Friday, July 1, 2011

On Alert!

Summer is a time of planned outings with friends, and family vacations. Young children get more out of your excursions if you can prepare them for what they may encounter on their hike in the woods, camping trip or a visit to the zoo. With gorgeous photos and simple fun facts, Baby Animals: In the Jungle by the editors of Kingfisher and the other books in the Baby Animals series can be a great resource. If you can expose children to what they will be seeing, it does two things: 1) It relieves their worries, at least in part, if they know what to expect and 2) they get more out of the experience—before and after.

Once you and your child have been through the book a few times, you can play a game: What’s this animal? What sound does it make? Where would you find them? These kinds of questions help them realize how much they already know, and to get more out of an encounter with the animals they’re about to see. When they get to the zoo, they know to look in the trees for the baby gorilla or orangutan. They know that the orange-hued monkey swinging from the branches is the orangutan, while the burly black primate with the “thick, woolly coat” is a gorilla. The black fur on and around the face of the baby gorilla in the photo will also help your child distinguish between a chimpanzee and a gorilla.

When you come home, read through the book again. This allows your child to review his or her visit to the zoo or hike in the woods (in the case of Baby Animals: In the Forest) and to retain the information he or she has gained through first-hand experience.

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