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Classroom Connection: Animal Enrichment

January 31, 2014
By KCS Staff

Ever wonder how animals occupy their time in the zoo? This year, 7th graders learned about the "Animal Enrichment Program" at the Honolulu Zoo. This program provides mentally and physically enriching activities for the animals. In other words, animals need activities (and toys), too!

Mrs. Takahashi’s 7th grade science class wanted to participate in the toy-making process. Mrs. Takahashi invited Shelby Carlos, Docent/Enrichment Coordinator at the Zoo, to instruct the students on making several different toys for the animals.

The class gathered in the multi-purpose room for this activity. Shelby shared with them photos of sample toys/enrichment activities used at the zoo. Then the students began working, creating three different toys. "Monster boxes" are crafted from empty cereal and oatmeal boxes. Students used construction paper to decorate the boxes with faces and 3D elements. The zoo will fill the boxes with toys, food, or small stuffed animals. While the animal may cherish their toy for a short period of time, they will eventually rip it apart to enjoy the food or smaller toy inside. The students also worked on a "Mophead Cereal" toy, tying pieces of cereal to strands on a mop. Students painted the final toy, made from paper mache, with bright colors. These toys will be stuffed with food and used for "hide and go seek" with the animals.

The students enjoyed this community service project and learning about animal enrichment. They also learned that toy-making can be a fun but messy process. Mrs. Takahashi hopes to partner with the Zoo again to collect items on their donation list.