The easiest way to introduce a child to the system we use to classify various groups of animals is to start by learning about body coverings. This post will only cover animals that have fur, feathers and scales but you can add the others (exoskeleton and skin) if and when you feel your child is ready.
Here are some simple and fun body covering activities to get your child familiar with fur, feathers and scales.
Body Covering Activities
There may be laws in your country governing the use of wildlife and their products (feathers, skins and fur) so make sure you obtain them through legal means (check with zoos and your local wildlife authority). Otherwise, I suspect it will be easier for most of you to go with the substitutes below.
Substitute animal products
- Feathers – Can be easily bought from your local craft shop these days
- Hair/fur – Use your own hair or the fur of your dog after they’ve had a haircut (that’s what we did!). You could even use one of your child’s stuffed toys!
- Scales – Buy imitation snake skin from your local fabric shop, or use your handbag. You could also just use a snake toy that has imitation scales for the rubbing activity too.
Animal Crayon Rubbings
Using the naturally cast off body covering of animals can make a great rubbing activity. Miss Possum had fun seeing the different types of patterns that were created when placing paper over them and colouring with crayons. She liked this so much that I designed a printable for it. You can download it by clicking the image.
Fur, feathers and scales what’s in the box?
Using three tissue boxes, we created a sensory activity. Using touch, Miss Possum had to guess the body covering and an animal the body covering may belong to.
Fur, feathers and scales cover up collage
We used the same printable to match the fur covering to the animal and pasted the body covering onto the printable.
Touching live animals
It’s important to take every opportunity to develop a child’s understanding of the basic body coverings using real animals too. You can do this by talking about the different body coverings on live animals you may see with your child.
Inspect each body covering and notice differences between each.
- The different types of body coverings
- How they feel? Are they rough or smooth, soft or hard?
- What’s unique about each type of body covering?
- Some animals that have each body covering
Children can amuse themselves with these fun activities and they probably don’t even realise they are building their knowledge of basic animal classification. If they really enjoy them, know quite a few different types of animals and now recognise scales, fur and feathers, then they may be ready to move on to the next learning activities. The next post will give you some activities that will build your child’s understanding that animal body coverings help us put animals into groups.
More fun with Fur, Feathers and Scale