in between those with the bold print.
What I loved best about the time we spent studying animals was hearing the children use the terminology when they were talking about animals the rest of the year. They would talk about different body coverings or habitats when we came across animals in books we read too. It really gave them a lot of background information, and practice thinking about how living things are alike and different.