Reptiles are taking over my life, y’all.
I am not kidding. Because we moved, we now have a room devoted to my youngest son’s growing collection of lizards, turtles and snakes. (It’s the guest room, which means no one will ever actually want to come and stay with us.)
For the first time, I can close a door, and not have terrariums and various creatures in odd places around the house. This part is simply divine.
Having them all in one place actually works really well for care and cleaning as well. Every morning, as part of our transition to school, my son and I go to the room, clean, feed and water them all. Then he takes them out, one by one and allows them some time to move around with (on) him.
It was cute, for about a week.
What I did not anticipate is how totally obsessed he would become.
Something about having a time of day completely devoted to his interest, ignited an all day, every day, passionate need to discuss, evaluate, compare and online search reptiles.
Every single dream I had this week had at least one reptile, randomly in the background. My husband and I were in the car, but not without a tortoise in the back seat. My son and I were at the hospital again (a recurring dream that definitely shows some element of PTSD, but that’s beside the point) and the room had all kinds of trees in it with various lizards crawling around while the doctors examined him.
There is no escape.
The truth is, special interests actually help us so much in our learning. I often share how we incorporate them to make learning something that will “stick” for my boys.
Trying to take my own advice, I decided that our Friday Fun-Day activity this week would incorporate his favorite reptiles into our geography map work.
(Note: Before I explain the activity, I do want to stress that this does not have to be based solely on animals. Instead of a list of reptiles, you could use a list of favorite foods or teas. You could have a list of favorite forms of transportation, different types of music or aquatic creatures. We used reptiles because that is what we are living and breathing these days.)
52 Weeks Of Easy For Mom Activities
What You’ll Need For This Project
A List Of Favorite Animals (or whatever your child might be interested in)
Access to Google or some way to research native habitats
A Wall Map of The World
An Optional, Smaller Desk Map for Practice
Animals Of The World Activity: Hands-On Geography For The Animal Lover
Have your child write down all his favorite animals, each one on its own post-it note. (Mine chose his pets’ names, which created a discussion around proper nouns vs. common nouns. Handwriting and grammar in the very first step = winning!)
Research the various native habitats of the animals listed. Note their continents and countries of origin.
This step is optional. You could skip right to the large wall map in Step 4, but my son needed to take some time to practice and re-learn with a smaller map first. First, we reviewed the names of the continents (summer slide is a real thing) with our smaller, desk map. Then we placed the post-its on it as a kind of cheat sheet.
Place the post-its on the larger wall map, designating the location that each animal calls home.
After asking your child to read the different locations and post-its on the wall map, call it a success and have a snack.
Animals of The World Activity
This activity was super easy for me given that we already had everything we needed around the house. (This was particularly important because this was our first official week back to school and I didn’t need any extra work.) It was a great way to learn geography without a curriculum!
Only a few months left in our 52 Week Series devoted to one hands-on, fun project every Friday. What a year it’s been!
Yes, his bearded dragon’s name is John Cena. Yes, he has dyslexia. Yes, I almost named this post – “What Do Post-Its, John Cena and Hands-On Leaning Have in Common?“
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.