Sorting is a common preschool activity that you may notice your child doing all on their own. Sorting helps make sense of the world. But it’s also a great way to talk about attributes and differences in the items you are sorting. In this animal sorting activity of pets vs. wild animals, it gave us a chance to talk about how we care for pets and observe local wildlife. It wasn’t super simple for a 2.5-year-old. But when we hit road bumps a few questions lead to the final decision. After sorting we played and played and played which is exactly what I’d hoped for.
- Gather your materials. You will need a doll house (or a picture of a house), some animals and if you want a basket and container to represent the wild. We used a square vase and some pine cones it doesn’t have to be perfect just enough to be separate from the house pets. Make sure that you have some animals that are clearly pets and others that are clearly wild animals and if you think it won’t frustrate your child add in a few iffy ones. Our iffy ones were the budgie, lizard, and turtle.
- Place the house, animals and “wild” on a table and invite your wee one to start sorting. Let them know that all the animals need to be put in their home either in the house or wild.
- Help them sort if need be. My daughter took great care in placing each pet in the right spot. When she got to the lizard she was not sure. Eventually, she decided that it should be in the wild. You and I know that people have lizards as pets but I wasn’t going to go into that if she decided it shouldn’t. Don’t get hung up on this technicality on the less obvious animals if it breaks the flow of the game but if your child will understand explain exotic pets and let them decide if they think they should or should not be pets.
- After all the sorting is done you can count the animals. Then ask your child to pick which pet they would like to have in their own house and to pick out the wild animals that they have seen around their neighborhood/zoo/aquarium.
- Then play! Can you tell she is potty training right now? We played and played mostly potty training each of the house pets. If only it were that easy!
Books About Pets
Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennet is a story about a little boy and his disappointing pet fish Norman. All great children’s books slip a lesson between the pages. This one is about how our first impressions aren’t always right. Friendships can take a while to grow. But once they do they are solid, even with a pet fish named Norman.
My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is a perfect book for this activity. In this story, a little boy writes to Santa and asks for a very specific gift, a real live penguin! It’s not long before he realizes that a real live penguin is not as much fun as he thought it would be. He is very responsible though and sacrifices a lot for Osbert. He is thankful to Santa for getting his gift exactly right. But writes a follow-up letter explaining how it would be ok if Santa sent a replacement. Very cute story, it’s not short though but my 3-year-old listened to it happily for a bedtime story. Laughing at the funny parts and pointing out that he wrote a letter to Santa too. But he didn’t ask for a penguin… thank goodness!
McDuff Moves In by Rosemary Wells will pull at your heart strings and make your child beg for a dog! McDuff escapes from a dog catcher’s truck and tried to brave the world alone. But he only meets unfriendly animals until he meets Fred and Lucy! They take him in initially just for one night… but who can resist this Westie? My son loves this series of books and I do too. They are calm, sweet and I love the illustrations by Susan Jeffers.
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