How to Teach Preschoolers about Animals

Children are fascinated by animals, and there is almost no limit to the number of activities you can do with your preschoolers to teach them about animals.  One way is to look at the different senses and the skills you want to practice.  Touch, hearing, and sight all can be the inspiration for fun and educational activities.

Listening to animals. 

They can probably already recognise a number of animals, including cats, dogs, tigers, cows, sheep and birds.  A good activity is to get a recording of the sounds a number of animals make and match them to pictures.  You could even make the sounds yourself instead if you are a good mimic, and certainly you can all practice them after the game.  There are some nursery rhymes to sing that also include animals sounds.

Watching animals.

It is easiest to start with a DVD of some of the most interesting or charismatic animals.  Young children are usually especially interested in big animals so a film of tigers, bears, elephants, whales, and zebras would be a great place to start.  Afterwards they can draw them or pretend to be one.

Smaller animals you can see in person.  Try going on a bug hunt in your garden and see what you can find.  You’ll probably be able to watch butterflies, slugs, snails, bees, spiders and beetles.  Just be careful, some of these can bite so don’t let your preschoolers pick any up unless you are sure the animal is harmless.

Touching animals.

Some zoos have petting areas where children can get close to tame animals.  Some farms might also although this.  Your children have a chance to pet rabbits, sheep and even bigger animals like horses and ponies.  This will really let them feel close to live animals.

The sense of touch can work in another way by making models of animals.  The easiest material for playschoolers to work in the beginning is a modelling clay for children.  Plasticine is one, and there are some you can bake to have a permanent model.  Simple shapes are found in most sea animals.  Even the youngest child can make a fish or dolphin.  Worms or snakes are also easy to make.

You can add the senses of taste and smell by making animal shapes you can eat.  With your preschoolers you can form turtle shaped cookies or shark shaped candies for a fun and tasty way to continue this kind of activity.

Animals are something children want to learn about so little persuasion is required.  Your preschoolers should be enthusiastic about pretty much any of the very many animal related projects you could do.  Use your imagination and remember activities for young children need to be fun as well as a learning experience.