Thursday, December 28, 2017

Learning about the Alphabet: A is for Alligator


Over the course of twenty-six posts, I will introduce my own simple lessons for the letters of the alphabet.  I will provide enough ideas and suggestions for a week's worth of activities.  

For the letter A, we focused upon alligators.  We colored pictures, read books, and completed crafts to help us learn about these amazing animals.

Alligators are a type of animal that belong to the class of reptiles (which includes snakes, lizards, turtles, and the tuatara) and belong to the order of Crocodilians (along with crocodiles, caimans, and gharials).  Depending on the age of your child, you can create a flow chart to show them how they are connected to other animals.

Alligators have short, wide snouts while crocodiles have slender, pointy snouts.  The other major difference is when an alligator's mouth is closed its fourth lower tooth is usually hidden, while a crocodile's fourth lower tooth is visible when its mouth is closed.  You can have your child make an alligator mouth with their hands.

Alligator Skull (fourth lower tooth hidden)

Crocodile Skull (fourth lower teeth visible)

An alligator's body is covered in scales made of keratin (the same protein that makes up our own fingernails and hair). So every time you are touching your finger nails, you are feeling what an alligator (or any reptile) feels like - smooth and dry (not slimy at all!).

Like other reptiles, alligators are cold-blooded.  They must regulate their own body temperature by either basking in the sun to warm up or moving into the cool waters to cool down.

An alligator's eyes and nostrils are located on the top of its head allowing them to sit with just those poking out of the water so they can keep the rest of their body hidden from predators or prey.  Look at different pictures of alligators and other animals to compare where their eyes are ears are located.  You can talk about the differences with your child.  For example, a rabbit's eyes are located on the side of its head letting it see almost all the way around them to keep away from predators.

Crocodilians make a variety of sounds from soft hissing to loud bellows.  Baby crocodilians will make a high pitched noise from inside the egg to let their mom (who stays with the nest) know they are ready to hatch. Using its egg tooth (a hard spot of the tip of its snout) the crocodilian will break free from the egg.  The mother will assist the hatching crocodilians by removing nesting material and then continuing to protect her young for several years.  Talk about the following questions with your child: How does a baby human let his or her parents know it needs help?  How long do humans stay with their families? How long do other reptiles stay with their mothers? In almost all cases, reptiles lay their eggs and leave them; there are some exceptions like the python.

Alligators will prey on most any animal such as insects, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, and other reptiles. If your child is older, you can talk about food chains (an example could be plant material - insects - amphibians - raccoon - alligator).

Vocabulary

alligator
crocodile
reptile
crocodilian
turtle
lizard
tuatara
cold-blooded
warm-blooded
predator
prey
mammals
amphibians
keratin
egg

Alligator and Crocodile Vocabulary 

Coloring Sheets

Super Coloring Alligator Pages 
This site features realistic and cartoon alligators for your little ones to color.

Mom Junction's Top 25 Free Printable Alligator Coloring Pages
There is a variety of coloring pages and some activity suggestions to go along with each page.



Alligator Projects 

A is for Alligator



Alligator Craft 



Books 

Featured Shape

Have your child work on drawing a triangle this week.  If you take a look at the snout of an alligator, it closely resembles a triangle.

You can build a triangle with craft sticks, cut out scraps of construction paper in triangle shapes, look for signs around town shaped like a triangle, and examine the musical instrument. 

Activities 

My Pinterest Lessons - Letters Board

If you complete any of the crafts, please let me know in the comments. I would love to see them.  

Clay Play 

I purchased a tray from the Dollar Store and gathered together various materials that my children could use with the Play Doh. They created a home and food for the tiny alligator and lizard toys provided with no prompting.

The items I included this time were: a roller and cutter from a Play Doh kit, straws, buttons, plastic lids, rocks, plastic rock, toy alligators, and Play Doh.


Other A Topics 
Apples

Fun Handprint Art's Apple Counting Activity for Johnny Appleseed Day (September 26) 
This is a fun way to count apples involving paint or stamp pads.

123 Homeschool for Me's Apple Seed Counting Activity and From ABCS to ACTS's Printable Apple Seed Counting Activity  
A great activity to practice counting and if your children love dice like mine do, then this is perfect for them.

Airplanes

Play and Learn with Dana's Letter A Airplane Craft 

This is a great craft to introduce the lowercase letter a.

Homeschool Preschool's Printable Airplane Activities 
This packet has lots of fun letter A and airplane activities for your toddlers.


Resources 

Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's American Alligator page 




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