Whether your children are at school or home educated, sustainability and environment studies are fun for both kids and grown ups. We can’t fit every single unit of study into our Brilliant Boxes, so this weekly blog is a great way to give you some ‘top up’ activities on different topics that we know your family will love.
My son is currently elbow deep in clay and paint, working on endangered animal models – and loving it! So, it started me thinking about all sorts of other activities we could do this month, to extend his learning on this topic. I’m sharing some of these with you today. If you do create any of these suggested activities below, we’d love to see them!
What is an endangered animal?
An endangered species is one whose numbers are so small that it is at risk of extinction. Lists are often divided up into: extinct, critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable. Try this website for comprehensive lists: https://a-z-animals.com/animals/endangered/
It is not only a sad thing for animals to end up on these lists, but it has a flow-on effect throughout the environment and the habitat of other animals and plants. The most common threat to animals is humans – we’re either polluting or removing their habitat or hunting animals.
The positive message we can pass on to our children is that concerted conservation efforts are making headway. There are some great success stories of previously vulnerable species actually slowly growing in number again. The Giant Panda and the Black Rhino are two examples of this.
So, on to some activity ideas. There’s a few templates and hands on ‘doing’ activities, some research ideas and a few get-out-of-the-house on a field trip ideas:
Print out a map of the world. Here’s one, if you need it: world map
Below is a table showing a few endangered animals. Use your research skills to discover which countries these animals belong to, placing dots or crosses on your map.
For younger kids – choose one of these animals to draw a picture or make a collage, to show what your animal looks like and where they prefer to live. You could go to the library to find books on your animal, or have a grown up help with internet research.
For older kids – using this template to collate information and create a poster on your chosen animal: Endangered animal – fact sheet
Make a diorama
Using your research from the previous activity, create a diorama.
Using a cardboard box (an old shoe box, cereal box, or the best one, your brilliant box!), create a diorama of your animal’s preferred habitat. You can paint the inside of your box, then add in leaves, grass, stones, sand . . .whatever you can find. Show it to your family and explain why your animal likes that type of habitat best.
Include a model of your chosen animal. You could use papier maiche, air drying clay, play dough or craft materials – even egg cartons and recycled paper tubes!
My endangered animal board game
We love using games to apply learning! Here, we’re giving you templates to create your own game board, ‘fact cards’ and even your own dice (print as many as you like).
A game board template: Board game template
Or, you might like to cut out your own game board tiles and create your own long paths.
Card template: Endangered animal fact cards – for creating
Cube net, for creating your own dice set (you can copy it and enlarge it):
So: you can create your own rules, but here’s a few ideas:
- Label the tiles on your board, to make it easy to navigate around. You could allocate some tiles to ‘fact card questions’, for picking up a card when landing on that tile.
- Have some fun labelling some tiles for things like: ‘you stop buying any palm oil products – great work! Move forward two spaces’, and so on.
- Research various animal ‘facts’ to create questions on the fact cards, for answering along the way.
- Print, label and construct the die as a standard 1-6 die, for rolling and moving around the board. But see what your kids would like to do: mine came up with a very convoluted system of several dice – one for mammals and one for reptiles. Then, when you rolled one, you needed to name an endangered animal from that class of animals. We also had a number die for moving around the board.
Create an environment –themed booklist
There are a whole lot of lovely books for young readers that really celebrate the environment. Below is a short list to get you started. Perhaps head to the local library to add to this list and aim to read at least one ‘environment’ themed book each week. You could use these as a basis for discussions or art and craft sessions:
Dr Seuss The Lorax
Jeannie Baker Window
Melanie Walsh Ten Things I Can Do To Help My World
Elaine Ann Allen Olly The Oyster Cleans The Bay
Michael Salmon Alexander Bunyip
Alan Zweibel Our Tree Named Steve
Lynne Cherry The Great Kapok Tree
Graeme Base The Waterhole
Animal themed field trip
Of course, the best way to appreciate the importance of animal conservation is to get up close and actually see the animals you’ve been discussing. We are very fortunate in Australia to have some wonderful Zoos and animal conservation centres. Plan a trip to visit one.
Check their website first: some have printable activities that make the trip that much more fun and educational for kids. Also check the times for any particular ‘keeper talks’.
You might even want to create your own ‘animal spotto’ game, before going.
If you are planning a home study unit on endangered animals and the environment, a day out at a zoo is often a good part of the research process. Kids might enjoy sketching their animals that are right in front of them, or photographing them.
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