There are not many books for children that regularly top the list of children’s favourite storybooks or books that you must read to your child before they turn 5 but Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak does nearly every time and it’s fantastic that we kick off the 2015 – 2016 Virtual Book Club for Kids with this book and it couldn’t be a much more perfect book for us and our family. The kids love going on wildlife hunts in the garden and discovering where things live and it doesn’t really matter where you live backyard wildlife hunts are fabulous fun for everyone.
But moving on from a simple backyard wildlife hunt and recording where the animals are found and talking about the environment and the reasons why different animals live there it takes the experience from just play to embedding some STEAM activities and some real environmental science into the activities.
Backyard Wildlife Hunt
If your kids aren’t regularly backyard safari explorers it’s worth starting out your activity with a hunt around the backyard – if you don’t have a backyard then choose any other area that you can find distinct habitats on – some suggestions would be – a forest (leaf little, fallen trees, tree trunk, branches), Beach (rock pools, waves, strand line, sand dunes, cliff bottom) or the Park (paths, open grass, flower beds, trees, shade area, wild areas, ponds).
On the backyard wildlife hunt look for creatures that you may find – you will be amazed at how many you can find and even just turning over a rock you will find plenty to see and discover.
Mapping your Backyard Habitat
Sit down and with a paper start by adding the most recognisable feature of your environment to the drawing for our backyard habitat it was the house. The kids started by drawing a house and then moving onto the different environments that they saw throughout the backyard.
We have decking which is the one area we normally find ladybugs, grass where there are normally beetles, in the vegetable patch we have slow worms and grass snakes, our pond has newts and frogs. The flower beds are filled with bees and butterflies and then the trees are the main habitats of the birds.
As the kids drew they maps of the backyard they added in the different animals that they have found in the environments and I asked some questions
- What is the environment like there?
- Why would the animal be there?
- What does the animal eat – is their food in the same place?
We had some interesting answers – the Pond was WET, it’s a swimming animal and there is no water anywhere else in the backyard, the frogs eat flies, and it’s not in the same place so Mummy why don’t frogs flies if their food does! Yes, I’m still working on answering some of the questions that it posed.
As they sat and mapped the backyard adding in the animals, my eldest child wrote the different environments and the animals that inhabitated them and I added labels to my younger child’s drawing.
Adapting the activity
For younger children; you could find a set of stickers of the different animals and use that to draw a basic backyard and add the animals to the environment.
Another alternative would be to take a photograph of your backyard and add the animal stickers to the environment.
For very young children creating your own backyard with toys and fabrics and then using toy animals to place the animals where they live and simplifying the language – “Which animals live in the pond?”
With older children; increase the writing element, get them to write the explanations they have concluded as to why the environments are ideal for those animals. You will notice from our maps, that we have only included generic beetle, frog, snake, butterflies, older children could look up and record the species that they find and keep a record of the different animals that they find over time in each of the habitats that they and you have identified in the backyard.
Lesson Plan Ideas for Where the Wild Things Are
Where the wild things are counting activity by Mom Inspired Life
Make a wild thing shape craft by Still Playing School
Monster Hands Alphabet Match by Toddler Approved
Name Crown Craft by Pleasantest Thing
by Study at Home Mama
Wild Things Scented Monster Play dough by Preschool Powol Packets
Where the wild things are – mapping our backyard habitats by Rainy Day Mum
Where the wild things are color fun with feelings by The Educators’ Spin On It
Where the wild things are monster glyphs by Inspiration Laboratories
Where the wild things are Action Word Rompus by Growing Book by Book
Where the wild things are gross motor by 3Dinosaurs
Where the wild things are treats by I can teach my child
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.