I’m trying to catch up on some of our homeschool weeks that I haven’t gotten around to posting about yet. We studied the continent of Asia through animals and took a closer look at India while we were in Zambia but I’m just getting around to writing about it now. The book of the week was The Animal Boogie by Debbie Harter. It is a song as well as a book about a variety of animals that inhabit a jungle environment. The book doesn’t come out and say that it is based in India but if you take a closer look at the animals in the story you can play a geography game that will lead you to that conclusion which is exactly what we did. This post contains affiliate links.
Song of the Week:
The Song of the Week was of course The Animal Boogie. You can watch and dance along to an animated version on YouTube.
We learned a couple of vocabulary words (in relation to the wildlife represented in The Animal Boogie) this week:
Distribution: All the places where a specific animal lives
Endangered: Animals that are so few in number that they may no longer exist in the world if they are not protected
We watched a short video on Asian animals and then placed our Asian animals on our map. We discovered that many Asian animals are similar to our African animals and the girls enjoyed moving some of their favorite animals from Africa to Asia.
For the first three days of the week we focused on learning about two animals each day. I wanted the girls to come away with one fact about each animal and make a mask to use later in the week when we would act out the story. I found print and color masks for each of the animals (except the cobra which we did a different craft for) and some water color paints that I had stashed away. The girls loved the opportunity to paint three days in a row. I pasted the masks onto old cereal boxes to make them a little bit stronger before they were painted and then taped a craft stick onto the back once they had dried.
Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal (possibly Bhutan and Bangladesh)
Take away fact: Sloth Bears are the only bears that carry their young on their backs
Here is a great David Attenborough video on Sloth Bears. David Attenborough videos were definitely a contributing factor to my husband’s career choice in wildlife conservation. If you and your children haven’t watched any of them, I highly recommend them.
Golden Langur Monkey:
I’m not sure which monkey Animal Boogie was portraying but we chose to study the Golden Langur Monkey because they fit the geographic distribution I was going for, they have a similar color to the monkey in the book and they are just so beautiful.
Distribution: India, Bhutan
Take away fact: Golden Langur Monkeys eat leaves (although they also eat fruit and flowers).
Both ARKive and BBC Nature have videos, photos and facts about these primates on their websites. Our internet was too slow for the videos but we enjoyed looking at the photographs and I read some of the information to my girls.
Indian Elephant (Asian Elephant):
Distribution: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, China, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Borneo
Take away fact: Indian elephants have a long history of domestication whereas our African elephants are rarely domesticated. They are smaller than African elephants and sometimes they are decorated.
We watched this short video that explains the difference between African and Indian elephants and then enjoyed watching this video of a decorated elephant and this incredible video of an elephant that paints – really it is amazing to see!
Indian White-rumped Vulture:
I’m not sure which vulture Animal Boogie was depicting but we chose to take a closer look at the Indian White-rumped Vulture.
Distribution: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam (possibly China, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Iran)
Take away fact: Vultures clean up the environment by eating the left overs of other animals which helps stop the spread of disease.
I read the girls a few of the facts from the EcoLocalizer site and we watched the Wild Films India video where we noticed that a vulture’s wing tips look like fingers. I also found a really fascinating video about how vulture DNA is collected and studied. It wasn’t appropriate for my preschoolers but I’m including it here since I found it so interesting.
Distribution: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan
Status: Near Threatened
Take away fact: The leopard has spots called rosettes and every leopard’s spot patterns are unique to that individual
Since we spent some time learning about leopards last year during our leopard reintroduction and there are not many differences between African and Indian leopards we decided to learn about other Asian cats.
We took a look at this list of Asian cats and then watched this David Attenborough video of a mother tiger with her cubs.
Distribution: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia
Take away fact: I wanted the girls to take away the fact that the King Cobra is the longest snake in the world but Boo’s favorite fact is that a venomous bite from a King Cobra causes the heart and lungs to shut down.
Instead of painting a King Cobra mask we made a paper plate snake craft from Preschool Crafts for Kids. I cut a cobra head and hood out of card stock to add to it.
We watched these King Cobra facts, this footage of a snake charmer and this video from National Geographic. While my girls loved this last National Geographic video and have asked for it again and again I would really recommend that you preview it before you show it to young children. It shows an enormous snake and it is where Boo got her fact about the heart and lungs shutting down. It might be scary for some preschoolers.
Jellybean Distribution Map:
After learning about each of the animals in our book we created a jellybean distribution map (inspired by this Mr. Sprinkle geography game). We put together our world map puzzle and chose a different color jellybean for each of the animals we had studied. We went through the animals one by one with me pointing out the countries that animal is found in and the girls placing a jellybean on each country. When we were finished I asked the girls to find which country the Animal Boogie was about by finding the country that had all six jellybean colors on it. They were very excited to “discover” India this way and even more excited that they got to eat the jellybeans.
Once we knew we were learning about India we watched this Indian Animals Slide Show to see how many animals we could identify and we watched this Global Grover Sesame Street Video which is actually set in New York City but that taught us a little bit about Indian culture and the Indian board game Carrom. There is a large Indian population in Lusaka so we were sure to sample some Indian food the next time we were in town.
At the end of the week we put on a show for Dada. Boo “read” The Animal Boogie from memory while Kooks acted it out using her animal masks and snake craft. They both enjoyed putting on the show.
We managed to get a video of Boo telling us the animal facts she had learned and this is my first attempt at a YouTube video. I didn’t catch the very beginning so you don’t see her saying, “This is a sloth bear.” This was where I learned that her favorite King Cobra fact was that a venomous bite can be deadly and you can hear me prompting her to tell us about the snake’s length. She wasn’t having it!
We read all of our children’s books set in Asia this week – I wish we had access to a library but I was happy with the selection we do have:
China: Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China by Deborah Noyes is a lovely, lyrical story about a young princess who must leave her home to marry the king of Khotan and how she takes a piece of home with her, silkworm cocoons and mulberry tree seeds weaved into her hair.
China: The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack is the classic children’s book about a duck who spent a night alone on the Yangtze river to avoid a spank for being the last duck on the boat. It shows some aspects of Chinese culture and what life on the river was like through his adventures.
The Philippines: The Bamboo Dance by Cress Sia is a story of friendship that incorporates aspects of Philippine culture while demonstrating the importance of practicing a skill, in this case the tinikling (the bamboo dance). One friend helps the other, who is struggling, to practice the national dance and they are selected to perform at the town’s fiesta. This is one of the Hartlyn Kids books that includes a passport stamp for the Philippines at the end of the book.
India: Adventures That Lead to Home by Bonita Jewel Hele is another Hartlyn Kids book with another passport stamp. This one shows the differences between city and rural life through the adventures of a nine year old boy who goes to Nagpur for a visit with his cousin. He returns full of stories about the sites he saw but when asked if he would like to live in the city he realizes that although he had a wonderful time, there is no place like home.The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book by Bob Hartman is a collection of folk tales from around the world. It includes three stories from Japan, two from India and one from Java. My favorite of these is The Big Wave from Japan that tells about a rich man, “owner of the rice fields and lord of the village below” who set all of his fields on fire when he saw a Tsunami style wave was heading towards the village. The fire drew all the people in the village to higher, safer ground.
What are your favorite children’s books set in Asia?