Furry Friends

Ages Under 2-4

Curator Tara W.

Curator Tara W.

Why I Created This Kit

Children absolutely adore anything that is soft and furry, but there is so much more behind the hair of your child’s furry friend. That adorable animal fluff is designed for more than just cuddling, from defense mechanisms to surviving in the cold, fur is essential to many species. This kit will teach your child more about their furry friends while giving them a basic understanding of why some animals have fur and others don’t.


Spark Their Interest

Before starting this kit, open up the conversation about furry animals with your child. Show them some photos, such as the ones below, and ask them what they notice most about each animal.

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Ask the child the following questions before starting the kit. What is fur? Why do you think animals have fur? What does fur feel like? What other things are soft like fur? What is your favorite furry animal? What sounds do the animals make? What do they eat? Why do you think it has so much fur?


Suggested Books

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by ll Sung Na

This is the perfect book to start your kit as it shows some truly unique aspects of animal fur. The book follows a snow rabbit as he watches all the animals in his forest prepare for winter. In the beginning of the story, snow rabbit has fur that is as white as the snow. However, as the season’s change and spring begins, the rabbit’s fur changes to brown.

This book opens up the discussion of how different animals handle the cold, some hibernate, others migrate while some, like rabbit, have fur that keeps them warm. It also allows you to discuss how some animals adapt between seasons. You can talk with your child about the “special” fur the snow rabbit has and discuss how it can change colors to adapt to his surroundings.

Post-Reading Questions:

  • What was so special about the rabbit’s fur?

  • Why would the rabbit want white fur in the winter and brown fur in the spring?

    • If your child struggles answering this question, ask them what color is snow in the winter? What color is dirt in the summer?

 

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

This book is perfect for following Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit. This book tells the tale of a hibernating bear. You and your child can follow the bear as he makes his den for the winter and falls into a deep sleep. You will experience all the things that bear dreams about during his long sleep. When bear wakes up he is a much bigger bear than he had once remembered.

This book allows the discussion of hibernation and the importance of the bear’s fur. Bear needs his fur to keep him warm during his long, long sleep.

Post-Reading Activity:

  • Discuss hibernation with your child. Explain that hibernating is similar to sleeping for a really long time. You and your child can pretend to hibernate. BUT DON’T FORGET! Hibernating animals need a nice safe place to sleep so that no other predators bother them. Make a tent or “den” out of pillows to “hibernate” in with your child.

 

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I’m Not Cute! by Johnathon Allen

This book makes the perfect bedtime story for your little one. The book allows your child to see that even birds can be fluffy. In this book you will follow a fluffy baby owl as he ventures out through the woods. The baby owl is so cute and fluffy that all the other creatures in the woods want to give him a hug. The animals in the forest thing the tiny owl is too cute with all his fur to which the tiny bird replies, “I’m not cute!” When the tiny owl returns home, he tells his mother that he is not cute and she agrees. His response is priceless.

 

Do Frogs Have Fur?: A Book About Animal Coats and Coverings by Michael Dahl

This book is both comical and educational in the way it presents animal coats and coverings to small children. Your child will learn why some animals have fur and others are slimy or rough. Follow a variety of animals in this book to learn how their outer body coverings protect them throughout their lives.

Post-Reading Questions:

  • What other types of coverings can animals have besides fur?

    • Pull up photos online of a variety of animals with different skin coverings such as scales, feathers and fur. Allow your child to look at each and describe how they think each covering would feel to touch.

 

Furry Friends (Touch-and-feel Book, A) by Disney Book Group

This board book is great for kids who are sensory learners. The book allows the child to touch and feel a variety of animals across the globe. The book takes your child on an adventure across 16 different countries and introduces them to some of the animals that live there. From fuzzy polar bears to soft koalas, your child can feel some furry friends for themselves.


Suggested Apps

Hugless Douglas – An Interactive Book

Formats: iTunes ($2.99) Google Play ($3.12)

This interactive story brings Hugless Douglas to life. Your child will follow Douglas as he wakes from hibernation. He has been asleep for so long that all he wants is a hug. He tries hugging a number of things he comes across, but in the end, all he really needed was a hug from his furry mama bear.

 

Cute and Furry Animals

Formats: Google Play (FREE)

This app is perfect for installation during the use of this kit. Everyday the app will send you a new picture of a cute and furry animal directly to your phone. Share the photo with your child. Have your child try to name the animal or tell you what sound it makes. The photos are adorable and your child will love waking up to a new picture each day.

Activities: This app is perfect for introducing your child to a number of different animals. Instead of just looking at each animal, delve deeper into the lives of each animal shown. Pull up additional pictures and fun facts about the animals presented in the app. Consider making a “furry animal” book to keep printed pictures of each animal you learn about.

 

Find the Differences Cute and Furry Animal Adventures Edition

Format: iTunes (FREE)

This is a  great game for your child to play to fine tune their visual skills. The game features a variety of pictures of cute and furry animals, but something is different between the two pictures. Have your child spot the differences in the photo while looking at a variety of fluffy friends.


Interesting Information

Using Fur To Hide From Predators

Birds and mammals that hide among the bushes often have spotted skin. Their coats look like patches of sunlight in a forest. Baby animals sometimes have spots to keep them hidden while they are otherwise defenseless. A deer fawn will lie perfectly still curled up on the forest floor, and remain undetected by predators that may pass within a few feet of it.

Ground-nesting birds have feathers with patterns that make them blend into the leaves or underbrush. Their eggs are also cryptically colored with spots of brown to keep them hidden.

