Knowing the process by which your child is growing gives you many options to help support and advance development. Use the below activities to ignite your child’s passion, nurture a weak area, or foster the advancement of a strength.
Animals & Habitats: Children this age present an interesting mix of fantasy- and reality-based ideas. Their animism (belief that animals and humans act the same) is strong, as is their creative idea formation. Build off of both and support the development of your child’s schema (foundation knowledge), logic skills, and creative thinking with these activities:
Creative Thinking, Storytelling, Literacy Skills, Cause & Effect, and Schema Building:
Read Horton Hatches an Egg by Dr Seuss. See if your child can read parts of it, thinking about fluency, and the rhythm and meter of the rhyming text. Can he infer the words he does to know by the context or picture cues? Can he make a story with Horton? Give it a try here! Here are some other Horton online activities. You can also find him in the Jungle of Nool at where he “hosts” reading games.
- Start a discussion about an elephant bird. Is it actually possible? What would this animal need for survival? The goal is creative thinking, not necessarily logic, so go with your child’s ideas. Then invite her to create her own mixed species (see Build Your Wild Self, below). PS, if you are watching the Decorah eagles (see above), guide your child to make a text-to-world connection between these birds nesting and Horton in the tree.
- Get a plastic egg and write the name of an animal that lays eggs (or draw a picture) inside, without telling your child what you chose. Write (or read aloud) clues for him to figure out what the animal is. Can he get it right using his inference abilities and schema? Can your child stump you in return? You can use real animals, or mixed-up ones like the elephant bird.
- Switcharoo Zoo has lots of facts to learn and games to play. Create an animal where your child can see it morph from (say) zebra head to pig head right in front of you. Very cool! Children can name their animal and write a story about it. There is a really nice habitat game here as well where children can switch elements of the habitat. Use the compatibility meter to increase your child’s focus on cause and effect, and her observational skills. Or ask her to infer how different animals would react to different habits. Have her make a prediction and test it to see if she’s right. Have her form hypotheses about how changing one part of a habitat would affect the animals living there.
- Magic School Bus Build-a-Bug: Encourage your child to interview Ms. Frizzle about bugs and then make real or created bugs in Ms. Frizzle’s lab! Can he create a story about how his bugs have adapted for survival? Encourage your child to use descriptive language when telling you about his beast. Before clicking “Done” (the magnifying glass, which advances the screen and the bug disappears), see if you can sketch his beast based on your child’s description (without having seen it).
- Build Your Wild Self: From the Wildlife Conservation Society, your child will learn about all kinds of animals as she creates an avatar of multiple animal “parts.” The animal parts are realistic, and a summary of her parts along with background and trivia allow for literacy and science learning as well. Use this as a take off for writing or telling about an adventure your child’s new creature has! Make a handful and print them out in pairs for your own Memory game. See what connections your child can make with Maurice Sendek’s Where the Wild Things Are.
- Alien Habitats is a creative BBC adventure where students use cues and available information to match aliens to the best habitat for their species. This is great practice for your child to use text cues to answer questions, and inference skills to figure out where the aliens will best survive! Extend this to a writing activity by having your child choose one of the alienate habitats and make a For Sale ad to advertise the benefits of this environment. He can color it by hand or use this simple online doodler. (Tip: Hit the play button when you are done and watch your drawing recording become animated!)
- Just can’t get enough? Take a look at these sites: