This is the first in a unit series on animals. We will be learning about mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles with about four-six weeks per animal type. I started out wanting to study animals that we find around the house…and we did. But then I couldn’t help myself but add more fun, intriguing animals! During this mammal study, I read The Classic Tales of Beatrix Potter. It’s been a great jumping off point for animal classification, but it has also raised awareness of animal behavior in the wild in a not so “wild” way. In quite a few of the stories it shows animal behaviors between dominant animals and their prey, people and garden pests, and natural animal cooperation.
The objectives come from the Core Knowledge Series-kindergarten and first grade.
Objectives for Teaching Mammals:
• Living things live in environments to which they are particularly suited.
• Herbivores: plant-eaters (for example, elephants, cows, deer)
• Carnivores: flesh-eaters (for example, lions, tigers)
• Omnivores: plant and animal-eaters (for example, bears)
• Extinct animals (for example, dinosaurs)
• Animals, like plants, need food, water, and space to live and grow.
• Plants make their own food, but animals get food from eating plants or other living things.
• Offspring are very much (but not exactly) like their parents.
• Most animal babies need to be fed and cared for by their parents; human babies are especially in need of care when young.
• Pets have special needs and must be cared for by their owners.
Activities for Teaching Mammals:
1. The most obvious activity is to take the kids to the zoo.
2. Animal Hunt: We sat out on the back deck with binoculars are watched for mammals (and other animals). My son took a clip board with us and wrote down the names of all the mammals we saw. This allowed us to discuss the differences and similarities between the animals we observed. I was also able to model how to watch quietly for wildlife and we discussed why we needed to be quiet.
3. Cat Art – See http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/mcircle_cat.htm
4. Mammal Journal: As we learned about mammals, my son would color or cut out a picture of the animal and then write 2 sentences about what he learned.
5. Spend time with friends who own animals if you have none yourself. We do not have the blessing of owning animals. So I made sure that the kids got to spend time with friends who own pets. This allowed the kids to experience the animals up close and also speak with the owners and ask questions.
6. Make an elephant! http://www.freekidscrafts.com/paper-plate-elephant/
7. Print the animal pattern block sheets from below and have the kids create the animals. This is a great way to review the characteristics of a mammal.
8. Have the kids pretend to be animals as you call out the names of different mammals. Discuss how the animals move, sound, where they live, etc.
Mammal Lapbooks and Notebooking:
Mammal Art Projects:
Books on Mammals:
Mammals by Ted O’Hare
Mammals: Animals in Disguise by Lynn Stone
Mammals by Melissa Stewart
About Mammals by Cathryn Sill
Amazing Mammals by Honor Head
Mind Blowing Mammals by Leslee Elliott
How to be a Nature Detective by Millicent E. Selsam
Animal Architects by W.Wright Robinson
Guide to Mammals by Ben Morgan
Inside Guide to Dogs by Slim Goodbody
Wee Little Bunny by Lauren Thompson
Wee Little Lamb by Lauren Thompson
Sheep (Farmyard Friends) by Camilla de la Bedoyere
Sheep Blast Off by Nancy Shaw (series)
Skunk by Lee Jacobs
Chipmunk Family by Lois Brunner Bastian
The Goat Lady by Jane Bregoli
The Squirrel by James V. Bradley
Other Fun Animals –
A Polar Bear Can Swim by Harriet Ziefert
National Geographic Kids Level 2/3 Books (Wolves, Tigers, Pandas, Cheetahs, Elephants)
Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats by Ann Earle
Aardvarks Disembark! by Ann Jonas
More will be added as I cycle through this topic again in the coming years.