Create Your Own Animal Study


A great way to begin your study is to make a list of animals you want to learn about, then brainstorm some ways you can learn about the ones you are most interested in. 

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to learn about animals is to get information from the library, used bookstore, or on line. Look for videos that feature or include the animals you are interested in too. If you have Netflix, Amazon, or another streaming service, search for your interests there as well. Our family LOVES animals and we’ve studied quite a few of them. You’ll find our animal resource pages listed here on this blog, they include links to other sites and videos. Some have game ideas, projects, and/or experiments.

Here are some great field trip ideas!

Books, videos, and websites are excellent learning tools, especially when you can’t learn about animals first hand, but learning via experience and observation is even more awesome. Here are a few of the ways we’ve learned about animals first hand. Don’t forget to bring your writing journal, sketch book, paints, or camera. Oh and maybe an animal guidebook too!

  • Go outside. Your own yard or neighborhood may have a variety of animals you can watch on a daily basis. Consider bringing some to you by putting up a bird feeder. If you dig in the dirt, you may find bugs, worms, moles, and other interesting creatures. Take some of those worms fishing with you!
  • Start a compost bin.Turn your food scraps into a bug experiment.
  • Go for a hike. If you have a park, preserve, or a wooded area near you, check it out to see who’s there. You may be pleasantly surprised.
  • Visit a wildlife preserve. Do a quick search on line or talk to other people who may know of a wildlife preserve in your area.
  • Visit a pet store. Make arrangements with a pet store to get a tour. You can do this with a group or a few families if they won’t allow a private tour. Ask questions.

  • Talk to a pet owner. Make arrangements to visit someone who owns or cares for an animal you are interested in learning about.
  • Go to a zoo. There are all kinds of zoos these days! Check and see if there is a specific zoo or center that features the animal you are most interested in learning about. Get a zoo membership so you can visit as often as you like and to stay informed about the special programs they offer. Don’t forget petting zoos too! You’ll get to touch the animals while you’re there.
  • Visit an aquarium. If you are into sea creatures/life, then you’ll want to visit an aquarium. If you have a zoo membership, some aquariums will allow you in for free or offer you a discount to visit them.
  • Visit an estuary. If you are near or can get to the wetlands around you, you’ll be able to check out all the different types of animals while you are there.
  • Go to the beach or inter-coastal areas. A less expensive way to see local sea life is to visit the areas around the ocean. You’ll be able to collect shells, observe various birds, crabs, sand fleas, and other creatures while you’re there. You may even see a dolphin surfing in the waves!
  • Visit an animal sanctuary. Check your local listings for people who run/care for a sanctuary. Some places allow visitors in for a small donation – money or food for the animals.
  • Visit an animal shelter. Dogs, cats, rabbits, etc.. love to get pet and played with. Check with your shelter before you go to see if they allow this and what’s required if they do.
  • Go to a science center. Many science centers will have a small area with live animals and programs related to them.
  • Arrange for an animal related program. Most places that feature animals will have a tour or some kind of program you can arrange to attend. Find out if you need a group or can join a scheduled tour.
  • Check out a local pond, lake, or another body of water. Observe the animal life all around you. Visit during different times of the year to see who the regulars are and who braves the cold weather.
  • Walk through a public garden. If you have the chance, plan a trip to a public garden and you’ll get to see a variety of insects busily pollinating the flowers and foliage.
  • Plan a trip to Sea World, Busch Gardens, or Animal Kingdom. These places make great family vacation spots!
If you are really interested in animals and want to get more involved, here are some things you can do…
  • Volunteer. Most places need all the volunteers they can get. Many require kids to be a certain again, or require a parent to accompany minors. Some of the places to inquire at: Zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, shelters, animal clinics/vet offices, science centers, specialty animal facilities (ex: reptile house), etc..

