If you've got a pint-sized animal lover in your life, animal activities for kids are a great way to combine a little learning and a lot of hands-on fun.

Some of the projects involve more supplies than others, but none of them have an extensive (or expensive) materials list. There's a lot you and your child can do with a few simple tools, a little imagination, and a yearning for animal adventures.

Follow the links below to explore lots of fun animal activities:

Animal Tales

After doing a little background research, grab a pencil or pen and a clean sheet of paper and let your imagination run wild with a story about a favorite animal.

Animal Soundbox

Create animal sounds by varying vibrations on this simple, hand-made instrument.

Animalriffic Word Safari

The name of your favorite animal is hiding in all kinds of words. Go on an animal word safari and see what turns up.

Camouflage Animal Watch

Learn the tricks the animals use to hide and spot your favorite wildlife.

City Wildlife Safari

You don't have to live in a jungle to see animals -- there is lots of wildlife in towns and cities, too.

Wild Flashcards!

Become an animal expert fast when you make these fun animal flashcards.

Fox and Mouse Game

Animals use their keen sense of hearing to protect themselves against unfriendly visitors. You and your friends can use your own ears in this game.

Hard-Working Animals Guessing Game

How many hard-working animals can you name? Play this guessing game and find out!

The Home Sweet Home Hike

Animals need homes, too. Going home-hunting is fun when you know where to look.

Keeping Warm

Ever wonder how animals who live outdoors stay warm when it's cold? Try this easy experiment to see how they do it.

Nightwatching

Many animals only come out at night. Find out how to spot them!

Take an Animal Census

This fascinating activity shows you how to take a census of the animals in your own backyard.

Walk Like the Animal

Quick! Run like a dog, crab, or turtle! This fun race will have you and your friends walking like your favorite animals.

Water Watch

All animals need water to survive. Learn how you can help give them a drink to quench their thirst.

Who's Out There?

With reference books from the library, explore the kinds of animals that live where you live -- then go out and try to find them!

Wildlife Trivia

This game will test your knowledge of animal names.

Zoo Babies

In this game, see if you can match up the animal with its baby animal name.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Animal Tales

An "Animal Tale" Animal Craft.
An "Animal Tale" Animal Craft.

One of the best ways to learn about animals is to read about them, and this 'Animal Tales' project encourages young experts to create an original story using their animal knowledge.

Learn the characteristics and habits of a small, medium, or large mammal and then let your imagination run wild -- just like your favorite animal!

What You'll Need:

One or more animal reference books

Paper

Pen

Go to a pet store, an animal shelter, or the zoo and look at the mammals they have: mice, cats, giraffes. You'll probably find that there's one kind of animal that's your favorite. Ask questions to learn about your favorite animal: What kind of home does it need? What does it eat? How does it play?

Check out a library book about the animal, read it, and then write a story about all you learned. Remember, the important thing is to have fun getting to know this very special

little part of nature.

The next project shows you how to create a craft that lets you 'speak' your animal's language. Learn how on the next page.

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Animal Soundbox

The "Animal Soundbox" Animal Craft.
The "Animal Soundbox" Animal Craft.

You can create an animal soundbox just by varying the vibrations on this simple instrument!

What You'll Need:

What You'll Need:

1-quart milk carton

Scissors

String

Paper towel

Water

Cut the top off of a 1-quart milk carton, 4 inches from the bottom. Using scissors, punch a small hole in the center bottom of the carton, and thread the end of a 24-inch piece of strong string through the hole. On the outside of the carton, tie a knot that will not pull through the hole.

Wet a paper towel, squeezing out the excess water. Hold the milk carton with one hand. With your other hand, put the wet paper towel around the string about 10 inches from the carton. Give the wet towel a quick pull while pressing it with your fingers. It will make a squawking noise that is amplified by the milk carton.

By varying how much string you leave between the wet towel and the box, you can produce sounds resembling a rooster's crow and a lion's roar.

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Animalriffic Word Safari

Is your favorite animal hiding in your favorite words? Find out when you go on an animalriffic word safari.

What You'll Need:

Pen

Paper

Have you ever thought about how often your favorite animal is mentioned in another, often unrelated word?

