Friday, January 20, 2012

The Mysterious Couch Potato – Is it an Animal or Plant?

When we our being still and relaxing we call ourselves or our family members “couch potatoes”. But of course people aren’t very much like plants at all, instead we are animals.  In this activity we are going to help children to define the difference between plants and animals.  Having mental classifications for what they see around them helps children to learn more about the natural world.  This week’s  lesson isn’t as active as some.  It is really about observing and chatting with our children about what they see.  Observation and curiosity are really the very most important skills that we can teach our children to encourage them to be scientists.

Parent Background Guide
See the diagram below for the basic characteristics of plants and animals. 

This week’s activity
Plants vs Animals Worksheet below or
A plant to look at and observe
A living animal to look at and observe

Preparation:   Print the plant and animal comparison worksheet.  I used this first by asking my child to identify the living thing on each line that was different and to tell me why it is different.  This is an open ended thought provoking activity so accept all answers. 

Discovery time: Sit down with your child near both a plant and a living animal.  Ask the following questions giving your children time to answer and discuss what they see: 

Are Plants and Animals the Same?  How do you think they are like each other?  How do they get food?  How do we get more of them?  What if they don’t like where they are sitting anymore – can they move away?

Tying it together:  Pretend Play - One of the best ways to determine if your children understand the differences between plants and animals is to have them act out their knowledge.   I had each of my children pretend to be a plant and an animal.  For the purposes of this experiment, I asked one of them to be a dandelion and the other to be a rabbit.  I asked each one the following questions:

How do you get your food?  (It was fun when the rabbit tried to eat the dandelion.)
What would happen if someone came to eat you??

What happens when you get thirsty??

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