Making the Foreign Familiar: Learning About Animals

This post is another installment of my MTFF series. In this series I share the ways I am making the foreign familiar to my children. My goal is to help them develop a global perspective. My hope is that they realize both that the world is immense with so much to see and explore, filled with people who may look different or may do things differently AND that it's a small world after all -- that we are all human with similar needs and wants.

Please note, this post is written in partnership with Tea Collection and contains affiliate links. 

What better way for very small children to learn about diversity than to discuss animals from around the world! Like all children, mine are obsessed with animals. They play with figurine animals, read animal books, and make animal sounds, but one of my favorite things about studying animals with Hunter is looking up animal habitats on a world map. Looking at a world map together helps children become familiar with the names of regions, countries, and continents. Pointing out where an animal is from in relation to where we live helps children develop spatial thinking (more on that here).

He may not quite understand how far away Australia is, for example, but he can appreciate that it is very different from where we live. We can talk about seeing elk and bald eagles in our part of the world, but if we were to visit Australia we'd see kangaroos and kookaburras. Of course, we would see some similarities as well like domestic animals, squirrels, and opossums, but learning about so many animals that are endemic to Australia has been a lot of fun. It really makes me want to visit the country to see them in their homeland.

For now, thanks to Tea Collection's recent travels to Australia, we have lots of activities and information to help us learn more about this beautiful country. Tea has partnered with Nat Geo Kids, so visitors to the Tea website can access interesting facts about Australia's animals as well as ready-to-print coloring pages and activities like the koala masks my children are wearing in the photos.

Furthermore, this spring and summer season, the styles at Tea Collection are all inspired by Australian landscapes, animals, and aboriginal art. If you visit the Tea Collection blog, you can learn a bit more about the inspiration behind the styles. My mom and stepdad have been to Australia twice now, and I can see why they want to go back!

P.S. I got a new job as a Montessori teacher and have downloaded all the Australia activities and filed them away for later use ;)

P.P.S. Even though my job doesn't start for a few months, I jumped right in and organized a Tea Collection fundraiser. Use code SDS17LAUREL for 15% off + free shipping on and 15% of your order will go to our new (well, new to Hunter, Paloma, and me) school! Hurry, the fundraiser ends March 6th!

Hunter is wearing the Bali Bites Graphic Tee inspired by past travels to Bali.

Paloma is wearing the Sedap Malam Romper also inspired by past travels to Bali.

P.S. Here is a running list of the topics in my series on ways to make the foreign familiar:
1. Create crafts and child-friendly artwork inspired by different cultures from around the world. 
2. Learn about animals from around the world.
3. Expose children to foreign languages
4. Attend public cultural festivals and celebrations.

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