Children are naturally inquisitive about animals and nature. When I was teaching kindergarten, my students would always be excited to tell me about a new pet, or a recent trip to the zoo or the aquarium. In fact, the first words of many children are dog, bunny, or cat. They have an innate desire to make sense of their world, especially when it comes to other living things.
Research shows that spending time with animals builds self-esteem in young children as well as empathy. They learn to nurture and care for another living thing. Some schools have therapy animals that come to school and children read aloud to them or sit quietly with them, providing a sense of security. Often, animals provide opportunities to demonstrate care and learn responsibility. Author Patty Selly states “Love for animals tends to generalize to other living things such as plants and nature”.
With this built-in curiosity, providing opportunities for children to investigate and create around the topic of animals is an easy way to engage students in meaningful ways. In my last blog post, I wrote about a 3 book series co-authored with my friend Marc Faulder. That post focused on working with young children in creating a sustainable environment and looked primarily at plants. This week, I will share the second book in the series Animals.
This book provides opportunities for children to explore animals with drawing, video creation, photography, and music on the iPad. These activities are appropriate for early childhood students, but can easily be scaled up through elementary grades. My students especially loved incorporating music activities. In this book, children can use GarageBand to create animal sound patterns in math, use the voice recorder to tell about an animal and its habitat, which helps with language and communication, as well as create their own soundtrack to represent an animal habitat.
Students also get an opportunity to combine drawing and recording skills for a culminating animal project in the book. All of their work is captured in their learning journal.
The iPad is a great tool to capture student creativity and extend learning opportunities, no matter what age. Tapping into the natural curiosity and attraction of animals and student creativity takes learning to a deeper level.
Tag us on Twitter and let us know what you think, or share some of your student work!