  • Become a docent/volunteer for an animal related program. If you really know your stuff, some places will allow teens to docent or help with a traveling petting zoo.
  • Get a pet. One of the best ways to learn is to experience it for yourself long term. Research all you can before you take the plunge.
  • Join an animal rescue project. You can join something with local meetings, or that sponsors theme related festivals and awareness programs such as Turtles, whales, sharks, manatees, water preservation, etc.. Check out a local Audubon society too.
  • Look for programs. Keep your eyes and ears open for program opportunities that feature animals in your community. Libraries sometimes offer programs that feature animals – ask them if they have anything schedule or make a suggestion.
Many zoos offer courses and classes, they won’t be free, but it can make a great gift idea or a budget goal.
Honestly, this short list only scratches the surface of some of the awesome ways you can learn about the animal kingdom first hand. 
Please help make this list longer by leaving some suggestions in comments.

If you would like more tips for designing one of a kind studies, please read these posts:

Design Your Own One-of-a-Kind Study


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Plant Propagation

Better Homes & Garden: 
Propagating Houseplants &

Making More Plants From Cuttings – How to make more plants from plant cuttings.

Gardening Know How: Starting Plant Cuttings – How To Root Cuttings From Plants – Types of cutting and how to root them.

The Balance: Best Plant To Grow From Cuttings – 19 Plants that can start from cuttings.

WikiHow: Plant Propagation: Offers steps to propagate plants. Includes pictures.

Wikipedia: Plant Propagation – Explains the process of plant propagation and methods.

National Seed Swap Day 
(Official Day is the last Saturday of the month each year.)
Save your seeds all year long then plan a seed swap!


Tower Garden: 7 Ways to Celebrate National Seed Swap Day – The author talks about his experience at a Seed Swap Day, why they are important, and how to celebrate the day.


Seed Savers.org: National Seed Swap Day 2017 – Info about the day and the benefits of going to one.

Days of The Year: Seed Swap Day – Information about the origins of the day and how to celebrate it.


The Herbal Academy: How To Plan A Seed Swap Day in Your Neighborhood – How to save seeds and plan the event. & How to Save Seeds: From Harvesting to Using Them – Tips for saving seeds.


Extension Services: National Seed Swap Day, January 31st, 2015 – Information about the day and how seed swapping was done by other cultures.

YouTube: Plant Propagation Playlist – The videos in this list show you how to propagate a variety of plants, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and houseplants.
Here are one of the videos in the list…



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Poinsettia Resource Page

Information
University of Illinois Extension: Poinsettia Facts – Interesting facts and information about Poinsettias. Includes anatomy info, history of the plant, and number facts.

The Spruce:  Poinsettias – Keepers or Compost? – Caring For Your Holiday Poinsettia and Getting It To Bloom Again Next Year (How To)

Teleflora: Meaning & Symbolism of Poinsettias – This short article talks about the many names given to the poinsettia, some history about the person it is named after, and what it symbolizes in different cultures.

Why Christmas.com: Poinsettias At Christmas – Where this plant comes from, how it was used by other cultures, plus an old Mexican legend.


Wikipedia: Poinsettia – Description, Religious and Other Traditional Associations, Creation of the American Poinsettia Industry, Cultivation, Diseases, and Toxicity claims.


Crafts

The following sites have instructions for how to make the craft suggested.


DLTK: Paper Poinsettia Flower & Poinsettia Paper Plate Craft

First Palette Kids’ Crafts: Poinsettia Ornament

Planet Smarty Pants: Poinsettia Crafts for Christmas – 12 Crafts suggested, most made from recycled items.

Artists Helping Children: Christmas Poinsettias – Three poinsettia crafts are offered on this site: One using cardboard tubes, a coloring page, and a finger print picture.

Super Coloring: Poinsettia Coloring Pages – 6 pages offered.

Coloring.ws: Mistletoe and Poinsettia Coloring Pages – 7 poinsettia coloring pages offered.

Videos

YouTube: Poinsettia Playlist –  Learn about the history of poinsettia, how to care for them, make some crafts, and listen to a story read by the author.

Here’s one of the videos in the list… How to fold a poinsettia flower, origami

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Oysters & Pearls

WikipediaOyster – Information about salt-water bivalve molluscs – types, anatomy, etc..
Pearl – Information about the gemstone, pearl. Etymology, definition, physical properties, fresh and saltwater pearls, creation and much more.

