What Life Lessons can Children Learn from Animals?
There is no doubt that most children love animals. From the earliest age learning animal names and noises are a key first language skill and many children’s toys and favourite characters are based on animals throughout childhood. There is a clear natural affinity between them.
Child development expert Dr Amanda Gummer says:
“Animals fascinate children for a range of reasons - the big heads and eyes of many animals are shown to have natural appeal and there is something captivating about how interactive and unpredictable they are.”
Educators are always looking for ways to turn natural interest into a learning opportunity and with animals, these opportunities really are endless. Animals can help children learn everything from language and numeracy (get them counting a leopard’s spots) to empathy/caring skills and even understanding the world.
For example, children can learn the differences between the animals by watching how a lion might skilfully creep up on it’s prey, or a meerkat nervously flitting about while checking for predators. They can learn about living things, their habitats and basic needs inline with the UK science curriculum and broaden their understanding of the world, inspiring an interest in topics like evolution, geography and conservation. After all, realising that these animals have homes across the planet can help children understand why they need protecting.
Helping children to learn social and emotional skills can be a real challenge, particularly in the modern world. Young children are naturally egocentric, focusing on their immediate environment and their own lives, but learning about animals helps children to understand emotions, develop empathy and learn how to care for others. Seeing animals up close enables children to see how they eat, play, fight, interact, move and communicate and compare this with other animals as well as humans.
That’s why at Fundamentally Children we were so interested to discover Virry, an app that recreates the unique zoo experience. It’s as close as you can get to interacting with real animals without being physically with them and yet can be enjoyed any time via a tablet.
Children’s app and tech expert Lucy Gill says:
“We were delighted to see how much the children loved Virry during testing. We are so used to testing apps full of cartoon animals it was a real treat to see the real thing! The children loved learning about the animals and interacting with them - they kept coming back to the app again and again.”
The app’s up-close live-streamed videos from Al Ain Zoo mean children can observe natural behaviour as it happens or watch highlights from the day. Children seemingly interact with the animals as a virtual ‘Keeper for the day’ - from throwing toys to Limun the lion to calling the meerkats over for feeding time - all with real animal footage. With interesting facts and quizzes to test their knowledge, this really is an engaging way for children to learn.
Whilst it should not be a substitute for visits to real animals, Virry offers more day-to-day contact and the freedom for children to explore and learn at their own pace. Letting your child experience the astounding animal world first hand will not only amaze them, but they’ll also have loads of fun learning about some of the fantastic creatures that exist all over the world.
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This post was written by Anna Taylor