At our local zoo, Reid Park Zoo, I entered my then two year old into some classes in the mornings that were held once a month. One of the classes focused on numbers and the zoo. At first, I did not know what to expect, but after the class, I was really impressed.
All the toddlers and preschoolers for the class meet at the entrance. We all go through the zoo and stop at various animal sites. The focus is to have the kids look at the animals and count how many legs they have, or what shapes they might have on them. For the giraffes, the children counted four legs and for the tortoises, the shapes ranged from squares to pentagons to circles. After the tour through the zoo, the children and parents gathered to a room for story time, an activity, and looking closely at other animals.
One of the books read to the children was about how many legs or how many toes a given animal has. The activity after that was to make an octopus out of a paper plate, paper strips, and paper circles. The parent and child were able to number the legs and decorate. The next activity consisted of placing the correct animals and number of animals onto the selected square on the sheet of paper. One section of the sheet was looking for 1 flamingo, so you placed the flamingo there. The other animals were frogs, hippos, and alligators. The picture above shows both finished activities.
At the end of the class, the Reid Park Zoo educators had three small animals for the kids to look at and touch. The whole focus was to get to know the animal, count how many legs, count how many toes, and allowing the children to touch the animal first hand. Each animal the zoo educators bring out to the class are safe for the kids and parents to touch and observe. It could be a hen, a bearded dragon, a rabbit, or a skink.
My son loved the whole experience and it was a real situation where one can apply math, in context. It was fun, real, and worth sharing it with you to encourage you to go to the Reid Park Zoo, or your local zoo, and take part in the experience!
Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 18 months to 3 years of age?
1. Monday on Shapes
Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 3 to 5 years of age?
- Tuesday on Numbers
- Wednesday on Classify
Something to Think About:
To be able to take your child(ren) outside of the house and experience the mathematics in context is priceless. The learning does not need to always be in the home, it can also include going out of the house and exploring the many ways we can see math around us. If you have the opportunity to take classes at your local zoo, please do. This was a great experience for my child to experience the math and relate it to something real, the zoo animals.
Just remember that it is not just about doing mathematics, but the special time you and your child are having together with the mathematics. 🙂
For more information about Reid Park Zoo and the classes it offers, please go to https://store.reidparkzoo.org/mainstore.asp?vid=0
Note: I have not been compensated in any way by Reid Park Zoo in writing this blog.