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Animal Babies in Rain Forests
Written by Jennifer Schofield
Designed by Joanne Brown


Vivid close-up photographs bring animals to life in this delightful book. Each animal baby is pictured with a descriptive sentence and the question, “Who is my mommy?” The following page answers that question and provides further description of the animal alongside a photograph of the baby and its mother. This question-and-answer pattern not only presents some basic traits of a variety of animals found in rain forests, but also sets up possibilities for engaging guessing games.


Potluck of Fun:
As you read this book with a child, you can use the repeating question, “Who is my mommy?” to have your child try to guess the answer before turning the page. Continue to do this each time you read the book together. Your child will likely begin to know the correct answers and feel proud of what he has learned. You can also use other books and pictures of baby animals to expand this guessing game and increase your child's knowledge of animal names.


Visit a zoo, farm or even a pet store to see animal babies and their parents. You might want to contact the zoo first, to find out when you can best see animal babies. Spring is typically the best season.


In the Kids section of there is a Print 'n' Go Coloring Book with images of nearly 50 animals. You can print these images for children to color.


SPECIAL NOTE: In recommending the sites below, Words That Cook is not recommending that you expose infants and toddlers to all sites. These specific sites contain static images and simple text similar to what you would find in a children's book. It has been said that frequent exposure to busier sites (those with images and sounds presented at a high rate of speed) can be over-stimulating and can contribute to a loss of attention span. Please note that you can simply print out the pages of the sites below to share with your infant or toddler as you would share a book.


At, look for the Baby Animals link under the heading of Sites for Kids. You will find an online storybook about baby animals. Each Web page shows a picture and the name of a baby animal, provides one of its characteristics and gives the names of a baby's mother and father. For example, for horses, the page reads, “This baby is a foal. He has lots of fuzzy hair. His Daddy is a stallion. His Mommy is a mare.”


Similar to the above Web site, although not in a storybook format, check out Farm Animals and their Babies in the Kids Section of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Web site ( Children can see photographs and learn the names of animal babies, mothers and fathers. There is also an option to hear the sound each baby animal makes.

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Touch and Feel Baby Animals
DK Publishing

This sturdy board book is a fantastic way to introduce children to some favorite baby animals: rabbits, elephants, ducklings, calves and gorillas. Beginning with an invitation to see the baby animals, the pages feature photographs with cut-out textures for touching and feeling. One adjective is highlighted to describe each baby animal's fur or skin, such as “soft” or “fluffy.” Little ones will love the interactive nature of this book and the potential for exploration.

Potluck of Fun:
DK Publishing also offers this book as part of its three-book
Touch and Feel Animals Box Set. The additional titles in the set are: Touch and Feel Farm and Touch and Feel Wild Animals. DK publishes numerous other “Touch and Feel” titles covering all sorts of topics, including bathtime and fire engines.

Take a trip to a petting zoo or wildlife center that allows children to interact with live animals. (Calling ahead is always a good idea to check on the best times to see and touch animals.) While petting animals, help your child compare and put into descriptive words the feel of the textures of fur or skin and other physical traits. After the trip, encourage your child to draw pictures and caption the drawings using your child’s words.

To develop the sense of touch, continue to expose your baby to different textures. Allow him to feel water running out of a faucet, introduce food textures like pudding and gelatin and expose your baby to all sorts of textures. Allow all parts of a baby’s body to feel different textures and stimulate her tactile senses, including plenty of hugs and kisses.


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Animal Action ABC
Written by Karen Pandell
Wildlife photography by Art Wolfe
Child photography by Nancy Sheehan
Handprint Books

Through this marvelously dynamic and multifaceted board book, children learn and strengthen their knowledge of the alphabet in conjunction with the actions of different animals. Prompting children to “
Arch,” “Balance” and “Charge,” each letter is accentuated with brilliant wildlife action photographs together with photographs of children imitating the animal movements. The rhyming text further acquaints children with some animal behaviors. This approach expands the alphabet to a new level and inspires interactive fun.

