50 Ways to Look at Animals Through the Lens of STEM
Many children share an interest in animals, and every child is different. Some might be fascinated with the way a bird moves, others may be interested in how to care for an animal they found, still others might want to engineer something to help animals. There is much to discuss about how animals look, move, eat, live, and so forth. Encourage children to use all of their senses and observation skills to predict, examine, and experiment, as their curiosity leads them. Chart and display results that help them make connections between what is read, heard, felt, studied, observed, and learned. Here are 50 activities that can be used to look at animals through the lens of STEM.
Life science - Discuss the difference between living and nonliving things.
Discuss the difference between wild animals and tame animals, farm animals and wild animals, humans and animals, etc.
Take a nature walk and observe animals. Journal your observations.
Use binoculars to give children a closer look.
Listen to different animal sounds and try to identify the animals.
Introduce STEM vocabulary that relates to animal characteristics: fur, skin, scales, claws, antlers, fangs, hooves, etc.
Introduce STEM vocabulary that relates to animals in motion: jump, leap, hop, crawl, climb, etc.
Sort animals by type, size, color, diet, how they move, where they live, etc.
Sort animals on a Venn diagram according to their similar and different characteristics.
10. Match animals to their colors (colored paper, colored Popsicle sticks, fabric, or pages from magazines).
11. Match baby animals to their parents.
12. Sequence the life cycle of an animal using cards or a paper spin wheel.
13. Introduce directional and positional words that describe where the animals live and how the animals move: up, down, around, beside, sideways, under, inside, etc.
14. Compare the speed at which different animals move.
15. Observe the movement of different animals and mimic those moves with your body.
16. Draw, color, or paint pictures of different animals. Recreate the patterns found on animal skins.
17. Mold and shape animals using Playdoh, clay, foil, wire, wet sand, pipe cleaners, etc.
18. Make fossil impressions using plastic animals and clay.
19. Design paper or cardboard masks of various animal faces.
20. Trace toy animal shadows made by different sources of light.
21. Draw life-size chalk images of different animals and compare sizes.
22. Match animals to their habitats. Make shoe box dioramas of animal habitats on land or in water.
23. Build an enclosure for an animal out of rocks, sticks, blocks (plastic, wooden, cardboard), pattern blocks, Legos, sand, etc.
24. Design a river that will get water to the animals. Use Playdoh, dirt, sand, rocks, etc. Change the path of the water.
25. Build a dam to stop the river so animals can drink.
26. Build bridges for animals to walk over or swim under.
27. Guess which animal is in the mystery bag by touch.
28. Build and maintain a birdhouse or bird bath.
29. Make bird feeders out of pine cones or stale bagels (peanut butter and birdseed).
30. Make nectar, then hang a hummingbird feeder and observe what happens.
31. Use clothes pins or tongs to pick up pipe cleaner worms, like a bird.
32. Construct a bird’s nest out of leaves, twigs, and other natural items found outside.
33. Dig for insects that animals eat.
34. Design something that flies. Paper planes? Glue on feathers. Does if fly differently?
35. Arrange a sensory bin with various plastic animals or real-life fur, quills, feathers, etc.
36. Make animal molds by pressing plastic animals into Playdoh or clay.
37. Read or write a story about an animal.
38. Act-out an animal story.
39. Make up or recreate scenes from stories about animals with artwork, craft items, felt boards, paper puppets, fabric puppets, or shadow puppets.
40. Complete an animal puzzle.
41. Adopt and care for a manageable, child safe pet.
42. Cut a snake spiral out of a paper plate, decorate and hang it up.
43. Help children make their own factual versions of books about animals.
- Research what they eat, how they live, where they live, how they stay safe, their predators, etc.
44. Discuss how pollution and changes in the environment affect animals.
45. Play interactive songs about animals: sing-alongs, action, or counting.
46. Establish a hospital to care for injured animals. Wrap bandages, take temperatures, feed, and care for them.
47. Recreate paw prints in sand, mud, or clay.
48. Discover how people engineer prosthesis for animals with disabilities (wheels for dog, fin for dolphin, leg for elephant, beak for a bird, etc.).
49. Visit a petting zoo, local zoo, or aquarium.
50. Invite an animal handler to visit the children.
51. Make origami animals
Angela Russ-Ayon is a mom-preneur, children’s author, interactive trainer on the subject of early childhood, and award-winning artist/producer of music for young children. She presents educational strategies to child care providers, parents, and teachers nationwide for AEYCs, R & Rs, and the like. She is a member of the Recording Academy and is the sole owner of Russ InVision Records. For more information on Angela, her workshops and accomplishments you are welcome to visit www.abridgeclub.com. © 2017, Russ InVision. All rights reserved.
Contact: Angela Russ-Ayon