While learning is often associated with textbooks, tests, and teachers, there is an another source from which children can learn some fantastic life lessons. One of the best learning resources are the creatures that live among us. Animals! There are so many great ways to learn with and from animals. Here are ten fun and innovative ways that young people, and the adults in their lives, can get in touch with their warm and wild side and learn a lot in the process.
- Get a pet - Pet’s are a great way to help children develop responsible behavior,provide a connection to nature and teach respect for other living things.
- Watch a pet - There are a number of reasons that a family may not be able to get a pet. When this is the case, another option might be to offer to watch a pet for busy neighbors. This provides several of the benefits of getting a pet and can also turn into a part time job for the pet-loving child.
- Walk a pet - What better way to engage in physical fitness than with a pet. Go for a run in the park or around the block. This too can turn into a part-time job for the child who has a way with animals and wants to become the neighborhood dog walker.
- Learn about endangered species with UStream - UStream is doing some amazing work with capturing endangered species live on film. Children can watch animals catch prey, mate, reproduce, and much more. Another great feature is viewers can chat with experts and others who are interested while watching the animal in the wild. Additionally, there is a lot of educational information on many of these pages. Start on the general Pets / Animals page at http://www.ustream.tv/pets-animals. The following are some wonderful pages that are educationally sound and terrific starting places.
- Visit or volunteer at a local zoo, farm, ranch or stable - Zoos and farms are a great way to get to know animals. While a visit to a farm or zoo can be a terrific learning experience, for young ones who are big animal lovers, there may also be volunteer opportunities. What a wonderful way to learn about, and with animals from the professionals who care for them.
- Read or start a blog - For children who love or want to learn about a particular animal, a blog is a great resource. Go to Technorati.com and type in the animal you want to learn more about. There you’ll find blogs ranked by authority. For example for those who love pugs you’ll find blogs like The Curious Pugand Pug Possessed. Reading and commenting on the blog helps develop literacy and communication skills. Children that enjoy writing, can start their own blog to document the adventures of their favorite creature.
- View YouTube videos - There is so much to learn from watching animal videos. From tolerance and love to survival and protection of the young. I recommend starting with this one about tolerance and love and this one about survival and protection of young.
- Search Twitter - Let children do a search on Twitter for the animal they love. There they’ll find Tweets from others interested in this animal. You can put those who share similar interests into a list and / or begin following their Tweets. If there's something you want to know or might be of interest to one of your Tweeps (Twitter peeps)? Tag them and see what they have to say. This teaches young people not only about what they are trying to learn, but they also develop the ability to learn from Twitter as well as develop a personal learning network.
- Bird Watch - Bird watching is fun and with the advent of cell phone cameras/video, capturing these winged creatures is easier than ever. Have your child set up a Flickr account to collect the photos and videos and email them to your Flickr email for an automatic slideshow collection. The subject becomes the caption and message the description. This can also be updated. Visit this link for directions. The slideshow might look something like the one below.
- Start or join a group on Facebook - Teens can connect with other people who love the animal they love on Facebook. This supports the development of reading and writing skills and will allow your child to learn more about their favorite animal.
- Love pugs? Join this group https://www.facebook.com/Hug.Pugs
- Love Bearded Dragon Lizards? Join this pagehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Bearded-Dragons-UK/206826066041522
- Love Hamsters? This is the page for you https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hamster/60629384701 No matter what animal your child loves, there is a group or page waiting to be joined or created.
We all know that a dog can be a man’s best friend, but it doesn’t have to stop there. When it comes to animals they can also be one of your child’s best teachers.If you have another fun and innovative way you learn from animals, please share by commenting below.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.