It’s been a rather fun month of doing all things animal-related with the kids! It’s a relatively easy theme to do and there are plenty of resources in the library and on the Internet so it’s no rocket science.
1. Vocabulary input
I just flashed (sounds wrong. But it’s not.) Animal Flashcards to the little one. Z really likes flashcards and I could do this round after round and he’ll not get bored. These cards cover both English and Mandarin. I bought these flashcards from Popular at about $7.90/set.
2. Reading (non fiction)
Managed to scrounge up this Wildlife Factsheet, which I bought at a flea market for $3? Finally came into use! Thought I’d read both fiction and non-fiction material to him. A bit dry but you get to learn some interesting facts.
3. Reading (fiction)
The library is a trove of animal-themed books. I had a few suggested titles but I couldn’t find them in my library. No matter! Every 5 children’s books is one on animals anyway. I particularly liked:
- Little Bee by Edward Gibbs (English GIB -[BA]) because of it’s repetitive nature. “Little bee, little bee, why do you flee? Because there’s a hungry frog chasing me!” And then the animals change, but those few action words do not. After a few readings, K could read it on her own. I love such books which set the kids up for success in reading. 🙂
- Tell Time with the Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle (English CAR -[BA]) is a perennial favourite. I don’t know why kids like Eric Carle’s books but I guess they do like the weird, blocky kind of illustration. The movable hands on the clock helps the preschooler tell time too.
- Another Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc (English TRE) is the second book after the familiar Night at the Museum. This one focuses more on ocean animals. And I learnt what a coelacanth is!
- Princess Poppy: Puppy Love by Janey Louise Jones (English JON). Anything with Princess in the title appeals to K at this stage. So we’ll be checking more Princess Poppy books out. The story is set in a quaint farm town, which I thought is interesting for K.
I’m starting Z with the letter ‘A’ –> the “ahh” or “air” sound. I just go “air” “air” “alligator”and sometimes he will imitate me. In fact, he might actually think that when I emphasize the beginning sound, it’s part of the word! Now he says, “mm” “mm” “bike” because I used to say “mm” “mm” “motorbike”. I guess he found it convenient to drop the middle syllables. A fun art activity to reinforce the ‘a’ sound was making an alligator with the letter A. You can print out a template here. Added some googly eyes from Daiso. The kids love them!
Coincidentally, I got my hands on this new toy in time for the Animal theme – the Neobear Animal game. I’m not too big on ipad games and would prefer giving my kids physical toys to play with (even McD’s rubbish toys are preferable to shoving them with an ipad / iphone!) BUT I’m not extreme enough to deny my children ALL ipad games and I have stumbled across some gems which I have bought! Neobear Animal Game is one of my better finds, I think. The Neobear Animal Set comes with 96 animal cards (covering mammals, reptiles, insects, amphibians, molluscs, fish and birds). They have printed the English and Mandarin names of these animals behind each card for parents’ easy reference. The magic happens when you download their app from the AppStore / Play. When you place the card in front your device’s camera, the animal pops up in 3D and can make noises and move! The realism is quite uncanny and the kids are definitely enthralled with seeing the animals in 3D form.
Of course, as with most materials, if the parent or adult can give additional input, the child will benefit much much more than from merely seeing and playing with the cards. The knowledge input can be very simple to the kids but I think talking to them about the animals – what they observe about the animals, how many legs do they have, what does the monkey’s tail help them do… etc.. the child can learn so so so much more. And if I don’t know about the animal? I guess reading up beforehand helps me broaden my knowledge as well. LimpehZ says I cannot teach science cuz I’m terribad at it but WHO else will undertake such a self-sacrifical endeavour… ??? *flick my hair*
For a demo of how this works,
You can get your set here!
6. Alphabet Matching Set (click on the link for a separate post on how to use this material)
I just remembered I had this set this morning and pulled it out for the kids to play. After doing A-C, doing the “air” “air” “alligator”, “buh” “buh” “butterfly”, Z got distracted and started swiping the cards and wooden letters. Of course K did most of the matching, which is good revision for her. Plus, she gets to play crazy, pull-her-hair-out teacher to her inattentive, disruptive brother. Now she knows what my job was – still is.
And of course, on a theme like animals, what better way to bring the learning to life than a trip to our very own local zoo! We visited the River Safari for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at the many exhibits there – though most were swampy, ugly and terrifying fish (if I were to meet them while swimming). I did play a trick on K though. Knowing her favourite Disney princess is Ariel, I told her I was going to show her a mermaid. Her eyes lit up, like, for reals?!! Ariel the Mermaid?!?! Then I brought her to see the manatees and she was like.. oh….. that’s a mermaid?? So mean right?? Haha.. but I think she forgave me because she did say the manatee was her favourite animal she saw that day (not the cuddly wuddly pandas, surprisingly!) Maybe next time, we’ll go back to the main zoo to see the polar bear and koalas!
I made some number flashcards with alligators. 11-20 alligators in a set. You can download them for FREE!
Follow us on our A-Z journey by subscribing via email at the top right of the page or like us on our Facebook page (I HOPE we can get there before Z goes to school next year… but I think… we’ll be fortunately if we can cover half :P) we’ll see how it goes anyway!