Early Explorers Animals

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When I saw that Travis’s newest package from Early Explorers was all about animals, I worried it would overlap with the unit on habitats. But of course the Little Passports company ensured there was plenty of new info and exciting ideas for us to explore, and I needn’t have worried one bit!

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My seasoned explorer jumped right in, telling me he was off to put the animal stickers on his map solo (“Don’t come, Mom, I can do it myself!”) though he did later have me verify that each was on the right continent.

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With that we were off and running, checking out the flashcards, flashlight game, and booklet, with fun activities like tracing and mazes.

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Animals Craft:

Travis’s booklet suggested drawing your favorite animals. Travis preferred to color in animals someone else had outlined, and luckily the website featured a bonus template of just such a thing.

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He liked making up silly colors for his animals!

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Animals Science:

The “science” project we undertook was to visit a nearby National Park and chat with a ranger about what wildlife we might encounter. As luck would have it, the unit overlapped with the Great Backyard Bird Count, so we headed off on a brisk winter’s day!

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Travis loved the little presentation on birds before the walk, full of questions.

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We headed out with binoculars, and paused every time we heard a bird call. Although we heard a few different species, we unfortunately didn’t see them.

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But we searched for signs of other animals, too, such as paw prints (Travis was sure this was a fox, not a dog out for a walk)…

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…and squirrel burrows.

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Definitely do head to your nearest National Park, whether as tame as ours, or as wild as Yellowstone, and see what your ranger can tell you!

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Animals Keepsake:

The animal puppets to put together were by far his favorite keepsake we’ve received from this subscription to date! These foam puppets had a crafty component, since some were stickers that needed to be added on to the bodies.

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There was a nice representational sample, everything from exotic lions to cute pandas to cows like those we can see here at home.

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Not only was he wild about putting them together, following the easy step-by-step instructions solo, but when we had finished, he asked if he could put them together again (unfortunately, not really!). From here on out, they’re great for puppet shows.

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Animals Field Trip:

Our booklet suggested a trip to a local zoo or aquarium; please note that I never take Travis to zoos, as life in a cage is a sad one for animals. That said, we will visit an aquarium as long as the fish are well-cared for and there are no captive cetaceans.

And what a day at the aquarium we had! Travis was fully tuned in to the animals today, on a hunt for species we’d read about in our booklet, and marveling at them. Have you ever watched seahorses swim, for example? They truly dance.

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He was in love with the motions of this spider crab.

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And fascinated to learn about piranhas.

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And whoa – sharks are always a thrill.

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As a bonus, this was a great activity for his little sister!

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We sat down over a snack to check off all the animals we’d seen that were featured in his booklet.

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Animals Further Activities:

We weren’t done yet! The booklet was rife with further suggestions. We headed to our local park on a warm day to see how many different types of animals we could spot. Here in the winter, it was mainly bird species, but we counted 4: ducks, swans, geese, and seagulls.

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Next up was a visit to a local animal shelter, a great way to show your child how other people help animals. I encouraged Travis to ask the volunteers anything he wanted about where they got the cats from, and how they found them good homes.

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And of course there was lots of time to pet and play!

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I had also purchased the animal band magnetic set from Little Passport’s shop. Okay, maybe this didn’t teach us anything about animals, but it sure was cute!

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The magnetic case includes heads, bodies, and legs to mix and match, of adorable animals playing instruments. Incidentally, this game is great for on-the-go, since the magnetic pieces ensure you won’t lose them.

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You can keep the learning going with websites and books, from here. Travis fell in love with crabs at the aquarium, so we did further research online with YouTube crab videos. Lizards were another fast favorite, and we learned more about them.

And of course your local library will have in-depth books about many species. So find out your child’s favorite, and get reading!

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Aquarium Adventure

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You don’t need a screen to provide your infant with moving entertainment; just pause in front of a fish tank instead!

Now, a caveat is needed here. I do not advocate for fish swimming around and around in small bowls, or for locations with dirty tanks. But some places do truly have beautiful displays, including our local library and pediatricians office. Should you find yourself in front of a similarly-cared-for tank, simply aim your child’s eyes at the fish, and talk about everything you see.

That’s free entertainment of course, but if you want to take things a step further, bring your baby to the nearest aquarium. Today, Travis and I took Veronika on a field trip to marvel at the colors and motions of the ocean!

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Travis loved pointing out the aquatic life to his little sister.

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And she in turn stared wide-eyed.

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As she gazed, I described everything she was seeing. You can mention colors (especially on vivid tropical fish), as well as patterns like stripes or spots.

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We also talked about movement, the various sizes of the different fish, and more.

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Whoops, the sharks might have been a little too scary!

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But they sure were cool.

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In sum, you can’t go wrong with an aquarium adventure. Veronika was able to see so many new things in one day, and to marvel at motion and light and color. Your child might not understand what a fish is yet, but will love the opportunity to learn.

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