It is fun to watch the interests of children change as they discover and learn about the world. We have had phases of interest in monster trucks, outer space, construction trucks, dinosaurs, cars, and with this last birthday, it was animals. It seems that many children have an interest in animals at some point. The animal figures get a lot of play in the preschool classroom by both boys and girls and they make a great gift and activity. There are a lot of animal figures and play sets out there. Here we show the Schleich brand which has a wide variety of animals to choose from, each hand-painted to look accurate to the animal they represent. This realistic look makes them fun for a wider range of kids to play with. It's fun to learn about animals and how they have adapted to their environments, and I have to admit that I am learning new things about animals, too! We review some of our favorite animal books as well. Scroll through the images below to see more details of the Schleich Tiger, Snow Tiger, Polar Bear, Hippopotamus, Crocodile, Cheetah, Panther, Rhinoceros and Gorilla.
Schleich Animals, scroll through the photos to see more
We start our animal book review with the beautifully detailed photos by Andrew Zuckerman in Creature ABC. I've given this book as a gift a couple times and appreciate the simple graphic style and the detailed photos of the animals. I've seen details on the animals that I've never seen before. Zuckerman brought each animal into a full photo studio to get great lighting and detail in capturing the uniqueness of the animals. Each animal gets two pages - one for the alphabet letter and a detailed shot of the animal, and the second for the name of the animal with a photo of more of the animal's body. It is a great book for kids learning the alphabet with design and photography-loving parents. Unfortunately it is getting harder to find this book for purchase. It is still available here at the time of this post, or there is also a flash card version.
Andrew Zuckerman's Creature ABC, scroll to see more:
Next up is the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals. We love the National Geographic series of books and have the Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs and the Little Kids First Big Book of Space. We knew we wouldn't be disappointed with this book. It has a section for Grassland, Ocean, Desert, Forest and Polar Animals and each animal has two to four pages to show photos and facts. Each animal has a list of facts including the kind of animal it is, where it lives, its size, food, what sounds it makes, and how many babies it has. Then the pages go into more fun facts about the animals including how the baby animals play. Do you know why zebras have stripes? Or have you seen a giraffe drinking water? Did you know that giraffes only sleep 2 hours a day while Koalas sleep or rest for 18 hours each day? See the below photo with the Table of Contents for the animals included in this book.
Scroll through the images to see more of the Little Kids First Big Book of Animals:
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins tells us what is the biggest land animal, smallest mammal, largest spider, strongest creature, best jumper, longest animal and more. I like how there is a scale reference for each animal to show how big it is compared with a human. Scroll through the pages below to see more.
National Geographic Kids Sticker Activity Book
The National Geographic Kids In the Jungle Sticker Activity Book has 40 pages of activities good for children ages 4 through 8. Activities include matching a sticker to the dotted shape on the page, mazes, dot-to-dots, coloring, drawing, and basic counting. There are animal facts sprinkled into the pages and there are plenty of extra stickers. In reviewing this activity book, I found that there are other variations including Cool Animals, Cutest Animals, Fierce Animals, Ocean Animals and other topics we will have to check out! See the images below for examples of the activities.
National Geographic Kids Books
Cheetahs and Lions are a couple of my son's favorite animals, and before we received the First Big Book of Animals we got a couple of these smaller books that are available specific to one animal, or a group of animals. They go more in depth about the animal than the above book, dedicating around 32 pages to facts and photos about the animal. The Cheetah book shows the differences between a Cheetah and a Leopard, how they camouflage, play, learn, and how they can run so fast. The Lion book shows a male and female lion and that a male lion weighs as much as three adult men. These books are available for many animals including Tigers, Dolphins, Weird Sea Creatures, Penguins and more. They are at a Reading Level 2 which makes them good for kids who are "Reading independently" or for younger children to be read to them, and at only $2- $4 a book, they are affordable!
Kids love to get their own mail, and it's fun to give a child a magazine subscription to receive something in the mailbox every month! Ranger Rick Jr. is a magazine that has "Animal Fun for Young Children." It has photos and facts about animals, short fictional stories, and word and picture activities for ages 4 through 7. Scroll through the images below for a glimpse into an issue of the magazine.
The Time for Kids X Why Z Animals book asks and answers questions a child may have about animals. What a cute idea! For example, "Why do pigs like mud?" or, "Why do monkeys groom each other?" and "Why do fireflies light up?" The book has a section for Mammals, Reptiles, Insects, Arachnids, Sea Animals, Birds and even Dinosaurs. I am learning more about animals by reading it to my son and I think this book will be looked at often over the years as it has lots of photos for a non-reading child to look at and lots of facts for an older child to read. Scroll through the images below to see more:
Giving some animal figures and any of the above books would make a great gift for a curious child! And if you're curious about that animal mask in the first photo...we picked this mask up in a recent trip to the San Diego Zoo, but it looks like the same style of mask can be found for pandas, tigers, giraffes and more here. See the links in the text or below for purchasing information for the rest of the items.