As part of our unit on India, we studied about the country’s endangered animals, continuing our theme from Bolivia and Senegal. This was a natural decision, as the boys love learning about the natural world.
I was provided a complimentary copy of Endangered Animals of India from the author; however, all opinions are my own.
To keep it fun, I created a few simple, interactive games based on a wonderful children’s book by Meera Sriram and Prabha Ram. Endangered Animals of India is a fact-filled book with descriptions and beautiful portraits of ten endangered animals in India, such as the red panda. My Monkey really enjoyed flipping through the book not only for the pictures but also for the fun facts about these animals. I love that the authors really drove home the point about how vulnerable these animals are but at the same time wove in a lot of funny details about them, such as the fact that Nilgiri tahrs alert each other to danger by snorting!
One thing that really struck me was the diversity of the habitats of these animals. So the first game we played was to match the animals to their respective habitats. First, I made some quick sketches of the animals on poster board, then cut them out to use as the game pieces. Next, I drew rough drawings of the habitats on a separate sheet of poster board.
Monkey then had to match the animals to their habitats – as most of the animals were fairly unfamiliar before reading Endangered Animals of India, consulting the book was allowed!
Next, on another sheet of poster board, I recreated the vulnerability scale from the book, ranking the degree to which the animals are endangered, from Least Concern to Extinct (!) Luckily, none of the animals in the book are in the last category (yet). Reusing the game pieces from the previous game, Monkey had to place the animals on the scale. This exercise really helped underline just how vulnerable these animals are. I purposely did this game last, as by now – after reading and playing the habitat game – Monkey had started to develop a bit of an attachment to the animals and so was more affected by seeing where they fell on the scale.
Since it was the end of our homeschool year, we ran out of time to do the other games I had brainstormed, but these emphasized the role that children could play in helping the animals. Since gathering information about them is crucial, you could do a scavenger hunt, where you hide the game pieces in your house, and the children would be responsible for finding them. For older children, you could add numbers to the game pieces (perhaps on a sticky note so they could be removed for other games), indicating how many of the animals there were, so scientists know exactly how many of the animals are left in the wild. A math extension could be adding up the numbers for a grand total, or creating a bar graph. Were there more animals in the flatlands or the mangroves?
An active learning exercise would be to create fun activities that would allow the children to see themselves as champions of the endangered animals. For instance, one danger to the leatherback turtle is having their eggs stolen. Children could do a race with plastic eggs to “save them” from predators and carry them to safer place. To make it more cooperative, instead of competing against each other, you could set a timer and see how many eggs they could put in the safe place (for example, a basket) before time is up.
This post is part of our new series Global Learning for Kids. This month we are learning all about India, so link up below any old or new posts designed to teach kids on India–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, music, and more!