When we started our underground animal theme I asked the kids to tell me what they already knew about animals that live underground. They looked at me like I was joking, and said, “Your silly! Animals don’t live underground.”
And so began our exploration for the week…they were amazed to discover that some animals really do make their homes underground. Not only did they learn a lot about the animals, they also became a bit obsessed with some of the underground animals around our home. We’ve had a steady collection of worms, bugs, and any small creature that they can catch since we did these activities (so don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning!).
Underground Animal Small World
My husband wouldn’t have been too happy if I let the kids dig up the yard to find out what animals are below the surface in our yard, so I wanted to come up with another way for them to play. This underground small world was a great way to play and discuss the facts we were learning.
First we grabbed a few cardboard tubes, tape, and some boxes from the recycling bin. We cut them to make some burrows tunnels. We discussed that our bin would be sort of like what we would see if we could peel the top layer of grass off the ground.
After we had the tunnels and burrows together, we filled in the rest of the bin with soil. We added some rocks and any underground animals and bugs we could find in our toy collection.
The preschool kids spent a lot of time playing with the animals, deciding which animals would live in which burrow, and acting out different play scenes. Tinker’s favorite part of the bin was the tunnel. She put all of the animals down the tunnel.
Then she retrieved them from the burrow…and repeated this over and over again! (And yes, they are both wearing tutus and hair bows to play in the dirt…my girls!)
The wombat play at Wildlife Fun 4 Kids inspired us to create our own set of cardboard tunnels and burrows for the kids to play in throughout the week. We made tunnels leading to one main burrow that was housed under our dining room table. The kids had so much fun chasing each other through the tunnels. The burrow also turned into a great little reading nook where the kids took their flashlights to look at some of our underground animal theme books.
In a few places we left open flaps where the kids could peak up “above ground” to check for any predators. This turned into a game that the kids played all week. As the kids were crawling through the tunnels someone would peak up and yell “predator.” Then all the kids would scurry to the burrow to hide. It was cute to watch, and they all know what that vocabulary term means now!
Letter U Craft
Our letter U craft was inspired by Brilliant Beginnings Preschool. We started with a letter U shape to represent the letter and the underground tunnel. Then we added some pictures of underground animals and our bug stamps. To add a little fine motor practice the kids trimmed the grass. It was easy to make, and the kids have a little reminder of some of the animals that live underground and the letter U.
What other activities would you include in an underground animal theme?
This will be our last alphabet series for a while. We did do individual themes through letter Z, but we’ll be taking a break from blogging about them throughout the summer. I hope to limit myself to two or three posts each week throughout the summer. No laptops at the beach, right? We’ll be back with more themes and our home preschool posts at the end of August.
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This is one of the best play based learning posts I’ve ever read! You’re brilliant. What lucky children.
Thank you for sharing your creative genius with the world.
I love the small world play you invented, especially the tubes cut in half for the tunnels, very inventive.
Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!
I love the way you’ve made this so hands-on. I’m sure your kids now know LOTS about underground animals! Lucinda
Thanks! They do seem to retain a lot of the information we learned. I always love to hear things come up in our conversations and play long after our themes are over.
Ann @ My Nearest and Dearest
Oh my goodness Shaunna, these activities look like SO MUCH FUN! I love the idea of the burrows and tunnels in the small world. We are definitely doing that! And the kid size tunnels would be a hit with any child.
Thanks, Ann! The kids loved playing with the tunnels, both in the small world and the life-size version!
This is brilliant!