Take the ant, for instance. You find it in anticipation, antiperspirant, tyrant, and thousands of other words. Now pick your favorite animal (simple animal names such as 'dog,' 'cat,' 'bug,' etc., work best), and see what you can come up with.

Illustrate your 'animalriffic' words for an extra dose of fun!

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Camouflage Animal Watch

This kind of animal craft takes patience and determination, but is worth every minute when you spot your favorite animal in the camouflage animal watch.

If you've ever walked through the woods hoping to see wild animals, you've probably been disappointed. Animals camouflage themselves to hide from visitors. Camouflage allows them to blend into their surroundings.

By learning a few camouflage tricks, you can watch wild animals by using their own secrets of disguise.

What you'll need:

Dull-colored clothing

Dark green or tan tarpaulin (or blanket)

Ready to start animal-watching? Not quite! Read the following camouflage tips to make the most of your animal adventure.

Blending In

Birds see in colors, so colorful clothes will give you away. Wear gray, tan, or brown. Mammals don't see color, but can tell if your clothing is light or dark compared to the background. Choose clothing that won't contrast with the background.

Changing Shape

Wild animals recognize predators and prey by their shape. Many animals have patterned coats, which make it harder for predators to spot them. Drape yourself in a dull-colored tarp or blanket and assume an outline that animals won't recognize.

Go Undercover

Animals hide from predators by using cover, such as bushes, trees, and rocks. Make your own cover: Drape a blanket or tarp over a low branch, tent-style, and sit under it. Be still for at least 20 minutes.

No Scents

Wild mammals have an excellent sense of smell. If mammals smell you, they will stay away -- even if you hide. When you choose a place to sit, make sure it is upwind of the area you're watching.

Have Patience

Predators may hide by a water hole for hours waiting for their prey. You must be just as patient. The outdoors isn't a zoo, and animals aren't easy to find. Wild animals follow their own schedules. If you don't see any animals one day, try another day or a different area.

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City Wildlife Safari

City Wildlife Safari Animal Activity
City Wildlife Safari Animal Activity

This city wildlife safari animal activity shows us that there's wildlife even in the busiest parts of the city!

When we think of wildlife, we think of bears, cougars, bison, and other large

animals. But any animal that normally lives without the care of people can be considered wildlife. This includes birds, insects, fish, and other small animals.

You can find wildlife anywhere -- even in a city -- if you know how and where to look.

What you'll need:

Notepad

Pencil or pen

Start in a park. Sit under a group of trees and look up in the branches. Watch for birds moving around in the trees. You may also see squirrels in the branches or running around on the ground as they hunt for food. Where there are squirrels, there may also be predators, such as hawks, falcons, or foxes.

Look closely at the grass, the leaves of the trees and shrubs, and in the crevices of tree bark. You're likely to find insects, spiders, and other small animals.

After the park, try watching a patch of sidewalk next to a wall or a building. It's 'just' concrete, but look closer. Ants may have made a nest in a crack in the concrete. Other insects may use a wall to warm up. Birds come to hunt the insects. You may also see bats hunting insects. Don't be frightened of bats -- 'nature's mosquito control' won't harm you.

You don't need to live in a jungle or a forest to observe wildlife in nature. There are hundreds of animals living in the city, too. Enjoy the safari!

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Wild Flashcards

Wild Flashcards Animal Activity
Wild Flashcards Animal Activity

You can increase your animal knowledge a lot when you craft Wild Flashcards for all of your favorite animals.

With just a few simple supplies, you and a friend can become animal experts in no time.

What You'll Need:

4x6" index cards

Pen

Reference books

Magazines

Scissors

Glue

Markers (optional)

Once you've got all your materials gathered, you're ready to make some 'wild' flashcards. For each card, write a fact or two about an animal on one side of the card. (Read reference books and magazines to learn about animals.) On the other side of the card, put the animal's picture and name. You can cut pictures out of old magazines, or draw them yourself.

You can use your flash cards to help your friends learn about animals. First read them the fact, and then ask them to name the animal. (Example: I live in the water, but I'm not a fish. I'm the world's largest mammal. Who am I? Answer: a blue whale!)

