Meet the Animals

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I find it funny that we still place such emphasis on farm animals and animal noises with babies; most of us, I would bet, do not live on a farm anymore, and yet somehow this has persisted as one of the earliest things children should know. As a vegan family, I also face a dilemma; I want my children to know and understand animals that have traditionally been farmed, but don’t want to visit places that mistreat the animals.

Enter the sanctuary: These places are fantastic for children to get right up close to animals and learn about them. They’re becoming more common, so do seek one out near you!

First, Veronika spent the morning playing with animal toys and reading some of our favorite animal books.

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Then it was off to meet our animal friends! She loved the chickens.

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And this chicken loved her.

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We took the time to stop and watch each animal, and I described their behavior to her. Have you ever watched a chicken take a dust bath? It’s fantastic! Next we checked out the goats.

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If you’re allowed to feed the animals, it will be fun for babies to watch. They obviously can’t do it themselves yet, but a big sibling or parent can help.

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This adorable sheep was delighted watching Veronika after a taste of fresh grass from us.

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Next we checked on some adorable new pigs. “Oink oink,” I said as we watched them play. For each animal, you can make lots of noises in echo every time the animals do; it will help your little one understand the sounds during playtime at home.

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The last stop was this beautiful big steer.

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Now when you continue the play at home, your child will have a true frame of reference for each animal. Veronika later had fun with her plastic bath animals and we moo-ed, baa-ed, oink-ed, and neigh-ed our way through bathtime.

Decoding Backwards Secret Messages

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Mirror images of words are always fun, even for kids who are only just starting to read. This quick little activity was the latest in a series of ways Travis and I have found to pass along secret messages.

As always for a pre-reader, writing Travis’s name worked best. I carefully wrote the letters backwards, and then held it up to a hand mirror. “What does it say?” I asked.

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After a moment of pondering, he exclaimed, “Travis!” with wonder.

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He immediately wanted to see more “secret” words so I made pages with a few sight words. Adults, you may want to practice a few times first; you’ll note my “c” in cat wasn’t right. This backwards stuff is hard!

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Older kids will have a blast passing real secret messages to each other, and discovering full sentences in the mirror. Travis just loved the reflections even without literacy; he wanted to make scribbles and see how they looked, when presented in reverse form.

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Good sleuthing fun!