Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

All Creatures Great and Small: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

All Creatures Great and Small: Resources

Article excerpt


Tales of unlikely friendship

Teaching small children to read is a joy - as long as you can ignite their enthusiasm.

But it can be more of a challenge if English is not their first language. In the UK, for example, the number of schoolchildren who speak English as an additional language now exceeds 1 million. So when children have diverse backgrounds, how do you engage your whole class?

Unlikely Friendships for Kids (published by Workman) is a delightful series of books aimed at children aged 7 and above about animals that have formed unlikely bonds with each other. The real-life stories, illustrated with photographs, are taken from The New York Times best-selling book Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland.

The heart-warming tales include The Monkey and the Dove - about a baby rhesus monkey that befriended a white dove at a nature reserve - and The Dog and the Piglet. The most unlikely pairing, perhaps, is The Leopard and the Cow.

Key words and phrases are explained at the back of each book, alongside facts about each featured animal.


Deadly and endangered

You could be forgiven for thinking that a poison dart frog would be able to defend itself. Its poison is so lethal that, in the frog's South and Central American rainforest habitat, native tribesmen use it on the tips of their darts to create a deadly hunting weapon.

Indeed, one species, the golden poison frog, is one of the most toxic animals in the world. The poison from one frog is enough to kill 10 men.

Yet these vibrantly coloured creatures are facing extinction, their poisonous skin no protection against habitat loss. As the rainforests disappear, there is a danger that the poison dart frog may vanish with them. And they are not alone. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, nearly a quarter of all mammal species and a third of amphibians are threatened with extinction.

The golden poison frog may not be as cuddly as other endangered species, such as the golden lion tamarin or the chimpanzee, but they play an important role in the rainforest ecosystem.


Animal altruism

One of the charms of watching a children's film is being able to believe for a moment that wild animals show kindness in the same way as humans. In Disney's 1942 film Bambi, the death of the titular fawn's mother is a formative lesson in self-sacrifice. …

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