Potluck of Fun:
Art Wolfe is a renowned nature and wildlife photographer who has collaborated on a number of innovative children's books. For other interesting takes on the alphabet, check out
C Is for Coyote (Rising Moon Books) and
O Is for Orca (Sasquatch Books). For a fun twist on counting, you might like
1, 2, 3 Moose (Sasquatch Books).

In the Anywhere Science Activities section of, you will find animal-related activities including Observing Animal Movements. In this activity, you and children observe the movements of animals – from cats to dogs to insects to frogs – and discuss and imitate the kinds of movements you see. There are a number of other activities here (written by a preschool teacher and early childhood science specialist) and most require little-to-no materials, are simple to do and can be fit into any schedule.

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The Umbrella
Written and illustrated by Jan Brett

Carlos sets out for the Cloud Forest carrying his green leaf umbrella and hoping to spy a jaguar, a toucan, a kinkajou or any of the rain forest's other remarkable animals. From the ground, Carlos can't see much of anything, so he decides to climb a giant fig tree for a better view. But the animals of the forest have a different idea, leaving Carlos wondering where they all are. Little does he know that the animals have been drawn to the umbrella he left behind on the forest floor. Jan Brett's lush, detailed illustrations and clever, ironic tale create a Cloud Forest world that is endlessly intriguing and beautiful. The inclusion of some bilingual English-Spanish dialog is an added bonus, as are the rich details on the side of each page that help predict the next event in the book.

Potluck of Fun:
You and a group of children (at least two) could act out your own version of
The Umbrella. Gather six or seven (or more) of the children's stuffed animals and an object to use as an umbrella (a real umbrella might not be good as it does have some pointy parts; you could simply turn a plastic tub upside down instead and add a handle made of cardboard). One of you could play Carlos, leaving the “umbrella” behind and going off exploring, while another could play the parts of different stuffed animals using different voices and making the stuffed animals “walk” to the “umbrella” and “climb” inside it. If you have a large group of children, individual kids could take on the parts of individual (stuffed) animals. Once you get going, let the story take on a life of its own and witness the glory of imagination!

For a wide world of beauty, excitement and fun, visit Jan Brett's Web site ( There are pages of activities and projects from printable, illustrated flash cards to guides for drawing animals to a recipe for making hedgehog cookies as well as a wide variety of coloring pages. You can send E-mail postcards or print and mail cards that feature Jan's artwork. Find out more about this wonderful author/illustrator in About Jan Brett, which includes audio and video clips. The best part is it's all free!

At, you can learn a lot in the Cloud Forest Library section. There are maps, fact lists, animal and conservation information and even a glossary of terms. In other areas of the site, you'll find photos, sounds and weekly lessons. There's so much here to learn and share with your children.


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Actual Size
Written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin

How big is a gorilla's hand? How tiny is a pygmy mouse lemur? These questions, and many more, are answered through simple text and stunning, vibrant collages. Some of the illustrations show animals in their full body size, while others highlight just a part of animal, like its teeth or its tongue. In total, 18 animals are featured with their sizes in terms of height, length, width and/or weight. At the close of the book, revisit the animals and find additional information about their behaviors and habitats. A wonderful depiction of wildlife, the perspective offered in this book makes exotic and unusual animals more real for both children and adults.

Potluck of Fun:
For an enjoyable and informative activity, go through the book with your child and compare animals' bodies and features to your own or to other animals or objects. For example, have your child hold the book near your head and compare the size of the Alaskan brown bear's head to yours, or have your child place his hand on top of the image of the gorilla's hand and talk about the differences and similarities.

Check out the Creature Features in the Kids section at Here you will find Fun Facts, Video, Audio and Range Maps related to nearly 30 different animals. The Fun Facts often include detailed information about an animal's size.

