March 19, 2012

All About Ark Animals

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Skim the pages of a picture book with a variety of animals, such as Children's Animal Encyclopedia by Sally Morgan.  Discuss the animals, their habitats, their appearances, their sounds and so forth.

Using a variety of animal stickers, with the sticker backing still attached, cut the stickers in half at the abdomen.  Mix up the pieces.  Give your child an opportunity to match the pieces together, forming the original animals.  Mix up the pieces again.  This time use the stickers to form new imaginary animals on a sheet of paper.  Choose your animal combinations carefully (hippo upper, lion lower; rhinoceros upper with bird feet; dolphin head with lizard body) and apply the stickers to the paper when ready.  You may even want to color in a habitat backdrop for your new mysterious animal creations.

Discuss whether or not Noah was scared on the ark because of all the animals.  How did he feed them all?  Were they his friends?

Good Read:  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Read Animal Babies on the Farm by Vicky Weber or a similar title about animals and their babies.  The aim is to learn that colt is to horse as calf is to cow as chick is to chicken.  You can achieve this end with pictures, stuffed animals, and other objects or toys at your disposal.  You can even compare animals and babies to parents and children, and God and all of us.

When I taught Kindergarten our school was fortunate and wise enough to have invested in Thinking Maps, a wonderful learning tool.  The main premise of thinking maps is to use the same eight graphic organizers to help students understand concepts in all content areas.  The Thinking Map for analogies is called a bridge map, and it is extremely helpful.

Without going into too much detail (I think it would be hard to describe, and the idea certainly belongs toThinking Maps) you can use the same bridge concept at home or in your classroom in this way:

1.  Obtain objects to represent the items of your comparison (i.e. colt and horse, calf and cow, chick and chicken).  Start with at least two sets of items, and add more as your child begins to understand the analogy more clearly.

2.  Using the living room floor, or even better -kitchen tiles, you will create something like a matrix.  It sounds more complicated than it is!  In the area you've designated (based on the size of items you are using), set the colt in the upper left with the horse directly beneath it.  Place the calf in the upper center with the cow directly beneath it.  As your child understands the analogy (top item is baby, lower item is its parent/adult version), continue by putting the chick in the upper right with the chicken directly beneath it, and continue growing the matrix as you come up with more examples.  

Your words go something like this (pointing to the items): "A colt is a baby horse.  When it grows up we just call it a horse.  A calf is a baby cow.  When it grows up we just call it a cow."

It goes both ways.  If you prefer, put the adult/parent/mother animals on the top row with their corresponding babies directly beneath them.  Say this: "A horse is mother to a colt.  A cow is mother to a calf.  A chicken is mother to a chick."

3.  To add a literacy component to this activity, write the words or let your child write the word to identify each animal.  Note cards work well for writing the words, and can be reused for other activities.  Definitely save them for the farm unit coming in November!  Insert the words into the matrix by having your child place it next to the corresponding animal.

Next Time
When all of the animals were on the ark they shared the same habitat.  God made them to live in many unique places though, and when they got off the ark they surely returned to their appropriate homes.  Using your animal encyclopedia as your guide, discover answers to the following questions for various habitats such as jungle, desert, forest, grassland, ocean, lake, river, arctic climate, and mountains.

Which animals live in the ____________?
What does it look like in the __________?
What plants grow in the _____________?
What is the weather like in the ____________?
What do the animals eat in the ____________?
Where do they find water in the __________?
What do they use for shelter in the ___________?
Do the animals that live there have anything in common?
What are the differences?
Can you answer the same questions about your home or habitat?

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