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My recent observation of children involved in a science activity involved my kids (2 and three years old respectively), playing on their playmat in my home office. They were using the animal playset that I obtained for the last week that consisted of a collection of carnivores, herbivores as well as different plastic environments that the animals would be found in (trees, grasslands, and various rocks). I noticed that the children were able to accurately infer which animals were carnivores and which were herbivores based on how they had the different animals interact with each other. In one instance, I saw them using a lion to attack a zebra despite the fact that they had little in the way of actual knowledge regarding the eating habits of lions or the differences between carnivores and herbivores.
Potential Activity Topic
Based on the observed behavior, one possible topic that could be created from it is to help them understand the difference between carnivores and herbivores (Sacks, Trundle and Flevares 415). This can involve simple lessons regarding animal eating habits, environments, and how the different animals interact with each other in the wild (Wulf, Mayhew and Finkelstein 337; Yoon and Onchwari 419)). The different toys and artificial environments that came with the set would be an ideal method of showcasing how various animals behave (Ozaydin 1021).
The children are currently at a stage where they able to infer particular characteristics based on observation. For example, they were able to tell that a lion was a predator based on the open jaw and pointed teeth that it had. The same can be said about their ability to determine what a herbivore is due to the lack of visible teeth on the zebra or giraffe. However, in cases where the teeth were not visible or the animal lacked distinguishing characteristics, they were unable to tell the difference between a carnivore or a herbivore. This was noted in cases where they depicted a wolf as eating grass while an elephant came and attacked the wolf. The lack of visible teeth on the wolf and the tusks of the elephant confused them to the extent that they thought that the elephant was a predator and the wolf its prey.
Potential Activities that Can be Utilized
After evaluating the gap in the knowledge, the potential activity that can be utilized to further educate the children would involve the use of flashcards (Hong and Diamond 300; Wee 612). They would consist of the following activities:
- Identifying the names of the most commonly known animals in the animal kingdom.
- Explaining what sort of food each animal eats (grass, leaves, or meat).
- Informing the children about how the different animals interact with one another.
- Explaining the difference between a carnivore and a herbivore.
- Jumbling the cards so that the children can identify on their own which type of animal eats what kind of food.
Questions from a child’s perspective
- Why does the lion have long teeth?
- Does the animal with tusks eat meat?
- Why does that animal eat grass?
- Can a lion eat grass?
- Why does the lion have to eat the other animal?
The recommended activity should be able to enhance the overall knowledge of the participants and help them develop a better understanding of how the animal kingdom works. Through this activity, they will be able to know the differences between a herbivore and carnivore based on physical appearance as well as knowledge regarding that particular animal that the lesson taught them.
Hong, Soo-Young, and Karen E. Diamond. “Two Approaches To Teaching Young Children Science Concepts, Vocabulary, And Scientific Problem-Solving Skills.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 27.2 (2012): 295-305. Print.
Ozaydin, Latife. “Teaching Play Skills To Visually Impaired Preschool Children: Its Effect On Social Interaction.” Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice 15.4 (2015): 1021. Print.
Sackes, Mesut, Kathy Trundle, and Lucia Flevares. “Using Children’S Literature To Teach Standard-Based Science Concepts In Early Years.” Early Childhood Education Journal 36.5 (2009): 415. Print.
Wee, Bryan. “A Cross-Cultural Exploration Of Children’s Everyday Ideas: Implications For Science Teaching And Learning.” International Journal Of Science Education 34.4 (2012): 609-627. Print.
Wulf, Rosemary, Laurel M. Mayhew, and Noah D. Finkelstein. “Impact Of Informal Science Education On Children’s Attitudes About Science.” AIP Conference Proceedings 1289.1 (2010): 337-340. Print.
Yoon, Jiyoon, and Jacqueline Onchwari. “Teaching Young Children Science: Three Key Points.” Early Childhood Education Journal 33.6 (2006): 419. Print.