Or, show them the pictures while covering up the animals' names, and have them guess the names. See if you can stump them, or have them make some cards and see if they can stump you.

You and your friends will be animal experts -- in a flash!

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Fox and Mouse Game

Have fun with the Fox and Mouse Game.
Have fun with the Fox and Mouse Game.

Animals often use their sense of hearing to help them find food and avoid danger. This Fox and Mouse Game will help you and your friends sharpen your ears.

The fox is one of nature's most clever animals. It uses its large ears to help hunt for food.

Here's how you can be as cunning as a fox:

Have a group of friends -- at least four -- stand in a circle. Pick one person to be the fox. That person will stand in the middle of the circle with his or her eyes closed. Have a mouse (one of the people in the circle) walk in an inner circle around the fox and then return to his or her place in the outer circle. The fox must try to guess who the "mouse" was, using sounds as clues. If the fox guesses correctly, the mouse takes a turn as the fox.

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Hard-Working Animals Guessing Game

Animals help people in so many ways! How many can you think of? This Hard-Working Animals Guessing Game activity is fun to do with a friend.

Name any animal. Then have a friend list the many ways that animal can help people. When your friend is done reciting, see if you can think of any additional ways. Have your friend pick the next animal, so you can recite the list.

For starters, think of what kinds of animals live on farms and ranches. What about companion animals such as seeing-eye dogs? You can make this a game by writing down separate lists, then comparing them. Who can think of the most?

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The Home Sweet Home Hike

If you look in the right places, you can often see animals in their homes.

Take a "Home Sweet Home" hike and see how many animal homes you can find.

Look in trees for birds' nests, squirrels' holes, and wasps' nests. Hollows inside trees are squirrels' favorite kind of home, but squirrels sometimes build nests out of leaves high in a tree. You can see these nests in the winter after the leaves fall.

Even if you live in a city or suburb, it's likely that there are opossums and/or raccoons living in your neighborhood. Opossums may "den" in a hollow log or under a bush or house. Raccoons like to live in hollow trees, but when they choose to live near humans, they tend to live very close by. They often spend their days sleeping hidden in attics or garages, or under porches.

You'll know you've found a den if you find fur the animal has shed and maybe some tidbits of leftover food. Tell an adult so the animal can be safely removed and taken to a more natural area. Unless an animal has invaded your house, never disturb an animal's home. It could harm the animal, and it could be unhealthy for you.

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Keeping Warm

How do animals that live outdoors stay warm in the winter? Try this fun animal crafts experiment to find more about keeping warm.

What You'll Need:

Glass jars of equal size

Water

Thermometers

Various natural insulating materials, such as leaves, soil, and dry grass

Graph paper

Pencil

Mammals have fur and birds have feathers to keep them warm, but even fur and feathers aren't enough protection against stormy winter nights. How can animals keep warm enough to survive?

To find out, fill several glass jars with warm water. Record the air temperature, then put a thermometer in each jar and record the water temperature. Now insulate each jar with natural materials. Pile dry leaves around one jar and dry grass around another. Mound soil around a third. Leave one jar uninsulated for comparison.

Record the temperature of the water in each jar every five minutes until the jars all reach air temperature. Make a line graph to show how quickly the temperature fell in each jar. Which materials insulate the best?

If you were an animal living in the wild, which materials would you choose when building a nest?

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Nightwatching

You may be surprised how many animals live near your house -- but you might have to wait for nightfall to see a lot of them. Nightwatching will show you how to spot those animals that come out at night.

What You'll Need:

Flashlight

Red cellophane

Rubber band

Woods, parks, fields, and other places are often full of animals we're not aware of because they come out at night. If you are quiet and still, you can see some of these night creatures.

Go with an adult, and find a safe place in the woods where you can sit and watch. Make sure the spot is quiet and well away from any bright lights. During the daytime, you can remove sticks and rocks, so the spot will be more comfortable. You can also lay a folded blanket out.

Before going out, cover the front of a flashlight with two layers of red cellophane. Red light won't affect your night vision, but it is hard for most animals to see. Go outside and wait a few minutes for your eyes to become adjusted to the dark.

