various African-themed stuffed animals: lion, zebra, elephant, etc.
dune buggy (optional)
African Animal Field Guide (PDF, PowerPoint)
Set up the stuffed animals around the yard.
Print and assemble the field guide.
Pull up animal sounds on Youtube.
Drive around in the dune buggy to each animal.
Stop and discuss the animal.
Have your kids observe the color of the animal and color their field guide to match.
As one of our later stops in our Around the World Series, by this point, we were kind of over the PowerPoint thing. (See our other Around the World locations for links to our Power Points.) The kids get it, we live in the world. We had already "visited" Egypt, so they know where Africa is and what the animals and climate there are like. So, we sped through the geography section and moved on to the fun part.
We did go old school and bust out a globe to remind them where Africa was. This was a new perspective. An actual sphere to represent our spherical world vs. the flat picture on the computer. Who would have thought! The kids loved it. They liked playing with the globe. It isn't in the video because our globe was seriously out of date, but we spent a while examining other places on the globe as well.
Anyway, when we think of Africa, the aspect of their culture we thought the children would really latch on to was the vast difference in their wildlife when compared to ours. We go to the zoo pretty regularly, so they are exposed to lions, hyenas, elephants, rhinos, and most of the African animals. However, tell your child that there is a place in this world where animals such as these are roaming free, just as the rabbits and deer are in our backyard, and watch their astonishment.
So this was the concept. We wanted to convey a land where elephants and lions are roaming around with one another and that wasn't going to happen at the zoo. We have a place near us called Fossil Rim, which we considered taking them to. At Fossil Rim, the animals do intermingle, but they aren't elephants and lions. They are mostly various forms of gazelle-like creatures. (Don't ask me to identify a single one of them because they all look fairly similar.)
My brother-in-law had the brilliant idea to set up the stuffed animals around the yard and do this thing Jurassic Park style. So that's what we did. With our binoculars and an information packet in hand, we headed deep into Sub-Saharan Africa in our dune buggy to discover the majestic African animals. At each stop, I pulled up animal sounds on Youtube to give the kids the full effect. I hid my phone so they thought the animals were actually making the sounds. Plus, it was summer in Texas, so the climate was right on par. :/
Watch the video to see how it went.
Download the field guide, pull up animal sounds on your smart phone, and explore LIFE in Africa!