I am working on a portable exhibit that teaches kids ages 4 to 7 about the places and environments animals live in through a physical exploration of the world map.
The activity takes place on a 20′ x 12′ soft mat (similar to the padded mats in a school gym) with the world map depicted on it. It can be set up on any wide, flat surface such as a park, a school yard or a gym. Participants choose from a wide selection of familiar animals and use clues to place them in the correct spot on the map.
The experience begins at the Biodiversity Tent, where a docent familiarizes the participants with the exhibit and supplies them with animals. The Tent also serves as an educational corner, with additional recourses and activities.
On the map, each continent has a different color and is marked with the pattern of various environments.
The creatures are flat, brightly-colored shapes made of wood. One side depicts the animal while the other gives clues about their location on the map with continent color and environment pattern.
A wrong placement triggers no response in hope that the sound and tactile feedback experienced by the successful explorers will encourage the rest to reach their goal instead of settling for random noise making.
Additional exploration incentives include a checklist of successfully placed animals that can be exchanged at the Biodiversity Tent for a badge (such as “most mammals” or “greatest continent explorer” or “Savanna Master” etc.) and a timed group activity or team competition based on specific animal assignments.
“Where Animals Live” is a modular, portable exhibit that can support various biodiversity curriculi.