Nature Week part 2: First Impressions

23 May

Age: 3+

Vocabulary: first impression, undecided, feeling, fear, reaction

Classroom/Outdoor activity:

1. Mark off three sections of the classroom: one showing a picture of a happy child, one showing a picture of a scared child, one showing a picture of an indifferent child.  Talk about these feelings with the children.

2. Hold up a photograph of an animal, ask the children to say its name, and invite the children to go to the feeling that animal inspires in them.  Once there, they can sit on the floor and make the face that corresponds to how the animal feels.

3. Encourage children to fully discuss their feelings regarding the animal.  Why do they feel as they do?  What do they already know about this animal, and what would they like to find out?  Record their responses and use them as a guide for future animal themes.

3. Invite children back to a central gathering place and repeat with as many animals as their attention span allows.  Choose a mixture of easy-to-spot animals (dog/cat/ladybug) and more exotic animals found in the zoo (lion/gorilla/camel).

4. Over the next few days, take time to find answers to their questions about the animals.  Provide books, share pictures, tell stories, and bring “animal ambassadors” into the classroom (make sure to release any wild creatures like spiders or snails ceremoniously after a few hours).

5. After the children have learned about the animals they were curious about, take a walk around the neighborhood to see if they can spot those animals.  When they see an animal they felt scared or undecided about, encourage them to observe it without touching or bothering it.  Provide a nature notebook for each child and encourage them to record what they observed.  Ask: How did it make you feel?  Take a trip to the zoo and repeat the activity with the exotic animals they learned about.  Encourage them to share their new discoveries with friends and family.

Art: Animal/feeling collages

-Provide a variety of magazines, scissors, paper and glue.  Invite children to cut out pictures of people expressing different emotions.  How do children think each person is feeling?  Why do they think so?  Allow children to cut out pictures of animals.  Encourage them to arrange and glue down the pictures of people and animals in a way that makes sense to them.  Allow them to explain their collages.

Music: Choose fun songs about animals the children might be scared of.  For example: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “The Rhino Song“, or “The Lion song” (get up and dance to the Lion Song!!).  NOTE: I would not show YouTube videos of songs to children younger than 5, but it’s a good resource to find songs and lyrics (just my opinion…)

Snack: Use prepared bread stick dough to create snakes, spiders, worms, or other misunderstood creatures.  Decorate the dough with raisins, nuts and seeds.  Bake with the children, and while they eat you can discuss why they are so important for the ecosystem and why they are misunderstood.

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2 Responses to “Nature Week part 2: First Impressions”

  1. Cynthia May 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Great ideas! I am “borrowing” some of them for summer camp.

    Thank you very much for sharing all this with us.

  2. sands May 24, 2010 at 1:19 am #

    please keep them coming, summer vacation is just around the corner and my daughter will be home with me for the entire vacation!!

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