Animal Movement

By Erin TessierAnimal movement is always a favorite with preschoolers. Getting to act out their favorite animal moves is fun for all. Not only is it a great physical activity to build gross motor skills, it also gives children the opportunity to perform in front of their peers (if they feel comfortable) and engage in imaginative play. Despite animal movement seeming like such a straight forward topic, my favorite thing about it is that the opportunities to segue into greater understanding of animal physiology, adaptations, and the role habitat plays on animal movement are boundless. For instance, once the children saw a cheetah running, the discussion of why it needs to be so fast came up. We talked about how the open grasslands of the savannah are a perfect place to develop speed unhindered by many geographical obstacles. We also discussed why monkeys have such long tails, arms, AND thumbs, and why frogs have both sticky pads and webbed feet. These discussions were great opportunities for child-led inquiry and further research to occur. This week in the nature lab we started our animal movement discussion by making a list of all the animal movements we could think of. The kids did a great job coming up with many verbs describing animal movement. And when they couldn’t think of the word, they did their best impression of the movement which offered their peers a needed visual to then come up with the word. Words like “slither, waddle, swing, climb, crawl, dig, fly” and more were listed. Then we watched a short video displaying the many ways animals move. Depending on age, other activities we did included the following:

  • Dancing to the song, “Animals in Action” by Jack Hartmann
  • Reading the book, From Head to Toe by Eric Carle OR the book The Animal Boogie by Debbie Harter
  • Playing a dice game where different animals are pictured on the side of a large die made of cardstock. The children rolled the die and acted out the animal moves.

Lastly, we got to spend some quality time with some of our nature lab animals. The kids watched how the hermit crabs moved with their 10 legs, and then got to pet them. Then we met Gummy the White’s Tree frog and discussed his amazing leaping ability and sticky pads. Finally, we might have met either our rosy boa snake, Bacon, or Lenny, the leopard gecko. If we had time, we then went out in the Glenn to search for wild animals on the move. It was a great time!

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