Montessori Wild Cats Unit: activities

Books: 'Big Cats' Usborne, 'Animal Kingdom' Steve Parker, 'Nature Hide and Seek: Jungles; Wild Republic Puzzle


Hi, thanks for stopping by! I have a 4-years-old, animals-obsessed son, and for the past few weeks, we have been working on a wild cats unit. 
In my previous article, I have reviewed all of the books we have been working with, so if you are interested, please check it out here. Today I will show you the wild cats-related activities I set up for him. Some of them may seem a little advanced, but because my son has always loved animals more than anything else, he already knows quite a lot about them. If you're interested to learn how to introduce the unit study to a much younger child, and how to support their interests, please let me know. I would be pleased to write an article on it too.
I am going to divide this article into two parts: activities, and then the breakdown of topics we went through with my son. 



ACTIVITIES:

Lioness: Collecta, Lynx: Nayab, tiger: Schleich, cheetahs: AAA

SORTING: DIURNAL AND NOCTURNAL WILD CATS

Wild cats are predominantly nocturnal, except for cheetahs, who are primarily active during the day. This sorting activity helps the child to memorise that. 


Tiger: AAA, book: Children's Picture Atlas

MATCHING WILD CATS TO THE MAP

I strongly believe that hands-on learning is highly beneficial for the child. Matching the photos of animals or animal figurines (or even stuffed animals) to the map provides a better learning experience than memorising that cheetahs live in Africa and Iran, lions in Africa and Gir Forest in India, without even once looking at the map. 


Lynx: Nayab, small and large cheetah: AAA

ORDERING ANIMAL FIGURINES BY SIZE

In this activity, the child orders the animal figurines from the smallest to the largest. For beginners, I would suggest choosing three very distinctive in size figurines to allow the child to understand the concept of ordering better. Younger kids can also compare which toy is smaller, and which larger. 


Tiger cub: no name, lioness: Collecta, tiger: AAA

ORDERING ANIMAL FIGURINES BY WEIGHT

This activity is very similar to the previous one, however here the child focuses on ordering the figurines based on their weight. Once again, choosing models of very different weights is advised. 


Tiger cub: AAA, tiger: Schleich; the lion family: Collecta

LIONS VS TIGERS: EATING ORDER

Lions and tigers eat in a different order. First of all, a vast majority of lions live in groups called prides, where females do most of the hunting. However, the male lions eat first, then the lionesses, and the cubs at the very end.

Tigers, on the other hand, lead solitary lives, but when a tigress is caring for her cubs, the cubs eat first, she eats as the last. 

We have first read about it a few times, discussed it, and then I prepared an activity for Kian, to provide him with a hands-on learning experience. 

I asked him to present the eating orders by assigning numbers to the figurines.



The rights belong to:  Osama Muhammad (the photo of a snow leopard), Andrew Cline (closeup of snow leopard's skin), Joao Carlos Medau (ocelot), jaguar's skin closeup: found on Pinterest

MATCHING THE ANIMALS TO THEIR SKIN COVERS

Wild cats' furs are beautiful, so why not teach the kids how to distinguish them?

For this activity, I printed the fur closeups and photos of wild cats off of the internet. I displayed them on my son's shelves so he can access them anytime he wants, but we also work with them together. We match the skins to their owners, and we analyse the differences between the species. 


Wild Republic Rainforest Animal 6-in-1 block puzzle

BLOCK PUZZLE

I found this set of block puzzle in a second-hand store a while ago. It fits into this unit study perfectly, because it features two wild cats: jaguar and tiger. 



...

PHONICS:

Kian is currently eagerly learning phonics and letters, so I always add some phonic study into his unit. He is now learning 't' for tiger and 'l' for lion. When preparing the baskets, I 'shop' around the house, trying to find the right objects I could use. 


STUDY OF WILD CATS:

Books: 'Tigress' Nick Dowson, Purnell's Picture Dictionary; Large tiger: AAA; tiger: Schleich, white tiger cub: Schleich


GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • cat and big cat characteristics,
  • wild cat's senses,
  • wild cat's communication.


LIONS:

  • native to Africa and Gir Forest in India,
  • unlike other wild cats, they live in groups called prides,
  • male lion's mane protects their neck during fights, and it becomes darker as they get older,
  • female lions do most of the hunting,
  • the order lions eat in (male lions eat first, followed by lionesses, and the cubs eat as last),
  • lion's body characteristics (glow in the dark eyes, white patches of fur, tail tassel etc.).


TIGERS:

  • they live solitary lives, and the female is the only one looking after the cubs,
  • their order of eating (cubs eat first, then the female),
  • the types of tigers,
  • the fact that tigers are excellent swimmers and love being in the water,
  • the fact that it is normal for them to walk long distances to catch their prey. 


JAGUARS:

  • the differences between leopards and jaguars,
  • their habitats (mostly tropical rainforests of Central and South America, always close to lakes and rivers),
  • the fact that they can hunt on the land, in the water and on the trees,
  • they are good swimmers, often hunt alligators, turtles and fish,
  • they are the only wild cats to kill the prey by biting through the skull. 


CHEETAHS:

  • native to Africa and Iran, they live on open grasslands,
  • they cant roar,
  • fastest land mammals in the world,
  • excellent sprinters, but can't run for long, 
  • they are diurnal,
  • their body shape resembles a greyhound more than a wild cat,
  • their body characteristics and their importance (long tail, flexible backbone, dew claw and more). 


SNOW LEOPARDS:

  • live in mountainous areas of Central and South Asia,
  • the way they hunt (they often surprise their prey by jumping on it from above),
  • they can adapt to changing weather (hot summers and very cold winters),
  • their paws are wide and flat, which helps them not to sink into the snow. 


CLOUDED LEOPARDS:

  • they live in the forests of Southeast Asia,
  • good climbers, hunt monkeys and birds in trees,
  • they have long canine teeth (only slightly smaller than the lions),
  • they can kill larger prey like wild pigs and deer on the ground.


LEOPARDS:

  • they like to rest in trees and are good climbers,
  • native to Africa and Southern Asia,
  • they are nocturnal,
  • their varied diet allows them to survive in many different places and habitats,
  • they can easily drag their prey onto the tree,
  • the differences between leopards and jaguars.


SMALLER WILD CATS:

  • we learned some general info (habitats, distinctive body characteristics etc.) about pumas, servals, lynxes, margays, caracals, leopard cats, Palla's cats, black-footed cats and ocelots.



Thank you so much for your time! I truly hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and found some inspirations here. If you want to know what wild cats-related books we are working with, please check out my previous article

Have a wonderful day! 


Gosia x






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