American Pearl: A Brief History of Pearls: How Pearls are Harvested – Article about harvesting pearls, early history of pearl harvesting, and caring for oysters before harvest.

Sustainable Pearls: Harvesting Pearls – A short article about how pearls are harvested.

LiveScience: How Do Oysters Make Pearls? – How natural pearls begin in an oyster shell.

How Stuff Works: Animals: How do oysters make pearls? – Article talks about the natural production of pearls within the oyster’s anatomy and how cultured pearls are created.

Oceana: American Oyster – Describes what an oyster is, how it grows/reproduces, and about depleted population due to over-fishing.

Metal Floss – 15 Shucking Amazing Facts About Oysters – This list offers some interesting facts about oysters, such as their ability to filter water, hold back fierce waves, their nutritional value, depletion and restoration projects, and more.

Ideo: Columbia.edu: Commonly seen organisms in Oyster Gardens – PDF: Information about creating an oyster garden – includes predators and reef associates. Includes pictures.

Original Oyster House – 10 Oyster Facts You Didn’t Know – Info about oyster gender, oyster beds, human consumption, species, nutrition information, and more.

A-Z Animals: Oyster – Oyster facts, where they can be found, lifespan, color, food, predators, habitat and more.

Nat Geo Sites: Oysters – About oysters: As a food, habitat and range, shells, behavior, and threats to survival.

Rondale’s Organic Life: 6 Surprising Things You Should Know About Eating Oysters – Farmed oysters vs wild and the best time to eat them.

Recipes
Food Network: Oyster Recipes – Fried Oysters, Char-Grilled Oysters, Oyster Po’ Boy, Grilled Oysters Rockefeller, and more.

Southern Living: South’s Best Oyster Recipes – Offers a variety of ways to enjoy oysters including: Grilled, baked, as a pot pie, stew, and a few other methods.

NYT: Cooking: Butter-Fried Oysters – A classic recipe.

Videos

YouTube: Oysters & Pearls Playlist –  Videos include: How pearls are harvested, how pearls are formed, and how to shuck and eat an oyster.
Here’s one of the videos that can be found in the list…


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Animals

All of the following animal related posts can be found on Funschooling & Recreational Learning.

ArthropodaInsects, Spiders, Ect.


Butterflies:

Butterflies Independent Butterfly research project with questions, activity suggestions and resources.

10 Creatively Cool Butterfly Activities – Ten open-ended, hands-on activities that encourage research skills, creativity and thinking skills.

Fireflies – Research resources for fireflies, including links to a couple of experiments and a craft idea.

Glow Worms – Research resources for glowworms. Includes links to sites, videos, and activity suggestions.

Hunt For June Bugs – June bug information, observational activities, links and videos.

Spiders – Spider resource page includes links to: An article about types of spiders and facts, information, identification chart home remedies, printables, and craft projects. Videos have also been included.

Amphibians

Frog Research ProjectA research project based on frogs. Fun facts, questions, resources and activity suggestions.

Birds


Bird Eggs – Egg experiments, a recipe idea, links, and resources.

Bird Watching Activities – Bird watching activities, bird treat ideas, and links to bird-related activities and information.

Owls – This post links up to numerous owl resources: dissect a virtual owl pellet, owl anatomy, physiology, sounds, mythology, teacher resources, and more.

Penguin Resources – Penguin Resources: Penguin information, lesson plans, and videos.

WoodpeckersLinks to sites with information about woodpeckers.

Fish/Sea Life


Frogfish Resources include sites to information, pictures, and videos.

Sharks – Links to – Basic facts, online puzzles, printables, and informative videos.

Oysters & Pearls – Oyster information includes: How pearls are made, the American oyster, facts, how to make an oyster garden and informative videos.




Mammals

Bats – Information about bats, includes sound games, and resources.

Bat Resource Page – Bat resources for all ages and learning styles.

BearsResources include: Bear types, puzzles, and videos.

