Living Things Grow and Change: Insects and Small Animals
As with seeds and plants, questioning, listening, observing, and predicting work best when attempting to convey concepts about animals to young children. While often messy and time-consuming, the hands-on approach fosters concept learning. Some families have small animals in their homes. Small dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and gerbils provide a fine opportunity not only for children to observe, formulate, and answer questions about animal behavior, but children may also learn good practices for caring for their pets. Since many families choose not to have pets, parents may encourage their children to search their homes and neighborhoods for observer-friendly small animals.
Some bugs are not “observer friendly,” so parents should set clear guidelines for children on what to look for. Ants, almost all spiders, fleas, silverfish, moths, flies, and ladybugs are harmless. Parents can encourage children to observe how some insects such as ants work as a community. Children can watch ants around their anthills and observe how they “notify” other ants of food. In the process of observations, parents may pose questions and encourage children to dictate or write the answers in a science journal. Drawing pictures will assist children to remember their observations. Helping Your Child Learn Science by Nancy Paulu is a helpful book for parents.
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