Thursday, March 22, 2012

Animal Matching Activity

The kids have quite a collection of little plastic animal models.  One activity we do involves matching the animal figures to animal cards.  A month or two ago, I found some flashcards in the Target $1 section for North American Animals and another for Insects.  They went perfectly with our North American Animal Toob and the insect tub (from Oriental Trading).  After laminating the cards that had matching figures, I presented it to the girls as an animal matching game:



We usually put all the animals on the the table, then pick one card at a time (L likes to hold the deck and pick the card), and try to find the matching animal.  There are about 40 animal cards total, so matching them up can be a challenge.  The kids are amazing at learning new animal names and when we went to a museum two weeks ago they could identify almost all the animals that were on display ("Look, Mommy, a Rhinoceros Beetle!  Look, a Pronghorn!, etc..".. I was a very proud Mama).



This activity is fantastic for getting the kids to use their observational skills to look for subtle differences - i.e. what's the difference between a cricket, praying mantis, and grasshopper?  After all the animals are matched to the correct cards, we play a trivia game.  I'll ask them to find a specific animal, or find an animal with spots/stripes/horns/wings, or an animal that likes to eat fish, etc...  They absolutely love this game, and they're learning so much about the animal kingdom at the same time.

I'm also hoping that learning more about insects will help E who has had a recurring nightmare lately where she wakes up and says "The bugs are coming!"  Poor baby!  We'll also have to do more nature walks this summer so she can observe insects and see that they are not going to bother her.

Before I found the animal flashcards at Target, I printed and laminated some of my own animal cards from photos I found online on Google Images.  Here's the African Animal matching activity I made for them:

I reused an old Mellissa & Doug box, putting the cards on one side and animals on the other side to make a Montessori-style visually-appealing display.  We have a bunch more plastic animals for which I need to print out cards when I get a chance.  The next one on the list is bird identification.

P.S. I can't take all the credit for teaching the kids about animals - they are big fans of the show Go Diego Go, which has taught them all sorts of things about animals from pumas to scarlet macaws to sloths.  They sometimes tell me facts about animals that even I didn't know!!


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