Animals are a subject area that grabs children’s attention and can be tied in to so many different subject areas in any classroom. As a result of the popularity of animal related project the amount of preparation can be used to breakdown different activities.
Quick and Easy
Animals are fun to watch and can teach children a great deal about science and social interaction through observation. If you have access to a smart board or projector there are so many nice videos that can be found at kids.nationalgeographic.com/ Children can watch videos and cartoons, look at maps and learn fun animal facts.
Books are also a great way to acquaint children with animals. Good read aloud books for preschool include Doreen Cronin’s books, especially Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type and Duck for President. These books are the perfect combination if length and student interactions potential for preschool and kindergarten.
A third way to learn about animals is nice because it includes parents. Before a zoo fieldtrip teachers can send home an animal project to be completed at home with parental help. Have the children pick their favorite animal and ask the families to answer three questions; where does the animal live, what does it eats, and is it endangered? This can be supplemented with a fun fact that the child can share with the class. This project works well in communities where families are involved in classroom activities.
Prepare in front of the TV
Most teachers will agree that a good place to prepare cut out shapes, game pieces and flashcard sets is parked in front of a TV set. The following animal project ideas require a bit more preparation.
Animal projects can be used to teach letters and reinforce fine motor skills. Google images are a wonderful resource. If you type in “cow line drawing” for example, many different simple drawings of cows will pop up. Size and print the drawing to fit a half sheet of construction paper. Cut out the drawing and trace the animal onto a piece of cardboard or tag board. This way you end up with a durable template for current and future use. I like to use old cereal boxes for this in an effort to reuse the cardboard. Use brown construction paper to cut out the cow shape. Then in class give the children circle templates and white chalk. This creates teaching moments about shapes, cow, and the letter c and by using chalk the children get great fine motor practice.
Also try giraffes cut out of orange paper and sponge painted with brown spots. Elephants collaged with colorful tissue paper are fun to do after reading Elmer by David McKee.
More Significant Preparations and Materials
Toilet paper tube animals are a nice project to do using recycled materials. There are many great printable templates on the Internet, try http://www.squidoo.com/toilet-paper-roll-animal-crafts-for-kids. These are tricky to do with preschool aged children though, due to their level of cutting and gluing skills. This is where the more significant preparation is involved. You must begin by collecting toilet paper tubes at home, asking parents to bring them into school, or nicely asking the janitor at your school to save them for you. Then print the templates either in color or on colored paper. Choose a favorite comedy that you have watched before, and cut out all the little pieces. Once each child has a cut set of pieces and a toilet paper tube, in a small group assist the children in putting their animal together. This craft is much more time consuming for the teacher, but the children really love these animals making it worth the preparations once in a while.
Paper bag puppets are also a bit hit with the children. The templates need to be printed out and copied, and then the children can color their own puppet. Many of the templates are simple enough for the children to cut out with assistance. Help the children glue their puppet together correctly and then the puppets can be used for role-play, dramatic play, or just fun play.
If your class likes sea creatures, rainforest animals, arctic animals or farm animals, these projects can be used to create a fun and craft-filled classroom.