Through this post, I will be discussing how to teach preschool children about reptiles. I will be discussing the characteristics of reptiles, some fun activities for large motor skills that can be done with the children, and art or craft to go with the theme.
In this post, we will be discussing dinosaurs, snakes, lizards, and crocodiles. Each of these reptiles has distinct characteristics. Most reptiles have 4 legs. They have scales on their bodies. They breathe through their lungs. Reptiles are cold-blooded animals and lay eggs.
Now, Let’s get the children to become wild as the dinosaurs, hiss and slither like snakes, and show sharp claws like the komodo dragon.
Dinosaurs- The Extinct Reptiles
The teacher gets cut-outs of different dinosaurs in class and arranges them. Some cut-outs of trees are kept at the back. The teacher shows the cutouts of the dinosaurs and tells the children the names of the dinosaurs. The teacher also tells the children that the word dinosaur means terrible lizard. Some facts that can be told to the children are:
- The biggest dinosaur with the very long neck is the Titanosaurus.
- The dinosaur with the 3 horns is called the triceratops.
- The dinosaur with the spiky plates is the stegosaurus.
- The smallest dinosaur is the compsognathus.
- The fiercest dinosaur is the tyrannosaurus.
The teacher tells the children that dinosaurs roamed on the planet millions of years ago. They do not exist anymore and such creatures that do not exist are called extinct.
The teacher can demonstrate the extinction of the dinosaurs by throwing some crushed recycled paper on the floor and explaining to the children that it is believed that meteors hit the earth and covered it with dust. The dinosaurs could not breathe because of this cloud of dust, and this eventually caused their extinction.
As a craft activity, the teacher makes a big cut out of the dinosaur. Gives the children green paint and sponge pieces. Children do sponge dabbing on the dinosaur cutout. Then the children are given green crepe paper to tear and crumple into balls and stick on the cutout to look like dinosaur scales.
As a physical activity, the teacher can paint dinosaur footprints on the floor. The prints should be far apart. Children are asked to try and walk on the footprints. Children find it difficult to walk on the prints as the dinosaurs are very large and their stride is very big.
Snakes – The Hissing Reptiles
Before the children come to class the teacher prepares the classroom for the lesson on snakes. The teacher lays out sand on a mat along with cutouts of trees. Take different lengths of thick rope. At one end stick snakeheads made from chart paper. Hang these rope snakes from the trees that are on the mud. Let the hissing sound of the snake be played from an audio system.
When children enter the classroom they may be a little scared as snakes are associated with venom and that instills fear in the children. Let the children see and touch the ropes so that they realize these are not real snakes, however, it is important to tell them to never touch or go near a real snake as they can bite and some snakes are venomous. The teacher should prepare a PowerPoint presentation on 4 distinct snakes:
- The cobra: this is the most venomous snake. It is the only snake that stands with its hood up.
- The black mamba: this the fastest moving snake.
- The rattlesnake: this snake shakes its tail that makes a sound like a rattle to warn its enemies.
- The Python: this snake is non-venomous. It coils itself around the prey and suffocates it before swallowing it whole. This is called constriction.
The teacher tells the children that snakes make a hissing sound. Snakes have no eyelids so they sleep with their eyes open. The teacher can point to the eyelids and ask children to shut their eyes to demonstrate. The teacher can also show that snakes have ears that are internal and not external. The teacher can explain that snakes shed their skin many times to grow new skin.
As an activity to show how snakes shed their skin the teacher can arrange for a big jute sack. The children can go into the sacks with their heads sticking out. While lying on the floor, without the use of their hands, children try slipping out of the bag.
Another physical activity for the children that the teacher can do is to lay a few low tables in a line. Let the children slither like snakes under the tables or around them. The teacher can give play-doh to the children to roll and make snakes.
The children can also be taught about the Yoga Pose known as the Snake Pose
Lizards – The Reptiles Found At Home
Lizards found at homes are known as geckos. To teach children about these reptiles the teacher can arrange for a real gecko in a big glass jar to show the children. Let the children observe the gecko in the jar. Explain to the children that the gecko has tiny hair on its feet which helps it to stick on the walls or roofs of the house. The children will be fascinated to know that when you shine a flashlight in the geckos’ ears the light will come out from the other ear.
The teacher shows the children a cutout of a big Komodo dragon. Children are told that the komodo dragon is the largest lizard. The legs of the komodo dragon are short but it has a giant tail. The children are told that the komodo dragons are fast runners.
As an activity, the children are made to bend forward, touching their palms flat on the floor. Without bending their knees the children are asked to try and move forward. This is how the Komodo dragon walks.
Crocodiles -The Reptiles With The Strongest Bite
The teacher arranges for artificial sharp teeth. The teacher tells the children that she is going to teach them about a reptile that has the strongest bite. On the classroom TV screen or any screen available, the teacher has a picture of a crocodile. Children are told that crocodiles are good swimmers and mostly live in rivers and lakes.
As an activity, the children can play a game. One child is made to play the role of a crocodile. The other children are fish in the river who pretend that they want to cross the river. Children who are enacting as fish ask permission from the crocodile by saying “crocodile, crocodile may we cross your river”. The child who is playing the crocodile can say yes and gives permission or he can say deny permission unless the children have a particular color present on their clothing (the child who is the crocodile chooses any color). Children who have the chosen color on their clothes get to cross while the other children get caught by the crocodile if they try to cross over. This is also a great way to revise different colors taught in the classroom.
Teaching children about reptiles makes children aware of the different species of animals on the planet. It also makes them aware of the animals that have become extinct. Many of the activities done while teaching children this topic enhance their large motor skills. Many art and craft activities can be incorporated to teach this lesson on reptiles. Roleplay and games being included for teaching any topic enhances the teaching-learning experience for the teacher and the students.