Since Sausage was old enough to hold her own head up, Husband has sat her on his lap at his desk and showed her pictures of animals on the computer. She’s always been fascinated by nature and as she grew we moved her learning on from visual-only stimulation to actually learning facts about animals and the natural world. The internet is an amazing resource and we love nothing more than when Sausage asks us about something and we’re able to sit and learn together using websites we love, such as Wikipedia and the National Geographic site.
One thing that can be quite hard to explain is the actual sizes of different animals. Most kids don’t have a concept of how big things are, so Husband and I started actually measuring things out with Sausage. It’s a fantastic learning opportunity as not only are you quantifying the knowledge you’re passing on about animals, you’re getting them involved with using numbers, tools such as tape measures and best of all, it fires the imagination like nobodies business!
Now that the weather is nicer, we’ve taken the game outdoors and have started marking things out in chalk, so whenever Sausage wants to know how tall or long something is, we mark it out on the patio. However, our patio is only so big, so we’re planning to take our tape measures to the park to measure out some of the larger creatures, like species of dinosaurs and whales!What you’ll need.
All you need to do this at home is a patio, a tape measure, some chalk and the internet. Encourage your kids to think of different animals to look up, get them involved in measuring them out and drawing the lines. We’ve had hours of fun doing this and it’s free, educational and really fun if you get your imagination involved.
Starting left to right, the smallest line is Sausage’s height, for context. The next line is the wingspan of a golden eagle (Sausage was blown away that a bird could have wings wider than her height, which led to a conversation about other birds that are even bigger). The third line, in blue, is the average length of a bottle-nose dolphin and the longest line is the average length of a large species of crocodile!
This is a great activity for kids and you don’t even necessarily need good weather to play it (though it’s so nice to get some fresh air finally). We often measure the heights of things and I had fun standing on the arm of the sofa with Husband stopping me from falling off, to show Sausage how tall a particular species of pre-historic ape was! You can even get a stepladder involved to show the really tall things, just mind your head on the ceiling!
Another method of quantifying things for them is to weigh all of the members of the family and write them on a piece of paper (I recommend doing it in kilos as most animals weights are in kilos and it’ll save you having to do all of the conversions!). Using the “think of an animal…” starting point, get them to think of a creature, look up their weight and get the kids to work out how many times bigger than them the animal is, or how many times bigger than Mummy or Daddy, or Mummy plus Daddy, etc. It’ll get them exercising their maths skills and get the imaginations going even wilder!