From Zoo School at the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, FL
Bat tag (To play with a bunch of kids)
- Blindfold one child - she's the bat. The rest of the children are insects.
- Every time the bat says "beep, beep," the insects call back "buzz, buzz" while moving all around her.
- When the bat tags an insect, the insect has to go to the bat cave (say, the couch).
- The last insect standing becomes the next bat.
The hidden lessons: Any chance kids get to work on their social skills, such as following directions and taking turns, pays off in school. Turn the game into Zoology 101 by telling them that they're mimicking echolocation, the complex way bats use sound to detect prey when hunting in the dark.
- Check an encyclopedia or go online to worldalmanacforkids.com and find out with your child how tall his toy animals would grow in the wild.
- Draw a line outside with chalk.
- Take a stuffed animal (say, a giraffe), remind your child how tall it can grow (19 feet), and have him walk that many steps while you count together.
- Mark where he stops and leave the animal there. Repeat with the others.
- Study your homegrown zoo together: Which is tallest? Smallest? The hidden lessons: Measuring in this way makes numbers more tangible. Plus, he's counting, comparing, and even graphing.