Caves are a natural wonder. Not only are they formed in fascinating ways, they are also filled with interesting wildlife unique to the dark cave environment. Kids often take great interest in caves – there is so much for their inquisitive minds to explore and learn.
It’s not always easy to give children active exploration of a wildlife habitat as soon as their interest is peaked, especially when it comes to caves. They often occur in remote areas that can be dangerous for young children, or difficult to travel to as a family.
Even so, there are plenty of ways to learn about caves at home. All it takes is a bit of imagination and creativity (your kids will have plenty to go around!)
Here are seven ways you can bring caves and their wildlife into your home.
Wonderful ways to learn about caves
Visit the Library
Borrow books related to caves and display them around the house. Some awesome picture books include: We’re going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, and The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland. Life in a Cave by Oliver Clare is a great non-fiction book.
Build a Cave
Much like a pillow fort, you can make a cave by grabbing a few chairs and lots of sheets/blankets. Make the cave really, really dark! You might even like to bring torches or glow sticks to add an air of excitement and mystery.
Re-enact ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’
We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it… we’ll have to go through it! Put a big teddy bear at the back of the cave. Tiptoe through the cave and let your child feel for the bear. Ask your child ‘What can you feel?’ They might want to do this more than once (we did it eight times!)
Research Cave-dwelling Animals
Show children that non-fiction books can give us information, even if they are just looking at the pictures. Some great open-ended questions to ask your child include: What animals are found in caves? Why do they live in caves? What part of a cave do they like best? Which animal do you like the most, and why?
Millipede: We used pipe cleaners for the body and cut a second pipe cleaner into segments. We twisted the segmented pieces onto the body to make legs and the antenna.
Cricket: We made a cricket by using a toilet roll for the body, bottle cap for the head and pipe cleaners for legs and antenna.
Bats: We used black paper for the body and yellow paper for the eyes.
Glow worms: We cut out a glow worm body using yellow paper, stuck glow-in-the-dark stickers on their bottoms and used an old necklace with Schwarzkopf beads to make the web that they create. See our other post about glow worms.
Become a Cave Explorer
Hide the creatures in the cave and have your child find them with a torch. In the dark, it will feel just like exploring a real cave!
Become a Cave Tour Guide
Have you got family coming over? Don’t destroy the cave just yet! Ask your child if they would like to show one of their family members through the cave. Perhaps encourage them to make some information signs and VIP tour badges for the adults. Grandma will love playing tour guide, and your kids are sure to have a ball!
Our wildlife cave play activity lasted for two weeks and was used for numerous play and learning activities. There are endless wildlife homes to explore, so if you can’t give your child a real-life habitat experience right now, do it at home.
There’s always time for a follow up visit to the real thing later! You can even start planning a future trip with your kids to get them excited.
Here’s hoping Miss L decides possums are her next favourite thing. How I would love to curl up with her in a home-made possum dray (nest) on these chilly winter days.
More ways to learn about caves
All about Caves. This link includes information on stalactites, stalagmites, types of caves, wildlife found in caves and much more.