Methods and Strategies: Teaching About Animalsby: Amy Palmeri

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When asking about animals, it is hard to find a person who doesn’t recall a beloved pet or share that they’ve always loved dolphins, snakes, or ladybugs. A study of animals in an early childhood classroom, then, would seem an easy entry into science explorations with children. The article includes reflections on teaching to address the gaps between adults’ and children’s conceptions.

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Reviews (7)
  • on Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:59 PM

I selected it because I was interested to know what conceptions the author would write about. They were predictable. Students and adults listed and categorized many of the same animals, such as dogs and cats. They focused heavily on vertebrates, specifically mammals because those are the animals that immediately come to mind. By the end of the article, the data she collected from her sample of students and adults reinforces that most people have limited knowledge of the animal kingdom and taxonomy. In my experience as a special ed teacher, not many of my students understand the difference between reptiles and amphibians. For example, they know about frogs but think a salamander is a reptile because it looks like a lizard. Yet frogs and salamanders have more in common than do salamanders and lizards. This article makes me wonder how many adults think the same way as my students. Perhaps that is because most people have seen more lizards than amphibians in their lives?

Stephanie Gomez
Stephanie Gomez

  • on Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:02 PM

One thing I learned from this article is that children and teachers have very different views about animals. I read this article prior to teaching so I as a teacher could have a better understanding on how children interpret animals. This article stated that when students were given a task of naming 10 animals they listed mammals over any other kind of animal. This is important because it shows that students need to be taught other kinds of animals other than just the most common ones we see in zoos or in out and about in the wild. the author shows a need to address these misconceptions but doesn't provide examples of how to help.

Lauren P
Lauren P

  • on Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:37 AM

What I found interesting about this article is that there is a difference in what students know about animals and what we as educators think they know. It starts with us as educators not knowing ourselves exactly what animals are and what makes them an animal. When we think about what animals students know we may be able to guess, but we don't think like they do as to why they are animals. To teach students about animals I think it is important to understand what you know first and understand your own biases before trying to teach your students.

Kaylee Buck
Kaylee Buck

  • on Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:00 AM

This article describes how a university professor tested her early education students to see what preconceptions her students had about teaching the subject of animals. They found out that adults have different ideas about animals from young children. This helped them to know how to approach an animal unit with young students.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:26 AM

Children have many naïve conceptions about major science concepts. This article deals with several related to animals. One such example is that if something doesn’t move it is not alive. Another one is to say that all living things are animals. This article describes how an educator addresses these alternative conceptions with a series of activities. Unfortunately these activities are described but in very general terms. There is a short taxonomy chart provided. The author presents a need to address these misconceptions but doesn’t provide concrete help.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:06 PM

This article discusses how many teachers have misconceptions about what they think their student may or may not know about animals. There were a few things I found interesting about this article like learning about the results of the study, where they asked 15 people to list 20 different animals. It discussed how most people listed mammals over other types of animals. I think that doing something like this is helpful to understand the differences between what people consider as animals. What I wish this article had more information about though, would be on how to incorporate this research into the classroom.

Abbey Calzini
Abbey Calzini

  • on Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:37 PM

A professor describes how she uses an assessment probe with her preservice teachers to stimulate awareness of how children view animals. The outcome establishes an understanding of children’s misconceptions regarding animals. These misconceptions include children are not likely to view invertebrates as animals and things that do not move are not alive. Although this article provides the template for a useful exercise for preservice teachers and raises awareness of misconceptions, it has lacks specific actions that could be transferred to the classroom.

Patricia McGinnis  (Pottstown, PA)
Patricia McGinnis (Pottstown, PA)

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