Whether small or large, furry or scaly, it's fun to discover more about animals and their characteristics. Look into the world of animals by reading stories and doing activities that explore animals and the many ways they touch the lives of the humans they live with.
- Sit down as a family with a book from the list below (you can also pick another book that features animals). These activities can be done with several different books.
- Read the book aloud together and count the number of times you see an animal in the illustrations. Talk about what each animal looks like – its color, size, and the number of legs, eyes, ears, etc, it has.
- While reading the story, look for the descriptive words or adjectives about the animals. Try using opposite or silly words in place of the adjectives and see how it changes the story. Have fun choosing different words!
- Next, have each family member pick an animal character in the book. Retell the story by inserting your different personalities into the characters. See how it affects the plot. How would each of your personalities make the characters act, feel, or behave differently?
- After reading the story, look through your music collection (or think of favorite songs) and identify the songs that best suit each character. Read the story again, this time humming the tune that matches each character as it’s mentioned in the story.
- What is each animal in the story most likely to eat if given a choice of menu? Write down the different animals and go for a nature walk to identify which foods might be tastiest for each.
- Visit the library or sit down at a computer to learn more about the animals in the story. Do their lifestyles or personalities have anything in common with your family?
- In books, animals often act like people. Think about animals that you know and describe human-like characteristics for your animal friend. For instance, maybe the neighbor’s cat is very snobby and would wear a tuxedo if he could. Or do you know a bird that is so chatty that other animals might pray for silence? Have fun assigning characteristics to the animals you know.
- Learn to make shadow shapes.Set up a light against a blank wall and practice shaping your hands to make animal shapes. For more direction, look online at www.pbskids.org/zoom/activities/do/
shadowanimals.html or check out a book on shadow shapes from your public library.
- Design an animal mask.Use a paper plate as the base. Cut holes out for the eyes and attach strings to each side so that you can tie the mask on. Use anything around the house to decorate it, like markers, magazines, feathers, string, etc.
- There are often special relationships between animals and humans. Talk as a family about the pets you know. What do those animals mean to the people who own them?
- What is the craziest pet that you could own?Think of wacky pet ideas (like having a whale in the bathtub) and take turns telling stories about what it would be like to live with different animals.
- What sounds do animals make around the world?A horse in the U.S. probably sounds the same as a horse in Argentina. However, they may sound quite different if you asked someone in each country to tell you what sound horses make. Try to make the sound for animals in Spanish and English for as many animals possible. If you would like to discover the sounds in other languages, visit www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ballc/
animals/animals.html, which offers animal sounds in many different languages.