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An Easy Way to Plan an Animal Class for Your Homeschool Co-op

An Easy Way to Plan an Animal Class for Your Homeschool Co-op


Kids love animals! There is just something very intriguing about the other creatures that we share this planet with, and since kids are always curious about the world around them, animals make a perfect subject for a homeschool co-op class. 

I know this may sound like a lot of work to seek information and activities about animals for an entire 8, 10, or 12 week long class, but this post will provide a great selection for you to pick and choose from for your class. 

The class I used this set-up for was a 12-week long co-op class for 5-8 year old students. If your ages are outside of this you will likely need to adapt things to make them easier or harder for the group you have. 

Put together a fun book-based, hands-on animal class for your homeschool co-op with these great ideas.

The first week of class I used as an introduction to habitats and the classification of animals. I did keep it pretty basic including mammal, bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, and insect. I know that doesn't include everything in the animal kingdom, but it is a good start for the age group. 

Animal Class Introduction Supplies

For this first class we read about habitats, discussing the main ones, and then read about how we classify animals. Then we broke into groups to classify some animals. Each group was given a selection of plastic animals and a set of sheets to place the animals on. Once they had finished with that selection, they traded it out for a different one. I made sure there were some tricky ones in there like dolphins and platypuses just to make them think.

For the remainder of the class, we covered one or two animals a week with a book, color sheet, and an activity. I also used this Lifesize book when one of our animals was in it; what kid doesn't love comparing themselves to the size of something else. 

For a little extra fun, I also had the kids guess what animal we were talking about each week by showing them a sheet that included a close up image and a footprint and skeleton when applicable. You can download my images HERE. They don't cover all the animal options as we didn't get through even the ones I made!

Put together a fun book-based, hands-on animal class for your homeschool co-op with these great ideas.

Individual Animal Classes

As a spine for this class, I utilized various Usborne Beginners books. These are packed with factual information and great real life pictures. They are also internet linked which means using the code in the back gives you access to links with educational videos, activity sheets, and the like.

Currently you can purchase a set of ten books as a collection including: Bears, Elephants, Monkeys, Pandas, Penguins, Sharks, Tigers, Wolves, Dangerous Animals, and Farm Animals. 

Several others can be purchased individually. Those that are in print include AntsCaterpillars and ButterfliesCatsDogsHorses and PoniesLizardsOttersGiraffes, and Sloths

There are also many I used that are out of print, but you can still find used including OwlsTadpoles and FrogsBees and WaspsNight AnimalsEggs and ChicksReptiles, and Bats.

Kids love all the great pictures and fun facts included in this books series! 

That is a lot of options to be sure! I tried to work in as many as I could, so I generally chose two books for each week. I started the class reading the book that we were concentrating on. With this we would fill out a little worksheet about the animal followed by our activity. If we had time at the end, we would read the second book.

You can download the worksheet by clicking the image below. 

Animal Experiment Ideas

Below I have listed the books we used as well as some experiment ideas. I included activities we used and some we didn't.  Along with these activities, I always offered a coloring page as well, so if we sped through activities, they could color, or they could take the coloring pages home. You can find tons of free coloring pages with a simple google search. 


Polar Bear Blubber Experiment - A quick tip for this experiment; make "blubber gloves" ahead of time. Using two ziploc bags, you can turn one inside out and slip it into the other one. Fill with shortening, and zip it up. Then duct tape! The tape allows you to transport it without it oozing everywhere.

Polar Bear Food Chain Activity - This looks like a fun, crafty activity. 


You could use a printable Penguin Life Cycle to discuss eggs and birds, or you could save that for a different week like we did.

Slippery Penguin Experiment - This could be a fun option. We actually read about bears and penguins the same day and did the blubber experiment instead. 


We played a food chain game for our tiger activity. To do this I cut strips of green, brown, and red felt. The green felt represented the producers (plants), the brown were herbivores (deer), the red were first level predators (alligators), and the tigers didn't get any felt. I cut the most green felt, fewer brown, and even fewer red based on the number of kids in the class. Once all the felt was handed out, the kids got to act out their parts and "eat" lower portions of the food chain by taking their felt. So plants got eaten by the deer, and deer got eaten by the alligators and the tigers, and alligators got eaten by the tigers. You can remove portions of the food chain to see what happens overall; does everyone still have food? Does one species go extinct to quickly? It was a fun game to experiment with. 

The Polar Bear Food Chain activity would work well for tigers too. 


We used both of these Shark Experiments. (ONE and TWO)

We added a shark printable lifecycle as well. 


Owl Eyesight Experiment - This is a great little experiment to teach kids how owls have to turn their head to see. If you are doing this with several students, I would precut the eye holes, and have the beaks and tubes ready to glue on. 

We also used this owl lifecycle printable.


We tried to jump as far as we could like a frog!

We also used a printable lifecycle activity, but I found an edible version too. 


We used the idea of this experiment and applied it to otters since they also have water proofing. I gave each student a picture of two otters. They were instructed to color one very well with a wax crayon and to leave the other one. Then we sprayed water on them. You can  grab the Otter Page I used here; there are 4 sets of otters per page. 


Pollination Experiment - The kids loved this so much; you could definitely see the colors of pollen mixing in the flowers and on the bees. 

Another version of a pollen transfer experiment. 


We just printed a free butterfly lifecycle printable like this one or this one, but this edible version looks fun too. 


Bat Echolocation Activity - There are three activities given here, and we did number 2 and 3. The kids had a great time with both. We just used a bandana as a blindfold. 

Reptiles (or Lizards)

Color Changing Playdough to demonstrate the difference between warm and cold blooded.  We used the playdough recipe listed below, and added a couple tablespoons of thermochromic pigment to each batch. Then the kids could see how cold blooded animals like reptiles temperature changes with the environment. If they are place on an ice pack they are will be cold, and if they are on a heating pad (or hand) they will be warm. 

Favorite Playdough Recipe

Playdough Ingredients:

3/4 t Cream of Tartar
1/2 C Flour
1/4 C Salt
1/2 C Boiling Water
1 1/2 t Vegetable Oil
1/2 t Thermochromic Pigment (only needed if you want color changing playdough)

Playdough Instructions: 

In heat safe bowl, mix flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Add boiling water and oil. Stir until a dough forms. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, fold in pigment with hands continuing to knead until thoroughly mixed. If dough is sticky, you can add extra flour.

We didn't use this in class, but this molting experiment would also be fun.

These are all the books we made it through thanks to snow days! But there are plenty of other options as well. Here are some I had picked out and didn't use. 

Wolves (or Dogs)

Since canines are known for their great sense of smell, these scent experiments would be perfect. 


Everyone has seen a cat at night with their apparently glowing eyes, and this experiment can show kids why cats' eyes appear to glow. 


Elephants were totally on our list to go over, and with the snow days we missed out on them. They are fascinating creatures though! Here are a couple fun ideas to go with your elephant study including using a trunk! 

Ants could be a great learning opportunity for kids who have a tendency to just disregard them and step on them. They are pretty amazing. You can examine what type of food they enjoy most and even change ants colors

printable ant life cycle or even this play dough life cycle would be a good addition. 


Lots of kids love horses, so this one could go over well too. Explore a variety of horse themed activities including labeling the parts and practicing riding commands!

Really you are only limited by your imagination when it comes to activities to accompany these books, and always be sure to check the internet link in the books for ideas and coloring pages. This homeschool co-op class can really come together easily, and the kids are sure to enjoy learning more about the animals in the world around them!

Put together a fun book-based, hands-on animal class for your homeschool co-op with these great ideas.

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