So now that the kids are all hopped up on sugar, I thought it would be a good time for some more constructive playtime activities. To that end, Kylie is back with part three of our “Make Like a Montessori Mama” series: animal activities. Take it away Kylie…
Five great Montessori inspired activities about ANIMALS!
Animals, just like food and plants, give children an opportunity to explore nature. Once again these activities use materials that are widely available. There are a variety of materials including puzzles that children can use to learn about animals, these and other Montessori specific materials can be found at good Montessori supply shops.
1. Invite wildlife into your home environment
This is a great way to experience wildlife first hand. We use a simple birdbath and wild birdseed to invite local birdlife into our back yard. Place the birdbath (or bird feeder if you like) near a window to allow for closer observation – you can see the birds from inside without disturbing them. We became familiar with our local species and used a bird guide to find out more about them. Depending on your location, bird boxes, possum boxes or even a butterfly friendly garden may help to attract other wildlife.
2. Study footprints
Make some footprints or identify an animal from its footprint. Use model animals on some clay or play-dough and press lightly. We have used a small basket of Australian animals. When we use model animals we try to keep them in natural groupings, for example by species like birds/insects/reptiles, by geographical location Australia/Africa/America or by type pets/farm/zoo. If you put this activity out I guarantee you will attract the attention of your toddler or preschooler.
3. Mother and baby farm animals
This activity is a favourite among young children. They can pair up the animals, name them (sow/piglet, sheep/lamb) you could even put together whole family groupings. An older child could use them with three-part cards (downloads and instructions available online from various Montessori print shops).
4. Pet care
By creating a pet care basket we are inviting the child to participate in the care of our pet. While we always supervise our children with pets, the basket invites the child to feed the dog a treat, to brush or initiate wash time. Treats are in child friendly/snap open container, shampoo has been rebottled into a child friendly/smaller bottle. Children from a young age can help with feeding and watering pets. Fish feeding is also an activity perfect for a young child.
5. Read non-fiction
Montessori believed that children should be immersed in reality before they can appreciate a fantasy world. She recommended children be exposed to books that depict reality. There are many wonderful fiction books that show animals in a real light but we love to have many non-fiction books in our home too. Reference books, field guides and fact-based readers are all good ways for children to learn about animals and can be just as interesting to read at bedtime. This is a great way to follow your child’s interests, if it is horses, cats, dogs or in our house it’s sharks – reference books help to stimulate your child’s natural desire to learn.