Cute little woodland animals inspire a variety of activities, ideal for both classroom or home use. The focus of the selected activities depends on personal preference or the specific topics being studied in the classroom. Hands-on activities about forest animals engage the participants in an entertaining and educational project. Encourage the participants to expand the activities or add a customised touch to them as desired.
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Research local woodland animals. Determine how the tracks of each animal look and how they differ from each other. Create stamps for the animal footprints. Draw the outline for each animal track on a kitchen sponge. Cut around the footprint to create a sponge stamp. Another option is to use a potato. Cut a potato in half, using a toothpick or knife to draw the outline on the cut surface. Use the knife to cut away the extra potato, leaving the animal track raised. Dip the sponge or potato stamp in tempera paint and make animal tracks on a piece of paper. A large sheet of butcher paper allows you to create an animal track mural.
Recreate the woodland homes of these animals with a diorama. Start with a shoebox or other small container to hold the project. Paint woodland scenery onto the inside of the box directly, or paint the scenes on construction paper first then line the inside of the box with the paper. Head outdoors to collect natural items as accents. Ideas include grass, pine needles and tiny twigs. These items add an authentic feel to the recreation of the woodland environment. Use clay to sculpt woodland animals. Pom poms, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, plastic wiggly eyes and cotton balls provide alternative options for creating the animal figures. These three-dimensional animal replicas sit in the diorama against the background.
Woodland Animal Parade
Assign each participant a different woodland animal, or let them select their own. If the kids select their own animal, make sure there isn't overlap. Have them research the animals, including sleeping habits, eating patterns, method of movement and other normal activities. This information provides the basis for a brief description of the animal during the parade. Provide craft supplies that allow the kids to create their own woodland animal costumes. Paper-plate masks and a shirt the colour of the animal provide a simple costume. Additional details such as a tail made from felt, antler headbands made from construction paper or face paint to resemble the animal's features can create more depth to the costumes. Ask parents and guardians for permission before using face paint on the children. Some may have sensitivities, or their parents may simply prefer that it not be used. One at a time, have the "creatures" move across the stage the way the actual animal moves, stopping in the middle to read the description that was previously written.
Woodland Preservation Posters
Discuss the effects of humans on woodland areas. Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl represent the U.S. Forest Service in its conservation efforts. These characters provide an appealing source of inspiration for the students during the instructional portion of the activity. Ask the participants to apply the knowledge gained to design an awareness poster. Have them include both text and images that represent the harm humans cause to woodland areas. Pollution, cutting down trees and forest fires top the list and work well as the focus of the posters. The benefits of protecting forests also works well for the poster information. Allow each person to share his or her poster and describe its contents. Hang the posters in a hallway or other common area for others to see.
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