Lessons in This Chapter:
11.1 What Are Animals?
11.2 How Animals Evolved
The next five chapters are all about animals. The suggested activity for these chapters is to put together a Book of Animals. There are several different options for approaching this:
Zoo trip – If you live near a good zoo, this would be the best approach. Most zoos have a list online of all the animals you can find there. If not, you may be able to get a printed copy from the zoo office. In this first chapter, Introduction to Animals, your child will go through and sort the animals into their phyla. Then, as you go through and study each group, your child will fill out an information sheet on each of the animals. All of the sheets that you need are under the Plethora Lesson Notes tab below. If you plan to visit a very large zoo, you could let your child pick one or two examples from each phyla. It just depends on how much time you want to put into these chapters. If your child is a real animal lover, then take your time and let them explore. After finishing these five chapters and completing your book, take a field trip to the zoo to see all the animals you learned about. If you live close and buy a membership, you could go several times, focusing on different groups of animals each time. Also, remember to check out what educational programs your zoo offers that you might be able to tie in to what your child is studying.
Documentaries/Videos – If you can’t get to a zoo, you could use documentaries and choose animals shown in the episodes to fill out the sheets. There are documentary and video choices listed for each chapter. Your local library is usually a great source to find many of these.
Books – If you don’t want to put too much time into this section, you can have your child choose an animal from each phyla and fill out a sheet on it. You could use the examples listed in the textbook and look up information online or look for an animal encyclopedia at your library and let your child choose from there.
Generally, middle school classes do not include dissections, but if your child is really interested in animal anatomy, you could include either paper dissections and/or actual dissections. Both of these options can get much more involved, but if your child is really into studying animals and you want to help them pursue that passion, these options could really help.
Paper dissection kits are a great option to let your child learn about the physiology of different animals, without all the mess. Kits are available through the Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy shop on Teachers Pay Teachers. The kits range from $10-$18 and each one comes with everything you need to build a layered, paper model of the inside of each animal. There will be links to the individual kits for each chapter.
If your child is really interested in dissection, you can get excellent kits at Home Science Tools. The individual kits will be listed with each chapter and each kit comes with everything you need, including instructions. They range in price from $5.50 for a grasshopper to $37.50 for a fetal pig.