It is, of course, best to observe animals in their natural habitat, free in nature rather than in a cage. A bird feeder just outside the window will attract birds, and if you show your child how to sit quietly the birds wont become afraid and fly away. Letting your child use binoculars gives a feeling of having a part in the birds activities, and also allows children to watch from a distance. They could also watch deer and squirrels with binoculars. If you have a pond with frogs, they can watch the eggs turn into tadpoles. Watching cocoons hatch is an amazing way of seeing a creature develop in its natural habitat without it being caged up.
As wild animals are obviously less accessible than birds, commonly seen animals and insects, it is advisable to introduce the observation of birds and insects first and after this providing models of animals, pictures and books about them. Books assist the child in learning about animals outside their immediate surrounding and learn even more names. It is a timeless favourite activity for children to play with models of animals. These can be soft toys, non toxic plastic models or wood. Wood is a personal favourite of mine. My daughter has MANY wooden animals.
Focus on the child’s natural, inherent love and affinity with and for nature, and the desire to touch, hold, look after and keep nature specimens such as flowers, leaves, feathers, rocks, shells, seeds, insects, kittens, puppies – all things living and nonliving. Go for walks outdoors, show them horses, cows, sheep etc on fields. Go on a train ride. Perhaps visit a farm where you know the animals are raised humanely and live free range. Many farms have open lambing season, we have been to many and on several occasions seen lambs being born. They often have animal handling – Our 2 have got to hold lambs, chicks, ducklings, chickens, and rabbits among others. If you live in West Sussex, this is our favourite – Gaston Farm. More farms in Sussex: West Sussex Farms for kids
Slow down, follow your child’s interests and live in the now appreciating the nature that surrounds us. Take the time to see, feel and hear. Just be, together with your child.