At, click on Educators. Under the Lesson Plans menu, select History & Culture. Click on the link for Lewis and Clark and then select Lesson Plan 1 (in History & Culture menu on left side of page). Either at home or in your classroom, follow the Animal Encounters lesson plan to engage children in a creative art and writing project related to animals encountered by Lewis and Clark.

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Omnibeasts: Animal Poems and Paintings
Written and illustrated by Douglas Florian

Whimsy and humor shape each poem and painting in this book and introduce children to a world of both familiar and unusual animals. In many cases, even the typesetting of the text employs artistic methods to express animal actions, like the wriggling and quivering of polliwogs and the howling of coyotes. With 44 poems to explore, children are sure to revisit this book again and again to delight in the unique characteristics and humorous aspects of every animal.

Potluck of Fun:
Douglas Florian has written and illustrated a number of other animal poetry books. Check out
Mammalibia, Insectlopedia and Lizards, Frogs and Polliwogs (Harcourt). (Please note that you will find some repeat poems in these books.)

Ogden Nash's Zoo (Stewart Tabori & Chang), a collection of verses illustrated by Etienne Delessert, contains numerous gems by this witty and inspiring poet, such as:

The Termite
“Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.”


The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders (Greenwillow) by Jack Prelutsky is another terrific and funny book of rhymes about animals and people, too.


Use Douglas Florian's books, and/or those by Ogden Nash and Jack Prelutsky, to inspire your children. After reading a bit together, try creating your own animal poems, paintings or drawings. These books can be wonderful springboards for original and amusing ideas.

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Slinky, Scaly, Slithery Snakes
Written by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Illustrated by Kendahl Jan Jubb
Walker & Co.

Packed with fascinating tidbits about the habits and biology of snakes, there is so much to discover in these pages. Through bold and realistic paintings and scientifically accurate text, children can learn a great deal about these intriguing creatures: from abilities, like swimming and camouflage, to how they ambush or attract and ultimately kill their prey. This book closes by making the point that most snakes are not harmful, but in fact, useful to humans and that they play an important role in nature. An index provides the scientific names of different snakes and references to where they are pictured in the book.

Potluck of Fun:
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Kendahl Jan Jubb have collaborated on other nonfiction animal books for children, such as Flashy, Fantastic Rain Forest Frogs and Fabulous Fluttering Tropical Butterflies (Walker).

In the Kids section of, click on More Crafts under the Zoo Crafts heading to find a Snake Mobile project along with a number of other terrific animal-based projects. From the home page of the site, you can also select Animal Bytes under the Animals & Plants heading to find the Reptile category. This area of the site provides general information about reptiles and links to pages about the Boa, Python and Rattelsnake that are chock full of interesting information and photographs of these types of snakes.

Visit the Kids section of In the Homework Help area, you and your children can link to quizzes, interactive presentations and more in such categories as Animals, History/Culture and Science/Nature. For example, if you click on King Cobra under the Animals heading, you’ll be able to interactively explore the body of this snake and discover details about its defenses, feeding habits and much more.


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Amazing Animal Facts
Written by Jacqui Bailey
Designed by Adrienne Hutchinson
DK Publishing


In this exquisite and enlightening book, animals from all over the world are separated into species categories, such as mammals and fish, and subcategories of questions, like “Are mammals fierce?” and “How do fish breathe?”. Each question leads to a general answer as well as more specific information about particular animals within the species. Superb, authentic wildlife and model photographs, including cross-section models, and comprehensive, revealing text combine to provide compelling and endless opportunities for discovery.


Potluck of Fun:
DK Publishing offers numerous nonfiction books on animals and a wide variety of other subjects. Titles in their Eyewitness Books series combine brilliant color photographs, stunning illustrations and informative text on such topics as Amphibian, Butterfly & Moth and Reptile. Many of these titles are also offered in Spanish.


