Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Science & stuffed animals

The next time that you and/or your kids are snowed in or just bored and stuck inside, try this simple science lesson. (This one's especially for my youngest readers!)

First, find a book about animals complete with pictures. If you don't have one, look for a website or two devoted to animal photography like the Animal Photo Galleries at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park or National Geographic's Photo Galleries: Animals.

Next, gather all of the stuffed animals in your house and put them into one big pile. I'm talking everything, from Big Bird to baby alligator (both favorites of my youngest). If your family is anything like mine, you will be surprised at the sheer quantity of stuffed animals living in your house!

Then, have everyone separate the stuffed animals into two piles: those that look realistic and those that don't. Talk about why some stuffed animals don't look like real live animals. Is the teddy bear wearing a dress? Do real bears wear dresses? How about that stuffed snake? Do real snakes have pink, orange, red, and blue stripes? (The coral snake does come pretty close!)

For the animals that look realistic, you can talk about the ways in which they do and don't resemble living animals. Is your alligator the same color, shape, and size as a real one? Do tree frogs really grow to be nine inches tall? For the realistic stuffed animals, you can look up their real-life counterparts online (or in your animal book) and compare the two.

In our house, our stuffed snakes and frogs tend to look the most realistic, while the teddy bears and "cuddly" stuffed animals don't look anything like live animals. Some of our stuffed animals were purchased at nature centers, and those tend to come the closest to resembling real animals.

How about you? What kind of stuffed animals live at your house?

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