Books: A great book for circle time is My Very First Book of Motion by Eric Carle. Its split-page format lets children match each animal with its movement. Other good choices—Swing, Slither, or Swim: A Book About Animal Movement by Patricia M. Stockland or Move! by Steve Jenkins
Activity: Remind your students that animals move in different ways. Ask them how eagles move from one faraway place to the next. When they say that eagles fly, explain that eagles can fly because they have wings that let them flap and soar and glide.
Now ask students how horses move from one faraway place to the next. (Their legs let them walk, trot, gallop.) Continue the pattern with a few more animals, such as the kangaroo that hops because it has two strong legs, duck that swims with its webbed feet in water and waddles because of them on land. Then let the children come up with examples. Help them figure out how each animal moves and how its body type determines that movement.
Finally, read one of the books listed above.
Supplies: Animal crackers
Activity: Have each child take a turn pulling a cookie out of the bag with his or her back turned to the group. Once the child whispers the correct name of the animal in your ear, he or she can eat the cookie. Then have the child act out the animal’s movement so the others can guess what it is. (If you prefer to avoid serving food, you can put pictures of different animals in the bag instead.)
Follow-Up: Name each animal presented one more time, and let the group imitate the noise each makes.
Supplies: Object to mark a spot (e.g., large ball, chair), open space
Preparation: Put the marker in place and assemble your students 20 feet away.
Activity: Explain that you will name an animal and the children will tell you how it gets from one place to another. Then they will all be that animal, moving down to the marker and back. Then name another animal and proceed in the same manner. Continue with several examples. Possible animals and their motions include: ducks waddle, butterflies flutter, horses gallop, cats pounce or walk, kangaroos hop, birds fly, frogs jump, snakes slither, bunnies hop, and so on.
Animals move for many reasons: to escape danger, find food, look for a comfortable place to be, and more. An animal’s method of movement depends largely upon the environment or habitat it lives in.