Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Field Fun - A Trip to the Zoo

If you are headed to the zoo with your kiddos here are some ideas about dfferent activities you can have them do to get the most out of their trip.  I usually give my kids more activities than the kids can actually get done and allow them choose which ones they will complete (I always give a minimum number that must be completed).

Photographic Scavenger Hunt for the Zoo - Any Age

For each animal photographed, students should write or dictate the name (older kids should include scientific names), natural habitat, location the animal can be found in the wild, what the animal eats and (when approrpriate what eats it), the reason that particular animal was chosen to be photgraphed and the number of the photo in their camera in a notebook or on a tablet on a clipboard.
  1. Photograph one species of animal from each of the five main vertebrate classes (mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish)  - sometimes not all of these animals are available somewhere in every zoo.  You'll want to check in advance.
  2. Photograph an animal that lives in the rainforest
  3. Photograph an animal that lives in a polar habitat.
  4. Photograph an animal that lives in a grassland (savannah, prairie, chapparal or pampas)
  5. Photograph an animal adapted to the hot desert.
  6. Photograph an animal that does well in high mountain habitats
  7. Photograph an animal that lives in the temperate and deciduous forests
  8. Photograph an animal that lives in Taiga (Temperate Evergreen Forests - also often referred to as Montane Forests).
  9. Photograph an animal with a pattern on its fur
  10. Photograph an animal that is almost all one color.
  11. Photograph an animal with one area that is a solid color and another part that is patterned
  12. Photograph an animal from each continent.
  13. Photograph the animal you think is the cutest
  14. Photograph the animal you think is creepiest
  15. Photograph your favorite animal
  16. Photograph the animal you think is fiercest.
  17. Photograph a preditor and then go find an animal that it would prey upon and photgraph it too.

Make Comparisons - Must be Proficient Writers to do More than One.  You can also simply insist they discuss it with you for the young ones.

For each question, the animal or animals and both its common and scientific names must be identified along with the location of the animal's native range as a heading.
  1. Find two animals that are closely related such as the Giraffe and Okapi, Caribou and Reindeer, Greater and Lesser Pandas, Asian and African Elephants or another (pair you can see at the zoo you will be visiting) and take a photo of both. Compare the two animals in physiology and habitat.  How might the habitat in which they live have impacted their physiology?
  2. Find one bird from a warm habitat and another from a cold habitat.  Compare what each bird eats and sketch their beaks.  How are their beaks specifically adapted to help with aquiring and injesting their respective foods?
  3. Find a mammal from the forest and compare its coat markings to another animal from the savannah.  Photograph or sketch these coat markings.  Discuss these markings in terms of how they may help in camouflaging the animal within its native habitat.
  4. Find a predator and its prey.  Compare eye placement and find out what you can about each animal's senses.  How does each animal's senses help it in its ecological role (niche) to stay alive?

Do a Behavioral Observation

Choose your favorite animal and sit and observe it for 15-20 minutes.  sketch your animal and describe the actions it takes while you are observing.  Try to time your observations with feeding time if you can (this is a good one to do around feeding time or first thing upon arrival).  Describe how your animal of choice finds its food, shelter, and water in the wild.  (Proficient Writer)

Use the Video Camera to Video your favorite animal's movements and behavior for about 10 minutes.  When you get home watch it a couple of times and do a little research with mom or dad.  Then add "narration" as if you are making a video about that animal.  Describe what it is doing, how it gets its shelter, food and water in the wild, and how it hides from other animals. (Pre- or Beginning Writer)

Worksheets For Beginning Writers

Alice and I went to the San Diego Zoo last fall as part of a larger field trip that we did (we also went to a special showing the symphony did called "The Music of Story" for members from her virtual school association.  It has special field trips and activities like this all across the country we can sign up for).  Here are some of the kinds of questions I had on her zoo worksheet.  Ours was a geography focus at the time as well as trying to really hammer home the "needs of living things".

A.  The Koala: 
  • Find a Koala in the exhibit that is perched in a tree.  Describe to your learning coach what the koala looks like. 
  • Can you name some of its body parts? 
  • Was it easy or hard to find the koala? 
  • What is it doing? 
  • Does it eat plants or animals?  Circle One                 Plants               Animals
  • Can you discover how the koala gets water?
  • What does the tree give to the koala?
  • Even though it is not a bear, many people call Koalas, bears?  Why do you think that is?
  • On which continent would you find the Koala?
B.  Madagascar:  This is a large Island considered a part of Africa.  What unique animal is it known for having?  Choose a species of lemur to watch.  Describe how it moves to your learning coach.  What does the lemur eat?  How does it get water?  Draw a Picture.

C. I included a set of questions like this for the Takin of Asia, the Stork of Europe, and the California Condor of North America.  I let her choose which animal from South America she wanted to answer the same questions for and one overall favorite animal.  I also included a photographic scavenger hunt, a comparison between the Asian Elephant and African Elephant and behavioral observation of an animal of choice.

Directories and Lists of Zoos

Additionally, most zoos have wonderful educational information, packets, and even demonstrations if you look at their online information you can often find a lot of great resources that will help in highlighting the best of your particular zoo with your kids.  If  you'll be going with a group, like your HS cooperative, scout troop, or a large group of friends sometimes you can get special prices or even more specialized tours so call ahead.  You'll also want to know in advance if picnicing is aloud and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.


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