Turn on your flashlight and go to your spot. Allow yourself at least a half an hour to sit. Listen carefully for any animal noises. If you hear something, you can slowly move the beam of your flashlight toward it, but try to see it without the aid of the flashlight first.

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Take an Animal Census

A census is a count of how many people -- or animals -- live within an area. Governments take a census to count how many people live in the country. You can figure out the animal population of a spot near you when you take an animal census.

What You'll Need:

Wooden stakes or sticks

String

Paper

Pen

In an open field or wooded area, use four stakes or sticks to mark off a square that is one meter on each side. Then run string around the four sticks to make an actual square.

Take a census of all the animals inside the square. Look carefully to make sure everybody gets counted. Look under rocks. (Be polite and put the rocks back when you're done counting.) Look in any bushes or trees.

Make a record of your census, telling how many of each kind of insect, spider, and other animal you found living there.

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Walk Like the Animals

This is a fun activity to do with a group of friends at a park or beach. Have races where you walk like the animals.

What You'll Need:

Group of friends

Once you've gathered all your friends together, decide on a starting and finishing line, and try the following animal races:

Crab Race: Racers are on all fours (hands and feet), and must move sideways.

Chimp Race: Racers hold their ankles with their hands or drag their knuckles on the ground.

Frog Race: Racers squat in frog position and hop.

Can you think of other animals to imitate in your races? Let your imagination run wild -- and may the fastest animal win!

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Water Watch

There are three things our favorite animals need to survive -- shelter, food, and water. Try this water watch activity and observe animals drinking from bowls you set out.

We can't always provide shelter; moms and dads don't always feel good about inviting sparrows inside for a good night's sleep. Food can be iffy. Water, though, is a universal need, and it's one thing animals need that we can almost always supply.

What You'll Need:

Old buckets, pie pans or bowls

Water

Set out old bowls or pie pans of water wherever you think an animal might want to drink. Then make sure they are full -- check them every day.

Your creature pals will thank you every time they wet their whistles.

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Who's Out There?

 Find out "Who's Out There?"
Find out "Who's Out There?"

If you've ever awakened in the middle of the night and heard strange animal noises coming from 'out there,' you know that you are not alone. Find out who's out there. Go to the library, check out a field guide, and learn what animals live in your area. Then take a nature hike and see if you can meet some of your neighbors.

What You'll Need:

Reference book or field guide

Notebook

Pen

The best time to do this is either just after it gets light in the morning, or at dusk. Most animals are more active at those times than they are during the day. Watch for signs of animals, such as paw prints or animal homes. Keep a journal of your animal sightings.

Try this activity at different times of the year. Do you see different animals during different seasons? When do they gather food or build new homes? When do you see baby animals?

Remember: Never approach or touch a wild animal. Most wild animals are afraid of humans and, if threatened, will try to protect themselves -- sometimes by biting. Also, wild animals carry diseases. If you see an animal that seems to be sick or injured, call your city's animal control department or the police. Don't try to help the animal yourself.

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Wildlife Trivia

You may already know that a cat is a feline and a dog is a canine, but what about these other animals? This wildlife trivia activity will put your animal knowledge to the test.

Match the animal with the word that describes it.

1. apian

2. avian

3. bovine

4. equine

5. leonine

6. lupine

7. ovine

8. simian

9. taurine

10. ursine

A. bull

B. bear

C. sheep

D. lion

E. ape

F. wolf

G. horse

H. cow

I. bee

J. bird

For the answers to this quiz, look up the first set of words in the dictionary to see how much you knew.

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Zoo Babies

Animals often have different names as babies. A baby dog is called a puppy, for example. In this Zoo Babies activity, try to match the animal in Column 1 with its baby name in Column 2.

COLUMN 1

tiger

cow

seal

horse

kangaroo

eagle

goose

swan

turkey

deer

rooster

COLUMN 2

eaglet

poult

joey

fawn

cygnet

gosling

kitten

foal

chick

whelp

calf

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ABOUT THE CRAFT DESIGNERS:

The following activities were created by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, and Kelly Milner Halls.

Camouflage AnimalsCity Wildlife SafariKeeping WarmWater Watch