A preschooler is capable of demonstrating interest in the concept of endangered species and here are three simple approaches in presenting or discussing this important topic, either at home or in a preschool environment
Counting Lions: Portraits From the Wild, by Katie Cotton
Ten different species, at varying levels of endangerment, are presented in magnificent charcoal drawings that immediately catch the attention. This is a counting book with a difference; a short verse accompanies each illustration and at the end you can discover some additional facts about the species featured in the story. Thought-provoking, factual and undeniably picturesque, this book will appeal to a solitary reader and perform magic on a small group. Ages 3 and up
Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals, by Steve Jenkins
Unusual and rare animals are the focus of this one, with one obvious bonus being the unique and sometimes tongue-twisting names that are presented; of course, this is an obvious choice for an engaging read-aloud experience! Steve Jenkins, an accomplished naturalist and author, does not disappoint in this interesting picture book. A young child’s interest in new vocabulary, as well as in the world of nature, will ensure it will be read over and over again. Ages 3 and up
Tale Of a Great White Fish: A Sturgeon Story, by Maggie De Vries
A life story with the possibility of making a huge impact on both children and their caregivers, this tale takes us through the challenges experienced by a fish who has survived to the remarkable age of 177 years. Awe-inspiring and furnished with detailed illustrations, we can recommend this book as a unique read, and a glimpse into those species that are often underrepresented in children’s literature. Ages 4 and up.
Children appreciate honesty but no not require an overload of information, which can be overwhelming and even disturbing.
Young children experience a strong sense of wonder in reality, and so you cannot underestimate the value of an age-appropriate work of non-fiction. Having a conversation about the reality of endangered species will also be easier if a child has been exposed to real situations through the medium of literature. After a read-aloud, encourage questions from your child, and tailor answers according to age or individual needs. Children appreciate honesty but no not require an overload of information, which can be overwhelming and even disturbing. Simple responses are often the most effective, as well as a suggestion of willingness to become more informed eg. “That’s a good question, and something we can try and find out more about.” Older preschoolers, who are approaching an age of greater social interest, will be encouraged that adults and children can often learn alongside one another.
So many environmental themes intersect each other in the great adventure of learning! The phenomena of endangered species can introduce useful vocabulary such as habitat, which can be examined even at a local and accessible level. What kind of wildlife habitats exist where you live? How can neighborhoods work to support these habitats? Young children are still working towards abstract learning; it is therefore more effective to keep their focus related to their immediate environments whenever possible. Make sure to take a walk around the neighborhood and identify local species of bird, mammal or insect by the noises they make, the nests they build or the tracks they leave. Talk together about the small things we can do to support their existence, whether it is by documenting their lives through artwork, respecting their boundaries and not imposing on their daily lives, or by helping to keep their living space clean. By strengthening a child’s understanding of the role nature plays in a familiar space, we increase the likelihood of a willingness to explore further as maturation occurs..