Dog may be man’s best friend and cat as cuddly as they come – but there is far more to the animal kingdom than domesticated pets! Growing up in an urban environment often means kids grow up with a limited knowledge about nature and life outside the city.
Sure, you can take day trips to the farm and visit the zoo, but at the end of the day that fails to replace a real experience of the daily encounter with animals and the countryside. That’s why it’s important to try and bring nature home: if not physically than at least by learning about it. Here are a few useful ideas on how to do that.
The first step in teaching a young child anything is usually through sounds. Even if your boy or girl are not yet old enough to understand words and full informative sentences, they can still start building their animal vocabulary by learning which sound each animal makes. This exercise is not only for learning – it’s also fun! Your child will enjoy imitating the sounds you teach them and eventually you can connect this with more concrete learning.
TuTiTu’s new series of 3D animation videos for kids is all about the animal world! In these animal videos you get a double feature: in the first part your child sees each animal’s natural environment and witnesses it slowly being put together (just like in the TuTiTu Toys series.) In the second part, the animal sings a song, introducing itself and its characteristics. The selection of animals is wide and varied – anything from camel to cow and from turtle to zebra!
#3 Puppet Play
Many children’s toys tend to be animal related – whether stuffed animals, plastic bath toys or even themed playing blocks. You can make excellent use of these for learning if you try some pretend play. When you and your toddler play with them, try expanding the game beyond character pretend into informative play. Introduce your chosen character and explain what kind of environment it comes from, what special features it has that helps it survive in said environment, what other animals it has as ‘neighbors’ etc.
#4 Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts makes for a perfect learning experience which is both educational, fun, and a good practice for your kid’s fine motor skills. You can create simple animal costumes, learn about animals by drawing them and print out coloring pages to enjoy together. Be imaginative and you are sure to have a wonderful time creating and learning alongside your toddler. Check out many more ideas and inspiration in out Pinterest board, Kids <3 Animals!
In this game, one player needs to guess the word the other player is trying to convey. You can play different round with different methods of conveying the message. One round can be physical imitation, another can be sound imitation (see also #1), still another can use pens and paper (for slightly older children.) You can take turns with who does the guessing – your child will surly want to try it out him- or herself! Charades is very funny and bonding as well as challenging, which is what makes it such a great option.
#6 Things that look like…
Another way to flex the imagination muscle is to look around the house and on the streets for things that look like (whatever it is you’re trying to find.) You can go with the theme of animals and send your toddler on quests. For instance – find me something in the house that looks like a zebra! They may come back with a zebra stuffed animal or magnet, but they might also find more imaginative substitutes such as a striped shirt or a broom which reminds them of the zebra’s mane.
#7 Online games
In TuTiTu’s virtual playground you can spend some more time familiarizing your child with animals through play. The memory game, in which you need to find matching cards, includes images of a dog, a cow and more. You can also play the elephant in the build game, in which you put together pieces of the toy.
Got any more tips on teaching toddlers about animals?
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