December 1, 2004

Giraffes and Gorillas

Today we decided to focus on giraffes and somehow gorillas made themselves just as big of a part of the day. We began the day with one of our favorite websites Creature Feature by looking at video of giraffes, reading some interesting facts about them, seeing a map of where they live and then listening to sound clips. We also surfed around to find some other facts about them. Have I mentioned recently how much I love Google? A neat site with lots of information we found was Giraffe Central. We spent some time going through the links and especially enjoyed the Image Gallery.

Then we headed over to our local library and I taught the kids how to use the computer to find books on a particular subject. Up until this point we usually just flip through all the books or head to a general section (animals) and browse until we find something of interest. Today I wanted only giraffe books though so we went to the computer and then wrote the numbers down and I used it as an opportunity to show them how to locate books.

We found 4 books on giraffes and also grabbed the giraffe puppet and some board books and other puppets for Sirah to play with and headed off to a corner of the kids section where Sirah could roam, climb and be content while I led a mini lesson in giraffes. We started with the puppet and I asked what they thought was most interesting Rhiannon thought the hair along the back of the neck was most interesting and Ciaran thought their legs were most interesting and I thought their necks were most interesting.

Then we read the non fiction book and highlighted some interesting facts like a giraffe has the same number of neck bones as us - 7, and that they chew their food twice, and of course how tall they are. We talked about their predators which was especially interesting to Rhiannon and how they drink which Ciaran thought was funny. Then we read a storybook and checked the other two books out.

Off we headed to the zoo to see the giraffe. We arrived and headed straight there. We watched her for awhile and then each child took a turn drawing the giraffe in their nature notebook and then we watched her for awhile more. We walked around the rest of the zoo looking at the animals. It was quite empty and we had as much time at each place as we wanted. We were probably with the giraffe for over a half hour, the only people in the building.

We headed over to the primate building and had a really cool experience. The gorilla was sitting right up next to the glass so close you could see it's eyes moving and watching you we took turns sitting right in front of him and watching him and watching him watch us. The kids each drew a picture of him in their nature notebooks and Ciaran drew an extra one on a blank sheet of paper. While we were watching the gorilla so close (I have never been that close to a gorilla that I can remember) for a long time, a mother orangutan came up right next to the glass in the next display over. She sat down there put her hand up to the glass and then was kissing the glass. I pushed Sirah's stroller right over to where the mother was sitting and Sirah was trying to touch her hand and kiss her back it was very precious and amazing to me. This mother just stayed there, the other kids came over to her as well and she just sat there. Her own baby came over while we were all sitting on the floor in front of her taking turns putting our hands up to the glass and latched on. The kids thought this was great to watch the baby nurse and they started talking about it and when the baby walked away they were trying to encourage her to come back for more (using the language they describe nursing with). It really was an amazing encounter, one not soon forgotten. It was nice to have so much time to ourselves with the animals.

We finished at the zoo and headed home where we finished our lesson with some coloring and fact sheets from enchanted learning on giraffes, gorillas and orangutan. All in all it was a truly fabulous day. One made of memories and moments not easily forgotten. We did not have our camera, but the kids made their sketches and we all have snapshots without a camera in our mind.



  1. Anonymous4:31 AM

    it was rubbish

  2. mom of four9:29 AM

    "rubbish"??? what a comment... sounds like a fasinating wonderful day, thanks for sharing it. It gave me some great ideas for gorillas, which we are studying!
    Thanks again!