Welcome to day 18 of DIY Summer Camp at home. On this third week of DIY Summer Camp, we’re going to learn about animals, including jungle animals, farm animals, and playing with pets. And let’s go around the world to see Australian animals, South American animals and the polar region animals. This makes for some fun activities that you can do right in your own backyard. Or, even better, you can send the kids out to do, while you relax.
Sloths, Eagles and Giant Snakes?
We’re headed to the Amazon and the Andes today, looking at South American animals. Did you know that a sloth’s fur is actually green-tinged? And an Andean condor’s wing span is one of the largest in the world? South America has some of the most diverse animal species, on both the biggest and smallest scales.
Activity: Make a Morpho Butterfly
What you need:
- paper plates
- blue tissue paper squares (about 1″)
- black & white paint
- (optional) silver glitter
Here’s what you do:
- On a large paper plate, draw a big “V” and a little “v” at the top and bottom. Cut them out.
- Glue blue tissue paper squares all over the inside of the plate.
- Use the black paint to outline the wings and draw on the body of the butterfly. Use white paint to add dots on the edges of the wings.
- Sprinkle glitter over your butterfly if you wish.
Here’s a picture of a real morpho butterfly for inspiration:
Activity: Llama Train
What you need:
- pillows (one for each player)
- large area
- willingness to laugh!
What you do:
Have each player go on all fours (hands and feet, not knees!). Then balance a pillow on their backs. How long can they move on all fours, without the pillow falling off?
Snack: Incan Chocolate
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 TSP vanilla
- 1/8 TSP cinnamon
- just a PINCH of cayenne pepper
Add milk and sugar in a sauce pot and bring to a low simmer. Stir in chocolate, vanilla, and spices. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and mixed through. Serve hot or cold.
Activity: Poison Dart Frog Spitballs
You will need:
Rip off a small section of paper, and roll it into a tiny ball. Put it in your mouth and get it wet (this is the “spit” part of the spitball). Then load your straw with the spitball, and blow!
You may want to set up a target rather than people. But it’s your choice!
Activity: Sloth Adaptations Game
- strips of paper
- hats or bowls
- drawing pad
First, label the hats or bowls with adaptation categories: coloration, predation, protection, locomotion, mouth parts, body armor, etc. Pick 3-4 categories so as not to get overwhelmed.
Next, write out an adaptation on a strip of paper. Then another. Add as many adaptations as you can think of to strips of paper, and put them in the hat, for each category.
Next, take out 1 adaptation in each category. Read them over.
Finally, use your imagination to draw the creature who has the adaptations you got. What will you call it?
South American Animals: facts for you to share
South America is one of the most unexplored yet species diverse continents in the world. With parts of the Amazon rainforest completely inaccessible from outside, and other parts where exploration is banned, there are millions of plants and animals that exist nowhere else. Add to that the contrasts in habitats — the heights of the Andes mountains, the dryness of the Atacama desert, the highlands and the lowlands, the firelands and the polar region – South America is a land of wonder!
Species & Location
South America is home to more than 300 000 different species of animals. There are 3000 species of birds alone, earning it the nickname of the “bird continent”. Let’s look at a few key species:
The Amazon river winds its way through the northern part of the continent, across 6 different countries. Along its banks is the Amazon jungle, containing millions of insects, along with birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
One of the most famous animals of the Amazon is the Anaconda. This giant snake has been known to eat a deer, whole! It usually grows about 15 feet (4.5 m) long, but the record length (so far) is a whopping 30 feet (9 m)!
Another fantastic animal of the Amazon is the jaguar. This is the 3rd largest cat in the world, and it has those famous spotted coats. Jaguars spawned myths and legends of the Mayas and Aztecs, because of its power and size.
A third fascinating animal is the piranha. These fish live in the river itself, and most species are carnivorous. They will go into a feeding frenzy at the scent of blood, and they can smell a single drop of blood in 200 L of water! But most often, they go after fish, and wounded animals that might wander into the river, and leave larger predators (like humans) alone.
The Andes are the highest mountains on the western hemisphere, the longest mountain range in the world, and the 2nd highest in the world. With all that, they still have a wild and diverse array of animals, with up to 75 % of species found exclusively in the Andes.
First, check out the Andean Condor. This huge bird has the longest wing-span in the world, spreading out to over 9 ft (3.2 m). The condor is awe-inspiring, and has been the basis for many Incan myths and legends too.
Next is the llama, the South American version of the cow. This animal is actually similar to a camel, and they are the domesticated beasts of burden of the people who live here. They are generally easy-going animals, but they can be very intelligent. Llamas are like a cross between a donkey, a cow and a camel, in appearance and in attitude.
Finally, there’s the vichaca, which looks like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel. But they live in the highest regions of the Andes, eating the grasses, mosses and lichen up there, and surviving on the water in their food. They look adorable, but they’re as tough as any other mountain animal.
The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world, despite its location along the coast of Chile. There are parts of this desert that have never recorded precipitation, as long as humans have been keeping track. Yet, there are a few interesting animals that live along the edges of this desert.
Consider the lava lizard. It’s a brightly colored lizard, measuring up to 6 inches long. They eat plants, animals, even other lava lizards. But what’s most interesting is that they can change their color, depending on the temperature or if they feel threatened!
South American animals are worth looking into more. What would your favorite be?
End of the day: read aloud time.
There’s nothing that settles kids down like storytime at the end of the day. So after all the jungle games today in our jungle animals theme, grab a classic read-aloud and read a chapter every night this week.
Try one of these:
Come back tomorrow for another day full of animal-filled adventures. And don’t forget to subscribe so you get every day of the DIY Summer Camp at Home right in your inbox.