The second half of this weeks coop class on China was dedicated to learning about animals. My teaching partner started talking about different species and how you could tell a species based on whom they would mate with. Then she talked about how many endangered species there were in China. She explained what threatened, endangered and extinct meant through a game. She had us all (parents and kids) sit in a circle on the floor and wear panda bear masks. Then she asked several to move out of the circle and suddenly wer threatened. Then she asked more of us to move out until there were just two pandas left and they were endangered, then she had them move out of the circle and they were extinct this really hit home with the kids.
Then she brought out plastic dinosaurs and asked if they had ever seen real dinosaurs and explained how they were extinct now and how many believe an asteroid landed and killed them. She talked about other ways animals can become extinct, through hunting or destruction of their habitat. Then she brought out little plastic play figures for several endangered species in China including the snow leopard, panda, red panda and tiger. Then she had a big map of China that had small squares cut out with pictures of people and animals. She played a game with them – when they had a person they had to take an animal off the map to illustrate how the large population threatens certain animal species. This really seemed to hit home with many of the kids and they were passionate about not wanting the animals to become extinct.
As they were playing they were saying things like “This is so sad”, “those poor animals” and “we need to do something”. They started trying to come up with solutions they thought we should call China and tell them not to hurt the animals, or build really big zoos there to protect the animals. We talked to them briefly about things they can do here to make a difference and how there are animals in our own country as well that are endangered.
They finished by making a “Time is Running Out” clock with pictures of endangered Chinese animals for each hour. They could move the arm of the clock around and realize that as time goes by without changes animals are in trouble. They also had a visual reminder of some of the animals that are threatened and endangered in China.
This class went well, there was a lot of information presented. But we tried to do it in an interactive and fun way. This unit on China overall has been successful and for some reason I have noticed that the kids seem to remember more from this country than they did in other months when we focused on Israel and Iraq.