Thanks to all the talking animals movies young children have likely seen, they might have the impression that animals communicate like humans do. In real life, of course, that’s not true.
But that doesn’t mean kids can’t understand what critters are saying. Teaching kids how to watch and interpret animal behavior helps them gain a number of skills, from observation to patience to critical thinking. It can also introduce them to the scientific method as they notice when animals’ behaviors change, then hypothesize why.
And getting kids to see animals as more than talking cartoon characters can inspire empathy and curiosity, key ingredients to empowering them to protect the Earth. Here are some common animals that kids might observe in the wild—and how to translate what the critters are saying.