Word play is an open-ended opportunity for learning through play. What is a group of zebras called? A group of porcupines? Do you know? Peak your child’s curiosity. Word play leads to discovery of words for collections of animals. Some group names describe the animal or it’s behavior. Some seem just plain silly!
Preschoolers might enjoy time with you doing something as grownup as researching for more group names or visit the zoo to see animal groups in person.
The more you talk about and research animals, the more new words and animal facts parents and children learn. Awareness of animals and cultures outside of their daily lives also helps build social skills.
Children in quality child care have probably had the opportunity to learn a lot about animals. If your child is new to naming animals, there are dozens of animal books available to borrow at the library.
If you have a baby or toddler, you might want to you borrow A School of Fish by Sarah Creese from a library. Toddlers will enjoy the touch and feel parts of the board book, silly illustrations and rhyming text.
Make game pieces from recycled paper envelopes or any blank paper available.
Cut and fold like our example.
On the outside, write the letter the animal name starts with.
On the inside, write the group and animal name.
It’s that easy. See the next page for twelve examples to get started.
How to play:
Parent or player one, draw a game piece. Show and tell player two the first letter of the animal name.
Player two can guess the animal name.
If player two cannot guess, player one can provide hints.
For example: This animal lives in very cold places and looks like he’s all dressed up in black and white.
No guess? Player one can pretend to be a penguin.
When player two has guessed the animal, ask what a group of that animal is called or simply tell your child.
Talk about characteristics of the animal and guess why the group is called that name. What interesting facts or stories can you tell about the animal?
More fun learning
Looking up animal facts can be a very entertaining activity to share with your child. Did you know that penguins are birds that fly underwater. Some animals have more than one group name. In the water, a group of penguins may also be called a raft. On land, they are called a waddle! Follow our lead or make up your own game. Either way, word play is more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
View/Download the PDF version here. (Right click and choose “Save Link As” to download)
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