The Sprouts: African Animals


This past weekend as O and I played our Amazing Animal Trivia game, I said to him, “We know a lot about animals, especially African animals!!”  When you have a six year old who EATS up animal facts, you some times live, breath and even become animals!  Both kids love elephants so we’ve had an Elephant-Themed Halloween and the following year was an African Cats Theme: Jaguar and Lion.

I got to thinking when did the fascination with African animals begin? As a three year old, O really liked playing Africa with all of his Schleich animals. We also spent countless hours examining and reading Zoo-ology by Joelle Jolivet, with its bold, graphic illustrations. For his 4th birthday, we took the neighborhood kids and families on an African Safari starting with a slide show using photos that Pete’s parents took while visiting his sister in Africa. The music is Putumayo African Playground. It was a hit and really launched us into the African animal kingdom!

We began reading more about African animals. Some of the favorites have been:

African Animals by Caroline Arnold

100 Things You Should Know About Elephants by Camilla de la Bedoyere

Kids Discover Magazine: Elephant Issue, Volume 21, Issue 3, March 2011

We’ve also enjoyed visiting the following web sites: (a new PBS favorite)

Some times when I’m in a pinch and need 30-45 minutes to make dinner, I’ll print some National Geographic coloring pages for the kids. There are always requests for various African animals.

This week, O came home excited about the African book he checked out from his school library, Beatrice’s Goat. The real-life story features another important animal for Africans. Beatrice's family received the goat through Heifer International, providing nourishing milk for the family. The sale of the extra milk provides money for medicine, clothing, supplies a new home and even a chance for nine year old Beatrice to attend school for the first time! The kids asked why Beatrice hadn’t been able to go to school, which led to a discussion about the differences in lifestyles and an initial sense of how fortunate we are…”mom, I’m glad I can go to school.”

After reading, we enjoyed the following simple snack, cut apples with goat cheese spread on top.

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