During our nature walks, children have collected leaves, pinecones, acorns and other treasured objects, and today we are putting them all to use by making a Forest Animals sensory bin with our forest animals.
A sensorial bin (or "sensory box") is a tactile experience in a contained area such as a tray, storage container, tub, bucket etc., which is filled with a "filler" (tactile material for a child to explore with hands) such as rice, pasta, sand, shredded paper, beans or leaves (as here). Children learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses. With a sensorial bin, children are using their sight, touch and smell to experience their environment in a totally new way. It is a truly wonderful way for children to engage their senses and to have fun! Your imagination is the limit as to what theme you can create. Today, we have a forest theme, and we are learning about our animal friends.
Badger is from the same family as otters, ferret, polecats, weasels and wolverines. Badgers are nocturnal mammals. They dig burrows underground called a sett, which they keep very clean. Their setts are often a maze of tunnels and chambers for sleeping around six badgers.
After a polar bear, a Grizzly Bear is the world's second-largest bear and is the largest bear in North America. Since Grizzly bears are omnivores, they feed on fish, plants and large mammals like moose, deer and even black bears. Sometimes they gather at waters to catch salmon. They are also known to steal food from wolves or humans. They are loners and frequently behave aggressively. Because of their height and aggressive behavior, they are considered as very dangerous in their home, North America.
Found in a variety of fur colors, mice are known for their big ears and long tail. As very social animals, mice depend on other mice for warmth, because of their size, and for companionship, because they are used to having big families. Females, if bred, could give birth every three weeks to a litter of twelve. Mice love to hide and to exercise. When it comes to food, they will eat their veggies, and to keep their front teeth healthy, mice like to chew on wood. Since they get most of the moisture they need from what they eat, mice do not need to drink very much.
Coming out to eat at dusk, rabbits and hares find soft shoots and grasses while being alert of potential danger. They use their front incisors to cut their food while the teeth near the back grind it. Their front teeth never dull because they grow throughout their entire life. When threatened, rabbits bounce away looking for a place to hide. Depending on a speed to escape from predators, these mammals use their strong hind legs and feet, often bounding in a zig-zag pattern or even just leaping into the air. Did you know? Females can give birth to thirty young annually.
White-tailed deer graze mornings and evenings. They are herbivores and feed on green plants and nuts. Deer live in small groups, usually only the mother and its calves. The males have magnificent antlers and live in small groups of three or four animals. Both the male deer and doe have a red-brown coat in the summer and a grey one in the winter. As they now have almost no natural enemies, deer populations are sometimes so large that they cannot find enough to eat. Deer are ruminant animals like cows, which means they have four stomachs and ruminate half-digested food. This complicated procedure allows the deer to eat twigs for example, which most animals cannot digest.
Known as elk in Europe, moose are the largest of all the deer family. These large animals have elaborate forking antlers and long dark brown hair. They live in northern forests where alder, aspen, and willows abound. Moose are particularly well adapted to cold weather and prefer to live where summer temperatures do not exceed sixty degrees Ferenhite. They eat newly grown leaves, as well as the tips of twigs. Their twelve sets of broad teeth at the rear of the mouth, six pairs of molars and six pairs of premolars, help them grind up even the toughest woody plants. Their rutting (or breeding) season lasts from early September to late October. Each year during the rut they lose their antlers; they then re-grow another set during the winter that follows. Moose's antlers fully grow within three to five months, making them one of the fastest growing organs in animals. Most of the year, moose stay away from people, but during rutting season they have been known to charge people, cars, and even houses.
Moles are small mammals that are found all over the world. They are often thought of as garden pests, mainly because of their intricate tunnel systems. Moles use tunnels to travel, but tunnels are more than just underground highways. Moles dig special chambers at the ends of tunnels that serve as bedrooms and birthing areas. In its tunnel chambers, moles even have kitchens! They eat mostly earthworms, and keep them alive and immobile by biting their heads, and then store them in the chamber. As many as 470 worms have been recorded in one chamber, according to the Mammal Society. And though they spend most of the time underground, they are not blind.
Only in scale, you can tell how tiny this mole is.
Bald Eagle is a large bird of prey with dark-brown feathers and a white head with a golden-yellow beak. It is the official animal of the USA.
Adrian had so much fun with this sensorial bin! And we got to learn some fun facts about our forest animals.