Activity 3: Burrow, Den, or Nest
Activity time: 12 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Photographic and illustrated images of wild animals and farm animals
- Quilts, sheets, large sticks, and other items that children can use to build their own burrows, dens, or nests
Preparation for Activity
- Find photographs or pictures of wild animals and farm animals and their homes in magazines such as Our Big Backyard, National Geographic, or farming journals and in other places suggested under "Leader Resources" in the Resources section.
- Collect old quilts, blankets, and sheets for children to use, along with large sticks, long grasses, and other natural items.
Description of Activity
In this activity, children will explore how wild animals make their homes to adapt to their environment while learning the words "burrow," "den," and "nest." Ask the children if they have ever heard any of these words to describe a wild animal's home. Invite a few volunteers to explain what these types of homes are like, and what kind of animals live in them.
You may wish to offer these definitions from Webster's Dictionary to help the children match wild animals to the correct habitats.
- A burrow is "a hole in the ground made by certain animals for shelter and habitation."
- A den is "a lair of a wild animal especially a beast of prey."
- A nest is "the bed, receptacle or location made by a bird for holding its eggs and for hatching and rearing its young."
You can say:
Wild animals find or make their own homes. Their homes give the animals a place of shelter, a place where they can safely rest, and a place to raise their families. In these ways, wild animal homes are similar to our family homes.
Ask children for examples of wild animal homes they might find in a park or right outside their own homes. You may suggest an anthill or a bird nest. Some children may even have wild animal homes inside their family homes; for example, a skunk may have made a home in the family basement or a bird may have made a home atop a window air conditioner.
Tell the group:
Wild animals make their own homes. If we destroy their homes, the wild animals cannot live. For some animals, just the smell of humans near their homes can keep the animal from returning to care for their babies. We must keep a safe distance from wild animal homes.
Now, let's pretend we are wild animals that need to build our own homes.
Form small groups to be "families" of wild animals. You may wish to assign each group a different animal to be: rabbits that need a burrow, wolves that need a den, or geese that need a nest.
Provide quilts, sheets, large sticks, and other items to each group. As the children begin to build their homes, remind them that they are wild animals that need shelter and safety and room for all to sleep.
If you have time, close this activity by asking groups to explain how the home they have built provides shelter, protection, and room to raise a family.
This would be a fun activity to photograph for future display.