Forsyth’s youngest students develop very special relationships with the animals that live in the Early Childhood Science classroom on the third floor of Fillmore House. The children love to watch Dolphy, the green sunfish, and observe Verde, the leopard gecko, resting under the arch-shaped log. More recently, our two resident toads have taken center stage. All eyes are on Biggy and Little when they hop, swim, or eat mealworms using their quick, flashing tongues. It becomes routine to visit the animals, including beautiful beetles and red wiggler worms, at the beginning of each class. And when it is time to feed the fish some crickets, our students love to sing the “Gratitude Song” to honor the creatures who are about to enter the food chain.
Young people getting to know the animals that share our planet is important for a variety of reasons. Children are curious and want to know more about the Earth and its living things—they want to connect to the natural world and figure out how they fit in. Eventually, they begin to understand ecological concepts like the food chain and survival. Joyful experiences with other living things can help break down barriers and misconceptions that may have been internalized over time. Learning that other creatures are valuable in the circle of life helps relieve fears and dispel myths. Through science activities, games, and songs, children learn important information about animals—like that bats eat bugs and toads don’t give you warts! The opportunity to serve as a respectful and responsible caregiver helps them to develop compassion and realize they can make a positive difference. Outdoor exploration in natural habitats encourages the development of observation skills and the excitement of discovery. At Forsyth, we strive to foster an appreciation for biodiversity in these youngest students to fill them with awe and inspire a sense of wonder.