Saturday, October 2, 2010

Zebras in Belarus?

This week's foray into science took a circuitous route.  I asked the Bibliophile what he'd like to learn about in his learning boxes this week.  He said, "zebras in Belarus!"  I told him that I didn't think zebras really lived in Belarus, but we could study zebras and Belarus (more on those two topics later this week).

Then, I decided it might be a fun way to introduce the idea of climate.  Much googling and printing and worksheet preparing during naptime ensued.  I found some fantastic activity ideas on the idea of climate for older kids.  But it wasn't until I had wasted way too much time that I realized that what I had in mind for my little guy was called a World Climate Map.  I printed this one out and colored it a bit (I don't have a color printer.  Besides, coloring is fun).

We went over the map together, chatting about how different regions of the world have hot or cold climates, or wet or dry, partly depending on their distance from the equator.  Then we pointed to where zebras live (in Africa) and what the climate of Belarus is like, and discussed why it might not be the best match.

I also printed a cute worksheet (that I found here) with simple figures of men labeled with city/country names, with the instructions to dress the men appropriately to their climate.  He was mildly interested, but we got distracted by other things.  My attempts to lure him back later in the day did not seem enticing.

Insert mommy lightbulb moment.

Jungle Journeys! (Go, Diego, Go!) (Super Stickerific)I remembered that I had this Diego Jungle Journeys Sticker Book full of stickers with Diego dressed in clothing suitable for different climates.  I cut a bunch out, stuck them in his learning box, and told him there was a surprise in there.  He LOVED it (of course, he was going on bedtime, and he loves anything that delays bedtime).  We did each country, with a little assistance/details from google.  Then, we decided that we would pick out a few animal stickers from the Diego book and put those next to the countries in which they typically live.  Yikes, toddler interest level jackpot.  He kept going and going on this activity until it was way past bedtime.  We even created this super fancy extension activity (aka turned the paper over and drew some stick figures).

In the end, we reviewed that we had learned from his stickers (disclaimer, I don't insist these are all 100% accurate!) that:
- Alaska has eagles, bats, and requires cold-weather clothing.
- Arizona has snakes, lizards, and is suitable for warm-weather clothing.
- Australia has sea turtles and is suitable for warm-weather clothing (it was that or snow ski stickers left in my box).
- Peru has bears, frogs, and is suitable for warm-weather clothing.
- China has crocodiles, jaguars, and is suitable for warm/medium-weather clothing.
- Russia has wolves and requires cold-weather clothing.
- Kenya has monkeys, elephants, giraffes, lions, and rhinos.
- Zimbabwe has elephants, giraffes, and rhinos.
- Antarctica requires cold-weather clothing.

I had to lure him away with the promise that I would go through our sticker collection and gather up all of our animal stickers into a bin for him, and that we'd continue the activity tomorrow.  The Diego book lacked, for instance, any of the animals in Antarctica, but I know we have plenty of suitable stickers in our craft room.  So, once I finally got him to bed, I drew up this quick work/playsheet for us to use together tomorrow.

If you wanted to do something similar and have it be more of an independent activity (a bit of a foreign concept in our house), you could easily type in the countries or continents that you want the kids to study ahead of time in the left column.  I left it blank so that we could write them in together.  He loves to call out random places, and I like to let him lead.  Also, you could just google ahead of time and print some lists of animals that live in those places, for them to use as a guide for doing the worksheet (images if they can't yet read).  In our case, he was really loving using my iphone together to google "animals in Kenya," for instance, and then finding stickers to match the photos that would pop up on the screen.  

So, this project began as a simple toddler request, evolved into a science lesson about climate, which segwayed into a Diego sticker craft, then over to zoology and computer research, all peppered with a healthy dose of geography.  Typical homeschooling activity, no?!

I am linking this post up with Science Sunday.

Comment!  What fun science/animal activities have you been up to this week?  Did you spot any misinformation that I fed my son above?  Googling on the fly with a two year old grabbing at your iPhone isn't necessarily the most accurate method of research. :)

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Debbie said...

It is always fun to let our children's ideas turn into so many different concepts to study. Great child led activity.

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

I love when kids start to learn that the entire world doesn't look just like our own neighborhood, and that that's not only okay, but great! A globe sits on top of our TV in the living room, and it's kind of funny how often we grab it to look up where places are, whether we hear about them on a tv show, or start thinking about places we want to visit someday! Congrats on raising a global kid!

Ticia said...

I've done similar things for my kids. I'll have to see if I can find them and email them to you, I've got them up on Scribd about animals. Your worksheets reminds me of what I do. Quick, dirty, but functional.

Raising a Happy Child said...

I am amused about the title of the post "Zebras in Belarus". I don't know if you know, but that's when I was born and raised. I suggest that you google "Wisent" (I had first to look up to see how these animals are called in English). This animal is almost unique to Belarus.

Christy said...

I bet he loved all of this.

MaryAnne said...

What a lucky kid, to have a mom who will dream up activities like this for him! I think my kids could enjoy the climate map, and coloring IS fun. We'd need to add to our sticker collection to do the other activities - which I'm sure would make Emma and Johnny VERY happy! Lily too, actually - she is convinced that she is a big kid these days...

MaryAnne said...

Oh, and on delaying bedtime, just wait until he has a sibling to collaborate with...