Black Cats – Find why black cats are considered good luck to some and bad luck to others and do a balancing activity.

Deer – Resources include: Sites and videos about deer, and how to draw them. Deer activity pages too.

Dolphins – Research Resource – Dolphin resources for all ages. Links to lesson plans, anatomy information, videos, and more.

Domesticated Cats Resource Page – Domestic cat resource page. Links to historical info, information about wild cats – big and small, articles, folktales, crafts, educational resources, treat recipes, and DIY toy instructions.


Mantees – Information includes: Fact sheets, activities, videos, and manatee cams.

Reindeer/Caribou – Information about reindeer/caribou, a related activity, and resources to get you started. 
Reindeer Games and Activities – Reindeer related activities including learning about reindeer – caribou, and making a diorama, a reindeer resume activity, links to word searches, crossword puzzles, mazes, crafts, and a variety of videos.

Snowshoe Hare (Rabbit) – Information and links for the snowshoe hare. Includes drawing activities too.

Wolves – Wolf resources include information about: Types, anatomy, environment, myths, and more.

Reptiles


Basilisk Lizard – Resources include: Printables, videos, information, and craft projects.

Lizard Resource Page – Research companion to a Lizard research guide with a lot of links to lizard related information.

Sea Turtles – Resources include: Links, videos, crafts, and coloring pages.


Animal Related Games, Activities & Misc. Posts


Animal Antics – This is a creative game that uses simple items and encourages players to use their imagination.

Animal Tracker – Instructions for an animal tracking activity.


Animals – May Vol. 1 – Resources for: Gars, Dolphins, Crocodiles, Rhinoceros Beatles, Blue Heron, and Axolotl Salamander

Homemade Treats & Toys for Pets – Treat and toy ideas for dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits.

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Manatees

*Manatee Family – Photo By Fran W.
*Personal note about the photo: The larger manatee in the photo above is nursing her newborn calf. The larger of the young manatees, to the right of the mother, is learning how to care for the younger manatees. She travels with the mother and helps her care for the younger manatees. It is a truly beautiful site.

General Information

Defenders of Wildlife: Florida Manatee – Fact Sheet

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission: FWC’s Manatee Program – Find out about a program designed to help manatees.

Wikipedia: Manatee – General information about manatee, including: Taxonomy, description, behavior, ecology and more. 
Also on this site: West Indian Manatee – African Manatee – Amazonian Manatee

National Geographic: Manatees – Aquatic life, populations, parenting & diet, threats to survival, photo gallery, videos and more.

National Geographic for Kids: West Indian Manatee – Offers very brief information.

Soundwaves: Fieldwork: Famous Manatee “Chessie” Sighted in Chesapeake Bay After Long Absence – Information about Chessie, a manatee that has been spotted in the Chesapeake Bay area.

Activities To Do

Manatee Curriculum – A curriculum written by Maia McGuire and Ruth Francis-Floyd filled with information and activities.

Super Coloring Pages: Manatees

Save The Manatees: Printable Coloring Pages – PDF format

Crazy For Jigsaw Puzzles: Manatee – Play online

About: Homeschooling: Manatee: Word Search, crossword puzzle and other manatee related activities.

Cams & Videos


EarthCam: Manatee Cam

Below, you will find a few of the many videos that can be found in the manatee playlist that has been created for this topic. Enjoy!

Baby Manatee Feeding


Meet Snooty the Manatee

Ocean Stories 2 – Manatees and Molas

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Note: Has this or another activity on Fran’s World of Discovery inspired you or someone else in a positive way? Have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!






Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles
Defenders: Sea TurtlesBasic facts about sea turtles: Diet, population, range, behavior, reproduction, etc.

SeeTurtles: Sea Turtle Facts – Habitat & Diet, Human Threats, Life Cycle, Species

World Wildlife Federation: Sea TurtleGeneral information.

Sea Turtle ConservancyInformation about sea turtles, their habitats and threats to their survival.


SeaWorld Parks & EntertainmentHabitat & Distribution: Distribution, habitat, migration, population, etc.