To hit home the information discuss Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit again. The rabbit in the book had white fur when it was winter so he could blend in with the snow and brown fur in the spring so he could blend in with the trees and dirt.

[Source: KidsZoo.org]


Using Fur to Keep Warm

For most of the warm-blooded animals, skin is not enough to help them keep warm. Therefore, many animals that live in climates that are sometimes cold need fur. Humans are warm-blooded but we don’t have much hair. Therefore, we have to put on lots of clothes in the winter to stay warm. Do you think having fur or putting on clothes is better to stay warm? Even if you think clothes are better, not all animals can make clothes, so they must have fur to keep warm.

Imagine going outside in the winter without a coat! That is what it would feel like for an animal if they didn’t have any fur.


What Animal Has The Most Fur?

This may come as a surprise, but the Southern Sea Otter has the densest fur in the animal kingdom, with about 1,000,000 hairs per square inch of its body. An adult male otter can have as many as 800 million hair fibers covering its body.

How many hairs is that really? A human typically has around 700 hairs per square inch on his head.

Your toddler will not understand these large numbers so just show your child this photo of a Southern Sea Otter and explain that this animal has more fur on its body than any other.

If you want to drive the concept home a little more, draw two big circles that are exactly the same size. In one circle add some large polka dots. In the other circle, add some tiny polka dots. You can tell your child that the otter’s hair looks like the circle with all the tiny polka dots, lots of hairs in a small space, whereas the human hair looks like the circle with the larger dots, less hair in the same space.


Angora Rabbit: The World’s Fluffiest Rabbit

What child could resist this face (if you can find the face)?

This rabbit is an Angora rabbit which so happens to be the fluffiest bunny on earth.


You can start this video at the 8:18 mark to learn more interesting facts about animal hair and fur. Your child will learn some of the uses of fur as well as why some animals have more fur than others.


Websites For Kids

Wild Kratts: PBS

Your child can learn a lot about their furry friends with the Wild Kratts interactive website. Creaturepedia features quick facts about some of our furry friends. You can also watch full episodes of the Wild Kratts on the website.

 

Kids National Geographic

The Kids National Geographic site is loaded with information about all sorts of animals. The search feature on the site allows you to look up specific animals your child may be interested in learning more about, or just browse the site for lots of interesting facts and information.

For your furry friends kit, I suggest taking a look at the animals section of the site. Use the search tools on the side to limit your search to mammals in the Arctic. This will give you information on the polar bear, harp seal and gray wolf to share with your child. All three of these animals offer fantastic examples of the benefits of fur in cold climates.


Activities

How Mammals Keep Warm Experiment

Show your child how hair helps mammals keep warm by letting them perform this experiment:

  1. Put 2 cups of warm water in each of two one-quart jars with lids.

  2. Place a thermometer in each jar for one minute, then read and record the temperature of each.

  3. Place lids on both jars.

  4. Place one jar in a box and pack cotton balls around it.

  5. After ten minutes, remove the lids from both jars.

  6. Again place a thermometer in each for one minute, then read and record the temperature of each.

  7. You should find that the jar covered with cotton balls (“hair” or “fur”) remained warmer than the other jar.

You can also explain this experiment more simply by discussing what we do as humans to stay warm in the winter. Ask your child what they do when they are cold. A common way for humans to keep warm is to use a blanket or add more clothes like a coat. Explain to your child the coat he wears outside in the winter is similar to the fur an animal wears. It is designed to keep the animal warm.

 

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Camouflage Game

This game can be done with cereal or any similar item that comes in a variety of colors.

  1. Sort a box of fruit loops or other multi-colored cereal by color, placing the same number of each color in a bag.

  2. Scatter the cereal outdoors in the grass.

  3. Have your child run out into the grass and find a piece of cereal.

  4. Have your child do this 3 to 5 times and then look at the colors he found.

  5. Most likely your child will have found mostly bright colors that stand out in the grass. Green will most likely be the hardest color to find because it blends in with the grass.

Explain that some animals’ body coverings have colors or patterns that help them to hide from their enemies. You can also do this on a smaller scale by placing a grass green colored item in the grass and a bright red item in the grass. Place them close to one another but do not let your child see you hide them. Turn them around and ask them if they see anything out of place. Most likely they will notice the red object first.

 

Soft Or Not?

Fur is soft to the touch, but so are other things. What other items in your house can you find that are soft? Have your child look for soft items throughout the house. This may include blankets, clothing, bedding, cotton balls, stuffed animals or anything that is soft to the touch. Conversely, have your child find things that are NOT soft. Items may be scratchy, hard or smooth.

Discuss how each item feels. Ask your child which items they prefer to touch. Do they like softer objects better?

 

Find A Petting Zoo!

Be sure to utilize the zoo staff. The staff on-hand at zoos are typically a wealth of knowledge. Explain to the zoo handler that you have been studying different fur types and benefits. Most likely, the zoo member can add to your child’s knowledge with additional information on a particular animals coat.


About Tara W.

With a passion for learning and teaching, Tara can frequently be found scouring the internet for the latest news and information. Tara is a mother of three, wife, writer, habitual researcher, social media maven and southern belle. In her free time, Tara enjoys trout fishing, hiking, camping, learning and going on small adventures with her family. Tara has mastered the art of the "staycation". The Wests can frequently be found searching for a new cave, park, lake or hiking trail to experience as a family and all within a 50 mile radius of their Arkansas home. Tara has taken her passion for research and a never-ending need to continue learning to Zoobean by using her skills to find the latest and greatest books, apps and resources for families with small children.

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