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Volume 4, Issue 8
April 25, 2006



WELCOME! to Education World's Early Childhood Newsletter. Every other week, I'll share some ideas on a familiar teaching theme. Hopefully you will find a new activity idea or two -- or a new twist on one of your old favorites! Since I know you are very busy, I'll be short and sweet -- like most of activities I suggest.

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Pandas -- those lovable, cuddly-looking animals that everyone seems to adore – are, sadly, highly endangered animals. Found only in the wilds of China, habitat destruction and poaching are two obstacles the dwindling population of giant pandas face. People in China are working to restore the panda's habitat, while specialists at U.S. zoos are striving to increase panda cub births. Because young children seem to be delighted by these animals, you have a wonderful opportunity to talk about the panda's plight and about some of the efforts being made to correct it. Then extend the learning by sharing with children some of the web sites and activity suggestions we have included.


Provide each child with a dinner-sized white paper plate. Also provide each child with black paper circles: two that are about 3 inches in diameter, two that are about 2-inches in diameter, and one that is about an inch in diameter. Invite children to glue the 3-inch circles to the top of the paper plate for ears and the 2-inch circles in place to create eyes. Complete the eyes by having children glue 1-inch white paper circles on top of the 2-inch black ones. Next show children how to glue the smallest black circle in the center of the plate for a nose. Encourage children to finally draw a mouth on their pandas and give them special names.

Invite children to sing these words and perform the motions to the tune of "Do the Hokey Pokey"

You put your panda ears in, (move head forward)
You put your panda ears out, (move head backward)
You put your panda ears in, (move head forward)
And you shake them all about. (shake head)
You do the Panda Pokey
And you walk yourself around- (Walk a few steps)
That's what it's all about! (clap hands together)

(Repeat verse substituting nose, paw-use arm, and tail.)

Read to children Little Panda: The World Welcomes Hua Mei to the San Diego Zoo, by Joanne Ryder. Talk with children about the baby panda -- how she looked when she was small, how she played, how her mother cared for her, and so on. Next, on an easel pad create a cloze activity to complete with students. Write several incomplete sentences about the baby panda and her mother. Invite students to think about what they learned from the book and to orally complete each sentence.
Examples: The mother panda climbs with her _______________.
The mother panda feeds her baby ___________________.
The baby panda likes to ___________________.
The mother panda cares for her baby by ____________________________.
Record student responses and encourage children to choose one sentence to illustrate.

Provide a small amount of hay, boots, gloves, doctors' jackets, pants and large shirts, jump ropes, nets, plastic pails, shovels, scoops, baby bottles, plastic stethoscopes, and stuffed animals that would be found at a zoo. Invite children to dress up and use the materials to pretend to be a zoo keeper, a zoo doctor, or a zoo animal trainer. Invite the rest of the class to guess which worker each child is pretending to be.

Create cut outs of pandas and give one to each child. Display a picture of a giant panda and let each child use a black crayon to write his or her name on the back and to give his or her panda its markings. Collect the pandas and hide each one in various places around the classroom. At circle time, give each child "clues" to help find his or her panda. Reinforce location words (over, under, left right, high, low, and so on) as you provide the clues. When children locate their pandas, they call out, "Peek-a-Boo Panda!"


Check out the following Web sites for additional background and activities.

Panda ABCs
Use this cute alphabet story to teach your children all about giant pandas.

Panda Cut-Out Mask
Print out this cute mask and directions for making some for your students.

Pandas International
Visit some cute panda cubs in kindergarten!

Panda Right On Cue
See a series of photos of Tai Shan, the nine-month old panda baby born at the National Zoo.