Learning Animals

We currently have three flash card packs that I am using to teach my daughter about animals.  We have Insects, Animals, and Sea Life packs, all found in the $1 section at Target.  Here are some of the ways we use them.

We lay them all out on her table.  I ask her to point to (or put a rock on)  all the ones that have a specific characteristic.  Examples: Find all the animals that walk on four legs.  Find all the animals that eat meat.  Find all the monkeys.  Find the animals that swim well (Did you know leopards swim well?  I had to look it up when my daughter insisted that they do.).  Find all the animals with tusks, horns, or antlers.  There are so many characteristics that you can have your child point out.  Also try having them find all the animals whose name begins with a specific letter.  For older kids, try having them point to all the animals that can be found on specific continents.

We have a large fabric map that usually hangs on the wall but we can easily take it down and use it as a learning mat.  This game is a little more advanced because we are working on learning the continents and oceans this year.  We look at the picture together and I let her guess what continent or ocean that animal lives in.  Then I read the back of the card to see if she was right.  I help her place the animals in the correct ocean or on the correct continent (when we play with the land animal cards we have to stack the cards).

We have a small collection of little animals that my daughter loves.  For this game I pulled out all the cards that match her animals and set both the cards and animals out on her table.  She immediately sat down and started matching them up without me saying a word.  (We use these animals for lots of activities.  They can be purchased at stores like Micheal's or here at Amazon.com)

My daughter is not familiar with a lot of the insects yet so I am coming up with different ways to help her learn the names.  Sometimes we lay all the cards out and have her pull out all the animals with a specific characteristic.  Once she has only the flying insects in front of her I call out a name and she has to try and pick up the right card.  If she is wrong she puts the card back and we try again.  We keep going like this until she is holding all the cards.
Sometimes I let her choose which insects she wants to learn that day.  I let her choose between 6 and 10 cards.  She does a good job of picking different insects (however, the butterfly and tarantula are always picked).  We practice the names and also read the back of the cards to learn more about the insect.  We all also do this game with the other animal packs we just do not have to concentrate as hard on learning the names because she knows most of them.

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