10 Ways to Learn About Animals

Animals, animals, animals. There is never any shortage of animals in our house. Between our two pets, piles of animal toys, and even bigger piles of animal books, my girls know more interesting facts about animals than most people I know. I know they’re not alone. So many kids connect with animals and want to learn more about them. Animals can peak their interest in reading. They can teach them compassion and conservation. They can teach them science. A world without animals is no world at all.
In honor of World Animals Day 2014 (October 4), I’ve joined together with a group of kid bloggers for the Children Loving Animals Blog Hop with 10 of our favorite ways to learn about animals. I’ve illustrated this post with several animal pictures I took over our summer vacation. We were able to observe many animals in their native habitat while on a vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
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1. Subscribe to an animal magazine. My kids have a subscription to Ranger Rick Jr.
and in the past we’ve also received National Geographic Little Kids. Both also have versions for older kids. I love these magazines because they are stuffed full of animal facts and beautiful pictures. It’s easy to pick one up and read for a few minutes. Of course, the best part about a magazine is that you get a surprise in the mail once a month!
2. Observe them in the wild. You don’t have to go on an African safari to observe animals in the wild (although that would be amazing). Just think small. We had the opportunity to see amazing animals in the wild while visiting Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota this summer. When visiting a state park or a national park, stop by the visitors center to find out the types of animals you can see and the best spots to find them. If you don’t live near a state or national park, you can also visit a local nature center. Birds, deer, squirrels, and other small animals native to the area are often found at a nature center. We love to check out the turtles who hang out at our favorite nature center. For great tips on observing nature with young children, you can visit my post here.
3. Go on a virtual trip. If you can’t go on a real trip to observe animals, go on a virtual trip instead. Watch a animal documentary. We love Disneynature: Chimpanzee and March of the Penguins.  Or, you can view some videos on YouTube. (As always, you will want to preview any video on YouTube before showing it to your kids.)
4. Watch a webcam. There are so many amazing webcams where you can watch animals in their native habits, zoo, or wildlife sanctuaries. Visit the giant pandas at the National Zoo. Check out an eagle’s nest with the Decorah Eaglecam. (Note, it does stop for the season during the beginning of September, but check back again next summer for live streaming.) Or, visit Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska to see if any bears show up to catch some fish.
5. Take care of a pet. If you have a family pet, invite your kids to play an active part in their care. My girls are in charge of feeding our dog and our cat as well as letting the dog outside. They come along when we take the animals to visit the veterinarian. My girls have learned so much about caring for animals through our pets. If you don’t have a pet of your own, you can offer to walk a neighbor’s dog or pet sit for a friend to get a taste of what it’s like to take care of an animal.
6. Get acquainted with the nonfiction section of the library. You’ll find all of the animal books grouped together in one section of the library. We visit there often and have brought home so many amazing animal books. Our knowledge has grown and grown with each book we read. Ask your librarian the next time you visit the library or go exploring and find it on your own. (It’s usually a large section!)
7. Visit a county fair. Have you been to a county fair? I’ll admit it’s not always my favorite place to go, but it is a treasure-trove of animal learning. Go through the animal barns and see the different farm animals. Chat with their owners if they’re around. They love to tell you all about their animals. Plus, your kids will absolutely love the fact that many of the animals were raised by kids their own age. Mind-blowing.
8. Talk to an expert. A zoo keeper, park ranger, or veterinarian is a wonderful source of animal information. We learned so much from the park rangers on our vacation and the girls had the opportunity to feel bison horns and examine animal skulls thanks to the friendly rangers. You’ll usually find that they welcome questions and love curious kids. Let your kids ask those questions they are wondering about. It’s so much fun and education to meet an expert.
9. Volunteer at a humane society. Ask at your local humane society (or other animal shelter) and see if they need volunteers. You and your kids will get the chance to experience animals while serving the community. It’s a win-win all around.
10. Donate to an animal charity. Do some research and donate to an animal charity. And, while you’re donating, research the animals they are protecting. Learn why they need your help. It may be a local animal shelter or a large international organization. Teach your kids about why it’s important to help animals and show them just what they can do to help.
What are your favorite ways to learn about animals?
I’m thrilled to be participating once again a blog hop celebrating World Animal Day. Animals are such an important part of our life and I hope yours too.
Please stop by all the blogs participating in the blog hop:
Date Kid Blogger
26th of september AngeliqueFelix.com
27th of september Mothernatured.com
28th of september P is for preschooler
29th of september Creative Family Fun
30th of september Living Montessori now
1st of october Adventures of Adam
2nd of october Kid World Citizen
3rd of october A teachable year
4th of october – WORLD ANIMAL DAY AngeliqueFelix.com & ArtsyMomma.com

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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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