Kids have a natural fascination for animals, which makes teaching zoology seem natural to me. Yet, in the public school system other than their little animal reports I never felt my kids really delved into zoology. So, I took it upon myself this year to explore zoology with my kids. I want to share with you what I learned and the resources I used so you can do it too. Disclaimer: Although all of the opinions are my own, some materials were provided to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
The Family School Online has an excellent K-8 curriculum on Zoology with 35 complete lessons. It discusses classification, biomes, adaptations, endangered and extinct animals, and our stewardship over animals. Each lesson has a spiritual principal and an academic principal which is great for kids. For example, in the adaptation lesson we learned that God gave animals adaptations to help them survive and he has also provided us with tools such as the scriptures to help us return home. We used this as the backbone for our Zoology study.
I also loved the way they approached the animal research project. My kids not only had to find out scientific facts about the animals they chose, but also had to come up with a gospel lesson their animal taught them which challenged them a bit.
Institute for Creation Research:
God Made Gorillas, God Made You is an excellent book about all the wonderful characteristics God gave animals and humans. It discusses each animal’s strengths but then points out how we were given extraordinary abilities. The prose is written in rhyme and doesn’t take much time to read. That being said, it is a great springboard for kids to ask questions that may lead to wonderful discussions. We read it and had a very insightful discussion on how God made us each special. My children learned that animals and people are both important to the Lord.
I very much enjoyed this book, and for only $8 it’s a must have for your homeschool library. I do kind of wish it were available in hard back simply because I know it will wear out with frequent use in our home. That being said, I know production costs and market are taken into consideration and I do like the current price point. Plus the art is phenomenal! The book is done in beautiful watercolors my kids and I loved to look at. The ICR website even has some of the illustrations you can look at if you don’t believe me. Check it out.
Signing Time is one of my favorite DVD series. I have purchased over $400 worth of their movies because I think they are so great. I was first exposed to them in high school when I volunteered at a special needs school, and I keep finding more things to love. My toddlers can even learn from them. We liked exploring The Zoo Train and Leah’s Farm videos with our Zoology unit. They teach children ASL vocabulary related to animals and are a lot of fun. You can purchase the DVDs on Amazon, or Ebay or you can purchase a monthly or annual subscription to all the signing time library through their website. My kids love exploring sign language with Alex and Leah and I bet yours will too.
Your local zoo is obviously your best resource for a field trip. We timed our school year so our celebration of knowledge would be on the same day as free day at our local zoo. With seven kids to bring along I am super mindful of free or discounted field trips. If you are too consider doing a google search or just call your local zoo and ask them if they ever do discount days and when they are. If you are in Utah, there are several locations that participate in ZAP (Zoo Arts and Parks) days when you can go for free. Just check their websites for days and times. My kids loved the lions. What will your kids like best?
I hope you enjoy exploring zoology with your children. It’s really a fascinating topic. The most important thing to remember is to let them explore and have fun with it so its not just drudgery. Talk to them about how God created animals and let them talk about their favorite animals. Have them color birds and watch nature documentaries of that is what they enjoy. There is a big, beautiful world for them to explore and this is just the beginning!