National Geographic Kids – Green Sea TurtleGeneral information.

Wikipedia: Sea Turtles Description, taxonomy and evolution, distribution and habitat, life cycle and more.

Activities




Videos



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Note: If this, or any other post on Fran’s World of Discovery, has inspired you in a positive way, or you have featured it in a blog post, please comment and link back to where it can be found! Thank you!

Deer

White-Tailed Deer

National Geographic: White-Tailed Deer – Information about white-tailed deer, breeding, diet, behavior, an audio file, and fast facts. Page also offers a picture gallery to scroll through.

Wikipedia: Deer – Information About Deer: Classification, where they can be found around the world, anatomy, diet, reproduction, evolution, species, photos and more.

LiveScience: Facts About Deer – Size, antlers, habitat, habits, diet, offspring, classification and more.

Easy Science for Kids: Wild Deer – Fun facts about deer for kids, vocabulary and videos.


DeerWorlds: Deer Facts – Deer information, types of deer, and deer
conservation.

Activity Pages

Super Coloring: Deer Coloring Pages

Coloring.WS: Deer Coloring Pages

Activity Village: Deer – Deer puzzles, printable poem, booklet, colouring pages, deer grid, jigsaw, poster, story paper and more.

Cybersleuth Kids: Deer Wordsearch
Videos


Learn more about other animals!


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Optical Illusions

Wikipedia: Optical Illusion

Wikipedia: Optical Illusion – Explains what an illusion is and how it works.


Michael Bach: Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena – 129 of them offered on this site!

Illusions.org – 100 Illusions offered.

NIH: Illusions – Explains what an illusion is and offers a few examples.

Eye Tricks: Illusions – Scroll down a bit to get to the gallery with 70 illusions. This site offers a collection of Stereograms (3D hidden images) as well.


Grand Illusions: Optical Illusions – Offers a few pages of optical illusions.

Science Kids: Illusions – Offers a variety of optical illusions.

Neuroscience for Kids: Sight (Vision) – This site offers a few explanations of how sight works and some experiments to try. 


Optic 4 Kids.org: Optical Illusions: What is an Optical Illusion? – Offers some examples of illusions.


Huffington Post: 3D Optical Illusions By Kokichi Sugihara Will Make You Believe The Impossible (VIDEO)

Videos



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If you find a broken link please let me know by leaving a comment!

Note: Has this or another activity on Fran’s World of Discovery inspired you or someone else in a positive way? Have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!

Animal Tracker

Many animals leave signs that they have been around. This activity will have you identifying the signs that tell you what it may be and how you can track them.

You will need: Sketchpad and pencil or a camera
Optional: A pocket microscope

What to look for…

This activity suggests that you observe only. Touching is not recommended.


Insects: Look for plants and leaves that have been chewed. Trees with holes. Watch a patch of flowers being pollinated. Movement in the grass. Eggs under leaves. Various stages of larvae. Listen for them. Look for evidence of insect scat as well.

Spiders: Look for their webs between trees and under things. Each spider makes a unique web and can be identified by it if they are not present.

Birds: Look in trees for nests, listen for them. Make a bird feeder and bring them to you. Look up in the sky or on the ground. Watch them on the beach and near water too. 

Mammals: Look for tracks in the dirt, mud or in puddles, on the sidewalk, in the grass. Look for their scat, but don’t touch it.

Reptiles: Snakes can be found sunning themselves at various points of the day. Approaching them is not recommended. Observe only.
Lizards can be found running around in gardens and sunning themselves in the morning.

Amphibians: Look on land and near water. Look for them at night near a porch light.

Fish/Sealife: Watch the water for signs of jumping, schooling and feeding. Some areas may have shrimp or crabs running during certain times of the year. Look for fins out of the water as well. You might be able to catch a dolphin surfing in some areas!

Places to visit…

The beach, a pond, lake, inlets, woods, your back yard, gardens, the park, near lights at night, etc..

Times to look


Early in the morning, at dusk, early evening. Listen throughout the day.

Bring a friend!



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