Children love animals. Homes, classrooms, and daycare centers have many stuffed animals on shelves and in cubbies. Use these much-loved toys to help children learn more about the world around them. Stuffed animals can be used by children to classify. Ask children to make groups of animals. One such grouping can be wild animals versus pet animals. We encourage children to gather a group of various animals as shown in this picture:
|This child collected his bears and dogs.
Ask your child to verbalize the difference between a pet animal and a wild animal. If your child has a pet, talk about what kinds of things need to be done to care for this animal.
|Talk about how people feed pets. They take them to a vet and keep them safe. See how many examples your child can give about taking care of pet animals.
Encourage your child to find all the examples of pet animals in the grouping of stuffed animals. Have your child then talk about wild animals. Talk about where wild animals live and how they find food. You may want to encourage an environmental sense of responsibility by discussing the role of humans in protecting wild animals and in preserving their habitat.
|This child groups all of his "wild" bears together. He talked about how bears like to eat berries and fish. Even at his young age, he wants to be sure bears "have what they need to live."
After your child groups the stuffed animals into two or more categories, get out books to find more examples of wild and pet animals. Have your child point out the differences he or she sees, using the illustrations or photos in books. This is a good way to introduce children to the idea that books can help us learn new information.
|This child points out a pet dog. This shows him the connection between text and the activity, an important literacy background skill.
|Informational text is appealing to many children. Books such as R Is For Raccoon, A Northwoods Alphabet Book by Lesley A. DuTemple, illustrated by Susan Robinson, help children distinguish the differences between wild and pet animals.