The easiest way to introduce a child to the animal classification system is to begin learning about body coverings with fur, feather and scales activities.
This post will only cover animals that have fur, feathers and scales, but you can add the others (exoskeleton and skin) if and when you feel your child is ready.
Here are some simple and fun body covering activities to get your child familiar with fur, feathers and scales.
Using real animal materials
To give your child the best ability to understand body coverings, it is best if you can use real animal materials.
There may be laws in your country governing the use of wildlife and their products (feathers, fur and scales).
Please be sure you obtain them through legal means by check with zoos and your local wildlife authority. Otherwise, I suspect it will be easier for most of you to go with the substitutes below.
Substitute animal products
- Feathers – Can be easily bought from your local craft shop these days, or found on the ground at your local park.
- Hair/fur – Use your own hair from a hairbrush or the fur of your dog after they’ve had a haircut (that’s what we did!). You could even use one of your child’s stuffed toys!
- Scales – Buy imitation snake skin from your local fabric shop, or use your replica snake handbag or purse. You could also just use a snake toy that has imitation scales for the rubbing activity too.
Fur, Feather, Scales Activities
While enjoying the following activities together, here are some helpful prompting questions to ask your child:
- How they feel?
- Are they rough or smooth, soft or hard?
- What do you find interesting about each type of body covering?
- How do you think the body covering helps the animals?
- Which body covering do we have?
Animal Crayon Rubbings
Using the naturally cast off body covering of animals can make a great rubbing activity.
See the different types of patterns are created when your child places paper over each material and colours over the paper with crayons. You can download a fun printable for this activity below.
Fur, Feather and Scales Printable
Tactile fur, feathers, and scales activity
Using three tissue boxes, create a tactile fur, feathers and scale activity. Using touch, ask your child to guess the animals that the body covering belongs to. Bird, mammal, or reptile!
Fur, feathers and scales collage
Use the same printable above to match the body covering to the animal and let your child paste the body covering onto the printable.
Looking at live animals
It’s important to take every opportunity to develop a child’s understanding of the basic body coverings using real animals too. You can do this by talking about the different body coverings on live animals, looking at pictures or going to the zoo. Here’s some wonderful ways to get the most out of your zoo visit.
Children can amuse themselves with these fun activities and they probably don’t even realise they are building their knowledge of basic animal classification.
Now that your children have enjoyed these fur, feathers and scales activities , their ready to move onto basic animal classification.
More Fur, Feathers and Scales Activities
- Furry art activity
- Science Sunday: Birds of a Feather
- O for Owl – Cute little handprint activity with feathers too!
- Slithery Snake
Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky says
I love the sensory side to this activity, feeling inside each box! Great fun.
It was fun, although quite easy for Miss Possum!
You know, I found myself singing that, “feathers, fur or fins, feathers fur or fins….” song the whole way through this post, lol. Thanks for the ideas and the free printable. Pinned to my printables board for future use 😀
Thanks so much Debs! You’re always so supportive of my posts.
I really love the ‘What’s in the Box?’ activity.
Miss Poss love it too. The hardest part will be getting the body covering. I’m lucky that I can get it from work.
A great group of activities – I would not have thought it was possible to do rubbings of hair.
I know but this came out great didn’t it. Caddy (our dog) does have slightly more coarse hair so it worked perfectly!
[email protected] says
The girls are always picking up feathers etc outside and love to talk and touch them….wonderful post as always (they must take you ages to write!!) Those feely boxes are too cute!
[email protected] says
The girls are always picking up feathers and things outside to touch and talk about…wonderful post as always (must take you ages btw!!)Love those feely boxes!
This one did take me a while to set up but it was worth it. We had a great time!
Oh, my boys would love putting their little pudgy hands in a box!
As always, great ideas to get the kids (and parents) excited about wildlife, Pen!
Thanks Gracie! So nice to see you here. Thank you for visiting. I know you’re a busy, busy woman these days!
This is awesome Penny – my boys will enjoy this activity.
Thank so much Trish. It was so nice to visit your blog the other day. I wish I had more time. I miss WW!
[email protected] learning4kids says
Gorgeous post and activity as always Penny! I always love visiting your blog! Those freely boxes are awesome…….you have inspired me to make some for my kiddos 🙂
Thanks Honey. They were only painted tissue boxes (we like recyling) but it was painful getting the clear plastic in. I think I was almost ready to throw them all out!
Nathalie Brown says
Brilliant creativity play with on the side ;earning – just perfect 🙂