I shared in my Instagram last week that Vito is obsessed with the concept of “mommy, baby, and daddy” thing. He would always pair our animal figures into families and do play pretend. This made me decided to introduce Vito to the farm animal families which I introduced to Mavi a long time ago (Farm Families - FREE Sorting Cards). There’s a deeper explanation why we teach kids about animal families. We teach kids to distinguish and describe objects to form them into bigger groups. Commonly, we group inanimate objects according to their size, shape and color which is an easy task for the child. But when it comes to real organisms with no definite shape, size and color, it is more difficult to recognize similar characteristics.
The introduction of animal families would help the child identify these similar characteristics and help them familiarize with the names of baby, the female, and male animals. Of course Vito doesn’t need to memorize all of these at once, it’s more on familiarity and exposure. And because of his interest in animal groups, it would be easier for him to absorb this concept.
We started by talking about our family. Vito identified that there’s a mom, a dad, and 2 babies. I bought these figures (Pretend Play Family - Asian Family - Grandpa to Baby) a few weeks ago and they’re so beautiful! The entire set actually consists of parents, grandparents, brother, sister, younger brother and a baby. We just used the figures that’s applicable for us. Both of the boys love these, most especially Vito. He’s on a sensitive stage of our family, he would always mention “I like Mavi, and Mommy, and Daddy and Xavi”.
Of course, I picked the Asian family, but it is also available in Hispanic, African and Caucasian. I highly recommend these!
Then we moved on to telling stories of animals having families too. Note that I only focused on farm families as we are having Farm Themed Unit this month and it’s more convenient to use farm animals because younger kids can easily identify them.
The setup was pretty simple, a human family, animal families in a basket and control cards. These cards were made years ago, and you can download these here.
I presented the cow family first, saying “A father cow is called a bull, a baby cow is called a calf and a mommy cow is called a cow”. For older children, I suggest you use the word “male” and “female” instead of referring to a father and a mother. Once we identified the group of cows, I would ask Vito to describe the mommy and daddy cow, how are they different? how would you know it’s a mommy? or a daddy? You can ask these simple questions after you allow him to observe and explore your animal figures. Now, this is the reason why I highly recommend Schleich Animals or any animal figure that’s quite detailed so you can use it in activities like this. There are some animal figures that are cartoonish or inaccurate and won’t be of great help if you wanted to use them in educational play.
I then moved on to the sheep. I introduced the ram, ewe and the lamb. We did the same thing for observing the differences between a ram and an ewe. Identifying these characteristics of male and female animals can help your child improve their attention to details which is very helpful once they get older.
He volunteered to work on the rest of the cards, it was amazing how he was emulating my presentation.
This is such a simple activity with minimal preparations. I highly recommend the Schleich animals for this because they’re much bigger and kids can easily identify the male and female, but if not available, Safari Toob Animals are fine as well. And the next time we play with these animals and do a play pretend the Vito way, we will start calling them roosters, hens, bulls, chicks, stallions etc.
If you have questions regarding this activity, feel free to leave comments and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Below is a summary of the toy figures used in this activity
- Pretend Play Family - Asian Family - Grandpa to Baby
- Schleich ram
- Schleich ewe
- Schleich lamb
- Schleich stallion
- Schleich mare
- Schleich foal
- Schleich bull
- Schleich cow
- Schleich calf
- Schleich rooster
- Schleich hen
- Schleich chicks
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