You can get your child excited about learning through some of their favorite things: animals and crafts! These arts projects inspired by feathered creatures and furry critters are great hands-on opportunities for tots that have an educational bent.
A birdy buffet. Use an old teacup and saucer – or a pop bottle and a few sticks – filled with birdseed to bring all the birds (and maybe a squirrel) to your yard; then, use the hungry visitors as a learning experience. “Kids can identify different birds, and you can teach them the things around your house birds use to make their nests,” Zelmetta Campbell, Detroit native and preschool teacher at Iris Center Renaissance Head Start, says, such as twigs, mud and even spider webs.
Farm hand. Try milking a cow – without the cow. Ashley Kunkel, lead preschool teacher at C.R. Smith Pre-Kindergarten Academy, explains if you fill a rubber glove with water and poke holes in the fingertips, you can simulate the experience of milking a cow, and use it as a starting point barnyard discussion.
Where do babies come from? It might be a wee bit early for that discussion, but you can still show your child where baby birds come from with Campbell’s fun egg experiment. Take a raw egg, poke a small hole in one side and a slightly bigger hole in the other. Then, gently, into the smaller hole, “Blow the yolk out,” she says (be sure to have a bowl ready to catch the yolk!). “Then explain where eggs come from and that new chicks can come from the egg.”
Build an ecosystem. Teach your kids where their favorite animals come from with the same game Campbell uses in her classroom. “We made a little poster (of) a farm, a zoo and water,” she says. “We have pictures of animals, and the kids have to classify where the animal lives and put animals in the right habitat.”