You can also pick up or subscribe to nature-, wildlife- and science-oriented children’s magazines. National Wildlife Federation offers Ranger Rick for children ages 7 and up. Wildlife Education Ltd. produces Zoobooks, an animal-focused magazine for ages five to 12, and National Geographic Kids addresses nature, wildlife, world cultures and more for children ages eight to 14. Read articles together and talk about the interesting facts you discover.


Check out the World Almanac for Kids Online at Go to the Explore section and click on the Animals heading to investigate countless Amazing Animal Facts.


In the Animals area of the Science & Nature section of, you will find a great deal of information, photographs, sound and video clips and interactive challenges related to all sorts of animals.

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Animal Disguises
Written by Belinda Weber
Designed by Carol Ann Davis

How many ways are there for animals to hide from predators or prey? Nearly 20 can be found in this book alone. From mimicking surroundings to changing color to shape shifting, it is amazing what animals can do to protect themselves or to increase their chances as they hunt for food. Presented in bold photographs and engaging text, categories of disguises are broken down to their basics and complemented by specific examples of the cover-ups in action. Key terminology, like algae and larva, are featured and defined along the bottom edge of pages. To expand the subject into activities, three projects are included at the end of the book.

Potluck of Fun:
You and your children can learn together doing online research about animal defenses. At, the Web site of the Utah Education Network, enter the phrase "animal defenses" in the Search UEN box. From the results, select Animal Adaptations Animal Defense. Here you can review basic information about how animals defend themselves and then connect to specific Web sites to find the answers to questions about such animals as gorillas, hedgehogs and manatees.

For an art project exploring the theme of camouflage, visit the University of Florida College of Fine Arts Web site at (You will need some magazines with pictures of animals, insects, reptiles and various textures, along with construction paper, glue sticks and colored markers.) Enter the word “camouflage” in the My UFL search box. In the list of resulting links, click on The Art of Camouflage to read a straightforward overview of the topic and to find instructions for creating your own “camouflage art.”

At, you can enter the phrase “animal camouflage” to find the in-depth article titled How Animal Camouflage Works. Alongside color photographs, the text explores how some animals use camouflage to hide or blend in while others use it to disguise themselves as a threat or as an uninteresting object.

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Great Pets! An Extraordinary Guide to More than 60 Usual and Unusual Family Pets
Written by Sara Stein
Photography by Edward Judice
Storey Kids

The subtitle to this book gives you an idea of just how extensive the contents are. There are chapters dedicated to cats, dogs and birds as well as less common categories, such as Pets in the Wild and Serpentarium Pets. Features like At a Glance guides, fact bubbles, photographs, drawings and sidebars provide valuable and distinct details. A chapter on pet homes offers instructions for assembling everything from desert vivariums to pigeon coops. First Words and Last Words get to the heart of pet ownership, tackling such topics as pet selection, illnesses, escapes and death. Children will gain a better understanding of different animals' needs and characteristics and the level of responsibility involved in having any pet.

Potluck of Fun:
Check with your local pet store, animal clinic, veterinarian's office or library to see if they offer or know of pet care workshops for children and parents. Such hands-on instruction can provide both educational and enjoyable family learning.

If you and your child have settled on the type of pet that you want to own, you can engage in further research through the ASPCA Pet Care Guides for Kids (DK Publishing). Each guide focuses on a specific animal from puppies to hamsters with photographs and many helpful tips.

One Web site that provides comprehensive and wide-ranging information about a great variety of pets is Individual pages enable you to connect to all sorts of information about specific animals, including small mammals and reptiles. You and your children can do research here that will complement what you learned in Great Pets! and will serve you well in choosing a pet. You can also read about pet owners and their animals in the Enjoy Compelling Pet Stories section and even consider sharing your own family pet story.


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Heather Blanchard recommends nonfiction books about animals, like:

Written and illustrated by JoŽlle Jolivet
Roaring Brook

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Treasury of Animals and Nature
Learning Horizons
Know-It-All Series


© 2006 Words That Cook   All rights reserved  Box 411, Natick, MA  01760  USA

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