Animal Action Education teaches kids through fun activities

Five-year-old kids’ brains are like sponges. 

It’s amazing how quickly they catch on and how much they remember—especially when the learning involves animals.

I recently went on vacation to see my niece and nephew who live in Alberta. Since they live so far away, I really value the time we spend together. They love that I know a lot about animals and are always full of interesting questions for me. And one of their favourite things about my visits is doing fun activities from IFAW’s Animal Action Education Program

My sister (their mom) has already done a great job teaching the kids about how to approach dogs and cats, and how to read canine and feline body language. This is such an important skill for kids to know, and one they can use at friends’ homes, at the dog park, or walking down the street.

I decided to expand on what the kids already know about dog and cat body language by doing the simple role-playing game described in the “Cats, Dogs, and Us K-2 pack (for kids ages 5-7).

First I gathered some basic props —a couple of bowls, a ball, and a string (which we pretended was a leash). Next I whispered a message to my niece like “I would like some water” or “let’s play.” Then my niece pretended to be a cat or dog communicating the message—without speaking, of course—while her brother tried to guess what she was trying to say in dog speak. This easy game really helps kids understand how cats and dogs communicate using body language and how it feels to speak without words.

It’s amazing how quickly they catch on and how much they remember—especially when the learning involves animals.The next day we watched the “Cats, Dogs, and Us” video and read the Student Magazine section of the “Cats, Dogs, and Us” K-2 pack.

The magazine highlights some key vocabulary which is also used in the video. Using the glossary in the back of the pack, we defined some key words including “responsibility,” “community,” and “relationship.”

We practiced using these words in different contexts over the next couple of days. These words may seem advanced for five year olds, but it is amazing how quickly they understand when the learning materials involve animals.  

I think the kids’ favourite activity from IFAW’s Animal Action Education materials, however, was playing the games and making dog masks in “Animal Explorers” IFAW Activity guide. 

My nephew is a very realistic artist who made his dog mask look exactly like the example. My niece is more abstract and made a brown dog with pink eyes and a green nose. (I was surprised she didn’t draw a rainbow dog!)

They both liked the masks so much that they took the guide to daycare and showed the other kids how to make them. When I picked them up, it was dog masks galore!

Whether it is in a classroom setting, at home, or on vacation, kids simply love learning about animals

--CR

Download a host of Animal Action Education materials at our campaign page here.

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Experts

Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Hanna Lentz, Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Nancy Barr, Program Director, Animal Action Education
Program Director, Animal Action Education
Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
Program Advisor
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters